from 25.01.2021 to 31.01.2021

1 Tunisia approves Russian-made Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine, plans to start immunization in coming months – 31.01.2021 (

2 Putin signs bill on extending New START into law – 29.01.2021 ( 

3 First batch of Russian Sputnik V vaccine arrives in Algeria – 29.01.2021 ( 

4 Success of measures to combat Covid-19 means pandemic slowly receding in Russia, but premature to declare victory yet, says Putin – 28.01.2021 ( 

5 Russia urges to adopt international rules of social media content moderation – ministry – 27.01.2021 (

6 Putin tells Davos that divided modern world facing ‘real breakdown’, with demographic struggles & echoes of 1930s pre-WW2 tensions – 27.01.2021 ( 

Tunisia approves Russian-made Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine, plans to start immunization in coming months

Tunisia has become the third nation in Africa to authorize the Russian-made Sputnik V vaccine for emergency use. The country previously expressed hope that it could get a portion of the vaccines from neighboring Algeria.

The vaccine was approved for emergency use for one year, the Tunisian Health Ministry said in a statement. Tunisia became the third country in Africa to approve Sputnik V in Africa, following its larger neighbor, Algeria, and Guinea.

Kirill Dmitriev, the head of the Russian Direct Investment Fund, which funded the development of Sputnik V, called the news “an important step aimed at prevention of the spread of the coronavirus.”

Tunisia plans to kick off its immunization campaign in the second quarter of 2021. Officials expressed hope that Tunisia could receive a batch of vaccines from Algeria, which started administering Sputnik V on Saturday.

The North African nation previously authorized the use of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine and signed a deal with Pfizer to receive 2 million doses, according to Hashemi Louzir, the head of the Pasteur Institute of Tunis.

Health Minister Faouzi Mehdi said earlier this month that starting from April, the country expects to receive 6 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine through the World Health Organization’s distribution program.

To date, over a dozen countries have approved the Sputnik V vaccine, including Argentina, Serbia, Hungary, Iran, and the UAE.

Putin signs bill on extending New START into law

Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed into a law a bill extending the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) until February 5, 2026, the Kremlin press service said in a statement published on its website.

"The federal law ratifies the agreement on extending the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty between the Russian Federation and the United States, dated April 8, 2010, which Russia and the US made on January 26, 2021, through an exchange of notes," the statement reads.

According to the Kremlin press service, the federal law enters into force on the day of its official publication.

"The extension of the treaty is in line with Russia’s national interests as it makes it possible to maintain transparency and predictability in strategic relations between Russia and the US and preserve global strategic stability. Besides, it will have a positive effect on the international situation, contributing to the nuclear disarmament process," the statement adds.

New START, which was signed in 2010 and came into force in 2011, limits Russia and the US to no more than 700 deployed intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM), submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBM) and strategic bombers, no more than 1,550 deployed warheads and 800 deployed and non-deployed launchers.

Moscow repeatedly urged Washington not to delay a decision on extending the treaty, which was set to expire on February 5, 2021. However, the Trump administration was reluctant to extend the treaty and insisted on expanding it to include China, but Beijing rejected the idea.

Joe Biden administration took a different position. White House press secretary Jen Psaki said at a briefing on January 22 that the US authorities sought to extend the treaty for five years.

On January 26, Moscow and Washington exchanged notes on extending New START. Presidents Vladimir Putin of Russia and Joseph Biden of the United States welcomed the move in a telephone call. On the same day, Putin submitted a bill on extending New START for five years to the State Duma (the lower house of parliament).

First batch of Russian Sputnik V vaccine arrives in Algeria

The first batch of the Russian Sputnik V preparation against the coronavirus arrived in Algeria on Friday. As a source in the North African capital told a TASS correspondent, a plane with the preparation aboard landed in late afternoon at Boufarik airport in the Blida Province. "The work on promoting the Russian vaccine in Algeria, including its registration, contractual negotiations and coordination of delivery, is performed by the RDIF [the Russian Direct Investment Fund] with the direct involvement of the trade mission and the Russian Embassy in Algeria," the agency’s interlocutor said.

