Deaths, injuries in renewed clashes between Azerbaijan, Armenia

September 13, 2022 08:37

Source: Agencies

By Al Mayadeen English 

The decades-old hostilities over the disputed area of Nagorno-Karabakh are back as they were instigated by Azerbaijan.

An Armenian soldier firing artillery during the ongoing fighting between Armenian and Azerbaijani forces over Nagorno-Karabakh (AFP)

Russian news media reported that clashes between Azerbaijani and Armenian troops started early Tuesday, resuming decades-old hostilities over the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh.

Azerbaijani soldiers advanced along various areas of the border, according to Aram Torosyan, spokesman for the Armenian Defense Ministry.

“The enemy continues to use artillery, mortars, drones, and large-caliber small arms. Attacks are being made on both military facilities and civilian infrastructure facilities. In some areas, Azerbaijani units have taken actions to advance positions. Positional battles continue. The Armenian Armed Forces give a proportionate response and carry out their combat tasks in full,” Torosyan said.

Read next: Armenia, Azerbaijan agree to further collaborate on peace treaty work

According to Torosyan, Armenian servicemen were killed and others were injured in an armed encounter near the border with Azerbaijan. “There are dead and wounded on the Armenian side. The data is being specified,” Torosyan said.

He said Azerbaijani troops were also delivering strikes at civilian infrastructure facilities.

Earlier, both sides exchanged blame, with Yerevan accusing the Azerbaijani military of shelling the territory of Armenia late on Monday using artillery and drones. On its part, Baku said the Armenian military fired at the positions of the Azerbaijani troops on the border, resulting in a clash. The Azerbaijani Defense Ministry also reported losses in its ranks.

The Armenian government said it will invoke a cooperation agreement with Russia and appeal to a Russia-led security bloc, the Collective Security Treaty Organization, and the United Nations Security Council, according to Interfax.

Armenia speaks to Russia, Frace, the US

Following the eruption of clashes, Armenia contacted Russia, France, and the US and briefed them on the ongoing situation. 

Armenian Foreign Minister Ararat Mirzoyan informed Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov about the situation on the border with Azerbaijan, according to an Armenian Foreign Ministry statement.

“Armenian Foreign Minister Ararat Mirzoyan on September 13 informed Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov about the situation,” according to the statement, which also states “Azerbaijani aggression.”

In addition to Russian President Vladimir Putin, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan spoke by phone with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken about the situation on the border with Azerbaijan, according to a statement by the Armenian government.

“The prime minister presented the details of the aggression committed by Azerbaijan against the sovereign territory of Armenia. Pashinyan said that in connection with these actions, the decision was made to formally appeal to the Russian Federation in order to implement the provisions of the Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation, and Mutual Assistance, as well as to the CSTO and the UN Security Council. In this context, he expressed hope for a proportionate response from the international community,” the statement said.

Read next: Armenia to withdraw its soldiers from Nagorno-Karabakh by September

According to the Armenian cabinet, Blinken “expressed the American side’s deep concern about the situation, considered it unacceptable to further aggravate the situation, and declared the US readiness to make efforts to stabilize the situation.”

However, an Azerbaijani statement claimed that Armenian forces conducted intelligence activities on its border, transferred weaponry into the area, and performed mining operations on Monday night, thus using the pretext of conducting operations that are “strictly local in nature and aimed at military targets” to justify the attacks.

Armenia’s Defense Ministry responded, “Intensive shooting is continuing – started as a result of a large-scale provocation by the Azerbaijani side. Armenia’s armed forces have launched a proportionate response.”

Tensions erupt over Karabakh

Clashes erupt every now and then between both sides despite a Russian-backed ceasefire agreement. Last month, tensions erupted over Nagorno-Karabakh as three soldiers were killed and Azerbaijan said it had taken control of several strategic heights in the disputed region.

Armenia and Azerbaijan fought two conflicts over Azerbaijan’s Armenian-populated area of Nagorno-Karabakh, one in 2020 and one in the 1990s.

Six weeks of violence in the autumn of 2020 claimed over 6,500 lives and ended with a ceasefire accord sponsored by Russia. Russia sent 2,000 peacekeepers to monitor the truce, but tensions remain despite a ceasefire deal.

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    Iran in South Caucasus: Turning losses into wins

    Determined not to be cut out of the South Caucasus, Iran is forging strategic ties with both Baku and Yerevan

    July 11 2022

    Photo Credit: The Cradle

    By Yeghia Tashjian

    Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev and Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi have averted conflict through geo-economic compromise

    At the end of the 2020 Nagorno-Karabakh war – which Azerbaijan won with Turkish support and Russian diplomacy – Iran was widely seen by analysts as the conflict’s biggest loser, in terms of its regional strategic interests.

    Without wasting much time, however, Tehran flipped those fortunes by very proactively engaging its soft power in the South Caucasus to advance its geo-economic interests. This is arguably due to Iran’s concerns over Turkish-Azerbaijani expansionist designs in the region.

    In the main, Iran has sought to revitalize its relations with Azerbaijan to mitigate Turkey’s push for control over the Zangezur Corridor, a strategic transportation route bypassing Armenian territory close to the Iranian border.

    The corridor’s opening is said to be dependent upon the development of a comprehensive Armenian-Azerbaijani agreement. In this regard, Tehran is engaging with both countries simultaneously, and in doing so has helped reduce Baku’s political pressure on Yerevan.

    Resetting relations with Azerbaijan

    On March 11, 2022, Azerbaijan and Iran signed an agreement to establish new railway, highway, and energy supply lines connecting the southern territories of the disputed Karabakh region (captured by Azerbaijan) to the Azerbaijani Nakhichevan exclave.

    According to the agreement, the new highway will be 55 km long and will pass through northern Iran, eventually connecting to Nakhichevan. In addition to the highway, two railway bridges and a road bridge will be constructed over the bordering Arax River.

    Iranian political analyst Vali Kaleji says these projects have geo-economic significance for both Azerbaijan and Iran.

    For Baku, the construction of this highway is essential for several reasons. First, it is a continuation of an already existing highway in Azerbaijan and will draw investment into the southern regions of Karabakh currently under the control of Baku.

    Second, the 55-km highway through Iran will offer an alternative to the Zangezur corridor that Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev was pushing for after the trilateral statement, which put an end to hostilities – for now – between Baku and Yerevan.

    Despite the fact that the trilateral statement called for the opening of trade routes and communication, it did not mention anything about a ‘corridor.’ President Aliyev has largely promoted the Zangezur Corridor idea for domestic consumption while adding political pressure on Armenia to sign a peace treaty over Nagorno-Karabakh.

    To date, Russia, Armenia and Iran have disregarded Baku’s Zangezur Corridor claims.

    Peacekeeping policies

    To prevent another war between Baku and Yerevan, Tehran came up with an alternative solution by providing this alternative route that will lift some pressure from Armenia’s shoulders, as Azerbaijan was threatening to gain the corridor by any means necessary.

    Moreover, Baku is also concerned that if the Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan’s government falls and the opposition comes to power, the successive government will not provide any corridor to Azerbaijan through the Armenian territories. Hence, as Keleji noted, “Baku is deliberately pursuing another option should the Zangezur Corridor not come to fruition.”

    Finally, Azerbaijan will establish a link with Nakhichevan through Iran, providing additional Iranian leverage over Baku in the future.

    Iranian interests

    Iran, in turn, has its own considerations for allowing the construction of a highway and railway across its territory that would connect Azerbaijan proper to Nakhchivan.

    In reaction to the expansionist narrative pushed by Azerbaijan over the Zangezur Corridor and Azerbaijani incursions into bordering villages in Syunik (southern Armenia), Iran drew its red lines and its Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) threatened to use military force if necessary to prevent any territorial change in its 44 km border with Armenia.

    As such, Tehran sees the construction of a new highway and railway line via Iran as an appropriate alternative to the Zangezur corridor that will alleviate the military pressure on southern Armenia.

    For this reason, Ahmad Kazemi, an Iranian expert on the South Caucasus region, in his article “Baku’s reconciliation with geopolitical realities” wrote that Baku is pushing a “fake Zangezur corridor” to appease Turkey, Israel, NATO while following pan-Turkic dreams.

    It was only last year that Aliyev declared: “The corridor that is going to pass through here is going to unite the whole Turkic world.”

    For Kazemi, this “Turanic corridor” will go against the interests of Iran, Russia, and China. It is therefore inevitable that these three states will not allow geopolitical changes on Armenia’s southern borders.

    Isolating Iran

    Meanwhile, with the ongoing war in Ukraine, Moscow has focused its attention on the importance of the North-South trade route. According to Kaleji, strengthening this transit route will aid in countering the tightening economic sanctions and transit restrictions imposed on Russia by the west.

    In this regard, the Iranian Roads and Urban Development Minister Rostam Qasemi visited Moscow on 30 April to sign a comprehensive agreement on cooperation in the field of transportation. Both countries agreed to accelerate the construction of Azerbaijani-Iranian railway to connect Moscow to the strategic Persian Gulf – a security concern of western powers since the Cold War era.

    In February, during an Iranian-Armenian conference held in Yerevan, an Iranian diplomatic source told The Cradle that “Iran will take all the necessary measures to prevent the loss of the strategic Armenian-Iranian border and will do all it can to prevent a new war.

    Tehran realizes that any such loss will further increase Turkish influence in the region and that Iran was an indirect target of the 2020 war in Karabakh, with the aim of isolating Iran regionally.

    Within this context, the Iranian-Armenian railway line from Meghri, Armenia’s Syunik province, could have been an alternative route connecting Iran to Russia, but it suffers from high costs and has not seen any progress since 2009.

    Armenia’s poor infrastructure, its conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh with Azerbaijan, and its slow progress in the construction of the North-South highway (over the past twelve years, it has implemented only five percent of the 556-kilometer highway connecting Georgia with Iran) has further isolated and slowed down Armenia’s participation in the regional economic project.

    Armenia’s gateway to Asia

    However, over the past four months, Iran and India have been pushing Armenia to take crucial steps to reinvigorate the north-south transport project. As a result, important meetings between Iranian and Armenian officials have been organized to address trade, transit, and energy issues.

    On 2 March, leading a high-ranking delegation of trade officials and private entrepreneurs, Iranian Minister of Industry, Mining, and Trade, Reza Fatemi-Amin paid a visit to Armenia as part of Tehran’s efforts to strengthen trade ties with its neighbors.

    This was the first visit to Armenia by senior Iranian officials since President Ebrahim Raisi took office in August 2021. Accompanying the delegation were the CEOs of 35 Iranian private companies.

    The Iranian side stated that Tehran attaches great importance not only to the development of economic relations with Armenia but also considers it as a “gateway” to the markets of Russia and other Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) member countries.

    For the rail connection, Miad Salehi, head of the Islamic Republic of Iran Railways, pointed to three possibilities for rail transit between Iran and Armenia. The first two rail connections are:

    • The Jolfa-Nakhchivan-Yerevan.
    • The Jolfa-Nurduz (in Iran) and Yerevan-Nurduz (in Armenia) railroads, which were agreed upon seven years ago though not realized.

    Iran has also proposed a multi-modal transit route from Yerevan to Jolfa by road, and then southward to the port of Bandar Abbas by rail, essentially opening the gates of Asian markets for Armenia.

    Iran hasn’t been pushed out of the South Caucasus  

    After the trilateral statement in 2020, Iran felt isolated from the South Caucasus, though its absence did not last long. Following the election of President Raisi, Tehran adopted a proactive balanced foreign policy in its neighborhood to secure its primary geo-economic interests.

    The Iranians have realized that the Zangezur Corridor poses a threat to their national security as it bypasses Iranian territory and prevents Iran from gaining transit fees from Azerbaijani trucks. But it also threatens to reshape the strategic international borders between Iran and Armenia to the benefit of Turkey, Azerbaijan, and by extension, their mutual ally, Israel.

    Tehran recognizes that were Azerbaijan to succeed in imposing the Zangzur Corridor on Yerevan, Baku could connect to Turkey, Israel, and the European Union by land. Crucially, Iran also interprets this as an expanding presence of Israel and NATO on its borders.

    During his Caucasian tour this month, Iran’s national security chief, Rear Admiral Ali Shamkhani, held talks in Yerevan with his Armenian counterpart and Prime Minister Pashinyan, where he stressed that Tehran was against any actions leading to a geopolitical change in the region.

    Rather than accepting a lesser role, Iran has successfully deployed its economic soft power to recalibrate the field and increase its leverage over Azerbaijan. On one hand, Tehran fostered the construction of a railway with Azerbaijan to connect with Russia; on the other hand, it strengthened its trade, energy, and communication projects with Baku’s archenemy, Armenia.

    For now, though, Iran’s engagement with Azerbaijan over the alternative corridor has lifted the military and political pressure on Armenia, thus preventing another war near its northern borders.

    Iran’s dialogue with both countries has – for now – arguably lifted Azerbaijan’s military and political pressure on Armenia, safeguarded its national interests, and prevented another war near its northern borders.

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

    Vladimir Putin addressed the plenary session of the 1st Eurasian Economic Forum

    May 26, 2022

    First Eurasian Economic Forum

    Also attending the meeting were Prime Minister of Armenia Nikol Pashinyan, President of Kazakhstan Kassym-Zhomart Tokayev, President of Kyrgyzstan Sadyr Japarov, Prime Minister of Belarus Roman Golovchenko, and Chairman of the Board of the Eurasian Economic Commission Mikhail Myasnikovich. The forum moderator was Alexander Shokhin, President of the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs, member of the Presidium of the EAEU Business Council.

    The purpose of the Eurasian Economic Forum, established by a decision of the Supreme Eurasian Economic Council and timed to coincide with a meeting of the SEEC, is to further deepen economic cooperation between the EAEU member states.

    The EEF 2022 in Bishkek, themed Eurasian Economic Integration in the Era of Global Shifts: New Investment Opportunities, will focus on promising areas for the strategic development of integration. The participants will discuss ways to deepen industrial, energy, transport, financial, and digital cooperation.

    * * *

    Address at the plenary session of the 1st Eurasian Economic Forum.

    President of Russia Vladimir Putin: I am grateful for this opportunity to address you, to speak on the issues which you [Alexander Shokhin] have raised and which, as you suggested, should be addressed in greater detail.

    First of all, I would like to thank President of Kyrgyzstan Sadyr Japarov and his team for organising this event. I can see many people in the audience, including businesspeople and government officials. I am sure that the media will take a keen interest in the forum.

    This is what I would like to begin with when answering your question. The development of Eurasian integration has no connection whatsoever to current developments or market conditions. We established this organisation many years ago. In fact, we established it at the initiative of the First President of Kazakhstan [Nursultan Nazarbayev].

    I remember very well the main conversation we had on that issue, on that subject, when he said, “You must choose what is more important to you: working more actively and more closely with your direct neighbours and natural partners, or prioritising, for example, admission to the World Trade Organisation.” It was in this connection that we had to make decisions.

    And although we were interested in joining the WTO and in developing relations accordingly with our Western partners, as you said and as I continue to say, we nevertheless regarded as our main priority the development of relations with our direct and natural neighbours within the common economic framework of the Soviet Union. This is my first point.

    The second. Already at that time, we started developing ties – I will speak about this later – within the framework of the Greater Eurasian Partnership. Our motivation was not the political situation but global economic trends, because the centre of economic development is gradually – we are aware of this, and our businesspeople are aware of this – is gradually moving, continues to move into the Asia-Pacific Region.

    Of course, we understand the tremendous advantages of high technology in advanced economies. This is obvious. We are not going to shut ourselves off from it. There are attempts to oust us from this area a little but this is simply unrealistic in the modern world. It is impossible. If we do not separate ourselves by putting up a wall, nobody will be able to isolate such a country as Russia.

    Speaking not only about Russia, but also about our partners in the EAEU and the world in general, this task is completely unfeasible. Moreover, those who are trying to fulfil it harm themselves the most. No matter how sustainable the economies of the countries pursuing this shortsighted policy are, the current state of the global economy shows that our position is right and justified, even in terms of macroeconomic indicators.

    These advanced economies have not had such inflation for the past 40 years; unemployment is growing, logistics chains are breaking and global crises are growing in such sensitive areas as food. This is no joke. It is a serious factor affecting the entire system of economic and political relations.

    Meanwhile, these sanctions and bans are aimed at constraining and weakening the countries that are pursuing an independent policy, and they ate not limited to Russia or even China. I do not doubt for a second that there are many countries that want to and will pursue an independent policy and their number is growing. No world policeman will be able to stop this global process. There will not be enough power for this and the desire to do so will evaporate due to a host of domestic problems in those countries. I hope they will eventually realise that this policy has no prospects whatsoever.

    Violating rules and norms in international finances and trade is counterproductive. In simple words, it will only lead to problems for those who are doing it. Theft of foreign assets has never done any good to anyone, primarily those who are engaged in these unseemly deeds. As it has transpired now, neglect for the political and security interests of other countries leads to chaos and economic upheavals with global repercussions.

    Western countries are sure that any persona non grata who has their own point of view and is ready to defend it can be deleted from the world economy, politics, culture and sports. In fact, this is nonsense, and, as I said, it is impossible to make this happen.

    We can see it. Mr Shokhin, as a representative of our business, you certainly face problems, especially in the field of supply chains and transport, but nevertheless, everything can be adjusted, everything can be built in a new way. Not without losses at a certain stage, but it leads to the fact that we really become stronger in some ways. In any case, we are definitely acquiring new skills and are starting to focus our economic, financial, and administrative resources on breakthrough areas.

    True, not all the import substitution goals were achieved in previous years. But it is impossible to achieve everything: life is faster than administrative decisions, it develops faster. But there is no problem. We have done everything necessary in key areas that ensure our sovereignty.

    Let us move on. After all, import substitution is not a pill for every ill, and we are not going to deal exclusively with import substitution. We are just going to develop. But we will continue to arrange import substitution in those areas where we are forced to do so. Yes, maybe with some mixed results, but definitely we will only become stronger thanks to this, especially in the field of high technologies.

    Look, after the CoCom lists – I have already spoken about this many times – after what you said about our work, for instance, within the same former G8 and so on, restrictions still remained. In the most sensitive areas, everything was still closed. In fact, fundamentally – I want to emphasise this – nothing has changed fundamentally.

    These issues related to large-block assemblies and so on, it took so much effort to increase localisation within the country, in our economy, in the real sectors of the economy, in industry. And even then we did not agree on key issues in many respects.

    Actually, import substitution was necessary

    to create not just assembly shops, but also engineering centres and research centres. This is inevitable for any country that wants to increase its economic, financial and ultimately political sovereignty. It is inevitable.

    This is why we have been doing it, and not because the current state of affairs demands it from us, but simply because life itself demanded this, and we were active.

    And, of course, we will work actively within the framework of the Eurasian Economic Union and within the CIS in general, we will work with the regions of Asia, Latin America and Africa. But I assure you, and you can see it yourselves, many of our companies from Europe, our partners from Europe, have announced that they are leaving. You know, sometimes when we look at those who are leaving, we ask ourselves: isn’t it a good thing that they have left? We will take up their niches: our business and our production – they have matured, and they will safely take root on the ground that our partners have prepared. Nothing will change.

    And those who want to bring in some luxury goods, they will be able to do so. Well, it will be a little more expensive for them, but these are people who are already driving Mercedes S 600, and will continue to do so. I assure you, they will bring them from anywhere, from any country. That is not what is important for us. What is important for the country, for its development – I have already said this and I will repeat it – are the engineering centres and research centres that are the basis of our own development. This is what we must think about and what we must work on both within the EAEU and in a broad sense with our partners – those who want to cooperate with us.

    We have a very good base that we inherited from the old days, we only need to support it and to invest resources there. As for those areas, in which we did not invest appropriate resources before, including, say, administrative resources, relying on the fact that everything can be bought by selling oil and gas, life itself has now forced us to invest there.

    And thank God that this has happened. I do not see any problem here with the fact that we have not completed something in the field of import substitution. We will not do it just because the current economic situation forces us to do so, but only because it is in the interests of our country.

    The Eurasian Economic Union has developed a roadmap for industrialisation, with over 180 projects with a total investment of over $300 billion. A programme for agricultural development has been prepared, including more than 170 projects worth $16 billion.

    Russia has something to offer here, and businesspeople are well aware of this. We have grown to be highly competitive at the global level, in the global markets. Russia remains – if we speak about agriculture – the largest exporter of wheat, number one in the world. Until recently, we were buying it – now we are selling it, number one in the world. True, countries such as the United States or China produce even more, but they also consume more. But Russia has become number one in international trade.

    Our high-tech industries are growing successfully, too. And we would like to continue growing together with our EAEU partners. We can and should restore our collaborative competencies.

    I have discussed this with my colleagues, with the President of Kazakhstan and the Prime Minister of Armenia – not because some of Russia’s IT workers have moved to Armenia, not at all. They are free to relocate and work anywhere, and God bless them. But again, it is a certain challenge for us: it means we must create better conditions.

    We have opportunities to work with the Republic of Belarus in a number of areas of cooperation, and we will definitely do this, because the Republic of Belarus has retained certain expertise that is very important for us, including in microelectronics. President Lukashenko and I just met in Sochi and talked about it, and even agreed to set aside funding for those projects in Belarus. The products that these enterprises, these industries will make will enjoy demand in Russia. This is a very interesting and promising area.

    The EAEU countries have laid the foundation for a common digital landscape, including a unified products traceability system. Various platform solutions are being developed, for example, the Work without Borders search system. The project is very important for all our countries. Despite all the crises and challenges caused by the current political situation, labour migrants continue to send almost as much money home from Russia as before. Moreover, some countries are receiving even more money now, as my colleagues from the CIS have told me.

    The practice of payments in national currencies is expanding, which is very important. Notably, their share in the mutual trade of the Union’s countries has already reached 75 percent. We will continue to work on interlinking our national payment systems and bank cards.

    We believe it is important to expedite the dialogue on internal international financial and payment mechanisms, such as transitioning from SWIFT to direct correspondent contacts between the banks of the friendly countries, including through the Russian Central Bank’s financial messaging system. We also propose strengthening cooperation with key lending and financial centres in the Asia-Pacific Region.

    New topics related to Eurasian integration include developing cooperation in green technology, environmental protection and energy saving. We expect to receive support and proactive suggestions from the business community.

    Colleagues,

    In the current international conditions when, unfortunately, traditional trade and economic links and supply chains are being disrupted, Russia’s initiative to form a Greater Eurasian Partnership– an initiative we have been discussing for many years – is gaining a special meaning.

    We are thankful to the leaders of the EAEU countries for supporting this proposal from the very beginning. BRICS members such as China and India as well as several other countries also supported creating a Greater Eurasian Partnership. The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, ASEAN and other organisations have shown interest in this initiative.

    Here, I would like to mention several specific ideas pertaining to the comprehensive development of the Greater Eurasian Partnership.

    First, it is reasonable to develop shared institutions for specific growth points, including creating a Eurasian export centre and trade houses, expediting the establishment of a Eurasian reinsurance company, examining the issue of developing special trans-border economic zones, probably even with supranational authority.

    The second point. It is important to step up the EAEU’s cooperation with foreign partners and inform them about the benefits and advantages of working with the EAEU and of our key projects and plans. My colleagues know that interest in our association is growing. In this context, the EAEU Business Council could play a significant role. It is already successfully developing ties beyond our union. Its business dialogue system may become an example for a potential business cooperation platform in Greater Eurasia.

    That said, as I have already noted, it would be desirable to support the freedom of business initiative, the creative activity of business, of our investors. I suggest creating additional, better incentives for this purpose and investing more in Eurasian projects. Naturally, the companies representing national businesses of the EAEU countries must receive priority support.

    My third point. It is time to draft a comprehensive strategy for developing large-scale Eurasian partnership. It must reflect the key international challenges facing us, determine future goals and contain instruments and mechanisms for achieving them. We must consider further steps in developing our system of trade and investment agreements, in part, with the participation of the SCO, ASEAN and BRICS member countries.

    In fact, we may draft new agreements that will develop and supplement WTO rules. In this context, it is important to pay attention not only to tariffs but also to the removal of non-tariff barriers. This may produce considerable results without subjecting our national economies to risks.

