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.

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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.

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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!؟

The Iranian-Turkish Scandal Over Azerbaijan Is Just A Gigantic Misunderstanding

12 DECEMBER 2020

By Andrew Korybko

American political analyst

The Iranian-Turkish Scandal Over Azerbaijan Is Just A Gigantic Misunderstanding

President Erdogan’s recitation of a 19th-century Azeri nationalist poem during his attendance at Baku’s Victory Parade as his Azerbaijani counterpart’s guest of honor last week provoked harsh criticism from Iranian officials who regarded it as implying territorial claims on their country’s three northwestern provinces that form part of the historic Azerbaijan region (which also naturally includes the Republic of Azerbaijan), though the entire scandal is just a gigantic misunderstanding since it’s doubtful that the Turkish leader meant to convey any such intentions and simply wasn’t aware at the time of how negatively those words would be interpreted by the Iranian government.

The Aras River Poem

The Iranian-Turkish Strategic Partnership was rocked by a sudden scandal after Tehran strongly protested President Erdogan’s recitation of a 19th-century national Azeri nationalist poem during his attendance at Baku’s Victory Day parade as his Azerbaijani counterpart’s guest of honor last week. The controversial words that the Turkish leader uttered are as follows: “They separated the Aras River and filled it with rocks and rods. I will not be separated from you. They have separated us forcibly.” This poem has previously been used by some to imply territorial claims on Iran’s three northwestern provinces that form part of the historic Azerbaijan region, which was separated by the Aras River from what is nowadays the Republic of Azerbaijan (which forms the other half of that transnational region) as a result of Russian imperial conquests at the time.

Diplomatic Disagreements

Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif swiftly responded on Twitter by writing that “Pres. Erdogan was not informed that what he ill-recited in Baku refers to the forcible separation of areas north of Aras from Iranian motherland. Didn’t he realize that he was undermining the sovereignty of the Republic of Azerbaijan? NO ONE can talk about OUR beloved Azerbaijan.” The Turkish Ambassador to Iran was then summoned to that country’s Foreign Ministry over President Erdogan’s comments, after which the Iranian Ambassador to Turkey was symmetrically summoned to that country’s Foreign Ministry to deny the allegations made against their leader and complain about Tehran tweeting about this misunderstanding instead of utilizing diplomatic channels to resolve it. The resultant scandal has predictably emboldened opponents of their strategic partnership to become more vocal.

The Iranian-Turkish Strategic Partnership

Objectively speaking, however, the entire issue seems to be a gigantic misunderstanding. It’s extremely unlikely that President Erdogan was aware of the negative historical connotation associated with that nationalist Azeri poem, exactly as Foreign Minister Zarif suggested, but at the same time, Tehran felt obligated to publicly oppose anything that can even remotely be misportrayed by those will ill intent as encouraging Azeri separatism in northwestern Iran. Iran and Turkey are closer nowadays than at any time in recent memory as a result of their geostrategic convergence on several issues of common interest across the so-called “Greater Middle East” such as Nagorno-Karabakh, Syria, and even Libya. It’s therefore unthinkable that President Erdogan would knowingly jeopardize this historic moment just to earn more applause during a parade in Baku.

Azerbaijan’s Regional Integration Proposal

It can’t be known for sure, but President Erdogan might have had his Azerbaijani counterpart’s visionary proposal for a regional integration platform in mind — which he likely would have been briefed about before his trip — when he made the decision to recite that poem during the parade. President Aliyev told reporters after his talks with President Erdogan shortly before the parade started that a new multilateral platform should be created in the region for all the relevant countries to join. The day after, President Erdogan told a Turkish TV channel that “Mr. Putin has a positive view on this idea”, which the Turkish leader also said could include Armenia, Georgia, and Iran as well. If this ambitious platform is successfully created, then the Aras River — among other borders — would naturally transform from a regional barrier into a bridge for regional integration.

Iranian Interests

There’s a pretty good chance that most — if not all — of the relevant countries will decide to join, with the only possible uncertainties between Armenia and Georgia, the first of which might still be sour about its nearly three-decade-long occupation force finally being kicked out of Nagorno-Karabakh while the latter might refuse to join any platform alongside Russia due to their dispute over the status of Abkahzia and South Ossetia (which Tbilisi claims as its own while Moscow recognizes both of them as independent). In any case, Iran has everything to gain by strengthening multilateral strategic relations with Azerbaijan, Russia, and Turkey, especially those with a security dimension such as thwarting any separatist plots of ultra-nationalist radicals in its northwestern provinces who might be influenced by hostile third parties like the US and “Israel”.

