Lavrov Calls Out USA/NATO’s Role in Afghanistan Drug Trafficking

Lavrov Calls Out NATO’s Role in Afghan Drug Trafficking

Russia’s Foreign Minister says that NATO tolerates drug trafficking in Afghanistan — which continues to fund extremism in the region

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov always finds the most diplomatic ways to point out Washington’s innumerable international crimes.

During a discussion with Russian military officers last week in Moscow, Lavrov pointed to Afghanistan as an example of Washington’s longstanding policy of “managed chaos” in the Middle East. In the process, he also blew the whistle on NATO’s extremely high tolerance for drug trafficking:

The US operation against the Taliban and al-Qaeda was supported by all countries. It’s another matter that after receiving the international approval, the United States and its NATO allies, which took over in Afghanistan, started acting rather inconsistently, to put it mildly. During their operation in Afghanistan, the terrorist threat has not been rooted out, while the drug threat has increased many times over. The drug industry prospered. There is factual evidence that some of the NATO contingents in Afghanistan turned a blind eye to the illegal drug trafficking, even if they were not directly involved in these criminal schemes. Afghanistan is a separate case, although the current developments there, which are a result of the NATO operation’s failure, despite the carte blanche the bloc received from the international community, can be considered an unintended cause of managed chaos. In Iraq, Syria and Libya, this chaos was created intentionally.

Lavrov is being too gentle.

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As Wired magazine reported back in 2013, current U.S. policy in Afghanistan is to allow poppy fields to grow — and prevent Afghan forces from destroying them. You can’t make this stuff up:

[U.S. soldiers are] not allowed to actually step foot in [the Afghan farmer’s] many acres of poppy fields or damage the fields in any way.

They can’t even threaten to destroy the fields or send in Afghan troops to burn, plow under or poison the delicate, pastel-colored flowers.

Nor can they discourage poppy farmers, however gently, from growing their illicit crop, which is hardier and commands a higher price than alternatives such as wheat. Poppy cultivation has been illegal in Afghanistan since 2001 but still represents a full quarter of the country’s gross domestic product and a major source of revenue for the Taliban, to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars a year. Many of the middlemen who buy up raw poppy paste for onward sale to heroin-producers hail from the insurgent group.

Watch Lavrov “diplomatically” blow the whistle on this insane racket

Speech of Lavrov at the Military Academy of the General Staff

March 24, 2017

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s remarks and answers to questions during a lecture for senior officers of the Military Academy of the General Staff, Moscow, March 23, 2017

23 March 201714:21

http://www.mid.ru/en/foreign_policy/news/-/asset_publisher/cKNonkJE02Bw/content/id/2702537

For English subtitles click the ‘cc’ button on the bottom right.

 

Mr Kuralenko,

Comrade officers, colleagues, friends,

I am grateful for the invitation to speak at the Military Academy as part of the Army and Society series of lectures. The organisers are doing a great job supporting the tradition of unity of the people and the army, as it should be and has always been in the best years of Russia’s history. Today, we will focus on Russia’s role in international politics. This theme has always been of interest to our citizens, patriots, and all the more so to servicemen protecting our state.

How is the role of state determined in international politics? Just like in other social disciplines, there are specific fundamental values ​​and criteria in international relations for making judgments on that.

Geopolitical weight is among the most important ones. It is clear that a vast country like Russia, with its wealth of resources and unique geographical location spanning Europe and Asia, is unlikely to remain on the side, let alone be isolated from international processes, especially in the modern era when trade, economic, financial, information, cultural and human relations simply demand that our planet be united into one truly unified space.

I’m aware that some entertain the notion, which is eagerly picked up by Russophobes, that Russia’s vast geography took shape due to expansion resulting from an internal sense of insecurity. As if the Russians, who for several centuries expanded their territory, were trying to “push back” a potential aggressor. To this, I can say that the greatest misfortunes in the past centuries came to Russia almost always from the West, while Russia, according to Mikhail Lomonosov’s famous dictum, “expanded through Siberia,” bringing different peoples and lands in the East under its wing. Many centuries of experience of harmonious coexistence of different ethnicities and religions within one state now allow Russia to promote a dialogue and form partnerships between cultures, religions and civilisations, which is also what happens within the UN, the OSCE and other international and regional organisations.

Another hallmark associated with our vast Russian territory concerns respect for the state, which is the guarantor of the country’s unity and the security of its citizens. A strong state also underpins an independent foreign policy. In international relations, all of that is embodied in the notion of sovereignty.

The sovereignty of states, their equality as the main subjects of international relations, was substantiated and approved within the Westphalian system that took shape in Europe in the 17thcentury. Currently, these traditional notions are being questioned in a number of Western countries. They are trying to secure for themselves, for example, the ability to interfere in other people’s affairs under the pretext of non-compliance with all sorts of unilaterally engineered human rights concepts like the so-called “responsibility to protect.” We are against such a distorted interpretation of the most important universal international legal norms and principles. Healthy conservatism with regard to the inviolability of the stabilising foundations of international law unites Russia with most countries of the world.

Of course, it takes more than just the size of a country’s territory for it to be considered “big and strong” in today’s world. There is also the economy, culture, traditions, public ethics and, of course, the ability to ensure one’s own security and the security of the citizens under any circumstances. Recently, the term “soft power” has gained currency. However, this is power as well. In other words, the power factor in its broad sense is still important in international relations. Its role has even increased amid aggravated political, social, and economic contradictions and greater instability in the international political and economic system. We take full account of this fact in our foreign policy planning.

Thanks to its advanced nuclear deterrent capabilities, Russia plays an important stabilising role in global politics. At the same time, strategic stability for us is not confined to maintaining the nuclear balance between us and the United States. Given globalisation processes, the increasing mutual dependence of countries and the development of technologies, including military technology, we’re taking a broader view of this concept. In politics, strategic stability is a state of international relations that ensures strict compliance with international law by all countries and their associations, respect for the legitimate interests of all countries and peoples and non-interference in their political affairs. In the military context, it means consistently bridging the gap between military capabilities, ensuring a high level of confidence, transparency and predictability and abstaining from steps which may be perceived as a threat to the national security of other countries, forcing them to resort to retaliatory measures. We stand for the strengthening of all aspects of strategic stability which is the foundation for a lasting peace and reliable, equal and indivisible security for all.

Recently, there has been a push towards forcing the nuclear states to abandon their nuclear arsenals and banning nuclear weapons altogether. It is crystal clear that this is premature. Let me remind you that it wasn’t for nothing that the parties to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty wrote into it that the nuclear arsenals had to be fully scrapped but only in the context of general and complete disarmament. We are prepared to discuss the possibility of further gradual reductions in nuclear capabilities but only if we take all the factors influencing strategic stability into account and not just the quantity of strategic offensive weapons. Another reason why we’re prepared to discuss this issue is the growing sense of urgency about making this process multilateral. The restrictions on nuclear capabilities which Russia and the United States have repeatedly accepted for many years have led them to a situation where, essentially, they cannot proceed doing this on the bilateral basis.

We take pride in the fact that there has been a qualitative change in the Russian Armed Forces’ capabilities in recent years. It’s particularly important to note that the position of Russia today is that force can only be used in strict compliance with international law and its own laws and commitments – not to conquer, and not to export political ideas as repeatedly happened in world history and in our past history, for that matter, but to defend our most vital interests, when all other means have been exhausted, or to help our allies and friends at their request, as is happening today in Syria at the invitation of the country’s legitimate government.

Regretfully, not all countries in the world are so scrupulous in providing legal grounds for the use of military force. We have noted cases of loose interpretations of the UN Charter and of removing any boundaries for designating something a threat to one’s own security.

The negative trend of using economic tools of coercion is accelerating in international relations. These are diverse kinds of unilateral sanctions and restrictions that clash with the UN Security Council’s positions and prerogatives. As we know, there are attempts to use these tools on Russia, on the assumption that we are especially sensitive to this kind of influence.

However, it is impossible, and will remain impossible to ignore the fact that Russia is among the largest and most stable economies in the world. It is hard to overestimate its role in some fields of the global economy, particularly in energy, including nuclear energy.

Whether some people like it or not, Russia remains the economic centre of gravity for the post-Soviet countries. This objective factor, not Moscow’s mythical urge to “revive the empire”, underlies the movement toward Eurasian integration. We and our partners in the Eurasian Economic Union are linked in today’s globalised world by centuries-long economic and cultural contacts and the intertwined destinies of our nations. We also advance the EAEU’s foreign contacts to implement President Vladimir Putin’s initiative to form a multilevel integration model in Eurasia. Interest in this initiative is growing steadily.

Historical traditions should also be mentioned among the factors that determine a nation’s role in world politics. “History is the memory of States,” said Henry Kissinger, the theoretician and practitioner of international relations. By the way, the United States, whose interests Mr Kissinger has always defended, did not aspire to be the centre of the liberal world order for a greater part of its own fairly short history, and did not see that role as its preeminent mission. Its Founding Fathers wanted its leadership and exceptional nature to derive from its own positive example. Ironically, the American elite, which emerged as freedom fighters and separatists anxious to cast off the yoke of the British crown, had transformed itself and its state by the 20th century into a power thirsting for global imperialist domination. The world is changing, however, and – who knows – America might yet purify itself and return to its own forgotten sources.

