The AngloZionist Empire: a Hyperpower with Microbrains and No Cred Left

MAY 17, 2019

THE SAKER 

Last week saw what was supposed to be a hyperpower point fingers for its embarrassing defeat not only at Venezuela, which successfully defeated Uncle Shmuel’s coup plans, but also at a list of other countries including Cuba, Russia, China and Iran. It’s is rather pathetic and, frankly, bordering on the comically ridiculous.

Uncle Shmuel clearly did not appreciate being the laughingstock of the planet.

Eviction Notice of the USSS
Eviction Notice of the USSS

And as Uncle Shmuel always does, he decided to flex some muscle and show the world “who is boss” by…

… blockading the Venezuelan Embassy in Washington, DC.

But even that was too much for the MAGA Admin, so they also denied doing so (how lame is that!?)

Which did not prevent US activists of entering the embassy (legally, they were invited in and confirm it all).

Now the US Secret Service wants to evict the people inside the building.

So much for the CIA’s beloved “plausible deniability” which now has morphed into “comical deniability”.

If you think that all this sounds incredibly amateurish and stupid – you are 100% correct.

In the wonderful words of Sergei Lavrov, the US diplomats have “lost the taste for diplomacy“.

But that was not all.

In an act of incredible courage the US, which was told (by the Israelis, of course!), that the Iranians were about to attack “somewhere”, Uncle Shmuel sent two aircraft carrier strike groups to the Middle-East. In a “daring” operation, the brilliant USAF pilots B-52 bombers over the Persian Gulf to “send a message” to the “Mollahs”: don’t f*ck with us or else…

The “Mollahs” apparently were unimpressed as they simply declared that “the US carriers were not a threat, only a target“.

The AngloZionists apparently have also executed a false flag operation to get a pretext to strike Iran, but so far this seems to have gotten rather little traction in the region (so far – this might change).

Lavrov reacting to the latest US threats
Lavrov reacting to the latest US threats

Now let’s leave this “Kindergarten level of operations” and try to make some sense from this nonsense.

First, while the American can pour scorn on the Iranians, call them ragheads, terrorists, Mollahs, sand-niggers or confuse them with Iraqis or even think that Iranian are Arabs (as, apparently, are the Turks, at least by the US common standard of ignorance), the truth is that the Iranians are world-class and most sophisticated players, especially their superb analytical community. They fully understand that a B-52 anywhere near the Iranian airspace is a sitting duck and that if the Americans were planning to strike Iran, they would pull their aircraft carrier far away from any possible Iranian strikes. As for the B-52, they have long range cruise missiles and they don’t need to get near Iran to deliver they payloads.

In fact, I think that the proper way to really make the Iranians believe that Uncle Shmuel means business would be to flush any and all US ships out of the Persian Gulf, to position the B-52s in Diego Garcia and to place the carriers as far away as possible to still be able to support a missile/bomb attack on Iranian targets. And you can bet that the Iranians keep very close tabs on exactly what CENTCOM aircraft are deployed and where. To attack Iran the US would need to achieve a specific concentration of forces and support elements which are all trackable by the Iranians. My guess is that the Iranians already have a full list of all CENTCOM officers down to the colonel level (and possibly even lower for airmen) and that they already know exactly which individual USAF/USN aircraft are ready to strike. One could be excused to think that this is difficult to do, but in reality is is not. I have personally seen it done.

Second, the Americans know that the Iranians know that (well, maybe not Mr MAGA, but folks at the DIA, ONI, NSA, etc. do know that). So all this sabre-rattling is designed to show that Mr MAGA has tons of hair on his chest, it’s all for internal US consumption. As for the Iranians, they have already heard any and all imaginable US threats, they have been attacked many times by both the US and Israel (directly or by proxy), and they have been preparing for a US attack ever since the glorious days of Operation Eagle Claw: they are as ready as they can be, you can take that to the bank. Finally, the terrorist attack by the USN on a civilian Iranian airliner certainly convinced the Iranians that the leaders of the AngloZionist Empire lack even basic decency, nevermind honor. Nevermind the use of chemical warfare by Iraq against Iran with chemicals helpfully provided by various US and EU companies (with the full blessing of their governments). No – the Iranians truly have no illusions whatsoever about what the Shaytân-e Bozorg is capable of in his rage.

Third, “attacking embassies” is a glaring admission of terminal weakness. That was true for the seizure of Russian consular buildings, and this is true for the Venezuelan embassy. In the real (supra-Kindergarten) world when country A has a beef with country B, it does not vent its frustration against its embassy. Such actions are not only an admission of weakness, but also a sign of a fundamental lack of civilization.

This issue is crucial to the understanding of the United States. The US is an extremely developed country, but not a civilized one. Oscar Wilde (and George Clemanceau) had it right: “America is the only country that went from barbarism to decadence without civilization in between“. There are signs of that everywhere in the US: from the feudal labor laws, to the lack of universal healthcare, to absolutely ridiculous mandatory criminal sentences (the Soviet Penal Code under Stalin was MUCH more reasonable and civilized than the current US laws!), to the death penalty, to the socially accepted torture in GITMO and elsewhere, to racial tensions, the disgusting “food” constituting the typical “SAD” diet, to the completely barbaric “war on drugs”, to the world record of incarcerations, to an immense epidemic of sexual assaults and rapes (1/5 of all women in the US!), homosexuality accepted as a “normal and positive variation of human sexuality“, 98 percent of men reported internet porn use in the last six months, … – you can continue that list ad nauseam. Please don’t misunderstand me – there are as many kind, intelligent, decent, honorable, educated, compassionate people in the US as anywhere else. This is not about the people living in the US: it is about the kind of society these people are living in. In fact, I would argue the truism that US Americans are the first victims of the lack of civilization of their own society! Finally, a lack of civilization is not always a bad thing, and sometimes it can make a society much more dynamic, more flexible, more innovative too. But yeah, mostly it sucks…

By the way, the US is hardly unique in having had degenerate imbeciles in power. Does anybody remember what Chernenko looked like when he became the Secretary General of the CPSU? What about folks like Jean-Bédel Bokassa or Mikheil Saakashvili (this latter case is especially distressing since it happened in a country with a truly ancient and extremely rich culture!). And while we can dislike folks like George Bush Senior or James Baker – these were superbly educated and extremely intelligent people. Compare them to such psychopathic ignoramuses like Pompeo, Bolton or Trump himself!

So this latest US “attack” on the Venezuela is truly a most telling symptom of the wholesale collapse of US power and of the moral and intellectual bankruptcy and lack of civilization of the Neocon ruling elites.

The big question is obvious: will they attack Venezuela or Iran next?

In the very first article I ever wrote for my blog, as far back as 2007, I predicted that the US would attack Iran. I still believe that the Israelis will never cease to try to get the US to do their dirty work for them (and let the goyimpay the price!). What I am not sure about is whether the Israelis truly will have the power to push the US into such a suicidal war (remember, if Iran cannot “win” against the US, neither can the US “win” against Iran – thus Iran will win simply by surviving and not caving in – which they will and they won’t). The good news is that US power has been in sharp (and accelerating!) decline at least since Clinton and his gang. I would even add that the last two idiots (Obama and Trump) did more damage to the US power than all their predecessors combined. The bad news is that the collective IQ of US leaders has been falling even faster than US power. We can hope that the first will hit zero long before the second, but there is no guarantee.

Truly, nobody knows if the US will or will not attack Iran and/or Venezuela next. The Neocons sure want that, but whether they will make it happen this time around or not depends on so many variables that even the folks in the White House and the Pentagon probably don’t really know what will happen next.

What is certain is that the US reputation worldwide is basically roadkill. The fact that most folks inside the US are never told about that does not make it less real. The Obama-Trump tag team has truly inflicted irreparable damage on the reputation of the US (in both cases because they were hopelessly infected and corrupted by the Neocons). The current US leaders appear to understand that, at least to some degree, this is why they are mostly lashing out at “easy” targets like free speech (on the Internet and elsewhere), Assange, the Venezuelan Embassy, etc. The real danger comes from either one of two factors:

  1. The Neocons will feel humiliated by the fact that all their threats are only met with indifference, disgust or laughter
  2. The Neocons will feel buoyed by the fact that nothing terrible happened (so far) when they attacked a defenseless target

Either way, in both cases the outcome is the same: each “click!” brings us closer to the inevitable “bang!”.

By the way, I think I should also mention here that the current state of advanced paranoia in which the likes of Pompeo point their fingers left and right are also signs of terminal weakness: these are not so much ways to credibly explain the constant and systematic failures of the Israelis and the Americans to get anything actually done as they are a way to distract away from the real reasons for the current extreme weakness of the AngloZionists.

