Excerpts from Briefing by Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Maria Zakharova Briefing by Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Maria Zakharova

April 27, 2016

“The Russian threat” as a business

A recent publication in the American newspaper The Hill about the Pentagon’s plans to quadruple its defence budget for Europe has caught our attention. Of course, the potential “Russian aggression” is one of the main issues on the agenda of the US House Committee on Armed Services. And today, it is going to discuss its 2017 defence budget.

This really proves that the fight against the so-called Russian threat has become a good way to make some good money. The fact that Washington plans to increase its already significant defence budget is a clear and obvious proof of this.

The scheme is very simple. First, the population is intimidated by planted information about Russia being an aggressor, then the relevant publications appear, and then budget funds are allocated for new defence projects, which inevitably involve certain countermeasures to combat the “Russian threat.” This is a great story and one that actually works. This is a good occasion to explain to taxpayers on how their tax dollars are spent and invite them to support this policy. Recently, one Western foreign affairs senior official, who has popularity and authority with colleagues all over the world, said: “You cannot even imagine how many people have made their careers on Russophobia.” There are two variants: one can either build a business or a career.

Answers to media questions:

Question: A few days ago, US President Barack Obama voiced his plans to deploy an additional 250 troops in Syria to provide anti-terror training for some local armed formations. Could you comment on this story, given Washington’s repeated statements that there will be no US boots on the ground in Syria?

Maria Zakharova: The day before yesterday, sharp polemics erupted between journalists and US State Department spokesman John Kirby. The spokesman insisted that US officials had never said that there would be no US boots on the ground in Syria, while journalists referred to President Barack Obama’s statements showing the opposite.

Since Washington’s policy in the region is so wide-ranging, one would also like it to be consistent. Those seeing themselves as world leaders cannot change their decisions or revoke them, and, of course, they must be the true masters of their words. It sounds pathetic, but this is the practice.

Indeed, we would like to understand what all that means, whether it is a one-time affair, who those people are, what tasks have been set before them, where they will be deployed, why they are being moved in, and, also very important, whether all that is part of a certain programme or a certain plan. It matters not just to Russia, but to all member states of the International Syria Support Group (ISSG). We are all part of one common group, the ISSG. We all agreed to compromise something to be able to work together on Syria. Since we are working together on Syria, we must understand what steps each of the parties intends to take and the nature of its strategy and plans.

The day before yesterday, I watched my US colleague trying to give at least some explanation of why “we first play and then do not play,” why the “no boots on the ground” concept has been preached for years and why US soldiers are nevertheless being deployed in Syria. I think that there is a fine solution to this story: in order for at least the US State Department to save face, the US soldiers will have to land in Syria barefooted.