President Erdogan’s Optimistic Mindset

Having established the background context of President Erdogan’s controversial remarks, it therefore can’t be discounted that was simply assuming the future successful implementation of the regional integration proposal that President Aliyev had just publicly unveiled immediately prior to the military parade at which his guest of honor was invited to speak. In the Turkish leader’s mind, the nationalist aspirations embodied by that poem could finally be fulfilled through peaceful means as a result of creating a transnational community of peace and prosperity through closer regional integration between Azerbaijan and Iran alongside the other members such as Turkey, Russia, and possibly even Armenia and Georgia that could also join this initiative. Had he known how negatively Iran would have reacted to his words, however, then he might not have said them in hindsight.

Clarifying The Turkish Leader’s Comments

All that President Erdogan seemingly intended to convey was that the era of regional divisions has ended as a new era of regional integration emerges in its wake following Azerbaijan’s glorious military victory over Armenia. He certainly didn’t mean to imply that the Azerbaijan would set its sights on the historic Iranian region of the same name next, but just that the Aras River which has separated the transnational Azeri people for over one and a half centuries might soon transform from a regional barrier to a gateway for regional integration in the event that President Aliyev’s visionary proposal is successful. Having presumably been briefed about it ahead of time, he probably thought that his recitation of that nationalist Azeri poem would speak to the heartfelt aspirations of this divided people without realizing how negatively the Iranian state would react to it.

Hindsight Is 20/20

It’s for this reason that observers can remain optimistic about the prospects of the Iranian-Turkish Strategic Partnership and the larger regional integration goals that their leaders share since both governments will probably realize just how gigantic of a misunderstanding this entire scandal really is after finally speaking to one another about it behind closed doors. President Erdogan likely only had positive intentions in mind, yet Tehran wanted to make sure that no one with ill intent exploited his words, hence its very harsh public reaction to them. In hindsight, perhaps President Erdogan shouldn’t have recited that nationalist poem, the same as Foreign Minister Zarif should have resorted to traditional diplomatic channels to resolve the misunderstanding instead of going public with it, yet neither state representative meant any harm by what they did.

A Sad Misunderstanding

It’s all simply a sad misunderstanding where one well-intended action unwittingly led to another. After President Erdogan recited the nationalist Azeri poem, the Iranian government felt compelled to publicly respond in order to make its displeasure known and preemptively thwart any potentially forthcoming Balkanization attempts by hostile third parties such as the US and “Israel”. It’s regrettable how everything turned out considering the original intent since this scandal has overshadowed President Aliyev’s visionary regional integration proposal. Moreover, the opponents of the Iranian-Turkish Strategic Partnership in both countries and abroad have become more vocal over the past few days, which could set into motion a self-sustaining cycle of distrust among their friendly people if such views aren’t moderated as soon as possible.

Concluding Thoughts

Looking forward, it’s predicted that this scandal will soon pass and that the Iranian-Turkish Strategic Partnership will emerge even stronger as a result, especially if both countries join Azerbaijan’s proposed regional integration platform alongside Russia and perhaps even Armenia and Georgia as well in the best-case scenario. As it stands, all sides should accept that this scandal is just a gigantic misunderstanding and realize in hindsight what they should have done better. Under no circumstances must they submit to the sudden pressure upon them to weaken their newfound strategic partnership since that would only ultimately end up playing into their geopolitical enemies’ hands. The larger region needs closer integration at this historic moment, not a return to the era of distrust and Balkanization plots, which both leaderships seem to understand very well.

AZERBAIJAN RESCHEDULES ‘VICTORY DAY’ TO PLEASE SULTAN ERDOGAN. HEZBOLLAH DRONE BUZZES ISRAELI FORCES

South Front

An unmanned aerial vehicle operated by Lebanese Hezbollah managed to cross into Israel’s north and monitor the Israeli military drills dubbed “Lethal Arrow”, Lebanese media affiliated with Hezbollah reported on December 3. The incident allegedly took place on November 26, on the second day of the drills.