2006: The people of Lebanon celebrate the victory which turned the tide of AngloZionist imperialism
2006: The people of Lebanon celebrate the victory which turned the tide of AngloZionist imperialism

I concluded my last article by speaking of the terrified Venezuelans who refused to be afraid. I will conclude this one by pointing at the first instance when a (comparatively) small adversary completely refused to be frightened even while it was the object of a truly terrifying attack: Hezbollah in 2006. Even though they were outnumbered, outgunned and surrounded by the Israelis, the members of the Resistance in Lebanon simply refused to be afraid and, having lost the fear too which so many Arabs did succumb to before 2006, they proceeded to give the Israelis (fully backed by the US) the worst and most humiliating thrashing in their country’s (admittedly short) history.

I urge you to read al-Sayyid Hassan’s famous “Divine Victory” speech (you can still find the English language transcript here and here) – it is one of the most important speeches of the 20th century! – and pay attention to these words (emphasis added):

We feel that we won; Lebanon won; Palestine won; the Arab nation won, and every oppressed, aggrieved person in this world also won. Our victory is not the victory of a party. I repeat what I said in Bint Jubayl on 25 May 2000: It is not the victory of a party or a community; rather it is a victory for true Lebanon, the true Lebanese people, and every free person in the world. Don’t distort this big historic victory. Do not contain it in party, sectarian, communal, or regional cans. This victory is too big to be comprehended by us. The next weeks, months, and years will confirm this.

And, indeed, the next weeks, months and years have very much confirmed that!

Any US attack on Iran will have pretty similar results, but on a much, much bigger scale.

And the Iranians know that. As do many in the Pentagon (the CIA and the White House are probably beyond hopeless by now).

Conclusion: good news and bad news

The good news first: Pompeo and Lavrov had what seems to be a meaningful dialog. That is very, very good, even if totally insufficient. They have also announced that they want to create study groups to improve the (currently dismal) relations between the two countries. That is even better news (if that really happens). Listening to Pompeo and Lavrov, I got a feeling that the Americans are slowly coming to the realization that they have an overwhelming need to re-establish a meaningful dialog with the other nuclear superpower. Good. But there is also bad news.

Finally some meaningful discussions between the two nuclear superpowers!
Finally some meaningful discussions between the two nuclear superpowers!

The rumor that the strategic geniuses surrounding Trump are now considering sending 120,000 troops to the Middle-East is really very bad news. If this just stays a rumor, then it will be the usual hot air out of DC, along the lines of Trump’s “very powerful armada” sent to scare the DPRK (it failed). The difference here is simple: sending carriers to the Middle-East is pure PR. But sending carriers AND 120,000 troops completely changes that and now this threat, if executed, will become very real. No, I don’t think that the US will attempt to invade Iran, but 120,000 is pretty close to what would be needed to try to re-open the Strait of Hormuz (assuming the Iranians close it) while protecting all the (pretty much defenseless) CENTCOM facilities and forces in the region. Under this scenario, the trip of Pompeo to Russia might have a much more ominous reason: to explain to the Russians what the US is up to and to provide security guarantees that this entire operation is not aimed at Russian forces. IF the US really plans to attack Iran, then it would make perfect sense for Pompeo to talk to Lavrov and open channels of communications between the two militaries to agree on “deconfliction” procedures. Regardless of whether the Russians accept such deconfliction measures or not (my guess is that they definitely would), such a trip is a “must” when deploying large forces so near to Russian military forces.

So far Trump has denied this report – but we all know that he suffers from the “John Kerry syndrome”: he wants better relations with Russia only until the Neocons tell him not to. Then he makes a 180 and declares the polar opposite of what he just said.

Still, there are now rumors that Trump is getting fed up with Bolton (who, truth be told, totally FUBARed the Venezuelan situation!).

As for the Iraqis, they have already told the US to forget using Iraqi territory for any attack. This reminds me of how the Brazilians told the US that Brazil would not allow its territory to be used for any attacks. This is becoming a pattern. Good.

Frankly, while an AngloZionist attack on Iran is always and by definition possible, I can’t imagine the folks at the Pentagon having the stomach for that. In a recent article Eric Margolis outlined what the rationale for such an attack might be (check out his full article here). Notice this sentence: “The Pentagon’s original plan to punish Iran called for some 2,300 air strikes on Day 1 alone“. Can they really do that? Yes, absolutely. But imagine the consequences! Margolis speaks of “punishing” Iran. 2,300 air strikes in one day is not something I would call a “punishment”. That is a full scale attack on Iran which, in turns, means that the Iranians will have exactly *ZERO* reasons to hold back in any way. If the AngloZionists attack Iran with 2,300 air strikes on Day 1, then you can be sure that on Day 2 all hell will break loose all over the Middle-East and the AngloZionists will have absolutely *NO* means of stopping it.

This will be a real bloodbath and nobody will have any idea as to how to stop it.

And you can be darn sure that the Iranians will show much more staying power than the imperialists, if only because they will be fighting in defense of their country, their faith, their liberty, their friends and their families. To expect the Iranians to cave in or surrender in any way would be the most stupid notion anybody could entertain.

Could they really be THAT stupid in Washington DC?

I don’t know.

But what I do know is this: any such attack will be extremely costly and very, very dangerous. Obviously, the Neocons don’t give a rats ass about costs, financial or human. They just want war, war, war and more war (remember McCain’s “bomb, bomb, bomb – bomb, bomb Iran“?). But the Neocons are only a tiny fraction of the US ruling elites (even if the most powerful one) and my hope is that the sane elements will prevail (which, indeed, they have so far).

As for right now, we are still okay. But if the US actually beings sending large forces to the Middle-East, then all bets are off.

Advertisements

What Putin and Pompeo did not talk about

May 15, 2019

by Pepe Escobar : Posted with permission

What Putin and Pompeo did not talk aboutRussia is uneasy over the destabilizatihttp://by Pepe Escobar : Posted with permissionon of Tehran, and on other hotspots the powers’ positions are clear.

Even veiled by thick layers of diplomatic fog, the overlapping meetings in Sochi between US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and President Putin and Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov still offer tantalizing geopolitical nuggets.

Russian presidential aide Yury Ushakov did his best to smooth the utterly intractable, admitting there was “no breakthrough yet” during the talks but at least the US “demonstrated a constructive approach.”

Putin told Pompeo that after his 90-minute phone call with Trump, initiated by the White House, and described by Ushakov as “very good,” the Russian president “got the impression that the [US] president was inclined to re-establish Russian-American relations and contacts to resolve together the issues that are of mutual interest to us.”

That would imply a Russiagate closure. Putin told Pompeo, in no uncertain terms, that Moscow never interfered in the US elections, and that the Mueller report proved that there was no connection between the Kremlin and the Trump campaign.

This adds to the fact Russiagate has been consistently debunked by the best independent American investigators such as the VIPS group.   

‘Interesting’ talk on Iran

Let’s briefly review what became public of the discussions on multiple (hot and cold) conflict fronts – Venezuela, North Korea, Afghanistan, Iran.

Venezuela – Ushakov reiterated the Kremlin’s position: “Any steps that may provoke a civil war in the country are inadmissible.” The future of President Maduro was apparently not part of the discussion.

That brings to mind the recent Arctic Council summit. Both Lavrov and Pompeo were there. Here’s a significant exchange:

Lavrov: I believe you don’t represent the South American region, do you?

Pompeo: We represent the entire hemisphere.

Lavrov: Oh, the hemisphere. Then what’s the US doing in the Eastern Hemisphere, in Ukraine, for instance?

There was no response from Pompeo.

North Korea – Even acknowledging that the Trump administration is “generally ready to continue working [with Pyongyang] despite the stalemate at the last meeting, Ushakov again reiterated the Kremlin’s position: Pyongyang will not give in to “any type of pressure,” and North Korea wants “a respectful approach” and international security guarantees.

Afghanistan – Ushakov noted Moscow is very much aware that the Taliban are getting stronger. So the only way out is to find a “balance of power.” There was a crucial trilateral in Moscow on April 25 featuring Russia, China and the US, where they all called on the Taliban to start talking with Kabul as soon as possible.

Iran – Ushakov said the JCPOA, or Iran nuclear deal, was “briefly discussed.”.He would only say the discussion was “interesting.”

Talk about a larger than life euphemism. Moscow is extremely uneasy over the possibility of a destabilization of Iran that allows a free transit of jihadis from the Caspian to the Caucasus.

Which brings us to the heart of the matter. Diplomatic sources – from Russia and Iran – confirm, off the record, there have been secret talks among the three pillars of Eurasian integration – Russia, China and Iran – about Chinese and Russian guarantees in the event the Trump administration’s drive to strangle Tehran to death takes an ominous turn.

This is being discussed at the highest levels in Moscow and Beijing. The bottom line: Russia-China won’t allow Iran to be destroyed.

But it’s quite understandable that Ushakov wouldn’t let that information slip through a mere press briefing.

Wang Yi and other deals

On multiple fronts, what was not disclosed by Ushakov is way more fascinating than what’s now on the record. There’s absolutely no way Russian hypersonic weapons were not also discussed, as well as China’s intermediate-range missiles capable of reaching any US military base encircling or containing China.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, third right, meets Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, center left, in Sochi on 14 May 2019. Photo: AFP / Russian Foreign Ministry Press Service / Anadolu

The real deal was, in fact, not Putin-Pompeo or Pompeo-Lavrov in Sochi. It was actually Lavrov-Wang Yi (the Chinese Foreign Minister), the day before in Moscow.

