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Rubber growers call for immediate government intervention to solve ‘rubber industry’s COVID-19′

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by Sanath Nanayakkare

Sri Lanka’s rubber plantations are potentially on the brink of being wiped out, battered by a fast-spreading leaf disease and the sector could be nearing the ‘point of no-return’, commercial rubber growers claim, requesting for urgent government intervention to address the pressing issue.

The crisis, which evokes comparisons with the ‘coffee rust’ blight which wiped out Sri Lanka’s coffee plantations in the late 1800s, need to be immediately addressed since output has declined by nearly a third already in some rubber plantations and the industry is fast becoming unviable, growers claim.

Regional Plantation Companies (RPCs) that are involved in the commercial-scale cultivation of rubber, have joined together to voice the critical need to halt the spread of ‘Pestalotiopsis’, by requesting the government to ensure the availability of suitable fertilizer and agrochemicals in sufficient quantities, together with a proven mechanism which would allow the application of the necessary agrochemicals.

“This leaf disease is possibly best described as the equivalent of COVID-19 in the case of the rubber industry, considering both its devastation and the rapid speed at which it is spreading,” rubber industry veteran, Manoj Udugampola says. Udugampola has more than 30 years of experience in the sector and is the current Vice Chairman of the Colombo Rubber Traders’ Association (CRTA) and the Chief Operating Officer – Rubber of Pussellawa Plantations Ltd.

According to Udugampola, up to now, Pestalotiopsis, which causes leaves of rubber trees to fall off, has affected more than 20,000 hectares across nearly all rubber-growing regions in Sri Lanka. According to the statistics of Rubber Development Department (RDD), the extent of rubber cultivation under tapping in Sri Lanka (by both smallholders and commercial plantations) stood at 107,000 hectares in 2018. Hence, the leaf disease has already spread to approximately a fifth of the country’s rubber cultivation under tapping, based on 2018 figures.

Beyond the extent, the speed of the spread of Pestalotiopsis has also been alarming. While the issue only came into prominence in Sri Lanka during the second half of last year, Pestalotiopsis has spread rapidly from affecting 10,000 hectares of cultivation at the end of 2020 to double the extent by August 2021. However, Udugampola, like many others in the industry, fear that the worst is yet to come, based on the experiences of other rubber producing countries which have been previously affected by the leaf disease.

“Unfortunately, the wet weather conditions in many areas in which rubber is grown in Sri Lanka are ideal for the disease. The key issue is that while rubber trees need good foliage to produce output, Pestalotiopsis causes the leaves to fall off, so production declines significantly. When we look at the experiences of other rubber producing countries with this disease, the situation becomes even more grim.”

The industry’s fears appear to be well-founded, considering foreign news reports on Pestalotiopsis outbreaks in other rubber producing countries. By August 2019, a rubber cultivation extent equivalent to nearly three times Sri Lanka’s total rubber extent under cultivation in 2018, had been affected by the disease in Indonesia, resulting in the country reducing its annual rubber output target for the year by 15%. Similarly, news reports from Thailand, which too saw vast extents of plantations far greater than Sri Lanka’s total rubber cultivation extent being affected in 2019 by Pestalotiopsis, notes that the disease can halve the output of rubber plantations.

“By around April – May this year we were already seeing a 10 % to 20% reduction in output from rubber plantations due to Pestalotiopsis,” Udara Premathilake, Director Plantations (Rubber), Kelani Valley Plantations PLC says, supporting the views of Udugampola. “Since we continue to incur huge fixed costs including labour costs in running our operations, the reduction in output is reducing our revenue substantially and therefore our profits, so the industry is fast becoming unviable.”

“At this rate by year-end we are looking at a 15% to 20% reduction of the annual output. We are not sure where the industry would stand by next year. Companies are already looking at other crops like cardamom, pepper and cinnamon, which could spell the end of Sri Lanka’s rubber cultivation,” Premathilake said.

His prognosis is backed by Udugampola, who also points out that the Pestalotiopsis and related issues extend far beyond short-term remedies and is threatening the industry’s long-term viability.

“When this disease spreads to immature plants, their long-term growth will be badly affected. Since rubber trees have a life span of around 30 years this translates to a long-term decline in production. As concerted action should be taken at least now, or the industry will be unviable both in the short and the long-run.”

