FOREIGN POLICY CONCEPT OF THE RUSSIAN FEDERATION
Approved by President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin
on November 30, 2016
I. General Provisions
1. This Concept provides a systemic vision of the basic principles, priority areas, goals and objectives of the foreign policy of the Russian Federation.
2. This Concept is based on the Constitution of the Russian Federation, generally recognized principles and rules of international law, international treaties of the Russian Federation, federal laws, Executive Order of the President of the Russian Federation No. 605 of May 7, 2012, on Measures to Implement the Foreign Policy of the Russian Federation, the National Security Strategy of the Russian Federation, the Military Doctrine of the Russian Federation, statutes and regulations of the Russian Federation regarding foreign policy activities of federal authorities, as well as other applicable legal instruments of the Russian Federation.
3. With a view to upholding the national interests of the Russian Federation and achieving its strategic national priorities, the State’s foreign policy activities shall be aimed at accomplishing the following main objectives:
a. to ensure national security, sovereignty and territorial integrity, and strengthen the rule of law and democratic institutions;
b. to create a favourable external environment that would allow Russia’s economy to grow steadily and become more competitive and would promote technological modernization as well as higher standards of living and quality of life for its population;
c. to consolidate the Russian Federation’s position as a centre of influence in today’s world;
d. to strengthen Russia’s position in global economic relations and prevent any discrimination against Russian goods, services and investments by using the options afforded by international and regional economic and financial organizations;
e. to further promote the efforts to strengthen international peace and ensure global security and stability with a view to establishing a fair and democratic international system that addresses international issues on the basis of collective decision-making, the rule of international law, primarily the provisions of the Charter of the United Nations (the UN Charter), as well as equal, partnership relations among States, with the central and coordinating role played by the United Nations (UN) as the key organization in charge of regulating international relations.
f. to pursue neighbourly relations with adjacent States, assist them in eliminating the existing and preventing the emergence of the new hotbeds of tension and conflicts on their territory;
g. to promote, within bilateral and multilateral frameworks, mutually beneficial and equal partnerships with foreign countries, inter-State associations, international organizations and within forums, guided by the principles of independence and sovereignty, pragmatism, transparency, predictability, a multidirectional approach and the commitment to pursue national priorities on a non-confrontational basis; expand international cooperation on a non-discriminatory basis; facilitate the emergence of network alliances and Russia’s proactive participation in them;
h. to ensure comprehensive, effective protection of the rights and legitimate interests of Russian citizens and compatriots residing abroad, including within various international frameworks;
i. to strengthen Russia’s role in international culture; promote and consolidate the position of the Russian language in the world; raise global awareness of Russia’s cultural achievements and national historical legacy, cultural identity of the peoples of Russia, and Russian education and research; consolidate the Russian-speaking diaspora;
j. to bolster the standing of Russian mass media and communication tools in the global information space and convey Russia’s perspective on international process to a wider international community;
k. to facilitate the development of constructive dialogue and partnership with a view to promoting harmony and mutual enrichment among various cultures and civilizations.
II. Modern World and Foreign Policy of the Russian Federation
4. The world is currently going through fundamental changes related to the emergence of a multipolar international system. The structure of international relations is becoming increasingly complex. Globalization has led to the formation of new centres of economic and political power. Global power and development potential is becoming decentralized, and is shifting towards the Asia-Pacific Region, eroding the global economic and political dominance of the traditional western powers. Cultural and civilizational diversity of the world and the existence of multiple development models have been clearer than ever.
5. Tensions are rising due to disparities in global development, the widening prosperity gap between States and growing competition for resources, access to markets and control over transport arteries. This competition involves not only human, research and technological capabilities, but has been increasingly gaining a civilizational dimension in the form of dueling values. Against this backdrop, attempts to impose values on others can stoke xenophobia, intolerance and conflict in international affairs, leading ultimately to chaos and an uncontrolled situation in international relations. Consequently, preventing fault lines from emerging in relations between civilizations and promoting partnerships across cultures, religions and civilizations are regarded as priorities for a harmonious development of humankind. The attempts made by western powers to maintain their positions in the world, including by imposing their point of view on global processes and conducting a policy to contain alternative centres of power, leads to a greater instability in international relations and growing turbulence on the global and regional levels. The struggle for dominance in shaping the key principles of the future international system has become a key trend at the current stage of international development.
6. Force is becoming an increasingly important factor in international relations amid escalating political, social and economic contradictions and growing uncertainty in the global political system and economy. Efforts to expand and upgrade military capabilities and to create and deploy new types of weapons undermine strategic stability and pose a threat to global security which is underwritten by a system of arms control treaties and agreements. Although a large-scale war, including nuclear war, between major powers remains unlikely, they face increased risks of being drawn into regional conflicts and escalating crises.
7. Existing military and political alliances are not capable of countering the full range of challenges and threats the world is currently facing. As people and States become increasingly interconnected, attempts to ensure stability and security within a single territory are doomed to fail. The universal principle of equal and indivisible security has special significance and relevance for the Euro-Atlantic, Eurasian and Asia-Pacific regions, among others. Network diplomacy has gained prominence as a flexible approach to participating in multilateral mechanisms for the sake of finding effective solutions to common issues.
8. Alongside military might, other important factors allowing States to influence international politics are taking centre stage, including economic, legal, technological and IT capabilities. Using these capabilities to pursue geopolitical interests is detrimental to efforts to find ways to settle disputes and resolve the existing international issues by peaceful means on the basis of the norms of international law.
9. In addition to traditional methods of diplomacy, “soft power” has become an integral part of efforts to achieve foreign policy objectives. This primarily includes the tools offered by civil society, as well as various methods and technologies – from information and communication, to humanitarian and other types.
10. A new global economic reality is taking shape amid the accumulation of crisis events. This new reality is characterized by lower growth rates, volatility on financial and commodity markets and fragmentation of the global economic space into regional structures with competing tariff and non-tariff restrictions. Against this backdrop, regional integration in accordance with the norms and rules of the World Trade Organization (WTO) and bolstering the role of regional reserve currencies help strengthen competitiveness, security and financial and economic stability. Among the ideas gaining traction are collective approaches to international economic governance and regulation, enhancing transparency in the global economy and trade, building universal trade, and monetary and financial systems that are more open, balanced and better correspond to the reality of a globalizing world.
