18:00 GMT21 April 2021
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    Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova commented on the implementation of the Syrian ceasefire regime and Moscow's stance on the UN resolution on North Korea during her weekly press briefing in Moscow.

    Russian Foreign Ministry Weekly Agenda

    Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov will take part in a meeting of Normandy Quartet foreign ministers in Paris on March 3.

    "It's planned to assess the current situation in southeastern Ukraine, and to analyze the implementation of the Minsk agreements," Zakharova said.

    Moscow does not discuss Brussels' sanctions against Russia as it was not Russia that imposed them first, Zakharova said, commenting on the issues the Russian foreign minister aims to discuss with Normandy format colleagues on the sidelines of the Ukraine talks.

    Ceasefire in Syria

    There have been 32 violations of the ceasefire over the first 72 hours of the truce in Syria, Maria Zakharova said.

    "Thirty-one cases of ceasefire violations have been recorded. The US group on the truce located in the Jordanian capital of Amman has been informed of these facts," Zakharova said at her weekly briefing in Moscow.

    Last week, Russia and the United States reached an agreement on the ceasefire in Syria. The cessation of hostilities took effect at midnight on Saturday, Damascus time, generally holding across the country despite reported minor violations.

    Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman commented on statements that the truce established in Syria will last for only two weeks.

    "We noticed that a number of media outlets claimed in their reports that the ceasefire will last for two weeks, and then it should end. This is untrue. We draw your attention to the fact that we’re not talking about a two-week timeframe for the cessation of hostilities, but the truce will not be limited in time."

    She said that putting so much effort into implementing the truce was not meant "to give the sides a two-week breather."

    Moscow calls on Washington to be responsible in regard to the implementation of its obligations amid the ceasefire in Syria, the spokeswoman said.

    Zakharova also said that Russia hopes that US authorities' statements on a backup plan should the ceasefire fail would never be implemented.

    During testimony to the US Congress last week, Secretary of State John Kerry said that, if the ceasefire failed, the United States would seek a "Plan B" in Syria, which could include the partition of the war-torn country.

    "We hope that all statements by made senior officials in Washington on some sort of a 'plan B,' or any other alternative for Syria should hostilities resume, remain just words. We call on our US partners to adhere to their obligations."

    "It is necessary to be careful, conscientious and responsible in regard to the implementation of the Russian-US deal on the cessation of hostilities in Syria."

    Syrians themselves should decide on the federalization of their country, Zakharova said.

    She said that claims of Russia being ready to give Daesh part of Syrian territory are "blasphemy." Moscow has never supported Daesh terrorists and will never do that, the ministry spokeswoman emphasized.

    Russia welcomes the participation of Kurds in the Syrian peace talks, Zakharova said, adding that "the importance of their participation [in the reconciliation] talks should not fall victim to interests of one state."

    However, she said that it was up to the United Nations to invite participants to the Syrian peace talks, and Moscow could only voice its opinion.

    Maria Zakharova commented on a statement made by NATO Supreme Allied Commander Europe Gen. Philip Breedlove at the US Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday.

    The NATO general accused Russia of being responsible for the refugee influx from Syria.

    The spokeswoman said that it was up to US authorities to comment on Breedlove's statements as "it was unclear whether it was his professional or personal opinion."

    UN Resolution on North Korea

    Moscow has never attempted to delay the work of the UN Security Council on a resolution on North Korea, the Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman said.

    "Since we are talking about sanctions that will have an impact on Russia [as well], we sipmply need time to agree the document with relevant Russian government organization. There were no and are no interruptions, delays or attempts to complicate the work of the Security Council by Russia."

    Two Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) interceptors are launched during a successful intercept test.
    © REUTERS / U.S. Department of Defense, Missile Defense Agency/Handout
    On Tuesday, the vote on the UN Security Council draft resolution introducing tougher sanctions against North Korea was postponed until Wednesday at Moscow's request.

    In January, Pyongyang conducted its fourth nuclear test, and launched a ballistic missile in February in violation of the Security Council resolutions.

    On Tuesday, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon thanked Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov for the constructive and important role that Russia plays vis-a-vis the DPRK and the Korean peninsula.


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