As Algerian Communications Minister and Government Spokesman Ammar Belhimer reported, the arrival of the first batch of the Russian vaccine will allow to begin the vaccination campaign as early as January 30, according to the assignment issued earlier by Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune. The inoculation campaign will begin in the Blida Province which since the beginning of the pandemic in 2020 for a long time remained one of the major hotspots of the infection in the country.

The Sputnik V vaccine was registered in Algeria on January 10, 2021. Earlier, the RDIF reported that the deliveries of the preparation to the North African republic will be performed thanks to international partners in India, China, South Korea and other countries. According to head of the RDIF Kirill Dmitriev, the deliveries will help protect the health of Algerian citizens and ensure a complete recovery of economic activity.

The first case of the coronavirus infection in Algeria was recorded on February 25, 2020. Since then, the number of infections has surpassed 106,000. The total number of fatalities has surpassed 2,800 while over 72,000 patients have recovered. The government daily urges the residents to remain on alert and strictly observe measures of hygiene and social distance in order to curb the pandemic.

Success of measures to combat Covid-19 means pandemic slowly receding in Russia, but premature to declare victory yet, says Putin

The Covid-19 pandemic in Russia is receding and the country's measures to combat the virus' spread are working. That's according to President Vladimir Putin, who told his cabinet on Thursday that it is still too early to relax.

The president's words came on the same day as Russia recorded 19,138 daily coronavirus cases, down 50 percent from the peak in mid-December.

"On the whole, [these actions] are yielding positive results," Putin noted. "The pandemic is gradually receding."

However, while he noted that the recovery rate is higher than the number of new infections, the president was keen to point out that the pandemic has not ended, and it is far too early to become complacent. 

"The overall situation is satisfactory as far as mortality is concerned," he said. "[But] I want to draw your attention to the fact that it is too premature to relax."

Compared to other European countries, Russia is performing very well, with about "12 infections per 100,000 people," Putin noted. 

The reduction in Russian Covid-19 cases is not only due to imposed measures but the ever-growing amount of citizens who already have antibodies. On Thursday afternoon, federal health watchdog chief Anna Popova revealed that around 20-25 percent of the population has already developed resistance to the virus.

Russia also has the bonus of having its own domestically-made Covid-19 vaccine, Sputnik V. Earlier this month, the Russian Direct Investment Fund revealed that more than 1.5 million people had already been inoculated against coronavirus. 

With infection numbers falling, some parts of the country are starting to roll back pandemic-related restrictions. For example, on Wednesday, Moscow's Mayor Sergey Sobyanin removed the ban on nightlife opening after 11pm. The measure, imposed on November 13, required bars, restaurants, clubs, and bowling alleys to close overnight.

In recent months, Russia's battle with Covid-19 has been in stark contrast to that in many other European countries, which still have very strong restrictions, with many states imposing strict national lockdowns.

Russia urges to adopt international rules of social media content moderation – ministry

Moscow backs laying down international regulations in moderating content by social media platforms in light of the recent actions by the US IT giants, the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement Wednesday.

"It is clear that the media sphere must be regulated and codified. We need to establish constructive dialogue with all interested parties to mobilize efforts to work out clearly defined demands for transparency of policies of social media content moderation and enshrine them in international documents. There is pressing need for joint substantive work in relevant international organizations, primarily the UN, Council of Europe and the OSCE," the Russian diplomatic agency underlined.

The ministry stressed that restrictive actions of American social media managements about the content published on their platforms "dealt a blow to the democratic system of values and the international information architecture."

"Permissibility of arbitrary and non-transparent censorship of media content by digital platforms in absence of relevant court decisions raises question about the state duty as a guarantor of implementing international obligations to ensure freedom of opinions by those under its jurisdiction," the statement notes, adding that the US violated a number of international documents including OSCE ones.

Note for US embassy

The Russian Foreign Ministry has also warned the US embassy that Moscow has the right to take measures in response to spreading of fakes about Russia by US digital platforms.

"We note the large-scale dissemination of fakes about Russia by American digital platforms who systematically produce provocative content which is, in turn, coordinately spread by the US embassy in Moscow. Its representative who was summoned to the Foreign Ministry on January 27 was handed a note of protest containing a warning that the Russian side reserves the right to respond," the ministry said in a statement Wednesday.

