بعد كازاخستان… حسم أمر الاتفاق النووي

 ناصر قنديل

لم يفصل الأميركيون ومن خلفهم كلّ الجسم النخبوي الثقافي في الغرب بين مفاوضات الملف النووي الإيراني، وموازين القوى السياسية والعسكرية في الصراع الدائر على مساحة العالم عموماً وخصوصاً حول آسيا، وبمثل ما شكل الانسحاب الأميركي من أفغانستان نقطة تحوّل في هذه الموازين لصالح إيران وحلفائها، جاءت أحداث كازاخستان محاولة لتعديل معاكس لهذه الموازين، فالوقائع المتجمعة لدى القيادة الروسية والتي بحوزة حلفاء روسيا وفي طليعتهم إيران والصين، والتي نشر بعضها في وسائل إعلام روسية وأوروبية وأميركية وإيرانية، تكشف أنّ ما جرى كان حصيلة تعاون استخباري أميركي بريطاني تركي، جمع بين تحريك جماعات مسلحة ومنظمات المجتمع المدني، لوضع اليد على العاصمة الكازاخية، والحديث يدور عن البلد الذي يحتلّ موقعاً شديد التأثير على الجغرافيا السياسية التي تفصل روسيا عن إيران وتفصلهما عن الصين، وتختزن ثروات استراتيجية هائلة، وتملك فيها أميركا و”إسرائيل” محطات أمنية وعسكرية تستهدف إيران وروسيا والصين.

بالمقارنة مع سورية توقع الأميركيون أن تستمرّ الأحداث في كازاخستان أسابيع وشهوراً في بعدها المحلي، وأن تحتلّ مكانة إعلامية وسياسية تتيح تحويلها الى منصة لتوجيه الرسائل الأمنية والسياسية والتفاوضية، وبالمقارنة مع سورية توقع الأميركي أن تحتاج موسكو الى شهور وسنوات حتى تتخذ قرار التدخل المباشر، فقاموا بتسريع روزنامة التحرك لفرض أمر واقع خلال الأسابيع الأولى ينهي أمر السيطرة على العاصمة، ويضع معادلة جديدة يصعب كسرها لاحقاً، فاتحين الباب لحركة روسية مشابهة التي جرت في أوكرانيا، أيّ اقتطاع روسيا لمقاطعات على حدودها تشكل حزاماً لأمنها، وبنوا استراتجيتهم لكازاخستان على الجمع بين دروس كلّ من تجربتي سورية وأوكرانيا.

في المقابل أظهرت القيادة الروسية أنها تعلمت من التجربتين الكثير من الدروس، وأولها عدم أخذ الحراك الشعبي بعين البراءة وحسن النية عندما يجري في توقيت سياسي شديد الحساسية وفي ساحات ذات أهمية استراتيجية، والثاني هو إعطاء الأولوية لفتح الملفات الاستخبارية لفهم ما يجري بالتعرّف على هوية المجموعات التي تقود الحراك واتخاذ القرار على أساسها، والثالث هو أنّ نموذجي سورية وأوكرانيا لترجمة التوجهات الروسية سجلا نجاحاً نسبياً كان يمكن أن يكون كاملاً لو لم يتمّ منح الوقت الكافي للغرب لترجمة توجهاته بالزجّ بقوى خارجية حكومية وغير حكومية قادرة على فرض أمر واقع جغرافي كما حدث في سورية، أو فرض أمر واقع سياسي في العاصمة كما حدث في أوكرانيا، والدرس الرابع هو التوجس من الدور التركي ولعبه لأدوار متعددة تحت العباءات المختلفة الألوان، ورهانه المستمر على خلق وقائع تغيّر من موازين دوره في سورية بوجه روسيا وإيران.

انطلاقاً من هذه الدروس قامت موسكو بحسم قرار التحرك الاستباقي خلال ساعات، وشكل هذا التموضع أساساً لحسم سريع لما كان مخططا، وفرضت موازين قوى غيّرت حال الازدواج التي كانت تعيشها كازاخستان، فتدحرج الحسم الميداني ليصبح حسما سياسياً واستخبارياً مع الامتدادات التي كانت مخزوناً احتياطياً أميركياً وتركياً و”إسرائيلياً”، فصارت المعركة التي خاضها الأميركيون لفرض معادلة جديدة مدخلاً لمعادلة عكسية، وأهمّ نتائج التسريع الذي فرضته المتغيّرات في الموازين على مسار التفاوض حول الملف النووي الإيراني الجارية في فيينا لصالح قبول العودة الى الاتفاق بشروط ترضي إيران، أنه يحسم أمر قرار واشنطن الإستراتيجي بأولوية مصالحها على حساب مصالح حلفائها، وفي مقدمتها المصالح “الإسرائيلية”.

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How Afghans are using solar energy as alternative to unreliable state-supplied electricity

January ,8 2022

Description:

A short video report by Al Jazeera Arabic on how Afghans, especially in the sunny southern regions of Afghanistan, are increasingly resorting to solar power to help cover up for severe shortfalls in the government electricity network.

Source: Al Jazeera Channel (YouTube)

Date: December 29, 2021

( Please help us keep producing independent translations for you by contributing a small monthly amount here )


Transcript:

Reporter:

Pumping water from underground is no longer costly in southern Afghanistan. These farmers have found in solar energy an alternative to fuel-powered electricity generators. They need no more than this unit of solar panels to save large swaths of agricultural lands from desertification, with installation costs estimated at around 2,000 USD.

Mohammad Nassir, Afghani Farmer:

If we were not able to obtain solar energy the land would have become arid, because irrigation via fuel-powered generators is very expensive. Now we no longer need to pay any additional operating costs.

Reporter:

These technicians are finishing the process of launching a domestic solar energy unit. They say they have installed thousands of similar units in the past five years alone, and that around 80% of the residents of Kandahar now depend on solar energy either totally or to replace the (shortages of the) government (electricity) network that is barely functioning.

Ahmad Diaa Abdali, Electricity Technician:

The capacity of this unit is 20 kilowatts. However, due to financial difficulties people (usually) use units that produce 1-5 kilowatts with the aim of operating the main electric devices at home only.

Reporter:

Investing in solar energy is promising, according to energy experts, given the availability of sun exposure in southern Afghanistan, which amounts to more than 300 days a year. Turkish and Indian companies have benefitted from this (favorable climate) to help the government (electricity) network that relies on hydroelectric and thermal energy sources.

Jaafar Ahmed, Manager of a Solar Energy Plant:

We are depending now on foreign investment in the field of solar energy. I expect that local investors will pursue (solar energy) when they are aware of (its) importance because solar energy is the future of energy.

Reporter:

Round-the-clock lighting at almost zero operating costs. A dream come true in the streets of Kandahar which uses sunlight obtained during the day, to light up its streets at night. Solar energy becomes a vital alternative to the government electricity network.

Perhaps many Afghans were not aware of the importance of sustainable energy in the past. However, deprivation has turned Afghanistan within years into one of the most prominent countries relying on solar energy.

Samer Allawi, Al Jazeera, Kandahar

This Is How the U.S. Does ‘Dialogue’

January 13, 2022

Washington will not consider Russian proposals on no expansion of NATO, and has no intention of even discussing the idea. So much for “dialogue”.

by Pepe Escobar,

It was the first high-level Russia-NATO meeting since 2019 – coming immediately after the non sequitur of the U.S.-Russia “security guarantee” non-dialogue dialogue earlier in the week in Geneva.

So what happened in Brussels? Essentially yet another non-dialogue dialogue – complete with a Kafkaesque NATO preface: we’re prepared for dialogue, but the Kremlin’s proposals are unacceptable.

This was a double down on the American envoy to NATO, Julianne Smith, preemptively blaming Russia for the actions that “accelerated this disaster”.

By now every sentient being across Eurasia and its European peninsula should be familiar with Russia’s top two, rational demands: no further NATO expansion, and no missile systems stationed near its borders.

Now let’s switch to the spin machine. NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg’s platitudes were predictably faithful to his spectacular mediocrity. On the already pre-empted dialogue, he said it was “important to start a dialogue”.

Russia, he said, “urged NATO to refuse to admit Ukraine; the alliance responded by refusing to compromise on enlargement”. Yet NATO “welcomed bilateral consultations” on security guarantees.

NATO also proposed a series of broad security consultations, and “Russia has not yet agreed, but has not ruled out them either.”

No wonder: the Russians had already noted, even before it happened, that this is noting but stalling tactics.

The Global South will be relieved to know that Stoltenberg defended NATO’s military blitzkriegs in both Kosovo and Libya: after all “they fell under UN mandates”. So they were benign. Not a word on NATO’s stellar performance in Afghanistan.

And then, the much-awaited clincher: NATO worries about Russian troops “on the border with Ukraine” – actually from 130 km to 180 km away, inside European Russian territory. And the alliance considers “untrue” that expansion is “an aggressive act”. Why? Because “it spreads democracy”.

Bomb me to democracy, baby

So here’s the NATO gospel in a flash. Now compare it with the sobering words of Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Grushko.

Grushko carefully enounced how “NATO is determined to contain Russia. The United States and its allies are trying to achieve superiority in all areas and in all possible theaters of military operations.” That was a veiled reference to Full Spectrum Dominance, which since 2002 remains the American gospel.

Grushko also referred to “Cold War-era containment tactics”, and that “all cooperation [with Russia] has been halted” – by NATO. Still, “Russia honestly and directly pointed out to NATO that a further slide of the situation could lead to dire consequences for European security.”

The conclusion was stark: “The Russian Federation and NATO do not have a unifying positive agenda at all.”

Virtually all Russophobic factions of the bipartisan War Inc. machine in Washington cannot possibly accept that there should be no forces stationed on European states that were not members of NATO in 1997; and that current NATO members should attempt no military intervention in Ukraine as well as in other Eastern European, Transcaucasian, and Central Asian states.

On Monday in Geneva, Deputy Foreign Minister Ryabkov had already stressed, once again, that Russia’s red line is unmovable: “For us, it’s absolutely mandatory to make sure that Ukraine never, never, ever becomes a member of NATO.”

Diplomatic sources confirmed that in Geneva, Ryabkov and his team had for all practical purposes to act like teachers in kindergarten, making sure there would be “no misunderstandings”.

Now compare it with the U.S. State Department’s Ned Price, speaking after those grueling eight hours shared between Ryabkov and Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman: Washington will not consider Russian proposals on no expansion of NATO, and has no intention of even discussing the idea.

So much for “dialogue”.

Ryabkov confirmed there was no progress. Referring to his didacticism, he had to stress, “We are calling on the U.S. to demonstrate a maximum of responsibility at this moment. Risks related to a possible increase of confrontation shouldn’t be underestimated.”

To say, in Ryabkov’s words, that “significant” Russian effort has been made to persuade the Americans that “playing with fire” is not in their interests is the euphemism of the young century.

Let me sanction you to oblivion

A quick recap is crucial to understand how things could have derailed so fast.

NATO’s not exactly secret strategy, from the beginning, has been to pressure Moscow to directly negotiate with Kiev on Donbass, even though Russia is not mentioned in the Minsk Agreements.

While Moscow was being forced to become part of the Ukraine/Donbass confrontation, it barely broke a sweat smashing a coup cum color revolution in Belarus. Afterwards, the Russians assembled in no time an impressive strike force – with corresponding military infrastructure – in European Russia territory to respond in lightning quick fashion in case there was a Ukrainian blitzkrieg in Donbass.

No wonder an alarmed NATOstan had to do something about the notion of fighting Russia to the last impoverished Ukrainian. They may at least have understood that Ukraine would be completely destroyed.

The beauty is how Moscow turned things around with a new geopolitical jiu-jitsu move. Ukro-dementia encouraged by NATO – complete with empty promises of becoming a member – opened the way for Russia to demand no further NATO expansion, with the withdrawal of all military infrastructure from Eastern Europe to boot.

It was obvious that Ryabkov, in his talks with Sherman, would refuse any suggestion that Russia should dismantle the logistical infrastructure set up in its own European Russia territory. For all practical purposes, Ryabkov smashed Sherman to bits. What was left was meek threats of more sanctions.

Still, it will be a Sisyphean task to convince the Empire and its NATO satrapies not to stage some sort of military adventure in Ukraine. That’s the gist of what Ryabkov and Grushko said over and over again in Geneva and Brussels. They also had to stress the obvious: if further sanctions are imposed on Russia, there would be severe blowback especially in Europe.

But how is it humanly possible for seasoned pros like Ryabkov and Grushko to argue, rationally, with a bunch of amateur blind bats such as Blinken, Sullivan, Nuland and Sherman?

There has been some serious speculation on the timeframe ahead for Russia to in fact not even bother to listen to the American “baby babble” (copyright Maria Zakharova) anymore. Could be around 2027, or even 2025.

What’s happening next is that the five-year extension of the new START treaty expires in February 2026. Then there will be no ceiling for nuclear strategic weapons. The Power of Siberia 2 gas pipeline to China will make Gazprom even less dependent on the European market. The combined Russia-China financial system will become nearly impervious to U.S. sanctions. The Russia-China strategic partnership will be sharing even more substantial military tech.

All of that is way more consequential than the dirty secret that is not a secret in the current “security guarantees” kabuki: the exceptionalist, “indispensable” nation is congenitally incapable of giving up on the forever expansion of NATO to, well, outer space.

At the same time, the Russians are very much aware of a quite prosaic truth; the U.S. will not fight for Ukraine.

So welcome to Instagrammed Irrationalism. What happens next? Most possibly a provocation, with the possibility, for instance, of a chemical black ops to be blamed on Russia, followed by – what else – more sanctions.

The package is ready. It comes in the form of a bill by Dem senators supported by the White House to bring “severe costs” to the Russian economy in case Moscow finally answers their prayers and “invades” Ukraine.

Sanctions would directly hit President Putin, Prime Minister Mishustin, Foreign Minister Lavrov, the Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces Gen Gerasimov, and “commanders of various branches of the Armed Forces, including the Air Force and Navy.”

Targeted banks and financial institutions include Sberbank, VTB, Gazprombank, Moscow Credit Bank, Alfa-Bank, Otkritie Bank, PSB, Sovcombank, Transcapitalbank, and the Russian Direct Investment Fund. They would all be cut off from SWIFT.

If this bill sounds like a declaration of war, that’s because it is. Call it the American version of “dialogue”.

Afghanistan reacts to US sanctions with more cooperation with Iran

1 Jan 2022

Source: Agencies

By Al Mayadeen Net

The catastrophic humanitarian reality in Afghanistan is pushing the Taliban government to deal with Iran in order to secure the needs of its citizens. In light of US sanctions, this has become the best option.

Iran and Afghanistan share a border nearly 600 miles long

The withdrawal of the United States from Afghanistan a few months ago is nothing more than a military withdrawal from the country, as the United States still maintains its grip on the country, controlling it as it pleases through the harsh sanctions it imposes.

98% of Afghans do not consume enough food

After the Taliban movement came to power following the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan, international financial institutions stopped aid to the country, as Washington froze about $9.5 billion in assets of the Afghan Central Bank, which prevented millions of people across Afghanistan from accessing basic commodities they need in order to survive, according to the International Committee of the Red Cross.

According to the latest survey conducted by the World Food Program, 98% of Afghans do not consume enough food, which is an alarming increase of 17% since August. Furthermore, the United Nations indicates in this context that about 23 million people, or about 55% of the population, face extreme levels of hunger and that about 9 million are at risk of starvation as the winter gets colder. 

The organization also explained that “families are resorting to desperate measures as the bitter winter sets in; 9 in every 10 households are now buying less expensive food, 8 in 10 are eating less, and seven in ten are borrowing food to get by.” The WFP stress that they need $220 million per month in 2022 to ramp up its operations and provide food and cash assistance to more than 23 million Afghans facing extreme hunger.

Afghan-Iranian cooperation in confronting the catastrophic humanitarian reality in Afghanistan

This catastrophic humanitarian reality seems to have prompted the Taliban government to deal with the Islamic Republic of Iran in order to secure the needs of its citizens. In light of the US and European sanctions on the two countries, there is no better option than rapprochement and resorting to each other. 

The Wall Street Journal reported in this regard that the two countries, which share a border of nearly 600 miles, seek “to put longstanding ideological and political differences aside as they seek to fill the vacuum left behind by American troops.”

The newspaper added that the nature of the relationship between Afghanistan and Iran is manifested in Nimroz province, where “goods from potatoes to fertilizer and fuel [transport] through the desert from Iran to Afghanistan, their pickup trucks whipping up a trail of dust clouds.”

In turn, WSJ noted that from August to December, “Iran imported $45 million in goods through western Afghanistan, a 20% increase from the same period last year,” adding that “The Afghan economy has shrunk by an estimated 40%, according to the United Nations.”

WSJ continues, “On the streets of Zaranj, the capital of Nimroz, street vendors hawk Iranian spices and fruit covered in dust, and accept Iranian rials as payment.” It added that street lamps that light up Zaranj, which resembles a spot of light in the middle of the dark desert, are powered by electricity flowing from the Iranian grid.

The newspaper also quoted a sales manager in one of the shops in the Afghan city of Herat as saying that he had replaced 60% to 65% of the brands that were Turkish or European with Iranian products, stressing that “we will 100% become more dependent on Iran if this situation continues.”

A market in Herat in Afghanistan carries products imported from Iran (WSJ)

Last November, Iran resumed oil and gas exports to Afghanistan, revealing at the same time that trade exchange between Iran on one side and Afghanistan and Pakistan on the other will witness a rise to $5 billion.

Contrary to most countries, Iran has remained in constant contact with the Taliban government in order to activate diplomatic efforts, as well as to strengthen economic and commercial relations, according to the newspaper.

Biden’s “Diplomacy Is Back” Falls Flat as 2021 Middle East Policy a Miserable Flop

December 30th, 2021

Source

By Robert Inlakesh

By no means has voting blue meant a change for the better; in fact, the only real difference between Biden and Trump in terms of foreign policy is that instead of mean tweets, more respectful language is used to give the new president the veneer of respectability.

Despite President Joe Biden having claimed earlier this year that “diplomacy is back” and that he would end the war in Yemen, revive the Iran Nuclear Deal and settle several other issues, in reality his Middle East foreign policy has been just as detrimental to the region as was that of his predecessor.

“This war has to end…we’re ending all American support for offensive operations in the war in Yemen, including relevant arm sales,” Biden said in early February during his first address to the U.S. public on his administration’s foreign policy approach. It was a speech that saw him showered with the praise of his supporters, yet we are now in late December and the war has only intensified, with UN experts estimating that the total death toll by the end of the year will be 377,000.

To make things even worse, as Saudi Arabia’s bombs target urban centers in Yemen’s capital Sana’a, including the country’s primary airport and a maternity hospital, the U.S. just approved another $650 million weapons sale to Riyadh. Instead of withdrawing their support for the Saudis’ “offensive actions” and ending weapons sales, the Biden administration has done the exact opposite – and took no action when the war escalated just weeks after the president’s statements, igniting an ongoing bloody battle for control of oil-rich Marib province.

Yemen is far from an isolated case of the Biden administration saying one thing and doing the opposite, but is perhaps the most urgent of all Middle East matters to resolve, given the sheer number of civilian casualties that await perpetuation of the status quo.

Afghanistan withdrawal and end of Iraq combat mission

Next on the list of this year’s Middle East catastrophes is Afghanistan, where Biden fulfilled his promise of withdrawal. But with the sudden collapse of the U.S.-backed Afghan government the country soon fell to the Taliban. In August, infamous scenes of Afghan’s falling to their deaths after holding on to departing U.S. planes, coupled with a helicopter lift spotted aiding U.S. Embassy workers, saw comparisons made with Washington’s infamous withdrawal from Saigon in 1975.

Violence by American troops was meted out against civilians during the early stages of the Taliban takeover and did not end until every last American soldier left. The most notoriously bloody incident was a drone strike that targeted and killed 10 Afghan civilians, seven of whom were children. Zemaray Ahmadi, a 36-year-old who worked for the California-based aid organization Nutrition & Education International (NEI), was killed in that drone strike, along with six of his nieces and nephews, symbolizing the lack of protection Afghans got even when working with the United States.

So how did the U.S. decide to close the chapter of the failed $2.26 trillion Afghanistan war? Did we punish those responsible for the murder of an aid worker and his family? You guessed it. Not only did our government defend its actions, it refused to hold anyone to account for one of the last war crimes it committed on Afghan soil in 2021. What then to make of U.S. attempts to righteously blame the Taliban for their human rights abuses when Washington itself refuses to hold its own forces to the high standards they expect of others?

Washington is also currently freezing approximately $9.5 billion in assets and loans, leaving the newly established government in Kabul unable to feed a starving population suffering under an economic crisis. This does not mean that the Taliban deserve a free pass here for the human rights abuses they are accused of committing, but neither is this a simple morality play of good and evil, black and white. What the Biden administration’s actions attest to is an environment of impunity that shielded coalition forces from accountability as Washington’s withdrawal proved both tactically and strategically disastrous.

Throughout his political career, Biden, whatever may have been his personal misgivings, supported the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, voting to launch the invasions and working under the Obama administration on a policy to continue what he now calls the “forever wars.” In Iraq, unlike Afghanistan, 2021 did not see the U.S. withdraw; instead it has pursued a policy of aggression and lawlessness, followed by an agreement with Iraq’s government that will guarantee a U.S. presence in the country for the foreseeable future, a move celebrated by many of Biden’s supporters.

The Biden administration did announce a supposed drawdown in Iraq, which was to be done under the guise of ending the U.S. “combat mission” inside the country. Despite claims that the combat mission has ended and that relevant troops were withdrawn, 2,500 U.S. troops are still in Iraq and are likely there to stay. The reality is that the U.S. has never stated it had ground troops in Iraq to begin with; it claimed to use only special-forces units, describing other troops as trainers and advisors to Iraq’s security forces. Therefore, the connotations ascribed to the phrase “ending the U.S. combat mission” are incorrect, for there hasn’t been a “combat mission” in the country for years.

In July, Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi and President Biden reached an agreement, which received some positive attention from Biden supporters on social media. But the truth was that  Al-Kadhimi was under immense pressure from Iraqis to do something about the American presence in his country, especially from the Iran-aligned Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) and their supporters. The agreement to end the combat mission was simply political theater, geared towards quelling the unrest. This way, Al-Kadhimi could claim a diplomatic win with regard to addressing the highly unpopular presence of  U.S. troops in Iraq; Washington could claim it was de-escalating tensions; and the PMU would have something to show for its campaign of political pressure.

Airstrikes against at least five different countries

But what of the deadly predator drone program, which became infamous under former President Barack Obama? Biden has, since taking office, refused to comment on the practice of so-called “targeted killings and assassinations,” which overwhelmingly kill civilians and not combatants. It is also difficult to tell exactly how many were killed in drone strikes this year, owing to a Trump-era ruling that scrapped the need to report drone-strike deaths. Despite this, we do know that the Biden administration has used the “targeted killing” program in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen and Somalia.

In Syria and Iraq, at least two separate airstrike campaigns were undertaken by the U.S. president, without congressional approval. The U.S. is still also illegally occupying a third of Syria’s territory, sitting on over 90% of the country’s oil resources, as well as its most fertile agricultural lands, going so far as to send poisoned seeds for Syrians to cultivate. When the Syrian government announced that it could not use the seeds because they would potentially destroy fertile soil, the U.S. insisted the seeds were good and refused to apologize. In the case of airstrikes in Somalia, a dangerous escalation occurred when the U.S. military ordered strikes against militants without even notifying the U.S. president, a move that Biden failed to condemn.