    In conclusion, I would like to say the following. It would be no exaggeration to say that Greater Eurasia is a big civilisational project. The main idea is to create a common space for equitable cooperation for regional organisations. The Greater Eurasian Partnership is designed to change the political and economic architecture and guarantee stability and prosperity on the entire continent – naturally, taking account of the diverse development models, cultures and traditions of all nations. I am confident, and this is obvious anyway, that this centre would attract a big audience.

    I would like to wish success and productive cooperation to all participants of the Eurasian Economic Forum.

    Thank you for your attention. Thank you.

    President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Meeting of the heads of state of the Collective Security Treaty Organisation (update, transcript is now complete)

    May 16, 2022

    CSTO summit

    Taking part in the meeting, timed to coincide with the 30th anniversary of the Collective Security Treaty and the 20th anniversary of the organisation, were the heads of Russia, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan.

    The main focus of the summit was on key issues of cooperation within the CSTO, topical international and regional problems, and measures to further improve the collective security system.

    During the meeting, the leaders signed a Statement of the CSTO Collective Security Council (CSC) in connection with the 30th anniversary of the Collective Security Treaty and the 20th anniversary of the Collective Security Treaty Organisation. They also signed a resolution of the CSTO CSC to award the participants in the CSTO peacekeeping mission in the Republic of Kazakhstan.

    * * *

    President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Colleagues, good afternoon!

    I am glad to welcome you all in Moscow.

    At the suggestion of our chairman, and today Armenia chairs the organisation, we gathered in Moscow, because this is where 30 years ago the Collective Security Treaty was signed, and 20 years ago, on the basis of this Treaty, the Collective Security Treaty Organisation was created.

    This means we have two anniversaries almost on the same day: on May 14 and 15 in 1992 and 2002, respectively. I congratulate you on this.

    I hope that the organisation, which has become a full international structure over the years, will continue to develop, even through difficult times. I would like to note in this context that both 1992 and 2002 were difficult times; they never end.

    The organisation plays a very important role in the post-Soviet space – a stabilising role. I hope that in this sense its capabilities and influence on the situation in our area of responsibility will only grow.

    Here I would like to finish my welcoming remarks and give the floor to the Chairman [of the CSTO Collective Security Council], the Prime Minister of Armenia.

    Prime Minister of the Republic of Armenia Nikol Pashinyan: Thank you, Mr Putin.

    Colleagues, I would like to welcome all of you!

    I would also like to add my congratulations on the two anniversaries the President of Russia noted. The Treaty on Collective Security was signed on May 15, 1992, and the decision on establishing a Collective Security Treaty Organisation was made on May 14, 2002. We meet today partly in commemoration of both anniversaries.

    I suggest we express our views on these anniversaries and on the current situation as always – in alphabetic order. Please hold your comments to 3 to 5 minutes – this is the open section.

    Afterwards, we will sign the documents that are ready for signing, and will then continue our discussion behind closed doors.

    I give the floor to the President of the Republic of Belarus. Go ahead, please.

    President of the Republic of Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko: Mr Pashinyan, dear friends!

    I will talk a bit longer than usual since I am the first to speak, and the current situation deserves attention.

    Today’s meeting is taking place in a difficult time, as the President of Russia has just said – a time of repartitioning the world; the unipolar international system is irretrievably receding into the past, but the collective West is fiercely fighting to keep its position.

    Anything goes, including actions in the zone of responsibility of our organisation: from NATO’s sabre rattling at our western borders to a full-scale hybrid war unleashed against us, primarily against Russia and Belarus.

    NATO is aggressively building its muscles, drawing Finland and Sweden into its net, countries that only yesterday were neutral. This is based on the attitude, “those who are not with us are against us,” and, hypocritically, NATO continues to declare its defensive nature. The truly defensive and peace-loving position of the Collective Security Treaty Organisation is in contrast to this background.

    The United States is building up its military presence on the western flank of the CSTO, its military infrastructure is being upgraded at an accelerated pace and many NATO exercises are taking place. The large-scale exercise, Defender Europe 2022, the likes of which we have not seen before, are now being held on the territory of 19 European countries, in part, near our borders in Poland. You can guess for yourselves whom they are defending themselves against.

    Until now, there is a force of about 15,000 military personnel stationed at the Belarusian-Polish border, which were deployed there last year under the pretext of a migration crisis, in addition to the troops that are stationed there permanently. Last year, 15,000 troops, mostly Americans, were redeployed. The migrants left that area a long time ago, but the troops are still there. The question is why?

    Clearly, no country is posing any threat to NATO today. Moreover, an additional force of over 10,000 military troops was brought there to reinforce the alliance’s eastern flank with 15,000 troops already deployed in Poland and the Baltic countries as part of the US armed forces’ Atlantic Resolve and NATO-allied Enhanced Forward Presence. For perspective, seven or so years ago, there were 3,500 troops in this location (addressing the CSTO Secretary General Stanislav Zas) on your watch, now there are about 40,000 troops right on the territory of Poland and the Baltic states. And I am not talking about Ukraine yet.

    Our military interaction within the framework of the Union State of Belarus and Russia, and Belarus’ membership in the CSTO, are the very stabilisers that have a certain sobering effect on the hotheads on the other side of the border. This shows that if it were not for this, I am afraid that a hot war would already be underway in Belarus. By the way, they tried to do this in 2020.

    Today, there is no more pressing or important issue than the Ukraine conflict. Since 2014, all of us have been assisting in every way possible in resolving it. In principle, all of us sitting at this table are ready to do this even now and in any format.

    Clearly, Ukraine was fomented, incited and fed nationalism and Nazism. We saw that in Odessa, when people were burned alive. Ukraine was fed Nazism, Russophobia and weapons. They used every approach to poison it.

    After the election in Belarus in August 2020, regarding interaction with us, Belarus, Ukraine completely succumbed to the West. We have constantly experienced unfriendly actions from our southern neighbour for over two years now.

    Ukraine proactively imposed sanctions on us even before the West, including the Americans. Ukraine was the first to do so. Remember? Their airspace was closed, then railway service, and then they began to train militants and send them to Belarus and ship weapons across the border. Everyone knows that. Provocative actions were carried out with Ukrainian drones conducting reconnaissance missions in Belarus’ airspace.

    The facts indicating a threat to our national security are indisputable. This is exactly why we were absolutely right to activate the support mechanism in the framework of our alliance with Russia.

    Belarus paid attention to the unjustified growth of the Western military presence in Ukraine and the region as a whole even before the start of the Russian special military operation. We talked about this more than once and warned that a conflict was looming. We expected the West, primarily the US, to accept Russia’s proposal to enter into talks on security guarantees. This process will start eventually in the foreseeable future but what will remain of Ukraine and our region by this time is a big question.

    Right now, we are seeing that the West, including Washington, is only interested in prolonging the conflict as much as possible. This is why Ukraine is being flooded with weapons. The goals are clear: to weaken Russia as much as possible by miring it in this war. The flames may reach beyond it – we are seeing this, too. If this is the idea, likely nobody will be able to sit it out.

    Currently the most dangerous trend in Ukraine are the attempts to partition the country. Thousand-strong units have already been formed to enter Ukraine in the guise of peacekeepers to “protect” it.

    Unity and solidarity among like-minded people are particularly important at a time when norms and principles of international law are being completely ignored. The CSTO member states displayed such solidarity and support in January of this year in a time of trial: you remember the events in Kazakhstan. By acting rapidly when needed, we graphically demonstrated to the entire world our close allied relations and the capacity of our organisation to ensure the security of its members. Nobody in the West even dared think about interfering in this situation because we are stronger together.

    But is it possible to claim today that the members of this organisation are really united and bound by ties of solidarity and support as before? Recent events suggest probably not. This is from our perspective, and I may be wrong. But it is enough to recall the ban imposed by some of our CSTO partners on the flights to their countries by national airlines of other CSTO members.

    The concepts of unity and solidarity are not always enough, given the brutal, rabid sanctions pressure by the consolidated West. Unfortunately, this is clear from the voting in international organisations.

    With the tacit agreement of our partners, Belarus and Russia are being vilified and expelled from international organisations against all laws of international life, just on a Western whim. Yes, you, CSTO members are subjected to pressure – tough and unprincipled pressure – but this is where collective, mutual support is so helpful. We may not exist tomorrow if we do not unite as soon as possible, if we do not strengthen our political, economic and military ties.

    Our enemies and detractors are systematically degrading our strongholds and allied ties, and we ourselves are partially helping the West in this regard. I am sure that if we had acted as a united front right off the bat, the hellish, as they say, sanctions would be out of question.

    Look how united the European Union is when it votes or acts, and how strong its intra-bloc discipline is. It applies automatically even to those who disagree with its decisions. This begs the question: What is keeping us from using this bloc resource? We need to follow their example. If divided, we will simply be crushed and torn apart.

    Back in January, I said that the main goal of certain external forces is to undermine stability and to disrupt the evolutionary path of development throughout the post-Soviet space. They started with Belarus, then the infection spread to Kazakhstan, and now it is Russia’s turn, as we see, and problems are being created in Armenia as well. Make no mistake, no one will be spared.

    It is absolutely clear that, without united pushback from the CSTO allies and other integration associations in the post-Soviet space, the collective West will ratchet up its pressure.

    What do we need to do to reinforce the CSTO in this unprecedented situation at hand? Off the top of my head, I can visualise the following top-priority steps, which are many, and the President of Tajikistan covered them at length when he talked about the challenge facing that region.

    The first is to strengthen political interaction and coordination of the CSTO member states. It is important to improve the efficiency of the foreign policy and security consultation mechanism. We need to speak more often on behalf of the CSTO on international platforms so that its voice and position can be seen and heard, and this voice and position must be united as they are in the West.

    Let our foreign ministers consider how best to go about this, and where. Let them think about our political response to a new wave of NATO expansion in light of the intentions declared by well-known states.

    We must work out in advance the CSTO position on this matter and make our interests known to the international community. We must act as one in this. Russia should not be alone in voicing its concern and fighting the attempted NATO enlargement.

    The second point is to increase the effectiveness of efforts to counter challenges and threats in the information space, including the fight against fake news and disinformation. It is clear that we are facing a hybrid war, the main part of which is an information war.

    In order to counter this, we should make the most of the 2017 CSTO Agreement on Information Security Cooperation and actively promote the CSTO on social media, which our Western opponents intensively use, in order to effectively respond to fake news and planted information. Moreover, we need to think seriously and, perhaps, follow China’s policy in the information confrontation, especially on the internet.

    Relevant tasks should be assigned to all foreign ministries, special services and the CSTO Secretariat.

    Third, there is a clear need to strengthen the forecasting and analytical component in the CSTO Secretariat’s work. I am sure that there are similar departments in the UN, the European Union and NATO. It might be worth considering creating a unit responsible for analysis and strategic planning at the CSTO Secretariat. I think the Secretary-General needs to study this issue.

    Fourth, it is worth thinking about combining the potential of the analytical centres of the CSTO member states and forming a network of these centres to assist in the development of conceptual documents on current issues on the international agenda.

    Dear friends,

    I am offering such seemingly simple proposals at these extremely difficult times because we may not immediately agree on more complex ones. Therefore, these may be the first steps, but we need to go further and deeper, as we used to say in the past

    Colleagues,

    Everyone understands that the historical era that existed before is ending, and there will be no return to the previous international order. We cannot allow the creation of a new international architecture without us, while the West is already planting false stories and holding talks about it.

    I believe that the CSTO should firmly strengthen its status in the international system of checks and balances. The organisation has a powerful collective potential for further progressive development, but it depends only on us today, it is up to us, how effectively the CSTO will use this potential and whether it will continue to exist in the next 10, 20 or 30 years.

    After Armenia, the CSTO chairmanship will rotate to Belarus. In addition to the promising areas of work outlined above, we are already seriously considering new proposals aimed at the further development of our organisation, and you will learn about them in the near future. We hope for maximum support and constructive work from all of you, our colleagues. We have no other choice.

    Sorry for such a long speech.

    Thank you for your attention.

    Nikol Pashinyan: Thank you, Mr Lukashenko.

    I will give the floor to President of Kazakhstan Kassym-Jomart Tokayev.

    President of Kazakhstan Kassym-Jomart Tokayev: Mr Pashinyan, colleagues!

    First of all, I would like to express my gratitude to President of Russia Vladimir Putin for organising this anniversary summit of the Collective Security Council. It is true that our summit today is distinct in marking two CSTO anniversaries.

    Over the years our organisation has proven to be an effective mechanism of multilateral cooperation with serious potential for further development.

    Once the CSTO was established, a reliable system for collective security was built in the vast expanse of Eurasia. The main goals are to strengthen peace and stability as well as international and regional security, and protect the territorial integrity and sovereignty of its member states.

    The CSTO’s permanent working bodies operate successfully; there are various formats for close cooperation and interaction. The CSTO’s authority, law enforcement and peacekeeping potential are being strengthened.

    We focus on countering international terrorism and extremism, illegal drug and weapons trafficking, and illegal migration. In this context we attach great importance to the developments in Afghanistan. The unstable situation there as well as the unrelenting activity of armed groups on the territory of Afghanistan continue to threaten the security and stability of our states. I believe the CSTO must consider every potential threat while paying even more attention to ensuring the security of the southern borders of Central Asia.

    In the mid-term, developing the organisation’s peacekeeping potential is an unconditional priority. Active work is underway in this area. CSTO peacekeeping forces have been created and are being improved every year; a plan is being developed to equip them with modern weapons, equipment and special tools.

    As you know, the institute of Special Representative of the CSTO Secretary-General for peacekeeping has been established, at Kazakhstan’s initiative. This means that all the necessary tools have been created, and we suggest that it is time to set the goal of getting the CSTO involved with the United Nations’ peacekeeping activities.

    This step would promote the legal status of the CSTO and ensure the organisation’s participation in international peacekeeping operations.

    Colleagues,

    Our assessments of the CSTO’s development and common view of the current aspects of international and regional security underlie the anniversary statement of the Collective Security Council. I would like to thank Armenia for its productive chairmanship and Russia for its timely initiative to hold this forum.

    Thank you for your attention.

    Nikol Pashinyan:Thank you, Mr Tokayev.

    Next to speak is President of the Kyrgyz Republic. Mr Sadyr Japarov, please, take the floor.

    President of the Kyrgyz Republic Sadyr Japarov: Good afternoon.

    Mr Putin, Mr Chairman of the CSTO Collective Security Council Nikol Pashinyan, Messrs heads of state,

    I am happy to meet with you in hospitable Moscow.

    I would like to begin with congratulations. First, I want to extend my congratulations to our fraternal peoples on the 77th anniversary of the Great Victory. On May 9, many thousands of people across Kyrgyzstan took part in the Immortal Regiment march carrying the slogans “Eternal Glory to the Heroes” and “Nobody Is Forgotten, Nothing Is Forgotten.” The republic holds this holiday sacred, as it epitomises the defeat of Nazism and Fascism by the Soviet people and invariably pays a sincere tribute to the memory of the heroic deed of our fathers and grandfathers.

    Second, I want to extend my congratulations to all of us on the 30th anniversary of signing the Collective Security Treaty and the 20th anniversary of the Collective Security Treaty Organisation. We fully support the political statement to be adopted today in connection with these two historic dates.

    The international events taking place in recent years show that the strategic decisions taken to ensure shared and collective security from Brest to Vladivostok were right.

    At the same time, I am pleased to note that throughout its existence the Collective Security Treaty Organisation has fulfilled the responsible mission assigned to it and developed as an institution, with its potential becoming ever stronger. In this connection, I would like to express my gratitude to CSTO Secretary-General Stanislav Zas, all his predecessors in the post and the CSTO Secretariat staff for their loyal service in the interests of the security of the Organisation’s member states.

    Colleagues,

    The current international situation does not offer cause for optimism, in terms of both global security and the world economy. Threats to security and military and political tensions have come too close to the borders of the CSTO zone of responsibility. Attempts are being made to interfere from the outside in the internal affairs of the CSTO member states.

    For example, earlier this year we had to help a CSTO member state get out of a security crisis it had unexpectedly found itself in. Our response was quick and effective. I fully support the decision to award participants in this peacekeeping mission.

    The situation at the southern borders of the CSTO remains alarming, primarily due to the unhindered activities of radical religious terrorist groups in some Afghan provinces. The external sponsors of these groups have far-reaching plans for Central Asia. I think we should keep focusing our attention and analysis on the Afghan issue. It is necessary to carry out an entire package of political-diplomatic and military-technical measures to ensure security in this area. At the same time, it is important to provide humanitarian aid for the Afghan people. Our fellow countrymen are among them.

    Colleagues,

    We are seriously alarmed by the sanctions war. The Kyrgyz economy has not yet recovered from the coronavirus pandemic, and now the sanctions are already creating a threat to food and energy security, macroeconomic sustainability and social stability.

    Under the circumstances, we must discuss and draft a common approach to alleviate the consequences of sanctions and prevent the deterioration of the socioeconomic situation in our countries. We will soon have an opportunity to do so at the meeting of the Supreme Eurasian Economic Council and the First Eurasian Economic Forum in the city of Bishkek.

    Colleagues, I hope for your personal participation as heads of your delegations, in which I am asking you to include heads of sectoral ministries and business structures.

    In conclusion, I would like to congratulate you again on the Day of the Great Victory and the two anniversaries of the Collective Security Treaty.

    I sincerely wish you and the friendly nations of the CSTO peace, stability, wellbeing and prosperity.

    Thank you for your attention.

    Nikol Pashinyan: Thank you, Mr Japarov.

    I am giving the floor to President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin.

    Mr President, go ahead, please.

    Vladimir Putin: Friends and colleagues,

    I will agree with the previous speakers – indeed, in the past few decades, the Collective Security Treaty Organisation has become considerably stronger and won a well-deserved reputation as an effective regional defence structure that ensures security and stability in the Eurasian space and reliably protects the sovereignty and territorial integrity of its member countries.

    Importantly, cooperation in the CSTO has always been built in the spirit of true allied relations, on the principles of friendship and neighbourliness, respect and consideration of each other’s interests, mutual assistance and support. The same principles guide our cooperation in the current difficult situation.

    The CSTO’s successful peacekeeping operation, held in Kazakhstan in January 2022 at the request of its leaders, showed the maturity of our Organisation and its real ability to adequately withstand acute challenges and threats.

    The contingent of the collective CSTO forces, sent into Kazakhstan for a limited period of time, prevented extremists, including those directed from abroad, from seizing power and helped to quickly stabilise the internal political situation in the republic.

    The use of peacekeeping forces at the request of the Kazakhstan leadership was the first operation of this kind in the CSTO’s history. The operation revealed the strong points of practical cooperation between our military structures and security services, and, at the same time, showed what we should work on to improve it.

    Today, we will sign a joint statement reaffirming, taking into account the experience gained, among other things, during the afore-mentioned operation, the resolve of our states to continue acting as partners in different areas of military and defence development, and building up our coordinated actions in the world arena.

    At the same time, it is quite logical that our current high-priority task is to further improve and streamline the work of the CSTO and its governing bodies. We will also provide the collective CSTO forces with modern weapons and equipment, we will enhance the interoperability of their troop contingents, and more effectively coordinate the joint actions of our military agencies and secret services.

    We streamline the relevant operations all the time during CSTO exercises, and we are set to expand such exercises. This autumn, there are plans to hold an entire series of joint CSTO exercises in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. I am confident that these measures will boost the combat readiness of our states’ military agencies and improve their coordination, as well as increase the entire peacekeeping potential of the CSTO.

    We also believe that the CSTO should continue its efforts to counter terrorism, drug trafficking and organised crime. Law enforcement agencies of our countries interact rather effectively in this field, so as to prevent the recruitment of people and to neutralise the resource potential of international terrorist organisations.

    Efforts to maintain biological security also require the most serious attention. For a long time, we sounded the alarm about US military biological activity in the post-Soviet space.

    It is common knowledge that the Pentagon has established dozens of specialised biological laboratories and centres in our common region, and that they are by no means merely providing practical medical assistance to the population of the countries where they are operating. Their main task is to collect biological materials and to analyse the spread of viruses and dangerous diseases for their own purposes.

    Now, during the special operation in Ukraine, documentary evidence was obtained that components of biological weapons were developed in close proximity to our borders, which violates the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention, and possible methods and mechanisms were worked out to destabilise the epidemiological situation in the post-Soviet space.

    In this regard, we count on our colleagues supporting the earliest possible implementation of Russia’s initiative to operationalise the designated CSTO council. Once again, I would like to note the importance of close coordination between CSTO members in matters of foreign policy, coordinated actions at the UN and other multilateral platforms, and promotion of common approaches to the multiplying international security issues.

    In this context, it is important to build up cooperation with our “natural” partners in the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation and the Commonwealth of Independent States. By the way, we think it would be appropriate and correct – we will discuss this – to grant the CIS observer status in the CSTO.

    I would like to highlight our priority task of jointly defending the memory of Victory in the Great Patriotic War, the feat of our peoples who saved the world from Nazism at the cost of enormous and irreparable sacrifices, and to counteract any attempts to whitewash the Nazis, their accomplices and modern followers.

    This is extremely important particularly now, when monuments to the heroes liberators are being barbarously demolished in a number of European countries, laying flowers at memorials is forbidden, and cynical attempts are being made to rewrite history, while praising murderers and traitors and insulting their victims, thus crossing out the feats of those who selflessly fought for Victory and won the war.

    Unfortunately, in our neighbouring country, Ukraine, neo-Nazism has been on the rise for a long time now, to which some of our partners from the “collective West” turn a blind eye, and thus actually encourage their activities. All this goes hand-in-hand with an unprecedented surge in frenzied Russophobia in the so-called civilised and politically correct Western countries.

    Indeed, we hear, and I hear people say that extremists can be found anywhere, which is true. Extremists are everywhere and one way or another they are leaving their underground hideouts and make themselves known. Nowhere, though – I want to underscore this – nowhere are Nazis being glorified at the state level and not a single civilised country’s authorities are encouraging thousands of neo-Nazi torchlight processions with Nazi symbols. This is something that is not practiced anywhere. But unfortunately, this is happening in Ukraine.

    The expansion of the North Atlantic Alliance is a problem that, in my view, is being created in an absolutely artificial manner because it is being done in the foreign policy interests of the United States. Generally, NATO is being used, in effect, as the foreign policy tool of a single country, and it is being done persistently, adroitly, and very aggressively. All of this is aggravating the already complex international security situation.

    As for the expansion, including the accession of two prospective new members, Finland and Sweden, I would like to inform you, colleagues, that Russia has no problems with these states. No problems at all! In this sense, therefore, there is no direct threat to Russia in connection with NATO’s expansion to these countries. But the expansion of its military infrastructure to these territories will certainly evoke a response on our part. We will see what it will be like based on the threats that are created for us. But generally speaking, problems are being created from nothing. So, we will respond to it in a fitting manner.

    Apart from everything else, apart from this interminable policy of expansion, the North Atlantic Alliance is emerging beyond its geographical destination, beyond the Euro-Atlantic area. It is increasingly active in trying to manage international issues and control the international security situation. It wants to wield influence in other regions of the world, but its actual performance leaves much to be desired. This certainly demands additional attention on our part.

    In conclusion, I want to reiterate that Russia will continue to contribute to deepening relations of strategic alliance with all CSTO member states. We will do our best to improve and develop effective partner cooperation within the CSTO and, of course, we will support the Armenian chairmanship’s ongoing work in this area.

    As for Russia’s special military operation in Ukraine, we will certainly discuss this, and I will inform you in detail about its causes and the current combat effort. But, of course, we will do this behind closed doors.

    Thank you for your attention.

    Nikol Pashinyan: Thank you, Mr Putin.

    President of the Republic of Tajikistan Emomali Rahmon is our next speaker. Please go ahead.

    President of the Republic of Tajikistan Emomali Rahmon: Colleagues,

    First of all, I would like to congratulate you on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the signing of the Collective Security Treaty and the 20th anniversary of the creation of the CSTO.

    I would like to thank the President of Russia for convening today’s meeting dedicated to these milestone events that are important for all of us. Anniversaries are a good opportunity to reflect on the path traveled and the development of the CSTO and to identify prospects for multilateral cooperation seeking to strengthen the common collective security system in light of new realities.

    Over the period under review, the CSTO has established itself as an important factor in strengthening peace and ensuring regional security and stability. The organisation’s successful peacekeeping mission earlier this year clearly showed it.

    We have created an extensive legal framework, the necessary working and coordinating bodies, as well as mechanisms aimed at fulfilling the organisation’s goals.