Putin tells Davos that divided modern world facing ‘real breakdown’, with demographic struggles & echoes of 1930s pre-WW2 tensions

Russian President Vladimir Putin has warned against the danger of repeating the mistakes leading up to World War II, noting that the modern world might break down as it struggles with the battle of “everyone against everyone.”

Putin was speaking at the Davos World Economic Forum, held remotely this year, in his first appearance at the prestigious meeting since 2009.

Putin also warned against the" destruction" of traditional values, as well as the right to choose and the right to a private life. "The social and values crisis is already having negative demographic consequences, from which mankind is at risk of losing entire civilizational and cultural continents," he said, stressing that it is a global responsibility to avoid this "gloomy dystopia."

On the 76th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, the Russian president also noted that the "inability and unwillingness" to resolve problems in the 20th century led the world to a catastrophe, before expressing his hope that a "hot conflict" is "basically impossible" nowadays. «I really hope so – it would mean the end of civilization," he said.

In particular, Putin drew parallels between the modern world and that of the 1930s, noting that "the scale and complex systemic nature of the challenges" in international relations pose similar threats.

In his opinion, existing economic models are causing a "sharp polarization" in views, leading to both populism and radicalism. "International institutions are weakening, regional conflicts are multiplying, and the global security system is degrading," he noted.

The World Economic Forum is an annual meeting of business leaders, political figures and economists, usually hosted in Switzerland. This year, due to Covid-19, it is being hosted in Singapore, with most speakers appearing virtually. 2021 marks the first time Putin has spoken at the event since 2009, when he was Russia’s Prime Minister.




 from 08.02.2021 to 14.02.2021

1 Russia’s response to COVID-19 pandemic was better than in US,
 Europe – Putin
 - 14.02.2021 (

2 Lavrov welcomes US return to Paris Agreement in talks with Kerry -13.02.2021 (

3 Russia’s Sputnik V jab developers working on vaccine to tackle several Covid-19 strains at once - 12.02.2021 (

4 Hungary starts vaccinations using Russia’s Sputnik V - 11.02.2021 ( 

5 Sputnik V prepares for EU launch: Russian Covid-19 vaccine clears 1st hurdle for roll-out as regulator EMA accepts application - 09.02.2021 (

6 Lavrov tells Borrell Brussels to blame for collapse of Russia-EU relations - 08.02.2021 (

1 Russia’s response to COVID-19 pandemic was better than in US,

Russia managed to mobilize its healthcare sector and industry to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic better than the United States and Europe did, Russian President Vladimir Putin said.

During a meeting with editors-in-chief of Russian media outlets, fragments of which were aired on Sunday by the Rossiya-24 TV channel, the Russian leader said the United States and Europe "have a high level of healthcare and industry and demonstrate amazing achievements." "In some areas, we are way behind them, but all this is available only to a limited number of people. In our country, they [achievements in healthcare and industry] are [available] to the overwhelming majority of the population," Putin continued

"And they have no ability to mobilize; as it turned out we are better at it," the Russian president added. "In terms of mobilizing the entire healthcare system and industry, [Russia] turned out to be way ahead of European countries and the United States, who, in fact, found themselves in some sort of chaos."

In his words, some governments expected that Russia would find itself unable to cope with the pandemic.

"They assumed that we are worhtless, and won’t be able to do anything," he said. "But we did - and we did it better than other countries".

2 Lavrov welcomes US return to Paris Agreement in talks with Kerry 13.02.2021

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and US Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry discussed the implementation of the Paris Agreement in a phone conversation on Saturday and agreed to promote bilateral contacts in this field, the Russian Foreign Ministry said.

"Lavrov welcomed the new US administration’s intention to return to this key multilateral agreement that provides a reliable international legal basis for a long-term solution on climate," the statement says.

Both sides emphasized the need to enhance the broadest possible international cooperation on this issue, taking into consideration the environmental, economic, social and political factors along with the interests of all the nations without exception.

