Answers of the Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs S. V. Lavrov to Mass Media Questions, Moscow, 28 July 2012
Question: How can you comment on the Russia`s intent to establish abroad the naval forces bases, including in Vietnam, the Seychelles and Cuba?
S. V. Lavrov: In the present conditions the Russian navy discharges tasked throughout the World Ocean. Currently, it is especially required in the Indian Ocean, the Gulf of Aden, where we fight with pirates together with the European Union, NATO, Indians and Chinese, our ships coordinate their actions. There is no wonder about it.
As far as the Pacific Ocean is concerned, Russia is a Pacific power, having the Pacific navy, which exercises cruises and has to secure readiness for response to any threats and challenges. Piracy is not limited by one region of the world. For example, in the Strait of Malacca in the South-Eastern Asia these “guys” often misbehave too. That is why for the Russian navy, serving abroad, throughout the World Ocean it is important to have logistic support capabilities.
We have an agreement with a number of countries so that the Russian ships could harbor and resupply, and the crew could have a rest. The Vietnamese in the Bay of Cam Ranh perform minor repair of the ships, sailing from various countries. The Americans also have their ships repaired and served there. There is no sensation in this issue.
Question: Does it mean establishing a naval base in Cuba?
S. V. Lavrov: We are not speaking of any bases. The Russian navy ships serve, exercise cruises and training in the same regions. To harbor, resupply and enable the crew to rest are absolutely natural needs. We have spoken of such opportunities with our Cuban friends.
Question: How does such plan work?
S. V. Lavrov: It works. As you remember, similar calls were implemented a couple of years ago in Venezuela.
Question: Is it right to interpret establishing of such bases as possible obtaining of arguments in the dispute with the USA on the ballistic missile defense?
S. V. Lavrov: Only absolute paranoiac may think like that. These issues are not anyhow related. I can invert it: look at the routes of American navies that are next larger than the Russian navy. They harbour, resupply and do absolutely the same, and nobody suspects it to be related to some response or search of counterarguments for any situation. It is a normal need of the naval forces of any large sea power, just like the Russian Federation.
Question: How can you comment on the report of the Israeli press, saying that Russia may grant a shelter to B. al-Assad?
S. V. Lavrov: I have repeatedly commented on this issue. Somebody has put out a rumour that the Russian Federation must shelter B. al-Assad, that both Moscow and the Syrian President is ready for that, and that is why Russian should be leant upon.
When the President of the Russian Federation was in the Middle East on the visit and visited Israel, Palestine and Jordan, the conversation partners came up with such a question. There was a feeling that somebody had formed up such an impression in them.
I repeat that we have no agreements or ideas on this subject. The whole situation is provocations of those who want to shift the blame for the events in Syrian on Russia and Chine, because our countries supposedly block something. The one thing we block is the attempt to allow through the UN Security Council resolution to support one side in the internal conflict.
When ordinary Syrian oppositionists came to us (and we meet all, and soon we plan another contacts both in Russia and abroad where they base), they said that the events in Syria is a revolution against the regime. We explain to them, that if it is a revolution, what does it has to do with the UN Security Council: all revolutions are committed by people, and no need to ask the Security Council to support it. It will be something, not provided for by the Charter of the United Nations and the SC functions.
Question: And if such an opportunity is provided hypothetically?
S. V. Lavrov: This is just absolute disinformation. We have already publicly said that we do not even think about it. Everybody who tries to place such in an idea to the minds of the international community, are governed by unscrupulous aims. We are not and have not been closest friends of the Syrian regime. Its closest friends are in Europe. If somebody wants to settle this problem like this, let them think of their capacities.