In Iraq, where Biden has claimed one of his few ostensible foreign policy wins, the U.S. repeatedly accused Iraq’s PMU – which, by Iraqi law, is an official part of the country’s military establishment – of firing drones and projectiles at American troops. In February, a previously unknown Iraqi armed group, calling itself Saraya Awliya Al-Dam, claimed responsibility for an attack on U.S. forces in Erbil. The Biden administration used this as an excuse to launch airstrikes against the PMU, which is in no way affiliated with Awliya Al-Dam. The U.S. military carried out these strikes before its official inquiry into the incident had even finished. The attacks were then pegged as retaliatory strikes on “Iranian-backed” groups, likely a tactic to pressure Iran during the latest round of the nuclear talks.

Working with Israel and weighing war with Iran

On the issue of Palestine, Biden has acted as expected; after all, he openly describes himself as a Zionist. When Palestinians were being ethnically cleansed from their homes in East Jerusalem so that illegal settlers could steal their properties, and racist lynch mobs attacked Palestinians around Jerusalem’s Old City, Biden remained completely uncritical of Israel’s policy of protecting the settlers and attacking Palestinian protesters.

In May, when the violence escalated into a war between Gaza and Israel’s military, during which Israel killed 270 Palestinians, the president repeated the age-old “Israel has the right to defend itself” line, a trope repeatedly used by Washington when Tel Aviv carries out what have become routine civilian killing sprees. Israel’s current prime minister, Naftali Bennett, is openly opposed to a two-state solution and has rebuffed American demands to halt settlement expansion. Yet Biden has yet to muster a word of criticism of his Israeli counterpart. Instead of reining in its ally, the U.S. approved a billion dollars of additional funding for Israel’s ‘Iron Dome’ air defense system, to pay for what amounts to the inconvenience caused when killing Palestinians with U.S. taxpayer-funded bombs causes a reaction from the besieged Gaza Strip’s armed groups.

On Iran, Biden claimed he was going to differ from his predecessor Donald Trump, stating during his 2020 campaign that “we’ve lost our standing in the region” and vowing a change of tone and policy from Trump’s openly hostile stance. Since he took office though, Biden’s promises to force his way back into the Obama-era Iran Nuclear Deal were soon forgotten, and instead he has charged forward with Trump’s “maximum pressure campaign.” Instead of attempting to make peace, Biden has added even more sanctions to those levied by Trump, which were previously criticized by the International Court of Justice as a violation of international law.

Now that seven  rounds of negotiations in Vienna to salvage the Iran Nuclear Deal have failed to produce any positive outcome, the U.S. is openly working with Israel, threatening strikes against Iran that could ignite a regional Middle East War. In late November, the head of U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM), General Kenneth McKenzie, revealed that the U.S. has prepared military options to be used in the event that diplomacy fails to stop Iran from developing a nuclear weapon.

Biden has also carried on the conspiracy theories peddled by Trump that Iran currently operates a secret nuclear weapons program and is producing a weapon of mass destruction. In August, as he stood next to Israel’s prime minister, Biden said at a public press conference that if diplomacy fails to stop Iran from developing a nuclear weapon, he “is prepared to turn to other options.” Of course the top cheerleaders for war against Iran have been the Israelis, who have claimed for 30 years that Iran is on the cusp of acquiring a nuclear weapon. In January, Israel’s top general, Aviv Kochavi, claimed that Iran was “months, maybe even weeks” away from getting nuclear weapons, a claim that has since been revised to be “5 years, tops.” Despite the evident falsehoods espoused about Iran’s alleged nuclear weapons, Israel’s sway over the Biden administration’s hardline stance on Iran has been unchallenged.

The Biden administration’s first year of “diplomacy first” policy in the Middle East has closed as many veterans of U.S. elections predicted. By no means has voting blue meant a change for the better; in fact, the only real difference between Biden and Trump in terms of foreign policy is that instead of mean tweets, more respectful language is used to give the new president the veneer of respectability, while carrying on an all-too-familiar violent and imperialistic Middle East foreign policy.

2021 Roundup: How did Yemen defeat the Saudi coalition?

December 31 2021

Source: Al Mayadeen

By Ali Jezzini

Since the 2014 Yemeni revolution, Yemenis have not only proven a great resilience in confronting US-backed Saudi aggression against their homeland, but also revealed a combat strategy like no other.

The Yemeni mountains, with their difficult topography, the social composition of their people, and their solid beliefs, constitute one of the few places in this world that are resistant to the invasion of foreign states and empires states.

Such Traits can also be attributed to the mountains of Afghanistan. In both of these cases, the country’s political capital sometimes fell, as Kabul came under British control for a brief period in the wars of the British Empire, as well as the last NATO war in Afghanistan. The same goes for Sanaa, which was resistant to two Ottoman invasions in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Ottoman forces did not enter the capital until the day dispute arose between its notables; the ottoman attempt took place in the nineteenth century. 

In both the Ottoman and English invasions, when the urban elite conceded, the tribes would just return to their rugged mountains, as if nothing had happened only to revolt after several decades over the established rule. This is what defines a rebellion movement.

What is fundamentally different in the ongoing war on Yemen is that we are not dealing here with a “rebellion” or a “resistance movement” in the academic sense; neither Sanaa has fallen, nor a number of strategic cities in Yemen did. The city of Al-Hodeidah, which is situated in the middle of the western coastal plain of Yemen, did not fall to the Saudi coalition despite being subjected to all kinds of air and artillery bombardment, and its “rebels” did not have to fall back to the mountains, as resistance movements do in asymmetric wars. 

Since 2014, every attempt to occupy the capital, Sanaa, ended in a humiliating defeat for the Saudi coalition forces. Hence, the Sanaa forces show an exceptional capability in holding the acquired land.

A significant factor is also the ability of the Yemeni armed forces and Ansar Allah to fight similar types of pitched battles, in which the weaker party does not just strike and flee, but is committed to preserving the land and achieving progress at other times, in a predetermined battlefield.

The Yemeni revolution also emerged from what we can call the ‘Maoist style’ of resistance, and in fact, it enjoys broad popular support without a doubt, but it does not use this popular, civilian environment in hostilities directly but rather wages battles using conventional tactics. It includes hit and run, as well as harassment and ambushes, but still, we find the exact opposite of a regular insurgency or a rebellion in Yemen. The deterrence imposed by Yemen on the coalition of aggression is closer to be a conventional deterrence, rather than the actions of irregular movements. In a simpler sense, usually in the early stages of a revolution, rebels usually have weak capabilities, so they pull benefit from the aggression of the stronger party against civilians as a means to attract the latter to their cause.

In Yemen, the situation is quite different. The Yemeni revolution has a very high popular embrace, and while there is no doubt that these attacks constitute a factor of attraction for the Yemeni society towards the ongoing revolution, but the deterrence equation imposed by the Yemeni armed forces, seems to be aimed primarily at protecting the Yemeni people first, then the infrastructure and institutions of Yemen.

2019 Operation Victory from God 

The operation Victory from God carried out by Sanaa forces can constitute a clear example of this type of warfare. The proximity of the operation to the Saudi-Yemeni international borders did not prevent the Yemenis from deluding the Saudi coalition forces and their mercenary brigades by fainting a tactical retreat from the area. Subsequently, the Saudis and their allies chased the retreating forces just to fall into a trap in Jbara valley, where the advancing forces were attacked by Yemeni forces from both flanks in a pincer movement. The operation culminated in the total destruction of several infantry brigades. In the process, hundreds of vehicles were destroyed or damaged, their burning columns appeared in the videos published by the Yemeni military media. 

Map showing various phases of the 2019 Operation Victory from God (Credits:  english.iswnews.com)

Operations of this complexity and magnitude, not only require a physical presence of forces of a certain size but also require a high level of coordination and professionalism in moving military units and battalions, as well as a high ability to conceal these forces from the eyes of the enemy reconnaissance and intelligence. All these military actions are taking place under the uncontested air control of the US-Saudi coalition.

As it is quite difficult for inexperienced, or guerrilla organizations, to accomplish such combat maneuvers, Ansar Allah and the Yemeni armed forces show a clear superiority over the regular and modern Saudi forces, as they define themselves. Another aspect of the equation is the imposition of deterrence equations on the Saudi coalition, in case civilians or infrastructures structure of the Yemeni state and committed massacres, a balanced response is due. 

Destroyed Saudi LAV-25 after the 2019 Operation Victory from God, Yemeni Military Media

This deterrence was achieved by striking sensitive and strategic targets of the countries of aggression, such as oil facilities, military airports, and military centers, with the infliction of a negligible number of civilian casualties. Here, Yemenis accused of being just “rebels” act more faithfully to the ethics and laws of war than the US-backed Saudi coalition, which practices a policy of collective punishment and deliberately bombs civilians.

Sanaa forces regularly use precision weapons, such as the Tochka (OTR-21) missile, to strike the enemy’s military bases. Examples of such strikes happened in Safer, Mocha, and Khamis Mushait Air Bases. In the latter, the commander of the Saudi Air Force, Muhammad bin Ahmed Al-Shaalan, suffered “a heart attack” four days after the Khamis Mushait Air Base was bombed in June 2015. The announcement of the commander’s death came in mysterious circumstances. On the other hand, the US-backed Saudi coalition regularly practices collective punishment and deliberately bombs civilians.

2021 large-scale Jazan operation 

“In combat, soldiers fight for their comrades. The primary group motivates people. Cohesion is the bond of trust between members of a group. There are four types of cohesion: horizontal cohesion among peers, vertical cohesion, from subordinate to commander, and organizational cohesion within the army. Cohesive units fight better, suffer fewer casualties, train better, do not disintegrate, require less support, and provide members with a better quality of life.”

This quote comes from a guide for the US Navy from 2002, which shows the importance of the cohesion of military units in terms of their performance, and the difficulty of destroying these units when they are under attack or pressured by fire. During the war in Yemen, the Saudi forces showed very poor cohesion and discipline, even at the beginning of the war, not to mention their gradual decline as the war dragged on.

Yemeni soldiers during the large-scale Jazan Operation, Yemeni Military Media

This can be explained by several factors: at the individual level, we cannot judge due to the absence of perceptual evidence at the level of relations between soldiers, as it may be affected by the constant periodic drafts, or by the high rate of losses, so that replacement becomes necessary. As for the relation between commanders and the army, the relation looks to be negative, as evidenced by the al-Akhbar [Lebanese] newspaper in an article by writer Ali Murad, titled “Bin Salman through the eyes of his officers: We have perished to this child [MBS]!”. The article narrates, through leaks of a former Saudi high ranking officer, the collapse of the fighting spirit of the soldiers since the first months of the war and their lack of belief in its outcome, neither in its cause nor in Bin Salman himself, who is running the war.

In the large-scale Jazan operation that took place in May-June 2021, Saudi performance and the discipline of its soldiers were scandalous; video clips showed the escape of mercenaries of Yemeni and Sudanese nationalities, and some of the fleeing soldiers were wearing Saudi ground forces uniforms fleeing without their helmets, weapons. the complexities of carrying out such an operation of this magnitude lay mainly in transferring offensive forces to the front without being noticed by the enemy. Since ancient times, training soldiers included was not only aimed at increasing their resistance to being “broken,” but also to commit retreats in the most organized fashion, since most losses of the defeated do not happen within the battle itself, but during the process of the retreat itself. 

Yemeni soldiers during the large-scale Jazan Operation, Yemeni Military Media

In addition to the above, armored vehicles were completely absent from the front during this operation. The only armored vehicle that appeared was an M-113 personnel carrier, along with dozens of Toyota civilian trucks. During the past years, Saudis were rarely successful in introducing their armor to the battlefield as the results were catastrophic. Yemenis excelled in the destruction of such vehicles, to the extent that they destroyed Canadian LAV-25 armored vehicles using 12.7-caliber anti-material sniper rifles, the bullets of which penetrated the back of its turret and burned it. Many vehicles were burned with only a lighter, the one used for lighting cigarettes. 

What will the soldiers of any army think if that army pulls its armored vehicles and tanks, which cost millions of dollars to the rear lines while placing them on the front lines? Won’t the idea that their live flesh is cheaper for their superior cross their minds? On the other hand, Yemenis show military toughness, cohesion, and discipline, much higher than those whom they fight, and who are defined in Western academic literature as a “modern regular army.” 

2022 Marib Liberation operation?

A similar operation to Victory from God occurred a few months ago, operation Victory Spring (Rabi al-Nasr), but this time in the vicinity of Marib. The city is controlled by the Saudi coalition and its mercenaries and has seen fierce battles during the years of war. The ongoing battle around the city has been described by many experts as the battle that is going to decide the outcome of the war.

Currently, the Sanaa forces are about 8-10 km away from the strategic city from their closest position in al-Balaq al-Sharqi mountains. Such achievements were a result of the previously mentioned complex operation. In brief, the Yemeni forces eluded the coalition forces that the main attack is going to be launched from the north-western flank of the city, but the main thrust came from the South-west. Despite it being heavily defended as well, the combat readiness of its troops seemed to be meager, as Sanaa forces manages to advance almost 60 km in 2-3 days, a rate that was not expected by the Saudi coalition and neither by their backers. The speed and coordination of that attack prevented the enemy from reacting to it, and as a result, Sanaa Forces now threaten both north and southwestern flanks of the Saudi coalition forces. 

Results of the operation Victory Spring (Rabi al-Nasr), (Credits: english.iswnews.com)

By looking at the map, one can only expect that the liberation of Marib is just a matter of time. This assumption is not only based on the material factors in play but also the perseverance of Yemeni forces on previous occasions. Such steadfastness and perseverance made them resist and survive on the harshest wars and sieges launched by the US and its allies against a country in this century.

2022 is, without a doubt, going to be the year for Yemen and its brave people. 

A struggle for influence in Shabwa, Brigadier General Nasr Al-Shazly
The weapons captured by the Army and the People’s Committees during Operation Desert Dawn
Sanaa forces end the presence of Hadi forces and the military coalition in Al-Jawf Governorate
A strike at Ataq airport, and a report on the operation deep in the desert

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من عام إلى عام… من خطر الانفجار إلى بداية الانفراج

ناصر قنديل


مع نهاية عام وبداية عام جديد يقوم الناس بجردة حساب لما مضى ومحاولة رسم الآفاق لما هو قادم، وهذا يحدث على المستوى الفردي الشخصي وكذلك على مستوى الجماعات والشعوب والدول، والمنطقة التي نعيش فيها والعالم الذي ننتمي إليه، وقد شهد العالم أكبر التحولات التي تؤسس للعام المقبل، مع الانسحاب الأميركي من أفغانستان الذي شكل أول حدث من نوعه منذ الانسحاب السوفياتي من أفغانستان، الذي أدى بتداعياته إلى إطلاق مسار انهيار الاتحاد السوفياتي، وقبله الانسحاب الأميركي من فييتنام الذي بقي مصدر ردع يمنع الذهاب الأميركي إلى حروب جديدة لعقود طويلة، وهذا الانسحاب الأميركي من أفغانستان الذي قال الرئيس الأميركي جو بايدن إنه ترجمة لقناعة ثابتة بأن التدخل العسكري ثبت فشله كطريق لصناعة السياسة وتعميم الديمقراطية، وأن المزيد من البقاء سيعني المزيد من الخسائر والمزيد من الفشل.

في المنطقة شهد العام الذي يلملم ما تبقى منه ليرحل، أبرز تطور في القضية التي تحكم مستقبل السياسة فيها، عبر المعركة الفاصلة التي عرفت بسيف القدس، بين قوى المقاومة في غزة، وجيش الاحتلال، وخلال أيام المعركة برزت معادلة ردع جديدة كانت خلالها تل أبيب تحت صواريخ المقاومة، فيما كانت الأراضي المحتلة عام 48 تسجل أعظم انتفاضاتها المستدامة، والقدس تقدم شبابها وصباياها شهداء في عمليات الطعن والدهس، ليدخل الصراع في المنطقة مرحلة جديدة عنوانها بلوغ التراجع الإسرائيلي مرحلة غير مسبوقة منذ نشأة هذا الكيان وتسيده على المنطقة، بصفته القوة الوحيدة القادرة على صناعة الحرب، وبقوة جيش قيل عنه إنه لايقهر، وبات يقهر ويقهر ويقهر.

بين العالم والمنطقة يدخل التفاوض في فيينا اختبار البحث عن فرص السياسة لتجاوز الاستعصاء وملء الفراغات بالسياسة، فالإدارة الأميركية التي تحاول أن تتماسك الاخفاء الندوب التي تملء جسمها الاجتماعي والسياسي والاقتصادي، وترفع صوتها وتصرخ، على أمل تحسين شروط التفاوض بحثاً عن سنوات ضرورية لالتقاط الأنفاس، وتطلق عليها أسماء جذابة وبراقة، كالعودة إلى الدبلوماسية والسياسة، وأولوية أميركا العظيمة على أميركا العظمى، وتشكل العودة الأميركية إلى الإتفاق النووي إعلان نهاية زمن العقوبات كأداة لصناعة السياسة، بمثل ما شكل الانسحاب من أفغانستان إعلان نهاية زمن القوة العسكرية في صناعة السياسة، لتظهر المفاوضات مع روسيا إعلاناً مزدوجاً لنهاية الزمنيين معاً، فتفقد أميركا القدمين اللتين كانت تقف عليهما في العالم، القوة والمال، بمثل ما فقدت “إسرائيل” قدميها أيضاً، الاحتلال والردع، وبعدما فشلت حروب الوكالة أو الحرب الناعمة فرصها في تشكيل بديل مناسب، وكانت سورية الإعلان الأهم لهذا الفشل، حيث كانت أيضاً روسيا، وكانت إيران، وكان الشهيد قاسم سليماني الذي تحل ذكراه بعد أيام وتخصص له البناء عدداً خاصاً يوم الثلاثاء تشارك في مقالاته أسماء لها باعها في صناعة السياسة، يتقدمها وزير خارجية سورية الدكتور فيصل المقداد ورئيس كتلة الوفاء للمقاومة النائب محمد رعد، تبدو واشنطن وتل أبيب في العام الجديد على موعد مع الفراغ الاستراتيجي، وفيما تملك واشنطن استراتيجية الخروج بالتفاوض، تواجه “إسرائيل مستقبلها القاتم، كما سبق وحذرتها وزيرة الخارجية الأميركية السابقة هيلاري كلينتون.

في لبنان حيث الرقص فوق صفيح ساخن، سجل العام الذي يمضي نهاية حركة الشارع التي بدأت مع انتفاضة 17 تشرين الأول عام 2019، وتحول الرهان على إعادة رسم توازنات النظام السياسي نحو الانتخابات، التي يدرك الجميع أنها لن تحمل أكثر من تعديلات في الأوزان والأحجام ستحفظ بمفهوم الديمقراطية التوافقية، حق الفيتو لجميع اللاعبين الكبار، وكما يظهر لبنان الغارق في انهيار اقتصادي وسياسي وانسداد قدرة المؤسسات الدستورية على التعامل مع الأزمات، تبدو الإشارة الوحيدة الايجابية هي أن لبنان الذي ذهب في أزمات مماثلة إلى الحرب الأهلية، يبدو بعيداً عنها بسبب معادلة قوامها “أن من يقدر عليها لا يريدها، ومن يريدها لا يقدر عليها”، وبفعل قوة المقاومة سيكون أمام لبنان فرصة للاستفادة من عائدات التحولات الاقليمية المقبلة، ليقف على طرف التلقي الايجابي بدلاً من موقع تقليدي كان يحجز له هو الوقوف على طرف التلقي السلبي.

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Two Years since the Assassination of Commander Soleimani: Biography and Goals

December 30 2021

By Ali Abadi

Why was the assassination of Major General Qassem Soleimani and his companion Abu Mahdi Al-Muhandis an exceptional event? What are the motives behind the assassination? And how did the regional reality change two years after the assassination?

The fact that the United States of America committed this crime against a high-ranking Iranian military official and then declared responsibility, constitutes a significant regional development. It clearly meant that the US administration had lost its indirect tools of influence and deterrence in the face of the axis of resistance and that it needed to change the rules of engagement and restorte to the old methods based on assassinations and bullying.

Why Soleimani in particular?

Choosing Major General Soleimani as a direct target was based on two factors:

The first factor: The effective role the Quds Force played under his leadership over a period of three decades that undermined American hegemony and the tyranny of the Zionist occupation.

This role had different dimensions: arming the resistance wings, training, and coordination. The martyr realized the importance of countering the US political influence, not just its military presence.

For example, he was keen to track and thwart American projects and steps aimed at perpetuating the US presence in Iraq. And whenever the Americans tried to gather the threads of their political proxies in this country, Commander Soleimani would obstruct it. His presence disrupted those proxies and plans.

If he heard that the Americans were supporting the nomination of so-and-so to a senior position in this country, he pushed things in the opposite direction, knowing that the Americans want their interests first and foremost.

Of course, he wouldn’t have assumed such a great role had it not been for the leadership of the Islamic Republic and its various apparatuses forcefully backing the Quds Force in carrying out its duties.

The second factor: The unique personality of the martyr, which combines several traits, the most prominent of which were:

1- The clarity of the ideological-political premise of the school he represents, which is the school of Imam Khomeini. This school produced many cadres and leaders who became martyrs in the battlefields of Iran, Iraq, and Syria.

By ideological premise, we mean here the radical stance against the Zionist entity and the American policies that the late Imam described as arrogant policies. It is well-known that Hajj Qassem was asked by a US commander in Iraq to discuss the possibility of coordinating the war against Daesh, and he refused to open a dialogue with the American.

2- The strategic vision: Martyr Soleimani had a comprehensive vision of the conflict with the American and “Israeli” enemies. He viewed the region from Afghanistan to Palestine as an integrated field of action, even if the circumstances of each country differed from the other. For example, he was fully aware of the importance of removing the American occupation from the region, specifically from Iraq, Afghanistan, and Syria, considering this presence as a factor of instability and a reason for direct intervention in determining the future of these countries and a direct threat to the Islamic Republic. He was also very serious in strengthening the capabilities of the resistance against the Zionist occupation, both quantitatively and qualitatively.

3- Field presence: Martyr Soleimani was distinguished as a man of the battlefield. He had a special dynamic. He was fond of being on the frontlines among the fighters so he could get a closer look at the nature of the situation, to strengthen them, and to show the importance of their battle at these pivotal stations. This had a significant impact on recharging the resolve, concentrating military and political efforts, and achieving victories.

4- The role model and the example: He was keen to set an example in the fraternal and cordial dealings with the fighters to give the battle its true moral dimension. The two opposing fronts are not distinguished by military force or political position, but rather by the spiritual values that each group carries and translates into Islamic behavior based on the teachings of the Messenger’s household [PBUT].

5- The initiative: It is true that Major General Soleimani was a military leader, but he was distinguished from many military leaders in that he was a man of initiative; he did not wait to receive the taklifs [obligations]. Rather, by virtue of his long experience and his all-pervading sense, he diagnosed what was required and then moved to obtaine approval from the leadership.

