We must find opportunities to communicate with Russian residents as well - US ambassador

  • 2023-06-15
  • LETA/TBT Staff

RIGA - Ever since Russia's invasion of Ukraine, the US president has emphasized that we are not at war with the Russian people, who live in a totalitarian and increasingly authoritarian regime, so we must find opportunities to communicate with these people in order to tell them the truth, US Ambassador to Latvia Christopher Robinson emphasized in an interview with LETA.

"They are being lied to by their own government. They need to know the truth about what is happening in Ukraine, how President Vladimir Putin's actions have caused a strategic disaster for Moscow and set back the country's development for, presumably, at least a generation. How do we communicate this truth to the Russian people?" asked the ambassador rhetorically.

In 2018, he was expelled from Russia as a diplomat. "In large part because we criticized Russia for what it did and is doing to its own people, including the use of prohibited chemical weapons," Robinson explained.

He emphasized that this is exactly why he praised Latvia for hosting Russian journalists. "In my opinion, this confirms Latvia's determination to defend fundamental freedoms and human rights. Our security is not only military, it is values, it is the architecture we have created to protect these values," said Robinson. "Latvia understands what happens when we abandon these values, or when they are threatened by external forces. It understands the need to defend them. Therefore, I am glad that Latvia has created a safe environment for Russian journalists, and, in my opinion, this proves Latvia's understanding of this, what the war in Ukraine and Putin's repressions against his own people really mean."

The US ambassador categorically condemned Russia's frequent threats of nuclear attacks and pointed out that the US has not changed its position on nuclear issues. "We still support international, multilateral arms control. As a responsible nuclear power, we are ready to act responsibly. We have not changed this position. If Russia would like to return to a serious dialogue, then we keep this door open. But we have not observed any interest in this, just as we do not see changes in Russia's behavior. We have rejected and condemned their irresponsible rhetoric, while continuing these discussions within NATO to ensure we are ready to deter and defend," Robinson said.

The ambassador expressed his understanding of Latvia's efforts to strengthen the position of the Latvian language and culture in the country by reducing communication in Russian, however, he pointed out that the US Embassy also continues to communicate in Russian in some cases, as it aims to reach all audiences and all Latvian people with its messages.

"We don't want to create a field for disinformation. We want to counter it," Robinson emphasized. "This is my challenge as a diplomat - to find a way to reach all parts of Latvian society and make sure that our message is heard, that we have communicated our policy. The media must also continue to adapt, also make sure that new audiences are reached."

Asked about strikes by the Ukrainian armed forces on Russian territory, the US ambassador denied that anything has changed - Washington does not support such attacks.

"But at the same time, we must remember who started this war - it was Moscow; who is carrying out atrocities - it is Moscow, so only Moscow is responsible for the situation that prevails now. And it is Moscow that can end this war even today. It does not even need complicated processes like negotiations, Moscow can simply stop this war of aggression and crime, and we encourage Moscow to do so," Robinson said. "As Biden said, winning the war is the way to get Russia out of Ukraine."

The ambassador emphasized that the United States will support Ukraine as long as it is needed. "Therefore, Moscow must understand that it cannot succeed, it cannot win. Most recently, we announced a new aid program, which includes additional armaments and ammunition, so that Ukraine can defend itself," he added.