Putin and Russia: So what is it that Putin has done that doesn’t satisfy you, comrade communists?

Putin and Russia: So what is it that Putin has done that doesn’t satisfy you, comrade communists?

July 22, 2019

By Viktor Anisimov
Translated by Ollie Richardson and Angelina Siard

Source: https://cont.ws/@fybcbvjd/1392576

So what is it that Putin has done that doesn’t satisfy you, comrade communists?

Recently our resident (users of the “Cont” website) “communists” who are furiously criticising Putin again became more active. For what? Well, for anything, Putin doesn’t please our red-bellied guys, and that’s all.

Perhaps it is necessary for these faultfinders to see Putin furiously shaking his fists and threatening the whole world with an “atomic bludgeon”; to see in Putin the “double of comrade Kim”, threatening the US with his missiles? Or the “double of Trump”, who doesn’t shun to launch missiles at a sovereign and independent country?

Putin is not as they want to see him.

I would like to draw the attention of these people to the following circumstances. Let’s briefly run along Putin’s biography.

The political career of Putin started in 1990. Still being an employee of KGB, he was appointed to the position of the adviser to the chairman of the St. Petersburg city council.

Putin is often reproached for “carrying Anatoly Sobchak’s bag”. But in reality it was a developed and brilliantly performed KGB operation that aimed to introduce Putin into the security structures of Russia. It’s not known if Putin took part in the development of this operation himself. And it’s unlikely that we will learn about it one day.

Further there is the “Moscow period” of Putin’s career. The year of 1996. Pay special attention to this date.

After Putin’s move to Moscow in 1996, he was appointed as the deputy head of department of the Russian President. This position is much higher than all his previous positions. And just two years later he became the head of Federal Security Service.

In 1998 Putin is already the “head of the FSB”! A meteoric career, don’t you think?

Already at that time Putin obtained the rank of an incorruptible and experienced head with a great influence.

In 1999 “certain comrades”, perhaps also led by Putin, made an offer to Yeltsin that the lover of power couldn’t refuse. Yeltsin had to delegate power to Putin in exchange for lifelong guarantees. During this same year Yeltsin appointed Putin to the position of the Russian Prime Minister.

The year 2000, Putin becomes the President of Russia.

In only four years, Putin, from an unknown “colonel of the KGB”, reached the top of power. He became president and Supreme Commander. He stood at a wheel of the country, which was nearly breaking up into “appanage principalities”. He stood and prevented the disintegration of Russia quickly and ruthlessly. The regional elites were tamed or jailed “for corruption”.

Back then something similar to what is depicted on this map was prepared for us.

Ollie's MacBook:Users:O-RICH:Downloads:maxresdefault (168).jpg

But, Putin came………

And our Motherland, our Russia, was saved from disintegration and collapse.

Now about the “indecision and sluggishness of Putin” that he is criticized for by both the “right”, and the “left”! By both communists and liberals. I ask to consider one thing: Putin is always guided by expedience and what is beneficial for Russia. Always. And takes the necessary actions at the precisely calculated time, with precisely calculated effort.

Let’s remember, in 90’s the so-called ” Semibankirshchina” – the seven richest and influential people in Russia – ruled Russia. They ruled and impudently plundered Russia. They literally “kicked open the door of the president’s office”, they were the real rulers of Russia. Everything was in their power.

Putin considered it expedient to destroy “semibankirshchina”. It was destroyed, quickly, effectively, and ruthlessly. Where now are these people who at the time were the most powerful in Russia? Their fate was sad, some have already passed on, and some are still alive and have been deprived of all their assets and billions, leading a miserable existence. Some were left a little bit of money “for life”, as an example for others.

Khodorkovsky – the person who imagined himself almost as a god; the person who wanted to rule Putin; the person who decided that he is allowed to hand over Russia to the West! Putin decided that it would be expedient to boot Khodorkovsky. Khodorkovsky was jailed – qualitatively and for a long time. His billions and assets were nationalised.

Putin is a pragmatist, and in some measure a ruthless person obsessed with one idea. This idea is Russia! Everything that goes for the good, and for the benefit of Russia, should be done. And it is being done!

Thus practically all mineral deposits, oil, and gas handed over to the West in the 90’s by this same “semibankirshchina” were returned in Russian jurisdiction.

From the 260 Production Sharing Agreements concluded in the 90’s, in accordance with which the US and other countries of the West got bagels, Putin quietly and noiselessly, without waving red flags, without menacingly shaking fists, without shouting out trenchant slogans, cancelled 258 of them, and for the two that remained the conditions were revised in favour of Russia. Now the “bagels”, sorry, money, goes to the budget of Russia, and the US, and those like them, receive the holes from the bagels.

This, of course, can’t please either the US or the other countries of the West. And of course, they don’t like Putin very much. And in exactly same way, Putin is not liked either by our communists or our liberals. A strange and interesting coincidence of interests.

Now a little about the “indecisiveness and cowardice of Putin” in terms of foreign policy.

I will not speak in a circumlocutory manner, I will just mention his “Munich speech” in 2007, in which Putin, on behalf of Russia, imperiously declared Russia’s claims for “a piece of the world pie”.

In 2014 Putin decided that it would be reasonable and useful for Russia to attach Crimea. The operation was performed resolutely, accurately, and without glancing back at the “world’s opinion”! Do you think Putin did not count all the consequences of this step? You simply do not know Putin. Putin calculates all of his moves way in front. Like the grand master – nine moves ahead.

I am often told that in 2014 Putin could have easily taken all of Ukraine for himself too. He could have – back then in the military sphere the UAF was simply not able to show at lease some resistance to the army of Russia. In 2015 Putin considered it expedient to destroy ISIS on the territory of Syria, and ISIS was thus destroyed.

Putin considered it expedient and useful for Russia to support the president of Venezuela, and Guaido’s putsch failed, and the US silently sulked.

We know little, only what is shown to us by our and foreign media, which also doesn’t know any more than we do. And so we, with our “knowledge” scraped from the media, undertake to criticise Putin, who possesses considerably more knowledge than we do, saying that he “was mistaken”, that he “did not venture”, that he “was afraid”, and so on.

In our faultfinding we resemble these “internet experts”, I only ask that offense isn’t taken if someone recognizes himself or herself in this description.

As I already said, Putin is pragmatic and ruthless. Putin was criticised also for the fact that he didn’t give the order to the Russian Air Force in Syria to down the missiles of the western coalition and to destroy the carriers of these missiles. You simply do not know Putin – if he did not give the order, then it means that he considers it to still be inexpedient.

If this step will be expedient, if Putin will consider it to be useful for Russia, then he will give this order without hesitation, with his quiet and inexpressive voice. If Putin will consider the destruction of all NATO countries, with the US at the head, to be expedient and useful for Russia, then he will give such an order – the NATO countries will disappear.

If Putin will consider liquidating the “fifth column” in Russia, as well as all liberal and communist movements, to be useful and reasonable, then it will be done – quickly, accurately, and ruthlessly.

So who you are, “comrade Putin”? And who sent you to Russia, literally at the “last moment”? When it already seemed that Russia died and disappears from the world map! So who you are, the saviour of Russia? Will we have answers one day?

Who knows? Perhaps in 20 years it will be declassified.

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Pentagon Angst over China-Russia Strategic Unity

Global Research, July 22, 2019

Sino/Russian unity represents a vital anti-imperial alliance. A DOD/Pentagon white paper called Russia a strategic US  threat, especially united with China.

NYT editors addressed the issue, falsely calling both countries “adversaries.” Indeed they’re “growing closer,” both nations portrayed as strategic threats to US rage for global dominance.

The Times:

“(S)ince Western nations imposed sanctions on Russia after it invaded Ukraine in 2014 (sic), Chinese and Russian authorities have increasingly found common cause, disparaging Western-style democracy (sic) and offering themselves as alternatives to America’s postwar leadership.”

“Now China and Russia are growing even closer, suggesting a more permanent arrangement that could pose a complex challenge to the United States.”

Fact: No Russian Federation invasion of Ukraine or any other country occurred — a US/NATO specialty, not how the Kremlin operates.

Fact: So-called “Western-style democracy” is pure fantasy, not the real thing.

Fact: The US poses an imperial threat to Russia, China, and other countries, not the other way around.

China’s Xi Jinping earlier called Sino/Russia ties stronger than ever, the “best in history,” both nations “each other’s most trustworthy strategic partners,” adding:

“President Putin and I have built good working relations and a close personal friendship” — bilateral ties deepening, Xi calling Putin his “best and bosom friend.”

Leaders of both nations regard each other as key strategic allies — a vital counterforce to endless US aggression, threatening world peace, stability, and security.

Both countries rely on mutual cooperation, sharing a multi-world polarity worldview. They’re jointly implementing Beijing’s hugely ambitious One Belt One Road initiative for greater regional integration and development, involving well over $1 trillion in longterm investments.

The 2,500 mile Power of Siberian pipeline, linking Russia’s Far East to China to be completed this year will supply around 38 billion cubic meters of Russian natural gas to China annually for 30 years, according to agreed on terms between Gazprom and the China National Petroleum Corporation.

Construction of the Power to Siberia-2 pipeline will deliver another 30 billion cubic meters of Russian natural gas to China via a Western route – both projects and other major ones of huge importance to both countries.

Putin and Xi have met face-to-face around two dozen times — testimony to their longterm strategic partnership and friendship.

China is an economic powerhouse, Russia the world’s dominant military power, its super-weapons exceeding the best in the West.

Russia is rich in what China needs most — oil and gas, technological expertise, industrial equipment, and state-of-the-art weapons.

Sharing a common border, both countries want them for defense, not offense like the US, NATO and Israel operate.