One of the key issues in addressing Pestalotiopsis is the lack of necessary fertilizer and the required agrochemicals (Carbendazim and Hexaconazole) in sufficient quantities. Since rubber trees lose their foliage due to the disease, to compensate and provide extra nourishment for foliage re-growth, Rubber Research Institute’s main recommendations is to apply additional fertilizer. However, following the fertilizer and agrochemical ban, let alone additional quantities, not even the required quantities are available, according to the Regional Plantation Companies (RPCs).

While earlier at least these inputs had been available at exorbitant prices (at double the amount prior to the ban), now there is no fertilizer available in the market at present. In addition, the recommendation is to apply fertilizer for mature rubber fields primarily before July/August, which was not possible due to the ban of fertilizer.

The RPCs also point out that despite Rubber Research Institute’s significant efforts and the appointment of a taskforce by the Plantation Ministry to arrest the spread of the disease, a solution is yet to be provided on how agrochemicals can be applied, since existing equipment is not sufficiently powerful to spray agrochemicals to the canopies of full-grown rubber trees.

However, RPCs’ have taken proactive measures themselves to halt the spread of Pestalotiopsis, but these efforts have not yielded the expected results.

“Bearing significant costs, we tested the feasibility of using drones to apply pesticides to the canopies of mature rubber trees in some of our plantations,” Albert Peries, General Manager– Estate Management of Lalan Rubbers Private Limited said. “However, despite being extremely costly, it was not entirely successful, particularly since most rubber plantations are steep land, rather than flat areas, which appears to be an issue for the drones.”

“Hence, we need a commercially-viable solution for Pestalotiopsis and we need one right now, since the industry is in no condition to bear these kinds of exorbitant costs continuously.”

Peries notes that even the spraying of chemicals would only provide temporary protection for a period of few months. He points out that even if one plantation applies agrochemicals but the adjoining one fails to do so, the disease can still spread from the untreated cultivation.

Hence, it is critical that the disease must be dealt with at the national-level by the government, considering especially that a vast majority of Sri Lanka’s rubber plantations are managed by smallholders, not commercial growers.

An immediate solution to Pestalotiopsis

While calling on the government’s intervention to finding a commercially viable solution to apply the necessary agrochemicals, the industry highlights that ensuring the availability of sufficient fertilizer and agrochemicals could provide a starting point in addressing the issue, especially since application of additional fertilizer and agrochemicals are a key recommendation in mitigating the disease’s impact on rubber cultivations.

In the long-run, the industry stresses the need to strengthen the mechanisms available to deal with similar issues, if rubber plantations are to prosper.

“We do appreciate the efforts of government institutions such as the Rubber Research Institute,” Premathilake says. “However, unfortunately, they lack sufficient resources and their capabilities such as research need to be strengthened if we are to effectively tackle these issues. Small growers also need to be made more aware of Pestalotiopsis, since they may not fully know its danger.”

Pieris concurs with this view, also pointing out that the lack of a viable solution to Pestalotiopsis carries a significant opportunity cost to both the industry and the country as a whole.

“As an export industry, rubber has great potential to become an important player to generate much needed foreign exchange for Sri Lanka. In fact, the conditions now are ideal for this purpose since rubber prices are at their highest since 2011. This could have been a golden opportunity even for smallholders to earn a good income and to revive the industry, which has been declining in terms of production volumes since around 2013 due to low prices.”

“However, unfortunately, due to Pestalotiopsis the volumes produced are significantly lower than the potential, despite high prices and both the industry and the country is losing out.”

“While the industry is eager to collaborate and address the issue, with no solution in sight, the clock appears to be ticking for Sri Lanka’s rubber industry, an important earner of foreign exchange for the economy, a provider of employment and livelihoods and a source of pride for the country, considering its global reputation as a high-quality rubber supplier. However, a solution, together with ensuring the availability of the necessary fertilizer and agrochemicals, could still potentially save Sri Lanka’s rubber cultivations, a matter now entirely in the hands of the government.”, Pieris said.



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IMF Executive Board Concludes 2024 Article IV Consultation with Sri Lanka and Completes the Second Review Under the Extended Fund Facility

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The Executive Board of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) completed the second review under the 48-month Extended Fund Facility (EFF) Arrangement, allowing the authorities to draw SDR 254 million (about US$336 million). This brings the total IMF financial support disbursed so far to SDR 762 million (about US$1 billion). The Executive Board also concluded the 2024 Article IV Consultation with Sri Lanka.