"The minister and special envoy agreed to promote contacts between the profile agencies of Russia and the United States in connection with the upcoming series of milestone events in preparation for the 26th UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow," the statement says.

Apart from that, Lavrov and Kerry agreed to boost bilateral cooperation at the Arctic Council, taking into consideration Russia’s two-year chairmanship of that organization, the Russian Foreign Ministry said. The conversation was requested by the US side. 

3 Russia’s Sputnik V jab developers working on vaccine to tackle several
 Covid-19 strains at once

The Gamaleya Institute behind Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine said it’s working on a technology that will lead to an effective jab against several coronavirus variants and which could also be swiftly updated to tackle new mutations.

The multiplying variants of Covid-19, which could turn out to be resistant to current vaccines and prolong the pandemic even further, have recently become a source of major concern for governments and medics around the globe.

But the solution to the problem may be just around the corner, as the Gamaleya Institute's director, Alexander Gintsburg, revealed that the Moscow-based research body “has developed a technology that allows to quickly and efficiently create vaccine agents that will include antigens not from one, but two, three, four or five different coronavirus variants.”

Such a vaccine should be able to provide immunity from all coronavirus strains that could threaten a population at any given time, Gintsburg said, in an interview with the Rossiya 24 channel.

So far, all of the known mutations appear to be covered by the vaccines, but that may well change as RNA viruses like Covid-19 are the most rapidly changing objects in the world, he pointed out.

The Russian multi-variant vaccine is currently in its research phase, with clinical trials scheduled to begin by the end of the year. The finished drug will likely be made available to customers in 2022, Gintsburg estimated.

Numerous strains of coronavirus have been already discovered by scientists, but three of them are causing the most worries at the moment. The so-called UK, South Africa and Brazil variants have shown multiple changes in their spike protein, through which the virus attaches itself to human cells.

It made those mutations much more contagious than the original Covid-19, provoking spikes in infections in their countries of their origin and allowing them to quickly spread to many other places around the world.

4 Hungary starts vaccinations using Russia’s Sputnik V

Hungary has started vaccinations against the novel coronavirus using Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine, according to a statement published on the website of the country’s government on Thursday. "Sputnik V will be used on Thursday and Friday at four vaccination points in Budapest," Gergely Gulyas, Minister of the Hungarian Prime Minister Office, said.

He added that local medical workers use the Russian drug for vaccination of people under the age of 75, without chronic diseases.

On February 7, Hungarian Labor Minister Miklos Kasler said that the National Center for Public Health had completed a study of documents from the manufacturer and concluded that the Russian vaccine can be used for people.

Currently, Hungary uses four drugs for vaccination - Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca and Sputnik V.

In November 2020, Hungary became the first country in the European Union to approve the use of the Russian vaccine. In January 2021, Hungary’s National Institute of Pharmacy and Nutrition had finished the study of Sputnik V documents and approved preliminary permit to use this vaccine.

5 Sputnik V prepares for EU launch: Russian Covid-19 vaccine clears 1st hurdle for roll-out as regulator EMA accepts application

Brussels’ beleaguered coronavirus vaccination program could be poised to get a shot in the arm as the EU’s central regulator completes its initial stage in appraising Sputnik V, the vaccine developed by Moscow’s Gamaleya Center.

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) told Russian media on Tuesday that the scientific consultation process was now finalized. “As a next step, the company can prepare an application for a registration certificate” for the EU market, a source at the agency informed RIA Novosti.

Later that morning, the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), which financed the development of the formula, announced that it “has official confirmation from the EMA that the application was accepted.” How quickly it could receive final approval to be used is now up to the regulator.

In January, Brussels announced that it was considering the formula. The RDIF, which financed its development, told reporters at the time it had “filed for Sputnik V’s registration in the EU and expect it to be reviewed in February. Based on these reviews, the EMA will decide on authorization of Sputnik V for the EU.”

A number of member states have since expressed optimism about the prospect of access to the vaccine. Last week, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she was open to Germany using Sputnik V after data published in the Lancet showed its effectiveness was 91.6 percent against the virus overall and 100 percent against severe cases. “We have received good data today from the Russian vaccine,” Merkel said. “Every vaccine is welcome in the EU, but only after it has been approved by EMA.”