A Sino/Russian Investment Committee fosters expanding economic and financial ties, diversifying trade to reduce dependence on global economic conditions.

It promotes and facilitates cooperation in technology-intensive industrial, financial, commercial, and military areas.

Both nations are increasingly trading in their own currencies, bypassing dollar transactions. Global de-dollarization is an idea whose time has come.

Dollar hegemony as the world’s reserve currency facilitates US global dominance.

It finances Washington’s reckless spending, global militarism, its empire of bases, endless wars, corporate takeovers, as well as speculative excesses creating bubbles and economic crises – at the expense of democratic freedoms and beneficial social change.

Ending dollar dominance would be the political, economic, financial, military equivalent of cutting the biblical Sampson’s hair, eliminating his strength.

According to the DOD/Pentagon white paper, the US and its allies aren’t acting effectively enough to counter Sino/Russian aims — falsely accusing both countries of using “gray zone” tactics to foment instability.

It’s how US-dominated NATO, Israel, and their imperial partners operate, not Russia and China.

They’re growing world powers, the US a nation in decline politically, economically and militarily — despite spending countless trillions of dollars to maintain global supremacy.

The myth of American exceptionalism, the indispensable state, an illusory moral superiority, and military supremacy persist despite hard evidence debunking these notions.

The US has been declining for decades. The late Gabriel Kolko believes it began during US aggression against North Korea, continued during a decade of Southeast Asia war, and accelerated post-9/11.

It’s the same dynamic that doomed all other empire in history. The US is declining  because of its imperial arrogance, hubris, endless wars against invented enemies, and unwillingness to change.

Ruinous military spending persists while vital homeland needs go begging.

The US ruling class serves privileged interests exclusively at the expense of peace, equity and justice.

Its power and influence are waning on the global stage while Russia and China are rising — especially united for common longterm constructive aims.

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Award-winning author Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. He is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG)

His new book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.”

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.

Vladimir Putin Interview With Oliver Stone

Vladimir Putin Interview With Oliver Stone

South Front

22.07.2019

Vladimir Putin answered questions from American film director, screenwriter and producer Oliver Stone. The interview was recorded on June 19, 2019 in the Kremlin (source):

Oliver Stone: So, I interviewed Mr Medvedchuk. It was in Monte Carlo. He gave us a very interesting interview. He gave us his view of the Ukraine. I gather that you’re close with him.

President of Russia Vladimir Putin: I would not say that we are very close but we know each other well. He was President Kuchma’s Chief of Staff, and it was in this capacity at the time that he asked me to take part in the christening of his daughter. According to Russian Orthodox tradition, you can’t refuse such a request.

Oliver Stone: Oh, you cannot refuse it?

I thought it was a big honour for you to be the godfather of his daughter.

Vladimir Putin: It is always a great honour to be a godfather.

Oliver Stone: Well, how many children are you godfather to?

Vladimir Putin: I will not give a number but several people.

Oliver Stone: Wow. Is it like a hundred or three hundred?

Vladimir Putin: No, no, are you serious? Certainly not. Just a few.

Oliver Stone: Otherwise I would ask you to be the godfather for my daughter.

Vladimir Putin: Does she want to become an Orthodox Christian?

Vladimir Putin Interview With Oliver Stone

Oliver Stone: Ok, we’ll make her that.

Vladimir Putin: You have to ask her.

Oliver Stone: As long as she stands in church, right?

Vladimir Putin: Of course. How old is she?

Oliver Stone: She is 22 now.

Vladimir Putin: Is she a believer?

Oliver Stone: Yes, she is a believer. She is raised Christian.

Vladimir Putin: I see.

Oliver Stone: You know, young people in America sometimes, they are different.

Vladimir Putin: Young people are different everywhere.

Oliver Stone: They are spoiled to some degree in the western world.

Vladimir Putin: It depends. The older generation always says that about the younger generation.

Oliver Stone: Yeah, I know, I know. That’s true. But I don’t know what is going on with the American culture. It’s very strange right now.

Vladimir Putin: Is there an American culture?

Oliver Stone: As you know, I’ve been very rebel all my life. Still am. And I have to tell you, I’m shocked by some of the behaviours and the thinking of the new generation. It takes so much for granted. And so much of the argument, so much of the thinking, so much of the newspaper, television commentaries about gender, people identify themselves, and social media, this and that, I’m male, I’m female, I’m transgender, I’m cisgender. It goes on forever, and there is a big fight about who is who. It seems like we miss the bigger point.

Vladimir Putin: They live too well. They have nothing to think about.

Oliver Stone: Yeah, but it’s not a healthy culture.

Vladimir Putin: Well, yes.

Oliver Stone: Years ago when we were talking about homosexuality, you said that in Russia we don’t propagate it.

Vladimir Putin: Not exactly. We have a law banning propaganda among minors.

Oliver Stone: Yes, that’s the one I’m talking about. It seems like maybe that’s a sensible law.

Vladimir Putin: It is aimed at allowing people to reach maturity and then decide who they are and how they want to live. There are no restrictions at all after this.

Oliver Stone: Ok. Mr Medvedchuk proposed recently, you know, a plan for solving the tensions in Ukraine between east and west. You know about this?

Vladimir Putin: To be honest, we do not talk so often. He has more free time than I do. But we meet from time to time, especially in connection with his efforts to get detainees released. He devotes much time to this.

He also told me something about his plans on Donbass but I do not know the details. At any rate, I consider it absolutely correct that he calls for direct dialogue with the people who live in Donbass. There is not a single example in recent history when a crisis was settled without direct contact between the sides to the conflict.

He says he thinks it is necessary to fully implement the Minsk agreements and I cannot help but agree with this as well. So, I know the elements of his proposals. He speaks about them in public and I agree.

Oliver Stone: Ok. They have a new president now. Has anything changed in Ukraine? Or still the same?

Vladimir Putin: Not yet. After all, the recent election was clearly a protest vote. A fairly large number of people supported the newly-elect President in central Ukraine, in the east and the south. And these are all people who sincerely seek a settlement in any event. During his election campaign President Zelensky continuously spoke about his readiness to do everything to solve this crisis. And then literally just yesterday, while in Paris, I think, he said suddenly he does not believe it is possible to hold talks with what he called separatists. This is clearly at odds with what he said during his election campaign.

Oliver Stone: So no change?

Vladimir Putin: Unfortunately, none for the time being.

Oliver Stone: Do you think there’s any revulsion? I mean, you were telling me about Ukraine and Russia. Do you think there is any reason for this hatred of Russia in Ukraine?

Vladimir Putin: You know, our relationship is not easy at the moment. This is the result of the grievous events linked with the coup d’état. The other part of this story is propaganda by the current government in Ukraine, which blames Russia for all the tragic events that ensued.

Oliver Stone: Well, historically, do you see these two countries coming together again?

Vladimir Putin: I think this is inevitable. At any rate, the cultivation of normal, friendly and, even more than friendly, allied relations is inevitable.

Oliver Stone: Yeah. Mr Medvedchuk would be a good liaison.

Vladimir Putin: I believe so. But our positions, our points of view, differ on many things. Mr Medvedchuk was born in the family of a man that was said to be convicted during the Soviet times for nationalist activities. He was born in Siberia, where his family and his father virtually lived in exile.

Oliver Stone: What’s the connection?

Vladimir Putin: Connection between what?

Oliver Stone: All this story to my question?

Vladimir Putin: The connection is that he has his own ideas about Ukraine and the Ukrainian people. For example, I believe that Russians and Ukrainians are actually one people.

Oliver Stone: One people, two nations?

Vladimir Putin: One nation, in fact.

Oliver Stone: You think it is one nation?

Vladimir Putin Interview With Oliver Stone

Click to see the full-size image

Vladimir Putin: Of course. Look, when these lands that are now the core of Ukraine, joined Russia, there were just three regions – Kiev, the Kiev region, northern and southern regions – nobody thought themselves to be anything but Russians, because it was all based on religious affiliation. They were all Orthodox and they considered themselves Russians. They did not want to be part of the Catholic world, where Poland was dragging them.

I understand very well that over the time the identity of this part of Russia crystallized, and people have the right to determine their identity. But later this factor was used to throw into imbalance the Russian Empire. But in fact, this is the same world sharing the same history, same religion, traditions, and a wide range of ties, close family ties among them.

At the same time, if a significant part of people who live in Ukraine today believe that they should emphasise their identity and fight for it, no one in Russia would be against this, including me. But, bearing in mind that we have many things in common, we can use this as our competitive advantage during some form of integration; it is obvious. However, the current government clearly doesn’t want this. I believe that in the end common sense will prevail, and we will finally arrive at the conclusion I have mentioned: rapprochement is inevitable.

Oliver Stone: I don’t think Mr Medvedchuk would agree. He would say: two nations, similar people. That what he would say, take a strong line on that.

Vladimir Putin: He doesn’t. That is what I am saying.

Oliver Stone: That’s what I’m saying. He does not agree.

Vladimir Putin: Yes, of course. This is what I am saying: our positions on some things, important ones, are different. But at the same time, he speaks in favour of establishing good relations with Russia in order to use these competitive advantages in the economy. He shows how today the Ukrainian economy is completely destroyed because it has lost the Russian market and, most importantly, cooperation in industry. Nobody needs Ukrainian industrial goods on Western markets, and that goes for agriculture too: very few goods are purchased. Round timber is in demand, but soon there will be no timber in Ukraine at all. It’s not like the vast expanses of Siberia.

For example, Europe often takes some steps towards Ukraine – or did so until recently – with, say, permitting purchases of round timber. And this is just one example. In fact, there are many more.