11. Qualitative changes are taking place in the sphere of energy, which is primarily attributed to the introduction of new technologies to extract hard-to-recover hydrocarbon reserves and the expanded use of renewable sources of energy. At the same time, groundless restrictions and other discriminatory measures in this area are being strengthened despite the fact that States need to diversify their presence on global markets to ensure their energy security.
12. The technological shift that is beginning to take shape in various economic sectors may further escalate economic competition, accelerating the redistribution of power in the international arena.
13. As financial, information and migration flows become increasingly globalised, domestic social processes are having a greater effect on international relations. Issues related to providing for people’s prosperity and their spiritual and intellectual growth, and increasing investment in human capital rank high on the global agenda.
14. The growing threat of international terrorism is one of the most dangerous realities in today’s world. The spread of extremist ideology and the activity of terrorist groups in a number of regions (primarily, in the Middle East and North Africa) are the result of systemic development problems that globalization processes have laid bare. External interference has also played a major role. Combined, these two factors have led to the destruction of traditional governance and security mechanisms and the illegal spread of weapons and ammunition at an even larger scale. The ideological values and prescriptions imposed from outside these countries in an attempt to modernize their political systems have exacerbated the negative response of their societies to current challenges. Extremist forces have exploited these trends using distorted interpretations of religious values to promote violence in pursuit of their goals in the political, interethnic and interreligious rivalry they are engaged in.
15. The global terrorist threat has reached a new high with the emergence of the Islamic State international terrorist organization and similar groups that have descended to an unprecedented level of cruelty in their violence. They aspire to create their own state and seek to consolidate their influence on a territory stretching from the shores of the Atlantic Ocean to Pakistan. The main effort in combating terrorism should be aimed at creating a broad international counter-terrorist coalition with a solid legal foundation, one that is based on effective and consistent inter-State cooperation without any political considerations or double standards, above all to prevent terrorism and extremism and counter the spread of radical ideas.
16. Transnational organized crime is gaining momentum with the emergence of new centres of criminal power that accumulate substantial resources and consistently expand their sphere of influence, including by infiltrating government bodies in various countries, as well as financial and economic institutions and by establishing ties with terrorist and extremist organizations.
17. In today’s world, cross-border challenges and threats are rapidly becoming more pronounced and far-reaching in nature and geographic scope, including the illegal proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery, uncontrolled arms trafficking, illegal migration, human trafficking, illegal trade of narcotic drugs, psychotropic substances and their precursors, corruption, sea piracy, cybercrime, global poverty, climate change, as well as threats to food, environmental, sanitary and epidemiological security.
18. The international community needs to respond to global challenges and threats in an adequate and comprehensive manner, and combine efforts under the coordinating role of the UN building on a shared recognition that human rights, security and sustainable development are closely intertwined.
19. A genuine consolidation of efforts of the international community requires a set of common values as a foundation for joint action, based on the common moral force of the major world religions, as well as principles and concepts such as aspiration to peace and justice, dignity, freedom and responsibility, honesty, compassion and hard work.
20. As a permanent member of the UN Security Council and a participant in a number of influential international organizations, regional frameworks, inter-State dialogue and cooperation mechanisms, the Russian Federation contributes to the development of a positive, well-balanced and unifying international agenda by relying on substantial resources in all areas of human activity and pursuing a foreign policy that actively seeks to develop relations with the leading States, international organizations and associations in various parts of the world.
21. Russia conducts an assertive and independent foreign policy guided by its national interests and based on unconditional respect for international law. Russia is fully aware of its responsibility to support peace and security in the world both at the global and regional levels and is committed to working with all interested States to address common challenges.
22. Russia’s foreign policy is open and predictable. It is characterized by consistency and continuity and reflects the unique role Russia has played for centuries as a counterbalance in international affairs and the development of global civilization.
III. Priorities of the Russian Federation in Overcoming Global Challenges
Shaping a Fair and Sustainable World Order
23. The Russian Federation’s foreign policy is aimed at creating a stable and sustainable system of international relations based on the generally accepted norms of international law and principles of equal rights, mutual respect and non-interference in domestic affairs of States, so as to ensure solid and equal security for each and every member of the global community.
24. The UN should maintain its central role in regulating international relations and coordinating world politics in the 21st century, as it has proven to have no alternative and possesses international legitimacy. Russia supports the efforts aimed at strengthening the UN’s central and coordinating role. This implies:
a. ensuring strict observance of the key provisions and principles of the UN Charter, including those pertaining to the outcomes of the Second World War and actions undertaken or sanctioned following the Second World War by governments liable for such actions, strengthening the UN’s capacity so that it can efficiently adapt to new global realities while preserving its intergovernmental nature;
b. further enhancing the effectiveness of the UN Security Council which bears the primary responsibility for maintaining international peace and security, making this body more representative as part of a reasonable UN reform while also ensuring efficiency in its operations. Any decisions to expand membership in the UN Security Council should be based on the broadest possible agreement among UN member States. The status of the five permanent members of the Security Council should be preserved.
25. Russia attaches great importance to ensuring the sustainable manageability of global development, which requires collective leadership from the major States that should be representative in geographic and civilization terms and fully respect the central and coordinating role of the UN. To these ends, Russia has been expanding its ties with its partners within the Group of Twenty, BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and the Republic of South Africa), the SCO (Shanghai Cooperation Organization), RIC (Russia, India and China) alongside other organizations and dialogue platforms.
Rule of Law in International Relations
26. Russia consistently advocates strengthening the legal foundation of international relations and complies with its international legal obligations in good faith. Maintaining and strengthening international rule of law is among its priorities in the international arena. The rule of law in international relations is intended to ensure peaceful and fruitful cooperation among States while seeking to balance their interests, as well as to guarantee the overall stability of the global community. Russia intends:
а. to support collective efforts to strengthen the legal basis of inter-State relations;
b. to counter attempts by some States or groups of States to revise the generally accepted principles of international law enshrined in the UN Charter, the Declaration on Principles of International Law concerning Friendly Relations and Co-operation among States in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations of October 24, 1970, as well as in the Final Act of the Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe of August 1, 1975; counter politically motivated and self-interested attempts by some States to arbitrarily interpret the fundamental international legal norms and principles such as non-use of force or threat of force, peaceful settlement of international disputes, respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity of States, right of peoples to self-determination; counter attempts to represent violations of international law as “creative” applications of such norms; counter attempts to interfere in the domestic affairs of States with the aim of unconstitutional change of regime, including by supporting non-State actors, such as terrorist and extremist groups;
c. to prevent military interventions or other forms of outside interference contrary to international law, specifically the principle of sovereign equality of States, under the pretext of implementing the “responsibility to protect” concept;
d. to facilitate progress in the development of international law and its codification, primarily undertaken under the auspices of the UN, as well as the inclusiveness of international UN treaties, and their uniform interpretation and application;
e. to continue efforts to improve the UN sanctions mechanism, specifically, proceeding from the premise that decisions to impose such sanctions should be taken by the UN Security Council jointly following comprehensive discussions, primarily taking into consideration how effectively sanctions accomplish the tasks of maintaining international peace and security and preventing the deterioration of the humanitarian situation; contribute to eliminating from international relations illegal, unilateral coercive measures adopted in violation of the UN Charter and other norms of international law;
f. to step up efforts to finalize international legal procedures to delimitate the state boundary of the Russian Federation as well as its maritime boundaries, within which Russia exercises its sovereign rights and jurisdiction, in unconditional support of its national interests, primarily security and economic interests, while taking into consideration the importance of strengthening trust and cooperation with neighbouring States.
Strengthening International Security
27. Russia consistently advocates strengthening international security and enhancing strategic and regional stability. To this end, the Russian Federation:
strictly abides by its international arms control obligations, and encourages its partners to do the same;
attaches great importance to the implementation of the Treaty between the Russian Federation and the United States of America on Measures for the Further Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms of April 8, 2010;
maintains an unwavering commitment to strengthening the political and legal foundations of the nuclear non-proliferation regime, as well as the non-proliferation of other weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery, given the risk that elements of such weapons could fall into the hands of non-State actors, primarily terrorist organizations, including in territories within States that central authorities no longer control, in full or in part; affirms its commitment to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons of July 1, 1968, the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin Weapons and on Their Destruction of December 16, 1971, the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on Their Destruction of January 13, 1993, as well as supports the efforts to make them universal; works to expedite the entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty of September 24, 1996;
participates, on the basis of the principles of equal rights and indivisible security, in devising new arms control agreements that serve Russia’s national interests and contribute to strategic stability;
consistently works to prevent an arms race in space by drafting and entering into an international treaty, and as an interim measure, encourages States to commit themselves not to be the first to introduce weapons in space;
reaffirms its readiness to discuss further gradual reduction of nuclear capabilities recognizing the growing need to make this a multilateral process and giving due consideration to all factors that affect strategic stability;
stands for establishing, on an equal basis, a collective response system to possible missile-related challenges and threats, while opposing unilateral, unrestricted actions by States or groups of States to build-up missile defense systems that undermine strategic stability and international security;
proactively contributes to international efforts toward improved control over the transfer of dual-use materials and technology, including by participating in multilateral export control regimes;
supports the creation of zones free from nuclear weapons and other types of weapons of mass destruction, primarily in the Middle East;
advocates stronger technical and physical nuclear safety worldwide and efforts to prevent acts of nuclear terrorism, primarily by improving the relevant international legal mechanisms, with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) playing a central role in international cooperation on these matters, while respecting the right of States to determine their national policy on their own; believes that the State itself bears responsibility for ensuring that the national nuclear safety system is efficient and reliable and determining its optimal parameters at its discretion;
advocates the promotion of bilateral and multilateral cooperation of States, primarily nuclear weapons States, with a view to resolving issues related to strategic stability, ensuring common security in the spirit of openness, including the peaceful use of nuclear energy to meet the demand for fuel and energy in all interested countries.
28. Russia takes necessary measures to ensure national and international cyber security, counter threats to State, economic and social security emanating from cyberspace, combat terrorism and other criminal threats involving the use of information and communication technology; deters their use for military-political aims that run counter to international law, including actions aimed at interfering in the domestic affairs of States or posing a threat to international peace, security and stability; and seeks to devise, under the UN auspices, universal rules of responsible behaviour with respect to international cyber security, including by rendering the internet governance more international in a fair manner.
29. Russia supports international efforts to combat illicit trade in small arms and light weapons.
30. In the context of efforts to strengthen regional stability in Europe, the Russian Federation seeks to bring the conventional arms control regime in Europe in line with current realities, as well as ensure unconditional compliance by all States with the agreed confidence and security-building measures.
31. Believing international peacekeeping to be an effective tool for settling armed conflicts and facilitating post-crisis nation-building, Russia intends to participate in international peacekeeping efforts under the UN leadership and in cooperation with regional and international organizations, and actively contribute to improving the preventive potential of the UN peacekeeping. When preparing UN Security Council resolutions regarding international security, including to carry out new peacekeeping operations or renew the mandate of existing ones, Russia stands for issuing realistic and clear peacekeeping mandates that do not allow arbitrary interpretations, especially those related to the use of force, and for ensuring that the implementation of these mandates is subject to strict oversight.
32. Russia views Article 51 of the UN Charter as providing an adequate legal basis for the use of force in self-defense that is not subject to revision, including the use of force in the face of threats to peace and security such as international terrorism and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.
33. Russia views combating international terrorism as an essential government task and a key priority for international security. In this regard, the Russian Federation:
condemns terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, and believes that there can be no ideological, political, religious, racial or any other justification for acts of terror;
categorically opposes any reliance by States on terrorist organizations in pursuit of political, ideological or other aims;
takes all necessary measures under international and Russian law to prevent and counter terrorism, protect the State and its citizens from terrorist attacks and fight the spread of terrorist and extremist ideology;
diligently seeks to unite all States and the entire international community in the fight against terrorism without politicization or preconditions and in accordance with the UN Charter as well as norms and principles of international law;
prioritizes international cooperation in countering terrorist organizations and groups, including through the use of military force, with the participation of all States and organizations to the extent of their ability and subject to agreement by the States where the fight against organizations and groups of this kind is taking place;
advocates the central role of States and their competent bodies in countering terrorism and extremism and in any related international cooperation;
recognizing that it is impossible to defeat terrorism through military and law enforcement action alone, advocates working proactively and effectively with civil society institutions in the fight against terrorism, including research and educational institutions, business communities, religious associations, non-governmental organizations and mass media;
believes that the struggle against terrorism will not be effective unless the sources of terrorist financing are eliminated, supports the efforts undertaken within multilateral structures to identify States, individuals and legal entities with economic ties to terrorist organizations and seeks to block financing channels used by terrorists;
advocates consolidating the UN-led collective efforts to defeat foreign terrorist fighters by blocking all forms of material support available to terrorist organizations.
34. Russia facilitates the resolution of regional conflicts by political and diplomatic means through collective action by the international community, believing that such conflicts can only be resolved through inclusive dialogue and negotiations involving all sides rather than by isolating any of them.
35. The Russian Federation counters organized crime related to illicit trafficking in narcotic substances, psychotropic substances and their precursors by cooperating with other States both multilaterally, first and foremost within specialized international bodies, and bilaterally, including for the purpose of maintaining and strengthening the international control system in this area.
36. Russia supports the establishment, under the auspices of the United Nations and other international and regional organizations, of efficient platforms for cooperation in the response to natural disasters and large-scale man-triggered disasters, as well as to other emergencies, including disaster response capacity-building and enhancement of early warning and forecast systems. With its unique expertise, technical and human resources, the Russian Federation is an important and effective element of the global disaster relief system.
37. Russia participates in international cooperation aimed at regulating migration processes, ensuring the rights of migrant workers, including by promoting integration formats and mechanisms in the receiving country that suit migrants best, and setting conditions for obtaining citizenship or asylum from persecution; rejects the use of migration processes to achieve political ends.
38. As a multi-ethnic and multi-religious State with a track record of harmonious coexistence among various peoples, ethnic and religious groups that goes back centuries, the Russian Federation facilitates dialogue and partnership between cultures, religions and civilizations, including within the UN and other international and regional organizations; supports corresponding initiatives of civil society and proactively works with the Russian Orthodox Church and the country’s other main religious associations; counters extremism, radicalization, intolerance, discrimination and division along ethnic, confessional, linguistic, cultural and other lines.
International Economic and Environmental Cooperation of the Russian Federation
39. In seeking to ensure sustainable economic growth based on stable exports and growing domestic demand, its unique natural resources, using the accumulated financial resources and by implementing responsible socio-economic policy, the Russian Federation makes a significant contribution to ensuring global economic and financial stability, contributes to international efforts aimed at preventing and overcoming global economic and financial crises. Russia intends to proactively contribute to the creation of an equitable and democratic trade, economic, monetary and financial architecture, the determination of global sustainable development guidelines and achievement of the UN sustainable development goals, assuming that a common approach is needed to tackle the current global economic challenges, which offers new opportunities for international cooperation.
40. Russia’s policy is aimed at ensuring that this State participates on an equal and proactive basis in the global economy. To this end, the Russian Federation:
seeks to ensure that Russia’s interests and approaches are taken into consideration in an adequate manner when devising a common position on the most urgent aspects of international development and global economic agenda at major international forums, including on such issues as enhancing energy and food security, streamlining cooperation in trade and transport, ensuring unrestricted and non-discriminatory exchange of latest technology, and multilateral cooperation in the peaceful use of nuclear energy;
contributes to the efficiency of the multilateral trade system with the WTO at its core, and promotes regional economic integration in line with its priorities;
creates favourable conditions for expanding Russia’s presence on global markets, primarily by diversifying its exports, and specifically by increasing the volume of non-resource-based exports, and expanding the geography of foreign economic ties;
provides governmental support to Russian organizations seeking to tap new markets and gain a larger foothold in traditional ones, while countering discrimination against Russian investors and exporters;
in accordance with international norms and principles, adopts the necessary trade policy measures to protect national interests and effectively respond to unfriendly economic actions by foreign States that infringe upon the rights of the Russian Federation or Russian business entities;
pursues technological modernization and seeks to diversify the national economy, increase the share of knowledge-intensive, innovative and other priority sectors in the general economic structure by attracting investment, advanced foreign know-how and technology;
enhances cooperation with the leading energy producers, promotes equal dialogue with consumer and transit countries assuming that stable demand and reliable transit are needed to guarantee energy supplies;
takes action to benefit from its unique geographic location by increasing transit cargo shipments with a view to facilitating the development of trade and economic relations between Europe and the Asia-Pacific Region;
makes active use of the opportunities offered by regional economic and financial organizations to develop the national economy, while paying special attention to organizations and structures that reinforce Eurasian integration processes.
41. The Russian Federation favours expanding international cooperation with a view to ensuring environmental security and fighting climate change, primarily taking into consideration the importance of preserving and increasing the ecological potential of forests and building on the need to use the state-of-the-art energy and resource saving technologies for the benefit of the international community. The Paris Agreement adopted within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change of May 9, 1992 offers a solid regulatory framework for long-term climate policy. Priorities in this area include further efforts to develop research-based approaches to preserving a favourable environment and expanding cooperation with all States on this track in order to satisfy the needs of the current and future generations. The Russian Federation opposes far-fetched attempts to politicize environment protection and use it as a pretext for restricting State sovereignty over natural resources or for encouraging unfair competition.
42. Russia views sustainable socio-economic development of States as an essential prerequisite for shaping an international system that would be more efficient and crisis-resilient, as a factor of well-being and prosperity for all of humanity, and firmly believes that facilitating global development is one of the mechanisms for resolving global and regional issues, strengthening international security and political stability. The Russian Federation is proactive and consistent in its bilateral and multilateral efforts to facilitate global development relying, among other things, on the capabilities offered by the UN and its specialized agencies.
43. Russia plays an active role in international cooperation in healthcare with the leading role of the World Health Organization, with the belief that preserving human lives and health is a global priority and an important factor in terms of ensuring sustainable socio-economic development.