At a meeting with counterparts in Moscow last week, the EU’s high representative for foreign affairs and security policy, Josep Borrell, lavished praise on the vaccine. The diplomat told reporters at a press conference that he wanted to “congratulate Russia on the success of this venture. This is useful for all mankind, it means that we will have more tools to fight the pandemic.” The former Spanish foreign minister expressed hope “that now the European Medicines Agency will be able to certify this vaccine for use in EU member states.”

Last week, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen acknowledged a number of failures in its strategy to procure supplies and launch its immunization program. “In hindsight we should have given more thought in parallel to the challenges of mass production,” she said. There has been mounting pressure on Brussels due to the slow start to injections, with countries like Israel and the UK rolling out programs far faster despite, in theory, having smaller purchasing power than the bloc.

Also on Tuesday, the World Health Organization (WHO) expressed hope that Sputnik V would become one of the formulas supplied as part of the COVAX program, which aims to roll out vials to less affluent countries that have been unable to buy their way onto manufacturers’ order books. Around 190 nations such as Afghanistan, Namibia, and Ukraine are all posted to receive hundreds of thousands, or even millions, of doses.

Because of its ability to be stored at warmer temperatures and the fact its price tag is significantly lower than its equally efficacious competitors, the formula has been seen as a potential game changer for distribution to the developing world.

6 Lavrov tells Borrell Brussels to blame for collapse of Russia-EU relations

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Monday he told visiting EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell that the blame for the collapse in Russia-EU relations rested on Brussels.

"During talks with Josep Borrell in Moscow, I spoke about importance of building Russia-EU relations on a systemic basis. I recalled that back in 2014 the European Union had ruined the architecture of comprehensive ties with our country, which had been painstakingly built for years," he said in a statement.

According to Lavrov, the key reason was the European Union’s support for the anti-constitutional state coup in Ukraine "with an apparent anti-Russian tinge." He recalled that as a result regular Russia-EU summits and meetings between the Russian government and the European Commission had been suspended and the formats of Russia-EU partnership and other dialogues had been frozen.

"Far before the state coup in Ukraine, the European Union interrupted work on a practically ready draft agreement on short-term visa-free exchanges between Russia and the European Union at the request of certain EU members. The reason: they said they could not grant visa-free exchanges with Russia until they were not provided to Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine. So, direct politicization and openly anti-Russian implications are obvious," Lavrov stressed.

He drew attention to the fact that after being admitted to the European Union the Baltic republics had launched "an open and sustained" discrimination of their Russian-speaking population. He stressed that pressure on Russian media was growing in these countries and the institute of statelessness still remained in Latvia and Estonia. "What is going on there runs counter to the provisions of the Joint Statement on EU Enlargement and EU-Russia Relations of April 27, 2004, such as Brussels’ liability to protect national minorities. So, the question is: who is drifting away? Maybe it is the European Union that is pushing Russia, the Russian language and culture away from itself," Lavrov stressed.

The minister noted that at Friday’s talks with the EU foreign policy chief the Russian side had reiterated its commitment to normalizing the entire spectrum of relations with the European Union. "Not on the basis of unilateral ultimatums, but on the basis of mutual respect and reckoning with each other’s interests. With such an approach, we are ready for cooperation in those areas where we have similar interests," he said, adding that the talks had yielded an agreement on closer cooperation in the areas of public health, science and technologies as well as combating climate change.

"If we add here the key traditional area of cooperation in the energy sector, we will enjoy quite a serious mutually beneficial agenda, if it doesn’t fall victim to geopolitical games," he underscored.




 from 15.02.2021 to 21.02.2021

1 Channeling ex-US president Obama, Russian FM Lavrov describes relationship between Europe's largest country & EU as ‘in tatters’ – 20.02.2021 (

2 Russia registers THIRD domestically-created vaccine against Covid-19, PM reveals: New jab CoviVac joins Sputnik V & EpiVacCorona – 20.02.2021 (

3 US diplomats in Russia have asked to receive Sputnik V Covid-19 vaccine after Washington failed to supply doses  – 19.02.2021 (

4 Sputnik V vaccine registered in San Marino   – 19.02.2021 (

5 Brussels deliberately destroyed framework of Russia-EU ties, says Lavrov – 15.02.2021 (

6 Russia, US interested in cooperation on Middle East settlement problems – 15.02.2021 (

1 Channeling ex-US president Obama, Russian FM Lavrov describes relationship between Europe's largest country & EU as ‘in tatters’

Communication between Brussels and Moscow has deteriorated so badly that it has completely fallen apart, according to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, who believes that the EU sees the country as an “outsider.”