    In practice, due attention is paid to strengthening and consolidating mutual trust within the CSTO. The CSTO’s international ties are expanding. Last year, we completed the ratification procedure and launched the institutions of observers under the CSTO and the CSTO partners as part of the Tajik chairmanship.

    Field and command-staff exercises are conducted on a permanent basis, and measures are being taken to supply modern weapons and military equipment to the collective security system’s forces and means. All this helps maintain a high degree of combat readiness, mobility, training and skills of command and service personnel for bringing joint solutions to common tasks.

    Today, the CSTO is an important platform for equal dialogue and cooperation between member states in all three basic dimensions: political interaction, military cooperation and joint efforts to counter modern challenges and threats.

    The CSTO Collective Security Strategy to 2025, which reflects the principles of our interaction in the mid-term, is an important document that is guiding our organisation along its own path of development. Our common assessment of the state and development prospects of the organisation is reflected in a joint statement that we will adopt following the summit.

    Notably, today we are facing no less important tasks to strengthen our common security. Given the manifold growth of challenges and threats to security, we will have to step up joint efforts to strengthen the Organisation’s potential and capabilities.

    For example, we can see that negative factors have been accumulating in Afghanistan over the past 40 years, and they have worsened the military-political and socioeconomic situation in that country. In this regard, the CSTO needs to be prepared for various scenarios on the southern borders.

    Tajikistan plans to continue to actively contribute to ensuring common security in the organisation’s regions of responsibility.

    Thank you.

    Nikol Pashinyan: Thank you very much.

    Colleagues, I will now speak in my national capacity, if I may.

    First of all, I would like to thank the President of Russia for hosting the anniversary CSTO summit in Moscow and the warm welcome. Of course, our organisation’s anniversary is also an excellent occasion to sum up the intermediate results and to discuss prospects for the further development of our organisation.

    The President of Belarus raised important questions about interaction between the CSTO member countries and touched on, frankly, rather problematic issues. In general, there are a lot of positive developments in the history of the CSTO, because in reality it was, is and will be the most important factor in ensuring security and stability in the region.

    But, as we see, we are discussing not only anniversary-related issues at this anniversary summit, because the situation is fairly tense in the CSTO area of ​​responsibility. I want to touch on some of the issues that the President of Belarus mentioned.

    Regarding voting by the CSTO member countries, this issue does exist, indeed. Often, our voting is not synchronised, but this is not something new. This has been typical of our organisation for a long time now. Armenia has repeatedly raised this issue, and we have repeatedly discussed it in the regular course of business. Clearly, this issue needs to be further discussed as well.

    With regard to interaction as well as response and rapid response mechanisms, this is also a critical issue for Armenia, because, as you are aware, last year on these days, Azerbaijani troops invaded the sovereign territory of Armenia. Armenia turned to the CSTO for it to activate the mechanisms that are provided for in the Regulations governing the CSTO response to crisis situations of December 10, 2010 which is a document approved by the Collective Security Council. Unfortunately, we cannot say that the organisation responded as the Republic of Armenia expected.

    For a long time now, we have been raising the issue of sales of weapons by CSTO member countries to a country that is unfriendly to Armenia, which used these weapons against Armenia and the Armenian people. This is also a problem.

    Frankly, the CSTO member countries’ response during the 44-day war of 2020 and the post-war period did not make the Republic of Armenia and the Armenian people very happy, but I want to emphasise the special role played by the Russian Federation and President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin personally in halting the war in Nagorno-Karabakh.

    I would like to reaffirm that Armenia remains committed to the trilateral statements of November 9, 2020. I am referring to the trilateral statements by the President of the Russian Federation, the President of Azerbaijan and the Prime Minister of Armenia, as well as the trilateral statements of January 11, 2021 and November 26, 2021.

    I think it is critically important to sum up the results, but Armenia, as a founding member of the Collective Security Treaty Organisation, is committed to the organisation’s further development and considers it a key contributor to stability and security in the Eurasian region, as well as the security of the Republic of Armenia, and is positive about providing its full support for the organisation’s further development.

    Now I give the floor to CSTO Secretary General Stanislav Zas so that he tells us about the documents that we are going to sign.

    CSTO Secretary General Stanislav Zas: Mr Chairman, members of the Collective Security Council,

    First, I would like to thank you for today’s meeting devoted to the CSTO’s anniversary. Twenty years is not such a long period for an international organisation. However, it has traversed a very long road during these years – from the formation of the idea of collective defence to the well-established, multi-faceted international organisation that it is today.

    Therefore, I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate you, heads of state, on the anniversary and to thank you for your hard work on establishing, developing and strengthening our organisation. I am saying this because, of course, all this would have been impossible without your constant attention and support.

    You have an analytical review of the CSTO activities over 20 years of its existence in your folders on the table. This review was prepared at the instruction of the President of the Republic of Tajikistan. Incidentally, our work on this review was very interesting and useful. On the eve of such great anniversaries, we tried to look back at the path travelled and to assess the CSTO’s status. We developed a good feeling that stayed with us: We have reasons to be proud.

    The mechanism of foreign policy coordination is functioning well in the CSTO format. Using this mechanism, we form the consolidated position of our states on urgent regional and global issues. That said, I agree with the President of Belarus that this is clearly not enough these days. We should not avoid answers, consolidated answers to the most pressing issues.

    We have developed cooperation with international regional organisations and their relevant structures. We have preserved and, importantly, are cultivating the principle of prioritising political and diplomatic means to achieve CSTO goals. This is, probably, one of the main pillars of our organisation.

    Over these years, we have considerably built up the CSTO’s

    military capacity. We are upgrading the structure, equipment and training of the bodies in charge of managing and forming a collective security system.

    We consider the formation of a uniform system for training personnel, management bodies and troops an important achievement of the CSTO. Of course, the highest form of this system is embodied in the planned joint miscellaneous exercises that we hold every year.

    We created and are developing an effective mechanism to counter modern challenges and threats, such as drug trafficking, illegal migration, international terrorism, and crime using information technology. To this end, joint emergency and preventive measures are taken and special operations are carried out regularly. The results prove their relevance and effectiveness.

    The formation of a collective biological security toolkit is nearing completion. This topic was raised today, and I think we will return to it.

    An important place is occupied by the CSTO crisis response system. Considering the first practical experience gained in Kazakhstan in testing this system, it probably makes sense that today we will also consider issues of improving the crisis response system.

    The further development of our organisation will be carried out taking into account your decisions and instructions – I am grateful for today’s initiatives and instructions – and based on the plan for implementing the CSTO Collective Security Strategy until 2025.

    By the way, next year we need to start preparing the initial data to develop a new CSTO Collective Security Strategy for the next period, 2026–2030. It is high time, and the situation now is significantly different than it was five years ago. This also means a lot of work to be done, and it probably requires that our countries join analytical forces.

    Mr Chair and members of the Collective Security Council,

    The following two documents have been submitted for your consideration and signing: a draft statement of the CSTO Collective Security Council on the 30th anniversary of the Collective Security Treaty and the 20th anniversary of the Collective Security Treaty Organisation; and a draft decision of the Collective Security Council “On awarding participants in the CSTO peacekeeping mission in the Republic of Kazakhstan.”

    The draft decision recognises the most distinguished participants in the peacekeeping operation. Six members of our militaries, including commander of our peacekeeping mission in Kazakhstan, Colonel General Andrei Serdyukov, are recommended for the CSTO honourary badge, I and II Class, for their skillful leadership, preparation and conduct of this operation, and a number of military personnel are recommended for the medal For Strengthening Collective Security for active participation and selflessness in this operation.

    The documents have passed the necessary approval procedure, have been adopted by the statutory bodies and are ready for signing.

    I would ask you to consider and support these two documents.

    Thank you.

    Nikol Pashinyan: Colleagues, I propose to move on to the signing of the documents.

    مواطن الضعف الغربيّ في المواجهة في أوكرانيا

     العميد د. أمين محمد حطيط

    عندما خسر الغرب حربه الكونية على سورية وعجز عن تفكيكها لإعادة تركيبها بما يناسب المشروع الصهيوأميركي الذي يخدم نظرية الأحادية القطبية العالمية بقيادة أميركا، اتجه الى اعتماد استراتيجية بديلة تقضي بإطالة أمد الصراع في سورية لمنعها من استثمار إنجازاتها والحؤول دون عودتها الى حياتها الطبيعية من غير مسّ بوحدة أراضيها وسيادتها التامة عليها، وتوجيه ضربة استراتيجية كبرى لروسيا لمنعها من استثمار الإنجاز في سورية وحرمانها من موقعها في العلاقات الدولية والحؤول دون اكتمال ظروف تشكل نظام عالمي جديد قائم على التعددية في الأقطاب والتحالفات والتفاهمات والمجموعات الدولية الاستراتيجية.

    لقد انصرف الغرب منذ العام 2019 ـ تاريخ تأكد هزيمته في سورية الى وضع الخطط الهادفة لتحقيق ما يريد في الميدان الشرق أوسطي وعلى الحدود مع روسيا لمحاصرتها ثم إسقاطها وشطبها من المعادلة الدولية وكانت استراتيجية الاحتواء والتطويق هي المسلك المفتوح أمام الغرب بقيادة أميركية لتحقيق الغرض، ولهذا كانت عملية أذربيجان ضدّ أرمينيا حليفة روسيا وكان مشروع الثورة الملونة في كازاخستان ضدّ النظام الموالي لموسكو والمنتظم معها في منظمة الأمن الجماعي، ثم كانت السلوكيات الأخطر والأدهى من حيث الاستفزاز والاستدراج في أوكرانيا التي تحوّلت بشكل واضح الى رأس رمح في الخاصرة لا بل في القلب الروسي.

    فهمت روسيا مبكراً وعميقاً ما يخطط لها وقرأت جيداً أهداف الغرب بقيادة أميركية ضدّها ولم تهمل العبارات الغربية التي تتضمّن علانية او ضمناً مفهوم العداء الغربي لروسيا سواء في ذلك على صعيد الناتو أو على صعيد دول الغرب الكبرى التي جاهرت بأنّ «روسيا عدو»، لكنها التزمت في الردّ أقصى درجات ضبط النفس وابتلاع المشاعر السلبية مع الاستمرار في تطوير العلاقات الاقتصادية التي فيها مصالح للطرفين بشكل متبادل وشبه متوازن لا بل فيها أرجحية لصالح روسيا. لكنها في الوقت ذاته اتجهت الى بناء المجموعة الاستراتيجية الدولية التي تتقاطع مع أطرافها في السعي لإقامة التوازن الدولي والنظام التعددي على أنقاض النظام العالمي الأحادي الذي تعمل أميركا لإرسائه وتثبيته، فكان التطوير الهامّ للعلاقة مع الصين وايران وإقامة المثلث الاستراتيجي المناهض للهيمنة والسيطرة الغربية على العالم المثلث الذي شكل إنجازاً استراتيجياً للدول الثلاث أرفدته روسيا بإنجازها في أذربيجان وكازاخستان حيث أفشلت مهمة تطويقها من الجنوب والجنوب الغربي وراكمت به انتصاراتها الى جانب محور المقاومة في سورية.

    بيد انّ الغرب بقيادة أميركية وبوقوفه على ما تقدّم، شعر باختلال في المشهد الدولي والاستراتيجي لصالح روسيا وحلفائها وقرّر جرّ روسيا الى ميدان يستنزفها فيه لسنوات تنتهي بشطب روسيا من المعادلة الدولية، ولما كان الطوق الأميركي كسر في أذربيجان وكازاخستان، وانّ الميدان السوري مهما تعاظم أمره لا يشكل مدخلاً كافياً لإدارة حرب استنزاف ضدّ روسيا حتى ولو نجح الأمر في ان تكون العمليات فيه كافية لاستنزاف سورية وفقاً للتقدير الغربي فقد وقع الاختيار على أوكرانيا لتكون ميدان الاستنزاف القاتل لروسيا، استنزاف تنفذه قوى عسكرية وشبه عسكرية وميليشيات وجماعات إرهابية لا تتضمّن مباشرة في صفوفها قطعات من الجيوش النظامية الغربية المنضوية او غير المنضوية في الـناتو، استنزاف تخدمه وتواكبه حرب شاملة يشنها الغرب على روسيا من كلّ الأبواب السياسية والاقتصادية والفكرية والاجتماعية والرياضية، حرب تشمل كلّ شيء باستثناء العمل العسكري القتالي المباشر الذي تقوم به الجيوش النظامية.

    لقد رأى الغرب في ساحة المعركة في أوكرانيا منفذه الأخير لتعويض ما فاته او ما خسره او تعذر عليه تحقيقه في مواجهة أعدائه في العقود الثلاثة الماضية، وخاصة في العقد الأخير الذي تبلورت فيه أكثر وجوه خسائر الغرب وتقدّم خصومه، ولذلك كانت أميركا ملحة ومُصرّة على تفجير الوضع بوجه روسيا واستدراجها الى الميدان الأوكراني، حتى أنها وصلت الى درجة وضع الخطط التنفيذية لاجتياح إقليم الدونباس وشبه جزيرة القرم التي ضمّتها روسيا اليها قبل ٨ سنوات وصولاً الى الاستعداد للتحرّش بروسيا داخل أراضيها.

    في مواجهة الإصرار الغربي قرّرت روسيا الدفاع لثني الغرب عن خطته بكلّ السبل، بدءاً بالتمسك باتفاقيتي مينسك ١ و ٢ اللتين تضمنان أمن السكان في إقليم دونباس، ثم بتحشيد ١٠٠ ألف عسكري على الحدود لإظهار القوة وحمل الخصم على التراجع، ثم كشف أسرار السلوكيات الغربية العدائية ضدّ روسيا والسكان من أصل روسي، إلا أنّ كلّ ذلك لم ينجح في ثني الغرب عن خطته العدائية وإصراره على جرّ روسيا الى حرب استنزاف وتدمير شاملة، حيث اضطرت روسيا إليها في نهاية المطاف فحرّكت قواتها غرباً تحت عنوان «عملية عسكرية خاصة» لحماية الأمن القومي الروسي وأمن الأشخاص الروس عبر الحدود،

    والآن وبعد أسبوعين من انطلاق العملية التي ظنّ الغرب في البدء وبخاصة أميركا انه نجح في استدراج موسكو اليها، وانّ الفخ أطبق على الدب الروسي وفقاً لما يشتهي الغرب، بعد أسبوعين من العمليات العسكرية يتبيّن للغرب سوء تقديره ويكتشف انّ الفخ المزعوم لا فعالية له بالشكل المرتجى، لا بل انّ الآثار السلبية للمواجهة القائمة تطال الغرب عامة وأوروبا خاصة بأضرار تفوق ما كانوا يتوقعون إنزاله بروسيا، وتنكشف مواطن الضعف الغربي في أكثر من عنوان نذكر منها:

    أولاً: خشية الناتو بقيادة أميركا من المواجهة العسكرية المباشرة مع الجيش الروسي ما حمل الناتو على تجنب التدخل المباشر والإعلان صباح مساء انّ أوكرانيا ليست جزءاً من الناتو الذي هو «حلف دفاعي لا يبادر الى هجوم» بزعمهم، وهم في الحقيقة يخشون مواجهة القوة النووية الثانية في العالم، وكان للإنذار الروسي بعد تجهيز قوات الردع الاستراتيجي أثره الكافي في هذا المجال،

    ثانياً: الارتداد السلبي للحرب الاقتصادية علي الغرب وخاصة أوروبا في مجال الطاقة وظهور وهن الاقتصاد الأوروبي المعتمد علي الغاز والنفط الروسي ما جعل الحرب الاقتصادية ذات مفعول بالغ التأثير على أوروبا ما ينذر بسقوط الاقتصاد الأوروبي لا بل بتدميره في بضعة شهور لا تتعدّى الستة ان لم يوجد حلّ لأزمة الطاقة ولا يبدو انّ في الأفق حلاً.

    ثالثاً العجز عن تنظيم مقاومة وطنية أوكرانية فاعلة والاضطرار الى الاستعانة بمرتزقة الخارج ما سيحول البوابة الشرقية لأوروبا ومن أوكرانيا بالذات الى مجمع للإرهاب العالمي ما سيرتدّ أيضاً على الامن الأوربي بوجهيه القومي والفردي وينعكس سلباً على دورة الحياة الاقتصادية والاجتماعية بشكل خاص.

    رابعاً: تفلت روسيا من مكامن استهدافها بحرب الاستنزاف، ما يجعل الغرب يتحمّل من أعباء هذه الحرب مع طول المدة فوق ما يتحمّله المستهدف خاصة أننا نسجل لروسيا تعاملها الذكي مع الموضوع كما يلي:

    ـ اعتمادها استراتيجية الضغط المتدرّج الصاعد بدل استراتيجية السيطرة والاحتلال،

    ـ استعمالها قدراً لا يتجاوز ١/١٣ من مجمل قدراتها العسكرية بحيث تغدو العمليات العسكرية في أوكرانيا بمثابة مناورات بسيطة تسطيع القيادة إبدال القوى فيها شهرياً او مرة في الشهرين.

    ـ تجنب الدخول الكثيف الى المدن وخوض حرب الشوارع.

    ـ تجنب الانتشار والانفلاش العسكري الواسع الذي يتيح للإرهاب فرص الاستهداف السهل.

    ـ الأداء الإنساني الراقي مع السكان المدنيين وتجنّب المسّ بهم ما يقلبهم الى خانة العداء.

    ـ الاعتماد المكثف علي أسلحة عالية الدقة في تدمير الأهداف العسكرية والاستراتيجية دون المسّ بالسكان والتقيّد المتقن بقاعدة التناسب والضرورة المعتمدة في القانون الدولي الإنساني.

    ـ وأخيراً عدم العمل تحت ضغط الوقت لا بل استعمال المناورة المتقلبة بين الشدة والاسترخاء وفتح الممرات الإنسانية لتحييد السكان وخدمة لاستراتيجية الضغط.

    لكلّ ما تقدّم نستطيع القول بأنّ روسيا عرفت متى تطلق عمليتها لتجعلها عملاً عسكرياً استباقياً في معرض الدفاع وعرفت كيف تتملص من فخاخ العدو وعرفت كيف تناور في الميدان وعلى المسرح الاستراتيجي العام، وبالتالي عرفت كيف تستعمل أوراقها لتكتب نصرها بقدم ثابتة ونفس واثقة بقدراتها.

    *أستاذ جامعي ـ باحث استراتيجي

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      الإثنين 21 شباط 2022

    علي حيدر

    لا تزال الجولة الاستطلاعية التي نفذتها المسيَّرة «حسان» التابعة لحزب الله، لمسافة 70 كلم شمال فلسطين المحتلة، تتفاعل داخل الكيان الإسرائيلي على المستويين الرسمي والإعلامي. إلا أن الأسئلة التي تشغل جهات القرار السياسي والأمني تنبع من الموقع والدور الذي أصبحت تلعبه المسيّرات في معادلات القوة، في ضوء تطورها والنتائج التي حققتها في المعارك التي شهدتها وتشهدها المنطقة، من أذربيجان – أرمينيا، إلى اليمن في دفاعه ضد العدوان السعودي – الإماراتي – الأميركي.

    (أ ف ب )

    من الواضح أن الصمت الذي خيَّم على المستوى الرسمي في كيان العدو ناجم عن إدراك لخطورة الرسائل وحراجة الموقف ومحدودية الخيارات. لذلك انتهى إلى قرار بتوجيه وزير الأمن بني غانتس رسالة ذكَّر فيها بقوة سلاح الجو الإسرائيلي متجاهلاً حقيقة أن هذا الأمر خبِره اللبنانيون منذ نشوء الكيان الإسرائيلي. إلا أن الجديد الذي يبدو أن العدو بدأ باستيعابه، هو أن ما كان يخشى حصوله قد تحقّق. إذ شكّلت الجولة الاستطلاعية للمسيّرة «حسان» ترجمة عملية للمخاوف التي عبَّر عنها كبار المسؤولين الإسرائيليين في مناسبات عدة، حول خطر امتلاك حزب الله مسيّرات متطورة وتأثير ذلك في معادلات القوة في المنطقة.

    ويبدو أن حزب الله هدف من العملية النوعية، على مستوى القرار والأبعاد والرسائل والإنجاز العملياتي (فشل منظومات الاعتراض وسلاح الجو في إسقاطها)، إظهار جانب من قدراته المتطورة، لتعزيز معادلة الردع وتصويب تقديرات مؤسسات القرار في كيان العدو، لتكون خياراتها أكثر عقلانية في حسابات الكلفة والجدوى.

    وقد يساعد في فهم خلفية حجم المخاوف التي أظهرها قادة العدو، استحضار قراءة الجهات المهنية والقيادية في كيان العدو لهذا التهديد الذي تم تناوله في مناسبات عدة، من موقع التحذير. فقد نقلت صحيفة «هآرتس»، في تموز الماضي، أن إيران «وجدت في المسيّرات رداً جزئياً على تفوق سلاح الجو الإسرائيلي، وأن الجيش قلق من أن تصل هذه القدرات إلى حلفائها في المنطقة. ويتقاطع هذا التقدير مع إعلان قائد المنطقة الوسطى في الجيش الأميركي الجنرال كينيث ماكنزي، في ضوء المسيرات المتطورة التي تصنعها إيران على نطاق واسع، «أننا للمرة الأولى منذ الحرب الكورية، نعمل من دون تفوق جوي كامل».

    تهديد المسيرات من منظور استراتيجي إسرائيلي: سلاح فتاك، دقيق، وكاسر للتوازن

    ارتقى التعبير عن المخاوف الإسرائيلية مع انكشاف مزيد من مزايا تطور المسيرات التي تصنعها إيران. ففي خطاب لوزير الأمن الإسرائيلي بني غانتس في 12/9/2021، في مؤتمر معهد السياسات التابع لمعهد هرتسيليا، حذر من أن «إحدى الأدوات النوعية التي طورتها إيران هي المسيرات غير المأهولة» التي تشكل «منظومة من السلاح الفتاك، والدقيق مثل الصواريخ الباليستية أو الطائرات القادرة على تجاوز آلاف الكيلومترات. وفي السياق نفسه، تناول رئيس وزراء العدو هذا التهديد المستجد في كلمته أمام الأمم المتحدة، في أيلول الماضي، مشيراً إلى أن المسيرات الإيرانية «مزوَّدة بأسلحة فتاكة، وقادرة على أن تهاجم في أي مكان وزمان. وهم يخططون لتغطية سماء الشرق الأوسط بهذه القوة الفتاكة». وأعرب عن قلق إسرائيل من أن «تزود إيران حلفاءها في اليمن وسوريا ولبنان بالمئات من هذا النوع، ولاحقاً بالآلاف».

    لكن من الواضح أنه لم يخطر في بال بينيت وغانتس أن ينتقل حزب الله إلى مرحلة صناعة المسيّرات محلياً كما أعلن الأمين العام لحزب الله السيد حسن نصر الله أخيراً، وحرص على أن يلمس الإسرائيلي بشكل مباشر مستوى تطورها عبر اختراق منظومات الدفاع الجوي الإسرائيلي في ذروة استعداداتها.

    من الواضح أن تناول غانتس وبينيت بعبارات متشابهة للتهديد الذي تمثله المسيرات كان نتاج بحث وتقدير الأجهزة المهنية المختصة في جيش العدو، ويكشف عن حجم مخاوف المستويات القيادية من التهديد المتصاعد لهذا النوع من الأسلحة التي تنضم إلى مروحة أخرى من الأدوات العسكرية، في سياق مسار تصاعدي من تطور معادلات القوة في المنطقة.

    خطر المسيّرات يوازي خطر الصواريخ الدقيقة

    الخبير الإسرائيلي في الدفاع ضد الصواريخ، عوزي روبين، أشار في دراسة مفصلة قبل 3 أشهر حول سلاح المسيرات وموقعه في سلم التهديدات المحدقة بإسرائيل، إلى أن تطوره وصل إلى مرحلة يشكل فيها تهديداً من الدرجة الأولى على إسرائيل يصعب اعتراضه.