Oliver Stone: Well, someone told me today that Mr Medvedchuk’s party, For Life Party, is up 12 percent in the polls. So he is building a party that has a following, it seems to me.

Vladimir Putin: If so, that is good. To be honest, I don’t know. But if kit is true, that is good.

If so, we can only welcome this because he and his partners in the party stand for restoring relations with Russia. How could we not welcome that? Of course, we welcome it. I have known him for a long time. He keeps his word. If he says something, he does it.

Oliver Stone: So, he is a very courageous man, I think. His villa was bombed, his offices were bombed. He is under threat all the time. He is hanging in there, staying in his country.

Vladimir Putin: Yes, this is true because he has convictions. I mentioned that his father was a Ukrainian nationalist and was convicted by a Soviet court for this. Strange as it may seem but the founders, many founders of Ukrainian nationalism advocated good relations with Russia. They said good relations were necessary for the development of Ukraine itself.

Oliver Stone: When was that?

Vladimir Putin: This was in the 19th century. They came out for Ukraine’s independence but said that Ukraine must preserve good, friendly relations with Russia. Mr Medvedchuk adheres to similar ideas. This is why he has convictions. I may not agree with his position on something but I always respect it.

Oliver Stone: Yeah, two nations he says. When I hear the words “Ukrainian nationalism,” I get worried, because I think of Stepan Bandera and people who have convictions too.

Vladimir Putin: Me, too.

Oliver Stone: Ukrainian nationalism is dangerous too.

Vladimir Putin: In general nationalism is a sign of narrow-mindedness but I do not want to offend Mr Medvedchuk.

Oliver Stone: It’s words.

Vladimir Putin: Yes, but in any event, he is in the category of people who advocate independence, the consolidation of an independent Ukraine, but at the same time believe that it is easier to achieve this by pursuing cooperation with Russia. And I think he is largely right.

Oliver Stone: You’re very clear.

You talked about the coup d’état. Just want to revisit that because there has been a lot more research done. It seems that research has revealed that there were shooters, snipers at the Maidan. The forensics with the angle of shooting, bodies of the police and the protestors. It was all very badly investigated. Not at all really. But what evidence we have seems to point to there being, they say, Georgian shooters, people from Georgia. And I’ve heard that. Have you heard anything more on the Russian front?

Vladimir Putin: No but I know what you are talking about. I know that the authorities headed by President Yanukovych at that time did not use the army and were not interested in giving any excuse to the opposition to use force. And, as Mr Yanukovych told me repeatedly, it did not even occur to him to use force and the military against civilians, even against those who had already taken up arms. I completely rule out that he could have done this, but those who were looking for a pretext to stage a coup could have well done it, of course.

Oliver Stone: I remember you were telling me about the Obama phone call, Obama and you had an agreement that there would be no firing on the last day. And he gave you a promise that he would…

Vladimir Putin: You know, while Obama is no longer President, there are certain things we do not discuss in public. At any rate, I can say that the US did not follow through on the agreements that we reached during this phone call. I will stop there without going into detail.

Oliver Stone: Yes. So recently, you know Russia has been obviously accused and accused over and over again of interference in the 2016 election. As far as I know there is no proof, it has not turned up. But now in the US there has been an investigation going on about Ukraine’s interference in the election. It seems that it was a very confusing situation, and Poroshenko seems to have been very strongly pro-Clinton, anti-Trump.

Vladimir Putin: Yes, this is no secret.

Oliver Stone: Do you think there was interference?

Vladimir Putin: I do not think that this could be interpreted as interference by Ukraine. But it is perfectly obvious that Ukrainian oligarchs gave money to Trump’s opponents. I do not know whether they did this by themselves or with the knowledge of the authorities.

Oliver Stone: Where they giving information to the Clinton campaign?

Vladimir Putin: I do not know. I am being honest. I will not speak about what I do not know. I have enough problems of my own. They assumed Mrs Clinton would win and did everything to show loyalty to the future US administration. That is nothing special. They wanted the future President to have a good opinion of them. This is why they allowed themselves to make unflattering statements about Trump and supported the Democrats in every possible way. This is no secret at all. They acted almost in public.

Oliver Stone: You do not want to go any further on that because you do not have any information?

Vladimir Putin: You know, this would be inappropriate on my part. If I said something more specific, I would have to put some documents, some papers on the table.

Oliver Stone: You understand that it has huge implications because Mr Trump would be very grateful?

Vladimir Putin: I did not interfere then, I do not want to interfere now, and I am not going to interfere in the future.

Oliver Stone: But that is a noble motive. Unfortunately, the world has degenerated in these two years, with all this backbiting and accusations, dirty fighting. Anyway…

Vladimir Putin: There are no rules at all. It is no holds barred.

Oliver Stone: Well, you have rules. You say no interference.

Vladimir Putin: I have principles.

Oliver Stone: Ok. But you seem to have rules based on those principles.

Vladimir Putin: Well, yes.

Oliver Stone: Ok. Well, you are fighting with one hand tied behind your back.

Vladimir Putin: Why? You mean, because of these principles?

Oliver Stone: Yes. If you knew something about the election, it would tilt the balance in a very weird way.

Vladimir Putin: I think this is simply unrealistic. I have said so many times.

Oliver Stone: What is unrealistic?

Vladimir Putin: To change anything. If you want to return to US elections again – look, it is a huge country, a huge nation with its own problems, with its own views on what is good and what is bad, and with an understanding that in the past few years, say ten years, nothing has changed for the better for the middle class despite the enormous growth of prosperity for the ruling class and the wealthy. This is a fact that Trump’s election team understood. He understood this himself and made the most of it.

No matter what our bloggers – or whoever’s job it is to comment on the internet – might say about the situation in the US, this could not have played a decisive role. It is sheer nonsense. But our sympathies were with him because he said he wanted to restore normal relations with Russia. What is bad about that? Of course, we can only welcome this position.

Oliver Stone: Apparently, it excited the Clinton people a lot. The Clinton campaign accumulated the “Steele dossier.” They paid for it. It came from strange sources, the whole “Steele dossier” issue. Some of it comes from Ukraine. They also went out of their way, it seems to me, with the CIA, with Mr Brennan, John Brennan, and with Clapper, James Clapper, and Comey of the FBI. They all seem to have gotten involved, all intelligence agencies, in an anti-Trump way.

Vladimir Putin: They had levers inside the government, but there is nothing like that here. They applied administrative pressure. It always gives an advantage in countries such as the USA, some countries of Western Europe, about 2 percent on average, at a minimum.

Oliver Stone: Two percent? What are you talking about?

Vladimir Putin: Yes. According to experts, those with administrative pressure they can apply always have a 2 percent edge. You can look at it differently. Some experts believe that in different countries, it can vary, but in countries such as the United States, some European countries, the advantage is 2 percent. This is what experts say, they can be wrong.

Oliver Stone: I do not know. I heard of the one percent, but it seems to get more like 12 percent.

Vladimir Putin: That is possible, depending on how it is used.

Oliver Stone: Well, you are not disagreeing. You are saying that it was quite possible that there was an attempt to prevent Donald Trump from coming into office with a soft, I will call it a soft coup d’état?

Vladimir Putin: In the USA?

Oliver Stone: Yes.

Vladimir Putin: It is still going on.

Oliver Stone: A coup d’état is planned by people who have power inside.

Vladimir Putin: No, I do not mean that. I mean lack of respect for the will of the voters. I think it was unprecedented in the history of the United States.

Oliver Stone: What was unprecedented?

Vladimir Putin: It was the first time the losing side does not want to admit defeat and does not respect the will of the voters.

Oliver Stone: I would disagree. I would say it happened in 2000, that the Republicans lost the popular vote, they lost Florida, and they did not accept that, and they had a coup d’état in their way, a soft coup d’état also. And they put Bush in.

Vladimir Putin: But this was a court decision, as far as I remember.

Oliver Stone: Yeah, in a way, but the court decision was blocked. There was a vote going on. And if you remember the Brooks brothers’ riot, all those Republicans rushed to electoral offices in Miami, and they prevented the vote from going through in a county, in one of those major counties. It was a key factor. It was not like the Russian revolution. It was a minor event, but it was big. It shifted the momentum, totally. I remember that night. Then they referred it to the Supreme Court. Also, and the same thing in January 2017, when the intelligence assessment was released, what was it, January 7th,, a few days before Trump was to be inaugurated, the intelligence assessment actually said that the intelligence agencies suspected Trump would have been colluding with Russia. That is even bigger. That is an attempt at a coup d’état, because the electors in America still had the right to overturn the election vote.

Vladimir Putin: This is what they call unscrupulous application of administrative pressure.

Oliver Stone: Ok, ok, ok. Well, listen, it seems to be going on a lot more than we know. Talking about America and Russia, I have not seen you since the Kerch Strait. Any comments on that?

Vladimir Putin: No, I do not, as we have repeatedly said. The former President, Mr Poroshenko, staged this provocation intentionally during the election campaign. He was aware that people in the country’s east and south would not vote for him, and he used this provocation to escalate the situation and then declare a state of emergency there. I have reason to believe that he was going to declare a state of emergency in the entire country, and possibly to postpone the election as a result. Generally speaking, he was trying to hold on to power at all costs, and he was seeking any means to execute this plan. This was the regime’s death throes.

As far as I remember, recently the newly appointed Chief of the Ukrainian army’s General Staff has made a statement that offers roughly the same interpretation of events but perhaps using milder language.

Oliver Stone: Who gave that interpretation?

Vladimir Putin: Chief of the General Staff of the Ukrainian Armed Forces.

Oliver Stone: Ok, but beyond Poroshenko, the United States has a shadow here. The United States knows what he is doing, and supported it.