The EFF arrangement for Sri Lanka was approved by the Executive Board on March 20, 2023 (see Press Release No. 23/79) in an amount of SDR 2.286 billion (395 percent of quota or about US$3 billion. The first review of the EFF was completed by the Executive Board on December 12, 2023 with disbursements of SDR 254 million (about US$337 million; see Press Release No. 23/439).

The EFF-supported program aims to restore Sri Lanka’s macroeconomic stability and debt sustainability, mitigate the economic impact on the poor and vulnerable, rebuild external buffers, safeguard financial sector stability, and strengthen governance and growth potential.

Signs of economic recovery are emerging. Real GDP expanded by 3 percent (y-o-y) in the second half of 2023. May 2024 inflation was 0.9 percent and gross international reserves increased to US$5.5 billion by end-April 2024. The primary balance improved to a surplus with tax revenue increasing to 9.8 percent of GDP in 2023. Despite improvements in non‑performing loans, pockets of vulnerabilities remain in the banking sector.

The recovery remains gradual, and the medium-term growth potential hinges on appropriate policy settings. Growth is projected to recover moderately in 2024-25 given constrained bank credit and fiscal consolidation, while facing uncertainties around the debt restructuring and policy direction following the elections. Inflation is expected to temporarily increase due to one-off factors. The current account is expected to remain positive in 2024, driven by improved tourist arrivals and remittances. Domestic risks could arise from waning reform momentum, especially on revenue mobilization. External risks are associated with intensified regional conflicts, commodity price volatility, and a global slowdown. Slow progress in debt restructuring could widen financing gaps.

Following the Executive Board’s discussion,  Kenji Okamura, Deputy Managing Director and Acting Chair, issued the following statement:

“Sri Lanka’s performance under its Fund-supported program remains strong. All quantitative targets were met, except for the marginal shortfall of indicative target on social spending. Most structural benchmarks were either met or implemented with delay. Reforms and policy adjustment are bearing fruit. The economy is starting to recover, inflation remains low, revenue collection is improving, and reserves continue to accumulate. Despite these positive developments, the economy is still vulnerable and the path to debt sustainability remains knife-edged. Important vulnerabilities associated with the ongoing debt restructuring, revenue mobilization, reserve accumulation, and banks’ ability to support the recovery continue to cloud the outlook. Strong reform efforts, adequate safeguards, and contingency planning help mitigate these risks.

“To restore fiscal sustainability, sustained revenue mobilization efforts, promptly finalizing the debt restructuring in line with program targets, and protecting social and capital spending remain critical. Advancing public financial management will help enhance fiscal discipline, and strengthening the debt management framework is also needed.

“Monetary policy should continue prioritizing price stability, supported by a sustained commitment to refrain from monetary financing and safeguard central bank independence. Continued exchange rate flexibility and gradually phasing out the balance of payments measures remain critical to rebuild external buffers and facilitate external rebalancing.

“Restoring bank capital adequacy and strengthening governance and oversight of state-owned banks are top priorities to revive credit growth and support economic recovery.

“The authorities need to press ahead with their efforts to address structural challenges to unlock long-term potential. Key priorities include steadfast implementation of the governance reforms; further trade liberalization to promote exports and foreign direct investment; labor reforms to upgrade skills and increase female labor force participation; and state-owned enterprise reforms to improve efficiency and fiscal transparency, contain fiscal risks, and promote a level playing field for the private sector.

Executive Board Assessment

Executive Directors commended the authorities’ strong performance under the Fund‑supported program, noting that reforms are bearing fruit. The economy has started to recover, inflation remains low, revenue collection is improving, and reserves continue to accumulate. Directors underscored, however, that important vulnerabilities and uncertainties remain, including with respect to the ongoing debt restructuring and the upcoming elections. Against this backdrop, they called on the authorities to continue strengthening macroeconomic policies to restore economic stability and debt sustainability and to sustain the reform momentum to promote long‑term inclusive growth.

Directors underscored that restoring fiscal sustainability requires additional revenue measures underpinning the 2025 Budget, further tax administration reforms, as well as limiting tax exemptions and making them more transparent. They called for protecting growth‑enhancing and social spending, and for improving the social safety net. Directors welcomed the submission of the new Public Financial Management bill to Parliament, which would strengthen fiscal discipline and establish a solid fiscal framework. They noted that further efforts to strengthen the debt management framework are also needed. Directors welcomed the progress on achieving cost‑recovery in energy pricing, noting its criticality for containing risks from state‑owned enterprises (SOEs).