    وبعدما تناول مسار تطور المسيرات من الناحية التقنية، لفت إلى أن صناعة المسيرات أقل كلفة وأبسط من صناعة الصواريخ، وهي تشكل سلاحاً دقيقاً قادراً على إصابة أهداف محددة بدقة متر أو مترين. وأضاف روبين الذي ترأس منظومة حيتس لمدة ثماني سنوات، أن من المزايا التي تمنح المسيرات تفوقاً أنه «من غير الممكن التنبؤ مسبقاً من أي اتجاه ستصل»، ما يجعل من الصعب تشخيصها واعتراضها. كما أن بعض المسيرات الإيرانية تتمتع بالقدرة على التخفي ولا تستطيع الرادارات كشفها ما يفاقم من صعوبة اعتراضها.

    وتناول بعضاً من المخاطر العملياتية التي يمكن أن تشكلها المسيرات على إسرائيل، موضحاً أن النوع الهجومي والانتحاري منها يمكن أن يضرب نقاطاً حاسمة مثل مخازن الطوارئ وتجمعات المدرعات. إضافة إلى أنه يمكن أن تستهدف قوات الجيش الإسرائيلي خلال حركته وإرباك مناورته البرية. كما يمكن أن تضرب منظومات الدفاع الجوي للجيش، في إشارة إلى القبة الحديدية وغيرها من المنظومات الاعتراضية. وخلص إلى أنه من غير الممكن النظر إلى المسيّرات كوسيلة ثانوية من أجل «الإزعاج، والجمع والردع»، وإنما وسيلة يمكن أن تشكل «كاسراً للتوازن»، يوازي خطرها خطر الصواريخ الدقيقة.


    يريدون دفع الناس الى الجنون!

    كتب يوآف ليمور، معلق الشؤون العسكرية في صحيفة «إسرائيل هيوم» تعليقاً على ما جرى:
    «حققت إيران قفزة كبيرة في السنوات الأخيرة في قدرات طائراتها المسيّرة. هذه الطائرات تحلّق بعيداً، تحمل وقوداً وأسلحة أكثر، وقادرة على التخفّي بشكل أفضل من ذي قبل. وعلى عكس الصواريخ، فان المسيّرات والصواريخ المجنّحة يصعب اسقاطها لأنها تطير ببطء وقريبة جداً من الأرض. ومن غير المعقول ان نصف منطقة الشمال تدخل الى الملاجئ في كل مرة تدخل فيها مسيّرة الى إسرائيل. هذا يمنح حزب الله (او حماس في الجنوب) طريقة سهلة للغاية لدفع إسرائيل إلى الجنون متى شاء.

    الاستراتيجية الإيرانية واضحة، وهي تطويق إسرائيل بالصواريخ بكافة انواعها، بما في ذلك المسيّرات والصواريخ المجنحة. وهذا يسمح لإيران بشن هجوم مفاجئ وأكثر دقة على إسرائيل، عندما تقرر، كما حاولت مرات عدة في الماضي.
    يوجد لدى الايرانيين عدد كبير من الملفات المفتوحة مع إسرائيل، وعدد غير قليل من عمليات الانتقام التي يسعون لتنفيذها.

    ايران لن تنحرف عن طريقها. هذا ليس من طبيعة النظام، وبالتأكيد ليس من طبيعة الحرس الثوري. والفهم الاستراتيجي هذا يستوجب الآن فحص السياسات الإسرائيلية، في كافة الساحات».

    من ملف : ما كان العدو يخشاه… تحقّق

    Russia opens doors for Iran’s Eurasian integration

    Raisi and Putin’s January meeting may have seemed anticlimactic, but Russia is now opening doors for Iran’s Eurasian integration

    February 01 2022

    By Yeghia Tashjian

    On 20 January, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi traveled to meet his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in Moscow, with the express purpose of advancing bilateral ties between both countries at the highest level.

    Among the talking points of the two leaders were their shared regional and international issues, the Vienna negotiations for Iran’s nuclear program, and regional cooperation in Eurasia.https://thecradle.co/Article/analysis/6507

    Contrary to expectations and to the positive statements made before the meeting, the visit did not end with the announcement of a grand strategic agreement, such as the one that took place between China and Iran a year ago.

    Nevertheless, the visit did push negotiations between both parties to a higher level, and facilitated Iran’s economic integration into the Russian-Chinese Eurasian architecture.

    Great expectations, not grand declarations

    In recent years, both the improvement of relations between Tehran and Moscow, and a focus on a strategic partnership have become particularly important tasks for Iran.

    Besides working to boost trade and economic ties – a priority for sanction-laden Iran – an additional impetus may be given to the development of military-political interaction in the future.

    In October 2021, quoting Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, Interfax announced that Tehran was ready to forge a strategic partnership with Moscow, and that both parties are expected to sign agreement documents in the coming months.

    According to the TASS agency, both sides were close to completing work on a document on comprehensive cooperation for a period of 20 years.

    The timing is important for both countries. As the chairman of the Iranian parliamentary committee on national security and foreign policy, Mojtaba Zulnur, told the Mehr News Agency that in order to overcome US sanctions, Iran seeks a partnership agreement with Russia, one that would be analogous to the agreement between Tehran and Beijing.

    However, contrary to expectations and to some statements prior to the Iranian leader’s trip to Russia, President Raisi’s visit has, at least for the time being, failed to achieve a major breakthrough on that front. According to sources, this process may take some time and may, at least for Moscow, be linked to the outcome of Iran’s nuclear negotiations.

    However, two recent events involving Russia and Iran had significant resonance: the joint naval exercises between Russia, China, and Iran in the Indian Ocean, and Iran’s relations with the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) alongside the materialization of the International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC).

    Will Iran be joining the EAEU anytime soon?

    Iranian political analyst and former Fars News Agency (English) chief editor Mostafa Khoshcheshm says, instead, that Russia looks to be pushing for Iran’s entry into the EAEU. “Negotiations,” he reveals, “are already underway.”

    In 2019, the preferential trade agreement (PTA), signed between Iran and the EAEU in 2018, entered into force.

    The agreement offered lower tariffs on 862 commodity types, of which 502 were Iranian exports to the EAEU. As a result, in the period between October 2019 and October 2020, trade volume increased by more than 84 percent.

    According to Vali Kaleji, the Iranian expert on Central Asia and Caucasian Studies, this volume of trade was achieved at a time when the US, under former president Donald Trump, withdrew from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) in May 2018 and was following the policy of ‘maximum pressure’ against Iran.

    In October 2021, Iran and EAEU started negotiating an upgrade of the PTA into a Free Trade Agreement (FTA). If achieved, this will set off a massive increase in the volume of trade between Iran and the EAEU, also known as the Union.

    Both Moscow and Tehran have reasons to push for the further integration of Iran in the Union.

    For Iran, this opportunity will provide improved access to Eurasian and European markets. It will also provide EAEU member states with increased access to the Persian Gulf and the Mediterranean Sea. For this reason, Moscow may be thinking a step ahead.

    Moscow views the signing of an FTA agreement with Iran as a crucial step for Iran’s entry into the Union.

    Russia has concerns that if Iran reaches an agreement with the US over its nuclear issue, there may be positive Iranian policy shifts towards the west, and this may not serve Russia’s interests in West Asia, especially in Syria.

    For Russia, a nuclear Iran is preferable to a pro-western one. For this reason, Russia would be glad to see the acceleration of Iran’s integration into Eurasian regional institutions.

    Opening gateways, prudently

    Iran’s accession to the nine-member Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) should be viewed from this perspective. Moreover, with Tehran joining the EAEU, neighboring and friendly countries, such as Iraq and Syria may follow.

    Russia would then have a direct railway and highway connection via Iran to its Syrian coastal military base in Tartous. This would serve its military goals on a logistic and operational level in case a crisis occurs in the Black Sea and Russia’s navy faces challenges.

    On 27 December 2021, Iran and Iraq agreed to build a railway connecting both countries. The 30km railway would be strategically important for Iran, linking the country to the Mediterranean Sea via Iraq and Syria’s railways.

    This would be a win-win situation for both China and Russia; one where China through its Belt and Road Initiative, and Russia through its International North-South Transport Corridor, would have direct railway access to the Mediterranean Sea.

    This route also would compete with India’s Arab-Mediterranean Corridor connecting India to the Israeli port of Haifa through the various railways of the UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Jordan.

    So, for China and Russia, consolidating Iran’s geopolitical and geo-economic position in the region is an important step. From a Russian perspective, having a direct land route through the Levant to the Mediterranean will bolster its power base in Syria and extend its soft power through trade and energy deals within neighboring countries.

    It was for this reason that Iran acted prudently against the recent Azerbaijani provocations on the Armenian border. Tehran’s concern was that Turkey would have direct access to the Caspian Sea and Central Asia through a possible ‘corridor’ passing from southern Armenia.

    This is known as the Trans-Caspian International Transport Route Middle Corridor, connecting Europe to Central Asia through Turkey.

    For Iran, this would be equivalent to NATO’s expansion in the Caspian Sea and further towards China. Hence, the west-east trade route would pose a serious threat to Iran and Russia and isolate them in Eurasia.

    For the Iranians, this route would not only bypass Iran and Russia but would also impose a serious challenge to the north-south trade route initiated by the Iranians, Russians, and other Asian countries.

    According to Khoshcheshm, “animosities by the western block have driven Iran and Eurasia closer to each other and this has given strong motivation for the Russians and Chinese to speed up Iran’s accession to the Eurasian block to hammer joint cooperation in economic and geopolitical areas and prevent US penetration into the region.”

    Iran’s entry into the EAEU is therefore a win-win situation for both Moscow and Tehran. Russia would consolidate its geo-economic and geopolitical position in the Middle East, and Iran would have a railway connection to Russia and Europe and further expand Moscow’s influence in the region.

    However, this ultimate objective may still need time, and will face challenges from the US and its allies in the region.

    Confidence amid uncertainty

    Iran’s possible accession to the EAEU would attract investments from neighboring countries to the underdeveloped rail communication between Iran and Russia in the Caucasus region.

    The opening of communication channels between Armenia and Azerbaijan, as part of the 9 November trilateral statement, would facilitate trade and cargo transportation in the region as part of the North-South Transport corridor.

    In such circumstances, the railway network is very important as the volume of goods transported by rail is far greater and faster than land and truck routes. However, the implementation of these projects is not yet a certainty.

    The state-owned Russian Railways ceased implementation of its projects in Iran in April 2020 due to fears over US sanctions. Such a decision would affect other programs within the framework of the Russian-Iranian initiative in creating the North-South Transport Corridor.

    Both sides would have to wait to overcome US sanctions, as economic routes are always a win-win situation.

    By joining the EAEU and integrating into Eurasian regional organizations, Iran would consolidate its geo-economic position into a regional transport hub, opening the West Asian gate for Moscow’s railway access to the eastern Mediterranean.

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

    Who “lost” Kazakhstan and to whom?

    Jauary 09, 2022

    Dear friends, Christ is born!  Glorify Him!

    The magnitude of the crisis in Kazakhstan has surprised many, including myself.  Some compared what happened to the Euromaidan in Kiev, but that is a very bad comparison, if only because the Euromaidan happened on one square of one city whereas the violent insurrection (because that it was it was!) in Kazakhstan began in the western regions but quickly spread to the entire country (which is huge).  Just by the sheer magnitude of the insurrection (about 20’000 well organized and trained combatants all over the country) and its extreme violence (cops had their heads cut off!), it was pretty obvious that this was not something spontaneous, but something carefully prepared, organized and then executed.  The way the insurgents immediately attacked all TV stations and airports, while bigger mobs were trashing the streets and looting stores, shows a degree of sophistication Ed Luttwak would have approved of!

    To me, this is much more similar to what happened in Syria in the cities of Daraa, Homs, Hama, Aleppo, Damascus, and many more.

    I will admit that my initial reaction also was “wow, how could the Kazakh and Russian intelligence services miss all the indicators and warnings that such a huge insurrection was carefully prepared and about to explode?”.  Then came the news that President Tokaev appealed to The Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), which up until now was a rather flaccid organization and that very same evening Russia began an air bridge to move forces to Kazakhstan, including the subunits of the 45th Guards Separate Special Forces Brigade, 98th Guards Airborne Division and 31st Guards Airborne Assault Brigade.  Russian military transporters also airlifted small contingents of Armenian, Kyrgyz, Tadjik special forces.  Most interestingly, the Belarusians also sent one reinforced company from their elite 103rd Separate Guards Airborne Brigade (that is the famous Vitebsk Airborne Division, one of the best Soviet Airborne Divisions).  Considering the current tensions with the West over the Ukraine, the speed with which these forces were sent to Kazakhstan indicated to me that this was clearly a prepared move.

    In other words, at least the Russians had advanced warning and were fully prepared.  If so, I doubt they said anything to their colleagues from the CSTO, with the possible (likely?) exception of the Belarusians.

    Okay, so let’s explore the implications of the above.

    If the Russians knew, why did they do nothing at all to prevent what just happened?

    Here we first need to revisit what recently happened in Belarus.

    President Lukashenko had pretty much the same foreign policy as President Tokaev: something they call a “multi-vector” foreign policy which I would summarize as follows: pump all the aid and money from Russia, while suppressing pro-Russian forces inside your own country and try to show the AngloZionist Empire that we can be bought, just for the right price of course (this is also what Vucic is doing in Serbia right now).  Now let’s recall what happened in Belarus.

    The Empire and its vassal states in the EU tried to overthrow Lukashenko who had no other choice than to turn to Russia for help and survival.  Russia, of course, did oblige, but only in exchange for Lukashenko’s “good behavior” and comprehensive abandonment of his “multi-vector” foreign policy.  Lukashenko prevailed, the opposition was crushed, and Russia and Belarus have already taken major further steps towards their integration.

    Now I know that there are those out there who love to accuse Putin (personally) that he “showed weakness”, “let the US and NATO blow up countries on the Russian periphery”, etc. etc. etc.  To those inclined to this, I ask a simple question: compare the Belarus before the insurrection and after.  Specifically, from the Russian point of view, was the multi-vectoring Belarus preferable to the fully aligned Belarus of today or not?  The answer, I submit, is absolutely obvious.

    Now let’s look at Kazakhstan.  Potentially, this is a much more dangerous country for Russia than Belarus: it has a huge border (7’600km, open and undefended as Kazakhstan is a member of the Eurasian Economic Community!), a strong pan-Turkic underground (supported by Turkey), an equally strong Takfiri underground (supported by various non-state and even state actors in the region), ethnic tensions between the Kazakhs and the Russian minority and very important security ties to Russia.  To have the Empire take over Belarus would have been very bad indeed, but the Empire taking over Kazakhstan would have been even much worse.

    Yet, as a direct (and, I submit, predictable) consequence of the insurrection, Tokaev now knows that his fate depends on Russia, just like Lukashenko’s.  Is that a bad or a good outcome for the Kremlin?

    I will toss in another name here: Armenia’s Pashinian, who was a notorious russophobe until the Azeris attacked at which point he had no other choice but to turn to Russia for help and, frankly, survival.  That is also true of Erdogan, but he is an ungrateful SOB who can’t ever be trusted, not even for minor matters.

    Now remember all those dummies who were screaming urbi et orbi that the CSTO is useless, that the Russians just let the Azeris beat the crap of Armenia and could do nothing about it?  As soon as Russia got involved, the war stopped and the “invincible” Bayraktars stopped flying.  Is that a good or bad outcome for Russia?

    And now, oh sweet irony, the self-same Pashinian happens to be the formal head of the CSTO (more like Stoltenberg really, a official mouthpiece with no real authority) and he had to “order” (announce, really) the CSTO operation into Kazakhstan.

    So we have Lukashenko, Pashinian and now Tokaev all ex-multi-vector politicians begging Russia for help and getting that help, but at the obvious political price of ditching their former multi-vector policies.

    I don’t know about you, but for me this is a triumph for Russia: without any military intervention or “invasion” (what the TV watching infantiles in the West scare themselves with at night), Putin “cracked” three notorious multi-vectorist and got them to be nice, loyal and very grateful (!) partners for Russia.  By the way, Russia also has a very deep “penetration” into all the other “stans” whose leaders are not stupid and who, unlike the western journos and “experts” all read the writing on the wall.  The impact of what just took place in Kazakhstan will reverberate all over Central Asia.

    This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is The_Caucasus_and_Central_Asia_-_Political_Map.jpg

    About the CSTO operation itself.  First, the Russian and Belarusian forces (about 3’000 Russians and 500 Belarusians): they are truly elite, top of the line, battle hardened, professional, highly trained and  superbly equipped forces (the other smaller contingents are more for “PR decoration” than for anything else).  Officially, their mission is only to protect key official (Kazakh and Russian) facilities but these forces would be more than enough to make minced meat of out any western or Turkish trained Takfiris or nationalists, even if their numbers are much higher than the 20’000 estimate.  And, in the worst case, these forces happen to be in control of key airports were Russians (and Belarusians) could send in even more forces, including at least two Russian airborne divisions.  That would be a force nothing in Central Asia can even dream of taking on.  I should also mention that Russia has a large and strategically crucial military base in Tadjikistan which has trained to fight against Takfiri terrorists and insurgents for decades now and which could also support any Russian military operation in Central Asia.

    So the objective of these forces are:

    • To free up Kazakh security and military forces to put down the uprising (which they are doing)
    • To send a political message to the Kazakh security forces: we got your back, no worries, do your job.
    • To send a political message to the insurgents: you will either lay down arms, flee abroad or die (which is what Putin ordered in both Chechnia and Syria, so these are not empty threats at all).
    • To send a political message to the US and Turkey: Tokaev is our guy now, you lost him and this country!
    • To send a political message to the entire Central Asia and Caucasus: if Russia has your back, you will stay in power even if the idiots at CIA/NED/etc. try to color-revolutionize you.
    • To send yet another message to folks like Erdogan or Vucic – all that multi-vectorness will end up very badly for you, use your head before it is too late (for you, not for us – we are fine either way!).

    Some have suggested that the timing of the insurrection Kazakhstan was some kind of attempt by US/NATO to “hurt” Russia in her “weak underbelly” and to show Russia that she has to back down from her ultimatum to the West (negotiations are supposed to start tomorrow, in an atmosphere of general pessimism).  Well, I don’t have any info out of Langley or Mons, but if that was the US plan, then this entire project not only collapsed, but has backfired very very badly indeed.

    Remember, the PSYOP narrative was that Putin is either stupid, or weak or sold out to the West, yet when we look at the “before and after” thingie, we see that while the West “almost” (or so they think) “got” Belarus, Armenia, Azerbaijan and, now, Kazakhstan, the reality is that in each case it appears that the narcissistic megalomaniacs running the West have confidently waltzed into a carefully laid Russian trap which, far from giving the Empire the control of the countries it “almost” acquired, made them lose them for the foreseeable future.

    Can you imagine the level of impotent rage and frustration in Langley and Mons when the watch that kind of footage: oy veh!!

    Of sure, the AngloZionist propaganda machine and the clueless trolls (paid or not) who parrot that nonsense won’t say a word about all this, but just use your own common sense, use the “before and after” thing, and reach your own conclusions.

    Joint briefing by the commander of the collective peacekeeping forces of the CSTO in the Republic of Kazakhstan, Colonel General Andrei Serdyukov, Commander of the Russian Airborne Forces, and Deputy Minister of Defense of the Republic of Kazakhstan, Lieutenant General Sultan Gamaletdinov.

    Speaking of conclusions: how about all those who bitched about the CSTO being a toothless wannabe copy of NATO which can get nothing done?  You still find it so toothless now?

    How does it compare to NATO, no, not on paper, but in terms of combat operations capability?

    The West wanted to turn Kazakhstan into a “Russian Afghanistan” (same plan for the Ukraine, by the way).  Turkey wanted to turn Kazakhstan into a Turkish-run vassal state.  The Takfiris wanted to turn Kazakhstan into some kind of Emirate.

    In your opinion, how do you evaluate the effectiveness of a collective security treaty which could foil all of these plans with only a brigade-sized force and in just a few days?

    One more thing: there is something else which Kazakhstan and Syria have in common: there were A LOT of CIA/MI6/Mossad/etc agents around Assad, this became quite clear by the number of high-level Syrian officials who either backed the insurrection, or even led it.  Most later fled to the West, some were killed.  But the point is that the “apple” of the powers structure in Syria was quite rotten.  The same can be said for Kazakhstan where a huge purge is taking place, with the highly influential head of the security services (and former Prime Minister!) not only demoted, but arrested for treason!

    So in plain English, the SVR/FSB/GRU will now have a free hand to “clean house” the same way the Russians “cleaned house” around Lukashenko and Assad (in this case with Iranian help): quietly and very effectively,

    Again, I can hear the hysterical and desperate wailing out of Langley and Mons.  That’s what you get for believing your own stupid propaganda!

    As for those who bought that silly “Putin losing countries all over the former Soviet Union space” PSYOP narrative, they probably feel quite stupid right now, but won’t ever admit it.  Speaking of stupid,

    No, Putin is NOT, repeat, NOT trying to “re-create” the Soviet Union.

    And while that mediocre non-entity Blinken warns about how the Russians are “hard to get out once they come in” (coming from a US Secretary of State this is both quite hilarious and a new, even higher, level of absolute hypocrisy!), the truth is that most CSTO forces will leave pretty soon, if only because there will be no need to keep them in Kazakhstan.  Why?  Simple: the hardcore trained terrorists and insurgents will soon be dead, the looting rioters will get off the streets and hope that they don’t get a visit from the Kazakh NSC (National Security Committee) or cops, the traitors in power will either leave the country for the EU or be jailed and the Kazakh security and military forces will regain control of the country and maintain law and order.

    Why would the Russian paratroopers and special forces need to stay?

    Furthermore, Russia has no need, or desire, to invade or, even less so, administer poor, mostly dysfunctional countries, with major social problems and very little actual benefits to offer Russia.  And now that Lukashenko, Pashinian, and Tokaev know that they serve at the pleasure of the Kremlin, you can rest assured that they will generally “behave”.  Oh sure, they will remain mostly corrupt states, with nepotism, tribal affiliation, and religious extremism all brewing at some level, but as long as they represent no threat to a) the Russian minority in these states and 2) to Russian national security interests, the Kremlin will not micro-manage them.  But at the first sign of a resurgence of “multi-vectoriality” (possibly inspired by the many western corporations working in Kazakhstan) the chairs upon which these leaders currently sit will immediately begin shaking pretty badly and they will know whom to call to stop this.

    Speaking of weak “idiots” who “lost” countries to the Empire, does anybody care to make a list of countries the Empire has ACTUALLY snatched away from Russia (or any other adversary) and succeeded in keeping?  Syria?  Libya?  Afghanistan?  Iraq maybe?  Yemen?  And that is after the “Mission Accomplished” declaration by a “triumphant” US President 🙂

    Okay, the three Baltic statelets.  Bravo!  Captain America won another Grenada!

    Ah, I can hear the voices chanting “the Ukraine!  What about the Ukraine!?”.  Well, what about the Ukraine?

    There is a Russian saying (цыплят по осени считают) which can be roughly translated as “do not count your chickens before they are hatched“.  Right now, NOBODY can confidently predict what will happen with the Ukraine further down the road.  Not only has the Ukraine become a country 404 deindustrialized shithole, it now is run by an entire class (in the Marxist sense) of Nazis whom, apparently, nobody has the will or the ability to de-Nazify (Russia could, but has exactly zero motive to do so, as for the US/NATO, LOL!!).  Even if Russia and the US agree to some kind of neutral status for the Ukraine, this will not remove a single Nazi from power and, if anything will create the conditions for an even bigger breakup of the country (which is what I think will eventually happen anyway, but very slowly and very very painfully).

    The one thing which the Ukraine does have in common with Kazakhstan is that these are both invented countries created by the rabidly Russophobic Bolsheviks: not only are their current borders meaningless (and I mean totally completely meaningless), but these borders bring under one totally artificial political “roof” completely different regions and ethnic groups.  The big difference is, of course, that the Ukie leaders, all of them, were, and still are, infinitely worse than either Nazarbaev or Tokaev ever were.  Also, Ukie nationalism is the most hate-filled and demented on the planet, they can only be compared with the Hutu Interahamwe in Rwanda.  Yes, there is definitely a nationalist streak in the Kazakh society (lovingly nourished and fed by the West for decades), but in comparison with the Ukronazis, these are soft-spoken and mostly mentally sane humanitarians.  In my personal, and therefore admittedly subjective, experience, Kazakhs and Russians get along much better than Ukrainians and Russians.

    Belarusian-style “housecleaning” in Kazakhstan has already begun!

    Belarusian-style “housecleaning” in Kazakhstan has already begun!

