Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Zakharova Holds Weekly Press Briefing

© Sputnik / Iliya Pitalev / Go to the mediabankMoscow residents lay flowers near Russian Foreign Ministry in memory of slain Ambassador Karlov
Moscow residents lay flowers near Russian Foreign Ministry in memory of slain Ambassador Karlov - Sputnik International
On Tuesday, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Zakharova held her weekly press briefing.

On Syria

When talking about the current situation in Syria, Zakharova said that Moscow notes with satisfaction the change in the military situation in the country.

"With a sense of satisfaction, we are noting positive changes in military and political situation in Syria," the spokeswoman said. "On December 22, Syrian government forces took the eastern neighborhoods of Aleppo remaining under the control of illegal armed units."

"We see Aleppo's liberation as the key step toward stabilization in Syria while preserving its unity and territorial integrity, as well as preventing degradation of Syrian state institutes," Zakharova said.

The spokeswoman further noted that Russia has evidence of militants' war crimes in Aleppo, and that this evidence will be "most widely publicized".

"Soon the evidence of terrorist war crimes in Syria will be handed to the Russian military, the media, and will be given the widest possible publicity," Zakharova said.

The spokeswoman said there are grounds to expect that new discoveries of mass graves following Aleppo's liberation from militants "will unfortunately continue."

Defense Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov disclosed on Monday that large-scale graves containing bodies with signs of torture, with many missing body parts and many shot in the head, have been uncovered in Aleppo.

On reports about Bulgarian-made arms in Aleppo

The spokeswoman then moved to comment recent reports about Bulgarian-made arms in Aleppo. She said that "questions arise" concerning this issue and that it seems that "Sofia is not in a rush to regulate its exports."

"I would like to emphasize that Russia leads negotiations since the end of the 1990s with Sofia on concluding a bilateral government agreement in the field of licensing, which above all would regulate the export of military equipment to third countries. Unfortunately, Bulgaria is in no hurry to sign it," Zakharova told reporters.

Arms produced in Bulgaria were discovered at a Jabhat Fatah Al-Sham depot in Eastern Aleppo, Syria, on December 13.

Among the arms, 122 mm "Grad" rockets were found alongside various caliber ammunition for anti-tank weapons.

"Apparently, this lack of regulation in this area quite satisfies the certain representatives of Bulgaria," Zakharova stressed.

On Iraq

Commenting the situation in Iraqi Mosul, the spokeswoman said that it remains far from being over.

"The situation in Mosul is still far from coming to an end, Daesh militia is still retaining the Western right-bank part of the city and about 20% of the Eastern part and the left bank," Zakharova said.

On UK Foreign Secretary's comments on Aleppo

UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson's statements on Aleppo are undiplomatic and unprofessional, Zakharova said.

Boris Johnson said last week that the Syrian army's success in Aleppo is a "hollow victory".

On Russian ambassador Karlov's assassination in Turkey

Western anti-Russian propaganda formed public opinion in such a way that it led to the assassination of Russian ambassador Karlov in Turkey, the spokeswoman said.

"Purposeful anti-Russian propaganda has been going on for a long time, on different levels, and it resulted in the assassination of the Russian ambassador. It will be on the conscience of anyone who engaged in this propaganda," Zakharova stressed.

On terror threat to diplomats

Andrei Karlov, the Russian Ambassador to Turkey, speaks at a photo exhibition in Ankara on Monday, Dec. 19, 2016, moments before a gunman opened fire on him - Sputnik International
Russian Ambassador Karlov's Murder is a 'Desperate Move by Agonizing Terrorists'
Commenting on the issue of Daesh hit lists with Russian diplomats' names, which were published in some media outlets earlier, Zakharova said that these lists are created by the same terrorists who are killing innocent people by dozens.

What is worrying, Zakharova stressed, is that many "so-called respected Western outlets" are not simply publishing these lists without any comment, but are also "savoring" them. Zakharova then questioned the legitimacy of such publications since Daesh is a terrorist organization outlawed around the world.

"This is provoking the society, provoking people with certain views, with certain tendencies; it is motivating them to take certain actions," Zakharova said.

On Ukraine, Donbass, Debaltsevo

The situation in Debaltsevo indicates that the "party of war" in Ukraine is once again trying to take over, Zakharova said.

Zakharova also noted that this year has been "virtually wasted" in the context of regulation of the crisis in Ukraine.

"The responsibility for this lies on Ukraine's government that is constantly talking about the consolidation of the society, about unifying the country, and in fact are doing nothing to overcome the current split and are refusing to have a dialog with their citizens," Zakharova said.

On inta-Syria talks in Astana

Work is underway to determine the date and format of intra-Syrian negotiations in Kazakhstan, Zakharova said when a journalist asked her about the talks.

"Both the date and the format, as well as the participants, are at the stage of elaboration. The second point is that it is by no means a replacement of the Geneva process," Zakharova said in a weekly briefing. "This is a different platform, a different format, these are different goals and objectives which will be detailed."

The Russian Foreign Ministry said Tuesday that Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and his Turkish colleague Mevlut Cavusoglu discussed preparations for Syrian talks in the Kazakh capital of Astana by phone.

"Everything is currently under development. It is not necessary to say that it will be held in the coming days or weeks, it still will take time. When it comes to expert opinion, the experts agree that it is a medium-term prospect," Zakharova said of the anticipated talks.

On US' arms supplies to Syrian allies

While Washington failed to separate 'moderate opposition' from terrorists in Syria as they had promised, the US' decision to lift formal restrictions that forbade providing defense-related supplies or services to countries that are not cooperating fully with US anti-terrorism efforts means that these weapons could easily end up in terrorists' hands, Zakharova said.


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