Directors welcomed the progress made to advance debt restructuring to restore Sri Lanka’s debt sustainability. They called for a swift finalization of the Memorandum of Understanding with the Official Creditor Committee and final agreements with the Export‑Import Bank of China. Directors stressed the importance of seeking comparable, transparent, and timely completion of restructurings with external private creditors consistent with program targets.

Directors emphasized that maintaining price stability remains the top priority for monetary policy, which requires anchoring inflation expectations, continuing to refrain from monetary financing, and the gradual unwinding of government security holdings as markets allow. They also stressed the importance of strengthening central bank independence. Directors underscored the need to continue building external buffers, while maintaining exchange rate flexibility to facilitate external rebalancing and preserve the credibility of the inflation targeting regime. They called for gradually phasing out the balance of payments measures.

Directors underscored the need to strengthen financial sector resilience to support the recovery. They called for swift completion of the restructuring of remaining domestic law, foreign currency loans and for adequate recapitalization of commercial and state‑owned banks. Directors welcomed the enactment of the Banking Act amendments and emphasized the importance of their effective implementation to enhance supervision and the governance of state‑owned banks. They also called for further efforts to strengthen the anti‑money laundering and counter‑terrorism financing framework.

Directors stressed that pressing ahead with governance and structural reforms, supported by development partners and IMF capacity development, is crucial to unlock growth potential. They welcomed the publication of the authorities’ action plan on the key governance reforms recommended in the Governance Diagnostic Report and called for its steadfast implementation. Directors also recommended prioritizing reforms to further liberalize trade, improve the investment climate and SOE efficiency, reduce gender gaps in the labor market, and mitigate climate vulnerabilities.

Sri Lanka: Selected Economic Indicators 2021–2029

 

  2021 2022   2023 2024 2025 2026 2027 2028 2029  
         
   
GDP and inflation (in percent)      
Real GDP 4.2   -7.3   -2.3   2.0   2.7 3.0 3.1 3.1 3.1  
Inflation (average) 1/ 6.0   45.2   17.4   7.0   5.8 5.4 5.2 5.1 5.0  
Inflation (end-of-period) 1/ 12.1   54.5   4.0   6.9   5.5 5.4 5.2 5.1 5.0  
GDP Deflator growth 8.0   47.5   17.5   9.8   6.9 5.4 5.2 5.1 5.0  
Nominal GDP growth 12.6   36.6   14.8   11.9   9.8 8.5 8.5 8.3 8.3  
                             
Savings and investment (in percent of GDP)        
National savings 33.0   27.6   33.9   32.5   31.0 31.3 31.9 31.8 31.8  
  Government -7.3   -6.4   -6.0   -3.4   -1.0 -0.1 0.3 0.7 0.7  
  Private 40.4   34.0   39.9   35.9   31.9 31.4 31.6 31.1 31.0  
National investment 36.7   28.6   30.8   32.1   32.1 32.4 32.8 32.7 32.6  
  Government 7.4   5.5   3.7   5.0   5.1 5.2 5.1 5.2 5.2  
  Private 29.4   23.1   27.1   27.1   27.0 27.3 27.7 27.5 27.4  
Savings-Investment balance -3.7   -1.0   3.1   0.5   -1.1 -1.2 -0.9 -0.9 -0.8  
  Government -14.7   -11.9   -9.6   -8.4   -6.0 -5.3 -4.8 -4.5 -4.4  
  Private 11.0   10.9   12.8   8.8   4.9 4.1 3.9 3.6 3.6  
                           
Public finance (in percent of GDP)      
Revenue and grants 8.3   8.4   11.1   13.6   15.1 15.3 15.4 15.4 15.4  
Expenditure 20.0   18.6   19.4   20.9   20.3 19.9 19.5 19.2 19.2  
Primary balance -5.7   -3.7   0.6   1.0   2.3 2.3 2.3 2.3 2.3  
Central government balance -11.7   -10.2   -8.3   -7.3   -5.2 -4.6 -4.1 -3.8 -3.8  
Central government gross financing needs 31.0   34.1   27.8   24.9   23.7 20.5 16.6 13.1 11.9  
Central government debt 102.7   115.9   109.8   108.8   108.4 108.3 106.6 103.2 100.1  
Public debt 2/ 114.8   126.3   115.7   114.2   113.1 112.5 110.2 106.5 103.1  
                             