    Last, but not least, it will take decades to de-Nazify the Ukraine, and God only knows who will be willing and capable of doing that (certainly NOT Russia!) whereas Kazakhstan’s insurgents are already being killed, in large numbers (several thousand by some accounts), by Kazakh security forces.  As for the Kazakh oligarchs and officials who assisted them, they are either dead or in jail or already abroad.

    Did I mention China?  It is a very important actor in Kazakhstan.  On one level, China and Russia are economic and even political competitors in Kazakhstan, however China absolutely and categorically cannot allow Kazakhstan to be taken over by either the US/NATO, or the Takfiris or the pan-Turkists.  The Chinese have not flexed their military muscle (yet), but they could, and you can be rest assured that they will flex with (immense) economic muscle to prevent such an outcome.  So while the poor Ukraine has Poland as a neighbor, Kazakhstan has both Russia and China which are absolutely determined not to allow any hostile force (anti-Chinese or anti-Russian, these are the same forces) to color-revolutionize Kazakhstan and turn it into the kind of nightmarish shithole the Empire turned so many countries into, from the US-occupied EU to the Nazi-occupied Ukraine (before eventually losing them anyway!).

    The bottom line about the Ukraine is this: let’s wait and see what kind of chickens the Ukie eggs will hatch in time and whether the eventual outcome will be worse or better for Russia.  And, by “outcome” I do not refer to the roaring statements coming from western politicians and the talking heads on the idiot box, I mean actual outcomes, which in such matters can take months or even years before becoming fully apparent.  (I know, those dead set on the “Putin is weak” thing will ignore my advice or any facts or logic, I am mostly addressing these suggestions to those who hear that narrative and want to figure out for themselves whether it is true or false).

    Conclusion:

    What just happened in Kazakhstan was both a US-triggered full-scale insurrection AND an attempted coup.  There is overwhelming evidence that the Russians were aware of what was coming and allowed the chaos to get just bad enough to give only one possible option to Tokaev: to appeal for a CSTO intervention.  The extreme swiftness of the Russian military operation took everybody by surprise and none of the parties involved in that insurrection+coup (the US, the Takfiris and the Turks) had any time to react to prevent the quick deployment of (extremely) combat-capable forces which then made it possible for the Kazakh military and security forces to regroup and go on the offensive.  Having Pashinian “order” this CSTO operation was beautiful, karmic, cherry on the cake 🙂

    All in all, this is just the latest in a series of cataclysmic failures of the leaders of the (already dead) AngloZionist Empire and the (equally dead) USA to actually get something, anything, done.  In the confrontation between western hot air and Russian military action, the latter has prevailed, yet again.

    Tomorrow the US will try to scare Russia with talks about “sanctions from hell”.  Good luck with that!

    🙂

    Andrei

    Russia-led Bloc Approves ’Peacekeeping Deployment’ In Kazakhstan

    Jan 06 2022

    By Staff, Agencies

    A “peacekeeping” force will be deployed for a ‘limited’ period of time to stabilize the situation in Kazakhstan, the chairman of the Moscow-led Collective Security Treaty Organization [CSTO], Nikol Pashinyan, has announced.

    “In response to the appeal by [President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev] and considering the threat to the national security and sovereignty of Kazakhstan, caused, among other things, by outside interference, the CSTO Collective Security Council decided to send the Collective Peacekeeping Forces to the Republic of Kazakhstan in accordance with Article 4 of the Collective Security Treaty,” Armenian Prime Minister Pashinyan said in a statement on Facebook.

    The alliance has yet to announce the scope and details of the deployment, but Pashinyan said the troops will stay in Kazakhstan “for a limited period of time in order to stabilize and normalize the situation.”

    The decision comes just hours after the Kazakh president asked allies for help amid violent unrest gripping the nation, saying “terrorists” were overrunning strategic facilities across the country.

    The CSTO is a security treaty between six former Soviet states: Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia and Tajikistan, It runs along similar lines to the US-led NATO bloc. Azerbaijan was an original member of the organization upon its foundation in 1994, but withdrew in 1999. Kyrgyzstan came close to asking for the deployment of peacekeepers 2010, during clashes between the country’s ethnic Kyrgyz and Uzbek populations, but on this occasion the alliance did not agree to provide military assistance.

    The protests kicked off earlier this month after liquefied gas prices saw a major hike due to the end of government price controls. Though Tokayev agreed to temporarily reinstate the policy and bowed to protesters’ other demands, the demonstrations have only grown more intense, erupting into violent rioting around the country, with some protesters reportedly looting military installations and attacking security forces.

    Kazakhstan’s largest metropolis, Almaty, has perhaps seen the worst of the destruction, including looting at shops and ATMs, as well as the torching of the country’s old presidential palace, which was seen engulfed in flames in footage circulating online. Similar unrest has since spread to other towns and cities across the country.

    A nationwide state of emergency was declared on Wednesday in an effort to stem the crisis, granting the government a number of expanded powers, including the ability to hand down stiffer penalties and longer prison terms for law-breakers. Though CSTO peacekeepers are now set to deploy alongside local police and soldiers, the situation remains volatile as the protests show no sign of waning.

    New trade corridor connecting Iran and Europe

    19 Dec 2021

    Net Source: Agencies

    By Al Mayadeen

    The Iranian ambassador to Baku says a new trade corridor will be activated this week linking Iran and Europe via Azerbaijan.

    The new corridor comes after the revival of the ECO and the INSTC corridor

    Iran’s ambassador to Baku, Abbas Mousavi, announced Saturday that the new corridor linking Iran to Europe via Azerbaijan, Georgia, and the Black Sea will be activated this week.

    On Twitter, Mousavi said that the new corridor comes after the revival of the ECO Corridor between Pakistan, Iran and Turkey, and the International North-South Transport Corridor (Finland, Russia, the Republic of Azerbaijan, Iran, the Persian Gulf, and India).

    The ECO corridor’s objective is to strengthen economic relations between Tehran, Ankara, and Islamabad and to facilitate trade and investment in the region.

    On the other hand, the INSTC corridor is a 7,200-km-long multi-mode network of ship, rail, and road routes to link and increase trade between countries of the region including India, Iran, Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Russia, Central Asia and Europe, mentioned Mehr news agency.

    It is noteworthy that on December 10th, Moscow witnessed the first meeting between deputy foreign ministers of a new regional cooperation titled 3+3, which consists of Azerbaijan, Armenia, and Georgia from the South Caucasus and three neighboring countries, namely Russia, Turkey, and Iran.

    Turkish-Armenian Reconciliation… Russia is the Common Enemy! المصالحة التركية – الأرمينية.. روسيا العدو المشترك!

    ARABI SOURI 

    Turkish Foreign Minister Melvut Cavusoglu and Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan

    Pashinyan may not hesitate to engage in positive dialogue with Ankara, to open up through it to Europe, and to help him support his position to take revenge on Moscow.

    The following is the English translation from Arabic of the latest article by Turkish career journalist Husni Mahali he published in the Lebanese Al-Mayadeen news site Al-Mayadeen Net:

    Turkish Foreign Minister Melvut Cavusoglu surprised everyone when he talked about appointing a special representative for dialogue with Armenia after Yerevan took a similar step by appointing its representative for direct dialogue with Ankara “without the need for Russian mediation,” this is what Minister Cavusoglu said. This clearly reflects the intention of the Turkish and Armenian parties to normalize relations between them, away from the interference and influence of other parties, primarily Russia and then Iran.

    After the defeat of Yerevan in the Karabakh region thanks to Turkish and Israeli support for Azerbaijan, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan did not hesitate to accuse Moscow of not helping Armenia in this war, which led to a chill and serious tension between the latter and Russia, Pashinyan took advantage of this tension in his election campaign, from which he emerged victorious, despite Moscow’s support for his opponents, both political and military.

    Pashinyan’s victory in the June 20 elections prompted US President Joe Biden to exploit this in his psychological and political war against Russia. During his meeting with him in Rome on October 31 last, he recommended Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to talk With Pashinyan and to address all differences between the two countries, through direct dialogue between the two parties.

    Biden’s recommendation undoubtedly met with President Erdogan’s calculations in the Caucasus, after he made Azerbaijan a strategic foothold in the region, with more comprehensive cooperation relations in all fields with Georgia, the other country in the Caucasus, whose relations with Moscow have also been tense, after the Russian army intervened in South Ossetia and Abkhazia, during the August 2008 war, they declared their independence from Georgia with Russian support, as is the case in Lugansk and Donetsk provinces in eastern Ukraine.

    President Erdogan knows the many weaknesses of Pashinyan, whose country suffers from very difficult economic and financial problems, and wants to help him to overcome these problems, in return for direct and indirect support from him for his projects and strategic plans in the Caucasus. Everyone knows that these plans and projects target Russia in the first place, as is the case in Central Asia, where the Islamic republics are of Turkish origin.

    Erdogan plans to help Yerevan open land and air borders with it, allow trade across the common border, and thus ease work and residency conditions for the roughly 50,000 Armenians, most of whom are women, now working in Turkey. Everyone knows that this simple aid, in addition to encouraging Turkish businessmen to work in Armenia, which lacks the most basic necessities of economic life (there is no industry, agriculture, or trade) will encourage the Armenians, in general, to forget their bad historical memories with the Turks regarding their accusation of the Ottoman Empire of exterminating one and a half million Armenians during the First World War. The Armenians, whose number does not exceed three million, and a large part of them work abroad, are living in very difficult economic and financial conditions, especially after the defeat of Karabakh and the placing of Azerbaijani obstacles in the way of Iranian trade with Armenia. Moreover, Armenia’s economic and military capabilities do not and will not allow it to confront Azerbaijan, after Turkey’s military support for it, through air and land bases there.

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    المصالحة التركية – الأرمينية.. روسيا العدو المشترك!

    2021 الاربعاء 15 كانون الأول

    المصدر: الميادين نت

    حسني محلي

    قد لا يتردّد باشينيان في الحوار الإيجابي مع أنقرة، للانفتاح عبرها على أوروبا، ولتساعده على دعم موقفه للانتقام من موسكو.

    تركيا وأرمينيا تعتزمان تطبيع العلاقات بينهما

    فاجأ وزير الخارجية التركي مولود جاويش أوغلو الجميع عندما تحدث عن تعيين ممثل خاص للحوار مع أرمينيا، بعد أن أقدمت يريفان على خطوة مماثلة بتعيين ممثلها للحوار المباشر مع أنقرة “من دون الحاجة إلى وساطة روسية”، والقول للوزير جاويش أوغلو. ويعكس ذلك بكل وضوح نيّة الطرفين التركي والأرميني تطبيع العلاقات بينهما، بعيداً عن تدخلات الأطراف الآخرين وتأثيراتهم، وفي الدرجة الأولى روسيا ثم إيران. 

    فبعد الهزيمة التي مُنيت بها يريفان في إقليم كاراباخ بفضل الدعم التركي والإسرائيلي لأذربيجان، لم يتردّد رئيس الوزراء الأرميني نيكول باشينيان في اتهام موسكو بعدم مساعدتها لأرمينيا في هذه الحرب، وهو ما أدّى إلى فتور وتوتر جديّ بين الأخيرة وروسيا، واستغل باشينيان هذا التوتر في حملته الانتخابية التي خرج منها منتصراً، على الرغم من دعم موسكو لمعارضيه، السياسيين منهم والعسكر. 

    وجاء انتصار باشينيان في الانتخابات التي نُظمت في الـ20 من حزيران/يونيو الماضي ليدفع الرئيس الأميركي جو بايدن إلى استغلال ذلك في حربه النفسية والسياسية ضد روسيا، فأوصى الرئيس التركي رجب طيب إردوغان، خلال لقائه به في روما في الـ31 من تشرين الأول/أكتوبر الماضي، بالحديث مع باشينيان، ومعالجة كل الخلافات بين البلدين، عبر الحوار المباشر بين الطرفين. 

    توصية بايدن التقت من دون شك مع حسابات الرئيس إردوغان في القوقاز، بعد أن جعل من أذربيجان موطئ قدم استراتيجي له في المنطقة، مع المزيد من علاقات التعاون الشامل في جميع المجالات مع جورجيا، الدولة الأخرى في القوقاز، والتي شهدت علاقاتها هي أيضاً مع موسكو توتراً خطراً، بعد أن تدخل الجيش الروسي في أوسيتيا الجنوبية وأبخازيا، خلال حرب آب/أغسطس 2008، فأعلنتا استقلالهما عن جورجيا بدعم روسي، كما هي الحال في مقاطعتي لوغانسك ودونيتسك شرق أوكرانيا.

    الرئيس إردوغان يعرف نقاط الضعف الكثيرة لدى باشينيان الذي تعاني بلاده من مشاكل اقتصادية ومالية صعبة جداً، ويريد أن يساعده لتجاوز هذه المشاكل، مقابل دعم مباشر وغير مباشر منه لمشاريعه ومخططاته الاستراتيجية في القوقاز. ويعرف الجميع أن هذه المخططات والمشاريع تستهدف روسيا في الدرجة الأولى، كما هي الحال في آسيا الوسطى، حيث الجمهوريات الإسلامية ذات الأصل التركي.

    ويخطط إردوغان لمساعدة يريفان في فتح الحدود البرية والجوية معها، والسماح بالتجارة عبر الحدود المشتركة، وبالتالي تخفيف شروط العمل والإقامة بالنسبة إلى نحو خمسين ألف أرميني، ومعظمهم من النساء، يعملون الآن في تركيا. ويعرف الجميع أن هذه المساعدات البسيطة، إضافة الى تشجيع رجال الأعمال الأتراك على العمل في أرمينيا التي تفتقر إلى أبسط مقوّمات الحياة الاقتصادية (ليس هناك صناعة وزراعة وتجارة) ستشجّع الأرمن عموماً على نسيان ذكرياتهم التاريخية السيّئة مع الأتراك في ما يتعلق باتهامهم الدولة العثمانية بإبادة مليون ونصف مليون أرمني إبّان الحرب العالمية الأولى. فالأرمن، وعددهم لا يتجاوز ثلاثة ملايين، وقسم كبير منهم يعمل في الخارج، يعيشون ظروفاً اقتصادية ومالية صعبة جداً، خاصة بعد هزيمة كاراباخ، ووضع العراقيل الأذربيجانية أمام التجارة الإيرانية مع أرمينيا. كما أن قدرات أرمينيا الاقتصادية والعسكرية لا ولن تسمح لها بمواجهة أذربيجان، بعد الدعم العسكري التركيّ لها، عبر القواعد الجوية والبرية هناك. 

    تصريحات الوزير جاويش أوغلو من المتوقع لها أن تحمّل في طيّاتها العديد من المفاجآت بعد فتح الحدود بين البلدين، وقد تلحق بها زيارة باشينيان لتركيا، كما زار الرئيس السابق عبد الله غول يريفان في أيلول/سبتمبر 2008 لحضور مباراة كرة القدم بين المنتخبين التركي والأرميني، وسط هتافات البعض من الجمهور ضده وضد تركيا، مع التذكير بالإبادة الأرمنية، ومن دون أن تمنع هذه الهتافات الطرفين التركي والأرميني من التوقيع في الـ 10 من تشرين الأول/أكتوبر 2009 في زيوريخ على بروتوكول للتعاون المشترك وبوساطة سويسرية، لكنه لم يحقّق أهدافه، وكان أهمها تبادل السفراء وفتح الحدود المشتركة وإطلاق الرحلات الجوية. وكان السبب الرئيسي في فشل هذا البروتوكول هو عدم تراجع الجانب الأرميني عن موقفه في ما يتعلق بالإبادة الأرمنية، واقترح الجانب التركي آنذاك تشكيل لجنة أكاديمية مشتركة تُعدّ دراسة شاملة حول هذا الموضوع، بعد الاطلاع على كل الوثائق الرسمية في أرشيف الدولتين وأرشيف الدول المعنية، وأهمها فرنسا وبريطانيا وروسيا وألمانيا وأميركا. 

    باشينيان بدوره قد لا يتردّد في الحوار الإيجابي مع أنقرة، أولاً للانفتاح عبرها على أوروبا، وبالتالي لتساعده على دعم موقفه للانتقام من موسكو التي يحمّلها مسؤولية هزيمته في حرب كاراباخ. كما أن الانفتاح على أنقرة سيساعده في تحقيق مكاسب اقتصادية كبيرة، وخاصة إذا نجح إردوغان في مخططاته لإقامة تكتلات اقتصادية في القوقاز تضمّ تركيا وأذربيجان وأرمينيا بل وحتى روسيا وإيران، على أن تكون تركيا هي المحرك الرئيسي لمثل هذا التكتل، ما دام غاز أذربيجان وبترولها يصلان تركيا عبر أراضي جورجيا، كما يصل الغاز الروسي تركيا ومنها الى أوروبا، على أن يبقى الغاز الإيراني للاستهلاك التركي الداخلي. 

    ويريد الرئيس إردوغان لمثل هذا التكتل الاقتصادي أن يساعده في جعل تركيا ممراً رئيسياً للعديد من مشاريع الخطوط الحديدية بتسمياتها المختلفة، التي تهدف إلى ربط أوروبا بآسيا وحتى بالصين، وهو ما لن يتحقق إلا بالمرور عبر أراضي أرمينيا وجورجيا معاً. كما يتمنى إردوغان لهذه المشاريع أن تدعم استراتيجيته القومية في آسيا الوسطى، ولا يمكن لها أن تتحقق إلا عبر التفوّق في القوقاز، وهو ما يتطلب كسب أرمينيا وجورجيا المجاورة له حتى يتسنّى له الامتداد شرقاً صوب أذربيجان بعمقها الجغرافي والقومي والتاريخي في إيران. ويفسّر ذلك الفتور والتوتر في العلاقة بين أذربيجان وإيران خلال أزمة كاراباخ، بعد أن شنّ الإعلام الموالي لإردوغان والأوساط القومية حملة عنيفة ضدّ طهران بحجّة أنها تدعم الأرمن. 

    ويبقى الرهان على موقف موسكو التي لم تعد تخفي انزعاجها من سياسات أنقرة، ولكن من دون أن يتسنى لها أن تفعل أي شيء بعد أن فقدت الكثير من مقوّمات المساومة مع الرئيس إردوغان في سوريا وأذربيجان وأوكرانيا، والآن أرمينيا، ولاحقاً في مواقع وساحات أخرى، ويُعدّ إردوغان من أجلها ما استطاع من قوة!

    ولكن ما عليه في هذه الحالة إلا أن يُقنع باشينيان والرأي العام الأرميني بضرورة التخلي عن مقولاتهما في ما يتعلق بالإبادة الأرمنية، وهو ما لن يكون صعباً في ظل الواقع الأرميني الداخلي والمعطيات الحالية (التذكير بصفقة القرن بين “إسرائيل” والأنظمة العربية) التي تجمع حسابات أنقرة ويريفان في خندق واحد، ما دام العدو مشتركاً بالنسبة إلى إردوغان وباشينيان، وإلا فلِمَ استعجل لمثل هذه المصالحة بعد هزيمة كاراباخ واعتراف الرئيس بايدن في نيسان/أبريل الماضي بالإبادة الأرمنية؟! 

    The Iran-Azerbaijan gas swap deal: Has Tehran’s tough posturing paid off?

    December 14 2021

    The Turkish-supported gas swap deal is not so much a capitulation as a calculated concession from Azerbaijan, which now acknowledges its relationship with Israel as an Iranian red line.

    By Agha Hussain

    Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi signed a gas swap deal with his Azerbaijani counterpart Ilham Aliyev on the sidelines of the 28 November Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO) summit in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan. The timing of the deal and its geostrategic significance outweighs its economic impact for both sides. For Iran, in particular, it represents the first concrete result of the rapid overhaul of its regional posture in recent months.

    The standoff and Iran’s hardline approach

    The deal ended the October-November escalation between Iran and Azerbaijan, which has featured unprecedented Iranian war games on their shared borders and symbolic steps in challenging several of Baku’s regional interests unless it accounted for Tehran’s concerns.

    In a 3 November analysis for The Cradle, this author described Iran’s conduct as the initiation of a new, more assertive posture in Eurasia. The aims of this new posture are to exert damage control over regional trends favorable to Iran’s adversaries and to establish the potency and credibility of Iran’s regional red lines.

    In the South Caucasus, this means reversing Azerbaijan’s confidence in Israel as a positive contributor to its regional standing, and pressuring Baku to place its relationship with Tel Aviv on the bilateral negotiating table between itself and Iran.

    From this point onward, Tehran can effectively wield the threat of challenging Azerbaijani regional interests as a bargaining chip to scale back Baku’s ties with Tel Aviv. Such challenges include taking steps to reroute the North South Transport Corridor (NSTC) from Azerbaijan to Armenia or stationing troops in Armenia’s south to deter the implementation of Azerbaijan’s prized Zangezur Corridor across that area.

    The gas swap deal is Iran’s first inroad in this stratagem.

    The gas swap deal de-escalation

    According to the deal, Iran will receive Turkmen gas and then send an equivalent amount of Iranian gas to Azerbaijan.

    By involving Iran in its regional trade as a means of defusing tensions, Azerbaijan validates Iran’s new hardline posture toward it through this key concession. Specifically, Azerbaijan acknowledges and assuages Iran’s heightened perception of threat in any moves toward crafting a regional economic and security order that does not include a tangible role for the Iranians.

    Notably, since this perception of threat is derived almost entirely from Iran’s oft-enunciated view of any such moves as an extension of Israel’s global campaign to isolate it, the deal qualifies as a concession from Azerbaijan, even if indirect, on the issue of its ties with Israel.

    From Iran’s perspective, this is a milestone of sorts for its new hard power approach to the region.

    The gas deal represented Azerbaijan’s shift from its previously dismissive stance toward Iran’s Israel-centric criticisms of its policies in exchange for Iran winding down its aggressive military posturing on the border.

    This serves to activate the bilateral bargaining arrangement Iran seeks.

    Under the principle of reciprocity enshrined by such arrangements, any attempts by Baku to revert to its old practice of safeguarding its relations with Tel Aviv from Iranian scrutiny may be met by Tehran’s return to an aggressive posture.

    As a result, Azerbaijan would find a mounting set of new challenges at its doorstep, a year after its historic victory over Armenia in the second Nagorno-Karabakh war. The risk factor of its relationship with Israel could therefore skyrocket quicker than President Aliyev would be willing to roll it back, given Azerbaijan’s longstanding reliance on the US-based Israel lobby as a shield against unfavorable US policies promoted by the Armenian-US diaspora.

    Tehran, however, would have options aplenty in the potential military and geo-economic alliances with Yerevan to continue mounting pressure on Baku.

    The Turkey factor

    To Azerbaijan, Turkey has been its single most constant and reliable guarantor of security and economics throughout its tussles with Armenia. However, Azerbaijan’s ties with Turkey factor in very differently when it comes to tensions and potential conflict with Iran.

    Eldar Mamedov, an Azerbaijani analyst at Eurasianet and the Quincy Institute, states that “… military confrontation with Iran – a country with eight times the population – clearly is not in Baku’s interests. All the more so because even Baku’s main ally, Turkey, is unlikely to fight a war with Iran on Azerbaijan’s behalf.”

    Citing Turkey’s self-interest in keeping its own differences with Iran to manageable levels, Mamedov adds that “policymakers in Baku would be wise to realize the limits of the Turkish support in any potential future conflagration with Tehran.”

    Turkey’s influence, in fact, looms large in the details of the gas swap deal. Giving Iran transit state status in the Turkmenistan gas trade is a decision set in the context of geo-economics – where Baku has traditionally taken its cue from Ankara, whose territory is the terminus for Azerbaijan’s most vital trade and transport links, such as the BTC oil pipeline, the Southern Gas Corridor (SGC) pipelines, and the BTK railway.

    Of great interest to Iran is that Turkish interests seem to propel the planned Azerbaijan–Turkmenistan gas trade more than Azerbaijani ones.

    Azerbaijan’s interest in Turkmen gas does not extend beyond buying it to fill the unutilized capacity of SGC, which it will be able to do itself once it boosts its own gas production.

    Turkey, however, has long sought the revival of the dormant Trans Caspian Gas Pipeline (TCP) connecting Turkmenistan via the Caspian Sea to Azerbaijan with the objective of further linkage to the SGC, through which Turkmen gas then flows to Europe via Turkey.

