PRESIDENT OF RUSSIA VLADIMIR PUTIN: Good afternoon, colleagues.

I am very happy to see you in high spirits. As we did last time, I will begin by briefing you on the work done during the year and then I will try to answer your questions.

First the most important thing: the economic performance. In the first 10 months of this year, the gross domestic product grew by 0.7 percent, and the final figure may be around 0.6 percent. My colleagues and I met yesterday to finalise the figures. The trade surplus grew by $13.3 billion to reach $148.4 billion.

Industrial production picked up some speed after last year’s lull. In the first 10 months of the year, it went up by 1.7 percent. Unemployment is also low: at times, it dropped to below 5 percent, and now it is around 5 percent, possibly 5.1 percent.
17 December 2014
Moscow has noted the “revelations” by Mike Rogers, Chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence of the US Congress, who recently visited Romania as head of a group of congressmen. Speaking on the TV network Realitatea, Washington’s high-ranking representative admitted that the interceptor missiles due to be deployed at the US missile-defense base in Deveselu by the end of 2015 are directed against certain “threats” from Russia, among others.
Therefore, the US lawmaker has confirmed Moscow’s long-running doubts that the “missile shield,” which is being developed by the United States, is aimed only at targets that are officially declared by Washington.
We would like to note that the role assigned to Romania in servicing the new American creation is hardly as respectable as it is being presented. Bucharest’s involvement in another US project, confirmed recently in the US Senate report on torture used at “CIA secret prisons” on the territory of other countries, has already put Romanian representatives, who have to eloquently evade questions from journalists, in a rather embarrassing situation.
We are confident that the steps towards the further militarisation of Southeastern Europe, including the deployment of missile defense elements in Romania, are at odds with the interests of regional and European security and stability.
16 December 2014
Q: Mr. Lavrov, let’s begin with the crisis in Ukraine. There were rumors that Moscow was ready to host maybe some negotiations. Can you tell us about the latest news?
Sergey Lavrov: Well, there is reason for some cautious optimism, but the news which you just mentioned, about Moscow being ready to host some meeting, is new to me. We have been in agreement with our Ukrainian colleagues, colleagues from the OSCE and the people from Lugansk and Donetsk area. We have been pushing for convening another meeting in Minsk of the contact group, which is very important to make sure that we intensify the implementation of the Minsk protocol signed in September, and that’s what we’re trying to achieve at the moment.
Q: Are you optimistic that there will be such another meeting? Because it seems that the previous agreement isn’t really being implemented on the ground.
Sergey Lavrov: As far as I understand, the reason for delay of this meeting is linked to the desire of the people from Donetsk and Lugansk to include on the agenda not only the ceasefire implementation, which is something absolutely necessary, and also exchange of hostages – and they are still discussing how many and trying to verify the lists. But the people from Donetsk and Lugansk, they also want – which, I believe, is very important as well – to start discussing economic issues. They also have been covered by the Minsk protocol and [it] provides for economic interaction to be resumed and restored. And as far as I can understand at the moment, the representatives of the government are not yet ready to discuss economy, which is a cause of concern.
15 December 2014
On 12 December, the UN Security Council unanimously adopted Resolution No 2189 on a new NATO-led mission in Afghanistan, Resolute Support. This non-combat mission will take effect as of 2015 under a bilateral agreement between NATO and Afghanistan upon expiry of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF)’s mandate.
Russia proceeds from the need to continue international assistance to the government and people of Afghanistan in combating terrorism and extremism on its territory, curbing the drug threat and promoting security, human rights and economic development.
Given the chief coordinating role of the UN in international efforts to stabilise and improve the situation in Afghanistan, the resolution urges the new NATO-led mission to closely cooperate with the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA). Regional cooperation acquires special importance in this regard.
The UN Security Council will monitor the implementation of the above resolution on a regular basis.
9 December 2014
Russia is affected by Western sanctions imposed on Moscow, especially those imposed by Europe. Our partners in the European Union are affected by the countermeasures introduced by Moscow. How efficient is it for Russia to keep the countermeasures in place? Doesn't it seem like Moscow is trying to save face by putting the well-being of Russian citizens at risk?

Sergei Lavrov: Unfortunately, in our relations with the European Union we have reached the point when goodwill gestures are unable to produce the required result. It should be taken into account that the current situation has resulted from Brussels’ policy toward Ukraine, including its support for the coup carried out by ultranationalists in Kiev. This drove Ukraine to the brink of a breakup; it has been embroiled in a fratricidal war since then. Subsequently, the European Union tried to blame Russia for the tragedy in Ukraine. The EU has imposed unilateral sanctions on Moscow. This practice is illegal, condemned by the UN General Assembly and runs contrary to WTO standards. However, the logic of uncoiling the spiral of EU sanctions does not correspond to the development of the Ukrainian crisis.

We have repeatedly stressed that attempts to speak to Russia using the language of ultimatums is totally unacceptable and will yield no results. Our response to these measures was balanced and it took into account Russia’s rights and responsibilities under international treaties, including the WTO.
Permanent Representative
Alexander V. GRUSHKO
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