Vladimir Putin: Absolutely.

Oliver Stone: It is the creation of a strategy of tension that worries me enormously. I have seen this happen in so many places now. I think I read on Monday, the Russian bombers, the Russian SU-57 escorted, what was it, the B-52 bomber, a nuclear bomber, US bomber, close to the Russian borders.

Vladimir Putin Interview With Oliver Stone

Click to see the full-size image

Vladimir Putin: The Su-57 aircraft are just entering service. This is a fifth-generation jet fighter. It was the Su-27 that was mentioned.

Oliver Stone: Do you think that is normal?

Vladimir Putin: Actually, it is sad, probably, but this is common practice. US aircraft did not enter our airspace, and our aircraft did not conduct any high-risk maneuvers.

But generally speaking, this is not great. Just look where the Baltic or Black seas are located, and where the USA is. It was not us who approached US borders, but US aircraft that approached ours. Such practices had better stop.

Oliver Stone: In this continuing strategy of tension, there was a report in The New York Times last week that the Obama Administration, before they left office, put in what they call a cyber warfare device. It was inserted in Russian infrastructure in January 2017.

Vladimir Putin: This is being discussed almost openly. It was said Russia would be punished for interfering in the election campaign. We do not see anything extraordinary or unexpected here. This should be followed closely. That is the first thing.

The second is I believe that we only need to negotiate how we are to live in this high-tech world and develop uniform rules and means of monitoring each other’s actions. We have repeatedly proposed holding talks on this subject to come to some binding agreement.

Oliver Stone: Continuing that theme of strategy of tension, how is Russia affected by the US-Iranian confrontation?

Vladimir Putin: This worries us because this is happening near our borders. This may destabilize the situation around Iran, affect some countries with which we have very close relations, causing additional refugee flows on a large scale plus substantially damage the world economy as well as the global energy sector. All this is extremely disturbing. Therefore we would welcome any improvement when it comes to relations between the US and Iran. A simple escalation of tension will not be advantageous for anyone. It seems to me that this is also the case with the US. One might think that there are only benefits here, but there will be setbacks as well. The positive and negative factors have to be calculated.

Oliver Stone: Yeah. Scary.

Vladimir Putin: No, this is not scary.

Oliver Stone: You sound very depressed, much more depressed than last time.

Vladimir Putin: Last time the situation concerning Iran was not like this. Last time nobody said anything about getting into our energy and other networks. Last time the developments were more positive.

Oliver Stone: The situation is worse now?

Vladimir Putin: Take North Korea, they have also rolled back a bit. Trade wars are unfolding.

Oliver Stone: Venezuela.

Vladimir Putin: Venezuela as well. In other words, regrettably, the situation has not improved, so there is nothing special to be happy about. On the other hand, we feel confident. We have no problems.

Oliver Stone: Well, you are an optimist, and always have been?

Vladimir Putin: Exactly.

Oliver Stone: You are a peacemaker.

Vladimir Putin: Absolutely spot on.

Oliver Stone: So obviously, you have to get together with the Americans, and the Chinese, and the Iranians. I know.

Vladimir Putin: Just do not put the blame on us. Lately no matter what is happening, we always get the blame.

Oliver Stone: Well, the irony is that Mr Trump came to office promising that he was not going to interfere in other countries. He made this overall strategy, he was against the wars that we have started, and ever since he has been in office, it has got worse. Why, one wonders? Is he in charge, or are other people pushing these agendas?

Vladimir Putin: I think he is against this now, too. But life is complicated and diverse. To make the right decision it is necessary to fight for what you believe in.

Oliver Stone: Yeah, conviction.

It is your fourth term, are you getting tired?

Vladimir Putin: No, if I had been tired, I would not have run for the fourth term.

Oliver Stone: Ok. Listen, can I find out something? Let’s take a pause. I just want to ask my director if he wants to ask any more things about Ukraine. Five minutes?

Vladimir Putin: The director always has the final word; after all, he is the one calling the shots.

Oliver Stone: Thank you.

I think we are fine.

Vladimir Putin: Very well. Are we done?

Thank you so much.

Oliver Stone: Thank you, sir.

Vladimir Putin: Are you going back to the States?

Oliver Stone: I am very worried about you.

Vladimir Putin: Why?

Oliver Stone:I can see there are so many problems. It weighs you down. It is sad to see. It is a tough situation.

Vladimir Putin: It is all right. We have seen worse.

Oliver Stone: Russian bombes in Syria. What has happened to Skripal? Where is he?

Vladimir Putin: I have no idea. He is a spy, after all. He is always in hiding.

Oliver Stone: They say he was going to come back to Russia. He had some information.

Vladimir Putin: Yes, I have been told that he wants to make a written request to come back.

Oliver Stone: He knew still and he wanted to come back. He had information that he could give to the world press here in Russia.

Vladimir Putin: I doubt it. He has broken the ranks already. What kind of information can he possess?

Oliver Stone: Who poisoned him? They say English secret services did not want Sergei Skripal to come back to Russia?

Vladimir Putin: To be honest, I do not quite believe this. I do not believe this is the case.

Oliver Stone: Makes sense. You do not agree with me?

Vladimir Putin: If they had wanted to poison him, they would have done so.

Oliver Stone: Ok, that makes sense. I don’t know. Who did then?

Vladimir Putin: After all, this is not a hard thing to do in today’s world. In fact, a fraction of a milligram would have been enough to do the job. And if they had him in their hands, there was nothing complicated about it. No, this does not make sense. Maybe they just wanted to provoke a scandal.

Oliver Stone: I think it is more complicated. You know, you think I am much too much of a conspiracy guy.

Vladimir Putin: I do not believe this.

Oliver Stone: I have seen things. I do.

Vladimir Putin: You should not. Take care of yourself.

Oliver Stone: Can we get a picture?

Remark: This is a great honour for us. Can we take a picture with you?

Vladimir Putin: With pleasure.

Anti-Russian ‘Protests’ in Georgia: Inexcusable, but Supported by the West

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Anti-Russian ‘Protests’ in Georgia: Inexcusable, but Supported by the West

Dmitry Babich July 21, 2019

The recent wave of anti-Russian actions in the former Soviet republic of Georgia became an embarrassment even for the notoriously pro-Georgian Russian liberals, of whom there have always been plenty in Moscow. This time the supporters of the exiled former Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvili (a flamboyant Russophobe admired by the West, but wanted in his own native Georgia for corruption and for starting the war of 2008) disappointed even their ideological “claque” in Moscow.

“The fans of Georgia in Moscow were literally disarmed and made silent by none other than the Georgian TV anchor Giorgy Gabunia, who publicly insulted Vladimir Putin’s late mother on Georgian television, using unprintable words,” admitted Vladimir Vorsobin, a liberal Russian journalist, who spent the last two weeks in Georgia, trying to show the readers of Komsomolskaya Pravda (Russia’s largest newspaper by print circulation) by his example that this small post-Soviet country on the Black Sea coast was “safe for Russian tourists.”

Gabunia’s indecent stunt followed two weeks of ugly anti-Russian demonstrations, with lots of racist slogans, denouncing Russia, “the Russian Ivan,” calling Russians occupiers, etc. So, even the Russians’ patience started to wear thin, especially since these pogrom-like protests were not provoked by any new developments on the Russian side.

Indeed, on earlier occasions the organizers of Russophobic actions at least waited for some pretext. (For example, the brief five days’ war in August 2008, when Russia interfered after Saakashvili’s attack against South Ossetia, saving the small people of that former Georgian autonomy from ethnic cleansing by Saakashvili and Georgian nationalists.) This time, there was literally nothing from the Russian side: no new statements, laws or, heaven forbid, military actions. Nothing. What happened was that on June 20, 2019, a group of Russian parliamentarians came to the Georgian capital Tbilisi in order to attend the Interparliamentary Assembly of Orthodox Christianity (MAP). The rotating presidency of this group, which unites the parliamentarians of various Orthodox Christian countries (both Russia and Georgia belong to this Eastern branch of European Christianity), this year went to Russia. And it was Tbilisi’s turn to be the city host. So, the leader of the Russian parliamentarian delegation, a State Duma member Sergei Gavrilov, was invited by the hosts to take the chairman’s seat in the session hall of the Georgian parliament.

After Gavrilov took his seat, a real hell broke loose in the center of Tbilisi, leading to 240 injured (two people became one-eyed as a result of violence). The supporters of the ex-president Mikheil Saakashvili, representing the largest opposition party United National Movement (UNM), violently removed Gavrilov from his seat and called on citizens to start a protest action. The sound of Russian language and the presence of a Russian deputy in a speaker’s seat were the only officially announced reasons.

“I killed Russians, I am killing them and I will kill them!” yelled one of the leaders of UNM, Akaky Bobikhidze from the tribune of the parliament after removing the “occupier” from there. His behavior was recorded for a YouTube video by the Georgian service of Radio Free Europe.

As a result of several hours of violent protests, the Georgian parliament was stormed by a pro-Saakashvili mob. When riot police defended the building, two hundred and forty people were injured (including many policemen) and more than 300 arrested. Gavrilov and members of his delegation, having suffered minor injuries, but a lot of verbal abuse, had to leave Georgia, with which Russia does not have diplomatic relations since 2008.