    The TCP is core to Turkey’s drive to render itself Turkic Central Asia’s ultimate gateway to the west. This would entail Turkmen gas exports to and transit across Azerbaijan at a much larger, longer-term scale.

    Since the discovery in the 1990s of huge gas fields in its own Caspian waters, Azerbaijan has, in fact, treated Turkmenistan as a potential competitor for the European market.

    Baku therefore walked away from the TCP project, declining to settle its maritime dispute with Ashgabat over the Dostluk gas field, which itself was enough to inhibit work on the TCP. So when Azerbaijan resolved the Dostluk dispute in January this year and agreed to jointly develop it with Turkmenistan, Ankara’s influence once again stood out.

    The fact that Azerbaijan’s top ally sees fit to deploy Turkish-Azerbaijani regional interests as collateral for de-escalation with Iran will therefore encourage Iranian strategists by adding pressure on Baku to accept Iran’s assertive behavior as a ‘new normal.’

    Iran-Azerbaijan tensions are far from over

    Despite Iran’s gains from it, the gas swap deal is still a calculated concession from Azerbaijan and far from a capitulation.

    Once the TCP is built, the swap arrangement with Turkmenistan via Iran will become redundant, as Turkmen gas will be piped directly to Azerbaijan. This is not an unlikely scenario given that the wealthy European Union (EU) designated the TCP a ‘project of common interest,’ thus qualifying it for EU financing and diplomatic support.

    This factor raises the stakes – and the risks – in the Iran-Azerbaijan bilateral relationship. More hawkish minds in Baku may, after all, be inclined to interpret the completion of Iran bypassing TCP and the disposal of the gas swap arrangement as a sign that isolating Iran in the South Caucasus has become a viable strategy.

    Such a notion would almost certainly receive enthusiastic backing from Israel, who lacks Turkey’s economic incentive in averting an Iran-Azerbaijan conflict and may even see Baku’s reliance on its US lobby deepen if it heads into a fight without Turkey’s blessing.

    Ultimately, for Baku, these are fairly risky variables on which to base its present and future roadmap for dealing with Iran. In contrast, Tehran benefits from a more reliable set of options to sustain and escalate its posture when required, with the decisive advantages of geography and size playing to its favor.

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

    New Great Game in the Caucasus and Central Asia (Updated: Maps)

    NOVEMBER 12, 2021

    New Great Game in the Caucasus and Central Asia - Asia Times
    New Great Game in the Caucasus and Central Asia (Updated: Maps)

    Players unite and face off so fast Eurasian integration’s chessboard feels like musical chairs prestissimo

    by Pepe Escobar for the Saker Blog and cross-posted with Asia Times

    The Eurasian chessboard is in non-stop motion at dizzying speed.

    After the Afghanistan shock, we’re all aware of the progressive interconnection of the Belt and Road Initiative, the Eurasia Economic Union (EAEU) and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), and of the preeminent roles played by Russia, China and Iran. These are the pillars of the New Great Game.

    Let’s now focus on some relatively overlooked but no less important aspects of the game – ranging from the South Caucasus to Central Asia.

    Iran under the new Raisi administration is now on the path of increased trade and economic integration with the EAEU, after its admission as a full member of the SCO. Tehran’s “Go East” pivot implies strengthened political security as well as food security.

    That’s where the Caspian Sea plays a key role – as inter-Caspian sea trade routes completely bypass American sanctions or blockade attempts.

    An inevitable consequence, medium to long term, is that Iran’s renewed strategic security anchored in the Caspian will also extend to and bring benefits to Afghanistan, which borders two of the five Caspian neighbors: Iran and Turkmenistan.

    The ongoing Eurasian integration process features a Trans-Caspian corridor as a key node, from Xinjiang in China across Central Asia, then Turkey, all the way to Eastern Europe. The corridor is a work in progress.

    Some of it is being conducted by CAREC (Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation), which strategically includes China, Mongolia, Pakistan, Azerbaijan, Georgia, the five Central Asian “stans” and Afghanistan. The Asian Development Bank (ADB) coordinates the secretariat.

    CAREC is not a Chinese-driven Belt and Road and Asian Infrastructure Development Bank (AIIB) body. Yet the Chinese do interact constructively with the Western-leaning, Manila-based ADB.

    Belt and Road is developing its own corridors via the Central Asian “stans” and especially all the way to Iran, now strategically linked to China via the long-term, $400 billion energy-and-development deal.

    Practically, the Trans-Caspian will run in parallel to and will be complementary to the existing BRI corridors – where we have, for instance, German auto industry components loading cargo trains in the Trans-Siberian bound all the way to joint ventures in China while Foxconn and HP’s laptops and printers made in Chongqing travel the other way to Western Europe.

    The Caspian Sea is becoming a key Eurasian trade player since its status was finally defined in 2018 in Aktau, in Kazakhstan. After all, the Caspian is a major crossroads simultaneously connecting Central Asia and the South Caucasus, Central Asia and West Asia, and northern and southern Eurasia.

    It’s a strategic neighbor to the International North-South Transportation Corridor (INSTC) – which includes Russia, Iran, Azerbaijan and India –while also connecting Belt and Road and the EAEU.

    Watch the Turkic Council

    All of the above interactions are routinely discussed and planned at the annual St Petersburg Economic Forum and the Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok, Russia’s top economic meetings alongside the Valdai discussions.

    But then there are also interpolations between players – some of them leading to possible partnerships that are not exactly appreciated by the three leading members of Eurasia integration: Russia, China and Iran.

    For instance, four months ago Kyrgyzstan’s Foreign Minister Ruslan Kazakbaev visited Baku to propose a strategic partnership – dubbed 5+3 – between Central Asia and South Caucasus states.

    Ay, there’s the rub. A specific problem is that both Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan are members of NATO’s Partnership for Peace – which is a military gig – and also of the Turkic Council, which has embarked on a resolute expansion drive. To complicate matters, Russia also has a strategic partnership with Azerbaijan.

    The Turkic Council has the potential to act as a monkey wrench dropped into the – Eurasian – works. There are five members: Turkey, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan.

    This is pan-Turkism – or pan-Turanism – in action, with a special emphasis on the Turk-Azeri “one nation, two states.” Ambition is the norm: The Turkic Council has been actively trying to seduce Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine and Hungary to become members.

    Assuming the 5+3 idea gets traction that would lead to the formation of a single entity from the Black Sea all the way to the borders of Xinjiang, in thesis under Turkish preeminence. And that means NATO preeminence.

    Russia, China and Iran will not exactly welcome it. All of the 8 members of the 5+3 are members of NATO’s Partnership for Peace, while half (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Armenia) are also members of the counterweight, the Russia-led CSTO.

    Eurasian players are very much aware that in early 2021 NATO switched the command of its quite strategic Very High Readiness Joint Task Force to Turkey. Subsequently, Ankara has embarked on a serious diplomatic drive – with Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Aka visiting Libya, Iraq, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan.

    Translation: That’s Turkey – and not the Europeans – projecting NATO power across Eurasia.

    Add to it two recent military exercises, Anatolian 21 and Anatolian Eagle 2021, focused on special ops and air combat. Anatolian 21 was conducted by Turkish special forces. The list of attendants was quite something, in terms of a geopolitical arc. Apart from Turkey, we had Albania, Azerbaijan, Pakistan, Qatar, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan – with Mongolia and Kosovo as observers.

    Once again, that was Pan-Turkism – as well as neo-Ottomanism – in action.

    Watch the new Intermarium

    Speculation by Brzezinski nostalgia denizens that a successful 5+3, plus an expanded Turkic Council, would lead to the isolation of Russia in vast swaths of Eurasia are idle.

    There’s no evidence that Ankara would be able to control oil and gas corridors (this is prime Russian and Iran territory) or influence the opening up of the Caspian to Western interests (that’s a matter for the Caspian neighbors, which include, once again, Russia and Iran). Tehran and Moscow are very much aware of the lively Erdogan/Aliyev spy games constantly enacted in Baku.

    Pakistan for its part may have close relations with Turkey – and the Turk-Azeri combo. Yet that did not prevent Islamabad from striking a huge military deal with Tehran.

    According to the deal, Pakistan will train Iranian fighter pilots and Iran will train Pakistani anti-terrorism special ops. The Pakistani Air Force has a world-class training program – while Tehran has first-class experience in anti-terror ops in Iraq/Syria as well as in its sensitive borders with both Pakistan and Afghanistan.

    The Turk-Azeri combo should be aware that Baku’s dream of becoming a trade/transportation corridor hub in the Caucasus may only happen in close coordination with regional players.

    The possibility still exists of a trade/connectivity Turk-Azeri corridor to be extended into the Turkic-based heartland of Central Asia. Yet Baku’s recent heavy-handedness after the military victory in Nagorno-Karabakh predictably engineered blowback. Iran and India are developing their own corridor ideas going East and West.

    It was up to the chairman of Iran’s Trade Promotion Organization, Alireza Peymanpak, to clarify that “two alternative Iran-Eurasia transit routes will replace Azerbaijan’s route.” The first should open soon, “via Armenia” and the second “via sea by purchasing and renting vessels.”

    That was a direct reference, once again, to the inevitable International North-South Transportation Corridor: rail, road and water routes crisscrossing 7,200 kilometers and interlinking  Russia, Iran, Central Asia, the Caucasus, India and Western Europe. The INSTC is at least 30% cheaper and 40% shorter than existing, tortuous routes.

    Baku – and Ankara – have to be ultra-savvy diplomatically not to find themselves excluded from the inter-connection, even considering that the original INSTC route linked India, Iran, Azerbaijan and Russia.

    Two camps seem to be irreconcilable at this particular juncture: Turkey-Azerbaijan on the one hand and India-Iran on the other, with Pakistan in the uncomfortable middle.

    The key development is that New Delhi and Tehran have decided that the INSTC will go through Armenia – and not Azerbaijan – all the way to Russia.

    That’s terrible news for Ankara – a wound that even an expanded Turkic Council would not heal. Baku, for its part, may have to deal with the unpleasant consequences of being regarded by top Eurasian players as an unreliable partner.

    Anyway, we’re still far from the finality expressed by the legendary casino mantra, “The chips are down.” This is a chessboard in non-stop movement.

    We should not forget, for instance, the Bucharest Nine: Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania and Slovakia. That concerns a prime NATO wet dream: the latest remix of the Intermarium – as in de facto blocking Russia out of Europe. A dominating team of 5 +3 and Bucharest Nine would be the ultimate pincer in terms of  “isolating” Russia.

    Ladies and gentlemen, place your bets.

    Central Eurasia Pipelines
    Iranian Canal Proposed
    Eurasian Transport Corridors

    Guns and Butter: The Caucasus Conflict and Global Trends – Guest Andrei Martyanov

    OCTOBER 26, 2021

    Guns and Butter:   The Caucasus Conflict and Global Trends – Guest Andrei Martyanov

    From Bonnie Faulkner at Guns and Butter with Guest Andrei Martyanov

    The Transcaucasia region, Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan, between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea is discussed; Baku, capitol of Azerbaijan, oil region and birthplace of Andrei Martyanov; Nagorno-Karabakh, semi-autonomous region within Azerbaijan; political and ethnic dynamics of the Azeri/Armenian conflict; two wars between Armenia and Azerbaijan; Armenia’s Velvet Revolution; Soros sponsored NGOs in Armenia; Turkey’s involvement; Dashnaks; Armenian diaspora; second largest US embassy in Yerevan; Caucasus strategic geopolitical location spanning Europe and Asia; US recognition of WWI Armenian genocide; Russian Federation involvement; largest US export is dollar inflation; Russophobia; MAKS 2021 Russian Air Show, international exhibition of new civilian and military aircraft. Visit Martyanov’s website at: smoothiex12.blogspot.com/.

    Guns and Butter · The Caucasus Conflict and Global Trends – Andrei Martyanov, #435

    The Iran-Azerbaijan standoff is a contest for the region’s transportation corridors

    October 05, 2021

    Sides are forming around the Iran vs Azerbaijan squabble. But this fight is not about ethnicity, religion or tribe – it is mainly about who gets to forge the region’s new transportation routes.

    By Pepe Escobar posted with permission and cross-posted with The Cradle

    The Iran-Azerbaijan standoff is a contest for the region’s transportation corridors

    The last thing the complex, work-in-progress drive towards Eurasian integration needs at this stage is this messy affair between Iran and Azerbaijan in the South Caucasus.

    Let’s start with the Conquerors of Khaybar – the largest Iranian military exercise in two decades held on its northwestern border with Azerbaijan.

    Among the deployed Iranian military and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) units there are some serious players, such as the 21st Tabriz Infantry Division, the IRGC Ashura 31 battalion, the 65th Airborne Special Forces Brigade and an array of missile systems, including the Fateh-313 and Zulfiqar ballistic missiles with ranges of up to 700 kilometers.

    The official explanation is that the drills are a warning to enemies plotting anything against the Islamic Republic.

    Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei pointedly tweeted that “those who are under the illusion of relying on others, think that they can provide their own security, should know that they will soon take a slap, they will regret this.”

    The message was unmistakable: this was about Azerbaijan relying on Turkey and especially Israel for its security, and about Tel Aviv instrumentalizing Baku for an intel drive leading to interference in northern Iran.

    Further elaboration by Iranian experts went as far as Israel eventually using military bases in Azerbaijan to strike at Iranian nuclear installations.

    The reaction to the Iranian military exercise so far is a predictable Turkey–Azerbaijani response: they are conducting a joint drill in Nakhchivan throughout this week.

    But were Iran’s concerns off the mark? A close security collaboration between Baku and Tel Aviv has been developing for years now. Azerbaijan today possesses Israeli drones and is cozy with both the CIA and the Turkish military. Throw in the recent trilateral military drills involving Azerbaijan, Turkey and Pakistan – these are developments bound to raise alarm bells in Tehran.

    Baku, of course, spins it in a different manner: Our partnerships are not aimed at third countries.

    So, essentially, while Tehran accuses Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev of making life easy for Takfiri terrorists and Zionists, Baku accuses Tehran of blindly supporting Armenia. Yes, the ghosts of the recent Karabakh war are all over the place.

    As a matter of national security, Tehran simply cannot tolerate Israeli companies involved in the reconstruction of regions won in the war near the Iranian border: Fuzuli, Jabrayil, and Zangilan.

    Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdullahian has tried to play it diplomatically: “Geopolitical issues around our borders are important for us. Azerbaijan is a dear neighbor to Iran and that’s why we don’t want it to be trapped between foreign terrorists who are turning their soil into a hotbed.”

    As if this was not complicated enough, the heart of the matter – as with all things in Eurasia – actually revolves around economic connectivity.

    An interconnected mess

    Baku’s geoeconomic dreams are hefty: the capital city aims to position itself at the key crossroads of two of the most important Eurasian corridors: North-South and East-West.

    And that’s where the Zangezur Corridor comes in – arguably essential for Baku to predominate over Iran’s East-West connectivity routes.

    The corridor is intended to connect western Azerbaijan to the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic via Armenia, with roads and railways passing through the Zangezur region.

    Zangezur is also essential for Iran to connect itself with Armenia, Russia, and further on down the road, to Europe.

    China and India will also rely on Zangezur for trade, as the corridor provides a significant shortcut in distance. Considering large Asian cargo ships cannot sail the Caspian Sea, they usually waste precious weeks just to reach Russia.

    An extra problem is that Baku has recently started harassing Iranian truckers in transit through these new annexed regions on their way to Armenia.

    It didn’t have to be this way. This detailed essay shows how Azerbaijan and Iran are linked by “deep historical, cultural, religious, and ethno-linguistic ties,” and how the four northwestern Iranian provinces – Gilan, Ardabil, East Azerbaijan and West Azerbaijan – have “common geographical borders with both the main part of Azerbaijan and its exclave, the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic; they also have deep and close commonalities based on Islam and Shiism, as well as sharing the Azerbaijani culture and language. All this has provided the ground for closeness between the citizens of the regions on both sides of the border.”

    During the Rouhani years, relations with Aliyev were actually quite good, including the Iran‑Azerbaijan‑Russia and Iran‑Azerbaijan‑Turkey trilateral cooperation.

    A key connectivity at play ahead is the project of linking the Qazvin‑Rasht‑Astara railway in Iran to Azerbaijan: that’s part of the all-important International North‑South Transport Corridor (INSTC).

    Geoeconomically, Azerbaijan is essential for the main railway that will eventually run from India to Russia. No only that; the Iran‑Azerbaijan‑Russia trilateral cooperation opens a direct road for Iran to fully connect with the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU).

    In an optimal scenario, Baku can even help Iranian ports in the Persian Gulf and the Sea of Oman to connect to Georgian ports in the Black Sea.

    The West is oblivious to the fact that virtually all sections of the INSTC are already working. Take, for instance, the exquisitely named Astara‑Astara railway connecting Iranian and Azerbaijani cities that share the same name. Or the Rasht‑Qazvin railway.

    But then one important 130km stretch from Astara to Rasht, which is on the southern shore of the Caspian and is close to the Iranian–Azeri border, has not been built. The reason? Trump-era sanctions. That’s a graphic example of how much, in real-life practical terms, rides on a successful conclusion of the JCPOA talks in Vienna.

    Who owns Zangezur?

    Iran is positioned in a somewhat tricky patch along the southern periphery of the South Caucasus. The three major players in that hood are of course Iran, Russia, and Turkey. Iran borders the former Armenian – now Azeri – regions adjacent to Karabakh, including Zangilan, Jabrayil and Fuzuli.

    It was clear that Iran’s flexibility on its northern border would be tied to the outcome of the Second Karabakh War. The northwestern border was a source of major concern, affecting the provinces of Ardabil and eastern Azerbaijan – which makes Tehran’s official position of supporting Azerbaijani over Armenian claims all the more confusing.

    It is essential to remember that even in the Karabakh crisis in the early 1990s, Tehran recognized Nagorno‑Karabakh and the regions surrounding it as integral parts of Azerbaijan.

    While both the CIA and Mossad appear oblivious to this recent regional history, it will never deter them from jumping into the fray to play Baku and Tehran against each other.

    An extra complicating factor is that Zangezur is also mouth-watering from Ankara’s vantage point.

    Arguably, Turkey’s neo-Ottoman President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who never shies away from an opportunity to expands his Turkic-Muslim strategic depth, is looking to use the Azeri connection in Zangezur to reach the Caspian, then Turkmenistan, all the way to Xinjiang, the Uyghur Muslim populated western territory of China. This, in theory, could become a sort of Turkish Silk Road bypassing Iran – with the ominous possibility of also being used as a rat line to export Takfiris from Idlib all the way to Afghanistan.

    Tehran, meanwhile, is totally INSTC-driven, focusing on two railway lines to be rehabilitated and upgraded from the Soviet era. One is South-North, from Jolfa connecting to Nakhchivan and then onwards to Yerevan and Tblisi. The other is West-East, again from Jolfa to Nakhchivan, crossing southern Armenia, mainland Azerbaijan, all the way to Baku and then onward to Russia.

    And there’s the rub. The Azeris interpret the tripartite document resolving the Karabakh war as giving them the right to establish the Zangezur corridor. The Armenians for their part dispute exactly which ‘corridor’ applies to each particular region. Before they clear up these ambiguities, all those elaborate Iranian and Tukish connectivity plans are effectively suspended.

    The fact, though, remains that Azerbaijan is geoeconomically bound to become a key crossroads of trans-regional connectivity as soon as Armenia unblocks the construction of these transport corridors.

    So which ‘win-win’ is it?

    Will diplomacy win in the South Caucasus? It must. The problem is both Baku and Tehran frame it in terms of exercising their sovereignty – and don’t seem particularly predisposed to offer concessions.

    Meanwhile, the usual suspects are having a ball exploiting those differences. War, though, is out of the question, either between Azerbaijan and Armenia or between Azerbaijan and Iran. Tehran is more than aware that in this case both Ankara and Tel Aviv would support Baku. It is easy to see who would profit from it.

    As recently as April, in a conference in Baku, Aliyev stressed that “Azerbaijan, Turkey, Russia and Iran share the same approach to regional cooperation. The main area of concentration now is transportation, because it’s a situation which is called ‘win‑win.’ Everybody wins from that.”

    And that brings us to the fact that if the current stalemate persists, the top victim will be the INSTC. In fact, everyone loses in terms of Eurasian integration, including India and Russia.

    The Pakistan angle, floated by a few in hush-hush mode, is completely far-fetched. There’s no evidence Tehran would be supporting an anti-Taliban drive in Afghanistan just to undermine Pakistan’s ties with Azerbaijan and Turkey.

    The Russia–China strategic partnership looks at the current South Caucasus juncture as unnecessary trouble, especially after the recent Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit. This badly hurts their complementary Eurasian integration strategies – the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and the Greater Eurasian Partnership.

    INSTC could, of course, go the trans-Caspian way and cut off Azerbaijan altogether. This is not likely though. China’s reaction, once again, will be the deciding factor. There could be more emphasis on the Persian corridor – from Xinjiang, via Pakistan and Afghanistan, to Iran. Or Beijing could equally bet on both East-West corridors, that is, bet on both Azerbaijan and Iran.

    The bottom line is that neither Moscow nor Beijing wants this to fester. There will be serious diplomatic moves ahead, as they both know the only ones to profit will be the usual NATO-centric suspects, and the losers will be all the players who are seriously invested in Eurasian integration.

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    Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s remarks and answers to questions from MGIMO students and faculty

    September 02, 2021

    Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s remarks and answers to questions from MGIMO students and faculty

    Ed: This is a wide ranging discussion of international affairs

    Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s remarks and answers to questions from MGIMO students and faculty on the occasion of the beginning of a new academic year, Moscow, September 1, 2021

    Friends,

    As always, I am delighted to be here on September 1, and not only on this day, of course, since we hold events here at other times of the year as well. But September 1 has special importance, since this is Knowledge Day. First-year students get to feel the university spirit, and meetings like this help us streamline this experience and are sure to benefit students in their studies.

    I am certain that you will not regret choosing this university. MGIMO graduates find work in a wide variety of spheres, from public service and research to business and journalism. We are proud that our alma mater has such a great reputation. MGIMO Rector, Anatoly Torkunov, has just shared some enrolment statistics. They are impressive. He said that the minister keeps a close eye on everything going on in this school. But you cannot keep track of everything, and I mean this in a good way. MGIMO University constantly improves its programmes and activity and expands its partnership networks. Today, MGIMO University will sign yet another cooperation agreement, this time with Ivannikov Institute for System Programming. This shows that we always need to be in step with the times. This is the right way to go. The quality of the education that graduates receive at this university is recognised both in Russia and around the world.

    I am glad MGIMO University continues to attract international students. This is an important channel for maintaining humanitarian, educational and people-to-people ties. In today’s world these ties have special importance, since at the intergovernmental level our Western colleagues have little appetite for talking to us on equal terms. As you probably know, and I am certain that you have a keen interest in foreign policy, they persist with their demands that we change the way we behave and act the way they view as being correct. This is a dead end. We are open to a frank, constructive, mutually beneficial dialogue, taking into account each other’s interests. It is along these lines that we maintain dialogue and promote cooperation and partnerships with the overwhelming majority of countries around the world. This includes our closest allies and strategic partners – members of the CSTO, CIS, EAEU, SCO and BRICS. We have many reliable friends, almost in all continents interested in promoting mutually beneficial projects that benefit all the participants.

    To counter this trend toward a multipolar world, which reflects the cultural and civilisational diversity on this planet, our Western partners seek to maintain their dominant standing in international affairs. They are acting in quite a brash manner making no secret out of the fact that their main objective is to contain their competitors, primarily Russia and China. The documents adopted at the NATO, EU, and US-EU summits over the past months are designed to consolidate the “collective West” in their efforts to counter the Russian Federation and the People’s Republic of China.

    The Indo-Pacific strategies that are openly pursuing the goal (as it has been proclaimed) of containing China have gained currency in the Asia-Pacific region. They are trying to implicate another of our strategic partners, India, in these games. Everyone can see it and everyone understands what it is all about. But those who gave up their sovereignty and joined the ranks of the countries led by the United States and other Western countries are not in a position to utter a word of disagreement.

    Truth be told, following the tragic events in Afghanistan and after the United States and its NATO allies had hurriedly left that country, a chorus of voices began to be heard in Europe advocating self-reliance in foreign affairs, especially in matters involving the deployment of armed forces, rather than reliance on directives issued by Washington that it can change in an instant. These are glimpses of something new in the position of the West, in this case, the Europeans.

