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"People do not want to make the investments they intend to make, because of the current situation in Russia" - Australian Ambassador to Russia
On the eve of the ninth G2015 summit in Brisbane, Australian Ambassador to Moscow Paul Mailer spoke in an interview with Interfax about his vision of the situation with the crash of the Malaysian Boeing in Ukraine, shed light on the reasons for the imposition of sanctions by his country against Russia and explained why Australia expects changes in Russia's food policy by February-March XNUMX.
Speaking about the state of Russian-Australian relations, the ambassador said: “For a long time, there were good relations between the people of our countries: we had fruitful cooperation at various levels before the events in Ukraine began.”
"Of course, we try to maintain dialogue on the part of Australia, but we do not see any real interest in this from the Russian side. It seems that Russia is determined to continue the line of confrontation. The situation was further exacerbated with the appearance of reports that Russian air forces are provocative military actions, as well as the fact that NATO forces have to detect Russian aircraft.
- Last year, we had what could be called excellent bilateral relations. The volume of our trade and economic cooperation is relatively small. Australia has opportunities for economic cooperation with geographically closer partners: with China, Southeast Asia, with India, as well as with our traditional partners in Europe and the USA.
“Therefore, in reality, the risks associated with trade and investment in Russia, even last year, probably indicated that the trade turnover was insignificant. But at the same time, significant growth and interest was evident, in particular, in the mining sector, and not in mining as such, but in providing Russian companies with consulting services, technologies, equipment, software that they do not have, and in helping Russian companies. companies to improve their efficiency and productivity. We noted a significant increase in interest on the Russian side and on the Australian side in building up trade and investment relations. "
And, of course, for a very long time, good human relations existed among the inhabitants of our countries. In Australia there are Russian diasporas: those who came before the revolution, from Harbin, representatives of the Russian-Jewish diaspora. Many young Russians, young professionals move to Australia. We have strong human connections, cultural ties and others. “I think we can say that last year we were quite optimistic, before the events in Ukraine began to unfold.”
On the question, what was the goal on the part of Australia when imposing sanctions against Russia, because Ukraine is far away and, it seems, is not in the sphere of interests of Australia? The ambassador replied that many people in Russia have a very wrong idea of sanctions. All people on the planet are interested in maintaining international law. “We went through the Cold War, tried to rebuild relations in such a way that the peoples had confidence that their sovereignty and their borders would be respected. And Russia, through the illegal annexation of Crimea, has grossly violated all this. Our interest is not expressed in the fact that we had good trade relations with Crimea, but in protecting international law and supporting the norms of appropriate behavior in the international arena. This is the reason why we joined the sanctions against Russia. "
In addition, “when Russia illegally annexed Crimea, we imposed sanctions in response to this. When she began to destabilize the situation in eastern Ukraine, we also imposed sanctions in response. When Moscow sent troops and weapons across the border into eastern Ukraine, we re-imposed sanctions, and when those weapons were used to shoot down a Malaysian Boeing MH17 with 38 Australians on board, we retaliated again. So the sanctions were imposed in response to every action taken by the Russian government. "
“And if Australia needs to sacrifice anything to show Russia that its actions in eastern Ukraine and Crimea are unacceptable, then we are ready for this - our biggest sacrifice to date is the Russian ban on the trade in Australian beef. ... But this is a Russian decision and the only one who suffers from this is the Russians, for whom the Australian beef steak has become unavailable. Exports of Australian beef around the world are up a record 17% year over year. So Russia will not get Australian beef, and Australian farmers will continue to sell it around the world. We are not particularly worried about this. "
“I believe that Russia has created problems for itself, and the ban on the export of food products is a classic example of this. I do not know what the motive is for such actions, but I believe that by February or March, after a long winter, we will have to observe changes in this regard, because Russia will experience difficulties with food. "
Regarding the crash of the Malaysian Boeing MH17 - “Australia is absolutely confident that Flight MH17 was shot down by a missile launched from territory controlled by pro-Russian separatists. We are also quite confident that the missile was supplied by Russia. We understand that there appears to be an error. This does not necessarily mean that we believe it was a deliberate act. But even if it was a mistake, Russia allowed it to happen by supplying weapons under such conditions. We expect the same findings to be drawn from the investigation. We have reason to make such assessments, and we expect investigators to come to the same conclusion. ”
When asked about the expectations from the international investigation of the Boeing MH17 tragedy, Paul Mailer said that Russia was guilty of this tragedy.
From what he sees, "even on social media, there is a link between the transfer of a Buk missile across the border, its presence in positions close to the place from which it was launched, and its return back to the border. Information about all this is available on social networks, on Twitter, Facebook, VKontakte. Dutch investigators will be able to find the same information as we do at the embassy. Social networks have it all: the citizens of Russia and Ukraine took photographs of the launch of this rocket. The ambassador noted that the decision not to send investigators to the crash site until the situation in Ukraine was completely stabilized was made by Australia. “As long as the shelling continues, we are not going to put our police in danger. In the course of this conflict, hostages were repeatedly taken, and we will by no means risk it. "
The ambassador refused to talk about the details of cooperation with the United States in the military sphere.
Speaking about the accession of Crimea to Russia and the sanctions imposed in connection with this, it was noted that “It is very difficult to see a situation in which they would be canceled. I don't see a solution to this problem. It is very difficult to imagine that we could lift the sanctions as long as Crimea remains part of Russia. ”
“The sanctions do not affect most of the trade, so there are no obstacles for Australian companies to trade in Russia. But many businessmen prefer other markets for their capital because of the risks associated with Russia at the present time. Russia was indeed a good market with great potential. Russia has huge mineral deposits and the cooperation was expected to be really good. Now, I think the risks associated with Russia are starting to put more pressure on whether to invest in Russia or not. This, of course, is not related to sanctions, it is just that there is an understanding that the Russian economy is experiencing difficulties, that the Russian government is making very strange decisions regarding economic reform, that the economy is controlled by the state, that there is little room in the market for independent business. Many business decisions were delayed. People are reluctant to make the investment they intended to make because of the current situation in Russia. I think there are such sentiments all over the world. In the case of Russia, everyone goes through the same process. "
Regarding the cessation of uranium shipments to Russia, Paul Mailer said that uranium shipments to russia have been an excellent example of truly good relations between australia and russia in the recent past. Uranium supplies, after all, are a very political sphere. You can trade uranium only with people you trust, and in this regard there is a whole set of guarantees and security requirements.
- In Australia, the world's largest uranium reserves are about 31% of the world's uranium reserves, our country is the third largest producer after Kazakhstan and Canada.
“Stopping uranium supplies is not a way to punish Russia. It is a question of who to trade uranium with. You need to get guarantees, you need to be confident in your trading partner, that he will respect all guarantees that uranium will not be used to create weapons. In the situation with Russia, when we cannot trust her that she is not sending weapons across the border to Eastern Ukraine, how can we trust her with uranium? So this is a non-commercial issue, it is a matter of reputation and Russia's respect for security guarantees and requirements. The point is that before we had confidence in Russia, now there is no such confidence. "
Australia and Russia can resume cooperation if sanctions are not lifted in case, «if Russia decides that it would be better for the economy to cooperate with the West, stop threatening each other, withdraw troops and weapons from the east of Ukraine, not recognize the shameful elections in Donetsk and Lugansk on November 2, in which there is no trust, to support Kiev and provide access investigators to the crash site of the Malaysian "Boeing" - then we will say that Russia is back on the course followed by a normal international player. Today the situation is developing in the opposite direction..