Russia has its own experience with messianic fervour. Its current foreign policy is pragmatic, not ideological. Our country has its traditions and wholesome values, and we do not try to impose them on anyone. We warn our partners at the same time that when they are in Rome they should do as the Romans do.

After many centuries of trials, our country made it to the forefront of international and European politics under Peter the Great – his name graces one of the academies whose students, as I understand it, are here today – and then fully participated in European affairs during the Vienna Congress of 1814-1815. At that time, with the direct participation of Alexander I, a system for a balance of power that existed for many years and mutual recognition of national interests, precluding domination of any one state, was created in Europe.

The ensuing developments show us the futility of any efforts to drive our country out of the European or international arena. Resolving any pressing international issues without Russia became impossible. We can also see the major damage caused by such efforts to all the participants in this process. The collapse of the Vienna system (during which events such as the Crimean War of 1853-1856, the unification and the rise of Germany, and the final collapse of monarchy in France took place) resulted in the bloodletting of World War I. After it ended, Soviet Russia was left outside of the Treaty of Versailles, which largely predetermined its brief existence. The distrust of Western democracies and the reluctance to interact with us on an equal footing doomed the attempts to create collective security in Europe in the 1930s, which resulted in the even greater destruction of World War II. Only after it was over were the foundations of the international order laid with our active participation, which remain relevant to this day.

The UN is called on to play the central coordinating role in the international order. It has proved that there are no alternatives to it and that it enjoys unique international legitimacy despite all the shortcomings of this huge “organism” which unites almost 200 states. Russia supports ensuring the inviolability of the UN Charter’s key provisions, including those related to consolidating the outcomes of World War II. We support comprehensive efforts to expand the capacity of this international organisation to efficiently adapt to new international realities.

In modern Europe, the roots of many problems can be seen in the irrational and doomed desire to sideline Russia, the Eurasian power. NATO and EU expansion has reached the point where Ukraine and other CIS countries were all but presented a false choice: either you are with Russia, or with Europe. Such an ultimatum was beyond the capacity of yet inherently unstable Ukrainian statehood. As a result, a major crisis in the heart of Europe broke out directly on the borders of Russia and the West. Frankly, the prospects for its settlement and the implementation of the Minsk agreements have so far been bleak. First, this is due to the lack of political will and a realistic vision for the future of this country from the Ukrainian government, and due to its attempts to look for ways to resolve Ukrainian problems not on the basis of pragmatic interests in the name of national harmony and prosperity, but at the behest of external sponsors who have no regard for the aspirations of Russians, Ukrainians and Eastern Slavs, in general.

We do not see that our European partners are willing to work honestly in favour of creating a common security and cooperation space. A fair settlement of the Ukrainian crisis in line with the Minsk agreements, which we have consistently advocated, could become part of it. In general, the European Union has been tangibly “losing itself” recently. In fact, they are serving other people’s interests, failing to find their own unified voice in foreign affairs. We are patient people, and we will wait for our colleagues to realise that due to a number of reasons – including historical, geopolitical, economic, and cultural – we, Russia and Europe, need each other.

The historical, geopolitical, moral foundations that shape the foreign policy of Russia are solid and constant. They set the tone of our day-to-day diplomatic efforts which, in keeping with the Constitution, are guided directly by the President of the Russian Federation.

The world is really changing fast. Another “industrial revolution” is unfolding, and a new, more technologically advanced way of life is taking shape.  Uneven development, a wider gap in the wealth of states and nations, and the battle for resources, access to markets, and control over transport arteries are exacerbating differences. Competition is acquiring civilisational dimensions and becoming a rivalry of values and development models.

In the region of the Middle East and North Africa, the situation has reached a point beyond which lies the annihilation of states and of the regional political map. This widespread chaos has been conducive to an unprecedented increase in the threat of terrorism embodied by the aggression of the so called Islamic State and other similar groups. Global terror is a challenge to international security, and it can only be addressed by establishing a joint international coalition, acting on a solid legal basis — as Russian President Vladimir Putin suggested in his speech at the 70th United Nations General Assembly.

The redistribution of the global balance of power continues. We are witnessing new centres of economic power and associated political influence come into being in the world. The Asia-Pacific Region has established itself as the driver of the world economy. Latin American and African nations, which have considerable human and resource potential, are taking a more active role. These developments bring into stark relief the cultural and civilisational diversity of the modern world. The need to democratise relations between states is becoming a more pressing issue.

The formation of a polycentric international order is an objective process. It is in our common interest to make it more stable and predictable. In these conditions, the role of diplomacy as a tool to coordinate balanced solutions in politics, economics, finance, the environment, and the innovation and technology sectors has increased significantly. Simultaneously, the role of the armed forces as the guarantor of peace has increased too.

It is clear that there simply isn’t any other way except painstaking daily work to achieve the compromises necessary to peacefully overcome the numerous problems in the world. History shows that betting on hegemony and one’s own exceptionalism leads to greater instability and chaos.

There is an objective, growing need for Russia-advanced approaches to key modern issues that are free of ideology and rooted in the principles of multilateralism and respect for international law. More and more countries are coming to share these approaches, which strengthens Russia’s authority and its role as a balancing factor in world politics.

We do not favour confrontation or isolationism. Guided by the Foreign Policy Concept approved by President Vladimir Putin, we will continue to advance a positive agenda in our relations with our partners and neighbours, including the United States and the European Union.

Under the current circumstances, there is no alternative to an independent, pragmatic and multi-vector foreign policy based on the consistent defence of national interests along with the simultaneous development of equal cooperation with all who are interested in reciprocating. All our actions are aimed at protecting our sovereignty and creating conditions for the peaceful and sustainable development of Russia and the Russians.

Thank you for your attention. I will now take questions.

Question: Recent experience shows that, in terms of the damage they cause, aggressive actions in the media at times have consequences similar to the use of weapons of mass destruction. In your opinion, isn’t it time, at the UN, in the format of bilateral ties with other states, to move forward with drafting and signing a comprehensive treaty in this field, similar to strategic arms limitation treaties?

Sergey Lavrov: We’ve been working on this for several years now. Russia put forward an initiative that became known at the UN as International Information Security [Initiative]. It has been a subject of independent resolutions at a number of UN General Assembly sessions. While initially these resolutions were rejected by some of our Western partners, in recent years resolutions related to the UN contribution to international information security have been adopted unanimously.

Several years ago, a group of government experts was set up. It drafted a report that was approved by consensus at the UN General Assembly. The General Assembly expressed support for continuing this effort in the context of identifying specific cyberspace risks at present. Another government expert group was also formed, which is beginning to work. It is meant to prepare specific proposals in one and a half years.

I’d like to say right away that despite the apparently constructive participation of all states in this discussion, we are aware of the desire [of certain states] to limit themselves to discussions and not reach practical international legal agreements. So, alongside the work that I just mentioned, Russia and its partners, in particular in the SCO, have drafted a document entitled Code of Conduct for Cyberspace. It was also distributed at the UN and is designed to promote targeted dialogue on the legal aspects of this problem. Overall, we believe (and we have already submitted this proposal) that it is time to draft an international convention on cyber security, including the elimination of threats and risks related to hacking. We were the first to propose penalising and banning hacking within the framework of international law. We will see how those who are accusing Russian hackers of seeking to blow up the world in the style of James Bond will respond to this.

There is another important topic related to these issues. It concerns internet governance. For several years now a discussion on the democratisation of the internet and internet governance has been ongoing at the International Telecommunication Union. A very serious ideological struggle, if you will, is under way. Some people are upholding free market principles but there are also those who believe that farming out the internet to the free market is tantamount to giving it away to just one country. In this context, serious debate lies ahead.

We see all these problems. The majority of countries agree on the need to enforce some generally acceptable order. Focused work is under way but it is too early to expect any results yet.

Question: I am a participant in the Aerospace Forces’ operation in Syria, so my question is related to that country. The results achieved by the Russian centre for reconciliation in Syria show how effective it has been. At the same time such things as the search for missing persons and the return of POWs often encounter difficulties related to inter-agency coordination. Do you believe direct cooperation between the centre for reconciliation of opposing sides and the Russian Embassy in Syria in dealing with certain problems would be possible?

Sergey Lavrov: Actually, this comes as a surprise to me. I was under the impression (and I receive daily confirmation of it) that this cooperation exists. If you have facts pointing to insufficient cooperation in this respect, please let us know. The Russian Embassy in Damascus and the centre in Hmeymim are in daily contact on issues of both the centre’s practical operation and Syria’s international contacts with its foreign partners with our assistance. A delegation of MPs from Europe and the Russian Federal Assembly recently visited it. The Hmeymin centre and our Embassy were actively involved in organising that visit.