44. With maritime space and routes becoming increasingly important in terms of economic development and security, the Russian Federation seeks to comply with sea navigation safety requirements that meet the national interests in accordance with the norms of international maritime law, including those related to the fight against international terrorism and sea piracy; promotes responsible fishing; carries out research in the global ocean and protects the maritime environment. Russia intends to delimitate the outer limits of its continental shelf in accordance with international law so as to create more opportunities for the exploration and extraction of minerals.
International Humanitarian Cooperation and Human Rights
45. As a nation committed to universal democratic values, including human rights and freedoms, Russia pursues the following objectives:
to ensure the respect for human rights and freedoms across the world through constructive and equal international dialogue with due regard for each State’s national context, culture, history and values, monitor the human rights situation in the world, and to facilitate the involvement of Russian civil society institutions in addressing issues in this area, including the Civic Chamber of the Russian Federation and non-governmental organizations;
to counter attempts to use human rights theories to exert political pressure and interfere in internal affairs of States, including with a view to destabilizing them and overthrowing legitimate governments;
to make social systems across the world more humane so as to ensure fundamental human rights and freedoms;
to ensure the protection of rights and legitimate interests of Russian nationals abroad subject to international law and international treaties concluded by the Russian Federation;
to protect rights and legitimate interests of compatriots living abroad subject to international law and international treaties concluded by the Russian Federation, while recognizing the significant contribution by compatriots to preserving and promoting the Russian language and culture;
to further the consolidation of compatriots living abroad so as to enable them to better realize their rights in the countries of residence, and to facilitate the preservation of the Russian diaspora’s identity and its ties with the historical homeland, as well as voluntary relocation of compatriots to the Russian Federation;
to promote the learning and wider use of the Russian language as an integral part of the global culture and as an instrument of international and inter-ethnic communication, to sustain and develop the network of Russian educational institutions abroad, and to support foreign branches and representative offices of Russian educational institutions;
to develop inter-State cultural and humanitarian ties between Slavic nations;
to firmly counter any and all manifestations of extremism, neo-Nazism, racial discrimination, aggressive nationalism, anti-Semitism and xenophobia, as well as attempts to rewrite history and use it to stir up confrontation and revanchism in global politics or attempts to revise the outcomes of World War II, and to promote the depoliticization of historical discussions;
to involve civil society institutions in addressing international challenges in order to enhance the effectiveness of the Russian foreign policy;
to develop, including through public diplomacy, international cultural and humanitarian cooperation as a means to build up dialogue among civilisations, achieve consensus and ensure understanding among peoples with a particular emphasis on inter-religious dialogue;
to intensify cooperation with international and non-governmental human rights organizations with a view to reinforcing universal human rights norms while ensuring responsibility for one’s actions, and eradicating double standards in this area;
to expand international cooperation with a view to enhancing the protection of rights and legitimate interests of Russian children living abroad.
Information Support for Foreign Policy Activities of the Russian Federation
46. Delivery to the international community of unbiased information about Russia’s perspective on key international issues, its foreign policy initiatives and efforts, processes and plans of its socioeconomic development and Russia’s cultural and research achievements is an important element of foreign policy activities of the Russian Federation.
47. Russia seeks to ensure that the world has an objective image of the country, develops its own effective ways to influence foreign audiences, promotes Russian and Russian-language media in the global information space, providing them with necessary government support, is proactive in international information cooperation, and takes necessary steps to counter threats to its information security. New information and communication technology is used to this end. Russia is intent on promoting a set of legal and ethical norms regarding the safe use of such technology. Russia asserts the right of every person to access unbiased information about global developments and various points of view.
48. Greater participation of Russia’s academics and experts in the dialogue with foreign specialists on global politics and international security is one of the areas of public diplomacy development.
IV. Regional Foreign Policy Priorities of the Russian Federation
49. The foreign policy priorities of the Russian Federation include developing bilateral and multilateral cooperation with member States of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) and further strengthening integration structures within the CIS involving Russia.
50. Russia is committed to expanding strategic cooperation with the Republic of Belarus within the Union State with a view to promoting integration in all areas.
51. Russia views as a key objective strengthening and expanding integration within the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) with the Republic of Armenia, Republic of Belarus, Republic of Kazakhstan and Kyrgyz Republic in order to faster steady development, comprehensive technological modernization and cooperation, enhance the competitiveness of the EAEU member States and improve living standards of their populations. The EAEU is intended to ensure for the free movement of goods, services, capital and workforce, and offer a platform for implementing joint infrastructure and investment projects. The EAEU is based on universal principles of integration, and is designed to play an important role in harmonizing integration processes in Europe and Eurasia.
52. Russia views the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) as one of the key elements of the current security framework in the post-Soviet space. Russia seeks to facilitate the development of the CSTO into a prominent multifunctional international organization capable of overcoming challenges and threats today’s world is facing amid the growing pressure from various global and regional factors within the CSTO’s area of responsibility and in the adjoining regions.
53. Russia makes efforts to further unleash the CIS potential, establish the Commonwealth as an influential regional organization, a platform for multilateral political dialogue, as well as a mechanism for multi-faceted economic and humanitarian cooperation, and for countering traditional and new challenges and threats.
54. While respecting the right of its partners within the CIS to establish relations with other international actors, Russia expects the CIS member States to fully implement their obligations within integration structures that include Russia, as well as further promote integration and mutually beneficial cooperation in the CIS space.
55. Russia builds friendly relations with each CIS member State based on equality, mutual benefit, respect and taking into account each other’s interests. To these ends, the Russian Federation:
actively facilitates cooperation among CIS member States to preserve common cultural and historical legacy, expand humanitarian, research and educational, and cultural cooperation, and attaches special importance to supporting compatriots living in CIS member States and improving international norms and regulations regarding the protection of their rights and legitimate interests in terms of education, language, social, labour, humanitarian and other areas;
promotes enhanced economic cooperation with CIS member States, including by streamlining norms and regulations as per the Free Trade Agreement of October 18, 2011;
steps up security cooperation with CIS member States, including by working together to overcome common challenges and threats, primarily international terrorism, extremism, illicit trafficking of narcotic drugs, psychotropic substances and their precursors, transnational crime and illegal migration.