The Goals of the Assassination:

Far from the American pretext that was given to justify the assassination, which centered on allegations that martyr Soleimani planned an imminent attack on the American embassy in Baghdad – the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary, or arbitrary executions Agnes Callamard described the killing of General Qassem Soleimani was an “arbitrary killing” that violated the UN Charter, and that the United States did not provide evidence that planning was underway for an “imminent attack” on its interests – motives for this crime and the manner in which it was committed can be identified as follows:

– Spreading fear and demoralizing within the resistance axis (through the method of intimidation) and trying to re-establish deterrence in the face of Iran and push it to withdraw its support from its allies. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo expressed this trend at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution in January 2020, in a symposium titled “The Restoration of Deterrence: The Iranian Example”. He noted that Soleimani was killed as part of a broader strategy to deter challenges posed by Washington’s opponents, focusing in particular on Iran.

This strategy was previously eroded by the axis of resistance amid the decline in the American prestige and presence in the region, which was established by almost no achievement in all areas. Meanwhile, the axis of resistance was advancing and besieging the American military presence and influence in Iraq and was pushing Washington to think about withdrawing its forces from Syria as it failed to arrange any gains that would contribute to changing the reality there.

The failure of America’s allies in Yemen, the accumulated American military deficit in Afghanistan, and the failure of the Zionist entity to confront the resistance in Palestine and Lebanon were additional reasons for demolishing the image of US policy in the Middle East.

During the Trump era, the Americans felt that the axis of resistance was becoming increasingly emboldened. There are numerous examples – the attack on the Abqaiq oil facility in Saudi Arabia, Iran’s downing of a 130-million-dollar American drone, and the intensification of the frequency of operations against American forces in Iraq.

– Getting Iran to submit to its nuclear program. Trump’s ambition was to reformulate the nuclear agreement in a way that takes into account the viewpoint of his allies on the Zionist right.

– Restoring the confidence of America’s allies in Iraq and the region. This confidence and bets on the United States have been shaken by the experiences in recent years, despite the massive American military spending. Washington realized that removing its forces from Iraq again (after the first exit in 2011) means losing the greatest political influence in this country and its surroundings. That is why the Americans were keen to maintain a military presence there to install their allies and tools.

– Attempting to enhance the image of the Trump administration inside the United States and rallying up the masses against external enemies (specifically Islamic ones). This is important in light of the sharp internal partisan polarization in this country.

– Was Soleimani’s assassination also an “Israeli” demand? This may be one of the most important and perhaps main motives in light of Netanyahu’s and the Zionist lobby’s extraordinary influence on the American president at the time. And Donald Trump recently – about a year after his exit from office – expressed his dissatisfaction with Netanyahu for believing that he used him to assassinate Soleimani.  According to the American Axios news website, Trump said that Netanyahu was “willing to fight Iran to the last American soldier.”

The former head of the “Israeli” Military Intelligence Division, Tamir Hayman, also revealed that the Mossad played a role in the assassination of the commander of the Quds Force, Qassem Soleimani, according to the “Israeli” Kan radio station.

We can guess the reason why the enemy pushed the US administration to get rid of a high-ranking leader of Soleimani’s stature, in light of the role he played at the head of the Quds Force in terms of strengthening the resistance wings, providing them with the means of strength, and deterring the Zionist entity.

The strategic response

All these motives and goals did not change the outcome of the reality of US policy in the region. The axis of resistance was affected for some time by the assassination of Soleimani, but it has maintained its goals and program of work and is continuing to implement the strategy of removing US forces from the region, starting with Iraq and Syria.

Here, it’s worth recalling what the Leader [Imam] Khamenei said on the anniversary of the martyrdom of the Quds Force commander, when he stressed that “driving out the American forces from the region will be the most powerful blow” to respond to his assassination, after the initial bold response to the crime.

He also vowed to avenge Soleimani by punishing those responsible for giving orders and carrying out the assassination “whenever the opportunity arises.” His Eminence called for accelerating technological, scientific, and military progress to enhance deterrence against the enemy, which is becoming evident day after day.

Thus, Washington and those who seek refuge under its umbrella were disappointed that Soleimani’s absence had no impact on the strategy of the axis of resistance. And the rush by the United States to arrange its military presence in Iraq before the end of 2021 is an indication of the continuing presence and influence of this axis, despite all the tremendous pressures exerted by successive US administrations.

Hajj Qassem Soleimani in the Words of Imam Khamenei

The Staff of Soleimani

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David HearstDavid Hearst is co-founder and editor-in-chief of Middle East Eye. He is a commentator and speaker on the region and analyst on Saudi Arabia. He was The Guardian’s foreign leader writer, and was correspondent in Russia, Europe, and Belfast. He joined the Guardian from The Scotsman, where he was education correspondent.

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“America has just had its Suez Crisis,” commented a member of the Iranian delegation at the nuclear talks in Vienna about the fall of Afghanistan to the Taliban, “but it has yet to see it.”

It’s not just the fall of Kabul.

In 2021, President Joe Biden truly reaped a bitter harvest from the strategic foreign policy errors of four of his predecessors. As he was the vice president for one of them, Barack Obama, he has trouble seeing this as well. The seeds of each of the major global conflict zones post – Afghanistan, Ukraine, Taiwan, and Iran were planted long ago. 

It’s not just the fall of Kabul. What unravelled this year was no less than three decades of bungled US global governance

What unravelled this year was no less than three decades of bungled US global governance.

Each US president in the post-Soviet period shared the belief that he had the file to himself. It was not something to be shared at the UN Security Council. He was the commander-in-chief of the largest, best-equipped and most mobile armed force in the world, one that could stage over the horizon attacks with devastating accuracy. The US president controls 750 military bases in 80 different countries. He also had the biggest pocket, the world’s reserve currency, so, ergo, he could now set the rules.

What could possibly go wrong?

With that belief came two assumptions that proved to be fatally flawed: that the US monopoly on the use of force would last forever – it ended with Russia’s intervention in Syria – and that the US could continue to enforce a “rules-based” world order – so long as it continued to make the rules. Biden has quietly buried both assumptions by admitting that great powers will be forced to “manage” their competition to avoid conflict that no one can win. 

But hang on a moment. There is something not quite right here.

The cause and effect theory

Major conflicts, which have the potential to produce tank battles not seen since World War II, like Ukraine, do not just happen.

There is cause and effect. The cause was the unilateral but at the time uncontroversial decision to expand Nato eastwards in the 1990s, abandoning the model of a largely demilitarised and missile-free Eastern Europe that had been discussed with president Mikhail Gorbachev a decade earlier.Why global conflict is no longer unthinkableJoe Gill Read More »

This was done to give new meaning to Nato, a military pact whose purpose died when its enemy did. Complete rubbish was talked about Nato “cementing” democracy in Eastern Europe by guaranteeing its independence from Moscow. But remember the mood at the time. It was triumphalist. Not only was capitalism the only economic system left, but its neo-liberal brand was the only brand worth promoting. 

For a brief moment, Moscow became an eastern gold rush, a Klondike for venture capitalists, Ikea, Carrefour, Irish pubs, and bible bashers. The Russians, meanwhile, were obsessed with designer labels, not politics.  

The Americans in Moscow – at the time – did not bother much about what their hosts thought or did. Russia became irrelevant on the international stage. US advisers boasted about writing the decrees the Russian president Boris Yeltsin issued. And Yeltsin returned the favour by handing over the designs of the latest Russian tank and the wiring diagram of bugs placed by the KGB in the concrete foundation of an extension being built in the US embassy. 

Then US President George Bush and his Soviet counterpart Mikhail Gorbachev after a two-day US-Soviet Summit dedicated to the disarmament on 31 July, 1991 (AFP)
Then-US president George Bush and his Soviet counterpart Mikhail Gorbachev after a two-day US-Soviet summit dedicated to disarmament, on 31 July 1991 (AFP)

For Russian nationalists, this was nothing less than an act of treason. But doors were open so wide to the West that literally everything that was not nailed down flew through them – nuclear scientists, missile engineers, the cream of the KGB, and suitcases full of cash. Where do you think the Russians who settled in Highgate in North London, or the Hamptons on Long Island, or Cyprus, or Israel got their money from?

For a time, even the word “West” dropped out of Russian political vocabulary because the new Russians thought they had just joined it.

Ukraine, the West’s victim

The first US ambassador to the newly created Russian Federation, Robert Strauss, spent more time defending what happened in the Kremlin than the White House. Western embassies became spokesmen for a Russia they thought they now owned. 

It is now in the US’ strategic interest to staunch any more bloodletting in the battlefields it created this century

Strauss downplayed the first reports of the rise of the Russian mafia state, as a mere bagatelle. “This is what Chicago was like in the 20s,” he told me. This was followed by inanities about the green shoots of democracy and the time it took to mow an English lawn. As if he knew.

Bill Clinton and Tony Blair were similarly blasé about what they did in Russia.

The Russian army was “a joke”. When the Russians sent their armoured columns into Grozny in December 1994, the West thought it could be stopped by small bands of determined Chechens; their pilots had only three hours flying time each month: their frigates sailed in pairs – one to patrol, the second to tow back the first one when it broke down; their submarines sunk.

And so Nato pushed eastwards.

No one at the time bought the argument that all Nato would do was to push the line of confrontation eastwards. Russia’s pleas to negotiate a security architecture for Eastern Europe fell on deaf ears. They are not falling on deaf ears now, with 90,000 Russian troops massed on Ukraine’s borders. 

The victim of this gross act of western stupidity was Ukraine, which for at least the first decade after the fall of the Soviets had survived intact and largely in peace. Civil wars raged all around it, but Ukraine itself maintained its political and social unity despite being comprised of very different communities. With the exception of Western Ukraine, which never forgot that it had been captured by the Bolsheviks from the crumbling Austro-Hungarian empire, Russian and Ukrainian speakers lived in peace.

Now it is divided forever, scared by a civil war from which it will never recover. Ukraine will never regain its lost unity, and for that, Brussels is as much to thank as the bully boys from Moscow.

Ukrainian servicemen take part in the joint Rapid Trident military exercises with the US and other Nato countries not far from Lviv on 24 September 2021 (AFP)
Ukrainian servicemen take part in the joint Rapid Trident military exercises with the US and other Nato countries not far from Lviv, on 24 September 2021 (AFP)

The new cold war

Then there is China. Pivoting eastwards surely did not mean ending one Cold War and starting a new one with China, but that too is inexorably happening. Biden cannot decide whether to calm President Xi down or confront him, but doing each in sequence will not work. 

To get a measure of what mainland China feels when British warships sail through the Taiwan Strait, how would Britain react if Chinese warships appeared in the Irish Sea and sailed between Scotland and Northern Ireland?How to avert a global conflict between China, Russia and the WestMarco Carnelos

Read More »

The game of “managing” competition has human consequences as devastating as the superpower triumphalism of the 1990s, and those can be observed in Afghanistan today. The Afghanistan of the ousted Afghani president Ashraf Ghani truly was a Potemkin village, a facade of independent statehood. 

An astonishing 300,000 troops and soldiers on its government’s books did not exist. “Ghost soldiers” were added to official lists so that generals would pocket their wages, Afghanistan’s former finance minister Khalid Payenda told the BBC. The black hole of the former corrupt regime’s finances was an open secret long before Biden set a date for withdrawal. 

A report for the US special inspector general for Afghanistan (SIGAR) warned in 2016: “Neither the United States nor its Afghan allies know how many Afghan soldiers and police actually exist, how many are in fact available for duty, or, by extension, the true nature of their operational capabilities.”

Now that the tap of US income has been turned off, Afghanistan is on the verge of a nationwide famine. But, incredibly, the US is blaming this situation on the Taliban. It withholds money on the grounds of human rights, the night-time revenge killings on former state employees, or the suppression of education for women.

Much of the Afghan central bank’s $10bn in assets is parked overseas, including $1.3bn in gold reserves in New York. The US Treasury is using this money as a lever to pressure the Taliban on women’s rights and the rule of law. It has granted a licence to the US government and its partners to facilitate humanitarian aid and it gave Western Union permission to resume processing personal remittances from migrants overseas.

But the US does not hold itself to account for having nurtured a state that cannot function without the money that it is now withholding. The US has direct responsibility for the famine that is now taking place in Afghanistan. To withhold money from the Taliban because they took power militarily, rather than negotiate their re-entry with other Afghan warlords, also wears somewhat thin. 

Same story

The Taliban walked into Kabul with barely a shot fired because everything crumbled before them. The speed of the collapse of Afghan forces blindsided everybody – even Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), who are accused by India and western governments of running the Haqqani network of the Taliban. The only country that really knew what was happening was Iran, because officers of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) were with the Taliban as they walked in, according to Iranian sources close to the IRGC.

US President Joe Biden looks at Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) prior to their meeting at the 'Villa la Grange' in Geneva on 16 June, 2021 (AFP)
A child cries on a sidewalk in Kabul, on 27 December 2021 (AFP)

Even the ISI were blindsided by the speed of this collapse. An informed source told me in Islamabad: “We had expected the NDS [National Directorate of Security] to put up a fight in Mazar-i-Sharif, Herat, Kandahar and Kunduz. That would have produced a stalemate and the possibility for negotiation a more inclusive government.”

But we are where we are. “There were some improvements in the last 20 years. There was a middle class in Kabul, women’s education. But if you want to lose everything, this is the way to do it. The Taliban will go hardline if the place runs out of money. If you want to protect the liberal elements, you have to make Afghanistan stable.”

Pivoting eastwards surely did not mean ending one Cold War and starting a new one with China, but that too is inexorably happening

The Pakistani source listed 10 jihadi groups, as opposed to the one jihadi group, al-Qaeda, that was around in 2001. And the ISI do not know what happened to the arms the Americans left behind.

“We simply don’t know in whose hands they have ended up,” he said. When they pressed the Taliban on forming an inclusive government, the Taliban shot back at them: “Do you have an inclusive government? Do you have a government that includes the PML-N? What do you think it would be like in Pakistan if you had to reconcile groups of fighters who had killed each other’s sons and cousins?”

Starved of funds, there is only one way for the breakaway groups to go – into the hands of the jihadists. He ended his analysis with the following thought: is it really in the US interest to stabilise Afghanistan? If they let the money through, it would mean supporting the very axis of China, Russia and Pakistan that they were now determined to push back. The faltering talks in Vienna, the crisis on Ukraine’s border, renewed tension and military posturing in Taiwan, are all part of the same story.

Strategic mistakes

Washington would do well to look at the map of the world and think before it makes its next move. A long period of reflection is needed. Thus far it has obtained the dubious distinction of getting every conflict it has engaged with in this century wrong. 

The US has entered a new era where it can no longer change regimes by force of arms or sanctions

The chance of a global conflict involving real armies and real arms has never been higher and the tripwire to using weapons of mass destruction has never been strung tighter. Nor have all the world’s military powers been better armed, able and willing to start their own inventions.

Biden should bear this in mind.

It is now in the US’ strategic interest to staunch any more bloodletting in the battlefields it created this century. That means the US should come to a deal with Iran by lifting the sanctions it imposed on Tehran since the 2015 JCPOA. If it wants to balance the growing Chinese and Russian influence in the Middle East, that is the surest way to do it.

Iran is not going to give up its missiles any more than Israel is going to ground its air force. But a deal in Vienna could be a precursor to regional Gulf security negotiations. The Emiratis, Qataris, Omanis and Kuwaitis are all ready for it. If Washington wants to apply rules, let it do so first with its allies, who have extraordinary impunity for their brutal actions.

If Washington is the champion of human rights it claims to be, start with Saudi Arabia or Egypt. If it is the enforcer of international law, let’s see Washington make Israel pay a price for its continued settlement policy, which makes a mockery of UN Security Council resolutions, and the US’ own policy for a resolution to the Palestinian conflict. 

The Abraham Accords were devised to establish Israel as America’s declared and open regional surrogate. Had Donald Trump secured a second term, such a policy would have been a disaster for US strategic interests in the Middle East. Already Israel thinks it has a veto on US decision making in the region. With this policy fully in place, it would have been in charge of it, which would have meant permanent conflict created by a military power that always strikes first.

Israel acts with ruthless logic. It will use any opportunity to expand its borders until a Palestinian state becomes an impossibility. It probably has already succeeded in that aim. However, this is not US policy. But this expansion continues, almost week in, week out, because no one in Washington will lift a finger to stop it. Doing nothing about armed lynch mobs of settlers attacking unarmed Palestinian villagers in the West Bank is the same as agreeing to them. 

If you want to be a champion of rules, apply those rules to yourself first.

This is the only way to regain lost global authority. The US has entered a new era where it can no longer change regimes by force of arms or sanctions. It has discovered the uselessness of force. It should drop the stick and start handing out bucket loads of carrots. It should get on with the urgent task of deconfliction.

After the damage done this century by conflicts ordered, created and backed by US presidents – Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Libya – that is not only a responsibility but a duty. 

Another US strategic mistake would be its, and Western Europe’s, last. 

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Eye.

This morning from Maria’s office

December 26, 2021

Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova

 Kleptocrats have stolen $100 billion of government money.

Oh, I forgot one important detail – in the United States.

Who said this? No, neither Vladimir Solovyev, nor Dmitry Kiselev, nor Margarita Simonyan.

US Secret Service Coordinator Roy Dotson made this statement.

In his words, the US allocated money to counter pandemic-related unemployment but, as you might have guessed, these funds did not reach the jobless.

In general, Mr Dotson is refreshingly honest. He asks himself: “Can we stop fraud? Will we?” and answers “No.”

Apparently, the Secret Service knows well how the US state machinery operates.

Now the main point: Why do we care about this? Because Washington has recently announced anti-corruption struggle as one of its foreign policy priorities. A bill was drafted in this context – Combating Global Corruption Act of 2021 (https://www.congress.gov/bill/117th-congress/senate-bill/14). It elevates to the absolute the long-standing American tradition of transnational enforcement and becomes a foundation for international communication. The US has misappropriated its right as the global anti-corruption auditor, prosecutor, investigator and judge. And all of a sudden such an unpleasant leak has occurred. To recall both Freud and Andersen: “the King has no clothes at all.”

We can also recall how Afghanistan turned into a corruption hole for the US, where billions allotted for the country’s recovery were stolen. Or take the corruption scandal involving the purchase of medical equipment, which broke out last October. But, of course, stealing $100 billion from the pandemic relief fund for the jobless is very impressive. Washington will now only be able to break this record by stealing funds allocated for combatting global corruption.

If the Democratic administration is so eager to combat corruption globally, let it start with itself. It can establish some kind of fund, no idea which kind, but Washington surely has plenty of experience in this field.

A Mass Murdering Regime Dares to Lecture the World on Human Rights

December 24, 2021

Source

Washington is a criminal regime as its illegal wars and deliberate mass murder demonstrate beyond any doubt.

An important report published this week reveals in extensive detail the shocking scale of war crimes committed by the United States in the Middle East. Thousands of civilian deaths, including children, are documented as a result of aerial bombardments conducted by the U.S. military.

It is crucial to remark that the published survey – while voluminous involving thousands of pages and documents – represents only a fraction of the full scale of mass murder. The research focuses on Syria and Iraq over a three-year period between late 2014 and early 2018. Considering that U.S. forces have been occupying those two countries alone for over a decade and considering American military operations contemporaneously in other nations, one can safely assume that the full scale of murder perpetrated is orders of magnitude greater.

The report known as the Civilian Casualty Files was commissioned by the New York Times. It took five years to compile and tortuous legal wrangling to obtain secret Pentagon files. The survey also involved the authors visiting hundreds of locations in Syria and Iraq to record witness testimonies. A good summary is provided here.

Separately, it has been previously estimated that the U.S. decade-long war in Iraq from 2003 onwards caused over one million deaths. What this latest report provides is granular detail of the countless incidents of violence from airstrikes and drone assassinations. Times, dates, villages, hamlets, towns, families, mothers, fathers and children are named in the atrocities that were carried out. But as noted, while the reported information is huge, it is still only a tiny fraction of the full extent of mass murder.

What is disturbingly clear too is the cold and barbaric logic of the Pentagon chiefs and senior figures in both the Obama and Trump administrations. Sitting president Joe Biden was vice-president in the Obama administrations (2008-2016). Civilian deaths were deemed acceptable as “collateral damage” in the pursuit of military-political objectives. Whole families were knowingly obliterated in a haphazard and vague effort to kill suspected terrorists or simply to extend the writ of U.S. imperial power.

What’s more, the Pentagon and the U.S. government covered up the extent of their psychopathic operations. Not one member of the American military or White House administration has ever been disciplined – even internally – for the rampant criminality.

A more recent incident outside of the published study period cited above would fall into the typical mold. That was the killing of a family of 10, including children, in Kabul during the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan at the end of August. Recall how the Pentagon investigated itself and concluded that no one was to blame for that drone carnage. That case garnered some publicity because the circumstances of a historic U.S. retreat were in the news. Now just imagine how easy it was for the Pentagon to bury other mass murders of civilians that occurred in remote areas of Syria and Iraq.

The published Civilian Casualty Files is substantive evidence for prosecuting U.S. political and military leaders for war crimes. Realistically, this will not happen in the near future, but nevertheless, it is an important archive for future prosecutions and the historical record.

The information is also a devastating exposition of the moral bankruptcy pervading Washington. Thus, a mass-murdering regime in Washington has no authority to lecture, as it arrogantly presumes to do all the time, the rest of the world on human rights and rule of law.

Earlier this month, President Joe Biden convened a so-called “Summit for Democracy” for invited world leaders. Biden pointedly excluded Russia and China from the online videoconference, as well as other nations deemed to be “authoritarian” or “undemocratic” by Washington.

It truly is revolting that Washington has such hubris and shamelessness. U.S. governments have systematically waged illegal wars all around the planet involving the destruction of nations and millions of innocent lives. And yet the president of the U.S. has the audacity to pontificate to the whole world about the presumed virtues of democracy, human rights and upholding international law.

This grotesque duplicity and delusion of American leaders is why the U.S. is on a collision course with Russia and China. Washington relentlessly accuses Moscow and Beijing of alleged violations. The tensions being stoked by the United States over Ukraine and Taiwan are pushing the world to the brink of war.

Just this week, President Biden signed into law a ban on imports from China’s western province of Xinjiang. The U.S. accuses China of “genocide” against the minority Uighur Muslim population. Beijing categorically rejects the claims, pointing out that the Uighur population has actually grown over recent years. Beijing says that it takes security measures against radical Uighurs who have been weaponized as part of the U.S. 20-year war in neighboring Afghanistan. In any case, Washington does not provide credible evidence to substantiate its claims. The notable thing is that such lecturing by the United States towards China serves to aggravate tensions which exacerbate other issues over Taiwan and the Olympic Games that Washington is boycotting.

Washington has zero moral authority. It is a criminal regime as its illegal wars and deliberate mass murder demonstrate beyond any doubt.

It should be observed that the Western media largely remained silent this week over the shocking Civilian Casualty Files. The New York Times deserves some credit for publishing the information conducted by outside authors. However, the monstrous scale of criminality has been met with stunning relative silence. That illustrates how the Western media is actually a propaganda system that cannot compute or comment on information that is incongruous with its day-to-day coverage.

The injustice against imprisoned whistleblower Julian Assange should also be highlighted. The mass-murder programs uncovered by the Civilian Casualty Files vindicate Assange and Wikileaks’ earlier publications exposing U.S. war crimes. It is an abomination that Assange is being persecuted and awaiting extradition to the United States where he could be jailed for the rest of his life on fabricated charges of “hacking and espionage”.

The criminality and duplicity of U.S. governments is something to behold in a perverse sort of way. It is astounding that the world is being driven further towards dangerous tensions and possible confrontation by a regime whose record is so nefarious and hypocritical. How is such a gross deception enabled? That is partly due to the function of a Goebbels-like mass media that pretends to publish news instead of propaganda.

Will the Islamic world save Afghanistan?

Between the complex internal dynamics of the Taliban and the western trick of conditional aid, it is the Muslim world that must act to save Afghanistan

December 21 2021

An earlier meeting between Taliban Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi and Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood QureishiPhoto Credit: The Cradle

By Pepe Escobar

Afghanistan was at the heart of the 17th Extraordinary Session of the Council of Foreign Ministers representing 57 nations at the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC).

It was up to Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan to deliver the keynote address to the session, held on 19 December at the Parliament House in Islamabad.

And he rose to the occasion: “If the world doesn’t act, this will be the biggest man-made crisis which is unfolding in front of us.”

Imran Khan was addressing not only representatives of the lands of Islam, but also UN officials, the proverbial “global financial institutions,” scores of NGOs, a smattering of US, EU and Japanese bureaucrats and, crucially, Taliban Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi.

No nation or organization has yet formally recognized the Taliban as the new, legitimate Afghan government. And quite a few are frankly more interested in engaging in an elaborate kabuki, pretending to deliver some sort of aid to the devastated Afghan economy after 20 years of US/NATO occupation instead of actually coordinating aid packages with Kabul.

The numbers are dire, and barely tell the full extent of the drama.

According to the UNDP, 22.8 million Afghan citizens – over half of Afghanistan – are facing food shortages, and soon, acute hunger; while no less than 97 percent of Afghans could soon fall under the poverty line. In addition, the World Food Programme stresses that 3.2 million Afghan children risk acute malnutrition.

Imran Khan emphasized that the OIC had a “religious duty” to help Afghanistan. As for the ‘hyperpower’ that stunned the world with its humiliating withdrawal show after 20 years of occupation, he was adamant: Washington must “delink” whatever grudges it may hold against the Taliban government from the destiny of 40 million Afghan citizens.

Imran Khan did ruffle a few Afghan feathers – starting with former President Hamid Karzai, when he observed that “the idea of human rights is different in every society,” referring to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, which borders Afghanistan.

“The city culture is completely different from the culture in rural areas …,” he said. “We give stipends to the parents of the girls so that they send them to school. But in districts bordering Afghanistan, if we are not sensitive to the cultural norms, then they won’t send them to school despite receiving double the amount. We have to be sensitive about human rights and women rights.”

This was interpreted in a few quarters as Pakistani interference – part of a secret, devious strategic narrative. Not really. The prime minister was stating a fact, as anyone familiar with the tribal areas knows. Even Afghan Foreign Minister Muttaqi said the prime minister’s words were not “insulting”.

Imran Khan also observed that there are already over three million Afghan refugees in Pakistan. Moreover, Islamabad is sheltering more than 200,000 refugees who overstayed their visas. “They can’t go back. We are already suffering from the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. We are not in a position to deal with an influx of refugees.”

Would you ever trust NATO?

Then there’s the ultimate nut to crack: internal Taliban dynamics.

Diplomatic sources confirm off the record that it’s a non-stop struggle to convince different layers of the Taliban leadership to allow for some concessions.

Discussions with the NATO block are for, all practical purposes, dead: bluntly, there will be no help without visible concessions on girls’ education, women’s rights and the heart of the matter – on which everyone agrees, including the Russians, the Chinese and the Central Asians – a more inclusive government in Kabul.

So far, Taliban pragmatists – led by the Doha political office – have been on the losing end.

The OIC meeting at least came up with practical suggestions involving Islamic development banks. Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi was keen to emphasize the necessity of getting Kabul to access banking services.

This is the heart of the problem: there are no solid banking channels after NATO departed. So it’s technically impossible to transfer financial aid into the system and then distribute it across hard-hit provinces. Yet, once again, this is ultimately linked to those lofty western humanitarian aid pledges crammed with conditionalities.

In the end, Qureshi, together with the OIC Secretary-General Hissein Brahim Taha, announced that a ‘humanitarian trust fund’ will be established as soon as possible, under the aegis of the Islamic Development Bank. The fund should be able to incorporate international partners, non-politicized westerners included.

Qureshi put out his bravest face, emphasizing that “the need is felt to forge a partnership between the OIC and the UN.”

Taha, for his part, was quite realistic. No funds whatsoever have been pledged so far for this new OIC humanitarian operation.

As Qureshi mentioned, there is one thing which Russia, China, Iran, Pakistan and other actors may decisively help with: investment “in the people of Afghanistan, bilaterally or through the OIC, in areas such as education, health and technical and vocational skills to the Afghan youth.”

So now it comes to the crunch – and fast. It’s up to the OIC to play the leading role in terms of alleviating Afghanistan’s dire humanitarian drama.

The official declaration calling on all OIC member states, Islamic financial institutions, donors, and unnamed ‘international partners’ to announce pledges to the humanitarian trust fund for Afghanistan will have to go way beyond rhetorical flourish.

At least, it’s all but certain that from now on, it will be up to the lands of Islam to decisively help Afghanistan. A bitter, defeated, vengeful, internally corroded NATO simply cannot be trusted.

Nobody today remembers that the Empire had concocted its own version of the New Silk Road over 10 years ago, announced by then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in Chennai in July 2001.

That was no ‘community of shared future for mankind,’ but a very narrow obsession on capturing energy resources – in Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan; ‘stabilizing’ Afghanistan, as in perpetuating the occupation; giving a boost to India; and ‘isolating’ Iran.

The energy supply routes to the west should have gone through the Caspian Sea, and then across Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey – the three actors of the BTC pipeline – thus bypassing Russia, which was already then being depicted in the west as a ‘threat’.

All this is dead and buried – as post-occupation Afghanistan alongside the five Central Asian ‘stans’ are now back as one of the key foci of interest of the Russia–China strategic partnership: the heart of a Greater Eurasia spanning from Shanghai in the east to St. Petersburg in the west.

Yet to make it happen, it’s imperative that the OIC helps Afghanistan as much as the Taliban must help themselves.

The views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of The Cradle.

كيف تحاسَب أميركا على جرائمها بحق المدنيين؟

الثلاثاء 21 12 2021

العميد د. أمين محمد حطيط*

في كلّ مرة كانت أميركا تطلق بها أكذوبة أو تلفق فيها مسرحية تتهم بها جيشاً من جيوش الخصوم والأعداء بأنه خرج في الميدان عن قواعد القانون الدولي الإنساني، أو تتهم فيها مكوناً مسلحاً يقاوم احتلالها المباشر أو غير المباشر تتهمه بأنه فصيل إرهابي، في كلّ مرة تطلق فيها أميركا ذلك نجدها تخفي جريمة ارتكبتها، أو تحضر المسرح لجريمة سترتكبها منتهكة قواعد الحرب وقواعد القانون الدولي. فأميركا خلافاً لجيوش المعمورة تمارس في الميدان القتل للإرهاب وأحياناً القتال للتدمير، بينما وظيفة الجيوش عادة هي القتال دفاعاً أو هجوماً من أجل تحقيق هدف وطني أو قومي ما.

وفي احتلالها لمناطق في الشرق الأوسط بخاصة في كلّ من أفغانستان والعراق وسورية، لم تخرج أميركا عن هذا السلوك النمطي الاجرامي في أدائها الميداني، ففي الوقت الذي كانت تدّعي فيه مثلاً أن الجيش العربي السوري استعمل الأسلحة الكيماوية ضدّ «المواطنين السوريين الأبرياء» وقتل منهم الكثير، كانت طائراتها النفاثة أو المسيّرة ترتكب المجازر غير المبرّرة بحق المدنيين السوريين، على حدّ ما أوردت صحيفة «نيويورك تايمز» الأميركية، التي ذكرت أنّ هناك أكثر من 1300 تقرير سرّبت من البنتاغون تتضمّن إحصاء لحجم الخسائر الهائل في صفوف المدنيين التي أوقعتها الطائرات الأميركية، التي تدّعي أنها تملك أرقى تقنية في العالم لتحديد الأهداف وضبط النار ومنع الخطأ.

والسؤال المركزي الذي يُطرح هنا هل أن الجيش الأميركي يقتل المدنيين عن طريق الخطأ؟ أم أن القتل مسألة تدخل في صلب قواعد العمل العسكري الأميركي في الميدان؟ سؤال يفتح على سؤال آخر فيه القول كيف يمكن منع أميركا من ارتكاب هذه الجرائم؟

من يعرف ما تملكه أميركا من وسائل المراقبة والاستطلاع وتحديد الأهداف، يصل إلى نتيجة يستبعد فيها إمكان حصول الخطأ في قتل المدنيين بهذا الحجم. فأميركا وفقاً للوثائق المسرّبة نفذت خلال 5 سنوات في البلدان الثلاثة التي احتلتها كلياً أو جزئياً أكثر من 50 ضربة جوية ارتكبت فيها مئات المجازر بحق المدنيين، تنوّعت بين استهداف الجماعات والمناطق الآهلة وقوافل السير والمدارس والأعراس والتجمعات والبنى التحتية إلخ… وكلها أهداف يمنع القانون الدولي العام قصفها. وفي المقابل لم يسجل البنتاغون حادثة واحدة لوحق بها مسؤول عسكري بجريمته أو حتى اتخذ بحقه تدبير تأديبي مسلكي.

إنّ إمعان أميركا باستهداف المدنيين دونما اكتراث أو حذر يعود برأينا إلى سببين… الأول عائد إلى أنها تدرج قتل المدنيين في صلب استراتيجية ممارستها للقوة القمعية بحق الشعب في الدولة المحتلة من أجل ترهيبه ودفعه للاستسلام للاحتلال، والسبب الثاني عائد إلى شعور أميركي بالاستعلاء والممارسة فوق القانون وعدم قدرة أحد على محاسبتها أو معاقبتها، فالشعور الأميركي بالقدرة التامة على الإفلات من العقاب والتصرف بأنها فوق القانون، يدفع العسكري الأميركي للعمل باستخفاف حيال أمن الآخرين وسلامتهم، ويحول دون إلزامه باتخاذ تدابير الحيطة والحذر المفروضة في الميدان، فضلاً عن التقيد الصارم بقاعدة «التناسب والضرورة» الحاكمة في العمليات العسكرية.

والمثير للاستهجان أن أميركا التي هذا هو حال ممارستها ضدّ المدنيين، تدّعي أو تنصّب نفسها مدافعاً عنهم في وجه دولهم وجيوش دولهم، وتجيز لنفسها العدوان على تلك الجيوش بذريعة حماية المدنيين، كما فعلت أكثر من مرة في سورية، حيث زعمت أن الدولة استهدفت الشعب بالسلاح الكيماوي وقامت هي بالعدوان علي الجيش العربي السوري انتقاماً للشعب كما زعمت! ومن المفارقات المضحكة المبكية هنا أن أميركا في الوقت الذي ادّعت أن ضحايا السلاح الكيماوي في أحد المواقع كانوا32 مدنياً، تبيّن أن طيرانها كان، قبل 5 أيام فقط، قد أجهز على تجمع اجتماعي عام وقتل 120 شخصاً في سورية.

أمام هذا الواقع المثير للإدانة والاستنكار الشديدين يطرح السؤال الأساس كيف يمكن أن تعاقَب أميركا على جرائمها بحق المدنيين؟

مع تأكيدنا لرفض الاحتلال الأميركي لأيّ دولة أو منطقة واعتباره عدواناً مداناً وغير مشروع، فإنّ قتل المدنيين وفي الشكل الذي يحصل على يد القوات الأميركية يفرض البحث عن وسائل الدفاع المناسبة، خاصة أن أميركا ترى نفسها فوق القانون وبمنأى عن المحاسبة الدولية من أيّ نوع كانت. لذلك ومع عدم الجدوى من اللجوء إلى المؤسسات والقضاء الدولي لمحاسبتها لن يكون مناص من أن يتولى الشعب المعتدى عليه والمستهدف بالجرائم الأميركية، أن يمارس حق الدفاع المشروع عن النفس عبر مقاومة ضدّ قوات الاحتلال لا بدّ منها من أجل وقف الجرائم وإنهاء الاحتلال، وهذا ما أكدت عليه وقائع التاريخ الحديث التي سجلت ضدّ أميركا بدءاً بفيتنام حيث طرد الأميركي مهزوماً، وفي أفغانستان حيث هرب الأميركي مكسوراً أو في العراق حيث ألزمت المقاومة العراقية أميركا بوضع حدّ لوجودها القتالي، وتستمر المقاومة لأنهاء هذا الوجود كلياً.

أما في سورية فإنّ المقاومة الشعبية الوطنية السورية الواعدة التي تشكلت شرقي الفرات، باتت في مستوى يجعل المتابع يتفاءل خيراً بنتائجها، حيث أن تكرار التصدي للجيش الأميركي المحتلّ أثناء تنقلاته ومنعه من إكمال المسير أكثر من مرة أو استهداف مراكز عسكرية أميركية أو لأدوات أميركا من قسد وغيرها، كلها أمور تنبئ بأمر هامّ مفاده أن على أميركا أن تنهي احتلالها لشرقي الفرات السوري قبل أن تدفع الثمن الكبير الذي يجبرها على الرحيل عنه، كما طردت من سواه من مناطق احتلالها.

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*أستاذ جامعي ـ باحث استراتيجي

Why the End of History Never Happened?

Dec 20 2021

By Darko Lazar

In 1989, when it became obvious that the collapse of the Soviet Union was imminent, Western elites gave themselves permission to think big. As politicians prepared to usher in a new era defined by a global liberal order, academics like Francis Fukuyama famously declared “The End of History”.

For Fukuyama, the end of the USSR meant that the last ideological challenger to liberalism had been eliminated. He imagined a world where Western thought would become universal, and Western-style democracies and free markets would spread unhindered.

“It matters very little what strange thoughts occur to people in Albania or Burkina Faso,” Fukuyama declared, “for we are interested in what one could in some sense call the common ideological heritage.”

Unfortunately for this school of thought, the last three decades have proved that people’s “strange thoughts” in many corners of the globe do indeed matter.

A Turning Point

Throughout history, empires have been defined by three key characteristics: brutality, bloodshed, and honor. Their expansion is always accompanied by an immense loss of life, which was traditionally justified by claiming cultural and political superiority. Fukuyama and those like him professed their superiority complex by thinly veiling them with the “values” of Western democracies: transparency, rationality, and of course, human rights.

But just like empires of old, the contemporary Western one takes history for granted. It fails to accept the fact that efforts to conquer nations will always produce backlashes, which inevitably lead to a reshuffling of the global order. History never ends – it’s a constant progression toward nations that each new generation wants their children to grow up in.

Empires have never bothered to understand this concept of resistance. And their elites have never been able to relate to the “strange thoughts” by ordinary people who would rather die fighting than live like subordinates.

As such, it is very difficult for an empire to acknowledge defeat or even recognize that its hegemony is in freefall. But for those who were born and raised in the constant shadow of American bombs, sanctions, and dictates, the failed US conquests in Afghanistan and the Middle East must be seen as watershed moments.

The Glory Days Are Gone

From a historical standpoint, American global hegemony was a brief occurrence. This epoch lasted just over 30 years. It was defined by constant wars that culminated in the so-called ‘War on Terror’. The key battlegrounds were Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, and Yemen, all of which have been lost by the US. Any narrative suggesting otherwise is mere Western propaganda and a product of imperial arrogance that is unable to come to terms with an existential crisis.

Here, it is important to note that the American withdrawal from Afghanistan is much more than that. It is a very public acknowledgment that the US strategy in Central Asia and the Middle East has failed. In layman’s terms, the Americans didn’t just lose Afghanistan; they are about to lose the Middle East as well.

A lot of this has to do with the rise of China, Russia, and Iran. But the demise of American hegemony is also being fueled by Washington’s refusal to acknowledge that the world has fundamentally changed.

Despite all the muscle-flexing and inflammatory statements, the US no longer has the world’s unmatched military might. In other words, the world is no longer unipolar, and the Americans are no longer setting the rules of the game. 

It’s now an open secret that Washington’s so-called alliances across the Middle East have become obsolete. For an America in decline, they represent an enormous risk of being sucked into a regional war that they can neither control nor ever dream of winning. Meanwhile, for the Gulf monarchies and ‘Israel’, the Americans have become a liability – they are an unreliable and unpredictable guest that just can’t seem to move on from its glory days in the 1990s.

Rigged War Games

Washington’s ambivalence has been on full display for quite some time, manifesting through multiple blunders, including several incidents in the Gulf.

One of the more notable episodes unfolded in late October, when US naval forces attempted to hijack an Iranian oil tanker under the guise of enforcing Washington’s sanctions regime.

The attempt was skillfully foiled by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard. The incident, caught on video, shows IRG personnel using helicopters and speedboats to take control of the tanker as it’s being pursued by American Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyers and a fast response cutter.

At one point, an IRG speedboat gets between the American destroyer and the tanker. The video shows a large-caliber machine gun pointed at the US ship’s combat posts, which could easily penetrate the destroyer’s three-millimeter armor. And just like that, the pursuit was over.

This is just one in a series of incidents in recent years, reminding the Americans that the shallow Gulf is an ideal environment for small, fast-attack craft, and a less-than-ideal environment for large, slow US warships. By all accounts, America’s multi-billion-dollar navy would be sitting ducks in this chaotic, shallow-water warfare.

These, however, are not exactly new revelations for policy makers in Washington. The Americans have been rehearsing war with Iran for decades, and the outcomes always involve catastrophic US losses.

In 2002, marine lieutenant-general Paul Van Riper quit his command after the US military rigged one of the biggest war games in its history to ensure the Americans beat their ‘Middle Eastern’ adversaries.

During the drills that cost nearly US$200 million to organize, Riper was the commander of a “low-tech, third-world army”. When the US fleet sailed into the Gulf, Riper instructed his small boats to move around in apparently aimless circles before launching a surprise attack which sank a substantial part of the US navy.

The war game had to be stopped and the American ships “refloated” so that the US forces stood a chance. That was in 2002. Since then, the US has only grown weaker, while Iran has become exceptionally stronger.

Survival Mode

While some political currents in the West recognize the need to change course and for the US to start serious negotiations about its future role in the world, many are still sticking to radical ideological and military doctrines.

And although this divergence in views is accelerating the collapse of the unipolar order, it is also delaying desperately needed dialogue based on mutual respect, rather than the classic version of American diplomacy: “do as we say, or else”.  

So, what is the US strategy for these unprecedented challenges? And are policymakers in Washington operating under the assumption that the US is still the world’s sole superpower?     

The actions of the current Biden administration suggest that there is no actual strategy. The White House is simply molding its game plan based on individual situations as they arise.

Their rhetoric ignores the fact that the US has become both economically and militarily inferior on the global stage. But in their actions – those that very much resemble Biden’s predecessor – the current administration is pushed into abandoning old colonial structures. The US military presence in Afghanistan was an important one. Others will soon meet the same fate.  

The Russian website GEOFOR interviews the Saker

December 18, 2021

PUTIN-BIDEN: THERE ARE THINGS THAT RUSSIA WILL NOT TOLERATE

Translated from Russian into English by Lilia Shumkova

source: https://geofor.ru/4769-putin-bajden-est-veshhi-kotorye-rossiya-terpet-ne-budet.html

GEOFOR: Dear Mr. Raevsky, I recall how after the Geneva meeting with President Vladimir Putin, his American colleague President Joe Biden, in response to a question about the continuation of high-level contacts between our countries, said that we should wait until the end of the year, and after that time make an appropriate decision. And now, six months after Geneva, a new dialogue, albeit in a video format. Moreover, this time the initiator was the American side. What do you think this means? What did the White House want to achieve, and to what extent did it succeed?

Raevsky: Under Biden, the United States turned to Russia five times with a request for negotiations – three times by phone, once in person and now via a video conference. Why did they need it? Here, you just need to look at the general context from the point of view of the United States and Biden himself. He has several “fronts,” not only the problem of Russia and Ukraine. I would even say that this is not the main “front” for him. There are two main ones. First of all, there is an internal “front”: he has a very low rating; The social, economic, and political crisis in the United States is now total and, in many ways, resembles the Soviet Union in the 1980s. American armed forces have already proved many times their total inability to conduct combat operations and achieve anything with them. Iraq is a disaster. They are afraid of Iran and do not even want to compete with it. You have seen the disgrace in Afghanistan. Now the mood is very depressed and angry. This internal “front” of President Biden is undoubtedly the most dangerous.

The second very dangerous “front” he has is the issue of China. The Americans say that in two years they will no longer be able to gain the upper hand in the war against China; something needs to be done urgently.

People who understand the principles and timing of the reform of the armed forces and the development of new weapons systems, the principles of tactics and military art in general, understand that nothing can be done in two years. It takes a decade, and maybe more than one.

China and the United States are moving towards a confrontation. Beijing definitely occupies the position of the stronger player. And the Americans are weak on all fronts.

Then they have the Middle East, where Iran is now, in fact, ruling the ball. Israel is trying to maintain the appearance that it is very strong and very dangerous, but in reality the United States is now losing the entire Middle East.

This was an open goal of the Iranians. This is a country that is an order of magnitude smaller or weaker than Russia or China, now – in general, successfully – expels the United States from the Middle East, or at least from many parts of the Middle East.

And, of course, another “front” is Ukraine and Russia plus Europe. And in Europe – and this needs to be pointed out – there is an economic crisis.

For all these reasons, Biden was in an extremely difficult situation.

Russia has been retreating on all fronts over the past 20 – if not 30 – years. And now the situation resembles the one when German tanks were near Moscow. The time is now to say, “Not a step further.”

I think that [Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation Valery] Gerasimov and Putin conveyed exactly this to the Americans: “Say what you want, we will not practice the same belligerent rhetoric. But in reality we have the means to repel any provocation or strike from you, and we will have to do it if you don’t change course.”

I think that the realization of how dangerous the situation is today has reached the “collective Biden.”

Now about whether he achieved what he wanted in this video conference.

Sure. To some extent, yes. Because he will be able to say that it was he who stopped Russia in Ukraine, that it was he who stopped China, and no attack on Taiwan happened on his watch.

But this, of course, is fiction. Everyone understands perfectly well that neither China nor Russia need these wars. All these fears were fanned by the Americans themselves.

And, that’s where they really scared themselves, which was the right thing to do, because they are absolutely not tough enough to “butt heads” with Iran, China, and Russia at the same time.

But there is a certain specificity of American politics in this. Very often, American diplomats come to Moscow and say one thing, then when they come back, they are attacked by the media and Congress. Both the media and the Congress are totally in the hands of the “War Party” here. Accusations of weakness, softness, cowardice, etc. follow and here they need to show their “coolness”.

So, for example, Trump acted when he negotiated with the Russian side, and then declared: “There were no agreements.”

Therefore, it remains to be seen whether Biden will be able to withstand the onslaught of the “War Party” now. If he can do it, say, in the next 2-3 weeks, then I would say that for him this conversation was a clear and undoubted success.

And if the “War Party” breaks it, as Trump was very quickly broken, then everything will return to normal, and we will return to the same threshold where Russia and the United States will be on the verge of a full-scale war. This, in general, is not necessary for anyone, and maybe it has come to the American side that it is one thing to talk about world domination, to fight with weak incapacitated forces. And it’s quite another thing to wage war against a real military superpower.

GEOFOR: The meeting was preceded by a strong propaganda attack against Russia, during which Washington clearly tried to “raise the stakes.” President Biden even said that he does not see and does not accept any “red lines” outlined by Moscow. And yet, just before the meeting, Congress lifted a number of sanctions against Russia from the defense budget, including on the Nord Stream-2. Clearly under the influence of the administration. How do you explain such a metamorphosis?

Raevsky: Of course, firstly, it was necessary to “raise the stakes” in order not only, as they like to say in the West, “to negotiate from a position of strength,” but also to convince both public opinion and the “War Party” that we are in no way making concessions to Russia. And Biden said: “We will not recognize any red lines!” [NATO Secretary General] Stoltenberg said: “We do what we want and Russia does not order us!” and so on.

It’s all PR.

In reality – the fact that they have already asked for negotiations with Russia for the fifth time shows who is in a position of strength, and who is not.

And this lifting of the sanctions you are talking about from the defense budget is, in general, a small step, rather, a diplomatic step of goodwill. But, in fact, the issue with the Nord Stream-2 has already been resolved. The only thing that can close it is a full-scale war between Russia and Ukraine – or something worse. They have already sanctioned Russia so that there is nowhere else to go – they say it themselves.

So, if you no longer have the opportunity to impose other sanctions, then you can “sell” this “non-imposition” of sanctions as a gesture of goodwill.

This is Realpolitik, and nothing more.

The Americans have never abandoned their strategic goals – containing and encircling Russia, forcing it to submissive obedience and surrender of its sovereignty, and this is their ultimate goal which the Americans have never agreed to abandon.

This is a strategic goal. And everything that is being done now, for Americans, is the level of tactics, not strategy.

They have not discussed the strategy yet, because to revise the strategy means to revise the entire ideology on which this country is built. They are not ready for this yet.

GEOFOR: Could Putin’s visit to Delhi have influenced the position of the American side, and if so, what kind? Recall that during this bilateral meeting with the Indian leadership, a number of documents were signed, including an agreement on military issues until 2030. Moreover, this document concerns not only military-technical cooperation.

Raevsky: Here you need to understand a very subtle game that the Indians are playing. They are friends with the United States, they will even go to this Summit of Democracies. But they are friends not against Russia, but against China, which for them is a regional enemy.

But in order to emphasize how friendly they are with the United States not against Russia, Putin’s trip to India was organized and giant contracts were signed there, including contracts for weapons, including S-400 air defense, which the Americans categorically forbade Indians to buy, and the Indians did not care about this ban.

In fact, India’s attitude towards Russia is a slap in the face of the United States. This shows that the Indians will look very selectively at what is beneficial to them and act in their own interests, and not be a submissive puppet in the hands of anyone, and certainly not the United States.

I would also like to add that, in my opinion, the confrontation between China and India is the main current problem of the Eurasian continent. I see only one side that can help these two countries to change relations and switch to a different quality. This is, of course, Russia.

And the strategic task of the Americans, on the contrary, is to incite further conflicts between China and India at any cost.

And it is clear that the parties will continue to bend their own line. Moscow stands for peace in Eurasia, and the United States – if not for war, then, in any case, for military tension and confrontation between these two great countries.

GEOFOR: One of the main priorities of Moscow in these negotiations was the issue of ensuring the security of the Russian Federation, which was stated long before the meeting. As it became known, the American side confirmed its readiness for dialogue on this issue. In particular, to discuss the issue of the deployment of offensive weapons along the Russian borders from Norway to Romania and possibly Turkey. This also automatically includes Ukraine. How does this relate to the belligerent and harsh statements on the eve of the meeting?

Raevsky: Officially, right before the meeting, the Americans said that they categorically refuse to recognize Moscow’s red lines. Stoltenberg also said that “Russia is not a law for us, let it behave correctly and keep quiet, and we will do whatever we want.”

But in reality, expert groups will meet. And what will they discuss? Yes, of course, just these red lines. This is the only subject of real bargaining that is possible between these two countries.

So, in fact, the United States says one thing and does another.

Yes, they are now making concessions to Moscow. The growing power of the Russian Armed Forces, and the forces of the Russian economy and political “soft power” forced the Americans to make concessions.

From the Americans’ point of view, Ukraine itself in its current state is a “404 country”, and I would say, in general, the whole of Europe turned out to be such a “suitcase without a handle.” And Americans are no longer able to drag around with them – neither economically nor politically.

So what can they do? If it has already been decided to leave the suitcase without a handle, then you can set it on fire and hope that this arson can achieve something.

And what to achieve? Yes, it’s very simple – the dream of Americans is for Russia to really grab as much Ukraine as possible. First, because this is a “black hole” that would become a headache for Russia, not America. Second, it will create ideal conditions to block the Nord Stream-2 and even other energy projects between Europe and Russia. And, third, it will create – finally! – the next “cold war,” without which the American and, in general, western politicians and generals are so sad.

Everyone understands that in the event of a war, Russia will win quickly and convincingly. But after that, a situation will arise that will resemble, perhaps, the “Berlin crisis” with a similar level of confrontation. And the “War Party” in the West wants this for a number of reasons.

For example, if the supply of energy carriers from Russia is cut off, then whose fuel and energy sector will be able to compensate for the outgoing resources? American, of course. Their liquefied gas.

The same is true in the sphere of political influence. If, say, an open war happens, and Russia liberates even just a part of Ukraine from Nazi rule, it will be presented as proof that only NATO can save Europe from Putin’s “mordor”.

It would be very beneficial for the Americans to have a full-scale war unleashed. This is the interpretation of the “War Party”. But there are other people – sane people – who understand that such a situation is fraught with a very rapid escalation and direct confrontation between the United States and Russia. And they don’t want that.

And so, on the one hand, we are seeing “cool” statements. On the other hand, there are a number of concessions that the Americans are ready to make so far.

And the offensive weapons systems that they have now deployed in other countries is a purely political, not military, issue. When Putin says that for a Western hypersonic missile from the territory of Ukraine, the approach time will be five minutes to Moscow, this is a fact. But, on the other hand, the time of approach of a preemptive strike by Russian hypersonic weapons will also, by definition, be five minutes. And in this area, Russia has overtaken the United States for a long time and very significantly. Russia also has the opportunity to place missiles in the Atlantic Ocean outside the zone of operation of possible anti-submarine means of the United States and “swoop” from there.

These offensive systems are dangerous for Russia not so much from a military point of view as from a political one, since this is really a political provocation. It shows what, as Americans like to say, “they send a message”.

This is the message: “We don’t care about you! We do what we want and where we want.” This means that Russia is not an equal party to the negotiations, that there is a great Hegemon and Suzerain of the whole planet, who does everything he wants and how he wants, and Russia is invited to shut up, sit quietly, and not slack off.

This political problem is very real for Russia. Therefore, the current situation will force Russia at some point to draw red lines and say that there are things that we will not tolerate.

Obviously, both Putin and General Gerasimov have very successfully brought these realities to the consciousness of the “collective Biden.”

GEOFOR: The information that comes to us after the meeting suggests that the tone of the conversation between the Russian and American presidents is similar to the tone of Biden’s remote talks with Comrade Xi, which also took place recently. For example, during a conversation with the Chinese leader, the US president stressed the need to refrain from seizing Taiwan by force, which essentially meant that Washington did not object to economic and political methods. As for the Russian-American negotiations, in part of Ukraine, for example, issues related to its territorial integrity, Crimea and the notorious “Russian aggression” were not discussed at all. And at the briefing following the conversation, Assistant to the President J. Sullivan called on Kiev to stop the escalation of tensions in the Donbas and referred the Ukrainian leadership to the Minsk agreements. What is the reason for this position: the desire to maintain the status quo for a while? Then – for what purpose and for how long?

Raevsky: In this area, the situation can be said to have turned completely upside down.

Russia needed these decades of concessions in order to strengthen the Russian society itself, strengthen the information sphere, the Russian economy, establish import substitution, create new ties with other countries and, most importantly, to develop the Armed Forces to such a level that they can cope with any threat to Russia.

The Americans’ situation is flipped. They have the deepest internal crisis – political and economic. The state of the American armed forces is very fraught.

Of course, the current status quo is beneficial to them. The alternative is to continue on the path of escalation, and then there is only one way – to military confrontation. There’s nothing else left. Everything below the level of military confrontation has already been done. And it is completely unprofitable for them to go to an open military confrontation with Russia.

For how long is such a status quo beneficial to them? It is necessary to clearly distinguish two sides. On the military side, the reform of the armed forces is a very long and difficult process, very complex, and the armed forces have a huge inertia, which is very difficult to deploy in another direction, considering that the American political calendar is two years ahead; one year ahead, well, four years ahead at most.

On the political side, Biden’s rating is now catastrophically low. The situation inside the country is very bad. Therefore, it is more profitable for him to maintain the status quo for a year or two rather than to have a direct confrontation with Russia during his presidency. Plus, it is still unknown what benefits the Chinese and Iranians could find for themselves in such a confrontation.

Thus, Americans need the status quo. On the political side, two years, even one year, is much better than a war.

In the long run, the current status quo, I think, is just a screen put up to hide the fact that they will continue to self-destruct. In my opinion – and I know this country quite well – it is absolutely impossible to rebuild it. Reforms are impossible here, because this country is based on imperialism, on the ideology of world domination, and it is simply impossible for it to abandon this. Speaking “in American language,” “it’s not American.” That is, to recognize, for example, just the possibility that the United States is “one of the countries of the world”, but not “the leader of all mankind”, is something that is literally unthinkable for most Americans, and certainly for American politicians. For them, this is simply unacceptable.

The whole “crazy kindergarten” – there is no other way to say it – that we hear now from a local congressman about Russia, about China, about others, is a reflection of this type of thinking and worldview.

Unfortunately, in the United States, being an open supporter of the “War Party” looks patriotic. And since this country did not have any real war in defense of its homeland, and they lost all the other wars after World War II, this is a country that simply cannot abandon its imperial ideology, and now it lacks the tools that it needs to impose its imperialist ideology on the entire planet.

Therefore, realistically speaking, they need the status quo for as long as possible. But it is impossible to define this “longer”.” There are too many variables, too many scenarios.

GEOFOR: About protocol problems in relations with the White House. In preparation for the meeting, it was widely announced that the conversation would be “one-on-one.” And now we see President Biden negotiating surrounded by four of his advisers. Does such a transformation of the format of the meeting contribute to the establishment of an atmosphere of trust in negotiations and, more broadly, in bilateral relations in general?

Raevsky: First of all, you need to understand that when it comes to Biden, of course, we are talking about “collective Biden.” Biden himself is not able to delve into all the problems facing him, nor to negotiate. And, certainly, not with a man like Putin, who can talk for four hours without a piece of paper and remember all the numbers on all topics.

Naturally, there should be advisers around him; there is nothing new here.

When George Bush’s son was interrogated about the events of September 11 [2001], he was not trusted to answer questions alone. Dick Cheney was sitting next to him, who had to make sure, as the “senior supervisor,” that Bush would not blurt out anything superfluous. It’s the same here.

These advisers surround him, naturally, to advise, but also to keep an eye on him. They are the watchers, and he is their official representative.

Moreover, I would even say that this is a very good sign – just as I welcomed the trip of Victoria Nuland and the CIA director to Moscow. This shows that “serious people” are talking to the Russian side. Now if they sent Kamala Harris to talk to someone, that would be a sign of total disregard. Or, say, how Blinken calls Zelensky to tell him what happened at the negotiations.

There is no such contempt here. On the contrary, there are serious people who know what they are talking about and who are able to make decisions. This shows that the negotiations were not symbolic and that there really was a shift. In my opinion, this can only be welcomed.

But! There can be no question of any atmosphere of trust. This is what journalists think: there is an atmosphere of trust in the negotiations between Russia and the United States.

Such negotiations only develop confidence-building measures – those that are verifiable.

There can be no question of any trust.

Most likely, in general terms, the parties agreed to some steps, and expert groups will work on specifics – who, how and when will check the measures mutually agreed during the negotiations.

Here we can recall President Ronald Reagan, who said: “Trust, but verify”.

This is exactly what we are seeing now: both sides will check to the maximum, because the stakes are very high. When there is a risk of military confrontation between two nuclear superpowers, there can be no trust. There can only be absolutely verifiable mutually obligatory steps of the two sides.

GEOFOR: And now a few words about the affairs of Washington. The further away, the more noticeable the discord in the White House foreign policy team. If the aggravation of the situation in bilateral relations, harsh criticism of Russia, etc. comes from the Secretary of State and his team, then a certain constructive approach comes from the national security assistant. This became especially noticeable after Mrs. Nuland, whose work results apparently did not satisfy the White House much, an experienced diplomat, a former ambassador to Russia, and now the director of the CIA, William J. Burns, whom a number of Russian analysts write down in the “Sullivan team,” arrived in Moscow. Will President Biden be able to continue to stay above the fray of his closest aides? How subjective is he in making and implementing his political decisions? After all, it is still impossible to ignore the opinions of both parties on Capitol Hill… In short, how much can Russia trust the agreements that were reached during the dialogue at the highest level? Will the decisions on joint study of issues of interest to both sides go beyond expert consultations and translate into concrete binding agreements? Or is it still an attempt to get a respite in time in order to settle their internal problems, reformat relations with allies, and then return to the period of confrontation?

Raevsky: There are undoubtedly two parties here. There is a very serious struggle going on within the ruling classes of the United States and in the so-called “deep state.”

Imagine some kind of gangster group – one of those organized criminal groups, each of which controls some part of the city. As long as things are going well, they sit quietly. But as soon as the crisis begins, then they start fighting among themselves.

And so the election of Trump four years ago brought such a split in the ruling American elites that now a very strong battle is going on at the top in different groups, clans of the American government. And the divide is not between Republicans and Democrats. Relatively speaking, on the one hand there is a “War Party,” and on the other hand there is a “Peace Party.” This is very conditional, but not wrong.

First, the “War Party” members are pure ideologists. Second, it is the fuel and energy sector of America, which is very interested in “cutting off” Europe from Russia. It would be very beneficial for the American economy as a whole if Europe were both weaker and more dependent on the United States. Any cooperation between Russia and the EU is a direct and clear threat to the economic and political interests of the United States. There are still those who retain nostalgia for the Cold War. There are so-called “Neocons,” there are “Neoliberals,” and there are various lobbies that are hostile to Russia for various reasons. The Israeli lobby, the Polish lobby, the Ukrainian lobby. All of these groups lumped together can be called the “War Party”.

And there is a “Peace Party”, which, I think, consists of those people who understand that, going further along this path, you can only come to one point – war. This party does not want to pay such a price. This party probably understands that it is simply too much for the United States to go into a total confrontation with Russia, Iran and China at the same time.

Even if they wanted war, they realize that in this position it is better for them to present themselves as a “Peace Party”.

This is probably what Biden wants to achieve. He wants to demonstrate that with his “coolness” and disregard for any demands of Russia and China, he has succeeded, stopped both “Russian aggression” against Ukraine and “Chinese aggression” against Taiwan.

That there is absolutely no reality under this rhetoric, it does not matter at all. This is all for domestic consumption and for domestic policy. And also to preserve the image of the World Hegemon, which, unfortunately, it is absolutely impossible for Americans to abandon, since this ideology is “embedded” in the national identity of many – if not all – Americans. In addition, all politicians, in order to show that they are patriots, must be supporters of the “War Party,” supporters of wars and “cool” unilateral measures. In this country – alas! – this is interpreted not as a sign of insanity or irresponsibility, but as a sign of “coolness”. And if the president demonstrates these qualities, then he is a strong and serious president.

How to reform such a country and give it the opportunity to become just a normal country, and not an Empire, I can’t imagine. I don’t see how this system can be reformed. The only way out, which I unfortunately see, is that it should collapse. Collapse either quickly during a military confrontation, or – God forbid! – through some kind of agreement to “hit the brakes.” This is the best we can all hope for.

GEOFOR: So, how do you see the future of relations between Moscow and Washington?

Raevsky: First of all, I have always believed and written that for at least seven years – if not more – the American Empire and Russia have been at war. This is an ideological war, this is an informational war, a political war,  and an economic war. And-thank God! – there have not been any major military actions yet.

But this does not negate the fact that, in fact, there can be only one winner in this war.

Russia, Iran, China and other countries want a multipolar world in which there would be a place for sovereign states that treat each other with respect and in accordance with the principles of international law.

The American vision of the future is world hegemony, “the USA is ahead of the whole planet,”  the USA governs everything and everyone, and there are no equals.

This is a very important point – “We have no equal.” It’s an idea that generations of Americans have been raised on.

But suddenly [Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff] General Milley said that, in general, from a military point of view, the world already has at least three poles – the United States, Russia and China. There are actually more of these poles. For example, in the Middle East, the strongest regional power is no longer Israel – it is Iran.

The situation is changing, and not to the benefit of the United States.

Russia plays for a long time. She has been yielding, stepping aside, and giving way for a long time, because it was necessary to create such Armed Forces that could really guarantee the security of Russia in any threats. Russia has finally achieved this.

For Russia, the idea of Anglo–Saxon domination over the planet, when everyone else should serve them, is fundamentally unacceptable – and I would even say civilizationally. Russia sees herself to be an equal player among the great of this world.

What will be the relations between Moscow and Washington? One side will lose the war, and the other will gain the upper hand in it.

Not necessarily, by the way, a war with military operations. This could be a purely political war only, God willing!

But only one of the two boxers in the ring will remain standing. The second one will have to accept a real defeat.

For Russia, such a defeat would mean the loss of sovereignty and destabilization. Which will once again put her in a dangerous position.

And for the United States, simply giving up world domination is already a total defeat, because it will force this country to completely reformat itself and recreate itself on a new basis. Which they are absolutely not capable of, at the moment. In order to reform the country, it takes decades – if there is no external force. And since Russian tanks will not appear on the streets of Washington, no purge like the one that was against the Nazis after World War II in Germany, here – alas! – it won’t happen.

It means that all this will take a long time, and this process will not only be long, but also dangerous for this country.

——-

Andrei Raevsky was born in Zurich, Switzerland, his father is Dutch, his mother is Russian from a family of White Russian immigrants.

In 1984, he entered active military service in the electronic warfare unit, and then was transferred to the military intelligence service as a language specialist, to work in the interests of the Swiss Air Force. Then he moved to the USA, where he received a bachelor’s degree in International Relations from the School of International Service (SIS) American University (American University) and a Master’s degree in Strategic Studies (Strategic Studies) at the School of Advanced International Studies. Paul N. Nitze of Johns Hopkins University (Paul H. Nitze School for Advanced International Studies (SAIS) at Johns Hopkins University). Upon returning to Switzerland, he worked as a civilian consultant (in a position corresponding to the military rank of “major”) in the Swiss Strategic Intelligence Service (SND), preparing strategic analytical materials, primarily about the Soviet/Russian armed forces. He worked as a specialist in “enemy operations” (“Red Team” in American military jargon) to train personnel at the operational level of the General Staff of the Swiss Armed Forces. Later he worked at the UN Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR), where he specialized in peacekeeping tactics and operations. He wrote a book about psychological and intelligence operations in peacekeeping and four books of collected works “The Essential Saker” (The Essential Saker). Speaks Russian, English, French, Spanish and German.

Raevsky holds a Licentiate in Orthodox Theological Studies (PhD in Orthodox Theology) from the Center for Traditionalist Orthodox Studies at the Monastery of St. Gregory Palamas in Etna, California (the “Center for Traditionalist Orthodox Studies” (CTOS) at the Saint Gregory Palamas monastery in Etna, California).

Swiss citizen.

Lives in the state of Florida.

The questions were asked by Sergey Dukhanov, an international journalist and an Americanist. He worked as his own correspondent for the NOVOSTI Press Agency in Canada (Ottawa, 1990-1992) and as the chief of the American Bureau (Washington, 1996-2001) of the newspapers Business MN, Delovoy Mir and Interfax-AiF.

Readouts Virtual Meeting: President Vladimir Putin and President Xi Jinping

December 15, 2021

Both readouts follow.  First, President Putin and followed by President Xi Jinping.


Talks with President of China Xi Jinping

Vladimir Putin held talks, via videoconference, with President of the People’s Republic of China Xi Jinping.

December 15, 2021, 11:20

Beginning of Russia-China talks

President of Russia Vladimir Putin:

President Xi, my dear friend,

I am delighted to see you. Greetings.

I am happy to have this opportunity to see you via videoconference. This allows us to hold in-depth discussions on the development of Russian-Chinese relations of comprehensive partnership and strategic interaction. I regard these relations as a shining example of interstate cooperation in the 21st century.

We have maintained contact despite the sanitary and epidemiological restrictions, and in May [2021] we launched, via videoconference, the joint construction of four new power units for a nuclear power plant in China. In June, we held a videoconference on the 20th anniversary of the major Russia-China Treaty [on Good-Neighbourliness and Friendly Cooperation]. We also had telephone conversations about urgent international issues, in particular, the Afghan problem.

This year Russia-China relations have been dominated by the 20th anniversary of the Treaty on Good-Neighbourliness and Friendly Cooperation. It has been extended for another five years. The consistent implementation of this fundamental document, which comprehensively reflects the deep historical traditions of friendship and mutual understanding between the Russian and Chinese people, has helped us to take our relations to an unprecedentedly high level.

A new model of cooperation has developed between our countries, a model based, in part, on the principles of non-interference in each other’s affairs and mutual resolve to turn our common border into a belt of eternal peace and good-neighbourliness.

We are strengthening our trade and economic ties: from January to November this year, our mutual trade has increased by 31 percent to US$123 billion. We have beaten the record of the pre-pandemic year, 2019. In the near term, as agreed, we will pass the US$200 billion mark. We are implementing a number of large-scale joint projects in energy, including nuclear generation, industry and high technology.

From the very beginning of the pandemic, we have firmly joined forces in responding to the coronavirus infection. China has become an international centre for the production of the Russian vaccines Sputnik V and Sputnik Light. Contracts for more than 150 million doses have been signed with six Chinese manufacturers.

The multifaceted dialogue mechanism between the two countries’ governments and relevant agencies is working smoothly, and parliamentary cooperation is strengthening. The foreign policy and defence departments maintain ongoing contact.

Russia and China’s close coordination in the world arena, and their responsible joint approach to current global problems have become a significant factor of stability in international relations. We are active on platforms such as the UN Security Council, the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, and the BRICS. We are both contributing to the formation of a just world order based on international law.

President Xi Jinping, my friend,

I do hope that next February, we will finally be able to meet in person in Beijing. As we agreed, you and I will talk, and then we will participate in the Winter Olympics opening ceremony. Thank you for the invitation to attend this important event.

I would like to note that we invariably support each other in every aspect of international sports cooperation, including in condemning any attempts to politicise sports and the Olympic movement. I have no doubt that the upcoming Winter Games will be held at the highest level. They know how to do things in China.

By the way, to follow up on this high-profile sporting event, we plan to announce that 2022 and 2023 will be the Russian and Chinese years of cooperation in physical education and sports.

In a word, given the grand scale of interaction between our countries, we have a wide range of important matters to discuss today.

And of course, I would like to take this opportunity to wish you and all our Chinese friends a Happy New Year, wish you happiness, good health and all the very best.

Thank you.


President Xi Jinping Had a Virtual Meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin2021-12-15 22:23

On the afternoon of 15 December, President Xi Jinping had a virtual meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Beijing.

President Xi expressed his pleasure in meeting President Putin virtually at the year-end, their second virtual meeting in 2021 and their 37th meeting since 2013. President Xi noted that on multiple occasions President Putin has hailed Russia-China relations as a model of coordination between countries in the 21st century, firmly supported China in upholding core interests, and rejected attempts to sow discord between Russia and China. President Xi expressed his deep appreciation and readiness to work with President Putin to review the new progress made in bilateral relations this year, draw up new plans for cooperation across the board, and promote the sustained and high-quality development of bilateral ties.

President Xi stressed that the combined forces of changes in the world and the COVID-19 pandemic, both unseen in a century, have taken the world into a phase of fluidity and transformation. China-Russia relations have emerged from all kinds of tests to demonstrate new vitality. President Xi noted his regular communication and coordination in various forms with President Putin on major agenda items, through which they have jointly charted the course for China-Russia relations. The two sides have officially announced the renewal of the Treaty of Good-neighborliness and Friendly Cooperation and made it more relevant in the new era. They have extended firm mutual support on issues concerning each other’s core interests, thus defending the national dignity and common interests of both countries.

President Xi pointed out the enormous political advantage and great opportunities in the all-round practical cooperation between China and Russia. Bilateral trade in the first three quarters of 2021 exceeded US$100 billion for the first time, and the year-round volume is expected to hit a new record. The China-Russia Year of Scientific and Technological Innovation has been a big success. A number of major projects with strategic importance have been successfully implemented. Smooth progress is being made in synergizing Belt and Road cooperation with the Eurasian Economic Union. The two countries have actively fulfilled their responsibilities as major countries, promoted a united, global responseto COVID-19, communicated the true meaning of democracy and human rights, and acted as the bulwark of following true multilateralism and upholding fairness and justice in the world.

President Xi noted that next year, the Communist Party of China (CPC) will host its 20th National Congress while Russia will enter an important stage in implementing its national development goals by 2030. The two sides need to share opportunities in the process of opening-up, keep advancing the global development agenda, and play their roles in fostering a new type of international relations and building a community with a shared future for mankind.

President Xi underscored President Putin’s visit to China and attendance at the opening ceremony of the Beijing Winter Olympics in over a month’s time as a concrete action to support China’s work as the host. Beijing will become the first city in the world to host both Summer and Winter Olympics. Preparations are in full swing to present a streamlined, safe and splendid Games, and work on all fronts is mostly ready. The two Presidents will have exchanged visits to Olympic Games held in each other’s countries, and the two countries will hold the Year of Sports Exchange in the next two years. President Xi stressed the need to take these opportunities to turn sports exchange into a bridge and bond for greater mutual understanding and friendship between the two peoples. President Xi expressed his hope that during President Putin’s upcoming visit to China,the first in-person meeting between the two leaders in two years, they will have in-depth discussions on bilateral relations and major international and regional issues, and reach more new, important common understandings. He said that he very much looks forward to this“get-together for the Winter Olympics” and stands ready to work with President Putin “for a shared future” to jointly open a new chapter inpost-COVID China-Russia relations.

President Xi pointed out that at the sixth Plenary Session of the 19th Central Committee of the CPC held not long ago, the CPC Central Committee adopted and released a new historic resolution to conduct a comprehensive review of the major achievements and historical experience of the Party over the past century. “As I often say, our goal is both big and simple. It is essentially about delivering a better life to all Chinese. Putting people first is our fundamental philosophy of governance,” said President Xi.Both China and Russia are major countries with global influence and both have found development paths that suit their national conditions. President Xi reaffirmed China’s commitment to firmly support Russia in maintaining long-term stability, and expressed his readiness to have regular, candid and in-depth exchanges on governance experience with President Putin so as to jointly provide guidance to the sustained and high-level development of China-Russia relations and lead the two countries toward national rejuvenation.

President Xi pointed out that certain forces in the world are trying to meddle in the internal affairs of China and Russia under the pretext of “democracy” and “human rights” and grossly trample on international law and universally recognized norms governing international relations. China and Russia need to launch more joint actions to uphold the security interests of the two sides more effectively. China and Russia need to step up coordination and collaboration in international affairs, be more vocal on global governance, come up with feasible solutions to the pandemic, climate change and other global issues, and firmly uphold international fairness and justice in the process of resolving international and regional hotspots. Efforts must be made to firmly reject hegemonic acts and the Cold War mentality under the disguise of “multilateralism” and “rules”.

President Xi pointed out that since last year, China and Russia have actively conducted cooperation against COVID-19. Such efforts provide good examples of solidarity and mutual assistance in this bilateral relationship. They also contribute significantly to promoting a united, global response to the pandemic and to building a global community of health for all. The two sides need to be more resourceful and work together to introduce more concrete measures aimed at unclogging “bottlenecks” while strictly preventing cross-border transmission. China is ready for closer cooperation with Russia on COVID-19 testing and on research and development of vaccines and drugs.

President Xi pointed out the need for the two sides to share in opportunities of development under the new circumstances and make the pie of cooperation bigger. It is important to seize opportunities of the new round of scientific and technological revolution and industrial transformation, and accelerate cooperation in frontier technologies. China and Russia have a strong foundation and great complementarity in energy cooperation. The two sides need to build on their traditional energy cooperation, pursue more cooperation in new energy, advance the cooperation package in nuclear energy, and explore new cooperation areas such as renewable energy.

President Xi talked about the Global Development Initiative he proposed at the 76th Session of the UN General Assembly in September. This is another global public good that China offers in response to market challenges facing all parties, especially emerging markets and developing countries, and in an effort to implement the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. China will work closely with Russia to play a role in improving global governance and promoting global development.

On regional cooperation, President Xi said that over the past 20 years since the establishment of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), China and Russia have maintained a high level of strategic coordination and worked with other SCO member states to firmly follow the Shanghai spirit, to keep enhancing solidarity and mutual trust, and to deepen cooperation in all fields. The two sides need to support SCO member states in steadily advancing important domestic political agenda, and reject interference in the domestic affairs of regional countries by external forces under whatever pretexts.The two sides need to keep the development of the SCO on the right course, and follow the path of solidarity and cooperation, common security, openness and integration, mutual learning, and fairness and justice. China will continue to carry out flexible and diverse cooperation with Russia and other member states of the Collective Security Treaty Organization to safeguard security and stability in the region.

On BRICS cooperation, President Xi pointed out that next year, China will take overthe BRICS presidencyand host the 14th BRICS Summit and other events. China will maintain a high level of strategic coordination with Russia, and encourage BRICS countries to deepen cooperation across the board. It is important to act on true multilateralism, support the multilateral trading system, and build an open world economy. It is important to focus on practical cooperation, deepen cooperation in public health, and expand the “BRICS Plus”model to benefit more through BRICS cooperation. President Xi shared his confidence that with the concerted efforts of China and Russia, next year’s BRICS cooperation will surely yield positive results.

On cooperation at the UN Security Council, President Xi pointed out that under current circumstances, it is necessary for the five permanent members of the Security Council to strengthen coordination on deepening cooperation against the coronavirus, upholding international peace and security and promoting economic recovery, and actively respond to the common expectation of the international community. China will stay in close communication with Russia.

The two sides exchanged views on major-country relations and on democracy. President Xi stressed that democracy is a lofty aspiration and common value of all humanity and also a right enjoyed by people of all countries. Whether a country is democratic or not and how to better realize democracy can only be left to its own people to decide. International affairs should be managed by all countries through consultation. Promoting greater democracy in international relations and upholding true multilateralism is the expectation of the people and the prevailing trend of the times. China will enhance communication and coordination with Russia to encourage the international community to take the right view on democracy and defend the legitimate democratic rights of all countries.

President Putin said that the Russia-China relationship is at its best in history with a high degree of strategic mutual trust. It has set an example for delivering mutual benefit on the basis of non-interference in each other’s internal affairs and mutual respect for each other’s interests. It can be hailed as a model of state-to-state relations in the 21st century. This year marks the 20th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Good-neighborliness and Friendly Cooperation, and the two sides have officially announced the renewal of the Treaty. Overcoming the impact of COVID-19, the two sides have maintained close interactions, made steady progress in practical cooperation in all areas including trade, energy and science and technology, and conducted communication and coordination on international and regional issues. The strategic coordination between Russia and China has served as a major positive factor in effectively resolving all sorts of international hotspots and in safeguarding world peace, playing an important role in maintaining the international order underpinned by international law. President Putin said he looks forward to visiting China soon and attending the opening ceremony of the Beijing Winter Olympics, and reaffirmed Russia’s consistent opposition to attempts at politicizing sports. He expressed his hope of having an in-depth exchange of views with President Xi on major issues of mutual interest to promote the sustained and high-level development of Russia-China relations. Russia will continue to strengthen cooperation with China in such fields as economy and trade, oil and gas, finance, and aerospace and aviation and in major projects of strategic importance, and will promote greater synergy between the Eurasian Economic Union and the Belt and Road Initiative. Russia will work more closely with China to fight COVID-19 and oppose the politicization of the pandemic; and will further strengthen cultural and people-to-people exchanges with China and ensure the success of the Year of Sports Exchange in the next two years.Russia will be the most staunch supporter ofthe Chinese government’s legitimate position onTaiwan-related issues. It will firmly opposemoves by any force to undermine China’s interests using Taiwan-related issues, andmoves to form any type of “small groups” in the Asia-Pacific region. No attempt to sow discord between Russia and China will ever succeed. Russia will work with China to continue deepening close coordination in the SCO, the UN Security Council and other multilateral arena, and will support China’s BRICS presidency next year. Russia firmly rejects attempts to meddle in the internal affairs of Russia and China or to contain the legitimate development interests of the two countries. It is committed to upholding international fairness and justice and to maintaining strategic security and stability in the world. Russia is ready for more communication with China on defending true democratic rights and interests of all countries.

The two sides also exchanged views on other international and regional issues of mutual interest.

The two Presidents agreed to meet in Beijing in February next year.

Ding Xuexiang, Wang Yi and He Lifeng were present at the meeting.

Vladimir Putin held talks with Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi in New Delhi.

December 06, 2021

The expanded format meeting between the two delegations was followed by a face-to-face conversation over a working lunch, lasting 3 and a half hours.

Following the summit, a Joint Statement Russia – India: Partnership for Peace, Progress and Prosperity was adopted.

(Ed: Joint Statement below)

In addition, the two countries signed a package of documents before the Russian President’s meeting with the Prime Minister of India. They include an intergovernmental agreement on technology protection due to cooperation in space research and the use of outer space for peaceful purposes, and on building and operating launch vehicles and ground-based space infrastructure; an intergovernmental agreement on the Military-Technical Cooperation Programme for 2021–2031; as well as a protocol amending the intergovernmental agreement on cooperation in manufacturing Kalashnikov series small arms of February 18, 2019.

The Central Bank of Russia and the Reserve Bank of India signed a cooperation agreement to fight cyber-attacks. Also, relevant agencies signed a number of agreements in the sphere of education and memoranda of cooperation on intellectual property and on geological exploration and prospecting.

The documents signed included a roadmap for cooperation in science, technology and innovation; a programme of cultural exchanges for 2021–2024; a protocol on the organisation of culture festivals between the Russian Federation and the Republic of India in 2022–2023; as well as documents amending the intergovernmental agreement on merchant shipping of December 23, 1994, and concerning Russian oil supplies in 2022.

* * *

Beginning of Russian-Indian talks

Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi (retranslated): Your Excellency, my dear friend, President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin,

I would like to welcome you to the annual bilateral summit in New Delhi. I would also like to welcome all members of the Russian Federation delegation.

I know that this is only your second visit abroad for almost two years. This shows your personal commitment to our relations. You are visiting India despite all the pandemic difficulties and this shows your love of India.

Despite the pandemic-related complications, the development of bilateral India-Russia relations has not slowed. We continue strengthening our specially privileged strategic partnership.

We have maintained close cooperation in countering COVID-19, be it during testing vaccine production, providing humanitarian aid or helping people return home in a difficult time.

Your Excellency, 2021 is an important year for bilateral relations for various reasons: this year we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the 1971 Treaty of Peace, Friendship and Cooperation between India and the Soviet Union and two decades of strategic partnership. This is why I am so pleased to meet you in this special year because you have stood behind our strategic partnership over the past 20 years.

Many fundamental changes have taken place in the world in the past few decades. Various geopolitical formations have come into being, but one thing remained immune to change – the Russia-India friendship. Our countries not only cooperate with each other but also show special care for each other’s sensitive issues. This is indeed a unique, trust-based model of interstate friendship.

Your Excellency,

2021 is important for our strategic partnership as well. The first meeting of foreign ministers and defence ministers in the “2+2” format took place today and thus launched one more mechanism to strengthen practical cooperation.

We have maintained regular contact on Afghanistan and on a number of other issues as well. The interregional side of our partnership, which goes back to the Eastern Economic Forum and our summit in Vladivostok, has become a specific part of cooperation between the Russian Far East and various Indian states.

In the economy, we have adopted a long-term vision to reinforce our relationship. Our goal is to increase mutual trade to US$30 billion by 2025 and to increase mutual investment to US$50 billion. To do so, we must issue the proper assignments to our respective business communities.

The various agreements that were concluded today will help us expand cooperation as well. Our defence cooperation is being strengthened through joint development and production efforts under the Made in India programme. Cooperation in space and civilian nuclear energy is expanding as well.

I would like to congratulate Russia on obtaining observer status in the Non-Aligned Movement and dialogue partner status in the Indian Ocean Rim Association. We were delighted to support Russia’s presence in these associations.

India and Russia have similar positions on many regional and global issues. We will have the opportunity to exchange views on these matters during today’s meeting.

Your Excellency,

Once again, welcome to India. I would also like to welcome all members of the Russian delegation. Despite your busy schedule, you made the time to visit us, and we appreciate this. I am sure that our discussions today will be very productive for our relations.

Welcome again.

President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Prime Minister, my friend.

It is an honour and a privilege for me to visit friendly India once again.

We regularly hold summits at the highest level, in fact, they take place every year, with India and Russia taking turns in hosting them. Unfortunately, we had to skip last year due to the pandemic. Still, it is our turn to come to India, and I thank you for your invitation.

Russia views India as a major power, whose people have been very friendly to us. Our relations proceed from a very positive foundation. They are developing and forward-looking.

In 2020, trade between our countries decreased by more than 17 percent, but in the first nine months of 2021 it grew by over 38 percent. There is no doubt that we have every opportunity to reach the trade volumes you have mentioned.

This also applies to investment, which currently stands at US$38 billion and is more or less equally distributed between the two countries, with Russia having a slightly larger share. That said, we have been working together in very important and promising areas, including energy, high technology, and space. I am certain that the programmes you have mentioned will be carried out, including the one to train an Indian cosmonaut.

We have been promoting military-technical cooperation like with no other partner of ours. Together, we develop and manufacture high-technology military products, including in India.

There is another essential item on our agenda, which is of interest for both India and Russia. I am referring to taking care of the environment. Our minds are set on this topic, the green agenda, as well as on the economy and ways of developing it. Of course, we are realistic in our efforts, seeking to fulfil the needs of our economies and improve the standard of living for our citizens on an ongoing basis.

We remain proactively involved on the international stage. Just as you have said, our positions coincide on many issues. Of course, terrorism and efforts to fight it are a matter of grave concern, as are combatting drug trafficking and organised crime.

In this context, the developments in Afghanistan are of course a matter of serious concern for us. The foreign and defence ministers, who are present today, held their first meeting in such format, demonstrating our commitment to developing our relations in international and military affairs.

We hold joint exercises both in India and Russia. We are grateful for the attention you have given to this aspect of our cooperation and intend to keep moving in the same direction.

Once again, thank you very much for your invitation.

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Partnership for Peace, Progress and Prosperity. India-Russia Joint Statement following the visit of the President of the Russian Federation

1. At the invitation of Prime Minister of India Shri Narendra Modi, President of the Russian Federation H.E. Mr. Vladimir Putin paid working visit to New Delhi on 6 December 2021 for the 21st India–Russia Annual Summit.

2. The completion of 5 decades of the 1971 Treaty of Peace, Friendship and Cooperation and 2 decades of Declaration on Strategic Partnership is symbolic of the long standing and time-tested India-Russia relations characterized by mutual trust, respect for each other’s core national interests and similarity of positions on various international and regional issues.

3. The Sides reaffirmed their commitment to the Special and Privileged Strategic Partnership between India and Russia. They underscored that as major powers with common responsibilities, this important relationship continues to be an anchor of global peace and stability.

4. The Sides positively assessed the multi-faceted India-Russia relations that span various areas of cooperation including political and strategic, economy, energy, military and security, science and technology, culture and humanitarian cooperation. They noted that while the traditional areas of cooperation are being further strengthened, new drivers of growth have led to diversification and expansion of bilateral cooperation.

5. The Leaders highly appreciated the sustained momentum in bilateral ties despite the negative impacts of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. They acknowledged that the Annual Summit could not be held in 2020 due to the Covid pandemic. The Sides noted with satisfaction the continued intensification of contacts at all levels including 6 telephonic conversations between the two leaders since the last Summit; visits of Foreign Minister, Raksha Mantri, Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas and Minister of Steel from Indian side; visit of Russian Foreign Minister and Secretary of Security Council to India; holding of Foreign Office Consultations, India-Russia Strategic Economic Dialogue, consultations on UN issues, Arctic, policy planning etc.

6. The Leaders welcomed the holding of back-to-back meetings of the India-Russia Inter-Governmental Commission on Military and Military-Technical Cooperation and the first 2+2 Dialogue of Foreign and Defence Ministers of India and Russia in New Delhi on 6 December 2021. They underscored the importance of regular annual 2+2 meetings for exchanging views on global and regional political-security developments.

7. The Leaders noted the ongoing interaction between the Parliaments of two countries and underlined the importance of regular meetings of Inter-Parliamentary Commission as a valuable component of India- Russia relations.

8. The Leaders reiterated the importance of the security dialogue at the level of NSA and NSCS on bilateral and regional issues and welcomed regular interactions between them. This has served to enhance strategic understanding and coordination between the two countries.

Cooperation in Covid pandemic

9. The Sides exchanged views on the Covid-19 pandemic situation and highly appreciated the ongoing bilateral cooperation in the fight against Covid-19, especially with respect to “Sputnik-V” vaccine.

10. The Leaders expressed gratitude to each other’s countries for timely assistance during the pandemic. India’s assistance in supplying critical medicines, including paracetamol, hydroxychloroquine, and certain antibiotics during the first phase in Russia and Russia’s assistance in providing ventilators, oxygen concentrators and other critical equipment during India’s second phase, was a humanitarian gesture well-received by both sides.

11. The Sides expressed confidence that early mutual recognition of COVID vaccination certificates will further facilitate movement of persons between the two countries and agreed to fast track the formalities in this regard.

12.The Sides expressed appreciation for the efforts of relevant agencies involved in evacuation efforts as well as transport of life saving equipment and medicines. They noted that the Air-bubble arrangement has served the interim travel needs of citizens of both countries.Both sides agreed to consider resumption of direct passenger and cargo flights to their pre-pandemic capacity.

Economy

13. The Sides appreciated the resumption of the positive trajectory of bilateral trade, with trade registering an increase of about 38% in the first half of 2021 compared to the same period in 2020 despite the pandemic-related restrictions. They positively assessed the overall increase of bilateral trade in 2019–20 compared to the previous year.

14. The Sides noted that the bilateral trade does not reflect the potential of strength and depth of India-Russia strategic partnership. The leaders stressed on the need for greater efforts to achieve the trade target of USD 30 billion by 2025. In this regard, they placed strong emphasis on new drivers of growth forlong-term cooperation.

15. The Sides underscored the need for commencement of negotiations on Trade Agreement between India and The Eurasian Economic Union.

16. The leaders noted the relevance of continued engagement under the India-Russia Inter-Governmental Commission on Trade, Economic, Scientific, Technological and Cultural Cooperation (IRIGC-TEC) for bilateral economic cooperation in various priority areas. They acknowledged the holding of 12Working Group and Sub-group meetings under the IRIGC-TEC and instructed the concerned officials to expeditiously conclude meetings of pending Working Groups. The sides also welcomed the setting up of the new Working Groups and Sub Groups on Transport, Urban Development and Railways and looked forward to the early holding of their inaugural meetings.

17. The Sides welcomed the holding of the 3rd edition of the India-Russia Strategic Economic Dialogue (IRSED) on April 15, 2021 in virtual format. They noted the productive discussions under this format in the areas of transport, agriculture, digital transformation, tourism, industry and banking and small and medium enterprises. The Sides considered the need to look at the way forward for the collaboration under this mechanism.

18. The Sides appreciated the outcomes of the visit of Minister of Steel of India to Moscow to attend the Russian Energy Week in October, 2021 and welcomed the progress made in a short span in reviving collaboration in coking coal and steel sectors. A mutually beneficial MoU for reliable long-term supplies of coal to India for steel production was signed. Discussions were held on production of specialty steel under Production Linked Incentive (PLI) Scheme in India, and utilization of technologies from Russian state steel institutes for steel production in India by private and public sector companies. The Indian side welcomed the interest of Russian side in learning from India’s experience of gainful utilization of coal residues. The Sides also welcomed the meeting of the 1st Working Group on Coking Coal in virtual format in October, 2020.

19. The Leaders welcomed the signing of Agreement of Intent between Indian PSUs and Russian company PhosAgro for supply of fertilizers in the period of 2021/2022 calendar years. They instructed their officials to continue discussions for agreement on long term supply and pricing arrangements.

20. Trade in pharmaceuticals continues to be one of the main items of India’s exports to Russia. Both sides noted with satisfaction the continued strength of this commodity as well as Indian companies’ participation in Russia’s localization programme under Pharma 2020 and Pharma 2030 schemes. They recognized the growing collaboration in medical devices as a new promising area of economic engagement in the context of the pandemic.

21. The Sides appreciated the rapid recovery of collaboration in diamond sector between the two countries, following the initial downturn witnessed during the pandemic.

22. The Sides welcomed the progress on discussions on elimination of trade barriers in respect of critical commodities under the aegis of the Sub-Group on Elimination of the Trade Barriers of IRIGC-TEC. Both sides agreed to consider fast-tracking elimination of barriers by way of closing critical gaps in phytosanitary and veterinary requirements of both countries in agricultural and agro-processed products.

23. The Sides recognised the need to further streamline and fast-track the process of Customs clearances of cargoes. In this regard, the Sides agreed to replace the discussions on the ‘Green Corridor Project’ with an Agreement on Mutual Recognition of Authorized Economic Operators (AEO) and a MoU on Exchange of pre-arrival Customs data. The Sides, also, agreed to commence discussions on this Agreement and MoU at the earliest.

24. The Indian side encouraged participation of Russian companies in the 13 key sectors of Production Linked Incentive scheme of Government of India under the ‘Atmanirbhar’ and ‘Make in India’ programme. The Indian side also invited the Russian side to continue consideration of setting up manufacturing facilities in Greenfield industrial cities under Industrial Corridor Programme of Government of India.

25. The Sides recognized that the pandemic slowed down progress on certain investment decisions by companies on both sides. However, both sides noted with satisfaction that several investment ideas continue to progress, particularly those in inland waterways, railways, shipbuilding and repair, steel and coking coal, medical devices, petrochemicals, ports, banking and re-insurance services, pharmaceuticals, agriculture and agro processing, healthcare, IT and oil & gas.

26. The Sides urged the corresponding Ministries to finalize negotiations of the Bilateral Investment Treaty in a spirit of mutual understanding in order to protect mutual investments.They welcomed the signing of the MoU on Cooperation in the Field of Intellectual Property between Department of Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade, Ministry of Commerce, India and Federal Service for Intellectual Property, Russian Federation.

27. The Sides reiterated their commitment to strengthen inter-bank and insurance cooperation. Commercial Indo Bank, Moscow, the only Indian Bank operating in Russia, has upgraded its rating significantly over the last year. Indian side expressed hope that this will allow the Bank to enter into retail segment after obtaining necessary approvals. Similarly, GIC Perestrakhovanie LLC, a 100% subsidiary of General Insurance Corporation of India, commenced its operations in September 2020 and is now offering reinsurance support to all major general insurers in the Russian Federation.

28. The Sides agreed to continue joint work on promoting mutual settlement of payments in national currencies, which will help reduce cost and time as well as risks involved in payments.

29. The Sides also expressed interest in continuing dialogue on accepting RuPay and MIR Cards within national payment infrustructures, as well as on interaction of Unified Payments Interface (UPI) and The Faster Payments System of the Bank of Russia (FPS). The Russian side invited Indian credit institutions to connect to the Financial messaging system of the Bank of Russia to facilitate faultless interbank transactions.

30. The Indian side invited Russian side’s participation in civilian shipbuilding and inland waterways as promising new areas of collaboration. The two leaders welcomed the preparation of bilateral document in the area of civilian shipbuilding, which will facilitate enhancement of interaction and specialist training, investments in ship building and repair, scientific research, development of intelligent transport and navigation systems, international transport corridors.They welcomed the signing of the Agreement of Intent between Mazagaon Dock Ltd. and Zvezda Shipyard for commercial shipping signed in September this year.

Cooperation in the Russian Far-East

31. President Putin welcomed Prime Minister Modi’s commitment to an Act Far-East Policy under which India could be a reliable partner in the development of the Russian Far-East. He supported Prime Minister Modi’s concept of Sangam as a development tool for the region. The Russian side warmly welcomed the successful visit of Prime Minister Modi to Vladivostok to attend the 5th Eastern Economic Forum (EEF) in 2019 and his virtual participation in the 6th EEF this year.

32. The Sides noted the greater intensity of Inter-regional dialogue on economic cooperation between the States of India and the regions of Russia including the virtual meeting between the Chief Minister of Gujarat and Governor of Sakha Republic (Yakutia) in September, 2021. They appreciated holding of several B2B, G2G and B2G meetings recently between Indian companies and Russian regions. They welcomed the signing of 9 twinning agreements between the cities/states of India and the regions of Russia so far for mutual cooperation in diverse areas.

33. The Sides welcomed interest of Indian companies in cooperating in the Russian Far East. Energy, transport and logistics, maritime connectivity, diamond processing, forestry, pharmaceuticals & healthcare, tourism and humanitarian fields have been identified as areas of further cooperation in the Russian Far-East.

34. The Indian side reiterated its commitment to enhanced trade and investment in the Russian Far-East. The Sides agreed to continue discussion on operationalization of the US$ 1 billion Line of Credit announced by Prime Minister Modi in 2019 for projects for development of the Russian Far East.

Energy

35. The Leaders reaffirmed that bilateral energy cooperation is a key pillar of the bilateral ties and an energy bridge between the two countries. Both sides reiterated their joint efforts under the Roadmap for Cooperation in Hydrocarbons for 2019–24 to further deepen bilateral cooperation in the energy sector and welcomed the opening of Bharat Energy Center in Moscow, representing five Indian oil and gas public sector companies to enhance engagement with Russian stakeholders in energy sector.

36. The Sides noted with satisfaction, the fruitful, wide-ranging collaboration between the oil and gas companies of the two countries, including between JSC Rosneft Oil Company and Oil and Gas Public Sector Undertakings of India in implementing the Vankorneft, Sakhalin-1 and Taas-Yuryakh Neftegazodobycha projects in Russia, and Nayara Energy Limited’s oil refinery in India. They also welcomed prospective two way investment initiatives of both countries, which are currently under discussion.

37. The sides reaffirmed their commitment for increasing sourcing of Russian crude oil on long term contracts through preferential pricing, strengthening LNG imports to India, and the possible utilization of the Northern Sea Route for energy supplies. The two sides further agreed for the expansion of cooperation in gas sector and welcomed the creation of a Gas Task Force to identify mutually beneficial areas including the development of investment in gas infrastructure and distribution projects, use of natural gas in transport and emerging fuels including hydrogen.

38. Both sides, appreciating the strength of the Indian petrochemical market, agreed to expand collaboration through Russian participation by way of investment, technological and other ways of collaboration in Indian petrochemical sector. The sides welcomed the interest of Nayara Energy in production of products like polypropylene in India.

39. Both sides also agreed to consider prospects for expanding cooperation in hydro and thermal power, energy efficiency and the sector of renewable energy. They also noted the need for cooperation in hydrogen economy, low-emission development, including exchange of best practices. The Indian side emphasized the need for responsible and reasonable pricing of global energy supplies determined by market forces. Both sides noted the importantce of dialogue between consumers and producers for stabilizing energy prices.

Transport and Connectivity

40. The Indian side welcomes the growing participation of Russian companies in modernization of the railway sector in India. This includes Russian side’s interest in implementing projects using Russian technology, equipment and capital in India, particularly in signalling and telematic systems, high-speed rail projects, electrification of railways while abiding by India’s Make in India and Atmanirbhar Bharat programmes.

41. The Indian side appreciated Russia’s participation in electronic toll collection technology based on satellite navigation technologies on Indian highways, implemented by the joint Russian-Indian company Bharat Telematic Ssystems Pvt Ltd.

42. The Sides emphasized on greater and effective usage of the International North-South Transport Corridor for cargo transport at lesser cost and time to enhance connectivity in Eurasian Space. In this context, they welcomed the signing of agreement between Russian Railways (RZD) and Concor last year to jointly develop multi-modal logistics services along INSTC route. The Russian side expressed support for India’s proposal to include Chabahar port within the framework of INSTC. They stressed that connectivity initiatives should be based on the principles of transparency, broad participation, local priorities, financial sustainability and respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity of all nations.

43. The Indian side informed that the feasibility study of the Chennai-Vladivostok Eastern Maritime Corridor is in advance stage, and the study so far done indicates an array of opportunities for increased traffic upon the successful implementation of its recommendations. The Sides expressed optimism that the implementation of the recommendations of the study will provide a fillip to the bilateral trade.

Civil Nuclear Energy and Space

44. The Sides noted the significant progress achieved in the construction of the remaining nuclear power plant units at Kudankulam. Both Sides noted the importance of continued further discussion on the second site in India; the Indian side will strive to finalize formal allotment of the second site in accordance with earlier signed agreements. They welcomed continuation of technical discussions on the VVER 1200 of the Russian design, joint manufacturing of equipment and localization of components.

45. Both Sides noted successful cooperation in the setting up of the Rooppur NPP in Bangladesh and expressed their readiness to explore similar cooperation in third countries as well.

46. The Sides welcomed the enhanced cooperation between the State Space Corporation ”Roscosmos” and the Indian Space Research Organization, including in the human spaceflight programs and satellite navigation and agreed to study the prospects of the development of mutually beneficial cooperation in the development of launch vehiclesand use of outer space for peaceful purposes, including planetary exploration.

47. The Sides welcomed the active work carried out within the framework of the Memorandum of Understanding between the State Space Corporation ”Roscosmos” and the Indian Space Research Organization on joint activities in human spaceflight program and noted with satisfaction the training of 4 Indian astronaut candidates from the ”Yu.A.Gagarin Research&Test Cosmonaut Training Center“ FSBO.

48. To facilitate further cooperation in Space, the Sides welcomed the signing of Agreement between the Government of The Republic of India and the Government of the Russian Federation on technology protection due to cooperation in field of research and use of outer space for peaceful purposes and building and operation of launch vehicles and ground-based space infrastructure.

49. Both Sides intend to strengthen cooperation within the UN Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (UN COPUOS), including the issues of the long-term sustainability of outer space activities.

Military and Military-Technical Cooperation

50. Russian side appreciated the participation of Indian Defence Minister Rajnath Singh along with a Tri-Service contingent of the Indian armed forces in the Victory Day Parade at Red Square in Moscow to commemorate the 75th Anniversary of Victory of the Soviet People in the great Patriotic War of 1941–1945.

51. Military and military-technical cooperation has traditionally been the pillar of Special and Privileged Strategic Partnership between India and Russia. Responding to India’s quest for self-sufficiency, the partnership is reorienting presently to joint research and development, co-development and joint production of advanced defence technology and systems.

52. The Sides expressed satisfaction with regular military contacts and joint exercises of the Armed Forces of the two countries which reached unprecedented heights this year with three exercises being held within a span of 60 days besides simultaneous participation of large Indian contingents in the International Army Games. The Russian side deeply appreciated participation of INS Tabar in the 325th Russian Navy Day celebrations. The Sides agreed to continue and expand regular defence dialogue, mutual training and exercises, subject matter expert exchanges and other activities under the aegis of India-Russia Intergovernmental Commission on Military and Military Technical Cooperation.

53. Both sides noted with satisfaction the successful implementation of the 2011–2020 Long-Term Program for Military and Technical Cooperation and welcomed the signing of a new long-term plan for the period 2021–2031.

54. The Sides reiterated their commitment to upgrade the defence cooperation, including facilitating joint development and production of military equipment, components and spare parts, enhancing the after-sales service system, progress towards mutual recognition of quality control and regular joint exercises of the Armed Forces of the two countries. The two leaders agreed that for peace, stability and mutual economic development, there is a need for the two countries to work closely together in the advanced and emerging fields of defence technology and for the Armed Forces of the two countries to work together in niche domains of military capabilities.

55. Both Sides agreed to take forward ongoing engagements to encourage joint manufacturing in India of spare parts, components, aggregates and other products for maintenance of Russian origin Arms and defence equipment under Make-in-India program through transfer of technology and setting up of joint ventures for meeting the needs of the Indian Armed Forces as well as subsequent export to mutually friendly third countries.

56. The Sides recognized the requirement of an institutional arrangement for reciprocal provision of logistic support and services for the Armed Forces.

Science and Technology

57. Emphasizing the importance of joint research in science, technology and innovation, the two Sides welcome the signing of Roadmap for Science, Technology & Innovation Cooperation and , expressed satisfaction with respect to launching joint calls in priority areas as states in the Roadmap.

58. The Sides expressed satisfaction on launching of India-Russia Technology Assessment and Accelerated Commercialization Program by the Department of Science & Technology, Govt. of India and Russian Foundation for Assistance to Small Industrial Enterprises (FASIE), which provides opportunities to Start-ups and SMES of the two countries to address societal challenges through innovative technologies.

59. The Sides also agreed to facilitate collaboration between government and private sector organizations to find ways of joint development of software products, platforms and services as well as in the area of electronics manufacturing. The Sides confirmed their interest in further developing cooperation in the sphere of digital technologies, including those related to information protection, security of critical infrastructure and law enforcement.

60. Thesides noted the promotion of youth exchanges by bringing together co-innovation programs at School level with the Support of Atal Innovation Mission, Niti Aayog and Talent & Success Fund (SIRIUS Centre, Sochi), Russia. These programs engaged students on both sides to generate hands-on technological solutions for societal problems such as Distance Literacy in remote areas; Rural Health & Well-being and Digital asset monitoring etc.

61. The Indian side congratulated the Russian side for its ongoing successful chairmanship of the Arctic Council from 2021–23 and expressed its readiness to play an active role as an Observer in the Arctic Council. Both sides recalled the bilateral consultations on the Arctic held last year. The Indian side also expressed its interest in collaborating with Russia on the Northern Sea Route.

Education, Culture and Tourism

62. Recognising the traditionally strong cooperation between India and Russia in the sphere of education, the Sides appreciated efforts taken by both countries to ensure well being of students during the Covid-19 pandemic.They agreed to continue their efforts in promoting educational linkages between universities and educational institutions. The Sides also agreed for organizing exchange programs for their diplomats at the respective training institutes under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

63. The Sides appreciated the successful implementation of bilateral Cultural Exchange Program, which plays a crucial role in enhancing people to people contact and noted the signing of the India Russia Cultural Exchange Programme during the summit for continuance of the bilateral cultural cooperation. It was agreed to continue the mutually beneficial practice of reciprocally holding cultural and film festivals. Need for geographical expansion of cultural exchanges and greater involvement of the youth and folk art groups was highlighted. Both Sides agreed to continue their joint efforts in promoting Russian language in India and Hindi in Russia comprehensively, including by developing contacts between relevant educational institutions. They welcomed the signing of MoU between National Sports University, Imphal, India and the Russian International Olympic University Sochi, Russia.

64. The two sides appreciated the dynamism in tourist exchanges between Russia and India.To further deepen the cooperation in tourism, the sides expressed intent to discuss ways of cooperation both at government and private sector level with the aim to enhance tourist exchanges between the two countries.

65. Both Sides welcomed progressive simplification of visa formalities, including introduction of eVisa by both countries.India has opened group tourist visa from October 15, 2021 and normal tourist visa from November 15, 2021, which would further strengthen people-to-people contacts. They agreed to continue the work on further simplification of the visa regime in future.

Cooperation in UN and Multilateral Fora

66. Both Sides noted the high level of political dialogue and cooperation on issues at the UN and agreed to deepen it further. Both Sides stressed the importance of reinvigorating multilateralism, with the central coordinating role played by the United Nations in world affairs. The Sides underlined the primacy of respect for international law and emphasized their commitment to the purposes and the principles stated in the UN Charter including the principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of Member States.

67. Russia welcomed India’s election as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council with an overwhelming majority for a two-year term. Russian side appreciated India’s UNSC priorities which include commitment to strenghthen and reform the multilateral system, rule of law, fair and equitable international system and are anchored in the Indian ethos of “Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam”, i.e. the world being one family. Both sides highlighted that India’s election to the UNSC has provided additional opportunities to coordinate efforts on most pressing issues at the UN based on mutual understanding and a shared view and approach to the global world order.

68. Both Sides called for comprehensivereform of the UNSC to reflect contemporary global realities and to make it more representative, effective and efficient in dealing with issues of international peace and security. President Putin congratulated India on its successful Presidency of the UN Security Council in the month of August and reiterated Russia’s support for India’s permanent membership of a reformed and expanded UN Security Council. Prime Minister Narendra Modi thanked President Putin for his participation in the UNSC high-level debate on Maritime Security chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on August 9, 2021 as part of India’s Presidency of the UNSC.

69. Both Sides reiterated their commitment to enhanced cooperation and close coordination in BRICS. President Putin congratulated India on its successful BRICS Chairmanship in 2021, including hosting of the XIII BRICS Summit on 9 September 2021 and adopting the New Delhi Declaration. The Sides alsowelcomed deliverables of BRICS cooperation in 2021, in particular the signing of the Agreement on BRICS Cooperation on Remote Sensing Satellite Constellation, finalization of the Agreement on BRICS Cooperation and Mutual Administrative Assistance in Customs Matters, adoption of the BRICS Counter-Terrorism Action Plan, Action Plan 2021–2024 for Agricultural Cooperation, Innovation Cooperation Action Plan 2021–2024 and establishment of the BRICS Alliance for Green Tourism. Both Sides reaffirmed their commitment to implement the Strategy for BRICS Economic Partnership 2025.

70. The Leaders recognised the role of the New Development Bank (NDB) as vital to addressing development challenges, including health and economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and encouraged the NDB to explore the possibility of financing more social infrastructure projects, including those that use digital technologies. They commended the NDB’s substantive progress in membership expansion despite challenges emanating from the COVID-19 pandemic. They reiterated that the process of expansion should be gradual and balanced in terms of geographic representation.

71. India and Russia stressed the achievements of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) in the last two decades of its operation and noted the great potential for further interaction among the SCO Member States. Both Sides will continue to strengthen the SCO as one of the key pillars of the emerging, more representative, democratic, just and multipolar world order based on international law, above all the UN Charter.

72. The Sides intend to focus particularly on increasing the effectiveness of countering terrorism, extremism, drug trafficking, cross-border organized crime, and information security threats, in particular by improving the functionality of the SCO Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure.

73. The Sides support increased role of SCO in international affairs, comprehensive development of the Organization’s contacts with the UN and its specialized agencies, and other multilateral organizations and associations. In this context, they support the establishment of official ties between the SCO and Eurasian Economic Union.

74. Both sides agreed to intensify cooperation within the RIC framework to promote common approaches to pressing issues on the global and regional agenda. The Russian side expressed appreciation for India’s chairmanship of RIC. Both Sides welcomed the results of the RIC Foreign Ministers meeting on 26 November 2021.

75. The sides highlighted their cooperation within the G20 format and agreed to intensify the same on issues of global and mutual interest, keeping in view India’s Presidency of the G20 in 2023.

76. The Both Sides strongly condemned terrorism in all its forms and manifestations and urged the international community to intensify cooperation against terrorism including safe havens, terror financing, arms and drugs trafficking, radicalization and malicious use of ICTs to spread extremist, terrorist and other illegal content.

77. Both Sides underscored the importance of implementing the UN General Assembly and the UN Security Council resolutions on countering terrorism and extremism as well as the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy, while taking into account national experiences and state specificities. Both sides reaffirmed their shared fight against international terrorism, concerted action against all terrorist groups, including those proscribed by the UN, condemned cross-border movement of terrorists and called for the perpetrators of terror attacks to be brought to justice, without any political or religious considerations. They denounced any use of terrorist proxies and emphasized the importance of denying any logistical, financial, or military support to terrorist groups to launch or plan terror attacks. Both sides reaffirmed the need to support and strengthen the FATF and the UN Office of Counter Terrorism in their shared fight against terrorism. They reaffirmed their mutual commitment to strengthening the current international drug control regime based on the three relevant United Nations conventions.

78. The Sides agreed that safeguarding of global commons including our oceans, outer space and information space should be based on the principles of transparency, accessibility and upholding international law.

79. The Sides appreciated close cooperation in the field of security in the use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) through inter-agency cooperation under bilateral mechanisms and at multilateral platforms. They highlighted the leading role of the United Nations in the decision-making process on security in the use of ICTs. The Sides also recognized the need for further work on rules, norms and principles of responsible behavior of State aimed at preventing conflicts and promoting peaceful use of ICTs. The Sides reaffirmed the importance of international cooperation against criminal use of ICTs and in this regard they welcome the establishment of an open- ended Ad hoc intergovernmental committee of experts to elaborate a comprehensive international convention on countering the use of ICTs for criminal purposes as stipulated in the UN GA resolutions 74/247 and 75/282.

80. Both sides expressed concern over the possibility of an arms race in outer space and outer space turning into an arena for military confrontation. They reaffirmed commitment to takeefforts for the prevention of an arms race in outer space and its weaponization. They stressed the paramount importance of strict compliance with existing international legal agreements providing for the peaceful uses of outer space and promoting international peace and stability, promotion of international cooperation and mutual understanding. The Sides supported negotiation of a multilateral legally binding instrument for prevention of an arms race in outer space. In this regard they noted the relevance of draft treaty on the prevention of the placement of weapons in outer space, the threat or use of force against space objects, submitted to the Conference of Disarmament for future negotiations. The sides reaffirmed that the Conference on Disarmament, is the only forum for holding multilateral negotiations on an international agreement (or agreements) on the prevention of an arms race in outer space in all its aspects.

81. The sides reaffirmed support to full and effective adherence to the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin Weapons and on their Destruction (BTWC) by all States Parties. The Sides noted that the BTWC functions including in what concerns the UNSC should not be duplicated by other mechanisms. The Sides expressed the support tostrengthening of BTWC including by adopting a protocol to the Convention providing for, inter alia, an effective compliance verification mechanism.

82. Both sides reaffirmed support to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), andtheir determination to upholdefforts and initiatives aimed at preserving the integrity of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC). They called upon the States Parties to the CWC to engage in a constructive dialogue with a view to restoring the spirit of consensus in the OPWC.

83. To address the threat of chemical and biological terrorism, both sides emphasized the need to launch multilateral negotiations on an international convention for the suppression of acts of chemical and biological terrorism at the Conference on Disarmament.

84. Both sides reaffirmed their commitment to further strengthening global efforts for non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. Russia expressed its strong support for India’s membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group. The sides urged all members of the international community to increase the level of mutual trust in order to promote global peace and security.

85. The sides discussed the evolving situation in Afghanistan, especially the security situation and its implications in the region, the current political situation, issues related to terrorism, radicalisation and drug trafficking etc. They outlined the priorities which include ensuring formation of a truly inclusive and representative government, combating terrorism and drug trafficking, providing immediate humanitarian assistance and preserving the rights of women, children and minorities.

86. The leaders reiterated strong support for a peaceful, secure and stable Afghanistan while emphasizing the respect for sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity and non-interference in its internal affairs. They also discussed the current humanitarian situation and decided to provide immediate humanitarian assistance to the Afghan people.

87. The leaders emphasised that Afghanistan’s territory should not be used for sheltering, training, planning or financing any terrorist groups including ISIS, Al Qaeda, LeT, etc. They reaffirmed their firm commitment to combat terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, including its financing, the dismantling of terrorist infrastructure and countering radicalization, to ensure that Afghanistan would never become a safe haven for global terrorism. Both sides recalled the importance of the relevant UN Resolutions on Afghanistan, as well as the recent outcome documents of Moscow format consultations and other international and regional mechanisms. The leaders emphasized the central role of the United Nations in Afghanistan.

88. The leaders welcomed close coordination between India and Russia on Afghanistan including through the creation of a permanent consultative mechanism on the issue between the Security Councils of both countries. They highly appreciated the finalisation of the Roadmap of interaction between India and Russia on Afghanistan, which symbolized convergence of views and interests of the two sides.

89. The Russian side welcomed Delhi Regional Security Dialogue on Afghanistan of National Security Advisors/Secretaries of Security Council on 10 November 2021 in New Delhi and welcomed the Delhi Declaration on Afghanistan that emerged from that meeting.

90. The sides reaffirmed their strong commitment to sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity of Syria. The sides also reaffirmed their commitment that there is no alternative to advancing a Syrian-led and Syrian-owned, UN- facilitated political process in line with the United Nations Security Council Resolution 2254 (2015) and the necessity to mobilize comprehensive humanitarian assistance to all the Syrians in need without politization and preconditions as required by UNSCR 2585(2021).

91.The sides reiterated the importance of the full implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) and UNSC Resolution 2231 and expressed their support to the relevant efforts to ensure the earliest reinvigoration of the JCPOA.

92. Both sides urged all the concerned parties to work towards denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula to promote establishment of lasting peace and stability and stressed on the need to continue dialogue to achieve this goal.

93. The sides agreed to explore mutually acceptable and beneficial areas of cooperation in third countries especially in the Central Asia, South East Asia and Africa.

94. The Sides reiterated the need to preserve and strengthen the role of the World Trade Organization for upholding a transparent, non-discriminatory, and inclusive multilateral trading system with the fundamental principles at its core. They agreed that the post-pandemic world requires diversified global value chains that are based on trust, resilience and reliability.

95. Both sides emphasized the importance of deepening regional economic cooperation to ensure sustainable socio-economic development and the implementation of the 2030 Agenda, including the expansion of cooperation within the framework of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific in such key areas as transport, energy and trade.

96. The Sides reaffirmed that the emerging regional security architecture should be free, open, transparent and inclusive, based on universally recognized principles of international law and aimed at maintaining international peace and security, developing friendly relations and mutually beneficial cooperation in the region. They agreed to strengthen joint efforts to build an architecture of equal and indivisible regional security. The Sides agreed to intensify consultations on complementarities between integration and development initiatives in greater Eurasian space and in the regions of Indian and Pacific oceans. They underscored their recognition of the ASEAN centrality in the regional architecture of security and cooperation and reiterated the importance of closer cooperation and consultations in various regional fora and initiatives such as the East Asia Summit (EAS), ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), ASEAN Defence Ministers Meeting Plus (ADMM-Plus), Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM), Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia (CICA), the Asia Cooperation Dialogue (ACD) to jointly contribute to regional peace, security and stability.

97. The Indian side looked forward to Russia’s joining of the International Solar Alliance (ISA) and the Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure (CDRI).

98. The Sides noted with satisfaction the coinciding and similar approaches to their foreign policy priorities and reaffirmed their commitment for further strengthening of the India-Russia Special and Privileged Strategic Partnership, both in the context of the current bilateral relations and in addressing regional and international issues. They expressed their mutual intention to strengthen and expand their bilateral relations for the benefit of the peoples of India and Russia.

99. President Vladimir Putin thanked Prime Minister Narendra Modi for the gracious hospitality extended to him and his delegation in New Delhi and invited him to visit Russia next year for the 22nd India-Russia Annual Summit.

New Delhi

December 6, 2021

Ghaani: Americans Must Either Leave Region or Will Be Forced To Run Away

Dec 3, 2021

By Staff, Agencies

Commander of the Islamic Revolution Guard [IRG] Quds Force, Brigadier General Esmail Ghaani said the Americans must either leave the region with humiliation or they will be forced to flee under conditions worse than what they experienced in Afghanistan.

“As already said, we once again tell the Americans that you should leave the geographical region around us … taking with you the humiliation you are facing; otherwise, you will be expelled in a way much worse than [what you experienced in] Afghanistan and you will be forced to flee,” Brigadier General Ghaani said during a commemoration ceremony in the southern Iranian city of Shiraz on Thursday.

“This is your inevitable fate,” Ghaani noted. “You should know that gone is the time when you did whatsoever you wished; the time of hit-and-run strikes is over and if you hit, you will have to wait and receive the response in the harshest way possible.”

The IRG commander said after 20 years of fighting in Afghanistan, the Americans had no choice, but to concede to negotiations and even then, they committed crimes and acts of treachery during the negotiations, and created problems for the Afghan people.

“The Americans established a government in Afghanistan in a matter of 20 years, [and created] a government that could not resist for 20 days [against the onslaught of the Taliban] and they even failed to fly their own people out of the Kabul airport,” Ghaani said.

Stressing that the US defeat in Afghanistan was the “biggest defeat” for the Americans in the last century, the senior Iranian commander said, “After the Americans… suffered defeat in Afghanistan last year, they raised many marginal and secondary issues so that the world would not realize what disgrace they experienced there.”

The US invaded Afghanistan in October 2001 following the September 11, 2001 attacks. American forces occupied the country for about two decades under the pretext of fighting against the Taliban. But as the US forces left Afghanistan, the Taliban stormed into Kabul, weakened by continued foreign occupation.

The Taliban wrested control of Afghanistan in August after a fierce offensive facilitated by a flash withdrawal of all of the United States’ forces from the country that had been announced by Washington back in April.

The government of Afghanistan rapidly collapsed on August 15, with President Ashraf Ghani fleeing the country in the face of lightning advances of the Taliban.

The group has pledged to allow the formation of a broad-based and representative government. Concerns, however, remain given its drawn-out history of violence.

Lavrov gives press conference after OSCE Ministerial Council in Stockholm

December 02, 2021

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov holds a press conference after the 28th OSCE Ministerial Council in Stockholm on Thursday, December 2. The annual OSCE Ministerial Council, chaired by Sweden, takes place on December 2-3. The ministers are expected to discuss security issues in the OSCE area and review the organisation’s activities.

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China, Russia and India: Foreign Ministers Joint Communique

November 27, 2021

Joint Communique of the 18th Meeting of the Foreign Ministers of the Russian Federation, the Republic of India and the People’s Republic of China

November 26, 2021

1. The 18th Meeting of the Foreign Ministers of the Russian Federation, the Republic of India and the People’s Republic of China was held in the digital video-conference format on 26 November 2021. The meeting took place in the backdrop of negative impacts of the global Covid-19 pandemic, on-going economic recovery as well as continuing threats of terrorism, extremism, drug trafficking, trans-national organized crime, natural and man-made disasters, food security and climate change.

2. The Ministers exchanged views on further strengthening the Russia-India-China (RIC) trilateral cooperation and also discussed various regional and international issues of importance. The Ministers recalled their last meeting in Moscow in September 2020 as well as the RIC Leaders’ Informal Summit in Osaka (Japan) in June 2019 and noted the need for regular high level meetings to foster closer cooperation among the RIC countries.

3. Expressing their solidarity with those who were negatively affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, the Ministers underlined the importance of a timely, transparent, effective and non-discriminatory international response to global health challenges including pandemics, with equitable and affordable access to medicines, vaccines and critical health supplies. They reiterated the need for continued cooperation in this fight inter-alia through sharing of vaccine doses, transfer of technology, development of local production capacities, promotion of supply chains for medical products. In this context, they noted the ongoing discussions in the WTO on COVID-19 vaccine Intellectual Property Rights waiver and the use of flexibilities of the TRIPS Agreement and the Doha Declaration on TRIPS Agreement and Public Health.

4. Emphasizing the need for collective cooperation in the fight against Covid-19 pandemic, the Ministers noted the measures being taken by the World Health Organization (WHO), governments, non-profit organisations, academia, business and industry in combating the pandemic. In this context, the Ministers called for strengthening the policy responses of WHO in the fight against Covid-19 and other global health challenges. They also called for making Covid-19 vaccination a global public good.

5. The Ministers agreed that cooperation among the RIC countries will contribute not only to their own growth but also to global peace, security, stability and development. The Ministers underlined the importance of strengthening of an open, transparent, just, inclusive, equitable and representative multi-polar international system based on respect for international law and principles enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations and central coordinating role of the United Nations in the international system.

6. The Ministers reiterated that a multi-polar and rebalanced world based on sovereign equality of nations and respect for international law and reflecting contemporary realities requires strengthening and reforming of the multilateral system. The Ministers reaffirmed their commitment to upholding international law, including the purposes and principles enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations. The Ministers acknowledged that the current interconnected international challenges should be addressed through reinvigorated and reformed multilateral system, especially of the UN and its principal organs, and other multilateral institutions such as International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Bank (WB), World Trade Organization (WTO), World Health Organization (WHO), with a view to enhancing its capacity to effectively address the diverse challenges of our time and to adapt them to 21st century realities. The Ministers recalled the 2005 World Summit Outcome document and reaffirmed the need for comprehensive reform of the UN, including its Security Council, with a view to making it more representative, effective and efficient, and to increase the representation of the developing countries so that it can adequately respond to global challenges. Foreign Ministers of China and Russia reiterated the importance they attached to the status of India in international affairs and supported its aspiration to play a greater role in the United Nations.Foreign Ministers of Russia and China congratulated India for its successful Presidency of the UNSC in August 2021.

7. Underlining the significance they attach to the intra-BRICS cooperation, the Ministers welcomed the outcomes of the 13th BRICS Summit held under India’s chairmanship on 9 September 2021. They agreed to work actively to implement the decisions of the successive BRICS Summits, deepen BRICS strategic partnership, strengthen cooperation in its three pillars namely political and security cooperation; economic and finance; and people-to-people and cultural exchanges. Russia and India extend full support to China for its BRICS Chairship in 2022 and hosting the XIV BRICS Summit.

8. In the year of the 20th Anniversary of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) the Ministers underlined that the SCO as an influential and responsible member of the modern system of international relations plays a constructive role in securing peace and sustainable development, advancing regional cooperation and consolidating ties of good-neighbourliness and mutual trust. In this context, they emphasized the importance of further strengthening the Organization’s multifaceted potential with a view to promote multilateral political, security, economic and people-to-people exchanges cooperation. The Ministers intend to pay special attention to ensuring stability in the SCO space, including to step up efforts in jointly countering terrorism, illicit drug trafficking and trans-border organized crime under the framework of SCO-Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure. They appreciated the Ministerial meeting in the SCO Contact Group on Afghanistan format held on 14th July 2021 in Dushanbe.

9. The Ministers supported the G-20’s leading role in global economic governance and international economic cooperation. They expressed their readiness to enhance communication and cooperation including through G-20 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting and other means, through consultations and mutual support in areas of respective interest.

10. The Ministers stand for maintaining and strengthening of ASEAN Centrality and the role of ASEAN-led mechanisms in the evolving regional architecture, including through fostering ties between ASEAN and other regional organizations such as the SCO, IORA, BIMSTEC. The Ministers reiterated the importance of the need for closer cooperation and consultations in various regional fora and organizations, East Asia Summit (EAS), ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), ASEAN Defence Ministers Meeting Plus (ADMM-Plus), Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM), Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia (CICA) and the Asia Cooperation Dialogue (ACD), to jointly contribute to regional peace, security and stability.

11. The Ministers consider it important to utilize the potential of the countries of the region, international organizations and multilateral associations in order to create a space in Eurasia for broad, open, mutually beneficial and equal interaction in accordance with international law and taking into account national interests. In that regard, they noted the idea of establishing a Greater Eurasian Partnership involving the SCO countries, the Eurasian Economic Union, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and other interested States and multilateral associations.

12. The Ministers condemned terrorism in all its forms and manifestations. The Ministers reaffirmed that terrorism must be comprehensively countered to achieve a world free of terrorism. They called on the international community to strengthen UN-led global counter-terrorism cooperation by fully implementing the relevant UN Security Council (UNSC) resolutions and the Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy. In this context, they called for early adoption of the UN Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism. The Ministers stressed that those committing, orchestrating, inciting or supporting, financing terrorist acts must be held accountable and brought to justice in accordance with existing international commitments on countering terrorism, including the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy, relevant UN Security Council resolutions and the FATF standards, international treaties, including on the basis of the principle “extradite or prosecute” and relevant international and bilateral obligations and in compliance with applicable domestic legislation.

13. The Ministers emphasized the importance of the three international drug control conventions and other relevant legal instruments which form the edifice of the drug control system. They reiterated their firm resolve to address the world drug problem, on a basis of common and shared responsibility. The Ministers expressed their determination to counter the spread of illicit drug trafficking in opiates and methamphetamine from Afghanistan and beyond, which poses a serious threat to regional security and stability and provides funding for terrorist organizations.

14. The Ministers reiterated the need for a holistic approach to development and security of ICTs, including technical progress, business development, safeguarding the security of States and public interests, and respecting the right to privacy of individuals. The Ministers noted that technology should be used responsibly in a human-centric manner. They underscored the leading role of the United Nations in promoting a dialogue to forge common understandings on the security of and in the use of ICTs and development of universally agreed norms, rules and principles for responsible behaviour of States in the area of ICTs and recognized the importance of strengthening its international cooperation. The Ministers recalled that the development of ICT capabilities for military purposes and the malicious use of ICTs by State and non-State actors including terrorists and criminal groups is a disturbing trend. The Ministers reaffirmed their commitment to principles of preventing conflicts stemming from the use of ICTs, as well as ensuring use of these technologies for peaceful purposes. In this context, they welcomed the work of recently concluded UN-mandated groups namely Open Ended Working Group on the developments in the fields of Information and Telecommunications in the context of international security (OEWG) and the Sixth United Nations Group of Governmental Experts (UNGGE) on Advancing responsible State behaviour in cyberspace in the context of international security and their consensual final reports. The Ministers supported the OEWG on the security of and in the use of ICTs 2021-2025.

15. The Ministers, while emphasizing the important role of the ICTs for growth and development, acknowledged the potential misuse of ICTs for criminal activities and threats. The Ministers expressed concern over the increasing level and complexity of criminal misuse of ICTs as well as the absence of a UN-led framework to counter the use of ICTs for criminal purposes. Noting that new challenges and threats in this respect require international cooperation, the Ministers appreciated the launch of the UN Open-Ended Ad-Hoc Intergovernmental Committee of Experts to elaborate a comprehensive international convention on countering the use of ICTs for criminal purposes under the auspices of the United Nations, pursuant to the United Nations General Assembly resolution 74/247.

16. The Ministers reaffirmed their commitment to broadening and strengthening the participation of emerging markets and developing countries (EMDCs) in the international economic decision-making and norm-setting processes, especially in the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic. In this regard, they emphasized the importance of constant efforts to reform the international financial architecture. They expressed concern that enhancing the voice and participation of EMDCs in the Bretton Woods institutions remains far from realization.

17. The Ministers reaffirmed their support for a transparent, open, inclusive and non-discriminatory multilateral trading system, with the World Trade Organization (WTO) at its core. In this context, they reiterated their support for the necessary reform which would preserve the centrality, core values and fundamental principles of the WTO while taking into account the interests of all members, especially developing countries and Least Developing Countries (LDCs). They emphasized the primary importance of ensuring the restoration and preservation of the normal functioning of a two-stage WTO Dispute Settlement system, including the expeditious appointment of all Appellate Body members. The post-pandemic world requires diversified global value chains that are based on resilience and reliability.

18. The Ministers agreed that the imposition of unilateral sanctions beyond those adopted by the UNSC as well as “long-arm jurisdiction” were inconsistent with the principles of international law, have reduced the effectiveness and legitimacy of the UNSC sanction regime, and had a negative impact on third States and international economic and trade relations. They called for a further consolidation and strengthening of the working methods of the UN Security Council Sanctions Committee to ensure their effectiveness, responsiveness and transparency.

19. The Ministers reaffirmed their commitment to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in its three dimensions- economic, social and environmental in a balanced and integrated manner – and reiterated that the Sustainable Development Goals are integrated and indivisible and must be achieved ‘leaving no one behind’. The Ministers called upon the international community to foster a more equitable and balanced global development partnership to address the negative impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and to accelerate the implementation of 2030 Agenda while giving special attention to the difficulties and needs of the developing countries. The Ministers urged developed countries to honour their Official Development Assistance (ODA) commitments, including the commitment to achieve the target of 0.7 percent of gross national income for official development assistance (ODA/GNI) to developing countries and to facilitate capacity building and the transfer of technology to developing countries together with additional development resources, in line with national policy objectives of the recipients.

20. The Ministers also reaffirmed their commitment to Climate action by implementation of Kyoto Protocol and Paris Agreement adopted under the principles of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), including the principle of Equity, Common But Differentiated Responsibilities, the criticality of adequate finance and technology flows, judicious use of resources and the need for sustainable lifestyles. They recognized that peaking of Greenhouse Gas Emissions will take longer for developing countries, in the context of sustainable development and efforts to eradicate poverty. They stressed the importance of a Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework that addresses the three objectives of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) in a balanced way. They welcomed the outcomes of the 26th Conference of Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP-26) and the 15th Conference of Parties of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD COP-15).

21. The Ministers underlined the imperative of dialogue to strengthen international peace and security through political and diplomatic means. The Ministers confirmed their commitment to ensure prevention of an arms race in outer space and its weaponization, through the adoption of a relevant multilateral legally binding instrument. In this regard, they noted the relevance of the draft treaty on the prevention of the placement of weapons in outer space and of the threat or use of force against outer space objects. They emphasized that the Conference on Disarmament, as the single multilateral negotiating forum on this subject, has the primary role in the negotiation of a multilateral agreement, or agreements, as appropriate, on the prevention of an arms race in outer space in all its aspects. They expressed concern over the possibility of outer space turning into an arena of military confrontation. They stressed that practical transparency and confidence building measures, such as the No First Placement initiative may also contribute towards the prevention of an arms race in outer space. The Ministers reaffirmed their support for enhancing international cooperation in outer space in accordance with international law, based on the Outer Space Treaty. They recognized, in that regard, the leading role of the UN Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS). They agreed to stand together for enhancing the long-term sustainability of outer space activities and safety of space operations through deliberations under UNCOPUOS.

22. The Ministers reiterated the importance of the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin Weapons and on their Destruction (BTWC) as a key pillar of the global disarmament and security architecture. They highlighted the need for BTWC States Parties to comply with BTWC, and actively consult one another on addressing issues through cooperation in relation to the implementation of the Convention and strengthening it, including by negotiating a legally binding Protocol for the Convention that provides for, inter alia, an efficient verification mechanism. The BTWC functions should not be duplicated by other mechanisms. They also reaffirmed support for the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) and called upon the State Parties to the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) to uphold the Convention and the integrity of the CWC and engage in a constructive dialogue with a view to restoring the spirit of consensus in the OPCW.

23. The Ministers showed deep concern about the threat of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) falling into the hands of terrorist groups, including the use of chemicals and biological agents for terrorist purposes. To address the threat of chemical and biological terrorism, they emphasized the need to launch multilateral negotiations on an international convention for the suppression of acts of chemical and biological terrorism at the Conference on Disarmament. They urged all States to take and strengthen national measures, as appropriate, to prevent terrorists from acquiring weapons of mass destruction, their means of delivery and materials and technologies related to their manufacture.

24. The Ministers noted rising concerns regarding dramatic change of the situation in Afghanistan. They reaffirmed their support for basic principle of an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace and called for formation of a truly inclusive government that represents all the major ethnic and political groups of the country. The Ministers advocated a peaceful, secure, united, sovereign, stable and prosperous inclusive Afghanistan that exists in harmony with its neighbors. They called on the Taliban to take actions in accordance with the results of all the recently held international and regional formats of interaction on Afghanistan, including the UN Resolutions on Afghanistan. Expressing concern over deteriorating humanitarian situation in Afghanistan, the Ministers called for immediate and unhindered humanitarian assistance to be provided to Afghanistan. The Ministers also emphasized on the central role of UN in Afghanistan.

25. They stressed the necessity of urgent elimination of UNSC proscribed terrorist groups such as Al-Qaeda, ISIL and others for lasting peace in Afghanistan and the region. The Ministers acknowledged the widespread and sincere demand of the Afghan people for lasting peace. They reaffirmed the importance of ensuring that the territory of Afghanistan should not be used to threaten or attack any other country, and that no Afghan group or individual should support terrorists operating on the territory of any other country.

26. The Ministers reiterated the importance of full implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) and UNSC Resolution 2231 and expressed their support to the relevant efforts to ensure the earliest reinvigoration of the JCPOA which is a landmark achievement for multilateral diplomacy and the nuclear non-proliferation.

27. The Ministers reaffirmed their strong commitment to the sovereignty, political independence, territorial integrity and unity of Myanmar. They expressed support to the efforts of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations’ (ASEAN) aimed at implementation of its Five-Point Consensus in cooperation with Myanmar. They called on all sides to refrain from violence.

28. The Ministers underlined the importance of lasting peace and security on the Korean Peninsula. They expressed their support for a peaceful, diplomatic and political solution to resolve all issues pertaining to the Korean Peninsula.

29. The Ministers welcomed the announcement of the Gaza ceasefire beginning 21 May 2021 and stressed the importance of the restoration of general stabilization. They recognized the efforts made by the UN and regional countries to prevent the hostilities from escalating. They mourned the loss of civilian lives resulting from the violence, called for the full respect of international humanitarian law and urged the international community’s immediate attention to providing humanitarian assistance to the Palestinian civilian population, particularly in Gaza. They supported in this regard the Secretary General’s call for the international community to work with the United Nations, including the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), on developing an integrated, robust package of support for a swift and sustainable reconstruction and recovery as well as for appropriate use of such aid. The Ministers reiterated their support for a two-State solution guided by the international legal framework previously in place, resulting in creating an independent and viable Palestinian State and based on the vision of a region where Israel and Palestine live side by side in peace within secure and recognised borders.

30. The Ministers reaffirmed their strong commitment to the sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity of the Syrian Arab Republic. They expressed their conviction that there can be no military solution to the Syrian conflict. They also reaffirmed their support to a Syrian-led and Syrian-owned, UN-facilitated political process in full compliance with UNSC Resolution 2254. They welcomed in this context the importance of the Constitutional Committee in Geneva, launched with the decisive participation of the countries-guarantors of the Astana Process and other states engaged in efforts to address the conflict through political means, and expressed their support to the efforts of Mr. Geir Pedersen, Special Envoy of the UN Secretary General for Syria, to ensure the sustainable and effective work of the Committee. They reiterated their conviction that in order to reach general agreement, members of the Constitutional Committee should be governed by a sense of compromise and constructive engagement without foreign interference and externally imposed timelines. They emphasized the fundamental importance of allowing unhindered humanitarian aid to all Syrians in accordance with the UN humanitarian principles and the post-conflict reconstruction of Syria that would contribute to the safe, voluntary and dignified return of Syrian refugees and internally displaced persons to their places of origin thus paving the way to achieving long-term stability and security in Syria and the region in general.

31. The Ministers expressed grave concern over the ongoing conflict in Yemen which affects the security and stability not only of Yemen, but also of the entire region, and has caused what is being called by the United Nations as the worst humanitarian crisis currently in the world. They called for a complete cessation of hostilities and the establishment of an inclusive, Yemeni-led negotiation process mediated by the UN. They also stressed the importance of providing urgent humanitarian access and assistance to all Yemenis.

32. The Ministers welcomed the formation of the new transitional Presidency Council and Government of National Unity in Libya as a positive development and hoped that it would promote reconciliation among all political parties and Libyan society, work towards restoration of peace and stability and conduct elections on 24 December 2021 to hand over power to the new government as per the wishes of the Libyan people. They also noted the important role of UN in this regard.

33. The Ministers noted that some of the planned activities under the RIC format could not take place in the physical format due to the global Covid-19 pandemic situation. They welcomed the outcomes of the 18th RIC Trilateral Academic Conference organized by the Indian Council of World Affairs, New Delhi (ICWA) in the video-conference format on 22-23 April 2021. In this context, they also commended the contribution of the Institute of Chinese Studies (New Delhi), Institute of Far Eastern Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences (Moscow) and China Institute of International Studies (Beijing) in establishing the RIC Academic Conference as the premier annual analytical forum for deepening RIC cooperation in diverse fields.

34. The Ministers expressed their support to China to host Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games.

35. Foreign Minister of the People’s Republic of China and the Foreign Minister of the Russian Federation thanked the External Affairs Minister of India for successful organization of the RIC Foreign Ministers Meeting. External Affairs Minister of India passed on the chairmanship in the RIC format to the Foreign Minister of the People’s Republic of China. The date and venue of the next RIC Foreign Ministers Meeting will be agreed upon through the diplomatic channels.

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