Interview of the Ambassador of Russia to Australia Grigory Logvinov with ABC News




Question: Our Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, has said the onus is on Russia to pull Assad into line. What do you make of Australia's comments and calls to Russia to help?

Grigory Logvinov: Australian comments are in line with other Western countries.

Well, actually, Russia is also strongly opposing any use of chemical weapons against our own people, other people and so on. And you know, we were one of the architects of this convention on chemical weapons, or prohibition of chemical weapons.

The only thing we want - actually, we don't protect the Assad Government only because we love it or we want something else. We want to have the truth. And that's why, you know, we want this incident to be investigated properly.

Question: The military hotline, the deconfliction hotline: your Foreign Minister says it was halted following the US air strike. Was that a responsible move, considering that could have put the lives at risk of not only Russians but Americans, Australians?

Grigory Logvinov: Well, our President has already answered this question. We are ready to get back to this agreement. But we expect that the US party would also confirm who are and what are the targets of their attacks.

Question: But not using that hotline put lives at risk?

Grigory Logvinov: Well, it was not our choice. Excuse me: it was not Russia who launched Tomahawks.

Question: But it was Russia's choice not to use the hotline?

Grigory Logvinov: Well, speaking frankly, I'm not ready to go that deep into details.

Question: Why not?

Grigory Logvinov: Why not? Because I am not directly doing this Syria conflict. Well, my good friend, the Director-General of the relevant Russian Ministry's bureau, Sergey Vershinin, who is an absolute specialist.

Question: But you can understand people here in Australia: their concerns when they hear that a hotline that is supposed to be open to ensure fatalities don't occur is not being used?

Grigory Logvinov: Well, once again, I'm not ready to... But what I can tell you for sure: that on Russian side, everything would be done to avoid any conflict.

Question: If we can move on to North Korea: how would you describe the situation there, then, at the moment?

Grigory Logvinov: Very dangerous. Very dangerous. And it may go out of control any moment. Speaking frankly, I am absolutely not happy about seeing this brinkmanship over these war games, over this rhetoric and so on.

Question: So, what's the solution here? Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has called on Beijing to step up to the plate, to talk to North Korea. Whose responsibility or role, is it?

Grigory Logvinov: Well, I disagree with the view, with the perception that Beijing is kind of gismo when dealing with North Korea.

Yes, maybe China really has more leverage on North Korea than any other country. But in any case, it's not absolute leverage. North Koreans are doing what they want.

Question: So how do we stop that?

Grigory Logvinov: That's a problem. I failed to do it within 7 years.

Question: What did you try to do that you think could work, maybe, now?

Grigory Logvinov: Maybe now: well, I guess, maybe this idea of 'double freeze' might work.

I mean, for North Koreans, concern number one: US-ROK (Republic of Korea) military exercises. And maybe if at some time, just for a test, the US could, well, for some time postpone these military exercises...

Question: So, the US has recently been reassuring the Asia-Pacific that it's going to engage more in the region?

Grigory Logvinov:  Well, that's their right to say. Of course, we make it clear that more and more developing military activity won't lead to anything.

Question: Ambassador, thank you for your time.

Grigory Logvinov: Thank you. My pleasure.