The Israeli side promoted the drill as an exercise to put to the test a strategy based on network-centered warfare bringing together the capabilities of ground, air, naval and cyber forces to quickly eliminate hostile targets in the event of the conflict in the area. The Hezbollah drone buzzed Israeli forces just during these military exercises. Additionally, on December 3, the Israeli government urged its citizens to avoid travel to the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, citing threats of Iranian attacks.

At the same time, the United States and its allies continue demonstrating concerns regarding possible attacks in Iraq in the wake of an expected Iranian retaliation to the assassination of its top nuclear scientist near Tehran in an alleged US-Israeli plot. According to media reports, following the earlier move of the United States, France and Spain are also considering at least partial withdrawal of diplomatic staff from Iraq. US officials speculate that Iranian-backed factions of the Iraqi Popular Mobilization Forces, an official branch of the Iraqi military, are preparing attacks on facilities and personnel of the US diplomatic mission.

Meanwhile, in the South Caucasus, Azerbaijan for the first time released an official number of its casualties in the Second Nagorno-Karabkah War. According to the defense ministry, 2783 Azerbaijani soldiers were killed, 1245 were injured and over 100 are still missing. In own turn, the Health Ministry of Armenia reported that at least 2718 Armenian soldiers were killed as a result of the conflict. The almost equal casualties of the advancing and defending forces in the standoff in such a complex mountainous area as Nagorno-Karabkah is another factual demonstration of the overwhelming Azerbaijani dominance in the manpower, and firepower, including heavy military equipment, artillery and air support, the in the 1.5-month conflict with the Armenians.

Azerbaijan, however, seems to have already started paying price of its sovereignty for the Turkish support in the war. On December 2, President Ilham Aliyev declared the establishment of the new national holiday ‘Victory Day’ in Azerbaijan. The holiday scheduled for November 10 was dedicated to the start of the implementation of the peace agreements in Karabakh, under which Armenian forces in fact accepted their defeat and agreed to withdraw from Agdam, Kalbajar and Lachin districts.However, a day later Baku was reminded by Ankara that November 10 is the Day of Remembrance of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founder of the Republic of Turkey. So, on December 3, the presidential administration of Azerbaijan changed its order and rescheduled the Azerbaijani national holiday for November 8. Let’s hope the Big Neo-Ottoman Brother is now satisfied. In other case, the Azerbaijani leadership will have to reschedule a few more national holidays and rename ministries to please it.

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CHAOS AND ARMED CONFLICTS: U.S. STRATEGY TO DISMANTLE RUSSIA IS ALREADY WORKING

South Front

Chaos And Armed Conflicts: U.S. Strategy To Dismantle Russia Is Already Working

In 2020, there have been several notable developments, that all seem to have been happening along Russia’s borders and in key regions developments in which influencing the Russian position on the international scene.

These include:

  • Ukraine’s refusal to seek peace in its East with the Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics, and various questionable policies.
  • Western-backed protests against Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, with a ‘school teacher-turned-politician’ challenging him with an insignificant share of the vote in the presidential election. She received wide support from the West, especially from heavily US-aligned states such as Poland and the Baltics.
  • The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and other groups in Syria are being supported openly, and not so openly, by the United States and sabotage the further diplomatic settlement of the conflict in Syria.
  • The situation in Central Asia is rather exacerbated, with an evident increase in ISIS activity in Afghanistan, alongside various terrorist elements appearing near its borders with Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) countries. The Russian Security Service – FSB – is hard at work in countering various ISIS and other terror cells on the territory of the Russian Federation, and reports such as these are frequent, meaning that there appears to be a network that is successful in either moving terrorist elements into the country, or recruiting them there.
  • There also was the Armenian-Azerbaijan War in Nagorno-Karabakh, which Russia didn’t directly involve itself in, since the fight was for the self-proclaimed independent republic of Artsakh, and Armenia never officially asked for assistance. Regardless, with the Peace Deal it brokered on November 10th, there have been numerous voices in Armenia blaming Russia for the defeat. And that is even though it essentially saved it from an even bigger fiasco and loss of territory. At the same time, despite being the victor, Azerbaijan simply received what it was promised with the Minsk agreements, with the addition of Shusha. There are protests against Russia in Azerbaijan, a country in which any non-government sanctioned protest is snuffed, violently. There are calls that Russia stole the “glorious victory”, while in Armenia there are calls to renew hostilities, while the Russian peacekeepers are there and somehow force their hand in the fight.
  • Turkey deployed thousands of Syrian militants to South Caucasus, and there are claims that it is even reportedly attempting to relocate families from Syria’s Afrin and other areas to the parts of Karabakh that were given to Azerbaijan. This is likely to also provide a fresh extremist presence in the region.
  • Turkey, once again, appeared to be shifting its gaze towards Crimea, but also cooperate with Ukraine in terms of selling UAVs to it and other military equipment.

All of these developments, somehow, almost entirely coincide with a report which the RAND Corporation released back in 2019.

The report is called “Extending Russia” with the subtitle “Competing from Advantageous Ground.” A short description of the report reads the following:

“The steps we posit would not have either defense or deterrence as their prime purpose, although they might contribute to both. Rather, these steps are conceived of as measures that would lead Russia to compete in domains or regions where the United States has a competitive advantage, causing Russia to overextend itself militarily or economically or causing the regime to lose domestic and/or international prestige and influence. This report deliberately covers a wide range of military, economic, and political policy options. Its recommendations are directly relevant to everything from military modernization and force posture to economic sanctions and diplomacy; consequently, it speaks to all the military services, other parts of U.S. government that have a hand in foreign policy, and the broader foreign and defense policy audience.”

Notably, the report suggests that the following “Geopolitical measures” need to be employed in order to counter Russia’s spreading influence and capabilities to provide an adequate answer to an extraordinary situation.

This chapter describes six possible U.S. moves in the current geopolitical competition:

  • providing lethal arms to Ukraine,
  • resuming support to the Syrian rebels,
  • promoting regime change in Belarus,
  • exploiting Armenian and Azeri tensions,
  • intensifying attention to Central Asia,
  • isolating Transnistria (a Russian-occupied enclave within Moldova).

There are several other possible geopolitical moves discussed in other RAND research but not directly evaluated here—including intensifying NATO’s relationship with Sweden and Finland, pressuring Russia’s position in the Arctic, and checking Russia’s attempts to secure its influence in Asia.

Ukraine

Between 2014 and 2016, the US provided $600 million in security assistance to Ukraine. These funds have been used to train Ukrainian military forces and provided nonlethal military equipment, including counterartillery and countermortar radars, secure communications, logistics systems, tactical unmanned reconnaissance aircraft, and medical equipment.

According to RAND, the US could increase its military assistance to Ukraine, or increase its calls to allow Kiev into NATO.

“Expanding U.S. assistance to Ukraine, including lethal military assistance, would likely increase the costs to Russia, in both blood and treasure, of holding the Donbass region. More Russian aid to the

separatists and an additional Russian troop presence would likely be required, leading to larger expenditures, equipment losses, and Russian casualties. The latter could become quite controversial at home, as it did when the Soviets invaded Afghanistan.”

Eastern Ukraine is already a significant drain on Russian resources, exacerbated by the accompanying Western sanctions. Increasing U.S. military aid would certainly drive up the Russian costs, but doing so could also increase the loss of Ukrainian lives and territory or result in a disadvantageous peace settlement. This would generally be seen as a serious setback for U.S. policy.

What’s going on in reality? There appears to be no conclusive peace settlement in Ukraine, and anti-Russian policy continues moving forward full speed. The Kiev regime, at large controlled from Washington, is intentionally sabotaging attempts to de-escalate the situation and publicly preparing for a new military operation in eastern Ukraine. Recently, pro-Kiev sources started laying great hopes on the Turkish military aid. For sure, the US is also involved. In August 2020, incoming US President Joe Biden promised to provide Ukraine with even more lethal weapons. In late 2019, the Trump administration also approved several sales of “defensive lethal weapons” to Ukraine.

As such this part of RAND’s suggestion appears to be moving, more or less, according to plan.

Chaos And Armed Conflicts: U.S. Strategy To Dismantle Russia Is Already Working

Syria

“In 2015, Russia’s intervention in Syria cost an estimated $2.4 million to $4 million a day, according to the Moscow Times and IHS Janes’ estimates. 34 Given the size of Russia’s defense budget ($50 billion that year), the sum might not be significant in and of itself.”