A US investment banker doing business in Russia told me: “Note how Pompeo ran like mad to Sochi. We are frightened and overstretched.”

Diplomats later remarked: “Pompeo looked solemn afterwards. Lavrov sounded very diplomatic and calm.” It’s no secret in Moscow’s top diplomatic circles that the Chinese Politburo overruled President Xi Jinping’s effort to find an accommodation to Trump’s tariff offensive. The tension was visible in Pompeo’s demeanor.

In terms of substance, it’s remarkable how Lavrov and Wang Yi talked about, literally, everything: Syria, Iran, Venezuela, the Caspian, the Caucasus, New Silk Roads (BRI), Eurasia Economic Union (EAEU), Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), missiles, nuclear proliferation.

Or as Lavrov diplomatically put it: “In general, Russia-China cooperation is one of the key factors in maintaining the international security and stability, establishing a multipolar world order. . . . Our states cooperate closely in various multilateral organizations, including the UN, G20, SCO, BRICS and RIC [Russia, India, China trilateral forum], we are working on aligning the integration potential of the EAEU and the Belt and Road Initiative, with potentially establishing [a] larger Eurasian partnership.”

The strategic partnership is in sync on Venezuela, Syria, Iran, Afghanistan – they want a solution brokered by the SCO. And on North Korea, the message could not have been more forceful.

After talking to Wang Yi, Lavrov stressed that contacts between Washington and North Korea “proceeded in conformity with the road map that we had drafted together with China, from confidence restoration measures to further direct contacts.”

This is a frank admission that Pyongyang gets top advice from the Russia-China strategic partnership. And there’s more: “We hope that at a certain point a comprehensive agreement will be achieved on the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and on the creation of a system of peace and security in general in Northeast Asia, including concrete firm guarantees of North Korea’s security.”

Translation: Russia and China won’t back down on guaranteeing North Korea’s security. Lavrov said: “Such guarantees will be not easy to provide, but this is an absolutely mandatory part of a future agreement. Russia and China are prepared to work on such guarantees.”

Reset, maybe?

The indomitable Maria Zakharova, Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokeswoman, may have summed it all up. A US-Russia reset may even, eventually, happen. Certainly, it won’t be of the Hillary Clinton kind, especially when current CIA director Gina Haspel is shifting most of the agency’s resources towards Iran and Russia.

Top Russian military analyst Andrei Martyanov was way more scathingRussia won’t break with China, because the US “doesn’t have any more a geopolitical currency to ‘buy’ Russia – she is out of [the] price range for the US.”

That left Ushakov with his brave face, confirming there may be a Trump-Putin meeting on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Osaka next month.

“We can organize a meeting ‘on the go’ with President Trump. Alternatively, we can sit down for a more comprehensive discussion.”

Under the current geopolitical incandescence, that’s the best rational minds can hope for.

 

Iran Squeezed Between Imperial Psychos and European Cowards

By Pepe Escobar – with permission and cross posted with Consortium News

What Putin and Pompeo did not talk about

The Trump administration unilaterally cheated on the 2015 multinational, UN-endorsed JCPOA, or Iran nuclear deal. It has imposed an illegal, worldwide financial and energy blockade on all forms of trade with Iran — from oil and gas to exports of iron, steel, aluminum and copper. For all practical purposes, and in any geopolitical scenario, this is a declaration of war.

Successive U.S. governments have ripped international law to shreds; ditching the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action is only the latest instance. It doesn’t matter that Tehran has fulfilled all its commitments to the deal — according to UN inspectors. Once the leadership in Tehran concluded that the U.S. sanctions tsunami is fiercer than ever, it decided to begin partially withdrawing from the deal.

President Hassan Rouhani was adamant: Iran has not left the JCPOA — yet. Tehran’s measures are legal under the framework of articles 26 and 36 of the JCPOA — and European officials were informed in advance. But it’s clear the EU3 (Germany, France, Britain), who have always insisted on their vocal support for the JCPOA, must work seriously to alleviate the U.S.-provoked economic disaster to Iran if Tehran has any incentive to continue to abide by the agreement.

Protests in front of former U.S. embassy in Tehran after U.S. decision to withdraw from JCPOA, May 8, 2018. (Hossein Mersadi via Wikimedia Commons)

Russia and China — the pillars of Eurasia integration, to which Iran adheres — support Tehran’s position. This was discussed extensively in Moscow by Sergey Lavrov and Iran’s Javad Zarif, perhaps the world’s top two foreign ministers.

At the same time, it’s politically naïve to believe the Europeans will suddenly grow a backbone.

The comfortable assumption in Berlin, Paris and London was that Tehran could not afford to leave the JCPOA even if it was not receiving any of the economic rewards promised in 2015. Yet now the EU3 are facing the hour of truth.

It’s hard to expect anything meaningful coming from an enfeebled Chancellor Angela Merkel, with Berlin already targeted by Washington’s trade ire; a Brexit-paralyzed Britain; and a massively unpopular President Emmanuel Macron in France already threatening to impose his own sanctions if Tehran does not agree to limit its ballistic missile program. Tehran will never allow inspections over its thriving missile industry – and this was never part of the JCPOA to begin with.

As it stands, the EU3 are not buying Iranian oil. They are meekly abiding by the U.S. banking and oil/gas sanctions — which are now extended to manufacturing sectors — and doing nothing to protect Iran from its nasty effects. The implementation of INSTEX, the SWIFT alternative for trade with Iran, is languishing. Besides expressing lame “regrets” about the U.S. sanctions, the EU3 are de facto playing the game on the side of U.S., Israel, Saudi Arabia and the Emirates; and by extension against Russia, China and Iran.

Rise of the Imperial Psychos

As Tehran de facto kicked the ball to the European court, both EU3 options are dire. To meaningfully defend the JCPOA will invite a ballistic reaction from the Trump administration. To behave like poodles — the most probable course of action — means emboldening even more the psychopaths doubling as imperial functionaries bent on a hot war against Iran at all costs; Koch brothers Big Oil asset and enraptured evangelist, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and paid Mujahideen-e Khalq asset and notorious intel manipulator, National Security Advisor John Bolton.

The Pompeo-Bolton gangster maneuver is hardly Bismarck’s Realpolitik. It consists of relentlessly pushing Tehran to make a mistake, any mistake, in terms of “violating” its obligations under the JCPOA, so that this may be sold to gullible American public opinion as the proverbial “threat” to the “rules-based order” doubling as a casus belli.

There’s one thing the no-holds-barred U.S. economic war against Iran has managed to achieve: internal unity in the Islamic Republic. Team Rouhani’s initial aim for the JCPOA was to open up to Western trade (trade with Asia was always on) and somewhat curtail the power of the IRGC, or Revolutionary Guards, which control vast sectors of the Iranian economy.

Washington’s economic war proved instead the IRGC was right all along, echoing the finely-tuned geopolitical sentiment of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei, who always emphasized the Americans cannot be trusted, ever.

And as much as Washington has branded the IRGC a “terrorist organization,” Tehran replied in kind, branding CENTCOM the same.

Independent Persian Gulf oil traders dismiss the notion that the kleptocrat House of Saud — de facto run by Jared “of Arabia” Kushner’s Whatsapp pal Mohammed bin Salman (MbS), the Saudi  crown prince – holds up to 2.5 million barrels of oil a day in spare capacity capable of replacing Iran’s 2 million barrels of exports (out of 3.45 million of total daily production). The House of Saud seems more interested in hiking oil prices for Asian customers.

London protests at Saudi bombing of Yemen. March 2018. (Alisdare Hickson via Flickr)

Faulty Blockade

Washington’s energy trade blockade of Iran is bound to fail.

China will continue to buy its 650,000 barrels a day – and may even buy more. Multiple Chinese companies trade technology and industrial services for Iranian oil.

Pakistan, Iraq and Turkey — all bordering Iran — will continue to buy Iranian high-quality light crude by every method of payment (including gold) and transportation available, formal or informal. Baghdad’s trade relationship with Tehran will continue to thrive.

As economic suffocation won’t suffice, Plan B is — what else — the threat of a hot war.

It’s by now established that the info, in fact rumors, about alleged Iranian maneuvers to attack U.S. interests in the Gulf was relayed to Bolton by the Mossad, at the White House, with Israeli National Security Adviser Meir Ben Shabbat personally briefing Bolton.

Everyone is aware of the corollary: a “reposition of assets” (in Pentagonese) — from the USS Abraham Lincoln carrier strike group deployment to four B-52 bombers landing in Al Udeid Air base in Qatar, all part of a “warning” to Iran.

A pre-war roaring crescendo now engulfs the Lebanese front as well as the Iranian front.

Reasons for Psychotic Rage

Iran’s GDP is similar to Thailand’s, and its military budget is similar to Singapore’s. Bullying Iran is a geopolitical and geo-economic absurdity. Iran may be an emerging Global South actor — it could easily be a member of the G20 — but can never be construed as a “threat” to the U.S.