Money and credit (percent change, end of period)                            
Reserve money 35.4   3.3   -1.5   18.8   11.0 8.5 8.5 8.3 8.3  
Broad money 13.2   15.5   7.3   14.9   10.4 8.5 8.5 8.3 8.3  
Domestic credit 19.5   18.8   -1.2   9.3   3.6 2.5 2.3 2.4 6.7  
Credit to private sector 13.1   6.4   -0.8   7.2   9.2 9.3 9.5 9.4 9.3  
Credit to private sector (adjusted for inflation) 7.2   -38.8   -18.2   0.2   3.4 4.0 4.3 4.3 4.3  
Credit to central government and public corporations 26.5   31.1   -1.6   11.0   -0.9 -3.4 -4.7 -5.5 3.2  
                             
Balance of Payments (in millions of U.S. dollars)                            
Exports 12,499   13,106   11,911   12,913   13,624 14,261 14,903 15,591 16,384  
Imports -20,638   -18,291   -16,811   -20,059   -22,565 -23,706 -24,362 -25,255 -26,363  
Current account balance -3,285   -744   2,644   412   -926 -1,031 -804 -819 -840  
Current account balance (in percent of GDP) -3.7   -1.0   3.1   0.5   -1.1 -1.2 -0.9 -0.9 -0.8  
Current account balance net of interest (in percent of GDP) -2.1   0.1   4.3   2.8   1.3 1.1 1.5 1.6 1.5  
Export value growth (percent) 24.4   4.9   -9.1   8.4   5.5 4.7 4.5 4.6 5.1  
Import value growth (percent) 28.5   -11.4   -8.1   19.3   12.5 5.1 2.8 3.7 4.4  
   
Gross official reserves (end of period)  
In millions of U.S. dollars 3,139   1,898   4,387   5,605   7,174 9,262 13,466 15,105 15,286  
In months of prospective imports of goods & services 2.0   1.2   2.4   2.7   3.3 4.1 5.8 6.2 6.3  
In percent of ARA composite metric 24.7   16.3   37.8   47.9   58.6 73.1 100.2 108.7 108.5  
Usable Gross official reserves (end of period) 3/        
In millions of U.S. dollars 1,565   462   2,951   4,169   7,174 9,262 13,466 15,105 15,286  
In months of prospective imports of goods & services 1.0   0.3   1.6   2.0   3.3 4.1 5.8 6.2 6.3  
In percent of ARA composite metric 12.3   4.0   25.4   35.6   58.6 73.1 100.2 108.7 108.5  
External debt (public and private)                            
In billions of U.S. dollars 58.4   57.4   52.7   53.6   55.6 58.0 62.3 64.0 65.8  
As a percent of GDP 65.9   77.0   62.5   61.1   64.4 65.7 68.5 67.2 65.0  
                             
Memorandum items:                            
Nominal GDP (in billions of rupees) 17,612   24,064   27,630   30,917   33,958 36,839 39,959 43,287 46,869  
Exchange Rate (period average) 198.8   322.6   327.5      
Exchange Rate (end of period) 200.4   363.1   323.9      
Sources: Data provided by the Sri Lankan authorities and IMF staff estimates.
IMF Communications Department
   

 

 

 

 

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Parliament in the dark about Speaker’s claim that sittings cost taxpayers Rs. 15m a day

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Mahinda Yapa

…recurrent and capital expenditure for 2023 Rs 3,616,201,443

By Shamindra Ferdinando

The Parliament says it cannot confirm Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena’s claim that a day’s proceedings cost the taxpayer as much as Rs 15 mn.

The Parliament emphasised that as in the case of other government corporations and departments, a day’s expenditure couldn’t be calculated.

The House said so in response to The Island query pertaining to a statement made by Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena in Parliament on March 20, this year. Responding to a series of questions that had been submitted to Parliament in terms of the Right to Information (RTI) Act No 12 of 2016, the Parliament didn’t have the required data to back Speaker Abeywardena’s claim.

