Trump Bans Disclosure of Civilian Deaths by Drone Strikes

By Stephen Lendman
Source

The US, NATO, and Israel indiscriminately massacre civilians when attacking targeted nations or Palestinians.

For Israel, it’s official policy under its Dahiya doctrine, unlawfully calling civilians legitimate targets, including women, children, infants, the elderly and infirm.

Former IDF Northern commander Gadi Eisenkot explained it as follows, saying:

From dozens of command centers worldwide, Pentagon and CIA personnel operate predator drones, sanitizing mass slaughter on the cheap compared to manned warplanes and ground troops.

Teams of remote warriors work far from or close to battlefields. Drone pilots operate computer keyboards and multiple monitors, sensor staff working with them, handling TV and infrared cameras, as well as other high-tech drone sensors. 

Faceless enemies nearby or half a world away are attacked. Virtual war kills like sport, drone warriors never witnessing deadly bloodshed, dismembered bodies, and human suffering close up – guiding weapons with joysticks and monitors like video games.

According to an earlier Congressional Research Service report, around one-third of US warplanes are drones (unmanned aerial vehicles – UAVs) – up from 5% early in the new millennium.

UAVs were first used in Vietnam as reconnaissance platforms. In the 1980s, Harpy air defense suppression system radar killer drones were employed. In the Gulf War, unmanned combat air systems (UCAS) and X-45 air vehicles were used.

Others were deployed in Bosnia in 1995 and against Serbia in 1999. They’re now commonly used in all US wars. Under unofficial rules of engagement, anything goes, international and US statute laws of war long ago abandoned. 

“We will apply disproportionate force at the heart of the enemy’s weak spot (civilians) and cause great damage and destruction,” adding: 

“From our standpoint, these are not civilian villages (towns or cities). They are military bases. This is not a recommendation. This is a plan. And it has been approved” – notably against Gaza.

The US and NATO operate the same way without publicly affirming it as official policy. Drone wars are a notorious example. 

An earlier report prepared jointly by Stanford University’s International Human Rights and Conflict Resolution Clinic and New York University School of Law’s Global Justice Clinic (NYU-SU) titled “Living Under Drones” explained their harm to civilians.

Official claims about precise, effective “targeted killings (with) minimal downsides or collateral impacts,” making the US safer, is utter rubbish. Polar opposite is true, confirmed by first-hand evidence.

Drone strikes eliminate few so-called “high-value targets,” at most around 2% of individuals killed, SU/NYU saying:

“US drone strike policies cause considerable and under-accounted-for harm to the daily lives of ordinary civilians, beyond death and physical injury.”

“Their presence terrorizes men, women, and children, giving rise to anxiety and psychological trauma among civilian communities.”

“Those living under drones have to face the constant worry that a deadly strike may be fired at any moment, and the knowledge that they are powerless to protect themselves. These fears have affected behavior.”

Targeted areas are struck multiple times in quick succession – the practice called “double tap,” dissuading bystanders and professionals from helping.

Drone wars are lawless and largely secret, transparency and accountability absent, SU/NYU saying a “significant rethinking (of policy is) long overdue…(noncombatants) suffering real harm.”

An earlier report prepared jointly by Stanford University’s International Human Rights and Conflict Resolution Clinic and New York University School of Law’s Global Justice Clinic (NYU-SU) titled “Living Under Drones” explained their harm to civilians.

Official claims about precise, effective “targeted killings (with) minimal downsides or collateral impacts,” making the US safer, is utter rubbish. Polar opposite is true, confirmed by first-hand evidence.

Drone strikes eliminate few so-called “high-value targets,” at most around 2% of individuals killed, SU/NYU saying:

“US drone strike policies cause considerable and under-accounted-for harm to the daily lives of ordinary civilians, beyond death and physical injury.”

“Their presence terrorizes men, women, and children, giving rise to anxiety and psychological trauma among civilian communities.”

“Those living under drones have to face the constant worry that a deadly strike may be fired at any moment, and the knowledge that they are powerless to protect themselves. These fears have affected behavior.”

Targeted areas are struck multiple times in quick succession – the practice called “double tap,” dissuading bystanders and professionals from helping.

Drone wars are lawless and largely secret, transparency and accountability absent, SU/NYU saying a “significant rethinking (of policy is) long overdue…(noncombatants) suffering real harm.”

According to UK-based Reprieve, drone strikes greatly increased under Trump in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia, and Yemen, adding:

“…America’s illegal drone war has expanded (greatly) across the globe, (Trump) increas(ing) and widen(ing) drone strikes…systematically weaken(ing) safeguards.”

“(E)ven individuals not considered to pose a ‘continuing and imminent threat’ can be targeted for death without trial” under a secret assassination program – murder by drones, conventional warplanes, and/or special forces operations.

Mindless of the devastating human toll, Trump continues Obama’s so-called “disposition matrix,” his “kill list,” orchestrated by then-CIA director John Brennan.

According to Reprieve, “(t)he CIA’s own leaked documents concede that the US often does not know who it is killing, and that militant leaders’ account for just 2% of drone-related deaths.”

All US wars violate fundamental international and domestic rule of law principles. Millions of post-9/11 casualties were and continue to be civilians – the toll largely suppressed in the mainstream.

Trump’s EO compounds longstanding US suppression of the human toll and devastation from US wars of aggression.

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“Killer Diplomacy”: The Kim-Trump Summit in Hanoi, Sabotaged by Mike Pompeo?

“If Kim Jong-un suddenly dies, don’t ask me about it”… Given the history of the CIA, I’m just not going to talk about it,” (Pompeo, October 2017). And you expect the DPRK to Trust Washington’s Chief Negotiator

Global Research, March 01, 2019

Polite diplomacy over the dinner table. Smiles on both sides. A nice private dinner. “Everybody is having a good time. Hope so”, says Trump.

Trump and Kim met before the formal dinner party for about half an hour. Kim smiled and said:

“We have exchanged in a very interesting dialogue with each other for about 30 minutes”.

Trump responds with a smile “yes it was good”.

“So we’re going to have a very busy day tomorrow, says Trump.

“And a lot of things are going to be solved. I hope. and I Think it will lead to a really wonderful situation long term… And our relationship is a very special relationship”.

Ultimately, however, there was no official statement or joint communique. What happened. What went wrong?

