RIA Novosti: Russian diplomat calls for renewed cooperation with West against ISIS

Map of Area Spanning Portions of Iraq, Syria, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, highlighting military engagements against ISIL

(RIA Novosti – January 13, 2015) The Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) poses just as much of a threat to Russia as it does to the West, the director of the Russian Foreign Ministry’s department of new threats and challenges, Ilya Rogachev, was quoted as saying by RIA Novosti (part of the state-owned International News Agency Rossiya Segodnya) on 13 January.

“ISIL poses a particular threat to Russia. To a significant degree it is analogous to the threat this organization poses to Western states, and I do not think that there are any fundamental differences here that could divide us and prevent us from cooperating as necessary to repel it efficiently,” Rogachev said.

However, he said, it is still too early to talk about the possibility that Russia may attend the upcoming summit on terrorism, scheduled for 18 February in Washington DC.

“Of course, this is a very important topic, a correct one, and it is obvious to experts that this issue needs to be discussed from this angle: not simply suppressing terrorism with force, but trying to look at the wider picture from the point of view of preventing terrorism, averting the spread of views and ideologies that could lead to acts of violence, including terrorism. So we are prepared to participate in international efforts to fight extremism,” he said.

However, asked whether Russia was prepared to attend the summit in Washington if invited, he answered: “Let’s wait a while, because, as I understand, the initiative was only voiced the day before yesterday [11 January].”

Rogachev blamed the West for the drop-off in cooperation with Moscow, but expressed hope that the situation would be rectified in the near future.

“We have always said that we are ready to expand and deepen this cooperation, especially in the current situation, when collaboration with states of the so-called historical West, with the USA and its closest allies, has been practically collapsed at the initiative of the USA and its partners. Many multilateral formats have been frozen, but bilateral contacts have also been ceased. But we are definitely ready to renew contacts,” he said, adding that for almost a year now, Moscow had been calling upon the West “not to cut these mutual contacts in the fight with new challenges and threats, which does not only relate to terrorism”.

Rogachev then accused members of the anti-ISIS coalition of “destabilizing” legitimate governments in the Middle East, and called upon them to take Russia’s cue and cooperate with them in the fight against the Islamic State.

According to him, Russia and the coalition are experiencing “a clash of opinions that are not contradictory in nature and should not pose an obstacle to cooperation against terror”.

“The clash is based mainly in the perception of the genesis of the crisis: we believe that, instead of destabilizing legal governments and thus creating conditions in which extremist forces can arise, and especially encouraging these extremist forces in any way or turning a blind eye to them, it is necessary to help legal governments to fight them effectively,” he said, adding that Moscow had been providing “significant aid” to the Iraqi and Syrian governments.

He called upon the West to join Russia in the fight against terrorism and to abandon its political and ideological approaches to dealing with the country.

“The impulse for global cooperation, including with Russia’s participation, arises in times of dramatic terrorist acts, just as it was after the terrorist attacks on the USA in 2001,” he said.

“It would be best to cooperate in full on a permanent basis without these political, ideological approaches to relations with Russia, particularly in those fields where our interests match to a high degree,” Rogachev said.