If you were somewhat concerned by the topic you mentioned – the exchange of POWs – perhaps the Embassy is not supposed to play a leading role in this process. As far as my colleague and friend Sergey Shoigu and I see our roles, the main objective here is to establish contact with those who are holding POWs who fought terrorists and extremists. The most important thing here is contact between military departments, intelligence services, the Hmeymim centre, our Turkish partners and other countries that have their special forces (or their representatives in other forms) on the ground and have influence with the militants. Politically, we actively cooperate with the Russian Defence Ministry through the Astana process. At the most recent meeting in Astana, a week ago, in addition to preparing constitutional reform, consolidating the ceasefire and developing a mechanism to respond to ceasefire violations, the topic of establishing dialogue between the parties to the conflict with the aim of exchanging POWs as a humanitarian confidence building measure was also addressed. I’m highlighting in particular the aspect you have mentioned. To be sure, things can always be better and communication can always be taken to a higher level. I assure you that the efforts of the Embassy and the Hmeymim centre are well coordinated.

Question: US President Donald Trump, in a recent statement, unexpectedly proposed revisiting the issue of reducing strategic arms as a platform for bargaining. Should strategic nuclear forces today be a subject of negotiations with the Americans or would it be advisable at this point to put them outside the bounds of Russian-US relations?

Sergey Lavrov: To a very large extent, President Trump’s position on the majority of key issues on the foreign policy agenda, including further steps to limit strategic nuclear weapons as you’ve mentioned, has yet to be finalised. By the way, if I remember right, Donald Trump mentioned the issue of cooperation with us in this field as an example. He was asked whether he would be prepared to lift sanctions on Russia. I believe that was the way the question was formulated. He responded by saying they should see if there were issues on which they could cooperate with Russia on a mutually beneficial basis in US interests, in particular, mentioning nuclear arms control. At the same time, as you know, the US president said the Americans should modernise and build up their nuclear triad. We need to wait until the military budget is finally approved under the new administration and see what its priorities and objectives are and how these funds will be spent.

As for our further conversation, I briefly mentioned in my address that we are ready for such a conversation but it should be conducted with acknowledgment of all strategic stability factors without exception. Today, those who propose implementing the so-called nuclear zero initiative as soon as possible, banning and destroying nuclear weapons and generally outlawing them absolutely, ignore the fact that since the nuclear bomb was made and this new kind of weapon began to be produced on a large scale in the USSR, the US, China, France and the UK, colossal changes have taken place in military science and technology. What is being developed in the US under the codename Prompt Global Strike are non-nuclear strategic weapons. If they are developed (and this work is moving forward very actively, with the objective of reaching any point in the world within an hour), of course, they will be more humane than nuclear weapons, because there will be no radiation, no Hiroshima or Nagasaki effect. However, in terms of military superiority, my friends at the Defence Ministry tell me the effect will be more devastating than from a modern nuclear bomb.

What’s more, our American partners are not abandoning the programme of deploying weapons in outer space, and they are essentially alone in voting against the initiatives co-sponsored by us, China and many other colleagues to commit not to do so. The Americans refuse to ratify the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, which is also an important strategic stability factor. And of course the global missile defence system has an absolutely direct impact on strategic stability.

Another point: imbalances in conventional weapons, which are also being modernised very quickly. We always begin our dialogue with NATO by stressing the need to restore normal relations. We propose normalisation and agreements on mutual verification measures but before that, it is necessary to sit down and look at what each of us has deployed in proximity to each other, as well as in the entire Euro-Atlantic region. There are a lot of factors that need to be considered if we want not simply to ban nuclear weapons as idealists, but to ensure peace and security in the world and ensure strategic stability that will be sustainable and based on global parity. Everything that I’ve mentioned needs to be discussed. I may have missed some other factors.

I should also add that restrictions imposed by Russia and the US on each other have reached a point where it is hard to say that we will be able to do a great deal together anymore. All states that have nuclear weapons should be brought in – importantly, not only those that have them officially but also de facto.

Question: The United States started using the so-called managed chaos technology long ago. What can be used to counter such technology on the international scale? Is there a response to the concept of global stability and security management? Which countries could potentially initiate this project?

Sergey Lavrov: The concept of managed chaos appeared long ago as a method of strengthening US influence. Its basic premise is that managed chaos projects should be launched away from the United States in regions that are crucial for global economic and financial development. The Middle East has always been in the focus of politicians and foreign policy engineers in Washington. Practice has shown that this concept is dangerous and destructive, in particular for the countries where the experiment was launched, namely Iraq, Libya, Syria, Yemen and Afghanistan.

In the case of Afghanistan, the United States launched its operation there with international support following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. The UN Security Council unanimously confirmed the US right to self-defence under Article 51 of the UN Charter. The US operation against the Taliban and al-Qaeda was supported by all countries. It’s another matter that after receiving the international approval, the United States and its NATO allies, which took over in Afghanistan, started acting rather inconsistently, to put it mildly. During their operation in Afghanistan, the terrorist threat has not been rooted out, while the drug threat has increased many times over. The drug industry prospered. There is factual evidence that some of the NATO contingents in Afghanistan turned a blind eye to the illegal drug trafficking, even if they were not directly involved in these criminal schemes. Afghanistan is a separate case, although the current developments there, which are a result of the NATO operation’s failure, despite the carte blanche the bloc received from the international community, can be considered an unintended cause of managed chaos. In Iraq, Syria and Libya, this chaos was created intentionally.

I have also mentioned Yemen. The situation there can be described as a huge humanitarian catastrophe. It is not at the top of the international agenda, for some reason, although representatives of the UN Secretariat who are responsible for humanitarian affairs have described the situation in Yemen as the “largest humanitarian crisis in the world”, larger than in Syria or Iraq. Responsible politicians have come to see that the managed chaos theory is destroying life in many regions. Some parties can benefit in the short term from fluctuations on the raw materials markets provoked by the revolutions orchestrated by external forces, but this theory ultimately backfires at its engineers and executors in the form of massive migration inflows, which terrorists use to enter these countries. We can see this in Europe. Terrorist attacks have been staged even in the United States. The Atlantic Ocean has not protected it from the terrorist threat. This is the boomerang effect. Serious people are coming to see this. Reliance on international law is the only weapon against this threat. The UN Charter offers the necessary tools for this. Military force can only be used by decision of the UN Security Council, or a country can resort to anticipatory self-defence in keeping with the spirit of the UN Charter when an armed attack is imminent and inevitable. Russia acts in keeping with these premises in its relations with other countries. China, India, Brazil and the majority of other countries share this view.

There is one more thing connected with the issue of managed chaos and its consequences.

The policy of countries in Africa and Latin America, as well as their regional organisations – the African Union and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) – is based on a formal principle on the unacceptability of the unconstitutional change of power via a coup d’état. Since this danger is not purely African or Latin American (we have seen it surface in other parts of the world), we have proposed that the UN General Assembly formalise the universal unacceptability of coups as a means of changing government. Last autumn, a resolution was adopted at the initiative of a large group of co-authors – our Cuban colleagues were among the most active advocates of this idea, alongside other countries. This resolution recognised the importance of creating a more democratic and equitable world order and openly rejected the change of governments through unconstitutional coups and attempts to interfere in the internal affairs of states and to impose alien ideas and values on them as unacceptable. It is also unacceptable when national jurisdictions are applied extraterritorially, when a country hunts down other countries’ legal entities and nationals around the world even though they have not violated international law but are believed to have violated the national legislation of the said country. Three countries voted against this resolution and a few dozen countries – mostly Western ones – abstained. The resolution was adopted by a far larger vote than some other resolutions that our Western partners like to quote, for example the resolution on the violation of human rights in Crimea.

Question: Because of the sharp decline in authority of international institutions, including the UN, the OSCE, and the Council of Europe which are potentially under the influence of their American partners and curators, the Russian Federation needs other alternatives to solve vital issues, sometimes directly with the heads of states including the US, Germany, India, China and other powers. Don’t you think we should resume direct state-to-state relations?

Sergey Lavrov: Direct state-to-state relations have never been suspended. In spite of the very tight agenda of international organisations, bilateral dialogue with the overwhelming majority of states has today become even more intensive. For now there is an objective pause in our relations with the US because our American colleagues, the new administration has not yet made all its post appointments for the leading positions at the State Department, the Pentagon and other agencies. In addition to departmental heads, their deputies have yet to be appointed, which calls for Senate approval. And it is unclear when these appointments will be made, so there is a natural waiting period. But I have met with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. As for the General Staff, several meetings have been held between the Chief of the Russian General Staff Valery Gerasismov and US General Joseph Dunford who heads the US Joint Chiefs of Staff. There has been contact on another level on how to avoid unforeseen and unintended incidents in Syria between the Russian Aerospace Forces and the US-led coalition. So, bilateral dialogue is important with any country. Regarding multilateral, universal and regional institutions, we are well aware of their shortcomings, but these are, if you like, inevitable.