.Prior to the Hanoi encounter, Trump intimated that if a moratorium on nuclear missile testing by the DPRK was reached, he would be satisfied.  And that this commitment would then lead to subsequent negotiations.

But this stance was not shared by his top advisers:

“Senior Trump aides have privately expressed skepticism … Some fear that Trump could feel pressure to make a major concession to Kim during face-to-face talks, including a one-on-one session, in hopes of securing a reciprocal commitment he can herald as a political victory. (WPo, February 24, 2018, emphasis added)

Who are these “Senior Trump aides”? The WPo fails to mention the central role of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo who was put in charge of the negotiations from the very outset in 2017 when he was head of the CIA.

While we are not privy to what was discussed behind closed doors (with the two leaders and their senior advisors), or what was discussed by Pompeo and Kim Yong-chol in meetings prior to the Hanoi venue, there is evidence that Pompeo was instrumental in the sabotage of peace negotiations both in Singapore and Hanoi.

Back in October 2017, a few months following the beginning of negotations with the DPRK, Pompeo while he was head of the CIA, had hinted in a public statement that Kim Jong-un was on the CIA assassination list:

“If Kim Jong-un suddenly dies, don’t ask me about it”, says CIA chief

“With respect, if Kim Jong-un should vanish, given the history of the CIA, I’m just not going to talk about it,”

“We are going to become a much more vicious agency …

… “The president’s made it very clear. He’s prepared to ensure that Kim Jong-un doesn’t have the capacity to hold America at risk. By military force if necessary.”

SCMP October 2017

SCMP, July 20, 2018

This was a deliberate act of provocation,

“Killer Diplomacy”

From the outset the DPRK does not trust Washington’s Peace Negotiator.

Pompeo should be removed from the peace negotiation process which eventually requires the repeal of the 1953 armistice agreement and the signing of a peace agreement with the DPRK and China.

In a bitter irony, the same Mike Pompeo who casually refers to the “CIA history” of political assassinations, had come to play a central role in “peace” negotiations together with his North Korea envoy, Stephen Biegun.

Pyongyang was fully aware of the assassination list. But Pompeo deliberately chose to make it public prior to the conduct of negotiations with a political leader who is on the CIA hit list. This is tantamount to saying to Kim: “Lets negotiate but I want to kill you”. 

Not surprisingly, in the followup US-DPRK negotiations with Pompeo held in Pyongyang in the wake of the Singapore Summit (June 12-14, 2018), the DPRK accused the Trump administration of pushing a “unilateral and gangster-like demand for denuclearization.”  The statement was directed against Pompeo who was in charge of the negotiations on behalf of president Trump.

“We still cherish our good faith in President Trump … But, the U.S. side [Pompeo] came up only with its unilateral and gangster-like demand for denuclearization…The U.S. side [Pompeo] never mentioned the issue of establishing a peace regime on the Korean peninsula which is essential for defusing tension and preventing a war.” (DPRK Statement, July 8, 2018, emphasis added)

Second Day of the Hanoi Summit

Flash Forward to Hanoi, February 27, 2019: Both leaders expressed their optimism “for continuing the great dialogue”.

“I am in no rush,” Trump said alongside Kim. “What is important is that we do the right deal.”

Acknowledged by Trump, the DPRK has not fired a single nuclear ballistic test missile since late 2017.

“To me, I very much appreciate no testing of nuclear rockets and missiles,” Trump added.

Both leaders were committed to achieving a positive outcome:

The decision to “permanently shut down” Yongbyon nuclear complex, one of the DPRK’s main nuclear research centers located in the west of the country, and Tongchang-ri missile engine test site, was made last September. Pyongyang also stated that the DPRK is willing to invite international experts to watch the dismantling or even take additional denuclearization steps if there are corresponding actions from the U.S. (CGTN, February 27, 2019)

Prior to the final wrap-up session, the two leaders had a fruitful “one-on-one meeting” of about 45 minutes. (“Senior political aides” feared the one-on-one session which provided leverage to Trump to strike a deal with Kim, as reported by the WaPo, see above).

About-Turn

And then there was an about-turn at the final session attended by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and DPRK’ vice chairman of the Workers Party of Korea (WPK) Central Committee Kim Yong-chol.  

On the US side, this outcome had been planned well ahead of the Hanoi venue in Washington in consultations with the CIA, State Department and Pentagon including National Security Advisor John Bolton.

Screenshot, scroll down for video

Nothing concrete emerged. Why did things go wrong?  The meeting behind closed doors with senior advisors (and translators) led to an impasse.

The US failed to provide anything in exchange for the DPRK’s commitment to denuclearization. Did Pompeo play a central role in deliberately sabotaging the peace process at the wrap up session behind closed doors?

No final communique. The US refused to lift the sanctions regime.

See Video below

Final wrap-up meeting at 1’38”

See press conference statement by Trump at 2′.15″

“Basically they wanted the sanctions removed in their entirety and we could not do that. They are willing to denuke a large part of the areas we wanted. But we could not give up all of the sanctions”, said Trump.

 “Sometimes you have to walk, and this was just one of those times.”

Trump’s statement regarding the removal of the sanctions is a lie.

The DPRK had requested the partial removal of sanctions and that request was turned down. See Foreign Minister’s statement below at DPRK press conference.

2’50” DPRK Foreign Minister Ri Yon-ho

“If the US removes the sanctions that hamper the civilian economy and the livelihood of our people in particular, we will permanently and completely dismantle the nuclear production facilities in the Yogbyon area, including plutonium and uranium in the presence of US experts by the joint force of technicians in bothe countries.”

….

“What we have asked for was partial lifting of sanctions, not entirely.

In detail, we asked to lift five sanctions that were imposed within 2016 and 2017, out of a total of 11 sanctions, which would affect ordinary people’s economy and life,”( Statement of the DPRK Foreign Minister Ri Yon-ho).

 

Final Press Conference and Statements (WaPo video)

https://www.washingtonpost.com/video/c/embed/c8720ca1-5ace-4bc1-b910-aecdc5cdeb81

 

https://news.cgtn.com/news/3d3d774d3263544f32457a6333566d54/index.html

Pakistan in the Crosshairs of New US Aggression

Pakistan in the Crosshairs of New US Aggression

Pakistan in the Crosshairs of New US Aggression

With events escalating quickly in Kashmir it’s incumbent to ask the most pertinent questions in geopolitics.