56. Russian Federation is interested in developing political, economic, cultural and spiritual ties with Ukraine in all areas on the basis of mutual respect and commitment to building partnership relations with due regard for Russia’s national interests. Russia undertakes to make every effort to promote political and diplomatic settlement of the internal conflict in Ukraine in cooperation with all the interested States and international agencies.
57. Assisting the establishment of the Republic of Abkhazia and the Republic of South Ossetia as modern democratic States, strengthening their international positions, and ensuring reliable security and socioeconomic recovery remains a priority for Russia.
58. Russia strongly advocates a political and diplomatic settlement of conflicts in the post-Soviet space, specifically, Russia works within the existing multilateral negotiating mechanism to find an inclusive solution to the Transnistrian issue, respecting the sovereignty, territorial integrity and neutral status of the Republic of Moldova in determining the special status of Transnistria, to settle the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict by working together with the other States that are co-chairs in the Minsk Group of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and basing on principles set forth in joint statements by the presidents of Russia, United States of America and the French Republic in 2009-2013.
59. Russia is interested in normalizing relations with Georgia in areas where the Georgian side is willing to do the same, with due consideration for the current political environment in the South Caucasus.
60. Russia’s approaches to working with partners in the Black Sea and Caspian Sea regions will be designed so as to reaffirm the commitment to the goals and principles of the Charter of the Organization of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation and taking into account the need to strengthen the mechanism of cooperation among the five Caspian States based on collective decision-making.
61. Systemic problems in the Euro-Atlantic region that have accumulated over the last quarter century are manifested in the geopolitical expansion pursued by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the European Union (EU) along with their refusal to begin implementation of political statements regarding the creation of a common European security and cooperation framework, have resulted in a serious crisis in the relations between Russia and the Western States. The containment policy adopted by the United States and its allies against Russia, and political, economic, information and other pressure Russia is facing from them undermine regional and global stability, are detrimental to the long-term interests of all sides and run counter to the growing need for cooperation and addressing transnational challenges and threats in today’s world.
62. Russia’s long-term Euro-Atlantic policy is aimed at building a common space of peace, security and stability based on the principles of indivisible security, equal cooperation and mutual trust. Russia is a consistent advocate of transforming political declarations regarding indivisibility of security irrespective of States’ affiliation with political and military alliances into legally binding obligations.
63. The EU remains an important trade and economic and foreign policy partner for Russia. The Russian Federation is interested in constructive, stable and predictable cooperation with EU countries based on the principles of equality and respect for each other’s interests. Further development of relations with the EU implies improving the legal contractual framework, as well as institutional cooperation mechanisms so as to ensure mutual benefit and the best possible configuration of partnership ties, including in the energy segment. Russia’s strategic priority in its relations with the EU is to establish a common economic and humanitarian space from the Atlantic to the Pacific by harmonizing and aligning interests of European and Eurasian integration processes, which is expected to prevent the emergence of dividing lines on the European continent.
64. The Russian Federation is committed to maintaining intensive and mutually beneficial dialogue with the EU on key items on the foreign policy agenda, as well as further promoting practical cooperation on foreign policy, military and political issues. There is potential for Russia and the EU to step up combined efforts to counter terrorism, uncontrolled and illegal migration, as well as organized crime, including human trafficking, illicit trafficking of narcotic drugs, psychotropic substances and their precursors, arms and explosives, and cybercrime.
65. The visa regime remains one of the main barriers to expanding contacts between Russia and the EU. Reciprocal removal of visa requirements on a stage-by-stage basis is expected to give strong impetus for strengthening Russia-EU economic, humanitarian, cultural and educational cooperation and ties in other areas.
66. Stepping up mutually beneficial bilateral ties with the Federal Republic of Germany, the French Republic, the Italian Republic, the Kingdom of Spain and other European countries has substantial potential in terms of promoting Russia’s national interests in European and world affairs.
67. Russia will continue its work within the Council of Europe as an independent universal European organization with a mandate to provide for a single legal and humanitarian space on the continent through its unique convention mechanisms.
68. Russia views the OSCE as an important mechanism for building an equitable and indivisible system of pan-European security, and is interested in strengthening its role and authority. Setting clear priorities, primarily regarding countering transnational challenges and threats, as well as drafting the OSCE Charter and reforming its executive bodies with a view to ensuring appropriate prerogatives of the collective intergovernmental bodies, are the prerequisites for making the OSCE even more relevant.
69. Russia respects the choice of European States that are not members of any military alliances. These States are making a genuine contribution to ensuring stability and security in Europe. Russia is ready to engage in constructive multi-faceted cooperation with them.
70. Russia will build its relations with NATO taking into account the degree to which the Alliance is ready to engage in equitable partnership, strictly adhere to the norms and principles of international law, take real steps towards a common space of peace, security and stability in the Euro-Atlantic region based on the principles of mutual trust, transparency and predictability, to ensure the compliance by all its members with the commitment undertaken within the Russia-NATO Council to refrain from seeking to ensure one’s security at the expense of the security of other States, as well as with military restraint obligations as per the Founding Act on Mutual Relations, Cooperation and Security between the Russian Federation and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization of May 27, 1997. The Russian Federation maintains its negative perspective towards NATO’s expansion, the Alliance’s military infrastructure approaching Russian borders, and its growing military activity in regions neighbouring Russia, viewing them as a violation of the principle of equal and indivisible security and leading to the deepening of old dividing lines in Europe and to the emergence of new ones.
71. Russia stands for maintaining in the north of Europe an area of trust and stability based on the principle of equal and indivisible security. To these ends, Russia develops practical cooperation with North European countries, including by implementing joint projects within multilateral frameworks, with due consideration of environmental aspects and interests of indigenous peoples. Russia’s participation in the activities of the Council of the Baltic Sea States plays an important role. Russia advocates the further unleashing of the project potential of the Northern Dimension and its partnerships as a platform for regional cooperation in Northern Europe.
72. The Russian Federation is interested in building mutually beneficial relations with the United States of America, taking into consideration that the two States bear special responsibility for global strategic stability and international security in general, as well as vast potential in trade and investment, scientific and technical and other types of cooperation. Russia believes that dialogue with the US on bilateral as well as international issues can advance in a steady and predictable manner only when conducted on equal footing, based on mutual trust, respect of each other’s interests and non-interference in each other’s domestic affairs. Russia does not recognize the US policy of extraterritorial jurisdiction beyond the boundaries of international law and finds unacceptable attempts to exercize military, political, economic or any other pressure, while reserving the right to firmly respond to hostile actions, including the bolstering of national defence and taking retaliatory or asymmetrical measures.
73. Russia advocates constructive cooperation with the US in arms control, with due consideration of the inextricable link between strategic offensive and defensive warfare, and the imperative to make nuclear disarmament a multilateral process. The Russian Federation believes that talks on the further reduction of strategic offensive arms are only possible when taking into account all factors affecting global strategic stability, without exception. Russia views the creation of the global missile-defence system by the US as a threat to its national security and reserves the right to take adequate retaliatory measures.
74. Russia expects the US to strictly abide by the norms of international law, primarily those held in the UN Charter, in its actions on the international stage.
75. The Russian Federation is open to building relations with Canada based on respect for mutual interests and the experience amassed in the course of cooperation, including in the Arctic.
76. Russia pursues a policy aimed at preserving peace, stability and constructive international cooperation in the Arctic. The Russian Federation believes that the existing international legal framework is sufficient to successfully settle any regional issues through negotiation, including the issue of defining the outer limits of the continental shelf in the Arctic Ocean. Russia considers that the Arctic States bear special responsibility for the sustainable development of the region, and in this connection advocates enhanced cooperation in the Arctic Council, the coastal Arctic Five and the Barents Euro-Arctic Council. Russia will be firm in countering any attempts to introduce elements of political or military confrontation in the Arctic, and, in general, politicize international cooperation in the region. Using the Northern Sea Route as Russia’s national transport route in the Arctic, as well as for transit shipments between Europe and Asia is significant for the region development.
77. The Russian Federation will continue its efforts to preserve and expand its presence in Antarctica, including through the effective use of mechanisms and procedures envisaged in the Antarctic Treaty of December 1, 1959.
78. Russia views strengthening its positions in the Asia-Pacific Region and stepping up relations with its States as a foreign policy area of strategic importance, which is attributable to Russia belonging to this vibrant geopolitical region. Russia is interested in participating proactively in the integration processes in Asia-Pacific, using the possibilities it offers to implement socioeconomic development programmes in Russia’s Siberia and Far East, and creating an inclusive, open, transparent and equitable collective security and cooperation architecture in Asia-Pacific.
79. Russia attaches importance to further strengthening the SCO’s role in regional and global affairs and expanding its membership, and stands for increasing the SCO’s political and economic potential, and implementing practical measures within its framework to consolidate mutual trust and partnership in Central Asia, as well as promoting cooperation with the SCO member States, observes and dialogue partners.
80. Russia seeks to reinforce a comprehensive long-term dialogue partnership with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and achieve a strategic partnership. Efforts in this area will be supported by expanded cooperation within such frameworks as the East Asia Summit, which provides a platform for strategic dialogue between country leaders on conceptual issues related to the development of the Asia-Pacific Region, the ASEAN Regional Forum and ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting with the dialogue partners.
81. Russia promotes broad mutually beneficial economic cooperation in the Asia-Pacific Region, which includes the opportunities offered by the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum.
82. Russia is committed to establishing a common, open and non-discriminatory economic partnership and joint development space for ASEAN, SCO and EAEU members with a view to ensuring that integration processes in Asia-Pacific and Eurasia are complementary.
83. Russia views the Asia-Europe Meeting and Conference on Interaction and Confidence-Building Measures in Asia as relevant mechanisms for developing multi-faceted practical cooperation with the Asia-Pacific States and intends to take an active part in these frameworks.
84. Russia will continue developing comprehensive, equal, and trust-based partnership and strategic cooperation with the People’s Republic of China, and proactively step up cooperation in all areas. Russia views common principled approaches adopted by the two countries to addressing the key issues on the global agenda as one of the core elements of regional and global stability. Building on this foundation, Russia intends to promote foreign policy cooperation with China in various areas, including countering new challenges and threats, resolving urgent regional and global problems, cooperation in international organizations and multilateral associations.
85. Russia is committed to further strengthening its special privileged partnership with the Republic of India based on shared foreign policy priorities, historical friendship and deep mutual trust, as well as strengthening cooperation on urgent international issues and enhancing mutually beneficial bilateral ties in all areas, primarily in trade and economy, with a focus on implementing long-term cooperation programmes approved by the two countries.
86. Russia believes that it is important to further develop the mechanism of effective and mutually beneficial foreign policy and day-to-day cooperation within the RIC format.
87. Russia is committed to strengthening its traditionally friendly ties with Mongolia.
88. The Russian Federation will continue to build good-neighbourly relations and promote mutually beneficial cooperation with Japan, including with a view to ensuring stability and security in Asia-Pacific.
89. Russia is interested in maintaining traditionally friendly relations with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and the Republic of Korea, and will seek to ease confrontation and de-escalate tension on the Korean Peninsula, as well as achieve reconciliation and facilitate intra-Korean cooperation by promoting political dialogue. Russia has always championed a non-nuclear status for the Korean Peninsula and will support its denuclearization in every possible way, believing that this objective can be attained through the six-party talks. The Russian Federation will keep up its efforts to establish a mechanism for maintaining peace and security in Northeast Asia, and will also strive to expand economic cooperation within the region.
90. Russia is consistent in its efforts to strengthen its comprehensive strategic partnership with the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, as well as expand multidimensional cooperation with the Republic of Indonesia, the Kingdom of Thailand, the Republic of Singapore, Malaysia and other States in Asia-Pacific.
91. Russia will continue developing its relations with Australia and New Zealand on issues of mutual interest, and will also maintain regular contact and ties with States in the South Pacific.
92. Russia will continue making a meaningful contribution to stabilizing the situation in the Middle East and North Africa, supporting collective efforts aimed at neutralizing threats that emanate from international terrorist groups, consistently promotes political and diplomatic settlement of conflicts in regional States while respecting their sovereignty and territorial integrity and the right to self-determination without outside interference. As a permanent member of the UN Security Council and member of the Middle East Quartet of international mediators, Russia will further strive to achieve a comprehensive, fair and lasting resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in all its aspects consistent with international law.