The UN has 193 member countries. The West, Russia, China, India, Africa and Latin America – they are all interested in promoting their viewpoints on decisions that are taken and then implemented, or set the political agenda for further discussions. Of course, we would like to have a say on all these matters. From time to time our Western partners find a way to obstruct us, or put forward absolutely unacceptable ideas which we have to block. In such situations some “well-wishers” like to say that the UN has outlived its usefulness because the right of veto is abused and so on. This is disingenuous. The veto was included in the UN Charter at the insistence of the US after the League of Nations came to a sad end precisely because its activities and mechanisms did not provide for a special role of the big powers. Because of this the US decided that it had no time to just listen to moralising without being able to exert decisive influence. That’s why today the right of veto is not some kind of privilege, but an instrument for maintaining stability in international affairs which guarantees that no decision by the international community can be taken unless it is backed by the five permanent UN Security Council members. This needs to be understood.

Our French colleagues are pushing the idea that the UN Security Council members should voluntarily refrain from exercising their veto when mass human rights violations are involved. We asked them how they see it from the purely practical point of view. If there are 99 victims, this is not yet a violation, and if there are a hundred, we should refrain from using the veto? This is an old concept. Previously it was served “under the guise” of responsibility to protect, of humanitarian intervention, arguing that the international community had the right to intervene in certain conflicts regardless of UN Security Council resolutions if genocide or some other mass human rights violations are taking place in a country.  This is a mathematical approach. Who will determine whether or not mass violations are taking place? This is a very cynical approach, where they say that the death of one person is a tragedy, but a list of military casualties are statistics. You can discuss this at length, but the right of veto must remain part of any concept for reforming the UN Security Council. It needs to be reformed and made more representative. Without the right of veto by current permanent Security Council members it will be unable to function and will morph into an organ that rubberstamps shortsighted and ideologically charged documents. The OSCE does not have the veto right, but it has the principle of consensus which also sometimes leads to exhausting debates. Nevertheless consensus safeguards the interests of those who take part in that organisation. This can be useful in spite of all the criticism it incurs in connection with  OSCE activities in Ukraine. In any case the presence in that country of a special monitoring mission, which we support, helps to bring down the level of violence and keep the situation under control. We witnessed a flare-up of violence, for example, the day before yesterday the radicals from the Azov battalion were acting provocatively around Mariupol. The mission records these facts which we then use in our work with the Normandy four, at the Contact Group to motivate the Ukrainian authorities to stop sabotaging the Minsk Agreements.

I can cite some positive examples for any international organisation, but we have to keep in mind that none of them – neither the UN, nor the OSCE, nor the G20, not even BRICS or the SCO — will follow the wishes of any one country a hundred per cent. It’s always a compromise, a consensus or a balance of interests. As our President Vladimir Putin constantly stresses, we are not imposing anything on anyone, we are always ready to look for a balance of interests through mutual concessions with any country that is ready to talk with us as an equal. This is how diplomacy works. The same is true for bilateral relations. Sometimes it is even more difficult to reach an agreement bilaterally than multilaterally because in a multilateral format, say at the UN, you have allies you can call on and they will exert additional pressure. In bilateral talks your partner is sitting opposite you and it’s either you or him who gains the upper hand. It’s better that no one should gain the upper hand and that there should be a consensus. We are ready for this kind work, including, as I said, with the US because we are well aware what great influence the relations between the two biggest nuclear powers have on the overall situation in the world. We are prepared to exercise our responsibility for such influence through dialogue with the US.

Question: Today we see a growing split of the world political elites. There are globalists who express the interests of transnational corporations and world financial organisations and there is a new political concept, the so-called populists who express the interests of the people in their countries. A vivid example is the election of US President Donald Trump, and there are a number of other political leaders who are seen as fringe politicians in the West, for example Marine Le Pen. Given this, it is not by chance that Russia is seen as a leader in half of the world. Is this view justified? Can we talk about a future victory for one of these ideologies? How would this influence today’s world order?

Sergey Lavrov: I wouldn’t call Donald Trump or Marine Le Pen “fringe politicians” if only because they absolutely fit into the principles that underlie the functioning of the American and French states. Marine Le Pen is a European member of parliament and her party is active in the national parliament.  Donald Trump has been elected in full accordance with the American constitution, with its two-level indirect system of electing the president. I would not even call them populists. The word “populist” has a negative connotation. You said interestingly that populists are those who represent the people. There are nuances in the interpretation of the word “populist.” In modern Russian it tends to be applied to people who go into politics, but do not bear the responsibility for their words and just seek to lure voters. A populist is someone who might promise to triple wages while the budget absolutely cannot support it, etc. So I would rather call them realists or anti-globalists, if you like. Having said that, anti-globalists are also associated with hooligans who try to disrupt the G20 and G7 summits, and so on. Come to think of it, even now that the new president of the world’s largest power has declared that it is necessary to think not of global expansion, but of how America lives, the role of globalists will be changing. American corporations have already demanded a reduction in manufacturing in developing countries to move it to the US in order to create jobs there. Granted, this may not be very good news for the consumer because labour is more expensive in the US, so the prices for goods, cars and so on will increase. But this is the trend. In general, President Trump’s conceptual slogans during his election campaign to the effect that America should interfere less in the affairs of other countries and address its own issues send a very serious signal to the globalists themselves. Again, up until now the US has been perceived as a symbol of globalism and the expansion of transnational corporations. Those who represent their interests are the huge team that has taken up arms against President Trump and his administration and in general against everything he does, and which tries, in any way possible, to throw a spanner in the works. Something similar things are happening in France where mountains of compromising materials of ten or fifteen years ago have been unearthed which invariably are presented through an “anti-Russia prism.” It’s been a long time since I’ve seen such a dirty campaign when at stake are the concepts and ideas of how to develop the state and their country, and a smear war is being waged. We had this not so long ago, and I don’t see anything good about it.

In parallel the global market and the global trade system are being reappraised through the actions and statements of the new US administration. As you know, they have walked away from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, from the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership and said they would work through regional and bilateral agreements. We believe, though, that the World Trade Organisation which it took us such a long time to join did provide a common umbrella for world trade. Some regional structures could be built into these universal systems so as not to break the ties with the non-members of these regional organisations to maintain some common contact and exchanges through the WTO. That too is now under threat. So, we are in a period of rethinking our approaches, and I don’t think it has everything to do with Trump. These changes have been brewing; otherwise the American position on so many issues could not have changed so abruptly. They were long in coming, and the WTO was in a major crisis when the Western countries categorically refused to listen to the leading developing countries on a range of issues connected with investment, financial services, etc.

I wouldn’t say that there are globalists and populists. There are simply people who want to get elected and follow a well-trodden path and preserve the neoliberal structures that are all over the place in the West, and then there are people who see the neoliberalism and permissiveness which are part of the neoliberal approach as a threat to their societies, traditions and cultures. This is accompanied by philosophical reflections and practical discussions of what to do about the problem of illegal migrants, their own roots and religions, whether it is politically correct to remind people that you are an Orthodox or Catholic or whether you should forget about religion altogether. I have said more than once that the European Union wanted to adopt a constitution many years ago and was drafting it. The commission was headed by Giscard d’Estaing and he proposed a very simple sentence about Europe having Christian roots. He was prevented from doing so on the grounds that it would not be politically correct and would insult the Muslims. In reality it turns out that if you are cautious about making your religious roots known you end up not caring about the religious roots of others and the consequences are not usually good. Therefore, at the UN and UNESCO, we actively support all the initiatives that are particularly relevant today: the Dialogue of Civilisations, the Dialogue of Cultures and the Dialogue of Religions. It is not by chance that they have become topical issues on the agenda because they reflect the fermentation within societies and the need to somehow search for a national consensus.

Question: The traditional definition of war is “war is nothing more than an extension of state policy by alternate means.” We usually understand “alternate means” as military violence and therefore claim that war always involves military action. Do you think it would be correct to say that the nature of war has changed in contemporary circumstances, that is, now the term includes measures for information, economic, political and psychological impact?

Sergey Lavrov: You know, in the West they coined the term ‘hybrid war.’ As a matter of fact, this is the concept they seem to be forming based on their experience. Unilateral economic sanctions are definitely a declaration of war, no doubt about it. An information war is underway when slander becomes a mandatory condition for the media. This is an objective fact. These days we talk a lot about Syria. Allegedly, there is a non-governmental organisation called the White Helmets funded by several Western countries and countries in the Persian Gulf. A film about this organisation won the Oscar for best documentary this year. They present themselves as a humanitarian agency helping people attacked by bombs – particularly, in Syria. On several occasions, they were caught lying and showing staged video clips. For one such clip, they painted a girl with red paint and on camera she was sitting down and allegedly suffering from Russian and Syrian bombs. Several days ago in Geneva, an American journalist presented research in which he proved that the White Helmets are fake and that they only deal with developing falsified and provocative news, while dragging Russia, Iran, the Syrian government and armed forces through the mud. He also proved that they are providing direct assistance to terrorists and extremists, including medical supplies and equipment, and treating injured members of extremist groups. This is just one example. But anywhere you go, when I just try talking to my Western colleagues, the White Helmets are exempt from any criticism and seem to have a monopoly on the truth. There are many other tricks like that. Certainly, in a wider perspective, cyberspace is an area where there is a material possibility to inflict potentially very serious harm. Cyber forces were created and, apparently, they have some significance. This is exactly why we need forums where these things can be discussed as a single package. The military discusses purely military issues, which now extends to cyberwars. Those dealing with information and sharing experience are trying to convince each other that the media must be used not for provocation but to reconcile people. When it comes to the economy, it should be understood – and many have come to realise this – that unilateral sanctions will come back like a boomerang and hit the countries that joined them, especially small countries. It is very short-sighted to impose unilateral sanctions on a country like Russia, with its huge potential, human and natural resources. By encouraging dialogue in each of these areas to build a general understanding, mutually beneficial and generally acceptable approaches, we need a forum where all these issues can be considered in their relation to each other because they all affect the general status of international relations. Except for the UN, there is no other framework like this. This is a very topical issue and we have no doubt that it will be in the centre of very heated and engaging debates for the foreseeable future.