Speaking to the RBK television channel in a video published on Friday, Lavrov adopted a phrase used by former US president Barack Obama in his 2015 State of the Union address when he falsely described the Russian economy as falling apart.

“As former US president Barack Obama once said about the Russian economy: The relationship is in tatters,” he declared.

The foreign minister's comments came a week after he told journalist Vladimir Solovyev that Moscow won’t rule out the possibility of cutting ties with the EU if Brussels imposes more sanctions. Presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov later explained that Lavrov's words had been distorted by the media and said Russia is committed to improving relations but remains ready for all outcomes.

In the RBK interview, Lavrov also recalled how, in 2019, Josep Borrell, the current vice president of the European Commission, called Russia “the old enemy,” when he was Spain's foreign minister. His words were excused as being a misunderstood figure of speech at the time. 

Borrell met Lavrov earlier this month when he visited Moscow. On the same day, Russia announced that it would be expelling three diplomats from EU states over claims that they took part in unauthorized rallies in support of jailed opposition figure Alexey Navalny. Since returning to Brussels, Borrell has received a barrage of criticism, with some claiming that he had been humiliated. 

Earlier this week, Peskov told reporters that Moscow's dialogue with the EU and US is hindered by the West's “manic insistence” on talking about imposing economic sanctions on Russia, which impedes any discussion on other issues.

2 Russia registers THIRD domestically-created vaccine against Covid-19, PM reveals: New jab CoviVac joins Sputnik V & EpiVacCorona

A third Covid-19 vaccine has been registered in Russia, the country's Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin announced on Saturday morning. The drug, dubbed CoviVac, has been developed by the Chumakov Scientific Center in Moscow.

The new formula, which has yet to complete phase three trials, uses the most traditional technology out of all of the Russian-made anti-coronavirus solutions. CoviVac is a whole virus vaccine that contains either weakened or deactivated strains of the infection, cultivated specifically for its production.

Its developers have previously said that the vast majority of vaccines worldwide have been built on this technology and using it against the Covid-19 pandemic was a viable option.

The pilot batch of 120,000 doses is expected to become available for Russia’s public in mid-March, Mishustin stated. The developers are also seeking to export the vaccine to other countries, following in the footsteps of the Gamaleya Center's pioneering Sputnik V. 

The virus sample used to create the vaccine was collected from a Covid-19 patient hospitalized in the Moscow region, the head of Chumakov Center, Aidar Ishmukhametov, revealed back in December. The sample turned out to be both bold and ‘cooperative’ enough to thrive in the laboratory, providing scientists with the material needed to produce the vaccine.

The first coronavirus vaccine registered by Russia, Sputnik V, relies on a unique two-vector human adenovirus technology. Basically, coronavirus particles are inserted into a weakened adenovirus, which is a genetically modified flu virus that cannot reproduce in the human body. It then triggers the required immunity reaction. Sputnik V uses two different adenoviral vectors for the first and second dose and is more effective defense compared to other vaccines that use the same vector for both shots.

The second jab, the EpiVacCorona developed by the Siberia-based Vector Institute, uses synthesized particles of the virus instead. They are put into the human body by carrier proteins. Unlike some foreign competitors, all the Russian-made vaccines, including the brand new CoviVac, can be stored in regular refrigerators, which greatly facilitates the logistics and distribution of the shots.

More Russian anti-coronavirus vaccines are expected to be unveiled in the future. All in all, over 20 various Covid-19 jabs are under development in Russian scientific centers, according to figures from the country's consumer protection watchdog Rospotrebnadzor.