The other disconcerting element of this shameful situation was the fact that neither the Georgian government nor the Western media had the courage to condemn the obvious and unprovoked violence from the side of Saakashvili’s supporters. Bidzina Ivanishvili, the leader of the ruling party Georgian Dream, as well as former president Giorgy Margvelashvili solidarized themselves with the “protest action” which looked more like a pogrom because of the crude racist tone of its slogans (anti-Russian demonstrations on a smaller scale continued even after the violent stage of 20-21 July). Margvelashvili even said it was “the right way to oppose Russia’s soft power” and called on the West to imitate Georgia in its fight with Russia during his speech to the protesters. The current president of Georgia, Salome Zurabishvili, who served as the foreign minister under Saakashvili before defecting to the Georgian Dream, called Russia an “enemy,” but expressed her expectation that Russian tourists would return to Georgia, since they are contributing a substantial share of the country’s GDP. (According to World Travel and Tourism Council, tourism contributed 33.7 percent of Georgia’s total GDP.)

The Western press not only solidarized itself with the anti-Russian actions in Tbilisi, it also blamed the casualties on its favorite scapegoat – the Christian Orthodox church in Russia and Georgia. Correspondent Amy MacKinnon of The Foreign Policy (a major US media outlet) traced the origins of the protest to the very idea of holding the assembly of countries with predominantly Christian Orthodox population: “The Russian Orthodox Church has long served as a conduit for Russia’s influence in Eastern Europe and has a potent influence in highly religious Georgia,” McKinnon wrote in her article, where a hope is expressed that the Georgian government will treat Orthodox church with the same suspicion as the Western press does.

The headline chosen by The Daily Beast was even more aggressive and hateful:

“Amid Russian and Orthodox Provocations, Riots in Tbilisi Threaten Pride Parade.”

Upon reading the article, it becomes clear that the gay parade, which had been scheduled to take place in Tbilisi next day after the ugly anti-Russian riot, did not receive any threats from Russians or, heaven forbid, from the Christian Orthodox believers. The organizers were just afraid to do out when the anti-Russian government (represented by Georgian police) and the anti-Russian protesters (represented by Saakashvili’s supporters) were fighting each other with rubber bullets, truncheons and stones on the streets of Tbilisi.

It is enough to quote one paragraph from that article in order to see how “tolerant” The Daily Beast was to anyone in that story who was not gay, anti-Russian or at least anti-Christian:

“After the brutal events of early Friday morning, the organizers of the Pride Parade postponed the march for several days saying, “We could not permit ourselves to contribute to further escalation of tensions in the country. We will not allow pro-Russian, Neo-Nazi groups to weaken Georgia’s statehood.” Now it is not clear when or even if the parade will take place.

According to the local news site civil.ge, the organizers of Pride feel that the Georgian government “has no desire to protect the LGBTQ community against radical groups financed from Russia.”

This shameless torrent of lies blaming the victims (because the only people threatened in those days on the streets of Tbilisi were Russians or the supporters of the Georgian Orthodox church) is indicative of the degradation of Western attitudes to Georgia.

“We should not forget that the civil wars in Georgia started in 1991, when the Georgian nationalist thugs attacked the local autonomies of Abkhazia and South Ossetia at the order of the first president of independent post-Soviet Georgia, who was then Zviad Gamsakhurdia,” remembers Dmitry Kulikov, a prominent commentator on post-Soviet space at the Moscow-based Vesti FM radio. “They were defeated and now even Georgian officials recognize that these were awful crimes committed by Gamsakhurdia under the flag of Georgian nationalism. So, why does anyone expect the people with the same ideology around Saakashvili and Zurabishvili to be any better?”

At the time, in 1991-1992 the Western press had the objectivity to call Zviad Gamsakhurdia a madman and a criminal. The Western governments did not protest in any way, when Gamsakhurdia’s government was toppled by the internal Georgian opposition in an armed uprising which many said had the backing of Moscow.

So, why is the West backing the same Russophobic Georgian nationalists who are now acting together with exiled Mikheil Saakashvili, a psychological and ideological double of Gamsakhurdia?

This is a question which historians will have a hard time answering. It was not Georgian nationalism that changed (it stayed largely the same – violent, noisy, anti-Russian and always eager to get Western backing). It was the West (namely, the US, the EU and their allies) that changed for worse.

Russia Shutters Georgian Democracy

South Front

19.07.2019

Democracy is in danger once again. The treacherous Putin regime is pressuring Georgia with sanctions, prohibiting flights between the countries and putting it under duress. Naturally, the Russian bear showed its totalitarian face by answering with pressure, a democratic protest of civic society.

The pretext for the protests, which have rocked Georgia since June 21st was a visit by a member of the Russian Parliament and president of the assembly of MPs from Orthodox Christian countries – Sergei Gavrilov. As the head of the assembly, he addressed its session in the Georgian Parliament from the speaker’s seat as proposed by the receiving party.

Opposition politicians doused Gavrilov with water before he was escorted out of the building to protest the “occupier” whom, Georgian politicians stated, was acting as if Georgia was a Russian satellite state.

The United National Movement opposition party and its supporters condemned the occupation of the sacral stool by the Russian citizen. Street riots immediately broke out near the Parliament building. Protestors waved flags of Georgia, the European Union, the US and Ukraine, clashed with police, and stormed the Parliament. Obviously, they did not forget to chant anti-Russian slogans and demand that Putin, the Kremlin and “Russian occupiers” get out of their country. A Russian TV crew was also attacked because of its non-democratic coverage.

To provide some context to the “Russian occupiers” narrative, it’s important to know what the Georgians mean by “occupation”. They describe as occupied two de-facto independent states South Ossetia and Abkhazia. These states declared their independence in the early 1990s after a direct aggression from the Nazi regime of Zviad Gamsakhurdia. During the conflict in these republics, Georgian nationalists practiced mass repressions and cleansing of non-Georgian population. Since then, and until 2008, Russia had not recognized them as independent states. The situation changed in 2008 after war crimes were committed by the Georgian military in South Ossetia. Forces of the Saakashvili regime carried out massive artillery strikes on the city of Tskhinvali. Vehicles carrying refugees were shelled by Georgian troops and foreign mercenaries. Russian peacekeepers which had previously been deployed to South Ossetia were attacked. In the ensuing 5-day peace-compelling operation, Russian Armed Forces delivered a devastating blow to the Saakashvili regime by defeating its forces. The Russian Army reached Tbilisi, but did not enter the city. No territory was annexed and Russian troops returned to their permanent deployment sites. As a result of the conflict, Russia recognized Abkhazia and South Ossetia as independent states.

In the following years, both republics repeatedly asked Russia to accept them into the federation. Moscow rejected these requests and worked with Abkhazia and South Ossetia as with allied, but independent states. In this light, the Georgian government uses the term “Russian occupation” to describe the Ossetians and Abkhazians who survived the ethnic cleansing of the 1990s and the war of 2008. However, there is a historical case that may explain Georgia’s attitude.

In 1918-1919, forces of the Georgian nationalists, assisted by foreign instructors, attempted to seize control of the city of Sochi and the nearby coastal strip of the Black Sea. They lost this conflict. Forces of Georgian radicals also carried out multiple war crimes in Abkhazia and Ossetia in the period from 1918 to 1920. If Tbilisi believes that any place where Georgian nationalists were once present is rightfully Georgian territory, that could explain which “Georgian territories” were occupied by Russia.

Despite the mentioned facts, it would be fair to note that most of these destructive events were instigated by a small radical part of the Georgian population, indoctrinated by radicalism and nationalism, and supported by Western funds. Most Georgians are friendly to Russians and the Russia state.

Democratic media outlets and civic society activists from Georgia, Russia and around the world united in their efforts to condemn Russian provocations and to praise the democratic actions of the Georgian population.  Some hotels and restaurants increased prices for ethnic Russians. Russia is the number one source of travelers visiting Georgia. Cinemas banned movies in Russian.

A host on pro-opposition TV channel Rustavi-2 came on air and continued to insult Russian President Vladimir Putin in an expletive-ridden statement.

On the evening of July 7th, George Gabunia began the program with obscene swearing at Putin. Gabunia addressed the Russian President in Russian and called him “the grubby occupant,” and also said that Putin and “his slaves” have no place on Georgia’s “beautiful land.”

A Georgian branch of the Soros Foundation “Open Society” accused official Tbilisi of “violating the law” because the authorities invited “Russian deputies who do not recognize the territorial integrity of Georgia” to the country. The NGO called for a response to the “anti-state actions” of the Russian Federation.

In 2019 alone, the Soros Foundation sent millions of dollars to projects in Georgia, including programs to combat “Russian disinformation” and the formation of a “right” perception of the Soviet past among the country’s residents.

Former Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili, who had his citizenship revoked, after he was convicted of abuse of office has openly supported the protests, saying that the government would fall against the pressure. He, too, blamed Russia and, more than likely, hopes to be allowed back in the country again, since he handled the situation in 2008 so well.

Initially, Georgian Prime Minister, Mamuka Bakhtadze called the United National Movement, founded in 2001 by Mikhail Saakashvili, and its backers “destructive political forces”, and said that they attempted to use the protest to seize power. But later, both the government and opposition decided that it’s better to blame Moscow for organizing the protests against itself because, you know, the only side interested in instigating anti-Russian protests in Tbilisi is Russia itself.

This brilliant explanation of the erupted political crisis did not stop conspiracy theorists from claiming that the June 21 event was a pre-planned provocation in interests of some Georgian elites affiliated with the Washington establishment. The groundless theory is that the goal of the provocation was to exploit anti-Russian hysteria in the internal political struggle. In the long-term perspective, this would strengthen the influence of the Washington establishment in the country.

The democratic action of the Georgian people finds no understanding within the Kremlin. Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree prohibiting all flights from and to Georgia and urged tour operators to not organize visits to the country. Moscow enacted travel restrictions due to the potential of danger to Russian tourists.

Additionally, Russia reduced the amount of wine imports from the country saying it would increase investment and shift focus towards domestically produced wines. Although Georgia was not mentioned, Russia is the biggest purchaser of Tbilisi wine.

