Remarks to the press by Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia, Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to the United Nations
Q: Ambassador, could we possibly get a response from your place on the escalating that we've seen not only from North Korea but also from the United States?
A: The tone was bellicose, wasn't it? That what concerns us, as we were saying before and we continue to say military solution is not an option in any way. And that the resolution that we adopted is not an end in itself. But we have A) to adopt a strategy and B) to involve parties into the political dialogue and Russia and China were proposing that constantly for more than a month now and in fact earlier. We think that this call for a political dialogue to ease tensions is becoming even more relevant now.
Q: What would you say to Donald Trump, sort of in response to his remark yesterday?
A: Who am I to engage in the conversation with the President of the United States? But we noted what he was saying. Our strong wish is that the United States refrain from any moves that would provoke another party to actions that might be dangerous.
Q: Are you doing anything to promote dialogue with North Korea? Is Russia going to do anything to promote the talk?
A: Of course, we are ready to do whatever we can to promote dialogue. Through our embassy we are in contact with North-Korean authorities but I think that we should give it a time because the tensions are too high at the moment and you know that the reaction from the DPRK government was very strong and harsh, I would say. As we said, we want the tensions to ease. We have to start thinking seriously about devising and inventing ways for the political dialogue on this issue.
Q: Ambassador, you have criticized the US missile deployment. What are the US supposed to do when you have ICBM launches headed towards the US getting closer and closer?
A: The Chinese initiative on double-cessation and parallel tracks is a proposal to find a way out of that situation. The deployment of THAAD won’t solve a problem of ballistic missiles. I am not a great specialist in anti-missile technologies or a technical specialist but I understand that THAAD missiles won’t be able to solve the problem of ballistic launches if they happen again for example. THAAD is not adding to the strategic balance in the region. This is what the Chinese were saying all the time and continue to say. And we also were saying that this does not ease tensions at the Peninsula. And I am not sure that THAAD is not the key to solving this problem.
Q: Ambassador, on the diplomatic swap between the United States and Russia over the diplomatic premises and the staff, being sent back Americans: have you received any notice that you are losing any Russian staff from the UN Mission? Or are you expecting to?
A: No, I am not expecting this. Our Mission to the United Nations should be out of the calculations of our bilateral issues because it is a separate diplomatic entity which is accredited to the United Nations, not to the United States.
Q: Ambassador, what would Russia’s message be to both President Trump and to North-Korean leader Kim Jong-un?
A: Find a way to start a dialogue.
Q: Mr. Ambassador, have you spoken to your American and North-Korean counterparts since the language of last 24-hours?
A: Myself? No.
Q: Do you plan to? And if so why and if not why not?
A: Our Foreign Minister spoke to the North-Korean Foreign Minister in Manila in the ASEAN meeting last weekend. All the messages that had to be sent were sent there.
Q: Ambassador, just back on the resolution that was adopted on Saturday. People are now saying that a lot of this depends on Russia and China implementing the resolution. Can you tell us?
A: We are always implementing Security Council resolutions faithfully. So we will do it this time too.
Q: And particular on the issue of guest workers: how many North-Korean guest workers are there in Russia?
A: I have no idea. I don’t know.
Q: Do you have a trust that China will implement the resolution on sanctions? There has been strong criticism that Beijing does not always follow?
A: You should ask them about it. But China is also a responsible member of the international community and the permanent member of the Security Council. So why do you have any doubts it will not?
Q: Is anyone considering calling a meeting or consultations on the sort of escalating rhetoric that we’ve seen?
A: Not that I know for the moment. Do you have any other questions..?
Q: How about the famine statement?
A: The famine statement? It has been adopted.
Q: Mr. Ambassador, did you raise any other businesses, Syria items?
Q: Could you tell us why did you raise it?
A: We briefed our colleagues on progress in establishing the de-escalation zones in Syria. We encouraged the United Nations to step up the humanitarian assistance to those de-escalation zones where our police would ensure its unimpeded access. People who are returning to their homes in these zones are in dire need of any kind of assistance.
Q: Mr. Ambassador, was that the only message that you had for any other business item on Syria? That was it?
A: There was a letter by our Defense Minister to Secretary-General's Special Envoy de Mistura on that issue and we wanted to brief our Security Council colleagues on it.
Q: Can I ask you a different subject? I know it’s early. Welcome to New York. And what are your early impressions of your American counterpart? I know you met with her.
A: You have already asked that question. Very positive. We cooperated and we have good rapport I think. I am hoping that it will stay that way in the future.
Q: Is there anything to be against Hezbollah in Lebanon and the arms of Hezbollah? What do you think about changing or amending the mandate of UNIFIL in Southern Lebanon?
A: We will come to discussing the mandate of UNIFIL later this month. We consider this operation very important for peacekeeping in the Middle East and especially in that area. We will continue to support UNIFIL.