The pioneering Sputnik V has already been approved for emergency use in multiple countries across the world. San Marino became the 30th nation to green-light it, Russia's RDIF sovereign wealth fund, which bankrolled its development, said on Friday. At least 10 million doses of the vaccine have been produced already. The scale of EpiVacCorona's production has been more modest so far, with around 80,000 doses made available.

3 US diplomats in Russia have asked to receive Sputnik V Covid-19 vaccine after Washington failed to supply doses - reports

With their own government unable to provide them with Covid-19 vaccines, a number of American diplomats based in Moscow have reportedly asked their hosts to allow them be inoculated with Moscow's own pioneering Sputnik V formula.

That's according to The Washington Post, citing documents obtained by the newspaper, which revealed that the US’ representatives around the world have complained about the way their superiors have decided to distribute vaccines.

"In Russia, some State Department personnel appealed to Moscow for doses of its Russian-made Sputnik V vaccine after Washington could not promise the delivery of US-made vaccines in the near future," the report outlined, citing officials. "The State Department is not recommending that its employees take it but is permitting them to make their own health decisions."

The publication also revealed that the frustration isn't limited to just Russia, with similar complaints coming in from American diplomats stationed around the world. The US State Department has requested 315,000 doses of vaccine to cover the entirety of its workforce but has received just 23 percent of this, the Post claims.

On Friday, Russia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs revealed that it had sent sent out invitations to all embassies in the country for their staff to be vaccinated.

"This practice is widespread in many states, and is quite understandable – successful fighting against the epidemic requires, as much as possible, a wide coverage of all people in the country," it stated.

While the US has not yet approved Sputnik V, the vaccine has already been authorized in 29 different countries, including Argentina, Mexico, and the UAE. The developers have also applied for European Union authorization through the European Medicines Agency (EMA). Last week, Hungary became the first EU country to begin inoculation using the Russian-made formula, despite a lack of approval from Brussels.

Created by Moscow's Gamaleya Institute, Sputnik V became the world's first Covid-19 vaccine to be registered in August last year. In February, British medical journal The Lancet published the preliminary results from the jab's phase III trial, which showed an efficacy of 91.6 percent.

Sputnik V vaccine registered in San Marino

The oldest constitutional republic of San Marino has approved the use of the Russian Sputnik V vaccine against the coronavirus, according to a press release by the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF).

"The RDIF announces the decision of the Ministry of Health of San Marino, the oldest constitutional republic worldwide, to approve the use of the Russian Sputnik V vaccine against the coronavirus. The vaccine was approved under the emergency use authorization procedure. The Republic of San Marino became the 30th country to approve the use of the Sputnik V vaccine," the statement said.

The preparation is among the top three vaccines against the coronavirus worldwide in terms of a number of approvals by state regulators. To date, Sputnik V has been registered in Russia, Belarus, Argentina, Bolivia, Serbia, Algeria, Palestine, Venezuela, Paraguay, Turkmenistan, Hungary, the UAE, Iran, the Republic of Guinea, Tunisia, Armenia, Mexico, Nicaragua, Republika Srpska (an entity of Bosnia and Herzegovina), Lebanon, Myanmar, Pakistan, Mongolia, Bahrain, Montenegro, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Gabon.

5 Brussels deliberately destroyed framework of Russia-EU ties, says Lavrov

Russia is ready to discuss all existing problems with the EU, but the framework of the relations was intentionally dismantled by Brussels, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Monday following talks with his Finnish counterpart Pekka Haavisto. "We are ready to discuss the problems. When it is in Russia’s interests, we cooperate on the issues of climate change, on environmental issues," the Russian minister said. "However, the carcass of these relations was deliberately destroyed on Brussels’ initiative."

Sporadic contacts

The EU, Lavrov continued, has been consistently severing ties with Moscow. He emphasized that Brussels gradually destroyed all mechanisms that existed on the basis of the agreement on partnership and cooperation, including the summits that were held twice a year, annual meetings between the Russian government and European Commissioners and President of the Commission, projects to form four common spaces, more than 20 sectoral dialogues and annual meetings of the Partnership and Cooperation Council involving the Russian foreign minister and EU high representative.