Why there?

And, Why Now?

Why Kashmir?

India and Pakistan are both making serious moves to slip out from underneath the US’s external control. India has openly defied the US on buying S-400 missile defense systems, keeping up its oil trade with Iran and developing the important Iranian port at Chabahar to help complete an almost private spur of the North South Transport Corridor.

Pakistan, under new Prime Minister Imran Khan is trying to square accounts with China over its massive investment for its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) known as the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). It has also been at the forefront of multiple rounds of talks spurred by the Russians and Iranians to forge some kind of peace in Afghanistan.

And the Trump administration cut off US aid to Pakistan for not being sufficiently helpful in the fight against terrorism. This opened up a war of words between Trump and Khan who reminded Trump that the little bit of money the US sent Pakistan nothing compared to the losses both economic and personal.

If there was ever the possibility of peace breaking out between India and Pakistan it would be in the context of stitching the two countries together through China’s regional plans as well as solving the thorny problem of continued US and NATO occupation of Afghanistan.

Anything that can be done to flare up tensions between these two adversaries then serves the US’s goals of sowing chaos and division to keep the things from progressing smoothly. Khan was elected to, in effect, drain the Pakistani Swamp. His, like Trump’s, is a tall order.

And at this point it looks like he’s still willing to give it a go as opposed to Trump who is simply revealing himself to be a thin-skinned version of Barack Obama, albeit with a distinctly orange hue.

But, still why right now?

Because Trump is distracted with his latest love affair with himself – taking credit for a Korean peace process that will proceed with or without him at this point. All he can do is slow it down, which is exactly what his Secretary of State has been doing since last year’s meeting in Singapore.

And that leaves people like John Bolton and the rest of the worst people in D.C. to go to work undermining an entire region of the world.

Last weekend’s terrorist attack was a planned provocation to produce the very outcome we have today. Jaish-e-Mohammed have too many direct and indirect links to Bush the Lesser era programs and Saudi Arabia to be ignored.

This attack happens just days after Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman comes rushing in to save Pakistan’s dwindling foreign exchange reserves with promises of $10 billion to build a refinery of Saudi oil at the (now Chinese) port of Gwadar.

There are no coincidences in geopolitics. Timing is everything.

It reminds me of the flare up in Nagorno-Karabakh between Armenia and Azerbaijan in 2016. Then Secretary of State John Kerry meets with Azeri leader Ilham Aliyev on a Wednesday and by Sunday a nearly twenty-year peace was broken.

National Security Advisor John Bolton is desperate to keep Trump from pulling half of the troops out of Afghanistan. After a disastrous “Let Make War on Iran” conference in Warsaw two weeks ago, Bolton, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu were reeling from having obtained no support outside of those already committed to such a plan.

Europe roundly said no, other than willing satrap Poland, still hoping Daddy Trump will save them from the mean old Nordstream 2 pipeline.

As Alistair Crooke pointed out recently, Bolton is putting pressure on Pakistan to forge a peace agreement with the Taliban which somehow allows for the US to maintain all of its troop presence there.

Washington is now embracing Pakistan (with Saudi Arabia and UAE writing the cheques). And Washington looks to Pakistan rather, not so much to contain and disrupt the Taliban, but to co-opt it through a ‘peace accord’ into accepting to be another US military ‘hub’ to match America’s revamped military ‘hub’ in Erbil (the Kurdish part of Iraq, which borders the Kurdish provinces of Iran). As a former Indian Ambassador, MK Bhadrakumar explains:

“What the Saudis and Emiratis are expecting as follow-up in the near future is a certain “rebooting” of the traditional Afghan-Islamist ideology of the Taliban and its quintessentially nationalistic “Afghan-centric” outlook with a significant dosage of Wahhabi indoctrination … [so as to] make it possible [to] integrate the Taliban into the global jihadi network and co-habitate it with extremist organisations such as the variants of Islamic State or al-Qaeda … so that geopolitical projects can be undertaken in regions such as Central Asia and the Caucasus or Iran from the Afghan soil, under a comprador Taliban leadership”.

Bolton was also able to get Trump to agree to pull most of the troops out of Syria, leave just enough behind to call in airstrikes to protect what’s left of ISIS and relocate the rest to Iraq.

Trump gets to say he fulfilled a campaign promise, and everyone’s plans for War with Iran stays on schedule.

So, if I’m right (and there’s no guarantee that I am) what purpose does poking a fight between India and Pakistan serve?

Many, unfortunately.

1. One it sells the regional chaos angle about the need to continue the War on Terror.

2. ISIS is gone but we still have to fight Iran.

3. It punishes India for daring to get off the reservation.

4. It reminds Khan just how tenuous his hold on power is.

5. It is a warning to China that the US will risk everything to not lose the Heartland.

Add in the proximity to the Trump-Kim meeting as well as the fractious trade talks with China and you have an orgy of related news all at the same time to drive the point home.

Bolton, the Brits, France and Netanyahu were willing to risk World War III in Syria to create a false flag event in which Russia attacked a NATO target – the downing of the IL-20 ELINT aircraft last September.

Do you not think these insane animals wouldn’t risk a nuclear conflict between Pakistan and India to blow up (literally) China’s plans to win the biggest prize in geopolitics?

If you don’t then you haven’t been paying attention.

Both Imran Khan and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi need to keep their heads here. Modi has an election coming up later this year. I’m sure the calculus was that he would jump at the opportunity to burnish his cred with voters by lobbing a few bombs inside Pakistan. For Khan, this is the first real test of his leadership and he has to resist the siren’s call of the Saudi’s money to balance all sides of the equation while de-escalating this situation as quickly as possible.

One thing is for certain, we haven’t seen the last of this.

Photo: Flickr

The Other Ukraine

Source

by arras for The Saker blogThe Other Ukraine

Ukraine is a country in the Eastern Europe, which doesn’t require introduction to most readers as it was and still is filling pages of the newspapers and screens of a TVs. Courtesy of ongoing geopolitical conflict between the United States and the Russian Federation there. Some say, this is a conflict between East and West and thus suggesting that it is not just a place of competition between the world great powers, but between cultures and civilizations.

This conflict isn’t new to Ukraine. Ukraine is one of those places, where history never falls asleep it merely takes short naps. After the last nap, which we call the Cold War, history is back in Ukraine, writing new pages full of dramatic lines.