Lawmakers in Russia’s parliament unanimously backed a resolution on July 9th calling for sanctions to be imposed on Georgia.  The “evil mastermind” President Vladimir Putin, however, rejected the call saying that repairing strained relations with Russia’s neighbor was more important than reacting to the provocations of some scum. Putin  brazenly claimed he was against imposing sanctions on Georgia, “out of respect for the Georgian people.”

But, Georgia is already suffering from the travel ban. According to the head of the Georgian Hotel and Restaurant Federation 80% of the hotel bookings made by Russians had been cancelled. The potential loss to the country’s economy from reduced Russian tourism stands at about $710 million.

Declining export and tourism revenues will also cause Georgia’s current account deficit, which is already large at about 8% of GDP, to widen further.

The June 21 situation and the crisis could be explained in a wide range of ways.

If one takes into account the facts and their consequences, he could conclude that they played into Russia’s hands. The Georgian nationalists and radicals demonstrated that their position is weak and that they lack intellectual assets, international diplomatic and even media support. The Kremlin can state, with reason, that there is a Nazi threat in the Caucasus and react in its own way to contain this threat. The anti-Russian hysteria and threats against Russian citizens in Georgia allow Moscow to justify protectionist economic policies.

Another explanation is that these developments are part of the wider campaign to create tensions and destabilize the situation along Russia’s borders. By instigating tensions in the Caucasus, Russia’s geopolitical rivals are creating a basis for a possible military aggression against Russia and its allies on several fronts simultaneously. This aggression could be carried out by nationalist regimes which receive financial, technical and limited military support from the West. This is the worst case scenario for the entire region.

Most likely, the June 20 crisis was a pre-planned provocation by the Saakashvili faction and Ukrainian nationalists with the intended purpose of being used in the internal political struggle. In this event, they achieved their goal, the mobilization of nationalist and extremist elements of society. As to the situation on the international scene, a kind of detente in Russian-Georgian relations may start in the relatively near future.

The recent crisis demonstrated that, at any moment, even a minor pre-planned effort may be enough to instigate nationalist and radical sentiments of Georgian society. The Caucasus will remain one of the regions of constant geopolitical struggle and inter-ethnic hostility. It is difficult to imagine active development of the Georgian economy and stabilization of its political system under such conditions.

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Sergey Lavrov’s interview with the newspaper Argumenty i Fakty

Via The Saker

July 18, 2019

Sergey Lavrov’s interview with the newspaper Argumenty i Fakty

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s interview with the newspaper Argumenty i Fakty published on July 17, 2019

Original interview in Russian

Question: Can an improvement in the relations with the United States be expected in the near future?

Sergey Lavrov: An improvement will hardly materialise any time soon, since it is anything but easy to sort out the mess that our relations are in, which is not our fault. After all, bilateral relations require reciprocal efforts. We have to meet each other half way.

Russia is ready to move in this direction, as we have said on a number of occasions. We proceed from the premise that Russia and the United States bear special responsibility. We are the two largest nuclear powers, the founding members of the United Nations and permanent members of its Security Council. Cooperation between our two countries is key to ensuring stability and predictability in international affairs. However, not everything depends on us. It takes two to tango, as the saying goes.

The situation is quite complicated on the American side. On the one hand, President Donald Trump talks about seeking to be on good terms with Russia, but this attitude is far from prevalent in Washington. We see this in unfriendly steps, such as various groundless accusations Russia faces, imposing financial and economic sanctions, seizing diplomatic property, kidnapping Russian nationals in third countries, opposing Russia’s foreign policy interests, as well as attempts to meddle in our domestic affairs. We are seeing system-wide efforts to reach out to almost all countries around the world and persuade them to scale back their relations with Russia.

Many US politicians are trying to outshine each other in ramping up anti-Russia phobias and they are using this factor in their domestic political struggles. We understand that they will only escalate in the run-up to the 2020 presidential election. Nevertheless, we will not give up in despair. We will continue to look for common ground with the US despite all the challenges that there are.

It is essential that the Russian and US presidents both understand that there is a need to end the deadlock in our relations. During their June meeting which took place in Osaka the two leaders spoke out in favour of stepping up economic cooperation, combining efforts to settle regional crises, resuming dialogue on strategic stability, and also said that they appreciated dialogue on combatting terrorism. Vladimir Putin invited Donald Trump to Moscow to take part in the events to mark the 75th anniversary of Victory in WWII.

All in all, it has to be recognised that Washington has been inconsistent and quite often unpredictable in its actions. For this reason, trying to predict anything in our relations with the US is a fruitless task. Let me reiterate that as far as Russia is concerned we are ready to patiently work on improving our relations. Of course, this will be possible only if Russia’s interests are respected, and based on equality and mutual respect.

Question: Our diplomats’ access to several Russian properties in San Francisco has been restricted. What practical actions are you taking to protect our property?

Sergey Lavrov: Washington has actually expropriated six Russian buildings which have been registered with the US Department of State as diplomatic property. These are two buildings of the Russian Consulate General in San Francisco, the Consul General’s residence in Seattle, the countryside facilities of the Russian Embassy and Trade Mission in New York, as well as our Trade Mission in Washington. We have no diplomatic presence on the West Coast, where tens of thousands of Russian citizens and compatriots live. We have been denied the right to visit these places by the US State Department. All this is a flagrant violation of the United States’ international legal obligations.

We have responded to these openly coercive actions. We have shut down the US Consulate General in St Petersburg, which incidentally was not a US property. We are mulling over a choice of possible methods to reclaim the illegally seized Russian property. We regularly raise the subject of Washington’s violation of its obligations at the bilateral level and also at multilateral platforms. We will continue to do this.

Question: The United States abducts and hunts down Russian citizens around the world, imprisoning them under far-fetched pretexts, whereas we appear to be afraid of giving an appropriate response to these international bandits.

Sergey Lavrov: We are not afraid of anything. But we will not act like bandits either, because we respect international law.

The hunt for Russian citizens in other countries is nothing other than an instrument of US pressure on Russia. Washington has flatly refused to cooperate with our law enforcement agencies on the basis of the 1999 Treaty on Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters. Instead, it puts pressure on its allies and other states to arrest Russian citizens on their territory and subsequently to extradite them to the United States. This is being done quietly, furtively and without any reliable proof [of these people’s guilt]. Some of our citizens have been abducted, as it happened to Konstantin Yaroshenko in Liberia in 2010 and to Roman Seleznev in the Maldives in 2014.

Of course, we will not leave our citizens alone with their problems. We carefully examine all the cases of Russian citizens detained at Washington’s request. The Russian authorities are working on measures to enhance the effectiveness of the legal protection of our citizens abroad. The Foreign Ministry and Russian diplomats in the United States are taking all possible measures to protect the rights and interests of our compatriots in distress. We are doing our best to ensure that Russian detainees have access to consular and legal assistance around the clock, as well as to improve their detainment conditions. In our contacts with the Americans, we invariably demand that our citizens be released and returned home as soon as possible. This also concerns the widely publicised cases of Viktor Bout and Maria Butina.

We raise this question at multilateral platforms, including the UN Human Rights Council, as well as in our contacts with the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, the OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities, and the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights.

Unfortunately, knowing the aggressive methods of the American system, which does not just stop at using illegal methods, we cannot guarantee that nothing bad will happen to Russian citizens abroad. In this context, I would like to use this occasion to recommend that our citizens thoroughly consider the risks of foreign trips, especially ones to the countries that have extradition agreements with the United States.

Question: Why would Russia pay for PACE membership if it is constantly subject to the assembly’s provocations?

Sergey Lavrov: Just to clarify, there are no separate fees for the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. Our country makes payments to the Council of Europe’s budget pursuant to the council’s Statute and Russian law. PACE-related expenses account for a small fraction of the Council of Europe’s common budget.

Strictly speaking, Council of Europe membership is a source of a number of benefits for our citizens and the country in general. They include refining our national legal system, solving a whole range of social and humanitarian issues, and fighting corruption. Every single ministry and agency that is part of the Inter-Agency Commission on Russia’s Council of Europe Membership (around 20 in total) confirm the importance of proactive participation in this organisation, including mechanisms of over 60 conventions that our country joined. 

As concerns provocations, they are engineered by the aggressive Russophobic minority egged on by the United States, an observer in the Council of Europe. Of course, this sours the atmosphere and does not bode well for constructive PACE work. But then again, the sensible majority of PACE members who support Russia’s return to the fold of this parliamentary structure is sick and tired of this meaningless vagary. This is indicated by the fact that at the June session, the assembly issued a resolution to restore Russia’s powers without any reservations, thus meeting the condition of Russia’s resuming payments.

Question: It is outrageous to watch the Ukrainian army’s rampage against LPR and DPR residents. Innocent civilians, children and defenders of these two republics are being killed. It was reported that local people addressed Russian President Vladimir Putin with a request to send in troops. Why not do it and force Ukraine to make peace as was the case with Georgia?

Sergey Lavrov: True, the situation in Donbass remains extremely disturbing. To this day, hardly anything has been done to cease fire and shelling continues. Of course, the suffering of the people in these two unrecognised republics strikes a painful chord in our hearts.

The signals that President Vladimir Zelensky sent during his election campaign and right after being elected were rather contradictory. We hope that Kiev’s recent pledge to fully comply with the Minsk Agreements will take the shape of a practical policy after the pre-term Verkhovna Rada elections. The most important thing is to end the war and hear the people in southeastern Ukraine who want peace to be restored, who want to freely speak their native Russian language and their socioeconomic rights to be observed. All this was committed to writing in the Package of Measures.

I really hope that the new Ukrainian leadership will not continue the disastrous course of Poroshenko’s regime and will successfully convert the credit of trust it has into actual efforts to restore civil peace in Ukraine. The long-awaited disengaging of forces and equipment that began in late June in Stanitsa Luganskaya that had been blocked by the previous administration for two and a half years is a convincing indication that where there is political will there can be progress.  

Question: Does Russia intend to officially recognise the DPR and the LPR as independent states?

Sergey Lavrov: Our position on this matter is well known. According to the Minsk Package of Measures, where Russia acts as a guarantor, Donbass has to be granted special status that is permanently enshrined in Ukraine’s constitution. We believe in the need to focus at this point in time on implementing the Minsk Agreements as approved by a UN Security Council resolution, which makes them a binding instrument.

The Ukrainian leadership must look its own citizens straight in the face and renounce the policy of putting Donbass in an economic chokehold, recognise the right of Donetsk and Lugansk residents to speak their native language and celebrate the dates and public holidays they hold as sacred, and honour the memory of their national heroes. Without this it would not be serious, to say the least, to talk about restoring trust among DPR and LPR residents toward official Kiev. Of course, establishing meaningful and direct dialogue between Kiev and the unrecognised people’s republics is the central condition of the Minsk Agreements. This requires streamlining the work of the Contact Group formed by Kiev, Donetsk and Lugansk representatives and supported by Russia and the OSCE. In this case, the Normandy Format can also be effective in facilitating the work of the Contact Group. There can also be other ways to support the settlement process in Donbass from the outside, as long as they are acceptable for all sides, and, of course, do not water down the tenets of the Minsk Agreements. President Vladimir Putin was abundantly clear in reaffirming his position, including during his telephone conversation with President Vladimir Zelensky on July 10.

Question: What is Russia’s Foreign Ministry doing to liberate Russian journalist Kirill Vyshinsky from detention in Kiev? He has spent more than a year in prison, in essence, for his professional activity. Why cannot Russia put pressure on Ukraine to free him?

Sergey Lavrov: The court proceedings in the case of RIA Novosti Ukraine editor-in-chief resemble the theatre of the absurd. There is no doubt that the journalist was subject to an illegal arrest, just for working for a Russian media outlet and honestly reporting on the ongoing developments. Even Ukrainian prosecutors seem to understand this, since they have been postponing hearings under the pretext of studying the investigative materials.

Russia demands that Kiev immediately release Kirill Vyshinsky and fully restore all his rights. Our diplomats maintain close contacts with the journalist’s lawyers, since Ukraine declined consular access. We do everything we can to reach out to our foreign partners, including on international platforms, calling on them to work with Kiev in order to bring about a positive resolution as soon as possible.

Question: What measures should the Georgian government take in order to prevent individuals who are a disgrace for Georgia from holding anti-Russia demonstrations near the country’s parliament?

Sergey Lavrov: Relations between the government and the opposition are Georgia’s internal affair. We have no intention to interfere in this process. However, we are definitely concerned about any attempts made by some radical representatives of the Georgian political elite to whip up Russophobic sentiment and pit our peoples against one another. I doubt that these individuals thought about the damage their action was causing to their country and the prosperity of its people, which depends to a significant extent on the state of economic and humanitarian relations with Russia.

We expect the Georgian leadership to recognise as soon as possible the detrimental nature and danger of further efforts to fan anti-Russia hysteria. After all, it is essential that official Tbilisi found the strength to condemn the shameful actions of a local television network that offended the President of Russia, causing misgivings even within the Georgian society.

We hope that the Georgian authorities will be able to restore social and political stability in the country and remove the existing security threats Russians currently face there. Should this happen, the necessary conditions will be created in order to look into the possibility for removing the precautionary measures Russia has taken, including a ban on air travel to Georgia. We want to be friends and to cooperate so that Russians and Georgians can benefit.

Question: The Chinese media have recently started referring to Siberia as “Chinese land.” Some 12 million Chinese currently live in Russia’s Far East and Siberia. Can it happen that China actually takes over Siberia and Russia’s Far East in the near future?

Sergey Lavrov: Border disputes between Russia and China were settled for good a long time ago. The bilateral Treaty of Good-Neighbourliness and Friendly Cooperation adopted in 2001 states that there are no territorial claims between the two countries. Against this backdrop, those who have misgivings over the constructive development of Russian-Chinese relations seek to spread the myth of the Chinese threat.

As for the 12 million Chinese who allegedly live in the Far East and Siberia, I have great doubts about the accuracy of this figure. The associated fears are clearly blown out of proportion.

The policy by Russia and the People’s Republic of China to strengthen their neighbourly relations is a multifaceted and long-term effort that cannot be affected by short-term fluctuations. Sino-Russian cooperation is not aimed against anyone. Its main purpose is to facilitate socioeconomic development and prosperity for our countries and peoples. As Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping said following the June 5 talks in Moscow, the two countries are entering a new era in their comprehensive partnership and strategic cooperation. The growing mutual trust in military and political affairs, record-high trade figures and expanding cultural and humanitarian contacts, as well as better coordination with Beijing on international affairs speak volumes of the positive momentum in our bilateral dialogue.

Question: Relations with Iran are essential for Russia’s geopolitics. However, Iran has indulged in unacceptable aggressive rhetoric against the state of Israel on numerous occasions and went beyond words. How is Russia’s position any different from that of European countries in the 1930s when they encouraged Hitler’s anti-Soviet stance?

Sergey Lavrov: Russia sees intrinsic value in its relations with Iran, Israel and all other Middle East countries. Russia has a multipronged foreign policy that is free from the principle of “being friends against someone.” In our contacts with the leaders of all regional countries we are consistent in calling on our partners to find peaceful solutions to the problems that may arise and renounce the use or threat of force.

The escalating tension in the region we are witnessing today is the direct result of Washington and some of its allies raising the stakes in their anti-Iranian policy. The US is flexing its muscles by seeking to discredit Tehran and blame all the sins on the Islamic Republic of Iran. This creates a dangerous situation: a single match can start a fire. The responsibility for the possible catastrophic consequences will rest with the United States.

As for the historical aspect of your question, it is not appropriate to project what happened in Europe in the 1930s on the current developments in the Middle East. As we all know, Neville Chamberlain and Edouard Daladier sought to appease Hitler in order to direct the German military might against the USSR. We are not seeing anything of this kind today.

Iran regularly reaffirms to us its interest in regional stability through dialogue with all the interested countries, including the Gulf Arab states. In addition to this, Tehran has always stressed that it did not intend to undertake any aggressive action.

As far as Russia is concerned, we are taking steps to de-escalate tensions. We are proactive in promoting the concept of collective security in the Persian Gulf implying a stage-by-stage approach to resolving conflicts and devising confidence building and control mechanisms. We are working with our partners to preserve the multilateral agreements to promote a settlement on the Iranian nuclear programme.

Question: Do you think that we are geopolitically losing in Ukraine, Armenia and Georgia and allowing a belt of “Russia’s enemies” to build up around us from among some of the former “brotherly nations” who earn money in Russia and on Russia, repatriate it and still consider us if not enemies, definitely not friends?

Sergey Lavrov: The political processes in Ukraine, Georgia and Armenia concern us, there is no question about it, because they are our brotherly peoples and we are tied by a long history of relations, including being part of one state.

Unfortunately, after the dissolution of the Soviet Union the West came to believe that it was the end of history and the West can now blatantly interfere with the affairs of any country and presumptuously call the shots in its domestic politics. Ukraine is perhaps the most flagrant example.

Armenia is a different story. This country is Russia’s key partner in the South Caucasus with whom we have strong strategic relations and an alliance. We are engaged in an extensive political dialogue and cooperate between parliaments and on the international scene. Russia is Armenia’s leading economic partner. Our links in the education, culture, investment, military and technical sector are on the rise.

As concerns Georgia, I am certain that Georgians do not see us Russians as enemies. Unfortunately, right now we see certain politicians in Georgia competing in anti-Russian rhetoric to achieve their mercenary and opportunistic goals. I am sure that everything will be ironed out sooner or later and that our countries will again enjoy neighbourly relations.

Broadly speaking, our agenda in the post-Soviet space has a unifying nature and is aimed at stimulating the socioeconomic development of respective countries, promoting and harmonising integration in the region, strengthening collective security and the potential of our coordinated response to threats and challenges. 

Question: What is the status of the talks with Iraq over bringing back our women and children from prisons? What are the prospects of them returning back home?

Sergey Lavrov: So far, we have managed to bring back home 90 children. According to our records, some 30 more children remain in Iraq. We plan to bring them back within the next months.

Unfortunately, the situation is more complicated when it comes to their mothers. All of them are convicted for breaking Iraqi law, by illegally crossing the border, staying in the country illegally and participating in terrorist activities. Sixty-six Russian nationals are currently in prison. The Russian Embassy in Baghdad is constantly monitoring their cases and providing necessary help.

To recap, we started working on the humanitarian operation to return our minor citizens back to Russia in the autumn of 2017 when Iraqi officials informed us that Russian women and children were detained during a counter-terrorist operation in Mosul.

The office of the Presidential Commissioner for Children’s Rights Anna Kuznetsova established a commission to coordinate the operation. The commission involves representatives of competent government bodies, including the Foreign Ministry. Together with the Iraqi authorities we agreed on a course of action to locate the children and prepare the necessary documents for their repatriation. Russian specialists collected the children’s and mothers’ biological material for DNA relationship testing. Meanwhile, we were looking for relatives to establish formal guardianship. Then we received rulings of the Baghdad Central Court on returning the children.

We continue to work hard on this matter.

Question: What is the reason for facilitating access to Russian citizenship for people living abroad?

Sergey Lavrov: These decisions are based above all on humanitarian considerations. This is why we have adopted a facilitated procedure for the granting of Russian citizenship to the residents of certain districts in the Donetsk and Lugansk regions. The procedure was formalized in April of this year by a presidential executive order.

Kiev’s blockade has made the living in certain districts of the Donetsk and Lugansk regions of Ukraine unbearable. The people have been deprived of everything, including social payments, pensions, wages, as well as the national system of banking, education and healthcare services. They have been stripped of their voting rights, as neither election commissions nor polling stations were established in their districts. In other words, Kiev has de facto turned these people into stateless persons.

It was our duty to provide assistance to these people in that situation. Russian citizenship will allow them to tackle their current problems, give them freedom of movement as well as access to healthcare services, education, banking services and transportation.

At the same time, Russia is not forcing anyone to adopt its citizenship or abandon the Ukrainian citizenship. Each resident of Donbass makes the decision independently.

Besides, this is not a new practice at all. A number of European countries, for example, Poland, Hungary and Romania, have been doing this for years.

The general procedure for granting Russian citizenship is regulated by a federal law, which says that the basic condition is the applicant’s residence in Russia. But the law also stipulates preferences for foreign nationals living outside Russia if at least one of their parents is a Russian citizen living in Russia. An exception has been made for the stateless persons who used to hold Soviet citizenship and are living in the former Soviet republics. They can receive Russian citizenship without taking up residency in Russia. In addition to this, parents holding Russian citizenship can register their children born in mixed marriages as Russian citizens. We are working to improve this procedure.

In reality, Russian offices abroad issue Russian passports to some 50,000 people every year. Over half of them are children born in mixed marriages. Their parents usually write in their applications that they want to maintain the legal and spiritual connection to Russia.

Question: Have you ever developed good personal relations with foreign colleagues even though you may have political differences with their home countries? Can you provide an example of such friendship?

Sergey Lavrov: Good and trust-based personal relations are extremely important in the diplomatic profession. In some cases communications are maintained and solutions to problems are found only thanks to such personal relations. In general, I believe that the ability to maintain close contacts, avoid emotional decision-making and never forget about your country’s strategic interests when dealing with short-term concerns are the required qualities of all diplomats irrespective of rank and post.

Of course, partners and counterparts do change. For example, as a Foreign Minister I have worked with five US Secretaries of State. But this does not mean [personal] ties are broken off when my colleagues retire or are appointed to another position. After all, this is a small world.

As for giving examples, I would not like to name anyone now, including out of respect for the other colleagues. After all, friendship is a very personal matter. Besides, many of my friends are still working in the diplomatic service or are prominent in the socio-political sphere.

Question: What quality distinguishes a real diplomat from a fake one?

Sergey Lavrov: As for the qualities a professional diplomat must have, I would say that the most important of them is a deep understanding of your country’s development goals and foreign policy interests. Of course, this calls for special training, good knowledge of history, constant involvement in all aspects of life, as well as colossal erudition. Diplomats routinely work with people from other countries, ethnicities and cultures. So they must be well-versed in a country’s specifics. Of course, it is very important to have a knowledge of foreign languages, which is, by the way, a strong point when it comes to our diplomacy. Overall, diplomatic work consists of active contacts with people, which is why a real diplomat must make a good impression, find common language with others in any situation, as well as be able not only to hear but also to listen to what the counterparts say.

السعودية: العودة إلى لبنان لتعويض خسارة اليمن

العدد:2994 تاريخ:17/07/2019

ناصر قنديل

– كما هربت إسرائيل نحو الخليج تسعى لتحقيق مكتسبات تقدمها لجمهورها تعويضاً عن الفشل بوجه حزب الله والمقاومة في لبنان، والطريق المسدود أمام أي محاولة لتحسين الأوضاع على جبهة لبنان، تبدو السعودية مقتنعة ببلوغ الطريق المسدود في جبهة اليمن، ليصير لبنان وجهتها البديلة مجدداً. فالحرب في اليمن في سنتها الخامسة لم تعد فيها أي آمال لتحقيق تقدم عسكري يصرَف في السياسة، والمبادرة العسكرية صارت بيد أنصار الله في استهداف العمق السعودي وتعريضه للخطر، والتجارة العالمية في أسواق النفط التي تشكل السعودية أحد أكبر اللاعبين فيها باتت رهينة لمعادلة الحرب اليمنية بعدما وضع أنصار الله لدخولهم حرب الناقلات والأنابيب عنواناً هو الردّ على العدوان السعودي الإماراتي على اليمن، وجاء التراجع الأميركي عن حماية المصالح السعودية والإماراتية التي كانت مشمولة بمهام الحشود العسكرية الأميركية في الخليج قبل أن تتراجع واشنطن، وبعده الانسحاب الإماراتي من حرب اليمن، ليجعل السعودية تستشعر خطورة العناد بإبقاء نيران الحرب مشتعلة.

– تقول مصادر يمنية إن العمليات الانتقامية التي كانت تعقب كل صاروخ يطال العمق السعودي تراجعت كثيراً، وإن البلاغات العسكرية السعودية عن إحباط عمليات قصف يمنية في أغلبها مفبركة لكسب الرأي العام، وإن تفاوضاً يجري بين القيادة العسكرية الأميركية للمنطقة الوسطى وأنصار الله في مسقط عبر وساطة عمانية طلبها الجانب الأميركي تحت شعار صياغة قواعد اشتباك تمنع التصادم في الخليج، سرعان ما تطورت لأكثر من ذلك. ويعتقد العمانيون أن السعوديين يتوجّسون من تفاهمات أميركية يمنية على حسابهم، وأن استئناف مساعي المبعوث الأممي مارتن غريفيت في الحديدة وتمهيده لإنعاش فرص الحل السياسي لاحقاً يحظيان بتغطية أميركية للنجاح، وأن الرياض أعطت موافقتها على تفاهم لتطبيق اتفاق ستوكهولم بصورة رضائية لم يكن مقبولاً منها ومن مؤيديها اليمنيين في حكومة عبد ربه منصور هادي من قبل، لأن الرياض بدأت تقترب من قرار الخروج من حرب اليمن بأقلّ الخسائر، وأنها تفهم معنى الكلام الأميركي عن إخراج إيران من اليمن كتغطية أميركية على فرصة تسوية تمنح حلفاء إيران مكاسب في اليمن الجديد، وتحرج السعودية إذا عارضت ومؤيديها اليمنيين، بينما ستكون إيران قوة دعم لتحصيل حلفائها اليمنيين لمكاسب قاتلوا من أجلها طويلاً، وترتضي منح الأميركيين الاستعراض الإعلامي بادعاء تحقيق الأرباح، فما فعله أنصار الله في حرب الناقلات والأنابيب حقق لإيران الكثير، لكنه فرض أنصار الله لاعباً إقليمياً وازناً، وإيران ستدعم ترجمة ذلك الوزن في أي تسوية للحرب في اليمن.

– اليمن قد يشكل مخرجاً من التجاذب الضاغط في الملف النووي الإيراني، ويمنح الفرصة بفتح قنوات التسوية السياسية، وفقاً للرؤية الفرنسية التي تقول بالتسليم بمكانة لأنصار الله في الخليج وأمنه تشبه مكانة حزب الله في المشرق وأمنه، كي تبدأ التهدئة الأميركية الإيرانية، وينفتح الباب التفاوضي أمام الأوروبيين وفي طليعتهم الرئيس الفرنسي ومبادرته للتوسّط التي تحظى بدعم الرئيس الروسي فلاديمير بوتين، وتمنح إيران مطالبها الاقتصادية من أوروبا، بقبول أميركي، مقابل عودة إيران إلى التزاماتها في الإتفاق النووي، تمهيداً للدخول في التفاوض حول حدود تطوير البرنامج الصاروخي الإيراني، الذي كان شرط إيران للبحث فيه إيفاء أوروبا بالتزاماتها المتضمنة في الاتفاق النووي، وتعتبره واشنطن الثمن الذي يوفر لها فرصة العودة الضمنية للاتفاق النووي والنزول عن شجرة التصعيد.

– بالتوازي مع كل ذلك تظهر الحركة السعودية نحو لبنان، من تمويل صحف جديدة، واستدعاء رؤساء حكومات سابقين، والدفع بمواقف تصعيدية لمكونات قوى الرابع عشر من آذار، سواء حركة رئيس الحزب التقدمي الاشتراكي التي ظهرت مفاجئة في حادث قبرشمون الدموي وما تلاه في السياسة من شعارات عن المناطق والأبواب، أو في حركة رئيس حزب القوات اللبنانية سمير جعجع تحت عنوان الموازنة والاشتباك المفتوح بوجوه متعددة على التيار الوطني الحر. وهو هجوم تلاقيه الصحافة السعودية بصورة لافتة باستهداف التيار ورئيسه بمقالات نافرة، فتبدو هذه الحركة كتعويض عن خسارة اليمن، تحظى بغطاء أميركي لتسهيل التراجع السعودي في اليمن، كبند في أي تهدئة مطلوبة مع إيران، ووفقاً لبعض المصادر فإن العقوبات الأميركية الأخيرة على قيادات من حزب الله ليست منفصلة عن مسعى تزخيم العملية السعودية نحو لبنان، والتي لا يبدو رئيس الحكومة سعد الحريري جزءاً منها، بل ربما كانت تستهدفه قبل سواه، تحجيماً تمهيداً للترويض والتطويع، لأهداف عملية الريتز ذاتها قبل عامين، ولكن بوسائل وظروف مختلفة.

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