Yet Iran provokes psychopathic imperial functionaries to a paroxysm of rage for three serious reasons. Neocons never mind that trying to destroy Iraq cost over $6 trillion — and it was a major war crime, a political disaster, and an economic abyss all rolled into one. Trying to destroy Iran will cost untold trillions more.

The most glaring reason for the irrational hatred is the fact the Islamic Republic is one of the very few nations on the planet consistently defying the hegemon — for four decades now.

The second reason is that Iran, just like Venezuela — and this is a combined war front — have committed the supreme anathema; trading on energy bypassing the petrodollar, the foundation stone of U.S. hegemony.

The third (invisible) reason is that to attack Iran is to disable emerging Eurasia integration, just like using NSA spying to ultimately put Brazil in the bag was an attack on Latin American integration.

The non-stop hysteria over whether President Donald Trump is being maneuvered into war on Iran by his pet psychopaths – well, he actually directed Iran to “Call me” — eludes the Big Picture. As shown before, a possible shut down of the Strait of Hormuz, whatever the reasons, would be like a major meteor impact on the global economy. And that would inevitably translate as no Trump reelection in 2020.

The Strait of Hormuz would never need to be blocked if all the oil Iran is able to export is bought by China, other Asian clients and even Russia — which could relabel it. But Tehran wouldn’t blink on blocking Hormuz if faced with total economic strangulation.

According to a dissident U.S. intel expert, “the United States is at a clear disadvantage in that if the Strait of Hormuz is shut the U.S. collapses. But if the U.S. can divert Russia from defending Iran, then Iran can be attacked and Russia will have accomplished nothing, as the neocons do not want detente with Russia and China. Trump does want detente but the Deep State does not intend to permit it.”

Assuming this scenario is correct, the usual suspects in the United States government are trying to divert Putin from the Strait of Hormuz question while keeping Trump weakened, as the neocons proceed 24/7 on the business of strangling Iran. It’s hard to see Putin falling for this not exactly elaborate trap.

Not Bluffing

So what happens next? Professor Mohammad Marandi at the Faculty of World Studies of the University of Tehran offers quite a sobering perspective: “After 60 days Iran will push things even further. I don’t think the Iranians are bluffing. They will also be pushing back at the Saudis and the Emiratis by different means.”

Marandi, ominously, sees “further escalation” ahead:

“Iranians have been preparing for war with the Unites States ever since the Iraq invasion in 2003. After what they’ve seen in Libya, in Syria, Yemen, Venezuela, they know that the Americans and Europeans are utterly brutal. The whole shore of the Persian Gulf on the Iranian side and the Gulf of Oman is full of tunnels and underground high-tech missiles. The Persian Gulf is full of ships equipped with highly developed sea-to-sea missiles. If there is real war, all the oil and gas facilities in the region will be destroyed, all the tankers will be destroyed.”

And if that show comes to pass, Marandi regards the Strait of Hormuz as the “sideshow”:

“The Americans will be driven out of Iraq. Iraq exports 4 million barrels of oil a day; that would probably come to an end, through strikes and other means. It would be catastrophic for the Americans. It would be catastrophic for the world – and for Iran as well. But the Americans would simply not win.”

So as Marandi explains it — and Iranian public opinion now largely agrees — the Islamic Republic has leverage because they know “the Americans can’t afford to go to war. Crazies like Pompeo and Bolton may want it, but many in the establishment don’t.”

Tehran may have developed a modified MAD (Mutually Assured Destruction) framework as leverage, mostly to push Trump ally MbS to cool down. “Assuming,” adds Marandi, “the madmen don’t get the upper hand, and if they do, then it’s war. But for the time being, I thinks that’s highly unlikely.”

Guided-missile destroyer USS Porter transits Strait of Hormuz, May 2012. (U.S. Navy/Alex R. Forster)

All Options on the Table?

In Cold War 2.0 terms, from Central Asia to the Eastern Mediterranean and from the Indian Ocean to the Caspian Sea, Tehran is able to count on quite a set of formal and informal alliances. That not only centers on the Beirut-Damascus-Baghdad-Tehran-Herat axis, but also includes Turkey and Qatar. And most important of all, the top actors on the Eurasian integration chessboard: the Russia and China in strategic partnership.

When Zarif met Lavrov last week in Moscow, they discussed virtually everything: Syria (they negotiate together in the Astana, now Nur-Sultan process), the Caspian, the Caucasus, Central Asia, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (of which Iran will become a member), the JCPOA and Venezuela.

The Trump administration was dragged kicking and screaming to meet Kim Jong-Un at the same table because of the DPRK’s intercontinental ballistic missile tests. And then Kim ordered extra missile tests because, in his own words, as quoted by KCNA, “genuine peace and security of the country are guaranteed only by the strong physical force capable of defending its sovereignty.”

Global South Watching

The overwhelming majority of Global South nations are watching the U.S. neocon offensive to ultimately strangle “the Iranian people”, aware more than ever that Iran may be bullied to extinction because it does not posses a nuclear deterrent. The IRGC has reached the same conclusion.

That would mean the death of the JCPOA – and the Return of the Living Dead of “all options on the table.”

But then, there’ll be twists and turns in the Art of the (Demented) Deal. So what if, and it’s a major “if”, Donald Trump is being held hostage by his pet psychopaths?

Let The Dealer speak:

“We hope we don’t have to do anything with regard to the use of military force…We can make a deal, a fair deal. … We just don’t want them to have nuclear weapons. Not too much to ask. And we would help put them back into great shape. They’re in bad shape right now. I look forward to the day where we can actually help Iran. We’re not looking to hurt Iran. I want them to be strong and great and have a great economy… We have no secrets. And they can be very, very strong, financially. They have great potential.”

Then again, Ayatollah Khamenei said: the Americans cannot be trusted, ever.

Pompeo from Russia: US Doesn’t Seek War with Iran

By Staff, Agencies 

Despite the growing tension, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo confirmed that his country does not seek a war with Iran.

Speaking in Russia, Pompeo said the “US was looking for Iran to behave like a normal country but would respond if its interests were attacked.”

In another development, Spain withdrew a frigate from a US-led naval group in the Gulf as tensions between Washington and Tehran rose.

Pompeo, who held talks with Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in the Russian city of Sochi, said the US “fundamentally” did not seek a conflict with Iran.

“We have also made clear to the Iranians that if American interests are attacked, we will most certainly respond in an appropriate fashion.”

The talks between Pompeo and Lavrov to help improve ties between Washington and Moscow have underlined continuing differences.

Related Videos

Related News

RussiaGate 2.0 and The Plan to Impeach President Trump

Global Research, May 05, 2019

In the wake of RussiaGate 1.0, will there be a shift in US foreign policy involving a decisive change in US-Russia relations?

Is the Witch-hunt over? 

Or is RussiaGate 2.0 in the making? 

On March 3, Trump and Putin held a telephone conversation. They spoke for an hour and a half.

The discussions were described by Trump as “positive”.

Trump “unofficially” discussed “The Russian Hoax” with Vladimir Putin. “Very Productive Talk”.

“Getting along with Russia and China, getting along with all of them is a very good thing, not a bad thing, it a good thing, it’s a positive thing,” (to reporters on May 3)

Trump confirmed that he was open to negotiations on reducing the stock of nuclear weapons with both Moscow and Beijing in the context of a trilateral deal (US-Russia-China). Indelibly, such an agreement could potentially destabilize Trump’s 1.2 trillion dollar nuclear weapons program. It could also have an impact on the movement of Aerospace and Defense (A & D) stocks, which experienced a market bonanza in 2018.

The lifting of sanctions on North Korea, Ukraine and the crisis in Venezuela were also discussed.

The Trump-Putin telephone initiative was taken without prior consultation with John Bolton and Mike Pompeo, who have systematically blocked the restoration of normal dialogue and diplomatic exchange with Moscow.

Is this part of an unfolding internal battle between Trump and his national security advisers, not to mention Vice President Mike Pence? (image right).

President Trump’s overture to the Kremlin visibly contradicts both Bolton and Pompeo who are threatening president Maduro,  pressuring him to leave Venezuela and hand over the presidency to Guaido.  According to Trump:

“He [Putin] is not looking at all to get involved in Venezuela other than he’d like to see something positive happen for Venezuela,”

It is worth noting that two days prior to the Trump-Putin telephone conversation, Pompeo told Lavrov (also in a telephone conversation) that

“the intervention by Russia and Cuba is destabilizing for Venezuela and for the U.S.-Russia bilateral relationship.”

In a bitter irony, this (telephone) statement by Pompeo was made on the same day (May 1st) as the failed “military coup” in Caracas.

Will Trump’s dialogue with Putin have a bearing on the Bolton-Pompeo threats directed against the Maduro government? Was Trump’s call to Putin (May 3) meant to override Pompeo’s overt threats (May 1st) to intervene militarily in Venezuela?