    The second notable aspect highlighted by US President Joe Biden and President of France Emmanuel Macron is as follows: both announced within one or two days of one another that it was time to give up on interfering in other countries’ internal affairs in order to impose Western-style democracy on them.

    We welcome such statements. We have long been urging our Western colleagues to learn from the reckless ventures that they have got themselves into in recent decades in Iraq and Libya, and they tried to do the same in Syria. I hope (if the above statements are a true reflection of their hard-won understanding of the matter) that our planet will be a safer place in the future. But all the same, we have to “clear out the rubble” of the past policies. Hundreds of thousands of people, civilians, were impacted or killed during the invasion of Iraq and the attack on Libya. There are lots of problems stemming from the revived international terrorism in the Middle East and North Africa and huge numbers of illegal migrants. The illegal arms trade, drug smuggling and much more are on the rise. All this needs to be “cleared up” by the international community, because it affects almost everyone.

    Now that the NATO troops have pulled out from Afghanistan, the most important thing for us is to ensure the security of our allies in Central Asia. First, they are our comrades, including comrades-in-arms, and second, the security of Russia’s southern borders directly depends on this.

    I hope that if we act together, we will be able to agree on these external steps that will help create an environment within Afghanistan for forming a truly national leadership. We are working energetically to this end.

    We are witnessing two trends in the international arena. On the one hand, it is about the formation of a multipolar and polycentric world. This trend reflects the position of most states around the world. On the other hand, efforts are being made to hold back this objective historical process and to artificially preserve control over everything that is happening in the international arena, including with the use of unscrupulous methods such as unilateral illegal sanctions, competition that is occasionally reminiscent of ultimatums, or changing the rules in the midst of an ongoing project.

    The West tends to mention less often (if at all) the term “international law” and calls on everyone to maintain a “rules-based world order.” We have nothing against the rules. After all, the UN Charter is also a set of rules, but they were agreed with all states without exception. They are supported by every country that is a member of this one-of-a-kind organisation with incredible and unmatched legitimacy. The West has different rules in mind. They are creating formats of their own. For example, the US has announced that it will convene a Democracy Summit to create an Alliance of Democracies. Clearly, Washington will be the one to determine who will be invited and who is considered a democracy. By the same token, France and Germany announced an initiative to create an Alliance for Multilateralism, i.e. “multilateralists.” When asked why these issues cannot be discussed at the UN, where multilateralism is at its finest in the modern world, the answer is that the UN is home to “retrogrades” and they want to create an Alliance for Multilateralism based on “advanced” ideas. And the “leaders,” above all the EU, will set the rules for multilateralism, and the rest will have to look up to them. This is a crude description, but it conveys the essence of what they are trying to tell us in so many words.

    There are initiatives to create partnerships, including in the areas that were supposed to be discussed at universal platforms long ago. Numerous initiatives appearing in the developing world are also being used for the same purpose. There are attempts to channel them to meet Western interests.

    The policy of undermining international law and universal principles sealed in the UN Charter is reflected, to a certain extent, in the efforts to call into doubt the results of World War II. They are aimed at trying to equate the winners in this bloodiest war in human history with those who unleashed it and proclaimed the destruction of whole nations as their goal. These attempts are aimed at undermining our positions in the world. Similar attacks are being made on China’s positions. We cannot give up and remain indifferent on this issue.

    Every year, we put forward major initiatives at the UN on the inadmissibility of glorifying Nazism, waging a war against monuments and fuelling any forms of racial discrimination and xenophobia.

    The overwhelming majority of states not only support these initiatives but also become their co-authors. In most cases, our Western colleagues bashfully abstain from this. They explain that the appeal to prevent certain trends runs counter to democracy and freedom of speech. In other words, for them the neo-Nazi trends that are obvious in Europe, in part, in the Baltic states and Ukraine, do not amount to a gross violation of the Nuremberg trials verdict but merely reflect a commitment to tolerance and freedom of speech.

    I do not think it is necessary to explain in detail the harmful and pernicious nature of such attempts to rewrite history and give the green light to those who want to reproduce misanthropic attitudes in the world arena. I do not believe it is necessary to speak in detail about the need to counter these attitudes with resolve and consistency.

    We have a foreign policy course endorsed by President of Russia Vladimir Putin. Its main goal is to ensure the most favourable conditions for national development, security, economic growth and the improvement of the living standards of our citizens. We will consistently translate this course into reality.

    We have never striven for confrontation, not to mention isolation. We are open to cooperation with the Western countries if they change their approach and stop acting like teachers who “know everything” and are “above reproach,” treating Russia like a pupil that must do its homework.  It is inappropriate to talk to anyone in this manner, let alone Russia.

    Our plans enjoy firm support of our people for the course towards strengthening the sovereignty of the Russian Federation and promoting good, friendly relations with our neighbours and all those who are willing to do this honestly, on an equitable basis.

    Question: The question has to do with the changes in modern diplomacy under the influence of new technology. Digital diplomacy is a widespread term today. Technological development adds a fundamentally new dimension to a diplomats’ work, and also leads to a qualitative transformation of the system of international relations. How do you think new technologies will affect energy policy in particular and diplomacy in general?

    Sergey Lavrov: I am asked this question every time I speak at Knowledge Day here. Apparently, this reflects the thinking of each new generation of students, about how technology will generally affect the processes concerning state-level problem solving and international relations.

    Indeed, digital technologies are rapidly penetrating our lives, even faster in the context of the coronavirus pandemic. Many events, including international events, have transitioned to the online format. There is an upside to this. To a certain extent, it helps to save time, which is becoming a more sparse resource every day, given the aggravating international challenges and problems that our foreign policy tries to resolve.

    When it comes to holding official meetings such as the UN Security Council or the UN General Assembly with a pre-agreed agenda where each country wants to express its point of view, such statements are prepared in advance through the efforts of a large number of specialists. The result is a policy document on a specific matter on the international agenda, which then goes through debates in one format or another. I see no problem with participating in this kind of discussion online using digital technology.

    There are other international meetings, when something needs to be agreed upon as soon as possible; these meetings can also be held remotely. At least this way is better than a phone call because you can see the other person’s face, and this is very important.

    But the most serious issues cannot be resolved online. All my colleagues agree with this. Maybe in the future, humanity will invent a way to convey the feeling of personal contact. But I doubt this will be possible. No machine is capable of replacing a person.

    I am confident that conventional diplomacy will retain its importance as the main tool in international affairs. As soon as a serious problem arises, it is imperative to meet and try to negotiate.

    Question: Will the autumn 2021 elections to the State Duma of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation impact Russia’s foreign policy in the international arena?

    Sergey Lavrov: A good question. Elections in our country actually begin in a little more than a fortnight. Even now Western colleagues make it clear that they are set to cast discredit on them. Various political scientists are publishing articles and making speeches aimed at preparing public opinion in the direction of the narrative that the elections results will be rigged.

    We regularly invite international observers to our national elections. This year, around 200 observers will come to us as well, including those from international organisations. The only one of them who arrogantly declined the invitation was the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR). We told them they could send a group of 60 observers. This is the largest group we invite from abroad. They said they wanted 500. When you are being invited to visit someone, you do not demand gifts for yourself instead of showing respect towards the hosts. OSCE does not have a rule under which ODIHR must dictate election monitoring provisions. All the countries have only one obligation there – to invite international observers to elections. It is not even written down that they should be from OSCE. They may be from anywhere you like. We do it regularly and meet our obligations in full. This is an example of how international law (and this principle is prescribed at OSCE, I mean that all issues must be solved by consensus) is being replaced by “rules.” This Office itself made up a rule, along the same lines the West operates, by demanding that its own “rules” must be obeyed.

    However important international observers might be, we will also have our own observers. Their number is immense. The voting will be streamed live in full. Our Central Electoral Board provides detailed coverage of this and other innovations being introduced. We are taking steps to ensure maximum transparency of voting at our embassies and general consulates. As always, we are making arrangements so that it is possible for our citizens abroad to cast their vote and fulfil their election right.

    With all the importance of international observers, it is ultimately our citizens who will take a decision on how we will live on and with which members our parliament will draft new laws. Those who are going to objectively figure out developments in the Russia Federation are always welcome. As to those who have already passed a judgement, let them bear the shame.

    Question: I know that poetry and art are among your hobbies. How can we make Russian literature and cinema more effective as a soft power tool abroad?

    Sergey Lavrov: There is only one way, and that is to promote these works in other countries’ markets. This policy was vigorously pursued in the Soviet Union. That was a useful experience for the international film and literary community as well. I believe we are renewing these traditions now. I do not know about literary exhibitions, I just do not think I have seen a lot of information on this, but many film festivals recognise the work of our directors, actors and producers. A number of Russian films are highly valued in Cannes and in Karlovy Vary. We must continue to do this.

    Question: Does Russia have effective and proportionate methods of fighting manifestations of Russophobia, oppression of Russians, persecution against the Russian language and the Russian world in certain countries?

    Sergey Lavrov: This is a difficult question, given the recent manifestations of inappropriate attitudes towards ethnic Russians in a number of countries, including some of our neighbours. This topic has several dimensions to it. The most important point is that the government of a country where our citizens are subjected to some kind of discriminatory influence must firmly oppose such manifestations and take steps to prevent them. This is important, not only because they attack Russians or our other compatriots, but also because it’s required by international conventions, the UN Charter, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and many other documents that are universal and approved by everyone.

    In Russia, too, we have seen situations recently where some migrant labourers were at odds with other labour migrants. This is also a problem because Russia needs migrant labourers. We are trying to make immigration as clear, transparent and legitimate as possible. We negotiate with the countries they come from for long-term employment (mostly the Central Asian countries) and agree on special courses for potential migrants that make sure they speak minimal Russian and are familiar with Russian customs, our laws, and that they are planning to behave in a way that is appropriate for being hired in the Russian Federation. This is important for our economy. Without migrant labourers, many Russian industries are now experiencing a significant shortage of personnel.

    It is also important to keep in mind that these countries are our allies. We, as allies, must support each other; one way to do so is to ensure an appropriate environment for citizens who represent a different ethnic group.

    We have a huge number of ethnic groups living in Russia. Russia is a record holder in multi-ethnicity. All this cultural and religious diversity has always made our country strong, providing the solid foundation on which we stand. We have never tried to destroy the traditions, cultures or languages ​​of any peoples that have lived here since the Russian Empire, then the Soviet Union and now the Russian Federation. We have always supported their languages, cultures, and customs.

    Another factor that must be taken into account is the basic quality of life for each and every citizen. We pursue a most open policy. We will make every effort to ensure that our neighbours or other countries where our compatriots live or work fully comply with their international obligations. The fight against discrimination must use political methods based on respect for international commitments.

    Question: Do conditions exist for economic and investment cooperation with Japan on the Kuril Islands?

    Sergey Lavrov: Yes, they do, of course. It is even more than that. We made a relevant proposal to our Japanese colleagues a long time ago. When, several years ago, Russian President Vladimir Putin met with the Japanese Prime Minister at the time, Shinzo Abe, we came up with an initiative to engage in joint economic activity on these islands. Our Japanese neighbours agreed to this proposal after a while, but decided to confine our cooperation to relatively unsophisticated areas, like aquaculture and waste treatment. These things are important but they are of no strategic significance. We offered them cooperation in any industry of their choice on the southern Kuril Islands and this has been stated repeatedly in the correspondence with our Japanese colleagues. However, the Japanese are seeking to secure a deal with us that would allow them to engage in economic activity and invest money [in the area], not in compliance with Russian law, but rather on the basis of an agreement that provides for another jurisdiction – not that of the Russian Federation. Under this jurisdiction, Russian and Japanese representatives in a certain administrative body would enjoy equal rights, meaning that some hybrid laws would be introduced. This cannot be done under our Constitution.

    Regretfully, our Japanese friends are missing out on the opportunity to invest money with us for our mutual benefit. Nonetheless, we have good plans. Soon, new privileges will be announced for our foreign partners who agree to work with us in this part of the Russian Federation. I believe there will be practical interest in this.

    Question: In one of your interviews you said (and I fully agree) that modern Western-style liberal democracies have run their course. How will nation states evolve going forward? What forms of state organisation hold the most promise? What should we be striving for?

    The UN is plagued by many problems, ranging from Greta Thunberg to agreements that are not being acted upon, such as, for instance, the Paris Agreement. What can be done to turn this deplorable trend around? What laws need to be adopted? What kind of organisations must be created? What does Russia think about this?

    Sergey Lavrov: I briefly touched on this matter in my opening remarks. I believe each state should be structured around its customs and traditions and be comfortable for its residents who will have children, grandchildren, etc. It appears that they have promised to stop trying to impose democracy on other countries. At least, President Biden and President Macron said this almost simultaneously. We’ll see how they deliver on their promises.

    Each country should take care of its own affairs independently. Everyone now agrees that imposing a Western system on Afghanistan was a grave mistake. Afghanistan has always been a fairly decentralised country where clan-based and other bonds, as well as relations between different ethnic groups, have always played a major role. And Kabul usually balanced out these relations. Saying that tomorrow you will have elections and everyone should go and cast their vote to elect a president who will have certain powers – it was not the Afghans who came up with this idea. It was imposed on them and the ones who did it hurt themselves badly. I hope the promises not to impose democracy on anyone else will be kept.

    With regard to environmental protection, the Paris Agreement can hardly be described as a treaty that is not being acted upon. It was based on the fundamental principle that included the need to reduce carbon dioxide and greenhouse gas emissions, but each country was supposed to assume commitments of its own. Preparations for another conference of the parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, which will take place in Glasgow this autumn, are underway.

    As part of this process, the most important thing is to agree on variables that will meet the interests of each participant. The proposal of several Western countries to stop using coal-fired power generation starting literally today cannot be complied with by many countries, including several Western countries, simply because this would undermine their energy security. The same applies to large developing countries, including China and India. They are reluctant to stop their growth. They are making it clear to the West that the Western countries have attained their current level of development due to intensive use of natural resources, which gave rise to the greenhouse effect, and now the West wants large developing countries to skip their current phase of development and go straight to a post-carbon economy. It doesn’t work that way, they say. First, they need to complete the economic development of their respective states, which is a complex process that involves the interests of each state. An attempt to balance these interests is being undertaken in the course of preparations for the next conference of the parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.

    We made a commitment that by 2030 we would have 70 percent of the 1990 level when the countdown began under the UN Climate Convention. It is unlikely that anyone would have complaints with regard to us. President Vladimir Putin has made clear more than once that we must be extremely careful with regard to everything that is happening. The fact that Russia’s Arctic zone, which is mainly permafrost, is warming up much faster than the rest of the planet is worrisome. This matter is being carefully addressed by several of our ministries, and it is a concern for all of our Government.

    Question: Can environmental issues motivate the world powers tо unite against a background of general discord? What is the potential for green diplomacy?

    Sergey Lavrov: Environmental protection and concern for the planet’s climate must become a motive for pooling our efforts. It is hard to say now to what extent the world powers will manage to achieve this.

    Let me repeat that the developing nations are strongly inclined to use their opportunities for the current stage of their development before assuming the commitments promoted by their Western colleagues. Many interests come together here. Our global interest lies in the health of the planet and the survival of humanity. However, every country has its own national assessment of the current situation and the commitments to their people. It is a complicated matter, but there is no doubt that this is a challenge that must prompt all of us to come together. We stand for pooling our efforts.

    Question: Can the Russian Federation “enforce Ukraine to peace” under the Minsk Agreements?

    Sergey Lavrov: The Minsk Agreements do not envisage any enforcement. They have been voluntarily approved, signed and unanimously endorsed by the UN Security Council, thereby becoming international law. When Ukraine as a state, both under Petr Poroshenko and Vladimir Zelensky, is doing all it can to avoid fulfilling these agreements, we must point this out to those who compiled them with us. I am primarily referring to Germany, France and other Western countries that are going all-out to justify the Kiev regime. When I say that it is trying to avoid fulfilling these agreements, I am referring to many laws that actually prohibit the Russian language, the transfer of special authority to the territories that have proclaimed themselves the Donetsk and Lugansk people’s republics and the efforts to harmonise the parameters of local elections in them. These are the basics of the Minsk Agreements.

    Recently, German Chancellor Angela Merkel visited Moscow. This issue was raised at her talks with President of Russia Vladimir Putin. We showed our German colleagues the legal bans that Mr Zelensky adopted himself to justify his complete inability to fulfil what is required by all states in the world. All countries without exception believe that there is no alternative to the Minsk Agreements for settling the crisis in Donbass. Our Ukrainian colleagues are true prestidigitators. At one time, they believed that Rus was the true name of Ukraine (our ministry has already replied to this, so I will not repeat it). Later they said that the conversion of Rus was a Ukrainian holiday. This is sad. Mr Zelensky claims that Russian gas is the dirtiest in the world. He is doing this not because he is particularly bright but because he wants to maintain and fuel his Russophobic rhetoric and actions to prompt the West to continue supporting Kiev.

    Ukraine continues to exploit the obvious efforts of the West to unbalance and destabilise Russia, sidetrack it from resolving its vital problems and make our foreign policy less effective. The Ukrainian regime is exploiting all this. This is clear to everyone. Having placed its bets on Kiev, the West feels uncomfortable about giving up on them. But this approach has obviously failed. The realisation of this fact is coming up but has not yet been embodied in practical steps aimed at convincing or, to use your expression, “enforcing” anything. It is the West that must enforce compliance from its client.

    Question: How do you see yourself as a State Duma deputy, something you may soon be? Do you have proposals or ideas to offer? Perhaps, you have specific initiatives to promote our relations with Armenia or Georgia?

    Sergey Lavrov: I will not speculate on the outcome of the elections to the State Duma.

    We deal with our relations with Armenia and Georgia as Foreign Ministry officials. Armenia is our ally. New Foreign Minister Ararat Mirzoyan was just in Moscow, on August 31. We had a good discussion. Our bilateral agenda is quite fulfilling and includes mutual visits, major projects and expanded economic cooperation. All of that is unfolding in a very intensive and confident manner.

    There is the Nagorno-Karabakh problem, and Russia has played a decisive role in bringing a solution to it. The President of Russia, the President of Azerbaijan and the Prime Minister of Armenia signed agreements on November 9, 2020 (on ceasing hostilities and developing cooperation in this region) and on January 11. These agreements include specific actions that follow up on our leaders’ proposals to unblock all transport lines and economic ties. This is not a one-day project. It is underway, and the leaders of Russia, Armenia and Azerbaijan are closely following it. Our military personnel in the Russian peacekeeping contingent in Nagorno-Karabakh work daily on the ground to reduce tensions and build trust. The border guards are helping their Armenian allies sort out issues with their Azerbaijani neighbours.

    Relations with Georgia are almost non-existent. There is a Section of Russia’s Interests in Georgia and a Section of Georgia’s Interests in Russia. There is trade, which is quite significant. Russia is one of Georgia’s leading trade partners. Our people love to go to Georgia (I myself love the country). There are no official interstate or diplomatic relations; they were severed at Tbilisi’s initiative. We have offered to resume them more than once. We planned to reciprocate to our Georgian neighbour when they introduced visa-free travel for our citizens. At first, we followed closely the developments as they were unfolding. We are not banning anyone from going to Georgia. In 2019, we were also willing to announce visa-free travel for Georgian citizens, but an unpleasant incident occurred with gross provocations against the Russian parliamentary delegation, which arrived in Tbilisi for a meeting of the Inter-Parliamentary Assembly of Orthodoxy. Our deputy was the assembly chairman. In a conference room in Georgia, the Georgian hosts offered him the chair of the chairman of the parliament themselves. Then, immediately, a group of thugs came in the room demanding that Russia stop interfering in Georgia’s internal affairs and stop “occupying” their parliament. It even came to fisticuffs. With no apologies coming our way, we held back introducing visa-free travel for Georgian citizens and put our decision to resume regular flights on hold. We were ready to go ahead with it. If Georgia really doesn’t want to “play the Russian card” in an effort to retain Western protection, but instead prefers to have good relations with us as a neighbour, we will respond at any time.

    Question: What qualities do you think a diplomat’s wife might need? What rules of etiquette she should observe?

    Sergey Lavrov: There are no special rules here. A wife and a husband should both understand each other. Rather than obstructing the other, they should help each other carry out the ideas they have decided to devote their lives to and also achieve self-fulfillment in their professions. There is no universal advice.

    When I was a rank-and-file diplomat, I worked with some top officials, whose wives had different “styles” – this occurs sometimes. In both cases, this proved to be effective and useful in our work. If a wife has a profession, her husband should also have respect for it. When a woman, regardless of whether she is the wife of an ambassador or a diplomat in a lower position, goes to a country which her husband has been posted to but where she cannot realise her professional potential, this can be a serious problem, which has to be addressed. In this situation, each family decides on its own whether the spouses go together or each of them keeps his or her job and tries to travel as often as possible to see the other. This is life; it doesn’t necessarily fit into a particular pattern.

    Question: I believe the man himself comes first – Sergey Lavrov – and only then there is the Russian Foreign Minister. I like to look at politics through the prism of humaneness. What is your favourite song, the one you listen to and feel happy?

    Sergey Lavrov: There are many. I will not give examples. The list is long. I do not want to leave anyone out. These are mostly songs by singer-poets. I enjoy listening to them whenever I have the chance, say, in my car or when I meet with my friends.

    Question: I have a question about Russia’s relations with the Eastern European countries, given the complexity of regulating relations in this region since World War II, not to mention after the USSR’s collapse. How will they develop in the near future?

    Sergey Lavrov: If a particular country has a government concerned about national interests, projects that meet the needs of its population, economic growth, and a search for partners that will help it resolve these problems in the best way, Russia has no problems in relations with any Central or East European country or any other country in the world.

    We have close ties with Hungary and it is being criticised for this. In the European Union, Hungary and Poland are reprimanded for not obeying the EU’s general standards and principles. Thus, they hold referendums calling into doubt LGBT rights. Recently, Hungary held a referendum on the same law as Russia did. This law does not prohibit anything but imposes administrative liability for promoting LGBT ideology among minors. Nothing else. I think this is the right thing to do. In addition to major economic projects (nuclear power plants, and railway carriage production for Egypt), we have many other undertakings and good humanitarian cooperation.

    Together with Armenia and the Vatican in the OSCE and the UN Human Rights Council, Russia and Hungary are acting as the driver in protecting the rights of Christians, including in the Middle East where Christians are seriously harassed. Hungary is not embarrassed about its Christian roots (incidentally, nor is Poland ashamed of its past and present). When they start talking about the need to raise their voice in defence of Christians, other European countries say that this is not quite politically correct.

    In the OSCE, we suggested adopting a declaration against Christianophobia and Islamophobia, because it has already passed a declaration on anti-Semitism. However, these proposals are getting nowhere. Seven years ago, the West promised to adopt them but so far the OSCE countries have failed to adopt a common position on banning both Christianophobia and Islamophobia.

    Regarding other East European countries, we have good relations with Slovenia. In particular, we are both working to preserve our common memory, including the bloody events of WWI and WWII. People in Slovenia care a lot about war memorials. Recently, they established a new monument devoted to all Russian soldiers who perished in both world wars. Our economic cooperation is in good shape.

    We are implementing economic projects with other Eastern European countries, for instance, with Slovakia. We have considered many ideas about projects with the Czech Republic, but in the past few months it has decided to take a more Russophobic attitude and adopt overtly discriminatory decisions, like banning Rosatom from a tender on building a new nuclear power plant unit. It justified its policy with allegations that have never been proved by anyone. It blamed us for detonating some arms depots in 2014. Even many people in the Czech Republic consider this far-fetched.

    However, the allegations remain. We are used to being accused of all kinds of “sins” without any evidence. This happened during the so-called poisoning of the Skripals and Alexey Navalny, and the investigation of the Malaysia Airlines crash in Donbass in July 2014. As in many other cases, these accusations are not buttressed by anything. Our requests to present facts are ignored or qualified as “classified.” Or we are told someone has “prohibited” to transmit information or some other excuse. This position is not serious. It reflects the Western approach to fueling Russophobic tensions without grounds.

    Question: Do you think that we can describe the meeting between President of Russia Vladimir Putin and US President Joe Biden in Switzerland as the beginning of a relative normalisation of relations between the two countries?