Increased U.S. support to the so-called ‘moderate’ Syrian opposition could perpetuate and intensify a civil war that had begun to wind down, thereby imposing attritional costs on both Russia and Iran.

RAND believes that such support should also reduce the “moderate opposition’s” reliance on the better-armed, more extremist groups and ultimately might improve the willingness and ability of moderate opposition forces to combat the “more extremist elements.” Now, first of all RAND doesn’t even deny that the most of “moderate opposition” is made up of extremists, who are fighting against even more extreme elements.

At the same time, the reality of the situation is this: the US, with all its claims of complete withdrawal from Syria, simply employed the SDF separatist leadership as a tool of sabotaging the peace settlement in Syria, while Washington is looting Syria’s oil fields. US companies exploit Syrian oil resources. Some of the money is used to bankroll the SDF.

The Russian side has repeatedly also claimed that ISIS and ISIS-affiliated fighters were being trained and received improved weaponry in the US-controlled areas of Syria.

Unlike Ukraine, the United States does not have a single actor to aid in the fight in Syria but rather faces a plethora of groups—often with murky affiliations—increasing the chances of weapons falling into the wrong hands.

“Supporting the rebels could run counter to the most prominent objective of the Trump administration’s Middle East foreign policy—fighting radical Islamist terrorism.”

In the highly unlikely event of total success—if Russia were to abandon the Assad government and the opposition were to somehow ‘defeat’ Damascus—the result would be a major geopolitical setback for Moscow but also a major contraction in its foreign commitments and associated expenditures, not to mention a huge responsibility for the United States and its allies to assume.

At the same time, it appears that supporting the “moderate rebels” isn’t proving effective enough and Israel is picking up the slack with targeting various Syrian and alleged Iranian positions in the areas under Damascus’ control.

Chaos And Armed Conflicts: U.S. Strategy To Dismantle Russia Is Already Working

Essentially, there were some attempts, but none of them are any significant, since the fight in Syria appears to be too far gone.

Likewise, according to RAND, this course of action might have been viable a few years ago, when the armed opposition was stronger and less radicalized. Under current circumstances, the most that expanded U.S. aid could likely do would be to perpetuate a conflict that has already destabilized an entire region. Russia might be forced to pay a bit more for its Syrian commitment but only at the cost of continued regional turbulence, societal radicalization, and increased civilian casualties and displaced personnel.

Belarus

Belarus is Russia’s neighbour and important ally. It provides a buffer between Russia and major NATO countries and is the initial link in Russia’s ground lines of communication between the mainland and Kaliningrad— the Russian enclave entirely encircled by Lithuania and Poland. Already host to Russian forces, Belarus features prominently in many notional conflicts among the United States, NATO, and Russia.

In a zero-sum world, denying Russia its one and only true ally would be a clear geopolitical and ideological gain for the West. It would bring an end to “Europe’s last dictatorship,” a long-standing U.S. policy goal.

“Starting revolutions is not easy, and the United States lending public support to opposition movements does not guarantee that they will be successful. In 2007, Gallup found that 60 percent of Belarusian respondents believed democracy was important and 47 percent believed it was “somewhat” or “very” important for Belarus to have an active opposition party.”

RAND considered regime change in Belarus as one of the most significant escalations, but the attempts have all but failed, and with Russia actually not having to lift a finger.

Even despite Lukashenko attempt to get some concessions from Russia prior to the protests in the country.

“Promoting regime change in Belarus is one of the most escalatory options considered in this report. Such an effort probably would not succeed and could provoke a strong Russian response, including the possibility of military action. Such a reaction might extend Russia by requiring the nation to commit resources to preserve its grasp over Belarus, thereby provoking the United States and its European allies to respond with harsher sanctions, but the result would be a general deterioration of the security environment in Europe and a setback for U.S. policy.”

Currently, protests in Belarus are still on-going, but they’ve barely achieved any real progress in the regime change agenda. However, the Western/NATO interference in the internal situation in Belarus is an undeniable fact.

Lukashenko may be making some interesting claims regarding Russia, or attempting to play tough in order to get a discount from Moscow on natural gas, or some other commodity, but at the same time is wise enough to continue actively communicating with Russian President Vladimir Putin and remain a formal ally.