However, Ukraine has a sister. It was on the front pages of the newspapers as well not long time ago and it is also rich with dramatic history. The fate and history of both, including the most recent history, bears remarkable similarity and many parallels. Parallels that I intend to show you.

The name of the “other” Ukraine is Krajina and a reader might remember it as a place in the Balkans, which was one of the frontlines of the civil war in Yugoslavia. Krajina is a part of Croatia, but historically it was inhabited by the Serbs. The name of Ukraine in the native Slavic languages is “Ukrajina” and thus the difference in the name is just a prefix “U”. That’s not by a coincidence. Ukrajina and Krajina are the virtually same word, just pronounced slightly different in different Slavic languages. In English, it means “edge”, “margin”, “frontier” or “borderland” and that’s exactly what Ukraine and Krajina were. They were one of those places where realms, cultures, civilizations and empires converged and clashed. Seems they still are, and because of that, Ukraine and Krajina were not just ordinary frontiers, they were military frontiers. Romans used to call such places as “limes” and in the Western Medieval Europe, they were called as “march” or “mark” – ruled by “marquis” and of the same etymological origin as the word “margin”.

Ukraine was a borderland between Russia, Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and Crimean Khanate which itself was a remnant of the mighty Mongol Empire and at that time, it was a protectorate of the Ottoman Empire. Today Poland and Lithuania might seem like small countries compared to Russia while Crimean Khanate doesn’t even exist, but back in medieval and early modern era these were powerful realms vying for control over the whole region of the Eastern Europe. Krajina together with the similar region called Vojvodina on the other hand was a borderland between the Austro-Hungarian Empire and the Ottoman Empire. These places, were such powerful states, even religions and civilizations met weren’t the most peaceful ones and not very well suited for long prosperous life. They were in the state of almost perpetual conflict and war, because even if realms were in formal peace, irregular forces and local chieftains and feudal lords carried raids across the border seeking plunder or revenge, often with the silent consent of their sovereigns. Today we call it a hybrid war and plausible deniability. For that reason, such military frontiers had special status and were organized according to the military rather than civilian principles. Their purpose was to serve as a buffer zone, which was supposed to shield deeper inland territories from enemy attacks and raids and as a staging place for own attacks and raids against the enemy. Traditionally military settlers who had special status populated such territories. These settlers were typically freemen, as opposed to serfs in more secure territories and were exempt of taxes. Instead, they were obliged to carry military service on the border. Being half soldiers, half farmers, these men weren’t the best trained, equipped and disciplined comparing to the regular troops, but they were always available on the spot and required little or no pay as they supported themselves from their land which they supplemented with plunder from lands of the enemy.

These military settlers were often recruited from refugees. In the case of Ukraine, these were the peasants fleeing wars between Russia and Mongol Golden Horde in the east on the one hand and on the other advancing feudalization of Russia itself, which saw farmers being forced in to serfdom in the increasing numbers. Refugees were fleeing to the areas away from the main conflict and out of the reach of the central authorities. Here they begun to organize in to small communities and as soon as the situation in the central parts of Russia was consolidated and Russia has emerged victorious from the wars with Golden Horde and its successor khanates, these communities came in to attention of the Russian authorities who begun to utilize them as military settlers, giving them lands and tax exemption in return for the military service. Thus famous Cossacks were born. The word Kazak, which is Russian for Cossack, is of Turkic, not Slavic origin, and it is assumed to be originally describing nomadic mercenaries hired by the Russian princes to fight in their wars. Later it was used to describe men for hire, both in civilian and military roles and that is likely how it was originally applied to the people we now know as Cossacks.

It should be noted however that modern Ukraine is not identical to historical Ukraine. Historical Ukraine was much smaller compared to modern Ukraine and it never was official name of some administrative region with definitive borders. Not until the creation of the modern Ukraine at the end of the First World War. This term was vaguely applied to the lands that were bordering Russia, Poland-Lithuania and Crimean Khanate, border that kept changing with the fortunes in wars. Moreover, Russia did not had just one Ukraine, there were several ukraines and “little” ukraines (ukrajinka) all along Russia’s sensitive borders. There were ukraines in the west, on the territory of contemporary Belarus, there were ukraines in the south near Caucasus Mountains and there were ukrainas in the Eastern Siberia. Only in the north where Russia shared a border with polar bears, Russia did not have ukraine. However, as Russia kept growing in power, securing its borders or expanding them further, most of the other historical ukraines disappeared and the one that was left longest became The Ukraine. Consequently, Cossacks did not exist only in Ukraine, there were and in some cases still are other Cossacks. Cossacks on the rivers Volga and Don, Siberian Cossacks and Terek Cossacks in the Caucasus to name the most notable ones. Russians were not the only ones who recognized usefulness of Cossacks either, Poles and Tatars were actively using them as well. Cossacks themselves were keen on exploiting conflicts between those powers to extract political and economic advantages for themselves.

Delineatio Generalis Camporum Desertorum vulgo Ukraina cum adjacentibus Provinciis-General Draving of the Deserted Fields, vulgarly known as Ukraine together with its neighbouring Provinces by French cartographer Guillaume Le Vasseur de Beauplan (1600-1673), note that North is down and South is up): source: Wikipedia

Military settlers in Krajina on the other hand were recruited mostly from Serbs, Vlachs (Romanians) and Croats fleeing Ottoman Turks who conquered Constantinople, capital of the East Roman Empire (also known as Byzantium) and defeated the kingdom of Serbia and the fragments of Bulgarian empire in the Balkans and were aggressively pushing north towards the Central Europe engaging with Hungarians and Austrians. That’s how Krajina got its Serbian population. Just like in Russia, historical Krajina does not necessarily copy the borders of what is considered Krajina in Croatia today. And just like in Russia, there are other krajinas elsewhere in Balkans. Bosanska Krajina near Banja Luka, Timocka Krajina between Serbia and Bulgaria, to name a few. In 1881, with the danger of Ottoman incursions all but disappearing, Austrian Emperors dissolved Krajina as an administrative region and incorporated it in to the kingdom of Croatia.