Lavrov and Pompeo are set to meet early this week in Finland. Will Pompeo, a former army officer, Christian evangelical and for a short while a former-CIA director change his tone and approach following Trump’s telephone conversation with Putin? Unlikely. Mike Pompeo has been the architect of numerous foreign policy blunders since his appointment by Trump first as CIA director in January 2017 and then as Secretary of State.

The presumption of the mainstream media (which borders on ridicule) is that Donald Trump as president of the United States should have sought the green-light from Bolton-Pompeo. The fact of the matter is that these two individuals are deliberately involved in sabotaging US relations with a large number countries:

The conversation, which Trump went on to describe as “very positive,” appeared to be yet another example of Trump taking Putin’s claims at face value despite contrary evidence from his own governmentThe White House national security adviser, John Bolton, and U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo both said earlier this week that the Kremlin talked Maduro out of leaving Venezuela after U.S.-backed opposition leader Juan Guaido attempted to end his regime on Tuesday by calling for a military uprising. (emphasis added)

RussiaGate 2.0

How is this internal confrontation going to evolve? Who is calling the shots at the White House?

Pompeo and Bolton are an obstacle to normalizing diplomatic relations with Russia. They are dangerous individuals, psychopathic in their understanding of global geopolitics, influential with regard to sanctions and  military intervention. They are also misinformed with regard to the consequences of the use of nuclear weapons, which they consider as peace-making bombs.

Both Bolton and Pompeo were instrumental in the sabotage of the latest US-North Korea summit in Hanoi.

Impeachment

Despite the release of the Mueller report, the impeachment campaign prevails. Immediately following the Putin-Trump telephone conversation, the campaign to impeach Trump has gone into high gear.

The Atlantic, March 2019

Will The Kremlin Intervene in the 2020 elections? 

Another absurd proposition: The US media is now intimating that Trump’s conversation with Putin is setting the stage for Kremlin intervention in the 2020 elections:

“Mr. President, did you tell him not to meddle in the next election?” a reporter asked.

“Excuse me, I’m talking, I’m answering this question. You are very rude. So we had a good conversation about several different things,” Trump told the reporter.

When asked again about Russian interference in future U.S. elections, Trump said: “We didn’t discuss that.”

According to the Democratic presidential candidate Julián Castro

“President Donald Trump wants Russia to interfere on his behalf again in 2020”.

“All of a sudden, he’s willing to take the word of a leader like Vladimir Putin who, time and again, has shown himself to be adversarial to the United States and to be dishonest,” .

In turn, former Vice President Joe Biden, who is now candidate for the 2020 presidential elections has stated:

 “that Congress would have “no alternative” but to impeach President Trump if his administration seeks to block its investigations of issues raised in the special counsel’s report on Russian election interference.” (WaPo, April 30, 2019)

See Trump’s press conference 


ANNEX.

The Russian embassy in the US on the Trump-Putin Telephone Exchange

Vladimir Putin had a telephone conversation with President of the United States of America Donald Trump, at the initiative of the American side.

The current state and prospects of bilateral relations were discussed with a focus on economic cooperation. The two presidents spoke in favour of developing mutually beneficial trade and investment relations. They affirmed their shared commitment to step up dialogue in various areas, including on issues of strategic stability.

Vladimir Putin informed Donald Trump of the key results of his April 25 meeting in Vladivostok with Chairman of the State Affairs Commission of the DPRK Kim Jong-un, stressing that Pyongyang’s good-faith fulfilment of its commitments should be accompanied by reciprocal steps to ease the sanctions pressure on North Korea. Both parties noted the importance of consistent progress towards denuclearisation and achieving long-term normalisation on the Korean Peninsula.

The situation in Ukraine was touched on in the context of the recent presidential election. Vladimir Putin emphasised that the new leadership in Kiev should take real steps to implement the Minsk Agreements, which are critical to resolving the internal Ukrainian conflict.

While exchanging views on the situation around Venezuela, the President of Russia underscored that only the Venezuelans themselves have the right to determine the future of their country, whereas outside interference in the country’s internal affairs and attempts to change the government in Caracas by force undermine prospects for a political settlement of the crisis.

It was agreed to maintain contacts at various levels.

The two heads of state expressed satisfaction with the business-like and constructive nature of the conversation.
——————

“The conversation between Trump and Putin lasted for almost 1.5 hours,” Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.
More:
http://tass.com/world/1056870

التدخل الروسيّ للإفراج عن أسرى سوريين

أبريل 30, 2019

ناصر قنديل

– لسنا بصدد النقاش حول حدود القدرة التفاوضية الروسية مع كيان الاحتلال في الضغط للإفراج عن أسرى سوريّين وفلسطينيين، طالما قاموا بتسليم بقايا جندي السلطان يعقوب. فقد قلنا ما يجب قوله في العملية في حينها، وما نحن بصدده هو مناقشة العلاقات الروسية السورية التي وجد البعض في عملية تسليم بقايا جندي السلطان يعقوب فرصة للانقضاض عليها ونعيها، وتوزيع مواعظ النصح حول عقم الرهان على صواب هذه العلاقة، وصولاً للقول إن روسيا تبيع حلفاءها من العرب كرمى لعيون نتنياهو، وأنها خاضعة للوبيات الصهيونية ولا تستطيع رد طلباتها.

– الأكيد أن موسكو التقطت ردود الأفعال التي أعقبت العملية، خصوصاً الموقف الرسمي للدولة السورية الذي قام بمراعاة العلاقة بروسيا، لكنه عبر عن امتعاضه بالإعلان عن عدم وجود أي علاقة له بها أو معرفة بحدوثها قبل تاريخ تنفيذها، كما وصلت إلى موسكو تعبيرات العتب والغضب في الشارع السوري وفي بيئة المقاومة. وهنا يصير السؤال له قيمة عن كيفية التصرف الروسي وفقاً لسلم الأولويات الذي يرسم سياسات موسكو في المنطقة.

– الخطوة الأولى كانت الإعلان القاسي الذي صدر عن موسكو للرد على الإدعاءات الإسرائيلية حول عملية تسليم وشيكة لبقايا العميل الإسرائيلي إيلي كوهين، وتعمّد أن يأتي الرد على لسان وزير الخارجية الروسية سيرغي لافروف، والخطوة الثانية جاءت بإعلان المبعوث الروسي الخاص حول الأزمة السورية ألكسندر لافرنتيف أن روسيا طلبت قيام إسرائيل بالإفراج عن عدد من الأسرى السوريين والفلسطينيين تعبيراً عن الامتنان لقيام روسيا بتسليمها بقايا جندي السلطان يعقوب، وتنفيذاً لطلب الرئيس الروسي.

– قيام كيان الاحتلال بالإفراج عن أسيرين سوريّ وفلسطينيّ من سجونه، لا يعادل بالتأكيد ما كان ممكناً تحصيله لو أدارت موسكو مفاوضات تبادل حول بقايا جندي السلطان يعقوب، لكنها رسالة روسية ذات مغزى تقول إن روسيا تعتذر عن التسرّع وترغب بطي الصفحة بما يضمن سلامة وصحة التحالف الذي يجمعها بسورية وقوى المقاومة. وهذا هو موضوعنا، لأن جوهر ما قاله المتربّصون بهذه العلاقة، هو أن روسيا تعمّدت تنفيذ العملية بالطريقة التي تمّت لأنها تريد أن تقول للعالم وللرأي العام في روسيا، ولـ«إسرائيل»، ولنا، أن روسيا لا تقيم حساباً لمن يسمّيهم الآخرون بحلفاء موسكو في المنطقة عندما يتعلق الأمر باسترضاء «إسرائيل»، وها هي موسكو تقول إنه يعنيها كثيراً ألا يترتب على العملية وما رافقها من نقص أو ضعف، أي تأثير سلبي على نظرة حلفائها وجمهور الحلفاء وبيئتهم الشعبية، وإنها لأجل ذلك مستعدة للقيام بخطوات ترميمية لا تشبه الأصل، لكنها توصل رسالة التمسك وتحدد مكان الأولوية.

– ما جرى يشبه ما كان قد تمّ في منتصف العام 2016 عندما اعتذرت تركيا عن إسقاط الطائرة الروسية ورعت موسكو إطلاق مسار أستانة، واتفاق الهدنة في حلب، وقامت الجماعات المسلحة باستغلال الهدنة لبناء قدراتها والاستعداد للمواجهة، وشعرت سورية وقوى المقاومة بأن السعي الروسي لاكتساب تركيا بات مكلفاً وأن سورية وقوى المقاومة يلحق بهما الأذى من هذه السياسة الروسية، وخرجت حينها الأصوات ذاتها تتحدّث عن روسيا التي باعت حلفاءها لتركيا لأن أولوية روسيا هي تركيا وقد استعملت حلفاءها لتصل للمبتغى وها هي تتركهم، في لغة تشبه ما سمعناه قبل اسابيع قليلة عن الاهتمام الروسي بـ»إسرائيل» واستعمال سورية وقوى المقاومة معبراً نحو هذا الهدف. ويومها مرت شهور قاسية انتهت بتحرير حلب بشراكة روسية ظاهرة، وجهت درساً قاسياً وهزيمة شنعاء لتركيا، مؤكدة مرة جديدة قواعد الأولويات الروسية.