The Russian minister underlined that these meetings were meant to conduct full reviews of all areas of cooperation between Moscow and Brussels. "All of this, I reiterate, was not destroyed by us," Lavrov stressed. The minister then added that Russia-EU contacts can now be described as sporadic. "The contacts between the Russian foreign minister and high representatives, Josep Borrell and his predecessor Federica Mogherini, are mainly dedicated to situational talks about Syria, the Iranian nuclear program or some other international situation rather than reviews of the relations with the EU because there are almost no relations to speak of," Lavrov underlined. "In other words, we meet from time to time depending on certain interests, primarily from Brussels. We are not imposing ourselves, we are ready to consider any issue which can be of mutual interest, but in any case the meetings that take place from time to time do not mean that there are relations," he added.

Enabling violations

The minister paid special attention to the fact that Brussels enables brazen violations of rights of Russian speakers and attacks on the Russian language and culture in the Baltic States, Ukraine and several other states. "Of course, we cannot but take into account the EU condoning blatant breaches of Russian speakers, Russians and the attacks on the Russian language and culture that we witness in the Baltic States, Ukraine and some other countries. When Russian-speaking [TV] channels are shut down, when criminal cases are opened against Russian-speaking journalists for simply doing their jobs, when the disgraceful institute of statelessness remains in the EU, while the European Union watches it all without any desire to change anything, I believe that it is not Russia distancing itself from the EU, but the very EU moves away from the Russian language, Russian culture and all things Russian, meaning that it is drifting away from the Russian Federation," the minister noted.

Not leaving Europe

At the same time, the top Russian diplomat emphasized, Russia will be ready to revive the ties if the EU decides to take this step. "It is up to the European Union to make a choice. If it decided that relations are to be resumed after all and steps towards their severing are to be reversed, we will be ready to that too," he said.

Nevertheless, Lavrov underlined that Russia is not going to leave Europe and intends to continue engaging in mutually beneficial cooperation. "The European Union is not the same as Europe. We are not going away from Europe. We have a lot of friends, a lot of like-minded people in Europe. We will continue to develop mutually beneficial relations with them," he concluded.

6 Russia, US interested in cooperation on Middle East settlement problems

Russia and the United States are interested in constructive cooperation to promote peace process in the Middle East, the Russian foreign ministry said on Monday after talks between Russian Foreign Ministry’s Envoy for the Middle East Settlement Vladimir Safronkov and Deputy Assistant Secretary for Israeli and Palestinian Affairs Hady Amr.

"The sides discussed prospects for cooperation between Moscow and Washington on the track of the Palestinian-Israeli settlement, including within the format of the Middle East Quartet of international mediators. The Russian side hailed the United States’ readiness to resume its full-fledged participation in the Quartet and spoke in favor of invigorating bilateral dialogue on the Middle East settlement problems," the ministry said.

"In general, the sides stated mutual commitment to constructive cooperation in order to promote peace process in the Middle East," it noted.

United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres said earlier that the organization was ready to begin arrangements for a meeting on the Israeli-Palestinian settlement as the time was ripe for it following the change of the US administration.

Members of the Middle East Quartet of international mediators (Russia, the United States, the European Union, and the United Nations) have agreed to maintain regular contacts and stressed the importance of direct dialogue between Palestine and Israel, the Russian foreign ministry said on Monday after a Quartet online meeting.

"The Russian side stressed the importance of efforts to create conditions for the soonest resumption of the Quartet-mediated direct Palestinian-Israeli talks in the interests of settling fundamental issues of the final status on the basis of the internationally-recognized two-state solution envisaging peaceful co-existence of two states - Palestine and Israel. It was stressed that unilateral steps are inadmissible, whether it be instigating violence or expansion of settlement activities, including breaking Palestinian buildings on the West Bank," the ministry said. "Participants agreed to organize meetings in the Quartet format regularly."

Addressing the United Nations Security Council debates on the Middle East settlement on January 26, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov suggested a ministerial meeting of the Quartet members, Israel, Palestine, Egypt, Jordan, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Saudi Arabia, as the co-author of the Arab Peace Initiative, be held in the spring or summer 2021.