I’ve typed out some of the press meeting with the Russian and Yemeni foreign ministers from RT, which took place in Moscow on January 22nd. This is from the audio translation of remarks by both foreign ministers. I couldn’t understand a few words so those are marked with question marks.
At 45 minutes long, I honestly got a little bit tired of typing so I eventually stopped. Included in this post are the opening statements by both foreign ministers and the answer to two of the questions asked. The times where you can find these parts in the video are noted. Not all the questions asked in the second half of the video are about Yemen (they discussed Syria for a bit), but the two included in this post are.
The link to the video follows the text below.
0:00 Russian Foreign Minister Speaks
We discussed in detail the political military situation in Yemen and the prospects of a settlement of the crisis in the country. We also looked at some of the aspects on our bilateral agenda.
We think that there is no alternative to the cessation of hostilities in Yemen. We think all the parties should refrain from any attempts to resolve the existing contradictions through the use of force. We think it is necessary not only to continue, but actual to boost international efforts with the UN playing the leading role to create conditions for lasting dialogue with all the political forces in Yemen.
We think that the arrangements for political settlements in Yemen prepared in different formats and imposed from outside will not be viable and may even be counterproductive. Only the people of Yemen themselves can decide the future of their country and Russia maintains contacts with all the parties in Yemen and we are ready to provide necessary assistance. And it is our understanding that the leadership of the Republic of Yemen welcomes a distance of Russia.
We diverted (?) a lot of attention to the humanitarian situation in Yemen which remains extremely complex. According to UN estimates, 22 million people , that’s a huge number, need assistance and over 2 million children are starving. Russia welcomes the decision by the Arab coalition to partially lift the blockade of Hodeidah, the only artery that connects the country’s biggest city with the north. We think that the UN should continue to have access to Sana’a for humanitarian airlifts without any obstacles. Long term, more fundamental, it is important to lift sea and air blockade and open free access for medical supplies and food to all the territories in Yemen.
Russia contributes to humanitarian efforts in Yemen. Last year, emergencies ministry sent over 40 tons of humanitarian cargo to Sana’a and we are now working on another humanitarian delivery to the Republic of Yemen.
Unfortunately as a result of this lasting conflict, basically all the bilateral projects, trade and economic cooperation, between Russia and Yemen have been frozen. We will be ready and we think that our counterparts will be interested to resume our ties as soon as peace and stability returns to Yemen. Our people are interested in that, especially considering that we have a long history of good relations between our countries. In December, we’ll mark 100 years since we established diplomatic relations. We have agreed with the minister to continue regular contacts directly and through our embassy in the Republic of Yemen which recently was moved from Sana’a to Riyadh for security reasons.
At the same time, we’ll continue our dialogue with Houthis and other political forces in Yemen, with all the stakeholders including the Arab coalition which plays an important role in this situation in Yemen encouraging everybody to contribute to pacifying the situation and moving on from the military conflict to a political dialogue.
9:00 Yemeni Foreign Minister Speaks
I’d like to thank my counterpart Minister Lavrov. We just had very constructive negotiations. We discussed the situation in Yemen, bilateral agenda, and prospects for developments of our bilateral ties. Also discussed decision by US president Donald Trump to move its embassy to Jerusalem. Arab countries have the ???? position and that’s why we welcomed Russia’s support for the pan-Arab position.
I’ve handed over the welcoming note from Yemeni leadership to the Russian leadership and also we recognize Russia’s support for the legitimate Yemeni government. During the talks we reaffirmed our support to every initiative including the Gulf Initiative and UN Security Council resolutions, including UN Security Council Resolution 2216. This is the only option for us that would bring peace and security and restore territorial integrity and independence. And reaffirmed to Minister Lavrov that the peace option is the only option for us and the war was declared upon us by the militants who initiated riots against legitimate authorities.
Today we discussed Russia’s role and Russia’s support for the peace process. Russia is a permanent member of the UN Security Council and plays its role at the UN and in implementing all international resolutions. The UN framework is the only path towards peace in Yemen. We believe that Russia has one of the leading roles since it’s a permanent member of the UN Security Council. It’s one of the co-sponsors of the peace process since 2011.
We very much hope that our contacts and consultations will continue. We agreed to intensify them. As for the legitimate government, it continues to support the UN efforts and the special UN envoy we’ve agreed to the results of the negotiations in Kuwait and other areas. Houthis are against the peace process and they’ve set up barriers and the latest obstacle was the killing of former president Saleh.
I expressed gratitude to you, Minister Lavrov, for the humanitarian aid that Russia have provided. Indeed have a dire humanitarian situation. This is the consequence of the war. The war was imposed upon us and there’s only one alternative. There’s only one option. Getting back to normal, stopping the war, and restoring state institutions. This will be the ultimate solution. We are working on a new plan that’s the equal, the so-called rescue plan. According to it, all border checkpoints will be reopened, there will be humanitarian corridors opened for the aid to pour in. And it’s today that’s a ministerial summit of the coalition will take place that will discuss this particular issue. They will come together to discuss this coalition led plan. We believe that the Yemeni people deserve peace.
Today during our talks, I asked our Russian counterparts to send 50,000 tons of grain and Minister Lavrov said that this request is now being considered. We very much hope that the reply would be positive because we know that Russia is committed…. Just 50 tons, not 50,000 tons, but tons of grain.
We also discussed the consequences of killing of President Saleh the situation, namely (???) the ruling party. We share the same opinion on this issue. We would like this process to be an inclusive one.
We also discussed aspects of our bilateral ties, implementation of some bilateral projects, including those related to prisoners. We would like to continue strengthening our ties. We very much appreciate Russia’s role. We cherish the historical ties that we have with Russia and we hope that Russia will continue the peace process in line with the decisions that have been made. And we very much hope, and we told it to the foreign minister, that Iran stops interfering in our affairs.
Egyptian TV Channel: “Minister Lavrov, what is Russia’s assessments of the situation in Yemen after the killing of former president Mr. Saleh?”
- Minister Lavrov: “First of all when this happened, we said it was a grave crime, obviously planned in order to disrupt efforts for peaceful settlement. As you know, Ali Abdullah Saleh was in favor of building bridges with the government of President Hadi in order to stop the bloodshed. We had a feeling that very soon Ansar Allah would be isolated and the situation will be resolved even without any political talks. Yet the situation looks much more complex. Mr. Minister has just mentioned the situation in the national congress where there is a party in favor of the talks, there are also hardliners who are in favor of continuing confrontation with the legitimate government of Yemen. All this demonstrates that there is no alternative to launching pan-Yemeni talks. We share this position with the Yemeni government and will continue advancing this position in context with all the parties in Yemen.”
RT Arabic: “Russia’s role in Yemen. What can Russia contribute that other countries cannot?”
- Minister Lavrov: “As response to our position that there is no alternative to dialogue between all the parties in Yemen to deal with this crisis, I think this response has been quite positive. Our position is welcomed by all the players and the UN. We support the UN special envoy Mr. Ahmed to start a dialogue between the legitimate government, the national congress party and Houthis. These are the key forces right now.”
- Minister Abdel-Malek al-Mekhlafi: “The war was imposed upon us because of the coup led by Houthis, the shunning of our brothers in Saudi Arabia. Now these rockets are still being launched. The rockets are launched regularly and it’s the Houthis that commit horrible atrocities in Sana’a, the killing of Saleh, the killings of thousands of people. This is the main barrier to peace talks and again, they continue to launch rockets against Saudi Arabia. Houthis proved that they cannot be reliable partners. If they can prove that they can be a partner in the peace process, then they can join the peace process. And I reaffirm what I said earlier. The UN framework shall be supported by every party. Russia’s role should be the key one. I mean that Russia is a permanent member of the UN Security Council, Russia’s good side with all the Arab countries, it does not interfere into Yemen’s affairs, it supports the efforts of the UN special envoy for Yemen, and again it supports the efforts to look for a solution as part of the UN framework. This is why Russia could play and exceptionally important role in the peace process. Russia is one of the co-sponsors of the peace process. It can contact with any other countries. Russia could also play an important role in mitigating Iranian influence, or stopping Iranian influence and their support for the militants and that has been documented by the UN. Russia plays a key role in the peace process. It seeks to ensure an effective role by the UN and via the UN Security Council.”