– ستبقى التباينات تطلّ برأسها بين حين وآخر بين سورية وقوى المقاومة من جهة وروسيا من جهة أخرى، وسيبقى المتربّصون من أعداء وأعدقاء، يطلون برؤوسهم مع كل محطة تباين، لكن ستبقى العلاقة الروسية بسورية وقوى المقاومة تثبت أنها الأساس في رسم الأولويات الروسية في المنطقة.

Related Articles

 

Lavrov’s interview for Zvezda network

April 22, 2019

Lavrov’s interview for Zvezda network

 

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s interview for Glavnoye with Olga Belova programme on Zvezda network, Moscow, April 21, 2019

http://www.mid.ru/ru/foreign_policy/news/-/asset_publisher/cKNonkJE02Bw/content/id/3622162?p_p_id=101_INSTANCE_cKNonkJE02Bw&_101_INSTANCE_cKNonkJE02Bw_languageId=en_GB

Olga Belova: Mr Lavrov, thank you so much for agreeing to this interview today. Thank you for your time. We are recording this interview on the eve of the second round of Ukraine’s presidential election, so if you would allow me, we will begin with this subject, since it is currently making headlines. Against this backdrop we cannot fail but to recall the events that took place five years ago during the 2014 election in Ukraine. Since then the question of whether Russia had to recognise the outcome of the 2014 election resurfaces from time to time in the public space. What will happen this time around? Does recognising this election make any sense? We understand all too well that Russia has many formal and moral reasons to break up all contacts with the Ukrainian authorities.

Sergey Lavrov: Five years ago when the presidential election was called in Ukraine, it happened in the aftermath of an armed and anti-constitutional government coup that, for some reason, was carried out within a day after the signing of an agreement between the opposition and President Viktor Yanukovich. Moreover, foreign ministers of Germany, Poland and France assumed the role of guarantors under this agreement that was also proactively backed by the US. But the next morning the opposition announced on Maidan Square that they had seized power and had formed a government of victors. This is when they began splitting their people apart. This agreement was signed on February 21, 2014, and if we recall its text, the first paragraph sets forth the need to form a “national unity government.” Instead, they established a government of victors, and started treating everyone else like losers. They put forward multiple requirements that ran counter to the interests of a significant part of people in Ukraine, including minorities such as Russians and Russian speakers. All this brought about serious problems and triggered a referendum in Crimea as a response to the threats made by nationalists to expel Russians from the peninsula and attempts to take over the Supreme Council building by force.

Let me mention one more event. In mid-April, that is before the election was called, but after the referendum in Crimea, Geneva hosted a meeting attended by US Secretary of State John Kerry, yours truly, EU High Commissioner for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton, and then acting Foreign Minister of Ukraine Andrey Deshitsa. At this meeting we agreed on a one-page declaration, and its key provision consisted of supporting the intention of the Ukrainian authorities to implement federalisation, that is to decentralise the country with the involvement of all regions. A representative of the new Ukrainian government that came to power in Kiev following a coup signed this document, guaranteeing federalisation with the involvement of all regions of the country.

But this commitment was instantly forgotten. Against this backdrop, when people started to state their intention to run for president, President of Ukraine Petr Poroshenko was saying on every street corner that he was a “president of peace” and would settle the conflict in a matter of two or three weeks. It is for this reason that Western capitals, Paris and Berlin, urged Russia to refrain from making a statement rejecting the election outcome. We did refrain in order to give them a chance.

In early June 2014, President-elect Petr Poroshenko met with President of France Francois Hollande, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and President of Russia Vladimir Putin, when they all attended celebrations of the allied Normandy landings. The very fact that Vladimir Putin took part in this meeting, proposed by France and Germany, attested to Russia’s commitment to peace in Donbass and protecting the rights of those who were firm in their refusal to accept an armed coup. We proceeded from the premise that Petro Poroshenko was primarily elected for this promise to resolve the problem peacefully. With this in mind, I would refrain from stirring up the past on this particular matter.

By the way, during the Normandy format meetings that followed, Petr Poroshenko proved that he was not a “president of the peace,” and was forced by the developments on the ground to sign the Minsk Agreements. Russia also believed that it was unacceptable for him to consistently fool his people, while also lying to his curators abroad, since they were irritated by Poroshenko “getting out of hand.” I am talking about the Europeans represented within the Normandy Format, namely France and Germany. When the Minsk Agreements were signed everyone let out a sigh of relief, considering that this created a clear path to peace, especially since the UN Security Council approved the Minsk Agreements, thus implementing them into international law. However, in this sphere as well Petr Poroshenko proved to be very apt in dodging responsibility, turning for protection to the US administration which does not encourage Ukraine to abide by the Minsk Agreements. The Europeans found themselves in an awkward situation.

This was a look at the past, but coming back to your question, we have seen electoral programmes released by Petr Poroshenko and Vladimir Zelensky. We see how they approached the run-off. I have the impression that what matters the most for them at this point is to attract voters by some kind of a constructive agenda in order to secure victory. This is what their efforts are all about. I would rather not draw any final conclusions on what Vladimir Zelensky’s policy will look like if he is elected president, which is a done deal as far as observers are concerned. I would refrain from paying too much attention to declarations coming from his campaign. We have to wait for the second round results when they will have to deal with real things instead of campaign slogans and propaganda. Only then will we understand what this person as president thinks about the millions of his compatriots who speak Russian, love the Russian language and culture and want to live according to their values and the values of the winners in the Great Patriotic War, instead of being guided by values that extoll Roman Shukhevich, Stepan Bandera and other Petlyuras.

Olga Belova: You said we need to wait for the president-elect to take actual steps. Everyone realises that it is imperative to sit down and talk no matter what happens. What should Kiev’s first actions, statements and steps be so that, to use your words, Moscow “gives them another chance” to a peaceful resolution of the situation?

Sergey Lavrov: Most importantly, the new or old government should be able to talk and reach agreements and to respect international law and Ukraine’s international obligations. Such obligations include an international legal instrument which is the UN Security Council resolution, which approved the Minsk Agreements. A direct dialogue between Kiev, on the one hand, and Donetsk and Lugansk, on the other hand, lies at the core of these agreements. This will be the key to success. To reiterate, we heard about the plans to continue the settlement in the election statements, in particular, on the part of Mr Zelensky and his staff, but this time with the involvement of the United States and Great Britain and without direct dialogue with the proclaimed republics − DPR and LPR.

When contenders for a post make such statements, they will then be somehow tied in with such a position in the future. I hope that life will make them realise that there’s no alternative to implementing the Minsk Agreements and, in any case, that there’s no alternative to direct dialogue with the people who represent an enormous part of your nation, if you still consider them to be such, of course.

Olga Belova: We see that so far no one has been talking to them, and there’s no direct dialogue with the republics. Recently, the DPR published the foreign policy concept which shows a certain dualism: on the one hand, there’s a commitment to the Minsk Agreements and, on the other hand, the Republic of Donbass recognises itself as an independent state. What does Moscow think about the dualism of this document? What is your vision of the future of that region following the elections?

Sergey Lavrov: I don’t see anything unusual here, because these republics proclaimed sovereignty five years ago, in May 2014, responding to what we just talked about, namely, radical nationalists who came out with strong anti-Russian statements and launched an attack on the language, cultural and religious rights of ethnic minorities. It started a long time ago. These republics responded by declaring independence. Let’s remind our Western colleagues, if they ever take any interest in these unpleasant facts from recent history, that these republics did not attack the rest of Ukraine. The rest of Ukraine declared them terrorists. This, of course, is a stunning phenomenon in modern diplomacy and politics.

The rest of Ukraine was represented by the putschists who seized power in Kiev and launched an attack on millions of their fellow citizens demanding that they submit to illegal authorities. So, as I understand it, independence was simply reaffirmed in these doctrinal documents adopted in Donbass. But after this independence was declared five years ago in May − returning to what we think about the then elections and the election of Poroshenko solely because he proclaimed that his goal was immediate peace and an immediate agreement on resolving the Donbass problem by way of talks, Russia talked these republics into agreeing to a political process.

Political and diplomatic efforts were interrupted by the military actions of Kiev, which did not respect the truce and ceasefire agreement. There was the August offensive which ended badly for the Ukrainian armed forces and, most importantly, claimed a huge number of human lives, followed by the January offensive in Debaltsevo. Only after receiving a rebuff, did Petr Poroshenko sit down at the negotiating table. That’s how the Minsk Agreements were signed.

I was in Minsk and saw how the leaders of the four countries spent 17 hours at the negotiating table taking short breaks, mostly talking between themselves, and sometimes inviting us as experts to clarify certain fine points. It took considerable effort to convince the leaders of the DPR and LPR who were present in Minsk to give the go-ahead to the Minsk Agreements. We did it. We convinced them to once again demonstrate their willingness, even determination, if you will, to achieve peace with the rest of Ukraine.