The Island asked Parliament as to how Speaker Abeywardena calculated a day’s expenditure at Rs 15 mn as the House previously declared it couldn’t confirm Chief Government Whip Prasanna Ranatunga’s declaration that a day’s proceedings cost the taxpayer Rs 10 mn.

Minister Ranatunga, on Dec 10, 2023, alleged that the main Opposition Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) wasted Rs 10 mn by sabotaging the special debate on the VAT (Amendment) Bill conducted on that day.

The SLPP heavyweight said so during a heated argument with SJB and Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa.

During Karu Jayasuriya’s tenure as the Speaker (2015-2019) the UNPer is on record as having said that a day’s proceedings cost the taxpayer over Rs 4 mn.

Parliament responded to a set of queries posed by The Island on March 22, 2024 ,well after the stipulated period to answer RTI queries.

However, the Parliament disclosed that the recurrent and capital expenditure of Parliament for 2023 were Rs 3,574,101,968 and Rs 42,099,475 respectively. Hence the total expenditure Rs. 3,616,201,443.

Parliament declined to respond to several questions claiming either Parliament didn’t have the relevant data or they were irrelevant. The questions included one on the expenditure incurred during the Budget debate last year (Nov 13-Dec 08, 2023).

The House declined to compare the expenditure of Sri Lanka’s Parliament and that of regional Parliaments.

The Speaker, on March 20, declared that a three-day no-confidence motion against him over the enactment of the Online Safety Bill wasted as much as Rs 45 mn at the rate of Rs 15 mn per day.

The Parliament couldn’t say how much food and electricity cost the taxpayer. According to the response received for the RTI query, the Parliament opened on all week days though the sittings were held a maximum of eight days a month.

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Russia expects GoSL to continue with neutral foreign policy

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CDS General Shavendra Silva, his wife Sujeewa with Russian Ambassador Levan Dzhagaryan at Russia Day celebrations. Fourth from left Alexander Dyagilev, Senior Counsellor and Alexey Bonarev, Military Attache.

Ambassador comments on 2024 prez poll

Russian Ambassador Levan Dzhagaryan said that regardless of the outcome of the presidential election later this year in Sri Lanka, the Russian Federation expected the new government to continue with what he called independent neutral foreign policy and preserve the continuity in friendly relations with Russia.

Declaring that Russia had never meddled in domestic affairs here, Ambassador Dzhagaryan said that they hoped the elections would be conducted in a peaceful manner and result in further enhancement of stability and growth.

The Ambassador said so at the Russia Day celebrations at Galle Face Hotel on Tuesday (11). The Russia Day falls on June 12.

Among the distinguished gathering were former Presidents Mahinda Rajapaksa, Gotabaya Rajapaksa,

Chief of Defence Staff General Shavendra Silva, Defence Secretary General Kamal Gunaratne and diplomatic representatives.

Ambassador Dzhagaryan said: “June 12 symbolizes a future-oriented Russia, successful development of its economy, improvement of social security, consolidation of the friendship between the peoples of the Russian Federation, strengthening of its position on the international arena as well as reminds of great victories and accomplishments of many generations of our predecessors.”

Referring to the ongoing war in Ukraine, the Ambassador said: “The start of the Special military operation in Ukraine was a response to the blatant ignorance by the West of security concerns of Russia, and the abandonment by the West of its commitments. It is also a response to the genocide perpetrated by the Kiev regime against civilians in Donbass, including citizens of the Russian Federation. The operation is not aimed against civilians in Ukraine. The goal is to demilitarize and denazify Ukraine, as well as bring to trial those who perpetrated numerous bloody crimes. Ukraine and the Ukrainian people have been turned into an instrument of Western policy to destabilize Russia. This operation will last till all its aims, pointed by our President Vladimir Putin, are reached. Our cause is just, and we will win. No doubt.

The Russian-Sri Lankan relations provide a good example of sincere friendship and mutual understanding that can exist between two countries. Our states have similar approaches to important foreign policy issues. Sri Lanka supports Russia’s initiatives at the UN General Assembly, including resolutions on countering the glorification of Nazism, the prevention of an arms race in outer space, backs up our efforts to promote international information security, arms control, disarmament, and non-proliferation. Russia, in its turn, has always supported Sri Lanka in all international fora, particularly in the United Nations Human Rights Council. And, of course, we deeply appreciate its balanced position on the Ukrainian issue despite all the pressure and efforts to incline Sri Lanka to Western side of the conflict.”

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