To be continued…

Many thanks to our research assistant Baaz for discovering the video.

Iraq Wants More Russian Weapons for Its War with IS

Iraq Wants More Russian Weapons for Its War with IS

PETER KORZUN | 25.02.2017 | WORLD

Iraq Wants More Russian Weapons for Its War with IS

Russia is considering Iraq’s request for arms supplies. The statement was made by a Russian official during the IDEX-2017 arms exhibition in Aby Dhabi. Federal Service for Military-Technical Cooperation (FSMTC) Deputy Director Alexei Frolkin said that Russian-Iraqi military technical cooperation “is developing quite effectively.” According to him, Russia is rendering significant military assistance to Iraq, which is fighting Islamic State (IS) militants.

On January 30, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that Moscow did not rule out the possibility of assistance to Iraq in the fight against the IS terrorist group if Baghdad shows such an interest. The statements on arms supplies come amid the ongoingoperation to liberate the Iraqi city of Mosul, which began in October, 2016. Iraqi troops have managed to advance in the eastern part of the city, but the western part – on the right bank of the Tigris River – remains under militants’ control.

Russiaand Iraq have a history of successful military cooperation. In October 2012, Iraq signed a $4.2 billion deal to include a combination of 43 Mi-35 (28) and Mi-28NE (15) attack helicopters, plus 42-50 Pantsir-S1 combined short to medium range surface-to-air missile and anti-aircraft artillery weapons systems. The contract was fulfilled last October as the attack helicopters and anti-aircraft systems had been delivered to the Iraqi military.

The Iraqi armed forces inventory also includes Russia-produced TOS1ABuratino heavy flame throwers, Grad truck-mounted 122mm multiple rocket launchers, 152mm MSTA howitzers, Su-25 attack planes and armored vehicles.

According to Rossiyskaya Gazeta, Russia-made weapons are widely used in the battle for Mosul.TOS-1A heavy flamethrower system is a 220mm 24-barrel multiple rocket launcher and thermobaric weapon mounted on a T-72 tank chassis. It is designed for defeating enemy personnel in fortifications, in open country, and in lightly armored vehicles and transport. In addition to traditional incendiary rockets, it can also fire thermobaric rockets. When fired, the rockets disperse a cloud of flammable liquid into the air around the target, and then ignite it. The explosion is significantly longer and the shockwave is much stronger than a conventional warhead. All the oxygen in the near vicinity is also consumed, creating a partial vacuum. It is a formidable weapon to strike terrorists hidden in bunkers and caves, like in Mosul, for instance. A full salvo of the system’s 24 rockets will make a rectangle 200 meters by 400 meters to incinerate more than eight city blocks.

The Wall Street Journal reported in December that a Russian Kornet anti-tank guided missile destroyed 120 IS truck bombs in Iraq. Reportedly, it obliterated a US-made Abrams tank. The Kornet can defeat reactivearmorand penetratesteel armorup to one meter deep.

Iraqi Mi28 and Mi-35 effectively launch attacks against IS positions in Mosul.

The military cooperation with Iraq – the country engaged in fierce fight against the IS – is part of a larger process.

Moscowis the key player in the Astana process aimed at achieving peace in Syria. It is expanding its naval base in Tartus as well as a new air base near Latakia, giving it a large, permanent military foothold to project power.

Turkey, a NATO member, is in talks with Russia regarding the purchase of advanced S-400long-range air defense missile systems. The parties are studying the prospects for boosting military cooperation in all areas, including procurement deals in electronic systems, ammunitions and missile technology. The related issues were discussed during the visit of General Hulusi Akar, the head of the Turkish armed forces’ General Staff, to Moscow last November.Moscowand Ankara are engaged in implementation of the ambitious Turkish Stream gas project.Turkeyhas even mentioned the possibility of joining the Shanghai Cooperation Organization.

Political forces in Libya have approached Russia for help. In January Eastern Libyan military commander Khalifa Haftar visited Russia aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov on patrol in the Mediterranean.

The Russian-Egyptian relationship has flourished recently, including intensive military cooperation.

Moscowenjoys close ties with Tehran, cooperating in Syria. Iran has recently boosted its anti-aircraft capabilities after receiving Russian S-300 air defense systems.

Russiaand Jordan cooperate in the anti-terrorist effort.

Russiaand Israel set a good example of avoiding conflicts and incidents: both countries do not interfere with each other’s activities in Syria.

Algeriais strengthening ties with Moscow. It has recently purchased 14 Su-30MKA fighters and 40 Mi-28 attack helicopters. Other contracts may follow as the country is facing a terrorist threat to make it strengthen its borders.

Moroccoand Tunisia are interested in strengthening its military capabilities with Russian weapons.

The military cooperation encompasses the Persian Gulf. Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu and Qatar’s State Minister for Defense Khalid bin Mohammad Al Attiyah signed a military cooperation agreement last September on the sidelines of the Army-2016 international military-technical forum in Kubinka near Moscow.

The success of the military operation, as well as Moscow’s staunch support of the ally in Damascus, boosts its clout in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). Moscow has become an important partner for regional powers regardless of their opposing interests.

Russia is back to the region as a major actor. It has turned the tide of the Syrian conflict to take control of the peace process. It has built a close relationship with Turkey, including joint military activities in Al Bab. It develops strategic relationship with Egypt, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Algeria and other countries, including Israel. According to Newsweek, over the past two years, Russian President Vladimir Putin has received the leaders of Middle Eastern states 25 times – five more than former US President Barack Obama, according to a Newsweek analysis of presidential meetings.

Russian military effort in MENA is gaining ground. High effectiveness of Russian weapons in the Syrian boosts the customer demand and, consequently, political clout. The military operation in Syria has greatly raised its regional profile. It prevented Islamic extremists from turning the country into a part of “caliphate” to encourage their supporters and sympathizers across the Muslim world.

Moscow is perceived as a pragmatic, savvy, no-nonsense player able to weigh in on regional matters by both diplomatic and military means. New alliances emerge and old friendships are revived to involve the countries long regarded as being within the Western sphere of influence. The political landscape of the region is going through fundamental changes, with Russia greatly influencing the process.

Good point: Lavrov Deep-Fries Merkel: US Tapped Your Phone, But You’re Whining About ‘Russian Hacking’?

Lavrov Deep-Fries Merkel: US Tapped Your Phone, But You’re Whining About ‘Russian Hacking’?

Russia’s Foreign Minister points out the obvious. Again.

A gentleman and a scholar
A gentleman and a scholar
It’s not even up for debate — Sergei Lavrov is in a league of his own. Russia’s Foreign Minister mutilates NATO press releases  in his sleep and eats Washington soundbites for breakfast — no salt.

As you are well aware, Sergei dropped a payload of painful truth on Mike Pence’s smug, smarmy face during the Munich Security Conference on Saturday. But that was just a warm-up. Pence is a small fish in a big ocean of idiots.

On the sidelines of the Munich conference, Lavrov participating in a meeting with top diplomats from the Normandy Four (Russia, Germany, France and Ukraine).

Angela Merkel used this opportunity to lecture Lavrov and the rest of the audience about the dangers of Russian hacking.

You think Lavrov just sat there and took it on the chin? No. When it was his turn to speak, he reminded the entire world that Angela Merkel’s phones were tapped by her “ally”, and that this is a confirmed fact, and that Angela Merkel is a sad puppet:

The German story was shown to be a fact. You know when it happened, several years ago. It was confirmed that top officials had had their phones tapped. And the other day there was a leak showing that the 2012 presidential election campaign in France coincided with cyber-espianage on the part of the CIA. And talking to a journalist today, a CIA representative said that he had no comments to offer.

So I repeat: show us the facts.

So basically Lavrov can check “told Merkel to her face that she’s a miserable witch” off his bucket list.

A true hero. Watch (starts around 6:40):

We love this man:

How Russia Implements the Minsk 2 Agreement, by Scott Humor

 

A few years ago, I was having coffee with my then-business partner. He happened to be in the middle of a process called “enrolling your child in a private school.”

In my naiveté I thought that this process was a fairly straightforward one: you give them your application and a check, and they accept your kid. But apparently, there were more people with money that this particular school was willing to take, and as it happened, his step-daughter didn’t get in the previous year.

“You didn’t accept my daughter last year,” he reminded the head of the admission office.

“I am sorry, but your application came in after the deadline,” she was on speakerphone, so I could hear her clearly. He looked at me and shook his head mouthing, “No, she is lying.”

“Are you aware that I am an alumnus of this school? I was there from kindergarten through high school. After school I served in the Army, got a master’s degree in engineering and I’ve been a military contractor for thirty years.”

“Oh,” she said. “I didn’t know that. Congratulations.”

“I’m also a certified explosives specialist, which means that I know how to defuse explosive devices and also how to set them up. I can make a powerful explosive from several common household items. If you don’t accept my daughter to your school, I am going to blow up your administrative building with all of you inside.”

“Oh,” she said. “I see. Well, there is no need for you to do that. There is no need to blow us up. We are accepting your daughter as we speak. She is already in.”

Later I asked why wasn’t he worried about her reporting him to the feds.

“She is not going to. She got my message. I reminded her that the school is a private club in which I, as part of its alumni, am a member, and she is a hired aid. It costs north of a half a million dollars to go from kindergarten to  graduation in this school. She is getting paid and has her job with the club members’ fees that I pay. If they treat me badly, other alumni will realize that the hired help took power over the club members. As a result, they might withdraw their support, the school will go bankrupt, and all those f-ing servants would lose their livelihood.”

Something similar took place in the UN building to Mr. Lavrov, Russia’s foreign secretary. He was known to smoke before, during, and after meetings, so the UN secretary Kofi Annan declared “a war on smoking” and started gathering petitions among the staff workers to ban smoking inside the UN building.

Everybody understood that the smoking ban was directed personally against Lavrov and everyone knew that this would put additional pressure on him during the long and stressful negotiations.

For 70-some years, no one even thought about banning smoking, and now this. It all, allegedly, ended when Sergey Lavrov told to Kofi Annan that the UN was a common home for its members. I.e., Anon was nothing but a hired manager, a fired help in essence. “Please, don’t try to tell us, the owners of this home, how to behave,” Lavrov said reportedly.

On February 18, a historic event took place that very few people even noticed. In a word, Russia has started implementation of the Minsk 2 Agreement.

A couple of weeks ago, in one of my previous SITREPs,  I wrote that Russia was about to start implementing the Minsk Accord, after the numerous demands to do so coming from the EU and the US parliaments and also from their individual member states.

Russia has the same level of the involvement in this agreement as Germany and France. The agreement was signed by the Kiev authorities and the authorities of the Donetsk and Lugansk republics. At the signature time, all three sides had the same questionable level of legitimacy, resulting from the violent armed coup and the civil war.

After the Minsk agreement was signed, Germany, France, the EU and the US imposed political, economic and military sanctions on Russia, which have been completely illegitimate. The sanctions have been imposed under a false pretense of making Russia fulfill the Minsk Agreement, which it is not a part.

Russia, in response, imposed several counter-sanctions on the EU members and the US.

The Presidential executive order to recognize the identification papers issued by the Donetsk and Lugansk Republics is in fact the unilateral sanctions that Russia imposes on Kiev authorities, France and Germany, the EU and the US in order for them to fulfill the Minsk-2 Agreement, which should result in cessation of all armed hostilities and withdrawal of all foreign troops, including all the NATO troops, the US, Polish, German and Canadian military advisers, the CIA and so on.

After the foreign troops have been withdrawn, the federalization of Ukraine will take place with local independent elections.

Again, the Minsk-2 Agreement is a pure genius document that lays out a road map for a peaceful liberation of Ukraine from the foreign military occupation and the transfer of political and state powers from the hands of foreign agents that took the power as a result of an armed coup, and transfer this power back into the hands of the people.

By this presidential order, Putin demonstrates to all the politicians involved in the Ukrainian crisis that people living on the territory called Ukraine are the club members, and the Western politicians subjecting the people to an endless bloody armed conflict are nothing but hired help gone mad.

In the following days more will be written and said about this presidential executive order. There is no doubt that it was a carefully calculated, timed, and prepared event. Below is the outline of the some steps taken before this degree was signed.

 

We have been waiting for this for so long…

Everyone is ready.

 

  1. Anti-terror forces

On Thursday, February 16th, Vladimir Putin took part in an annual expanded meeting of the Federal Security Service (FSB) Board to discuss the FSB’s results for 2016 and the priority tasks for ensuring Russia’s national security.

“Military-political and economic rivalry between global and regional policy makers and between individual countries has increased.

International terrorist groups, essentially terrorist armies, receiving tacit and sometimes even open support from some countries, take active part in these conflicts.

At the NATO summit last July in Warsaw, Russia was declared the main threat to the alliance for the first time since 1989, and NATO officially proclaimed containing Russia its new mission. It is with this aim that NATO continues its expansion.

They have stepped up the deployment of strategic and conventional arms beyond the national borders of the principal NATO member states.

They are provoking us constantly and are trying to draw us into confrontation.

 We see continued attempts to interfere in our internal affairs in a bid to destabilise the social and political situation in Russia itself.

We also see the recent serious flare-up in southeast Ukraine.

What is more, they (the current Ukrainian authorities) speak openly about organising sabotage and terrorism, particularly in Russia. Obviously, this is a matter of great concern.”

  1. Warning to people to stay home

On the same day, 16 February 2017, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a warning for Russian citizens travelling abroad on the risk of detention or arrest in third countries at the request of US law enforcement agencies or intelligence services

“The US continues the unacceptable practice of ‘hunting’ for Russian citizens around the world.”

“The number of such incidents now exceeds 30. In 2016, four Russian citizens were extradited to the United States: Maxim Senakh, Alexander Sergeyev, and Mikhail Serov from Finland, and Mark Vartanyan from Norway. Among the latest cases, we can cite the recent arrest of Stanislav Lisov in Spain.

We strongly recommend that Russian citizens, when planning travel abroad, weigh up carefully all the risks, especially if they have reason to believe that American law enforcement agencies might have demands in their regard. “

  1. Russia’s ultimatum

On February 18, Speaking at the Munich Security Conference Lavrov said:  Moscow as well will not lift counter-sanctions against the EU until Minsk deal is implemented

In essence, this is Russia’s unilateral sanctions against the EU and US. If the EU and US fail to do anything, there will be more sanctions.

“As our European partners are saying in regard to sanctions, I have already spoken on that matter. Since it is quite illogical and artificial to talk about the formula that Minsk agreements should be implemented by Russia then the European Union will lift sanctions. We also want the Minsk agreements to be implemented and our sanctions against the European Union would not be lifted as well until the Minsk agreements are implemented,” Lavrov said speaking at the Munich Security Conference.

  1. Moscow’s decision has been completely unforeseen and unanticipated

Lavrov didn’t mention the subject of validated IDs of Donbass resident at the Munich Security Conference and he didn’t mention this option during the Normandy Four meeting.

View image on Twitter
View image on Twitter

FMs met on sidelines | Главы МИД “Нормандской четверки” встретились «на полях» Мюнхенской конференции по безопасности

“The decree stated clearly this was made out of humanitarian concerns…until Minsk agreements have been fulfilled. The presidential decree validated IDs of Donbass residents so that they could enter Russia legally and use Russian rail transport and air carriers,” he explained.”

After the eruption of the crisis in Ukraine in 2014, over a million of Donbass residents applied for a refugee status and temporary shelter in Russia. According to Russia’s Federal Migration Service, more than 1 million people fled to Russia following the outbreak of the civil war in Ukraine, of whom approximately 600,000 decided to settle there permanently.

  1. A day before, on February 17th, Plotnitskiy and Aleksandr Zakharchenko made a very important statement

“we decided to implement a programme of humanitarian aid and environmental safety for our brothers and sisters living in Ukraine-controlled Donbass areas. The main guidelines for humanitarian assistance are medical and educational services, payments to veterans and assistance to divided families.

We wish to underscore that humanitarian foundations have been set up to support our fellow countrymen. The programme also envisions joint cultural, educational and sport events involving residents on both sides of the contact line.”

This means that people living on the territory of Donbass that is occupied by junta and foreign supra-national organizations like the EU and NATO will be able to get  the republics IDs, and will be able to travel to Russia visa free for work, education or leisure.

This indicates that the Presidential order concerns not just the Donbass republics but an entire population of Ukraine.

Executive Order on recognising documents issued to Ukrainian citizens and stateless persons living in certain districts of Ukraine’s Donetsk and Lugansk regions

Being guided by universally recognised principles and standards of the international humanitarian law and in order to protect the rights and freedoms of individuals, the President has resolved that temporarily, during the political settlement period of the crisis in certain districts of Ukraine’s Donetsk and Lugansk regions pursuant to the Minsk Agreements, personal identification documents, education and (or) qualification certificates, birth certificates, marriage, divorce, name change and death certificates, vehicle registration certificates, and vehicle registration plates issued by the corresponding authorities (organisations), valid in the specified district, will be recognised in the Russian Federation as valid for Ukrainian citizens and stateless persons permanently residing in those areas.

Pursuant to the Executive Order, Ukrainian citizens and stateless persons permanently residing in certain districts of Ukraine’s Donetsk and Lugansk regions can enter and leave the Russian Federation without applying for visas upon showing identification documents (birth certificates for children under the age of 16), issued by the corresponding authorities which are valid in the said districts.

The Government of the Russian Federation has been instructed to take the necessary measures to implement this Executive Order.

The Executive Order will come into effect upon its signing.

A few additional points

  1. On February 18th, the Red Star military TV channel posted two videos of what is a clear message from the Defense ministry that MIG-31 is able to fly in stratosphere and to shoot down satellites and ballistic missiles with R33 missiles.

This fighter jet is fully battle ready, it takes them about 7.5 minutes to reach the stratosphere

That’s how the Russian pilots see the earth from 21,500 meters at the speed of 2,500 k/h 

 

  1. Denazification of Ukraine is going at steady path: Ukrainian news sources report that in Munich airport Interpol arrested former commander of the punitive armed formation 11th battalion “Kievskaya Rus” Yuriy Starov. He was detained following the Simferopol court decision, on the charges brought up by FSB against Mr. Starov in relations to his activities during the war on Donbass. He is fighting an extradition, but it looks like the Kiev authorities won’t be able to prevent Germany from extraditing him to Russia, since as a  Crimean he is considered to be a citizen of Russia.
  2. If you are looking for a precedent, the South Ossetia and Georgia come to mind:

“Plainly speaking, Putin sent a wire to Poroshenko, with simple and clear message, “Peter, dot. Remember the South Ossetia, dot. Take care of yourself, dot. Putin, dot.” Upon hearing about this decree, I immediately imagined future developments, based on the experience of the Georgian-Ossetian conflict. Georgia  had “experimented” with the population of South Ossetia prior to the Russian intervention, and tried to “experiment” after, but not for long. It all had started when Russia and South Ossetia signed an agreement on the reconstruction of damaged infrastructure, which implicitly recognized the Republic, and it ended with the Russian troops responding to the direct aggression of Georgia, after which Russia recognized the South Ossetia and Abkhazia. However, in this scenario, Russia didn’t have a need to recognize passports of the South Ossetia, which the Republic started issuing in 2006, as all the residents of the republic at that time have already had the Russian passports.”

Veritas:Meanwhile Porkie invites VP Pence to come to Ukraine and whines about what the Russians are doing in Donbass. The “Normandy 4” all agree steps and again the whinney FM of Ukrnazi land dismisses the meeting to Reuters as soon as he leaves……well I suppose they have insane McCain to keep them warm at night!

The Kulak: “I still think Putin has the radar data showing a (Georgian) Air Force SU25KM, likely with a Georgian pilot, ambushing the airline after being vectored to it from a controller on the ground, most likely at the Dnepro tower controlled by Ihor Kholomoisky. This is why he is acting as if he has a ‘Trump card’ pun intended in the coming negotiations with the Trump Admin over Ukraine.

Someone who did not wouldn’t double down or take a tougher negotiating line as they did over the Munich Security Conference weekend by announcing LDNR citizens will now have their documents recognized in the RF, which of course is a preliminary step as everyone understands to giving Donetsk or Lugansk residents Russian passports. The kompromat Putin has on the false flag group that carried out MH17 (with clear coordination with the CIA, if not direct Langley involvement for deniability purposes, since the CIA’s people orchestrated the media hate campaign that was prepackaged as it were) is along with the Polish/Right Sector combined team Maidan snipers IDs and other Russian SIGINT we don’t know of the ‘high card’ in the coming talks.

Per the Kulak: John Helmer: US Navy releasing no pics/video of latest SU24 flyby incident in Black Sea, USS Porter may’ve been closer to Crimea than USN admits

“The US nuclear-armed missile destroyer, USS Porter, was steaming full-speed across the Black Sea in the direction of the Russian coastline, its Tomahawk firing radars activated, when a Russian airborne signals reconnaissance aircraft and three SU-24 fighter-bombers arrived in three waves. The US European Command headquarters in Stuttgart announced that the incidents had occurred on Tuesday, February 14, calling the Russian flights “unsafe and unprofessional”, putting the vessel and the militaries of the US and Russia at risk of “accident or miscalculation.”  The Pentagon repeated the exact words after daylight broke on the same day in Washington. But that was four days after the incidents had  actually taken place on Friday, February 10. The Russian Defense Ministry replied in the Moscow evening of February 14 that there “were no incidents”.”

This is how NATO ends:  Not with a bang but a whimper

This is how NATO ends: with the quiet shuttering of an irrelevant Brussels office building in September 2020. http://atfp.co/2l3rnuY 

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We Are Living in a ‘Post-Truth’ Era

lavrov21

By Richard Edmondson

Recently Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov made an interesting comment. He described the time we are living in as a “post-truth” era. It’s a very apt, on-target description.

Lavrov made the comment at the Munich Security Conference, held February 17-19 in Munich, Germany. In his remarks at the gathering he spoke of the need for nations to seek harmony by advancing justice and also by practicing “modesty,” as he termed it. It’s hard to find fault with such a proposal.

“If everyone adopts that approach,” said Lavrov, “we could overcome the period of post-truth fast and resist information wars imposed on the international community.”

“Information wars” in a “post-truth” era–this of course is what we are experiencing now.

Lavrov also said that the expansion of NATO “has led to an unprecedented level of tension over the last 30 years in Europe,” and yet Russia now nonetheless seeks a relationship with the US based upon “pragmatism, mutual respect, and an understanding of special responsibility for global stability.”

Compare Lavrov’s remarks to those of Vice President Mike Pence, who represented America at the conference. Pence alluded to President Trump’s desire for better relations with Russia, but at the same time he also adopted a belligerent tone, calling for Russia to be held “accountable” for events in Ukraine.

“In regard to Ukraine we must hold Russia accountable and demand that they honor the Minsk agreements, beginning by deescalating the violence in eastern Ukraine,” Pence said.

He also spoke of “Russia’s efforts to redraw international borders by force,” an apparent reference to the alleged “forced annexation” of Crimea. Despite claims perpetually made by the media in this post-truth era, Crimea was not annexed by force. A referendum was held there on March 16, 2014 in which more than 96 percent of the people voted to join Russia. The referendum took place after the US had sponsored a coup in Kiev, overthrowing the legitimate, democratically-elected government.

One wonders: does Pence believe the US should be held “accountable” for organizing the coup which triggered the Ukrainian conflict in the first place? Apparently he does not.

Another US speaker at the conference in Munich was Sen. John McCain, who discussed what he views as the indispensable role that America and the rest of the West have played in advancing “truth,” and in advancing the current global order as well as the “prosperity” that the West now supposedly enjoys.

“We must take our own side in this fight,” said McCain. “We must be vigilant. We must persevere. And through it all, we must never, never cease to believe in the moral superiority of our own values—that we stand for truth against falsehood, freedom against tyranny, right against injustice, hope against despair.”

McCain made no mention of America’s shameful support for terrorists in Syria, and it defies logic of course to describe the US, whose mainstream media are widely recognized as the number one purveyors of fake news, as standing “for truth against falsehood” in today’s world.

The Arizona senator also described the West as having ushered in an “unprecedented period of security and prosperity that we have enjoyed for the past seven decades”–and of course for the wealthiest one percent, we are, no doubt about it, in an “unprecedented” period of prosperity. But the unemployment rolls and the numbers of homeless people on the streets of America would suggest that the “prosperity” has not been enjoyed by all. McCain may not be “certified,” as such, but he does appear to be a fully-fledged lunatic.

The unprecedented period of security and prosperity that we have enjoyed for the past seven decades did not happen by accident. It happened not only because of the appeal of our values, but because we backed them with our power and persevered in their defense. Our predecessors did not believe in the end of history—or that it bends, inevitably, toward justice. That is up to us. That requires our persistent, painstaking effort. And that is why we come to Munich, year after year after year.

McCain objectified his laudatory comments in terms of “the West,” for of course he was speaking at a conference held in the EU. But in his use of the words “we” and “us,” what he really meant was America. America is the “indispensable” and “exceptional” nation–this is the ideology relentlessly, one might even say fanatically, adhered to by US leaders and the mainstream media.

So it seems that while we get truth out of a Russian official like Lavrov, we get delusions, reverie, fantasy, and outright lies from our own leaders. Americans, I would say for the most part, are good, decent people. How did we end up in this fix?

Perhaps worth recalling are the words of Jesus: “The last will be first, and the first will be last.” If that principle applies to nations as well as to individuals, then the implications for America are not good.

By the way, those words–about the last becoming first and the first becoming last–appear in one form or another in Matthew 19:30 and again in 20:16, as well as in Mark 10:31 and Luke 13:30. Additionally, in Luke 9:48 we have Jesus telling his disciples that, “the one who is least among all of you is the one who is the greatest,” this after overhearing them arguing about which one was to become the “greatest.”

And let us not forget also the episode related in the Gospel of John of Jesus washing his disciple’s feet. What we can conclude, then, is that the practicing of humility was a central tenet of Jesus’ teachings. Perhaps little wonder that Jesus was not terribly popular with his fellow Jews. Jewish “exceptionalism” (or more specifically “chosenness”) was, and still is, a central component of Judaic belief.

And yes, what we have in America are leaders who, rather than practice humility, spout boastful words like McCain’s. Thus it should come as no surprise we now find ourselves in a “post-truth” era. After all, boasting and lying are two human traits which go very much hand in hand.

I often wonder when, if ever, we will have a leader who will make Americans proud to be Americans again. Sadly it has been a very long time since we had one.

De Mistura between Lavrov, Al-Jubeir, and Guterres دي ميستورا بين لافروف والجبير وغوتيريس

De Mistura between Lavrov, Al-Jubeir, and Guterres

Written by Nasser Kandil,

فبراير 7, 2017

Since his assuming the mission of the UN Envoy in Syria Steffan De Mistura was a mediator in promoting the sectarian formula to reorganize the state in Syria by the force of the war waged by the alliance extends from Washington to Al-Qaeda organization including Turkey, France, Saudi Arabia, and Israel, but he determined to make Syria surrounded by a region that feels hostility toward it starting from Al-Qaeda organization represented by Al Nusra front towards which he was keen on creating formulas to improve its position as money laundering returning from the sale of drugs, and the Saudi Israeli bilateral with which he has relations starting from the money and ending with the intelligence work with Israel, since he was an envoy in Lebanon sponsoring the hostility toward the resistance. De Mistura is the owner of the theory of the inspiring Lebanese example for the political solution in Syria in a call for a settlement that ensures the presidency of the President Bashar Al-Assad but by making the presidential position for his sect without powers and making the position of the Prime Minister belong to a sect that is controlled by Saudi Arabia with powers that drive Syria to a path similar to the path of Lebanon after Taif Agreement but without an  auspices as provided by Syria to Lebanon.

The balances of the ruling powers of the first stages of De Mistura’s mission were providing his project the prosperity, so it was an opportunity to reveal his cards which were no longer hidden for each one who dealt with the issue entitled the political solution in Syria, and because Moscow before its military involvement in Syria was dealing with the political endeavors and preventing the employment of  the decision of the war in the philosophy of politics, it was witnessing De Mistura’s plots and clashing with them, towards the stages when the Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov who was concerned in following up the political issue of Syria was forced to talk about De Mistura in a language that beholds him the responsibilities of supporting the terrorism and the postponement in doing what is needed, being away from accomplishing his duties and mobilizing his position as a UN envoy unfairly. Many times De Mistura has disabled Russian initiatives as the attempt of expanding the delegation of the opposition, or neglecting the talk about a ruling transitional body in order to go to a political ceiling for a solution that stems from the Syrian constitution and includes its modification and holding the elections on its basis. Lavrov does not forget the interferences of De Mistura in the Security Council in which he did not hesitate to accuse Russia of committing war crimes. Syria as well cannot forget all the collisions with De Mistura and his malignant behavior, as well as his conspiracies in the essence and in the details.

The coincidence between the victory of the Syrian army supported by its allies in Aleppo and the election of Antonio Guterres as a new Secretary-General of the United Nations has formed a change in the destination of the surrounding circumstances with the work of De Mistura whose his task will end in Spring unless renewed by Guterres. The information says that the understanding which enabled Guterres to occupy the position includes an agreement with Russia to exempt De Mistura from his tasks and nominating an alternative that is agreed upon with Moscow. In the beginning of the year, De Mistura has been notified by the Secretary- General the ending of his tasks in spring, so he assumed to coordinate with Russia and through the withdrawal of the veto on the continuation of his tasks. It seems that this has happened with the positions which expressed by De Mistura recently, that includes the formation of a delegation that gathers the formations of the opposition by consensus or by force, and a political ceiling that includes the government, constitution and elections. The campaign organized by the opposition that lives in Riyadh against him was just the echo of the Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir to restore the changeable UN envoy, while the interference of the Secretary-General of the United Nations to support him was just the echo of the understanding between Gutterres and Lavrov.

Once again after the victory of Aleppo and Astana Path the role of the UN envoy in the United Nations has moved to be under the test, to see his concordance with the variables, will De Mistura succeed or fail?

Translated By Lina Shehadeh,

دي ميستورا بين لافروف والجبير وغوتيريس

فبراير 3, 2017

ناصر قنديل

– منذ توليه مهمته كمبعوث أممي في سورية كان ستيفان دي ميستورا وسيط تسويق الصيغة الطائفية لإعادة تنظيم الدولة في سورية، بقوة الحرب التي يشنها الحلف الممتد من واشنطن إلى تنظيم القاعدة وبينهما تركيا وفرنسا والسعودية و«إسرائيل»، لكنه عقد العزم ليكون لسان حال منطقة وسط هي الأشد عداء لسورية، بين تنظيم القاعدة ممثلاً بجبهة النصرة التي كان يحرص على ابتكار صيغ تبييضها، كما يتم تبييض الأموال العائدة من بيع المخدرات، ومن جهة مقابلة الثنائي السعودي «الإسرائيلي» الذي تربطه به علاقات تبدأ من المال وتنتهي بالعمل الاستخباري مع «إسرائيل» منذ كان مبعوثاً في لبنان يرعى العداء للمقاومة. ودي ميستورا هو صاحب نظرية انموذج اللبناني الملهم للحل السياسي في سورية، بدعوة لتسوية تثبت رئاسة الرئيس بشار الأسد، ولكن وفقاً لجعل المنصب الرئاسي لطائفته ونزع صلاحياتها، وجعل رئاسة الحكومة من موقع طائفي تتحكّم به السعودية وبصلاحيات تأخذ سورية لمسار شبيه بمسار لبنان بعد الطائف، ولكن من دون رعاية كالتي وفرتها سورية للبنان.

– كانت موازين القوى الحاكمة للمراحل الأولى من مهمة دي ميستورا تتيح لمشروعه فرص الحياة، ولذلك كانت فرصة ليكشف أوراقه التي لم تعد خافية على كل من تعاطى عن كثب بالملف المسمّى الحل السياسي في سورية، ولأن موسكو منذ ما قبل انخراطها العسكري في سورية تقف على بعض المساعي السياسية وتوظيف منع قرار الحرب في فلسفة السياسة، كانت تشهد مؤامرات دي ميستورا وتشتبك معها، وصولاً لمراحل كان وزير الخارجية الروسية سيرغي لافروف المعني بمتابعة الملف السياسي لسورية، يضطر للحديث عن دي ميتسورا بلغة تحميله مسؤوليات الدعم للإرهاب والمماطلة بالقيام بالواجب والانحراف عن المهمة، وتوظيف صفته كمبعوث أممي بصورة غير نزيهة، وكثيراً ما عطّل دي ميستورا مبادرات روسية من نوع توسيع وفد المعارضة أو تخطّي الحديث عن هيئة حكم انتقالي للذهاب إلى سقف سياسي واقعي للحل ينطلق من الدستور السوري ويتضمّن تعديله وإجراء انتخابات على اساسه. ولم ينسَ لافروف مداخلات دي ميستورا في مجلس الأمن التي لم يتورّع خلالها عن اتهام روسيا بارتكاب جرائم حرب، أما سورية فلا يمكن أن تنسى كل محطات التصادم مع دي ميستورا وسلوكه الخبيث ولا مؤامراته في الجوهر وفي التفاصيل.

– شكّل التزامن بين انتصار الجيش السوري مدعوماً من حلفائه في حلب، مع انتخاب أنطونيو غوتيريس كأمين عام جديد للأمم المتحدة، متغيّراً في وجهة الظروف المحيطة بعمل دي ميستورا، الذي تنتهي مهمته في الربيع ما لم يجدّدها غوتيريس. والمعلومات تقول إن التفاهم الذي سمح لغوتيريس بالفوز بالمنصب تضمّن اتفاقاً مع روسيا بإعفاء دي ميستورا من مهامه، وتسمية بديل عنه يتفق عليه مع موسكو. وفي مطلع العام تبلّغ دي ميستورا من الأمين العام إنهاء مهامه في الربيع، فتعهد بالتنسيق مع روسيا وسحب الفيتو عن مواصلة مهامه، ويبدو أن شيئاً من هذا قد حصل مع المواقف التي عبّر عنها دي ميستورا مؤخراً، وما تتضمّنه من تشكيل وفد جامع للمعارضة بالتراضي أو بالإكراه، ومن سقف سياسي يتضمّن حكومة ودستوراً وانتخابات. وما الحملة التي نظّمتها المعارضة المقيمة في الرياض عليه إلا صدى لصوت وزير الخارجية السعودية عادل الجبير لاستعادة المبعوث الأممي المتبدّل، بينما تدخل الأمين العام للأمم المتحدة لدعمه ليس إلا صدى التفاهم بين غوتيريس ولافروف.

– انتقل مجدداً مع انتصار حلب ومسار أستانة، دور المبعوث الأممي والأمم المتحدة ليكون تحت الاختبار لدرجة ملاءمته للمتغيرات، ينجح دي ميستورا أو يفشل!

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