Unfortunately, the way the current Ukrainian authorities see our efforts is disappointing. Despite provocations, we will push for these agreements to be implemented. We are a country that is capable of reaching agreements.

Olga Belova: That is, if I understood you correctly, Moscow is still capable and willing to continue to influence the leadership of these republics? Are we going to push them to sit down and talk as best we can, or not? I’m asking this because the leaders of the republics have made it clear that they have parted ways with Kiev.

Sergey Lavrov: You said there was a dual decision to reaffirm independence and commitment to the Minsk Agreements. To a certain extent (I will not frame it in terms of a percentage), this is the result of our influence on them and our call for them not to follow the example of the Ukrainian authorities which break down and trample upon their own promises. We will continue to exert this influence. We have long been calling, above all, the Germans and the French, to realise their responsibility for Kiev’s behaviour, because the Minsk Agreements involve, above all, proactive steps on the part of the Ukrainian authorities. The Contact Group is the only format where Donetsk, Lugansk and Kiev sit down at one table with the representatives of the OSCE and Russia. It took an inordinate amount of effort to create it, primarily because Mr Poroshenko began to back pedal shortly after the Minsk Agreements had been signed, and refused to maintain direct dialogue with the republics. But we forced our Ukrainian colleagues do that. Although in practical work − the Contact Group meets every month −  and even more often than that the Ukrainian government outwardly sabotages everything that was agreed upon, be it security, separating forces and means, the political process, coordinating the formula for conducting elections or providing this region with a special status in accordance with the Minsk Agreements. There is an open and blatant sabotage. We need to understand how the election results will affect the Ukrainian delegation’s activities in the Contact Group, and what kind of people will be delegated there.

Olga Belova: Indeed, now everything depends on how the presidential election will end, including the situation in the Kerch Strait, which was endlessly brought up in the first part of the campaign, before the first round. How harshly are we ready to respond if another provocation is made, especially considering that NATO has declared its readiness to support Ukrainian warships if they undertake another breakthrough?

Sergey Lavrov: Morally and politically – maybe they will support it. But I do not see a situation where NATO ships will join these adventurers for a military provocation. I do not foresee such a situation, and, considering the information that we have, I have reason to believe that this has already been decided at NATO.

Olga Belova: So all the support they will be getting is just words?

Sergey Lavrov: Probably, as it was the last time, a condemnation, and once again they will come up with some new sanctions. As we have said many times, we have no problem with Ukrainian warships passing from the Black Sea to their ports in the Sea of ​​Azov. The only condition is to comply with the safety requirement for navigation along the Kerch Strait. It is a complex stretch of water, which is quite shallow and doesn’t go in a straight line and requires compulsory pilotage as well as coordination when it comes to the weather conditions. All ships — and there are thousands of them — stop at the entrance to the Kerch Strait, report to the channel operators, pilotage, recommendations, and, depending on the weather forecast, move on to the Sea of ​​Azov, as was done before Ukraine’s warships last November. They passed smoothly without any incidents.

In November 2018, Petr Poroshenko, obviously during the election heat, tried to create a scandal to have reason to appeal to the West again, complaining of Russia harassing him, and insisting on more sanctions. He is better at it than many others. So the warships tried to secretly pass through the Kerch Strait, trespassing into our territorial waters – the part that was Russia’s territorial waters even before the referendum in Crimea. What they did actually boiled down to probing the limits of those who ensure the security of the Kerch Strait and the territorial integrity of the Russian Federation.

I must note that among the numerous arguments our opponents seem to forget is the fact that the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea actually implies a so-called unimpeded passage through the territorial waters of a foreign state, including military vessels, subject to several conditions. One of them is the mandatory fulfillment of security requirements, which in this case was grossly violated. The second is that a coastal state cannot allow military ships to maneuver through its territorial waters. That is, you either pass complying with the rules or you violate the Convention. What they did was military maneuvers, trying to hide from our border guards. This much is clear to all without exception. I have no doubt about it.

That we have nothing to hide can be confirmed by a very simple fact.

In mid-December, German Chancellor Angela Merkel asked President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin to allow German specialists to observe the process to better understand what the hitch was and to study the conditions for passing through the Kerch Strait. Vladimir Putin immediately agreed. We reaffirmed the agreement and asked for their names and dates that would suit them. They made a pause, and then suddenly my colleague, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, said at a meeting in January when I reminded him of this that they wanted to bring French experts along.

I said that was new, but I was confident that our President would also agree to French specialists being on this study tour. But after some time, the Germans sent us the concept of their visit, which was not a single visit at all but involved establishing a kind of permanent observation mission, which would be associated with the OSCE mission in Donbass, and would also include Ukrainians. All of them would be staying in our territory doing I do not know what.

Olga Belova: You mean they actually wanted to come and stay there?

Sergey Lavrov: Yes, they certainly wanted to stay. The Germans are usually very punctual and precise people. When Angela Merkel asked Vladimir Putin whether their experts could come and see, he said yes… Apparently, after that, they consulted with their big brothers.

Olga Belova: So they just thought it would be a good reason to enter and station their ships there?

Sergey Lavrov: Of course, but this is an absolutely hopeless story. At the same time, I can assure with all responsibility that if the Germans and the French still have an interest in visiting and seeing it firsthand, so as not to rely on the gossip that the Ukrainian side spreads, they are very welcome.

Olga Belova: You believe that Russia will not directly clash with NATO ships in the Kerch Strait because NATO will not have the courage to sail there.

But there is another place where Russian interests clash with those of its Western partners, which is Venezuela. Will Washington decide to stage a military intervention there? What do you think of this? If yes, how far is Russia ready to go in this region? Are we prepared for a direct and tough stand-off in the region that would culminate in a peace enforcement operation against those who don’t want this, provided that all legal formalities are complied with?

Sergey Lavrov: I don’t want to bring up this scenario. I am convinced that Washington does not yet completely understand that its line regarding Venezuela has become deadlocked. They believed that the people of Venezuela would rebel against the incumbent government from the very outset, that they would be disappointed with the government’s inability to ensure the normal operation of the socioeconomic sector. Our Western colleagues took care of this: The United States froze the Venezuelan oil company’s accounts, and the United Kingdom impounded the country’s gold reserves. They hoped to stifle Venezuela using economic methods. When the crisis was in its early stage, they also organised humanitarian relief aid deliveries and tried to cross the Venezuelan border. Obviously, that was a very cheap show. Yes, they said all the options were on the table, but they obviously expected a blitzkrieg. However, they admit that no blitzkrieg took place. Indeed, the country faces a very complicated economic situation which was complicated and continued to deteriorate even before all this began. We repeatedly advised the government of Venezuela, at its request, how to launch economic reforms. Quite possibly, someone did not like this, and they also decided to halt this process, so as to prevent the situation from working in favour of the Maduro government. They decided to further stifle Venezuela by economic and financial methods. When the blitzkrieg petered out, when it became clear that the people of Venezuela had their own pride and a feeling of national dignity, when they became obviously insulted by a situation when, speaking from abroad, US Vice President Mike Pence noted that he was appointing Juan Guaido as Acting President, one should be very far from historical experience while hoping that the people of Venezuela would “swallow” this.

Today, when the Americans continue to say that all options are on the table, I don’t doubt the fact that they are assessing the consequences of an audacious military undertaking. It is highly unlikely that anyone in Latin America will support them. To the best of my knowledge, they are counting on one or two countries. I have no doubts, and I know that the Latin Americans have a great feeling of personal dignity. This would pose a challenge to all of them, all the more so as a righteous rejection of such a dictate has been accumulating for several months already, especially when the Americans de-mothballed the Monroe Doctrine and said it was quite appropriate to use this doctrine in the current situation.

On April 17, US National Security Adviser John Bolton said the United States was bringing its own version of freedom to the region. And what version of freedom does the region prefer? Would you like to ask them how they perceive their own freedom?

I hope very much that a line which stipulates talks and which is conducted by Mexico, Bolivia, Uruguay and the Caribbean Community will prevail. President of Venezuela Nicolas Maduro is ready for such talks, and he has repeatedly confirmed this in public. Juan Guaido emphatically and ostentatiously refuses, comprehending Washington’s support and counting on this support alone. It appears that he has copied the bad example of President of Ukraine Petr Poroshenko who also behaved in the same way with regard to the need for conducting a national dialogue that would involve all political forces, and he hoped that Washington would shield him whatever the situation.

Olga Belova: Washington says it is bringing freedom to the region. But what is it that we are bringing to the region?

Sergey Lavrov: We want international law to be respected in the region as well as in the world at large. This means that states build their relations via dialogue and a balance of interests takes shape. This also means that we listen to each other and want to negotiate mutually beneficial security, economic and humanitarian projects as well as projects in any other spheres, where countries and peoples operate. Our relations with the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) rest precisely on this basis. We are finalising talks with the South American Common Market (MERCOSUR). There is an agreement with the Central American Integration System (CAIS) and a number of other sub-regional organisations.