Map of the Krajina (in red) cca 1800:source: Wikipedia

While Cossacks are widely known as famous horsemen, a few people know that Krajina, and neighboring regions of Balkans are where the other most famous light cavalry of Europe comes from. Not less famous Hussars. Hussars were originally irregular cavalry from Balkans. Hungarian kings and Austrian emperors who employed them in their armies introduced them to the Western Europe, where they were quickly copied and adopted by the other armies for their effectiveness. With the advent of firearms, European knights in their shining expensive armors, riding heavy warhorses were gradually withdrawn from the battlefields as European armies begun to appreciate less heavily armed cavalry in their place, which substituted speed and agility for direct protection and ambushes and flanking for charges in to the enemy front lines. And that’s where experience of combating Turks and Tatars of Asia who always preferred lighter cavalry came in handy. Through centuries of constant fighting, Cossacks and Hussars adapted themselves to the fighting methods of their opponents and adopted many elements of their equipment and tactics. Not everybody though served in the cavalry and contrary to popular belief, most Cossacks served as infantrymen. Horse, especially saddle horse back in those days was something that only the wealthiest Cossacks could afford.

Hungarian hussar in the 16th century. Woodcut by Jost Amman:source: Wikipedia

When Ottoman and Austro-Hungarian empires collapsed in the flames of the Balkan Wars and the First World War, which had aroused from the conflict over the Bosnia, Croatia and Serbia joined Yugoslavia, a new state that supposed to unite all the Slavic people of the Balkans. Krajina ceased to be a province on the edge and it seemed that history there would slow down. Nevertheless, history just took a nap. On April 1941, German army invaded Yugoslavia under Adolf Hitler’s orders and Yugoslavia quickly fell apart. In Croatia, with the support of the Germans, puppet state with the pro-German fascist political party of Ustashe in power was established. Ethnic cleansing campaign and persecution of Serbs and other minorities followed, and lasted until the defeat of Nazi Germany in the WWII. The exact number of Serbs who perished in those repressions is unknown, estimates vary between 300,000 and 500,000. About 50,000 alone died in one of the concentration camps in Jasenovac.

With the National Socialist Germany and their allies defeated, Yugoslavia was reinstated under the leadership of the Communist party and a war hero Josip Bros Tito. Whereas survived Nazi collaborators found a shelter under the wings of the US and British secret services in the West Germany, Canada, USA and Australia. Unlike Nazi scientists, they did not possess any great knowledge or technical skills, but experience of political repression and anti-guerrilla warfare were of the value for the CIA in the upcoming Cold War. The end justifies the means. Interestingly enough, Ustashe from Balkans found themselves thriving at the same centers and under generous tutelage of the same secret services of the same governments as Nazi collaborators from Ukraine – the infamous UPA (Ukrainian Insurgent Army) and its political leaders like Stephan Bandera. In some instances, political and cultural institutions of the Ustashe and UPA were located on the same streets, sometimes even inside the same buildings of Western cities like Munich. Just like Ustashe, the WWII records of UPA are full of the ethnic cleansings, mass murders and war crimes against civilian population that did not fit UPA’s racial and ethnic standards. Now they were to be sustained like bacteria of a biological weapon on a Petri dish in CIA laboratories, waiting for their time.

Ironically, their time did not come during the Cold War, even when there were some failed attempts to utilize them. Their time came with the end of the Cold War and fall of the Communist rule in the Eastern Europe and the collapse of the Soviet Union. The easiest way to destroy multinational country is to start ethnic conflicts between the peoples of a country itself and let them destroy it themselves. Under Tito, who himself was from mixed Croat-Slovenian family, stability was maintained between the various ethnic groups dwelling in Yugoslavia, but that balance was fragile and rested to a large extend on the authority of Tito himself. With his death, the institutions of the state and the way Yugoslavia was constructed came for a test.

Yugoslavia was constructed as a federation in such a way, as to prevent any one of the constituent nations from dominating the state. Serbs were always the most numerous and therefore strongest nationality in Yugoslavia and other nationalities, particularly Croats and Slovenians feared that Serbs would dominate the state. Not without a good reason either as interwar Yugoslavia indeed ended up being dominated by the Serbs and their elite. To prevent that, in post war Yugoslavia, Serbia was divided in to four parts: republics of Serbia and Montenegro and autonomous regions of Kosovo and Vojvodina. Later three had significant non-Serbian ethnic minorities. That accomplished the goal of creating a balance between the powers of national republics inside Yugoslavia, but it inevitably created feeling of injustice among the Serbs. It was only Serbia which was divided and weakened in such a way, neither Croatia, nor Bosnia or Macedonia were divided even if they too had regions with ethnic minorities present. Serbs in Krajina were an example and Bosnia was heterogeneous to such extent, that it was sometimes nicknamed as Little Yugoslavia.

After period of unsuccessful Communist experimenting with creating single Yugoslav supranational identity, which would replace individual nationalities, Tito and his Communists went the other way and in the new constitution of 1974 tried to placate nationalist sentiments by bestowing more power on to the republics and strengthening autonomy of the regions. In Voivodina, Montenegro and Kosovo that led to an increasing cultural, economic and political pressure against Serbs who became convinced that system inside Yugoslavia works at their expense and they are loosing. In Kosovo where Albanian population was steadily increasing due to immigration from Albania and higher birth rates, issue was especially sensitive because Serbs consider Kosovo to be historical cradle of their civilization.

But any attempts to change the situation by the Serbs, inevitably led to the reaction in the other republics creating endless spiral of increasing suspicion and tensions between the republics. With the economy and central institutions weakened by the gradual decline in the power of the Communists and change of the political and economic situation in the whole of Eastern Europe, it required only a gentle push from the outside to spark ethnic conflict. That’s were Ustashe and other similar groups been held in the reserve during the Cold War in the West were finally put to a good use. Under disguise of democracy and freedom of speech, they were re-imported back in to their countries of origin along with the literature and propaganda created around their ideologies in the Cold War exile thanks to the generous US and German sponsorship. Money from Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries played similar role in the Muslim communities of Yugoslavia.

Eventually it brought yields. Spinning in spasms, in 1990 Yugoslavia has arrived at the cliff when constitutional crisis completely paralyzed federal institutions, including Communist party itself. Republics were fighting each other. The only significant federal institution left willing to defend Yugoslavia was its army. However, army required an order from politicians to start acting, and there was no one to issue it. Yugoslavia was going to dissolve. The only question was how and when.

Anybody remotely familiar with Yugoslavia, knew, that if it would be done in unilateral uncontrolled manner, it would lead to a war. Only in Slovenia, the administrative borders were identical to the ethnic borders. The rest of Yugoslavia had ethnic minorities living all over the place. This was also well known in Washington and Berlin. Despite, or may be because of it, Washington and Berlin chose exactly this option even against the warnings from other European capitals. Berlin was the first to recognize independent Slovenian and Croatian states and hence British diplomats unofficially named the war that begun immediately in Croatia as “Gensher’s war“, after German foreign minister at that time Hans-Dietrich Gensher.

Single picture that explains civil war in Yugoslavia:source: Wikipedia

When Croatian government declared independence from Yugoslavia in 1991, Serbs of Krajina in response declared their own independence from Croatia. All peoples have equal rights for independence. Right? Wrong. “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others” to paraphrase George Orwell and his famous book. Everybody likes to be independent himself, but not when others want to be independence at his expense. Croats are no different and independence of Republic of Serbian Krajina, which is how Serbs named their new country, was met with more than a strong disapproval in Zagreb, the capital of Croatia. A conflict flared almost immediately and it set off bloody civil war that engulfed other parts of Yugoslavia, eventually ending its existence.

When declaring independence, the most important thing isn’t who has the right for independence and who does not, the most important thing is who supports it. And here Serbs of Krajina were placed at a disadvantage because they were supported only by small Serbia, which itself was having plenty of problems inside, while Croats were supported by several world’s most powerful countries – USA, Germany and the entire NATO alliance. Serbs held for several years, but at the end fight was just too uneven. It ended when Croatian forces supported by the USA and Germany overrun Serbian lines manned mostly by local militiamen on August 1995 and proceeded to ethnically cleanse Krajina of its Serbian inhabitants for good. Up to 1500 of them lost their lives, 2/3 of that number were civilians and up to 200,000 had to flee to Serbia and Bosnia. It was one of the two places in former Yugoslavia, where an entire historical region was ethnically cleansed of its population during the civil war. The other region being ethnically cleansed of Serbs was Kosovo, also with the support of the USA and it’s allies. The irony that is still carefully hidden from the public by the politicians and journalists in Washington, London and Berlin who worked tirelessly to convince people in their countries that those are Serbs who perpetrate crime of ethnic cleansing and had to be stopped by noble and smart bombs, enriched with uranium. Everyone else were portrayed as victims. It was a deliberate lie. Even supposed plan of ethnic cleansing of Albanians in Kosovo by the Serbs, named “Operation Horseshoe” which served as a pretext for bombing of Serbia itself by the NATO forces, was after the war exposed as entirely fabricated by the German secret service BND with the help of Bulgarian government. To be sure, there were plenty of cases of local ethnic cleansing, perpetrated by all sides of the civil war, Serbian one including, but not on the scale of the entire historical regions like Krajina or Kosovo. Nevertheless, ethnic cleansing wasn’t the real reason for the intervention, the real reason was that USA, Germany and EU wanted Yugoslavia to be gone and Serbs in Krajina and Kosovo stood in their way. Yugoslavia was too large to be incorporated in to the EU and NATO, one has to join the EU and NATO as weak as possible and under the conditions favoring those who are in charge of the EU and NATO. Conditions that demand political, economic and cultural subordination and transfer of the control over national resources and markets to the global corporations. Corporations of the global Empire. Therefore, Serbs of Krajina and Kosovo had to go. All of them. Yugoslavia had to be broken in to small pieces and pieces then digested by the Empire one by one until the whole Balkans had “proper” democracy, endorsed “proper” values and values were “protected” by the US military base or two. Divide et impera, Romans used to say.

The conflict in Ukraine is driven by exactly the same motives and reasons and using the same old methods and the same propaganda tricks. Timed bombs in the form of the arbitrary changes of the administrative borders made by the ruling Communist elite blew up during break up of the USSR too, as well as their policies of creating new Soviet people. Former Nazi collaborationist were also used to instigate ethnic hatred. Place Soviet Union instead of the Yugoslavia, Russians instead of Serbs, Ukraine instead of Croatia, Donbas and Crimea instead of Krajina and Kosovo and the story is almost identical. Ukraine and Krajina share similar history once again. Almost. With the exception that the Soviet Union was much larger than Yugoslavia, Russia is much larger than Serbia, and Russia has powerful allies in the world of its own. A victim turned out to be too big and vital and the Empire appears to suffer major digestive problems as a result. Will Ukraine end up sharing the fate of its sister after all?

Or will Ukraine turn out to be one mouthful too many? One thing is certain, history did not stop. History has no end. Prophets of the Empire has been proven wrong.

arras‘s mini-bio: HIC SVNT LEONES

Russia Officially Returns to South Asia by Offering to Host Indo-Pak Peace Talks

Global Research, March 01, 2019

Russia’s 21st-century grand strategy of becoming the supreme “balancing” force in Afro-Eurasia is one major step closer to fruition after Foreign Minister Lavrov offered to host peace talks between India and Pakistan, proving that Russia’s refusal to take sides between its decades-long and newfound partners is part and parcel of President Putin’s pragmatic approach to regional affairs.

Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov sent shockwaves through South Asia on Thursday by announcing his country’s intent to host peace talks between India and Pakistan if they wish for it to do so, thereby heralding Russia’s return to the region and putting it one major step closer towards fulfilling its 21st-century grand strategy of becoming the supreme “balancing” force in Afro-Eurasia. This brief article will mostly serve as a collection of the author’s relevant pieces about the larger concepts that will be concisely touched upon on a point-by-point basis and should therefore be seen as a resource to rely on for better understanding Russia’s envisaged role in the Eastern Hemisphere.

All told, it’s nothing short of a game-changing geopolitical development that Russia would offer to host peace talks between India and Pakistan because it proves just how wildly successful President Putin’s “balancing” strategy has been thus far, considering how confident Moscow is that it can constructively apply this model to the two nuclear-armed Great Powers in South Asia. Russia has truly returned to the region and is poised to play an even larger role in it over the coming years, which will enable Moscow to more assertively counter the US’ plans to destabilize South Asia and therefore ensure the success of the emerging Multipolar World Order.

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This article was originally published on Eurasia Future.

Andrew Korybko is an American Moscow-based political analyst specializing in the relationship between the US strategy in Afro-Eurasia, China’s One Belt One Road global vision of New Silk Road connectivity, and Hybrid Warfare. He is a frequent contributor to Global Research.

رتجاجات شرق البحر المتوسط والعالم في شبه القارة الهندية

فبراير 28, 2019

محمد صادق الحسيني

ليس مستغرباً أن تصل تبعات التحوّلات الاستراتيجية الكبرى في غرب آسيا وشرق البحر المتوسط إلى الساحة الهندية لتوقظ نزاعاً تاريخياً وجغرافياً وسياسياً مريراً حول مصائر شعوب وأقوام شبه القارة الهندية من جديد…!

قد يكون العامل المباشر في التصعيد الجاري حالياً بين دولتي شبه القارة الهندية النوويتين هو التفجيرات الأخيرة التي حصلت في الهند والتي وجهت نيودلهي أصابع الاتهام فيها الى حكومة إسلام آباد، لكن هذا ليس هو أصل الحكاية، فالرواية الحقيقية لا تكتمل إلا بقراءة بعض فصولها المحجوبة عن الأنظار بسبب صراع الإرادات الإقليمية والدولية المحيطة بالدولتين اللدودتين…!

فرغم كلّ التعثر الذي يرافق إعادة صياغة السلطة في الباكستان على قواعد جديدة بعيدة عن المعسكر الوهابي الإرهابي إقليمياً والامبريالي دولياً من بعد فوز عمران خان برئاسة الحكومة هناك، فإنّ محاولة الصعود الباكستاني المستقلّ نسبياً عن دوائر القرار الدولي أثار ولا يزال حفيظة الهند الخصم اللدود لدولة المسلمين الجديدة الدخول الى نادي لعبة الأمم منذ نهاية الحرب العالمية الثانية…!

فباكستان عمران خان التي استقبلت محمد بن سلمان أخيراً والتي يُراد لها من وجهة نظر أميركية وسعودية ان تصبح ولو في الظاهر «لاعباً إسلامياً» مناكفاً أمام الجمهورية الإسلامية الإيرانية، رافعة لواء المقاومة بوجه الإرهاب الوهابي ولاحتلال الصهيوني، باتت تشكل من جديد بالنسبة للهند قوة يُحسب لها حساب في الصراع الأميركي الروسي في شبه القارة الهندية، وهذا ما يثير حفيظة الهند الواقعة في المدار الروسي عملياً منذ عقود…!

ولأنّ حكومة عمران خان النازعة نحو استقلالية القرار النسبي عن واشنطن قامت مؤخراً في هذا السياق بتكثيف التنسيق السياسي مع الاتحاد الروسي في بعض الملفات الدولية، فإنّ ذلك زاد الطين بلة بالنسبة للهند التي تعتبر نفسها الدولة الأكثر رعاية لدى الروس منذ زمن الحرب الباردة الأميركية السوفياتية، فكيف تدخل الباكستان الى حرمها الدولي هذا دون استئذان…؟

من جهة أخرى فإنّ التحوّلات الجيو سياسية والجيواستراتيجية بين إسلام آباد وبكين إنْ من زاوية الطاقة أو الطرق والمواصلات براً وبحراً أو من زاوية تنامي المشاورات السياسية التي هي أصلاً محكمة بين الجانبين منذ أمد بعيد قد وضعت الباكستان من جديد حليفاً لا يمكن تجاهله للصين الصاعدة عالمياً فإنّ من شأن ذلك أن يثير حفيظة الهند أيضاً لأنها سترى نفسها بين كماشتي واشنطن وبكين من جديد…!

كلّ ذلك جعل نيودلهي أكثر تحفزاً لعمل أيّ شئ يوقف هذا الصعود الباكستاني الإقليمي والدولي المستفز…!

ثم انّ الهند التي تعتبر الباكستان في الأساس وليداً غير شرعي خرج من رحمها قسراً في نهاية الحرب الكونية الثانية، فكيف بها ان تتحمّل هذا الوليد وهو يتحوّل امام عينيها كائناً شرعياً بنظر الدول الكبرى، بل ولاعباً إقليمياً وقوة وازنة في الصراعات الدولية، إضافة إلى تقدّمه بخطى واعدة باتجاه أبواب الدخول لمجموعة بريكس ومنتدى شنغهاي اللذين تعتبرهما الهند جزءاً من الحيّز الحيوي لها دولياً…!

في مثل هذه اللحظة التاريخية الباكستانية الصاعدة يصبح من غير المهمّ لدولة تاريخية عريقة مثل الهند ان تظهر أمام العالم متهمة في كسر قواعد الاشتباك التاريخي – التي تمنع التفجير – والتي حكمت البلدين المتنازعين على الحدود منذ توقف القتال بينهما حول إقليم كشمير منذ عقود، ولتكون هي البادئة بالقصف الجوي على الأراضي الباكستانية لا سيما أنّ الذريعة جاءت مؤاتية، ايّ مكافحة الإرهاب وتحت مسمّى قصف معسكر «جيش محمد» الذي تتهمه نيودلهي بأنه يقف وراء تفجيرات الهند الأخيرة…!

انها لحظة تبدّل موازين القوى في أكثر من ساحة دولية وشبه القارة الهندية ليست استثناءً في هذا العالم المتحوّل في كلّ لحظة وكلّ حين…!

بعدنا طيّبين قولوا الله…

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Russia Slides Towards Internal Political Crisis (MUST SEE SouthFront video report!)

Source

February 26, 2019

Saker note: a rather harsh criticism of the Russian Government and the Kremlin in this SouthFront analysis.  Sadly, I cannot say that I disagree with what they say.  In fact, I think that they are spot on and that all the “loyal” Kremlin-bots who deny that there is a serious problem in Russia are wrong.  Supporting Vladimir Putin’s struggle to truly make Russia sovereign again and built a new multi-polar world does not at all entail being blind to all the very real mistakes and even faults of the Russian government.  I can only say that I hope that SF is right and that the current lack of support of the Russian people of the government’s neo-liberal/capitalist policies will force Putin to correct the course and return to the kind of social policies the Russian people clearly want.  It is also high time for Russia to take a harsher stance on the Ukraine, if only because the situation in the Ukraine (political and economic) is a total disaster and because some kind of military escalation in the Ukraine seems inevitable.  All in all, yet another absolutely superb report by SouthFront who sober analysis contrasts favorably with what both flag-wavers and fear-mongers typically produce.

https://southfront.org/wp-content/plugins/fwduvp/content/video.php?path=https%3A%2F%2Fsouthfront.org%2Finternal-political-crisis-russia%2F&pid=1583

Transcript:

This is a critical look at the situation in Russia. The video is based on an article of one of our readers and additional data.

The Russia of 2019 is in a complicated economic and even political situation. Smoldering conflicts near its borders amid continued pressure from the US and NATO affect the situation in the country negatively. This is manifested in society and in national politics. The approval rating of the Russian government and personally of President Vladimir Putin has been decreasing.

According to VCIOM, a state pollster, in January 2019, Putin’s confidence rating was only 32.8%. This is 24% less than in January 2018 when it was 57.2%. At the same time, the confidence rating of Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev was 7.8%. The approval rating of his cabinet is 37.7% while the disapproval rating is 38.7%. Opposition sources show data, which is far worse for the current Russian leadership.

This tendency is not linked to the foreign policy course of the Kremlin. Rather, it’s the result of the recent series of liberal-minded economic reforms, which look similar to the approaches exercised by the Russian government in the mid-1990s. The decision to increase Value Added Tax amid the slowing Russian economy, especially in the industrial sector, and a very unpopular pension reform increasing the retirement age were both factors contributing to the further growth of discontent in the population.

Russia’s GDP increased by 2.3% in 2018 compared to 1.6% in 2017. However, the Ministry of Economic Development, in its document entitled “Economic Picture” stated that this is linked to “one-time factors” and is not “stable”. The ministry maintained its earlier forecast stating that GDP growth in 2019 will be 1.3%. It confirmed increasing capital outflow. In this case, the repayment of funds to Western creditors by the Russian private sector is one of the causes.

The Ministry of Economic Development also pointed out that the expendable income of the population decreased by 0.2%. Statutory charges, including the increased taxes, are named as one of the reasons. The document says that statutory charges grew by 14.8% in 2018.

Additionally, the population is facing an increasingly restrictive administrative pressure: new fines and other penalties for minor violations in various fields and additional administrative restrictions limiting the freedom of actions of citizens. Restrictive traffic management of big cities, increasing fees for using federal highways as well as policies that are de-facto aimed at small business and self-employed persons are among its landmarks.

Meanwhile the general population has no effective levers of pressure to affect or correct government policy. The public political sphere has become a desert. United Russia (Edinaya Rossiya) is the only political party still de—facto existing in public politics. By now its ideological and organizational capabilities have become exhausted. Other “political parties and organizations” are just media constructs designed to defend the interests of a narrow group of their sponsors. It is hard to find a lawmaker in the State Duma or the Federation Council, who is not affiliated with the cliquish top political elite and oligarch clans.

In the media sphere, the government has failed to explain its current course to the population. A vast majority of the initiatives of Medvedev’s cabinet face a negative reaction from the population. A spate of scandals involving high and middle level government officials made the situation even worse. These cases revealed blatant hypocrisy and the neglectful attitude to duties of some Russian officials.

Some of the officials even became heroes of nationwide memes. Probably, the most prominent of these heroes are Minister of Labour and Employment of the Saratov region Natalia Sokolova and Head of Department for Youth Policy in the Sverdlov Region Olga Glatskikh.

Sokolova advised Russian pensioners to eat “makaroshki” [a derogatory term for maccheroni] to save money and to thus become able to survive on the subsistence minimum of 3,500 RUB [about 50 USD] per month.

“You will become younger, prettier and slimmer! Makaroshki cost is always the same!”, she said during a meeting of the regional parliamentary group on social policy in October 2018 adding that discounted products can be used to create a “balanced, but dietic” menu.

Glatskikh became a meme hero thank to her meeting with young volunteers during the same month. Commenting on the possible financing of youth projects, she told volunteers that the government did not ask their parents “to give birth” to them. So, they should expect nothing from the state.

In the period from 2018 to 2019, there were multiple arrests of officials caught exceeding the limits of their authority and being involved in corruption schemes. In comparison to previous periods, this number had increased by 1.5-2 times. The most recent detention took place right in the Parliament building on January 30. A 32-year-old senator, Rauf Arashukov, is suspected of being a member of a criminal group involved in the 2010 murders of two people and in pressuring a witness to one of the killings. On the same day, authorities detained his father, an adviser to the chief executive of a Gazprom subsidiary, Raul Arashukov. He is suspected of embezzling natural gas worth 30 billion rubles ($450 million).

However, these actions do not appear to be enough to change the established media situation. After a large-scale corruption scandal in the Ministry of Defense in 2012, which led to almost no consequences for key responsible persons including former Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov, who even continued his carrier in state-linked corporation Rostec. The general public has serious reservations about any real success of anti-corruption efforts.

The aforementioned factors fuel the negative perception of the Medvedev government and Vladimir Putin as the head of state among Russian citizens.

The 2014 events in Crimea showed to the Russian population that its state is ready to defend the interests of the nation and those who describe themselves as Russians even by force of arms. This was the first case when this approach was openly employed in the recent history of Russia. Therefore, the population was enthusiastic and national pride was on the rise. However, the Kremlin failed to exploit these gained opportunities and did not use them to strengthen the Russian state. In fact, up to February 2019, the policy towards eastern Ukraine has been inconsistent. At the same time, Moscow continues to lose its influence in post-Soviet states. This can be observed in both the Caucasus and Central Asia. Even, their close ally, Belarus, occasionally demonstrates unfriendly behavior and focuses its own efforts on the exploitation of economic preferences granted by Russia.

Evaluating the current internal political situation in Russia and its foreign policy course, it’s possible to say that the Russian leadership has lost its clear vision of national development and a firm and consistent policy, which are needed for any great power. Another explanation of this is that the Russian leadership is facing pressure from multiple agents of influence, which stand against vision of a powerful independent state seeking to act as one of the centers of power on the global stage. One more factor, often pointed out by experts, is the closed crony-caste system of elites. This system led to the creation of a leadership, which pursues its own narrow clannish interests. Apparently, all of these factors influence Russian foreign and domestic policies in one way or another.

The aforementioned large-scale anti-corruption campaign, regarding the people’s show-me attitude towards its result, could be a sign of a new emerging trend, which would lead to a purge of the corrupt elites and to strategic changes in Russian domestic policy.

It is highly likely that Russia will face hard times in the next two years (2019-2020) and face various threats and challenges to its economy, foreign policy course and even to its statehood.

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