    Sergey Lavrov: Holding a meeting is better than having no contact at all. No breakthroughs occurred, but there was a mutually respectful conversation, on an equal footing, without any grievances expressed to either side.  The dialogue was permeated with the awareness of responsibility that the two biggest nuclear powers had for the state of affairs in the world. The presidents paid attention to the need to intensify bilateral contacts, particularly in the interests of stakeholders in the business community. But the main focus was on the international agenda.

    The United States withdrew from the Treaty on Open Skies (TOS) just a few months before the meeting and from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) in 2019.   This has created a background for the fading of the international arms reduction and control agenda. When Joe Biden took office, he promptly responded to the proposal (which was made way back to the Trump administration but remained unanswered for a couple of years) on the need to extend the New START Treaty without any preconditions. We have managed to preserve at least this element of the arms control architecture for the next five years.

    This was the context for the presidents’ meeting in Geneva. The main positive result of the meeting is that the two leaders reaffirmed the position that there can be no winners in a nuclear war and therefore it must never be unleashed. A statement to this effect was made a long time ago by the USSR and the USA. We suggested that the United States confirm this axiom. The previous administration evaded this, but Joe Biden accepted the proposal.

    Within the same statement that spoke about the inadmissibility of unleashing a nuclear war, the two presidents outlined an instruction to start a dialogue on matters of strategic stability.  The first tentative meeting took place in July of this year. The second one is scheduled for September. At this stage, the parties’ positions are far apart, but the fact that the dialogue is under way gives hope for the coordination of a basis for further specific talks on arms limitation.   These are our short-term objectives.

    They also talked in general terms about the need to establish a dialogue on cyber security. This is yet another topic on which we were unable to reach out to Washington for several years. Vladimir Putin’s official statement was dedicated to the initiatives on ensuring a transparent dialogue based on trust and facts on cyber security in Russian-American relations. Contacts of this kind are being prepared as well. There are reasons to believe that we will reduce international tension just a little in some areas. But this does not abolish the fact that the United States continues to see the containment of Russia and China as one of its main tasks, as well as the encouragement of measures that may be instrumental in having an irritating effect on us.

    Armenian Patriots Attack NATO

    20 APRIL 2021

    By Grigory Trofimchuk

    Expert on International Relations

    Armenian Patriots Attack NATO

    Recently, the growing civil hatred resulted in a street attack on the former director of the NATO Information Center in Armenia, Ara Tadevosyan.

    Armenian public activists are increasingly convinced that the West and its institutions located on the territory of the country are to blame for all their recent troubles. According to independent researchers, there have been more than two hundred such pro-Western organizations in recent years. For a relatively small republic, this is a colossal figure, especially given that it is reinforced by one of the highest percentages of the US Embassy staff in Armenia in relation to the number of its citizens. This was repeatedly discussed at conferences in Moscow, with the participation of the Armenian Ambassador.

    The cup of patience of these citizens is beginning to overflow, since the “army” of Western adherents has done nothing to improve real life in the host country, while engaging in activities of a closed nature, inaccessible to public control, with the standard reference to the need to “develop democracy”. At the same time, the accusations against Russia and the CSTO, apparently, come from the same nest, working to further weaken Armenia.

    Recently, the growing civil hatred resulted in a street attack on the former director of the NATO Information Center in Armenia, Ara Tadevosyan. The activists were not even hindered by the coronavirus epidemic, and they were able to recognize Tadevosyan in a seemingly ordinary passer-by, walking in a medical mask in the center of Yerevan. Perhaps Tadevosyan will now always have to wear a mask, hiding from the public, even after the virus disappears.

    This is a precedent. It is obvious that the patriotic citizens of Armenia no longer want to tolerate Armenia’s cooperation with the West in any form, including the new wars that Western structures are preparing for this state. Despite the recent closure of this Information Center and the disbanding of personnel, NATO continues to strengthen along the borders of Armenia, having significantly strengthened in this region since 1991, which causes emotional, spontaneous protests from the population.

    Apparently, Ara Tadevosyan, who raised a poster at the request of the patriots, calling on NATO to stay away from Armenia – “NATO Keep Out from Armenia!”, “NATO Go Home!” – is only the beginning of mass anti-Western actions. The Armenians, who are patriots of their homeland, are not yet calling on Tadevosyan and his friends to leave Armenia forever and live in the West they love so much, but such a development is quite possible.

    But now it is most important to understand to what extent the NATO Information Center, which was active until recently in Armenia, was involved in the development of the destabilization of the military-political situation in the region, which ultimately led to the so-called Second Karabakh War. Such questions should be asked to the same pro-Western activist Are Tadevosyan, perhaps in the framework of a special press conference, so that the growing political position of the real Armenian “street” does not look like a commonplace, banal settling of scores. And this is a completely different nascent Armenian “street”, significantly different from the one that brought Nikol Pashinyan to power in the spring of 2018.

    The NATO Information Center was opened in Yerevan in 2007, on the eve of 2008, when the South Ossetian War broke out in the South Caucasus. This can be considered a simple coincidence, but the facts and dates are strictly in their places, in a strict sequence. The goals of the inaugurated institution were extremely noble: it was assumed that the “broad Armenian public “would be better informed about the tasks of the North Atlantic Alliance and its partners, one of the main ones, at that time, in the region was rapidly becoming Georgia. The real status of such centers was intended to include in the “cloud” around NATO on the basis of bilateral agreements those countries that did not have membership in this military-political bloc and could hardly ever get it.

    Just a few years later, in 2011, with the active participation of the same Ara Tadevosyan, a training program on “NATO as an element of the Western security system” was launched within the framework of the “NATO Week in Armenia”. That is, even then, the processes that are destroying Armenia today were launched, with the transfer of the “arrows”, that is, the blame, to Russia. At the same time, Tadevoyasyan himself said that the project is “pilot in nature”.

    And today, ten years later, the pilot ” Tadevosyan received an inevitable response from his grateful compatriots. And this is just the first swallow.

    Maria Zakharova : weekly briefing with a US history

    April 01, 2021

    ISKANDER SPRING IN ARMENIA

    South Front

    Three months after losing the war in Nagorno-Karabakh, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan still continues his quest to find the perfect excuse.

    The most recent one backfired, heavily.

    On February 24th, in an interview, Pashinyan claimed that the reason Armenia lost the war against Azerbaijan was Russia’s Iskander missile.

    According to his estimations the missile only exploded 10% of the time upon impact. As such, the “40-year-old weapon” was ineffective, and led to Yerevan’s defeat.

    He has gone through almost every possible reason for losing the war, except admitting poor leadership and gross mismanagement of the forces.

    Deputy Chief of the Armenian Armed Forces General Staff Tiran Khachatryan immediately rebuked Pashinyan, saying that his claim was “frivolous”.

    In response, the Armenian Prime Minister released the official from his position.

    Following that, the head of the Armenian Armed Forces General Staff, Onik Gasparyan released a statement, signed by all his deputies and other military officials demanding that Nikol Pashinyan immediately resign from the country’s leadership.

    Pashinyan, in response, did what he does best – said that he had released the Chief of the General Staff, because he would not be questioned.

    He called his supporters to take to the streets because this constituted a “military coup” and began “actively” leading the country through Facebook livestreams.

    There are protests in Yerevan, both in support and against Nikol Pashinyan. His leadership has all but failed, and he alone undermines the vestiges of Armenia’s statehood.

    Following his statements, he was mocked by the Russian Defense Ministry, which denied that the Iskander had been used in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

    He was also mocked by Azerbaijan’s president Ilham Aliyev, who called his statements “anecdotal”. He also entirely denied that the Iskander had been used at all during the conflict.

    Even Turkey released a statement playing along with the “military coup” narrative, saying that it was against it. Understandable, for Ankara, Armenia under inadequate leadership is a perfect neighbor.

    After months of excuses, various accusations against past leadership, current military leadership, its own citizens and Russia, Pashinyan went too far. He still refuses to hang onto power, but he is becoming increasingly isolated in his attempt to “leave power in the people’s hands,” as he calls refusing to resign.

    Related

    Biden’s accounts with Russia. What will Erdogan do? حسابات بايدن مع روسيا.. ماذا سيفعل إردوغان؟

    **English Machine translation Please scroll down for the Arabic original version **

    Biden’s accounts with Russia. What will Erdogan do?

    حسابات بايدن مع روسيا.. ماذا سيفعل إردوغان؟
    Biden’s accounts with Russia. What will Erdogan do?
    حسني محلي

    Husni Mahali 

    Al-Mayadeen Net

    1 March

    Georgia is gaining additional importance in Washington’s calculations, and soon President Biden, because it challenges Russia’s nine autonomous republics — most of whose population is Muslim — including Chechnya, Ingushetia and Dagestan.

    Since joining NATO in the early 1950s, Ankara has played a key role in opposing the Western camp, led by America, to the Soviet Union, which was then adjacent to Turkey through Georgia and Armenia in the south. Through dozens of Atlantic and U.S. bases in its territory (12 of which remain), Turkey was also an advanced outpost to defend Western interests and prevent the Communist Soviet Union from expanding south toward the Arab and Muslim world.

    The fall of the Soviet Union after the Afghan war and the resulting birth of The Islamic Republics of Turkish origin gave Ankara more power in regional and international calculations, especially after the late President Turgut Ozal’s talks on “the unity of the Turkish nation, from the Adriatic Sea (Bosnia, Kosovo and Macedonia) to the China Dam, through Bulgaria and Greece, where Muslim minorities of Turkish origin are.

    Ozal’s words were welcomed and encouraged by Washington, the traditional enemy of the Soviet Union, and then Russia, which the West wanted to surround from its southern flank, where the Islamic republics, and from the West, where the countries that nato embraced in 2004, namely Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, and southern Bulgaria and Romania, which overlook the Black Sea, which Turkey controls, control its only Bosphorus Strait.

    This came at a time when Ukraine and Georgia paid dearly for their adventures during their velvet revolutions in which Western institutions played a major role, with Abkhazia and South Ossetia declaring independence with the support of Moscow, and separated from Georgia, while the civil war in Ukraine was a reason for the partition of the country, after the citizens of the eastern regions voted for secession, prompting Russia to “annex” Crimea in 2014.

    As was the case in the 1950s and beyond, Ankara has played, and continues to play, some role in all of these developments that President Erdogan wanted to help him to support his projects and plans, which appear to have been influenced by Ozal’s slogans, and Ankara has had, and continues to be, directly and indirectly linked to the developments of its neighbor Georgia, whose tens of thousands of its citizens work in Turkey.

    Georgia is gaining additional importance in washington’s calculations, and soon President Biden, because it challenges russia’s nine self-governing republics — mostof whose population is Muslim — including Chechnya, Ingushetia and Dagestan.

    Thousands of citizens of these and other Central Asian republics have joined Al-Nusra and ISIS, while Washington wants to help it in the future in its plans to tighten the blockade on Russia, and the factions of “Afghan jihadists” helped America achieve its first goal, which is to overthrow and tear the Soviet Union, according to the green belt theory, it became clear that Washington is planning to return to this belt, and wants Turkey to play a key role in activating it, but after agreeing with Erdogan on a comprehensive deal to achieve both sides the biggest direct and indirect gains, which Presidents Biden and Erdogan are preparing on the eve of the phone call between the two parties, which seem to have been delayed by the many topics that will be in front of them, difficult and intertwined, and they need each other.

    In exchange for the financial and political support of Erdogan, which seems to be in dire need, President Biden wants Turkey to go back to the 1950s and prove its absolute loyalty to Washington and NATO, which is clearly preparing for a new phase of psychological, economic and political war against Russia, this time through its back gardens to the south and west, which means that it needs to support President Erdogan because of his ties and role in the Central Asian Islamic Republics (Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan), as in the Caucasus, where Azerbaijan is linked to Azerbaijan. Georgia has privileged relations, and Washington seeks to annex it to NATO, along with Ukraine.

    The events in Armenia at this time are of added importance, having become a direct arena for U.S. and French intervention against the traditional Russian role. Ankara is watching all these interventions closely, firstly because Armenia is a neighboring country, and secondly because of information about the possibility that President Biden will recognize the Armenian genocide of the Ottoman era during World War I, without neglecting Washington’s privileged relationship between Ankara and Kiev, and at the expense of The Russian plans in Ukraine, Erdogan has repeatedly rejected Putin’s decision to “annex” Crimea to Russia, while information speaks of very broad cooperation between Turkey and Ukraine in all fields, especially military industries, including drones, tanks and missiles, with significant Turkish support for the Muslim minority in Crimea.

    Ankara has also succeeded in establishing privileged relations with most of the former Soviet Republics and Eastern European countries that have bad memories with Moscow, which President Biden may need in his future calculations to tighten the blockade on Russia within its borders or elsewhere, particularly Latin America, where Erdogan has succeeded in establishing privileged relations with its most prominent head of state, Nicolas Maduro, despite all the personal, ideological and political contradictions between them.

    President Biden may need Turkish support for his plans and projects in the Middle East, particularly in Syria, which has turned into a front alcove to defend Russian interests in the region, and across it in many regional and international arenas in which Washington, some Western capitals, and sometimes Ankara, are competing, despite the contradiction of interests among all of these capitals.

    In all cases, it seems clear that we will not wait long to see what Biden will ask of Erdogan, and how the latter will respond to these demands, the most important of which is undoubtedly a return to Turkey’s nationalist, religious and historical behavior against Russia. For the past five years, after Erdogan’s apology following the downing of the Russian plane, President Putin has sought to block this possibility through a combination of interlocking economic, political and military relations with Ankara and its implications for coordination, cooperation and joint action in Syria.

    With the information that president Biden expects to clear all his accounts with Ankara, whether negative or positive, President Erdogan finds himself in a situation that is never enviable, having become clear that his options are limited, either continue the current situation in the relationship with Moscow and Washington, which Biden will not accept, or continue his cooperation with Russia and its allies, which is completely impossible.

    In this case, in his very difficult situation internally, he has no choice but to agree with President Biden on the axes of the next phase, and to minimize the losses in his relations with Russia that he does not want to repeat, as Biden, who knows he has a lot of serious papers against him personally and officially, wishes.

    The most important question remains: Will Biden put these papers on the table and ask for them to be resolved, or will he ask Erdogan to use his own papers in Russia’s backyards, in exchange for absolute support in the gardens of others!?

    حسابات بايدن مع روسيا.. ماذا سيفعل إردوغان؟

    تكتسب جورجيا أهمية إضافية في حسابات واشنطن، وقريباً الرئيس بايدن، لأنها تحدّ جمهوريات الحكم الذاتي الروسية – معظم سكّانها مسلمون – وعددها تسعة، ومنها الشيشان وأنغوشيا وداغستان.

    حسابات بايدن مع روسيا.. ماذا سيفعل إردوغان؟
    حسابات بايدن مع روسيا.. ماذا سيفعل إردوغان؟

    أدَّت أنقرة منذ انضمامها إلى الحلف الأطلسي في بداية الخمسينيات من القرن الماضي دوراً أساسياً في معاداة المعسكر الغربي، بزعامة أميركا، للاتحاد السوفياتي، الذي كان آنذاك مجاوراً لتركيا من خلال جورجيا وأرمينيا في الجنوب. كما كانت تركيا، من خلال عشرات القواعد الأطلسية والأميركية الموجودة في أراضيها (ما زال هناك 12 قاعدة منها)، مخفراً متقدماً للدفاع عن المصالح الغربية ومنع الاتحاد السوفياتي الشيوعي من التمدد جنوباً باتجاه العالم العربي والإسلامي.

    وجاء سقوط الاتحاد السّوفياتيّ بعد الحرب الأفغانيّة وما نتج منه من ولادة الجمهوريات الإسلاميّة ذات الأصل التركي، ليمنح أنقرة المزيد من عناصر القوة في الحسابات الإقليمية والدولية، وخصوصاً بعد أحاديث الرئيس الراحل تورغوت أوزال عن “وحدة الأمة التركية، من البحر الأدرياتيكي (البوسنة وكوسوفو ومقدونيا) إلى سد الصين الحصين، مروراً ببلغاريا واليونان، حيث الأقليات المسلمة ذات الأصل التركي.

    وقد حظيت مقولات أوزال بترحيب وتشجيع من واشنطن؛ العدو التقليدي للاتحاد السوفياتي، ومن بعده روسيا، التي أراد الغرب أن يحاصرها من خاصرتها الجنوبية، حيث الجمهوريات الإسلامية، ومن الغرب، حيث الدول التي احتضنها الحلف الأطلسي في العام 2004، وهي أستونيا ولاتفيا وليتوانيا، وجنوبا بلغاريا ورومانيا اللتين تطلان على البحر الأسود، الذي تسيطر تركيا على مضيقه الوحيد البوسفور.

    أتى ذلك في الوقت الذي دفعت أوكرانيا وجورجيا ثمن مغامراتهما غالياً خلال ثوراتهما المخملية التي أدت فيها مؤسسات غربية دوراً رئيسياً، فقد أعلنت أبخازيا وأوسيتيا الجنوبية استقلالهما بدعم من موسكو، وانفصلتا عن جورجيا، فيما كانت الحرب الأهلية في أوكرانيا سبباً لتقسيم البلاد، بعد أن صوّت مواطنو المناطق الشرقية من أجل الانفصال، ودفع ذلك روسيا إلى “ضم” شبه جزيرة القرم إليها في العام 2014.

    وكما كان الوضع في الخمسينيات وما بعدها، فقد أدت أنقرة، وما تزال، دوراً ما في مجمل هذه التطورات التي أراد لها الرئيس إردوغان أن تساعده لدعم مشاريعه ومخططاته التي يبدو أنها تأثرت بالشعارات التي رفعها أوزال، فقد كان لأنقرة، وما يزال، علاقة مباشرة وغير مباشرة بمجمل تطورات جارتها جورجيا، التي يعمل عشرات الآلاف من مواطنيها في تركيا.

    وتكتسب جورجيا أهمية إضافية في حسابات واشنطن، وقريباً الرئيس بايدن، لأنها تحدّ جمهوريات الحكم الذاتي الروسية – معظم سكّانها مسلمون – وعددها تسعة، ومنها الشيشان وأنغوشيا وداغستان. 

    وقد انضمّ الآلاف من مواطني هذه الجمهوريات وغيرها في آسيا الوسطى إلى “النصرة” و”داعش”، في الوقت الذي تريد واشنطن لها أن تساعدها مستقبلاً في مخطّطاتها لتضييق الحصار على روسيا، كما ساعدت فصائل “الجهاديين الأفغان” أميركا في تحقيق هدفها الأول، وهو إسقاط الاتحاد السوفياتي وتمزيقه، وفق نظرية الحزام الأخضر، فقد بات واضحاً أن واشنطن تخطط للعودة إلى هذا الحزام، وتريد لتركيا أن يكون لها دور أساسي في تفعيله، ولكن بعد الاتفاق مع إردوغان على صفقة شاملة تحقّق للطرفين الحد الأكبر من المكاسب المباشرة وغير المباشرة، وهو ما يستعدّ له الرئيسان بايدن وإردوغان عشية المكالمة الهاتفية بين الطرفين، والتي يبدو أنها تأخّرت بسبب كثرة المواضيع التي ستكون أمامهما وصعوبتها وتشابكها، وهما يحتاجان إلى بعضهما البعض.

    ومقابل الدعم المالي والسياسي لإردوغان، الذي يبدو أنه في أمس الحاجة إليه، يريد الرئيس بايدن لتركيا أن تعود إلى خمسينيات القرن الماضي، وتثبت ولاءها المطلق لواشنطن والحلف الأطلسي، الذي يبدو واضحاً أنه يستعد لمرحلة جديدة من الحرب النفسية والاقتصادية والسياسية ضد روسيا، وهذه المرة عبر حدائقها الخلفية جنوباً وغرباً، وهو ما يعني حاجتها إلى دعم الرئيس إردوغان بسبب علاقاته ودوره في جمهوريات آسيا الوسطى الإسلامية (كازاخستان وتركمنستان وقرغيزيا وأوزبكستان)، كما هو الحال في القوقاز، حيث ترتبط تركيا مع أذربيجان وجورجيا بعلاقات مميزة، وتسعى واشنطن لضمّها إلى الحلف الأطلسي، ومعها أوكرانيا.

    وتكتسب أحداث أرمينيا في هذا التوقيت أهمية إضافية، بعد أن تحوّلت إلى ساحة مباشرة للتدخل الأميركي والفرنسي ضد الدور الروسي التقليدي. وتراقب أنقرة كل هذه التدخلات عن كثب؛ أولاً لأنّ أرمينيا دولة مجاورة لها، وثانياً بسبب المعلومات التي تتحدث عن احتمالات أن يعترف الرئيس بايدن في 24 نيسان/أبريل القادم بالإبادة الأرمنية في العهد العثماني إبان الحرب العالمية الأولى وخلالها، من دون أن تهمل واشنطن العلاقة المميزة بين أنقرة وكييف، وعلى حساب المخططات الروسية في أوكرانيا، إذ أعلن إردوغان أكثر من مرة رفضه قرار بوتين “ضم” شبه جزيرة القرم إلى روسيا، في الوقت الذي تتحدّث المعلومات عن تعاون واسع جداً بين تركيا وأوكرانيا في جميع المجالات، وخصوصاً الصناعات العسكرية، ومنها الطائرات المسيّرة والدبابات والصواريخ، مع دعم تركي كبير للأقليّة المسلمة في القرم.

    كما نجحت أنقرة في إقامة علاقات مميزة مع معظم جمهوريات الاتحاد السوفياتي السابق ودول أوروبا الشرقية التي لها ذكريات سيئة مع موسكو، وهو ما قد يحتاجه الرئيس بايدن في حساباته المستقبلية لتضييق الحصار على روسيا داخل حدودها أو في أي مكان آخر، وبشكل خاص أميركا اللاتينية، التي نجح إردوغان في إقامة علاقات مميّزة مع أبرز رئيس دولة فيها، نيكولاس مادورو، رغم كلّ التناقضات الشخصية والعقائدية والسياسية بينهما.

    وقد يحتاج الرئيس بايدن إلى دعم تركي لمخططاته ومشاريعه في الشرق الأوسط، وخصوصاً في سوريا، التي تحولت إلى خندق أمامي للدفاع عن المصالح الروسية في المنطقة، وعبرها في العديد من الساحات الإقليمية والدولية التي تنافسها فيها واشنطن وبعض العواصم الغربية، وأحياناً أنقرة، على الرغم من تناقض المصالح بين جميع هذه العواصم.

    وفي جميع الحالات، يبدو واضحاً أننا لن ننتظر طويلاً حتى نرى ما سيطلبه بايدن من إردوغان، وكيف سيرد الأخير على هذه المطالب، وأهمها من دون شك العودة إلى السلوك القومي والديني والتاريخي التركي ضد روسيا. وقد سعى الرئيس بوتين طيلة السنوات الخمس الأخيرة، وبعد اعتذار إردوغان منه إثر إسقاط الطائرة الروسية، لسد الطريق على هذا الاحتمال، من خلال مجموعة من العلاقات الاقتصادية والسياسية والعسكرية المتشابكة مع أنقرة وانعكاساتها على التنسيق والتعاون والعمل المشترك في سوريا.

    ومع المعلومات التي تتوقع للرئيس بايدن أن يصفي كل حساباته مع أنقرة، سواء كان سلباً أو إيجاباً، يجد الرئيس إردوغان نفسه في وضع لا يحسد عليه أبداً، بعد أن بات واضحاً أن خياراته محدودة، فإما يستمر في الوضع الحالي في العلاقة مع موسكو وواشنطن، وهو ما لن يقبل به بايدن، وإما يتمادى في تعاونه مع روسيا وحليفاتها، وهو مستحيل تماماً.

    وفي هذه الحالة، لا يبقى أمامه، في ظلّ وضعه الصعب جداً داخلياً، إلا الاتفاق مع الرئيس بايدن على محاور المرحلة القادمة، وبالحد الأدنى من الخسائر في علاقاته مع روسيا التي لا يريد أن يعاديها، كما يرغب بايدن، الذي يعرف الجميع أنه يملك الكثير من الأوراق الخطيرة ضده شخصياً ورسمياً.

    ويبقى السؤال الأهم: هل سيضع بايدن هذه الأوراق على الطاولة ويطلب حسمها أم سيطلب من إردوغان أن يستخدم ما يملكه من الأوراق في حدائق روسيا الخلفية، مقابل تقديم دعم مطلق له في حدائق الآخرين!؟

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