Nagorno-Karabah: Armenia and Azerbaijan

The RAND analysis begins with reminding that in 2008, the Georgian-Russian relations with damaged severely, after a few days of war and the resulting South Ossetia and Abkhazia as separate countries.

Russia also plays a key role with Azerbaijan and Armenia, particularly over the disputed territory of Nagorno-Karabakh. Ethnically Armenian but geographically located within Azerbaijan, Nagorno- Karabakh’s bid to join the Armenia Soviet Socialist Republic during the latter years of the Soviet Union was denied by the Soviet Politburo because of the risk of encouraging secessionist movements elsewhere.

According to RAND, the United States could extend Russia in the Caucasus in two ways. First, the United States could push for a closer NATO relationship with Georgia and Azerbaijan, likely leading Russia to strengthen its military presence in South Ossetia, Abkhazia, Armenia, and southern Russia.

Alternatively, the United States could try to induce Armenia to break with Russia.

Chaos And Armed Conflicts: U.S. Strategy To Dismantle Russia Is Already Working

“Increased U.S. involvement in the region could produce additional economic benefits as well. The Caspian Sea remains a key producer of both oil and natural gas. Indeed, the U.S. Department of Energy estimates that there are “48 billion barrels of oil and 292 trillion cubic feet of natural gas in proved and probable reserves in the Caspian basins. Almost 75 percent of oil reserves and 67 percent of natural gas reserves are located within 100 miles of the coast.”

According to the analysis, resolving Nagorno-Karabakh is likely a prerequisite to Armenia breaking with Russia, but it is unclear precisely how the United States or NATO could resolve the decades-old conflict without privileging one side and antagonizing the other. NATO has encouraged both parties to resolve the conflict through the Minsk Group—led by the Russians.

Currently, the situation in Nagorno-Karabakh and the six-week war that started on September 27th, 2020 was due to several factors.

Notably, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, as an avid supporter of the West worked to the benefit of what RAND describes and distanced Armenia from Russia with questionable policy.

In turn, Turkey, in support of Azerbaijan saw a chance, prepared and began to largely pull the strings on Baku’s offensive on the region.

Still, Russia managed to somehow salvage the situation for Yerevan, by brokering a peace deal which saw Azerbaijan get what it was supposed to be given under the Minsk Agreements, with the addition of Shusha.

Pashinyan, however, continued blaming Russia, the Armenian population, foreign countries and such for the failure and the gross mismanagement of Armenia’s forces in the war.

Azerbaijan’s president Ilham Aliyev presents the war as “gloriously won” but there are some elements which are protesting and claiming that Moscow actually robbed Baku of its “glorious victory.”

There are anti-Russian protests, in a country in which all non-government approved protests are violently stopped.

The US made some claims for peace and so on, as did many Western countries, with France even attempting to somehow mediate the conflict, but only barely.

Paris attempted to prove itself as a valuable ally to Armenia, but in the end, it simply said “we are with you, our Armenian brothers” and all they provided were empty words.

In Armenia, in order for Pashinyan and the pro-Western leadership to remain, political arrests of the opposition began. As such, support for Russia still remains rather low, and it is playing to the measure that RAND outlined in April 2019. In the current conditions, pro-Western forces in the region would continue their efforts to destabilize the region creating chaos near the Russian border and setting conditions for the NATO expansion there.

Central Asia

Russia is part of two economic ventures related to Central Asia: the Eurasian Economic Union and the Belt and Road Initiative. Russia has benefited from both, although in the case of the former, partners might have been harmed economically. There might be steps the United States and allies could take to reduce Russia’s benefits from both of these.

Engaging more with Central Asia could have modest benefits. Expanding Central Asian connectivity to the rest of the world could reduce that area’s trade with Russia. It must be noted, however, that economic growth within these countries would likely have the opposite effect and increase their trade with Russia because economic size and trade are correlated.

Now, little of this has succeeded in the year. Notably, and not in the vein which RAND describes is that militant activity in Afghanistan, as well as along its borders with the CSTO countries has increased, which Russia sees as a threat.

There are frequent reports of the FSB arresting various terrorist elements that either came from Central Asian republics or were recruited from groups from there. There is little evidence that the US has anything to do with that, but there are some reports that unknown black hawks have been extracting militants from all around, and they’ve resurfaced in northern Afghanistan, after a while.

The US efforts to counter China’s Belt and Road Initiative, and is attempting to counter various projects in the Eurasian Economic Union, which Russia is part of such as the Nord Stream 2, but they are unrelated to Central Asia. In conclusion, regarding this, RAND appears to be a bit far from what’s been carried out, or if such measures are being implemented – they’re not being effective.

Chaos And Armed Conflicts: U.S. Strategy To Dismantle Russia Is Already Working

Moldova

Transnistria is a Russian-speaking enclave within Moldova that currently hosts a Russian peacekeeping force and army base.

Officially, Russian policy toward Transnistria is ambiguous. Russia’s Foreign Policy Concept includes only a single, rather inarticulate statement:

Russia strongly advocates a political and diplomatic settlement of conflicts in the post-Soviet space, specifically, Russia works within the existing multilateral negotiating mechanism to find an inclusive solution to the Transnistrian issue, respecting the sovereignty, territorial integrity and neutral status of the Republic of Moldova in determining the special status of Transnistria.

The United States could encourage Transnistria’s youth (who, according to some journalistic accounts, might be more pro-West than their elders) to push their pseudo-state to leave the Russian orbit.

Moldovan cooperation in an effort to expel the Russians would not be easy to secure. In an interview with Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Moldova’s pro-Russian President Igor Dodon stated, “A NATO office in Chisinau [Moldova’s capital], in a neutral country, is a provocation. I do not want this. I want neither NATO nor this Russia-led [military] alliance as far as armed forces are concerned.”

There’s been very limited movement throughout 2020, but it is likely that activities have been more focused on Belarus, Ukraine and Nagorno-Karabakh, and Moldova has been left for sometime in the near (or far future). The pro-Western presidential candidate, Maia Sandu, won the 2020 election in Moldova, and she’s already promoting the ideal of the need of the withdrawal of the Russian peacekeeping force from Transnistria. This move sets conditions for the increase of instability.

RAND’s General Recommendations

Extending Russia through geopolitical competition is a fundamentally difficult and dangerous proposition. One might bait Russia into extending its foreign commitments, but only at the risk of serious setbacks to local U.S. partners. Even if such efforts succeeded in generating Russian withdrawals, the result would be the opposite of an extension.

Chaos And Armed Conflicts: U.S. Strategy To Dismantle Russia Is Already Working

Any geopolitical moves to extend Russia would also need to consider other options that (for reasons of length and resources) were not considered here in depth—namely, intensifying NATO’s cooperation with Sweden and Finland, pressuring Russia’s claims in the Arctic, and checking its influence in the Arctic.

Many of these are not exactly spot on, and whether they’re entirely connected to what’s going on comes down to conspiracy theories. However, it is fact that within a year and a half of the publishing, many of these recommendations have been implemented.

There has been a regime change attempt in Belarus, which is still on-going. Armenia and Azerbaijan went to warn for Nagorno-Karabakh, and Russia had to mediate, deploy peacekeepers and further resources, as well as is being accused of both sides for either losing the war for Armenia, or stealing away a bigger victory for Azerbaijan.

Militants are being delivered to South Caucasus, and even families are being relocated there from Syria.

The US and the “moderate rebels” in Syria are still operating, albeit not as actively as before, but Israel is there to provide assistance by bombing Syrian and alleged Iranian targets.

Attempts to spread chaos in Central Asia are apparent, and the FSB continues arresting various extremist elements, but there are likely more who are roaming around and entering the country through various channels.

It is unknown what will happen in Moldova, as of yet, but the trend is alredy seen.

Another thing that could be added is cooperating with Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople, assisting in the forming of the autonomous Orthodox Church of Ukraine, making pushes to repeat that questionable “success” in other countries such as Montenegro, and more.

Regardless, pressure on Moscow is being exerted from quite a few directions, at the same time, and it is unlikely that under US President Joe Biden this will end. After all, his chosen aides all plan to improve relations with allies, while countering Russia’s spreading influence. Namely in Ukraine, since Biden appears to have a soft spot for the country from which he and his son allegedly funneled billions. Ukraine, and Eastern Ukraine, could also be the best direction from which to target Russia.

Things are still developing on many fronts, and the pieces are yet to fall squarely on the board.

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