93. Russia stands for a political settlement in the Syrian Arab Republic and the possibility for the people of Syria to determine their future based on the Geneva communiqué of June 30, 2012, statements by the International Syria Support Group and relevant UN Security Council resolutions. Russia supports the unity, independence and territorial integrity of the Syrian Arab Republic as a secular, democratic and pluralistic State with all ethnic and religious groups living in peace and security and enjoying equal rights and opportunities.
94. Russia is committed to the comprehensive development of cooperation with the Islamic Republic of Iran and seeks to ensure the consistent implementation of the joint comprehensive agreement to settle the situation around the Iranian nuclear programme based on UN Security Council resolution 2231 of July 20, 2015 and relevant IAEA Board of Governors decisions, and assists this process in every possible way.
95. Russia intends to further expand bilateral relations with the States in the Middle East and North Africa, including by relying on the ministerial meeting of the Russian-Arab Cooperation Forum, and continuing strategic dialogue with the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf.
96. Russia will take advantage of its participation as an observer in the work of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation with a view to further expanding relations with countries of the Islamic world, and promoting partnerships with them in various areas.
97. The persisting instability in the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan after the withdrawal of all but a few international contingents poses a major security threat to Russia and other members of the CIS. The Russian Federation, together with the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, other interested States and relying on the possibilities offered by the UN, CIS, CSTO, SCO and other international organizations will be consistent in its efforts to resolve as soon as possible the problems this country is facing, while respecting rights and legitimate interests of all ethnic groups living in its territory so that it can enter post-conflict recovery as a sovereign, peaceful, neutral State with a sustainable economy and political system. Implementing comprehensive measures to mitigate the terrorist threat emanating from Afghanistan against other States, including neighbouring countries, as well as eliminate or substantially reduce illicit production and trafficking of narcotic drugs is an integral part of these efforts. Russia is committed to further intensifying UN-led international efforts aimed at helping the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and its neighbouring States counter these challenges.
98. Russia remains committed to the comprehensive strengthening of relations with the Latin American and Caribbean States taking into account the growing role of this region in global affairs. Russia will seek to consolidate ties with its Latin American partners by working within international and regional forums, expanding cooperation with multilateral associations and Latin American and Caribbean integration structures, including the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, the Southern Common Market, the Union of South American Nations, the Central American Integration System, the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America, the Pacific Alliance and the Caribbean Community.
99. Russia will expand multidimensional interaction with African States both in bilateral and multilateral settings by improving political dialogue and promoting mutually beneficial trade and economic ties, stepping up comprehensive cooperation that serves common interests, contribute to preventing regional conflicts and crisis situations, as well as facilitate post-conflict settlement in Africa. Promoting partnership ties with the African Union and sub-regional organizations is an important element of this policy.
V. Russia’s Foreign Policy Formulation and Implementation
100. The President of the Russian Federation, acting in accordance with the Constitution of the Russian Federation and federal laws, sets the State’s foreign policy guidelines, directs the country’s foreign policy and, as the head of State, represents the Russian Federation in international relations.
101. The Council of the Federation of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation and the State Duma of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation, within the scope of their authority, shape the legislative framework for the country’s foreign policy and the fulfillment of its international obligations. They also contribute to enhancing the effectiveness of parliamentary diplomacy.
102. The Government of the Russian Federation implements the country’s foreign policy.
103. The Security Council of the Russian Federation formulates the State’s foreign and military policy guidelines, and forecasts, identifies, analyses and assesses threats to Russia’s national security, prepares proposals for the President of the Russian Federation regarding the adoption of special economic measures with a view to ensuring national security, examines issues related to international cooperation in terms of security, coordinates efforts by federal executive bodies and executive bodies in the constituent entities of the Russian Federation in implementing the decisions by the President of the Russian Federation that are related to ensuring national security.
104. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation develops the general strategy of the foreign policy of the Russian Federation, presents relevant proposals to the President of the Russian Federation, implements the foreign policy of the Russian Federation in accordance with this Concept and the Executive Order of the President of the Russian Federation No. 605 of May 7, 2012 On Measures to Implement the Foreign Policy of the Russian Federation and coordinates foreign policy activities of the federal executive bodies and international cooperation as per the Executive Order of the Russian Federation No. 1478 of November 8, 2011 On the Coordinating Role of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation in Conducting a Uniform Foreign Policy of the Russian Federation.
105. The Federal Agency for the Commonwealth of Independent States, Compatriots Living Abroad, and International Cultural Cooperation assists the Foreign Ministry of the Russian Federation in conducting a uniform foreign policy of the Russian Federation in terms of coordinating programmes on international humanitarian cooperation.
106. The constituent entities of the Russian Federation engage in international and foreign economic relations in accordance with the Constitution of the Russian Federation, Federal Law No. 4-FZ of January 4, 1999 On Coordination of International and Foreign Economic Relations of the Constituent Entities of the Russian Federation and other legislatives acts. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation and other federal executive bodies render the constituent entities of the Russian Federation necessary legal and expert advisory assistance in developing international and foreign economic ties, organizing and holding talks, drafting international and foreign economic agreements to be concluded by government bodies of the constituent entities of the Russian Federation, implementing these agreements, and ensure the protection of rights and legitimate interests of the constituent entities of the Russian Federation abroad, relying in these activities on the Council of the Heads of the Russian constituent entities of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation. Developing inter-regional and trans-border cooperation creates significant opportunities for promoting bilateral ties in trade and economy, humanitarian and other areas with respective regions and States.
107. When preparing foreign policy decisions, the federal executive bodies work on a regular basis with the chambers of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation, Russian political parties, non-governmental organizations, expert and academic community, cultural and humanitarian associations, business associations and mass media, encouraging them to take part in international cooperation. Promoting broad civil society engagement in foreign policy is consistent with global practice, Russia’s development trends, the objective to achieve consensus on the country’s foreign policy and contributes to its effective implementation.
108. Extra-budgetary resources raised on a voluntary basis through public-private partnerships can be used to finance foreign policy activities.