We have even-handed and good relations with practically all the Latin American countries. We don’t force anyone to do things we would like to get as unilateral advantages. The entire US policy towards Russia comes down to the US ambassador in any country visiting, with envious regularity, government agencies and demanding that they don’t receive Russian delegations, nor send delegations to Russia, nor trade with Russia, nor buy anything from Russia, particularly military products, and the like.

You can’t conceal information in today’s world. We learn this the moment these “visits” occur, the more so that the Americans are not particularly hiding the fact. They publicly say: Don’t communicate with Russia. It is Russia along with Iran and Cuba that are to blame for what is going on in Venezuela. They demand that not a single Russian soldier be found in Venezuela because the US wants it this way: no one located outside of the Western Hemisphere has the right to be there at all. Our explanation that the Russian military are performing contractual obligations servicing military equipment that was supplied on fully legitimate terms way back in the 2000s are simply disregarded. The fact that the US military and other NATO personnel – Britons and Canadians – have filled Ukraine is not mentioned. It looks like they proceed from logic suggested by the saying “What is allowed to Jupiter, is not allowed to the bull.” This is rotten logic, very much so, and it will not help our US colleagues. I am quite hopeful that they will come to understand this. Yes, within some historically very brief period preceding the next electoral cycles in the US, they are likely to reap certain benefits because they are brazenly putting pressure on countries that are unable to resist them. But in the long term, increasingly more countries will proceed from the assumption that America is just an unreliable and impolite partner that is abusing its influence in the world. The UN Charter insists on sovereign equality of states. We build our relations precisely in this way.

I cannot refrain from mentioning the fact that the United States has recently added a frontal attack on Orthodox Christianity to the arsenal of its policy towards Russia. Given that the Russian Orthodox Church was a world Orthodoxy leader, the crazy gamble involving the conferral of autocephality on the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, known today as the Orthodox Church of Ukraine, a gamble undertaken by the Istanbul Patriarch Bartholomew, has been – we have enough facts to claim this – inspired and supported by Washington. Today Washington is engaged in tough diplomatic action as it works with other Orthodox Churches that have refused to support the Istanbul Patriarch’s self-willed decision. Its aim is to somehow make them recognise what has happened. This unceremonious and gross interference in church affairs is at odds with all diplomatic norms and international law in general. And this is deplorable.

We would like the United States to be a decent member of the world community. We are open to dialogue but their approach to relations is highly utilitarian and selfish.

They suggest that we and the Chinese cooperate with them when it comes to Afghanistan and North Korea because they are unable to operate successfully on their own there. And we accept this because a settlement in Afghanistan, on the Korean Peninsula and in Syria, on which we can communicate usefully, is also in our interests. We don’t dig in our heels and say that we will not negotiate on these issues if they don’t want to discuss other ones. Our position is more pragmatic. Russia is ready to work with all influential parties who see eye to eye with us and can help to achieve a settlement.

But generally their policy towards Russia is based solely on the wish to make us accept their unilateral domination and renounce international law. This is deplorable and cannot last ad infinitum. The Americans will be unable to sustain this course for long. They are antagonising a huge number of countries. So, it is in their best interests to come back to square one and start talking to all countries respectfully. Currently, they are doing this arrogantly, something that cannot help their interests.    

Olga Belova: We do need to talk, but so far talking to these Western partners of ours has been quite challenging. There is a saying: Those who do not want to talk with Sergey Lavrov will have to deal with Sergey Shoigu. This echoes what you have been saying. In your opinion, who is the main guardian of peace now, the military or the diplomats? What enables Russia to maintain parity: state-of-the-art armaments or the power of words? Who has priority at present?

Sergey Lavrov: When the Soviet Union was being dissolved, pro-democracy forces both here in Russia and in the West were ecstatic. There was a theory whereby the factor of strength in international relations was no longer relevant now that the bipolar world order was no more, the Cold War became a thing of the past, ideological differences faded away and we all came together on a strong democratic footing. This euphoric state persisted for several years. The situation was far from rosy of course, but as you may remember, in the 1990s Russia was young and proactive in its commitment to working with the US and NATO, all but deciding to join the alliance. However, disillusionment came very quickly. It dawned on everyone that behind the veil of these beautiful words the West meant only one thing: Russia was to give up on using the factor of strength in its policy, while the West would continue relying on it. Why was NATO still around after the Warsaw Pact was dissolved? How come we did not come together within the OSCE to transform it into a pan-European, Euro-Atlantic organisation without any western or eastern variants in order to address all questions without exception based on consensus? It did not happen. Of course, the plan they nurtured was to use Russia’s weakness in the first years after the collapse of the Soviet Union in order to achieve an overwhelming military and strategic advantage.

President of Russia Vladimir Putin has talked about this on numerous occasions. It became clear to us that our positive attitude towards the West was not reciprocal. The West continued to push NATO further east in violation of all possible promises, moving its military infrastructure to our borders, and there was no end in sight, especially when the US withdrew from the ABM Treaty. At this point, everything was clear. Decisions were taken, paving the way to the development of the weapons the President presented during his address last year to the Federal Assembly. Of course, it is highly regrettable that in today’s world no one will talk to you, unless you have a strong army and cutting-edge weapons.

Olga Belova: Has it become easier to talk?

Sergey Lavrov: When I was appointed to this post, the situation was already beginning to change. However, I would not say that talking was a challenge before, and that now things are easier. Unfortunately, the US, as our main partner, labelled Russia its “high-priority adversary,” as you have said. Later the US backtracked, and propelled China to this position. Later Russia was again on the list, and after that we were accompanied by China and Iran. They want to set their policy straight. They want to be in total control, but have yet to understand how this can be done. Sanctions work in some cases, but definitely not with Russia. They will not work with other countries that respect their history and identity.

We have no problems talking with the Europeans when it comes to relations with each specific country. There are challenges in our dialogue with NATO, since the US decided to convene meetings of the Russia-NATO Council with the sole purpose of lecturing us on Ukraine and other matters or criticising us for allegedly violating and dismantling the Intermediate-Range and Shorter-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty. We do not intend to attend any meetings of this kind in the future. If they want to have a serious conversation, they have to convene a Russia-NATO Council meeting at the military level. The outgoing Supreme Allied Commander Europe of NATO Allied Command Operations, General Curtis Scaparrotti, recently voiced regret over the lack of military-to-military interaction with Russia that existed even during the Cold War. Better late than never. Let us hope that his successor in this position is receptive to this advice. This is what we hope for.

We have a very good dialogue with each country of the European Union. Yes, we sometimes happen to disagree. We have problems with the Baltic countries, with Poland, but we are ready to talk about them. Especially because the Baltic states are our neighbours, and we have good trade and investment cooperation in business. There are also security issues, because NATO is pushing its units into Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia. It is too close to our borders. At the same time, NATO is moving away from implementing the understandings we reached following the initiative of President of Finland Sauli Niinisto concerning flight safety over the Baltic. We responded to it; our military proposed ideas that would help allay concerns. It is possible to talk with everyone. On a bilateral basis, even the Baltic countries show interest: President of Estonia Kersti Kaljulaid has visited Moscow. We are talking in a neighbourly way about what we can do so that people can live comfortably and there would be no security concerns. But the collective platforms – NATO and the EU – are dominated by mutual responsibility: the Russophobic minority in the EU imposed sanctions on Russia, punishing us for supporting the will of the people of Crimea. This position of the European Union is now extended every six months, and no one can do anything, although individually, they assure us that the majority already understands that this is a dead end and something needs to be done. We are patient people, but as long as the EU as an organisation is not ready to restore all the mechanisms of our strategic partnership – we used to have summits twice a year, a ministerial council that oversaw more than 20 sectoral dialogues, four common spaces … All that was frozen because someone decided to try to “punish” us. Funny, honestly.

We are always open to honest, equal and respectful dialogue both through the military and through diplomatic channels. We have a very good tradition with a number of countries, in particular, with Italy and Japan, the 2 + 2 format, when Sergey Shoigu and I meet with our colleagues, the four of us. This is a very interesting format. It enables us to consider security issues through the prism of diplomacy and vice versa – purely military issues in foreign policy. We had such formats with the Americans and the British – but they froze them on their own initiative. But with the Italians and the Japanese, we continue these processes.

Olga Belova: I seem to understand why they froze them. Because when you two come to the negotiations, it’s simply impossible to resist you in such a duo.

Sergey Lavrov: Oh, don’t say that. We are modest people. Modest and polite.

Olga Belova: You’re modest and polite – but are you ready to give everyone a second chance, as with Ukraine?

Sergey Lavrov: Some do not need to be given a chance – they already rely on their national interests, not on what some foreign brother tells them. But if someone digs in their heels and expects an apology from us – well, we have nothing to apologise for. Our actions are guided by international law, and the UN Charter. We respect the right of any nation to determine its own future. This also applies to the rights of national minorities, in Crimea or anywhere else. We are always ready for dialogue.

%d bloggers like this: