Europe fails with German help

July 01, 2022

Source

by Jorge Vilches

Robert Habeck, Vice-Chancellor of Germany and Federal Minister for Economic Affairs and Climate Action, jointly with Annalena Baerbock — Germany´s Anglophile Minister of Foreign Affairs — have patronized the world from the German Green Party´s self-proclaimed moral high ground thru their ´we truly care´ and ´superior knowledge´ mantras.

Now, both German officials — quite active in the European War Party led by also German Ursula von der Leyen – are behind NATO´s announced increase of military presence in Europe with US headquarters and troops in Poland… plus a 10-fold enlarged rapid-response force up to 300,000 with yet additional troops in Romania and the Baltic states… plus yet more destroyers and F-35s in Europe´s waters and skies… and now considering itself the “unique, essential and indispensable”(sic) bloc while sweeping under the rug the deep existential crisis it has dug Europeans into with no way out for energy and commodities sourcing security. Ref #1 https://www.rt.com/news/558088-biden-troop-deployments-nato-europe/

C:\Users\Jorge Vilches\Desktop\777.jpgPower Outage. Electricity Symbol in Red Ban Circle with Text Below Stock Vector – Illustration of concept, cable: 151740792

And precisely to address the current self-inflicted energy debacle, German Minister Habeck is compounding this ugly all-inclusive European conundrum in at least 14 different ways and has (1) shut down Germany´s nuclear power plants including the domino impact upon the inter-connected European electrical grid without any foresight or consideration whatsoever (2) banned excellent, cheap Russian hydrocarbons and distilled petroleum products thereof to which Europe´s entire economy and energy infrastructure is uniquely matched and tuned for, including the superb, proven, mostly un-replaceable Russian Urals crude oil blend and the most convenient Russian Druzbha door-to-door pipeline rendering 24x7x365 already vetted exceptional performance (3) shut down and indefinetly cancelled the most-needed NS2 pipeline for delivery of Russian hydrocarbons, with possible partial expropiatory theft yet again beyond bank deposits and other assets (4) fully ignored the very loud Siemens compliance warning regarding the EU ban on return-delivery of NS1 equipment back to Russia under well-known, scheduled and mandatory Canadian maintenance requirements (5) re-introduced the dirtiest of coals, namely brown coal, as feedstock for German and EU coal-fired power plants (6) rationed hot water and fuel consumption including the amount of time that Herr Habeck himself spends in the shower (7) shamefully placed Russia´s Gazprom Germania in a ´trusteeship´ of sorts which will also prove to be a very expensive mistake (8) promoted a fully counter-productive wind-mill expansion program requiring fossil-fueled equipment for the extraction and transportation of thousands of tons of nickel and rare earths that Europe does not have, plus subsequent movement, erection and maintenance of such wind mills with other fossil fueled equipment that Europe has to import, plus additional fossil fuel power-generating equipment always needed as backstop during low wind seasons such as the last several months, plus tons of fossil-fuel powered equipment to eventually de-commission such wind-mills (9) fast-tracked the LNG Acceleration Act to favor in every possible way the construction of fully unnecessary and super-costly Liquefied Natural Gas terminals in detriment of many other much needed infrastructures so as to many months from now eventually buy über-expensive LNG from the USA which is really the Master Pupeteer behind this anti-Europe Master Plan (10) with direct benefit to Russia, the current lower volume of its oil exports at much higher prices thanks to EU sanctions allows the Ruble to become ever stronger while saving Russian oil for sale to others (11) pushed for a naïve buyer´s oil price cap cartel in a seller’s market (!!!) (12) seized Russian LNG tankers (13) crashed German nat-gas giant Uniper now ready for bail-out and Lehman moment (14) launched Germany and the EU in the most nonsensical “firehose” oil & gas policies already explained to death and with excruciating details Ref # 2 https://thesaker.is/herr-habeck-firehoses-oil-gas/ Ref #3 https://www.rt.com/business/558116-germany-seizes-russian-lng-tankers/ Ref # 4 https://www.rt.com/news/558073-nato-adopts-new-strategic-concept-russia/ Ref #5 https://www.rt.com/business/558126-skepticism-russian-oil-price-cap/ Ref #6 https://www.zerohedge.com/commodities/uniper-crashes-russian-natgas-supply-crunch-bailout-talks-germany

So, Herr Habeck and Fräulein Baerbock, on behalf of the few future European survivors, please enjoy a loud and clear “bravo, bravissimo, bravo” from your colleague Mario Draghi – Italy´s NATO Prime Minister courtesy of Goldman Sachs – for such creative and successful ´green solutions´ that will have both of you go down in history forever.

Die Grünen: “Regieren ist radikal” | ZEIT ONLINE

Unbeknownst to EU politicians and to these two ignorant dilettantes, Europe´s diesel is now strictly in Russian hands.

I have said it before and I´ll say it yet again: no imagination can ever be creative enough to make this stuff up. No way.

Could it be a deliberate insider attack of the West on the West? Will Joe Six-Pack figure all this out soon enough?

Ref #7 https://www.mondaq.com/germany/oil-gas-electricity/1204198/liquefied-natural-gas-projects-in-germany-the-lng-acceleration-act

Ref #8 https://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/german-economy-minister-on-the-gas-shortage-there-is-a-black-hat-and-putin-is-wearing-it-a-e387bacf-70ce-447f-b7dc-3b48d0ac4178 Ref #9 https://www.rt.com/business/557554-europe-coal-energy-crisis/

Russia rules diesel

European transportation of anything and everything — from people to peanuts to 500,000 metric tons ULCC oil tankers — is 99% diesel-powered. Whomever in Europe wishes or needs to move whatever with whichever vehicle or craft from point A to point B anywhere — either very close or very far away — will need diesel-powered engines somewhere along the line, and sometimes all along the long line. This is a fact, not an opinion. No diesel, no Europe. By the same token – and if so far you´ve only been browsing from now on please focus sharply on every word — less diesel, less Europe… and not enough diesel, no longer Europe as we know it. Furthermore, less diesel necessarily means even far less diesel yet as explained below. But first, let´s recall where diesel comes from.

Diesel comes from distilled crude oil which, as of December 2022 will no longer be from Russia but per the EU sanctions package No.6 from somewhere else yet an unfathomable mystery. Now then, so far nothing to write home about as we all know such circumstances very well and mostly pray and hope for the best right?. Unfortunately, it´s much much worse than that. Why so? Please keep reading, we´ll get there soon enough, in the next couple of paragraphs at the most. Because when we all generically talk about “diesel”, we automatically and exclusively think

of diesel fuel, the beautifully colored liquid we fill up our fuel tanks with. But actually, the problem is three-fold as we have, yes indeed, (1) diesel fuel of course… but also (2) diesel exhaust fluid or DEF + (3) diesel engine lube oil…

and all three are required by diesel engines. And to compound the problem further, the vessels absolutely required for seaborne delivery of non-Russian diesel-refinable crude oil from December 2022 also run on diesel-powered engines. So that´s why above you read “less diesel necessarily means even far less diesel yet ” clear enough?

By the way, other Russian commodities besides their superb Urals blend for diesel distillation are also involved.

(1) diesel fuel

Diesel fuel is required and consumed all along the transportation vectors, from container ships with goods from wherever and the trucks that pick up such goods from European ports and bring them to warehouses and then to homes etc., etc., etc. Same thing for farms that grow food produce and have tractors and vehicles to move stuff around. Trucks, cars, ships, industrial machinery, buses, factories, homes, etc., etc., etc., all require diesel fuel.

(2) diesel exhaust fluid (DEF)

DEF is a solution of urea + de-ionized water required by diesel engines in order to reduce harmful gases released during combustion by catalytic conversion of the nitrogen oxide into nitrogen and steam. In most cases diesel engines will not even start without urea-derived DEF — manufactured as a derivative of natural gas – and normally produced partly in Europe but mostly in Russia and China, the world´s two largest exporters. Europe is now having very serious natural gas supply problems, so no urea — and thus no DEF — will come from Europe. And both China and Russia have stopped exporting urea in order to produce fertilizers for themselves. So without urea anywhere around either of European origin or imported from wherever then no DEF for Europe which means no diesel engines for Europe okay?

(3) diesel engine lube oil

Because of the Ukraine war and previous Covid supply chain problems, key manufacturers of certain additives have curtailed operations, and thus diesel engine lube oil has suffered serious shortage problems worldwide. With foresight, some countries have stockpiled such raw materials for additive manufacturing or improvised new ones. This includes Russia, India, China, and others in Southeast Asia. The additives involved are antioxidants, anti-corrosion agents, dispersing additives, antirust mechanisms, friction modifiers, EP additives, antifoaming agents, antioxidants, and others. Without these additives, traditional manufacturers cannot produce the final oil products for the internal lubrication of diesel engines. Please do remember that all three “diesels” explained above are required by any diesel engine.

Ref #10 http://theeconomiccollapseblog.com/a-warning-about-the-coming-shortages-of-diesel-fuel-diesel-exhaust-fluid-and-diesel-engine-oil/

Ref #11 https://www.newsweek.com/diesel-exhaust-fuel-shortage-us-drivers-fuel-prices-russia-ukraine-war-1716503

Ref #12 https://www.motorbiscuit.com/what-could-a-def-shortage-mean-for-diesel/

Ref #13 https://www.naturalnews.com/2022-06-22-red-alert-entire-us-supply-of-diesel-engine-oil-wiped-out.html

Ref #14 https://www.zerohedge.com/personal-finance/summer-preview-rolling-blackouts-higher-gas-prices-natural-gas-rationing-europe

So then, let´s summarize the European crude oil-dependency factors that impact availability of diesel products

(A) Crude oil shortage

Source yet unknown, below please see “what NOT to do” as non-sensical and foolish as it might sound.
Also please see Ref #15 https://thesaker.is/no-fuels-for-europe/

(B) Crude oil seaborne delivery is either poor or has failed

Diesel fueling problems for tankers, so less crude oil delivery means less diesel refined (vicious circle)
Suez limitations + Cape Horn problems + piracy + very long trips from far away with serious issues
Much higher freight costs + much longer distances complicate logistics compliance of batch deliveries.
Tanker problems & port labor union issues re schedule non-compliance both out-bound and in-bound
Tanker size limitations in a very tight batch-delivery quantum-discontinuous system
Tanker availability as 50% of the existing fleet is still fully dedicated to the delivery of Russian oil exports
Please see Ref #16 https://www.maritime-executive.com/article/sovcomflot-has-worked-around-sanctions-to-keep-sailing

(C) Crude oil serious port limitations & compromised loading & unloading capabilities

Port limitations + reforms per the Rostock example at Ref # 17 https://thesaker.is/dear-ursula-you-are-dead-wrong/
(D) Crude oil serious land logistics very limited capabilities

• The Schwedt pipeline example per Ref # 18 https://thesaker.is/germans-schwedt-hard-for-russian-oil/

(E) None (zero) refinery modifications planned for, coordinated, or made for new crude oil- refinement capabilities

European DEF shortage per the description above
European diesel engine lube oil shortage per the description above
European diesel fuel shortage affecting the distribution of diesel fuel per the description above
the sequence

The process starts by defining the desired output, in this case with the focus on much-needed diesel fuel for all-around transportation and industrial machinery up and downstream of every sort which ends up governing everything else.

The process does NOT start by deciding to buy some whatever good or bad or intermediate quality oil at a “fair” price somewhere else wherever with whatever freight & delivery terms from whichever somebody you don´t even know yet. No, it doesn´t work that way. If skeptical, please ask other sources, and then understand, accept, and act accordingly.

Benjamin Franklin once said: “ Experience is an expensive school but fools will learn in no other”. That is humbly true.

C:\Users\Jorge Vilches\Desktop\index.jpg

what NOT to do

Reuters – “ France wants to replace Russian oil with oil from Venezuela and Iran ”. Really, do they? First of all, there is the very live and sensitive political memory both in Iran and Venezuela of years-long damaging sanctions and always constant Western aggressions, be it with Soleimani´s brutal in-your-face acknowledged assassination or Guaydo´s now supposed ownership of the Venezuelan gold vaulted in the Bank of England. But beyond the enormous geopolitical obstacles involved now even with Iran officially requesting admission into BRICS, the ignorant fools in charge should be whispered to in their ears that they will NEVER EVER distill the quality and amount of diesel that Europe requires from readily available either Venezuelan or Iranian oils. The reason is that both are heavy (or very heavy) and also ´sour´ meaning with relatively high sulfur content and are thusly very complicated to process into diesel, let alone by European refineries which simply can´t do it no matter what or how hard they try. Very exceptionally some very rare Iranian and Venezuelan blends could possibly be found to be somewhat better adapted to European needs. But the price of such would be ultra-high while constantly available volumes are ultra-low for European requirements or simply non-existent. In sum, not good, forget about those, please do not blow up the refineries (I kid you not) just stick to “the science” as Herr Habeck would have it, and for Heaven´s sake please do hurry up and stop proposing foolish ideas which you should know much better about.

Ref # 20 https://www.rt.com/business/557918-france-replacement-russian-oil/

Ref # 21 https://thesaker.is/europes-mad-ban-on-russian-oil/

Ref # 22 https://thesaker.is/why-russias-oil-ban-is-impossible/

Ref # 23 https://thesaker.is/europe-now-cheats-or-suffers/

Ref # 24 https://thesaker.is/pitchforks-soon-in-europe/

Now please repeat out loud after me, word by word… refineries-are-pretty-much-built-and-later-matched-and-finely-tuned-for-the-feedstock-they-will-use-for-the-rest-of-their-useful-service-lives… and can only be tweaked so far to be able to use even a slightly different feedstock, let alone completely different crudes such as traditional Venezuelan or Iranian oils. That is the reason why crude oil procurement contracts are so difficult to agree upon with a humongous amount of lab data, tests all-around, back & forth, and highly intense negotiations (meaning lots of TIME) which also necessarily require the guarantee of decades-long constant-quality supply. Crude oil blends are always at least slightly different (possibly a lot) but are definitely never fungible, not interchangeable in any way, shape or form. European refineries were built, matched, and mated to the Russian Urals blend to which everybody has become used to in more than one way. Iranian and Venezuelan oils are perfectly good for refining very important petrochemical distillates but are mostly very different from those which Europe now needs. Instead, Europe needs massive amounts of high-quality diesel and they better have lots of it soon enough, or else… What part of this is so hard to understand?

So please stop the wishful-thinking dead in its tracks, right now. Please. Many hundreds of millions of people depend upon a correct judgment nowhere to be seen today. Time is of the essence and in more than one-way time is already up. Once that diesel is defined as the preferential output, then – and only then – you look for the right type of crude oil to be refined ( … not from Iran or Venezuela…) but always delivered in the agreed quality and quantities, means, and terms, including guarantees provided by the right type of reliable vendor. There is a whole LOT to unpack in that last sentence so do not breeze by it lightly. Rather stop and focus on the many key difficult features yet to be found for the Urals substitute which will not happen. It may though possibly be that several different blends are found from different vendors, not a single well-known reliable supplier as Russia, which would complicate the matter tremendously as it would not be a “universal” substitute, but rather many. And finally – and never ever before – all the European refineries would be modified according to a (1) “coordinated plan” which now does not exist and (2) per the specific crude oil to be refined which now does not exist and (3) with the due process for each and only one by one (which does not exist) one at a time, not all simultaneously throughout Europe as these fools have decided without even knowing yet the source crude oil(s) to be refined (!!!!). Do you now understand why I say that it´s impossible to make this stuff up?

C:\Users\Jorge Vilches\Desktop\index.jpg

the chicken and the egg

Despite being a clear priority, so far Europeans are acting as if they did not need diesel production as the main desired output of their refineries. Furthermore, the diesel portion extracted from any new non-Russian crude oil – if ever found in the right terms with the delivery of large and continuous quantities and quality – would never be identical to what the Urals blend renders today, no way. At any rate, if the already approved game plan is to change such Russian Urals blend, the modifications to all European refineries would have to be made necessarily after the new crude oil feedstock is precisely known and made available, not a second before. And after decades of constant only-Urals processing, the switchover to whatever is finally found – yet unknown, if ever – is unfathomable. The only way to do it is to close down the distillation process throughout Europe for months. And precisely who, how, and by when will keep on supplying the European market with the quantity and quality required by the all-important diesel and other distillate fuels and petrochemicals, huh? We need an answer for that right now, before messing things up forever, okay?

not a drill

I am listening but can´t hear a single sound, anyone and all please do respond. This is for real, not a drill. If you don´t have the answer to the above question, come December 2022 — unless EU politicians backtrack with a humiliating 180 rewind, something which is definitely in the cards — supposedly the seaborne Russian Urals blend will be fully banned from Europe, meaning that a different non-Russian blend would be its substitute. But until a definition of such is made, nothing can be done, no plans, no bids, no contracts, no modifications, no calibration, no fine-tuning, no certification, no permitting, no commissioning, nothing. And whenever it is finally known, the switch-over sequence will be the hardest trick on planet Earth. The only known procedure is to very gradually stop the inflow of Urals (which takes time) and slowly “purge” the system, then shut down the refineries (not easy to do and yet more time) but always having ready at hand the continuous feed of the new (but yet-unknown) batch-delivered crude oil substitute right there and then – and only then — start with operational trials after lots of lab tests and back & forth until finally the bosses – not technical folks, but the political bosses — feel ´comfortable´ ( I did not say ´sure´) to re-start operations with the traditional comings and goings and – quite frankly – just see what the hell happens until the refinery achieves cruising speed, if ever, and then lock on the operating parameters. A very messy and risky experiment done simultaneously throughout all of Europe´s refineries … and winter is coming… And please do not blow up several European refineries in the process, I beg you because that would perpetuate the problem pretty much forever. Only harebrained fools can plan for this, but the price will still be paid by all Europeans, not only by two German Greens.

Slightly off-topic ( still very much EU energy-related ) per the Financial Times the UK has warned that, if push ever got to shove, it would shut down its nat-gas supply pipeline to Europe. Yes, it will. Meanwhile, a fully unsubstantiated report from Fitch without any details whatsoever, concludes that “it could take the EU more than three years to offset a full loss of Russian gas supply”. No kidding Fitch. How about never ever as it´d had to be mainly through non-existent LNG terminals and non-existent supplies plus hundreds of un-existent pipelines and lots of additional land-logistical infrastructure. And just from where exactly would Europe find the nat-gas required to survive during such “three years or more“? Are only harebrained ´experts´ available or shall we ever get any no-nonsense reporting from the West?

Ref # 25 https://www.rt.com/business/558053-europe-gas-threat-uk/

Ref # 26 https://www.rt.com/business/558048-eu-russia-gas-replacement/

Ref # 27 https://www.rt.com/business/557967-eu-gas-crisis-domino-effect/

BRICS is turning into a collective “Non-West”

June 30, 2022

Elena PaninaDirector of the RUSSTRAT Institute – Machine Translated and cleaned up from the Russian original.

MOSCOW, June 29, 2022, RUSSTRAT Institute.

BRICS expansion has been discussed for a long time. It is significant that the last summit on June 24 in the BRICS Plus format was attended by such countries as Algeria, Argentina, Cambodia, Egypt, Fiji, Ethiopia, Indonesia, Iran, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, Senegal, Thailand and Uzbekistan.

At the same time, the fact that the first applications for membership were submitted by Argentina and Iran, which did not take part in the BRICS Plus meeting, does not seem accidental.

Initially, the BRICS group was created as an association of the largest developing economies in the world. However, in the modern world, it is political decisions that determine the nature of the development of economic ties. It is quite logical that the first countries with a pronounced geopolitical sovereignty and having their own geopolitical scores with the collective West are preparing to join the expanded BRICS.

Iran is already almost two and a half thousand years old, since the time of Cyrus the Great is a powerful historical power, and its geopolitical significance cannot be overestimated. The geography itself determines the potential of its influence on the countries of the Arab world up to the coast of the Mediterranean Sea and the Persian Gulf, in the Transcaucasus, Central Asia, as well as on the Afpak region (Afghanistan and Pakistan). Since the 1979 Islamic Revolution, Iran’s state ideology has been anti-Western. Tehran is engaged in an intense struggle with the US-British coalition for influence in Iraq, and is helping Syria in the fight against terrorism.

From an economic point of view, Iran’s potential is also great. The Iranian economy is in the world’s top 20 in terms of purchasing power parity, the country is third in the world after Saudi Arabia and Venezuela in terms of proven oil resources, and has 16 percent of the world’s proven gas reserves.

Argentina, since the time of General Juan Domingo Peron, has also clearly felt its geopolitical role, being one of the regional leaders in Latin America. This role is recognized all over the world. Argentina, while not one of the world’s largest economies, is nevertheless a full member of the G20. Having survived the failed war with Great Britain over the Falkland Islands (Malvinas), as well as the collapse of liberal reforms according to the IMF recipes, the country has an obvious request to find an independent path of development. Today, Argentina is in a difficult economic situation, it has a huge external debt. However, the potential of Argentina as one of the global food exporters has significantly increased in recent years.

For various reasons, both Iran and Argentina are extremely interested in BRICS projects to create new international settlement systems that are alternative to the global hegemony of the dollar. Iran, which is under sanctions, life itself has forced to go to “de-dollarization”, the country practically does not use the US currency. For Argentina, the transition to a hypothetical new monetary and financial zone would mean an escape from the stranglehold of the IMF, from the pressure of American creditors, which today have an extremely destructive impact on the national economy.

In any case, against the background of aggressive pressure from the United States and its allies on potential new BRICS members, the desire of Iran and Argentina to join the community requires a certain amount of foreign policy courage. There is reason to assume that the process of their joining the BRICS will be successful, since both countries do not cause rejection even in India, which until recently was the main opponent of expansion. We can confidently predict that in the near future the process of adding new members to the BRICS will continue due to the entry of a number of Asian and African countries.

But even now, the BRICS expansion at the expense of Iran and Argentina is the final departure of the community from the idea of Goldman Sachs analyst Jim O’Neill, who coined this abbreviation twenty years ago, who decided to designate such a term as “emerging economies” that are “catching up” with the developed West.

We can say that BRICS is confidently turning into a “collective Non-West”, from a community of emerging markets it is finally transformed into a community of world powers with a pronounced geopolitical sovereignty.

You’re either with us or you’re a “systemic challenge”

June 30, 2022

Source

After all we’re deep into the metaverse spectrum, where things are the opposite of what they seem.

By Pepe Escobar, posted with the author’s permission and widely cross-posted

Fast but not furious, the Global South is revving up. The key takeaway of the BRICS+ summit in Beijing,  held in sharp contrast with the G7 in the Bavarian Alps, is that both West Asia’s Iran and South America’s Argentina officially applied for BRICS membership.

The Iranian Foreign Ministry has highlighted how BRICS has “a very creative mechanism with broad aspects”. Tehran – a close partner of both Beijing and Moscow – already had “a series of consultations” about the application: the Iranians are sure that will “add value” to the expanded BRICS.

Talk about China, Russia and Iran being sooooo isolated. Well, after all we’re deep into the metaverse spectrum, where things are the opposite of what they seem.

Moscow’s obstinacy in not following Washington’s Plan A to start a pan-European war is rattling Atlanticist nerves to the core. So right after the G7 summit significantly held at a former Nazi sanatorium, enter NATO’s, in full warmongering regalia.

So welcome to an atrocity exhibition featuring total demonization of Russia, defined as the ultimate “direct threat”; the upgrading of Eastern Europe into “a fort”; a torrent of tears shed about the Russia-China strategic partnership; and as an extra bonus, the branding of China as a “systemic challenge”.

There you go: for the NATO/G7 combo, the leaders of the emerging multipolar world as well as the vast swathes of the Global South that want to join in, are a “systemic challenge”.

Turkiye under the Sultan of Swing – Global South in spirit, tightrope walker in practice – got literally everything it wanted to magnanimously allow Sweden and Finland to clear their paths on the way of being absorbed by NATO.

Bets can be made on what kind of shenanigans NATO navies will come up with in the Baltics against the Russian Baltic Fleet, to be followed by assorted business cards distributed by Mr. Khinzal, Mr. Zircon, Mr. Onyx and Mr. Kalibr, capable of course of annihilating any NATO permutation, including “decision centers”.

So it came as a sort of perverse comic relief when Roscosmos released a set of quite entertaining satellite images pinpointing the coordinates of those “decision centers”.

The “leaders” of NATO and the G7 seem to enjoy performing a brand of lousy cop/clownish cop routine. The NATO summit told coke comedian Elensky (remember, the letter “Z” is verboten) that the Russian combined arms police operation – or war – must be “resolved” militarily. So NATO will continue to help Kiev to fight till the last Ukrainian cannon fodder.

In parallel, at the G7, German Chancellor Scholz was asked to specify what “security guarantees” would be provided to what’s left of Ukraine after the war. Response from the grinning Chancellor: “Yes … I could” (specify). And then he trailed off.

Illiberal Western liberalism

Over 4 months after the start of Operation Z, zombified Western public opinion completely forgot – or willfully ignores – that Moscow spent the last stretch of 2021 demanding a serious discussion on legally binding security guarantees from Washington, with an emphasis on no more NATO eastward expansion and a return to the 1997 status quo.

Diplomacy did fail, as Washington emitted a non-response response. President Putin had stressed the follow-up would be a “military technical” response (that turned out to be Operation Z) even as the Americans warned that would trigger massive sanctions.

Contrary to Divide and Rule wishful thinking, what happened after February 24 only solidified the synergistic Russia-China strategic partnership – and their expanded circle, especially in the context of BRICS and the SCO. As Sergey Karaganov, head of Russia’s Council on Foreign and Defense Policy noted earlier this year, “China is our strategic cushion (…) We know that in any difficult situation, we can lean on it for military, political and economic support.”

That was outlined in detail for all the Global South to see by the landmark February 4th joint statement for Cooperation Entering a New Era – complete with the accelerated integration of BRI and the EAEU in tandem with military intelligence harmonization under the SCO (including new full member Iran), key foundation stones of multipolarism.

Now compare it with the wet dreams of the Council on Foreign Relations or assorted ravings by armchair strategic “experts” of “the top national security think tank in the world” whose military experience is limited to negotiating a can of beer.

Makes one yearn for those serious analytic days when the late, great Andre Gunder Frank penned ” a paper on the paper tiger” , examining American power at the crossroads of paper dollar and the Pentagon.

The Brits, with better imperial education standards, at least seem to understand, halfway, how Xi Jinping “has embraced a variant of integral nationalism not unlike those that emerged in interwar Europe”, while Putin “skillfully deployed Leninist methods to resurrect an enfeebled Russia as a global power.”

Yet the notion that “ideas and projects originating in the illiberal West continue to shape global politics” is nonsense, as Xi in fact is inspired by Mao as much as Putin is inspired by several Eurasianist theoreticians. What’s relevant is that in the process of the West plunging into a geopolitical abyss, “Western liberalism has itself become illiberal.”

Much worse: it actually became totalitarian.

Holding the Global South hostage

The G7 is essentially offering to most of the Global South a toxic cocktail of massive inflation, rising prices and uncontrolled dollarized debt.

Fabio Vighi has brilliantly outlined how “the purpose of the Ukrainian emergency is to keep the money printer switched on while blaming Putin for worldwide economic downturn. The war serves the opposite aim of what we are told: not to defend Ukraine but to prolong the conflict and nourish inflation in a bid to defuse cataclysmic risk in the debt market, which would spread like wildfire across the whole financial sector.”

And if it can get worse, it will. At the Bavarian Alps, the G7 promised to find “ways to limit the price of Russian oil and gas”: if that doesn’t work according to “market methods”, then “means will be imposed by force”.

A G7 “indulgence” – neo-medievalism in action – would only be possible if a prospective buyer of Russian energy agrees to strike a deal on the price with G7 representatives.

What this means in practice is that the G7 arguably will be creating a new body to “regulate” the price of oil and gas, subordinated to Washington’s whims: for all practical purposes, a major twist of the post-1945 system.

The whole planet, especially the Global South, would be held hostage.

Meanwhile, in real life, Gazprom is on a roll, making as much money from gas exports to the EU as it did in 2021, even though it’s shipping much smaller volumes.

About the only thing this German analyst gets right is that were Gazprom forced to cut off supplies for good, that would represent “the implosion of an economic model that is over-reliant on industrial exports, and therefore on imports of cheap fossil fuels. Industry is responsible for 36% of Germany’s gas use.”

Think, for instance, BASF forced to halt production at the world’s biggest chemicals plant in Ludwigshafen. Or Shell’s CEO stressing it’s absolutely impossible to replace Russian gas supplied to the EU via pipelines with (American) LNG.

This coming implosion is exactly what Washington neocon/neoliberalcon circles want – removing a powerful (Western) economic competitor from the world trading stage. What’s truly astonishing is that Team Scholz can’t even see it coming.

Virtually no one remembers what happened a year ago when the G7 struck a pose of trying to help the Global South. That was branded as Build Back Better World (B3W). “Promising projects” were identified in Senegal and Ghana, there were “visits” to Ecuador, Panama and Colombia. The Crash Test Dummy administration was offering “the full range” of US financial tools: equity stakes, loan guarantees, political insurance, grants, technical expertise on climate, digital technology and gender equality.

The Global South was not impressed. Most of it had already joined BRI. B3W went down with a whimper.

Now the EU is promoting its new “infrastructure” project for the Global South, branded as Global Gateway, officially presented by European Commission (EC) Fuhrer Ursula von der Leyen and – surprise! – coordinated with the floundering B3W. That’s the Western “response” to BRI, demonized as – what else – “a debt trap”.

Global Gateway in theory should be spending 300 billion euros in 5 years; the EC will come up with only 18 billion from the EU budget (that is, financed by EU taxpayers), with the intention of amassing 135 billion euros in private investment. No Eurocrat has been able to explain the gap between the announced 300 billion and the wishful thinking 135 billion.

In parallel, the EC is doubling down on their floundering Green Energy agenda – blaming, what else, gas and coal. EU climate honcho Frans Timmermans has uttered an absolute pearl: “Had we had the green deal five years earlier, we would not be in this position because then we would have less dependency on fossil fuels and natural gas.”

Well, in real life the EU remains stubbornly on the road to become a fully de-industrialized wasteland by 2030. Inefficient solar or wind-based Green Energy is incapable of offering stable, reliable power. No wonder vast swathes of the EU are now Back to Coal.

The right kind of swing

It’s a tough call to establish who’s The Lousiest in the NATO/G7 cop routine. Or the most predictable. This is what I published about the NATO summit . Not now: in 2014, eight years ago. The same old demonization, over and over again.

And once again, if it can get worse, predictably it will. Think of what’s left of Ukraine – mostly eastern Galicia – being annexed to the Polish wet dream: the revamped Intermarium, from the Baltic to the Black Sea, now dubbed as a bland “Three Seas Initiative” (with the added Adriatic) and comprising 12 nation-states.

What that implies long-term is a EU breakdown from within. Opportunist Warsaw just profits financially from the Brussels system’s largesse while holding its own hegemonic designs. Most of the “Three Seas” will end up exiting the EU. Guess who will guarantee their “defense”: Washington, via NATO. What else is new? The revamped Intermarium concept goes back all the way to the late Zbig “Grand Chessboard” Brzezinski.

So Poland dreams of becoming the Intermarium leader, seconded by the Three Baltic Midgets, enlarged Scandinavia, plus Bulgaria and Romania. Their aim is straight from Comedy Central: reducing Russia into “pariah state” status – and then the whole enchilada: regime change, Putin out, balkanization of the Russian Federation.

Britain, that inconsequential island, still invested in teaching Empire to the American upstarts, will love it. Germany-France-Italy much less. Lost in the wilderness Euro-analysts dream of a European Quad (Spain added), replicating the Indo-Pacific scam, but in the end it will all depend which way Berlin swings.

And then there’s that unpredictable Global South stalwart led by the Sultan of Swing: freshly rebranded Turkiye. Soft neo-Ottomanism seems to be on a roll, still expanding its tentacles from the Balkans and Libya to Syria and Central Asia. Evoking the golden age of the Sublime Porte, Istanbul is the only serious mediator between Moscow and Kiev. And it’s carefully micromanaging the evolving process of Eurasia integration.

The Americans were on the verge of regime-changing the Sultan. Now they have been forced to listen to him. Talk about a serious geopolitical lesson to the whole Global South: it don’t mean a “systemic challenge” thing if you’ve got the right kind of swing.

Putin: Address to participants of 10th St Petersburg International Legal Forum

June 30, 2022

Address to participants of 10th St Petersburg International Legal Forum

Vladimir Putin gave a video address to greet the participants of a plenary session of the 10th St Petersburg International Legal Forum. This year’s plenary session was themed Law in a Multipolar World. The video address was recorded during the President’s recent visit to St Petersburg.

President of Russia Vladimir Putin:

Colleagues,

I would like to welcome you to the 10th St Petersburg International Legal Forum, which, as always, has brought together leading jurists and practicing lawyers from many countries.

I am glad that after a forced interruption, the forum is again being held in person because even the most advanced communication technologies cannot replace a direct dialogue and face-to-face meetings.

Participants at the St Petersburg International Economic Forum recently discussed the most relevant political, financial, technological and cultural issues on the global agenda; many of these issues directly related to international law. It is important that you continue this conversation within this forum and discuss important topics like Law in a Multipolar World.

It is true, a multipolar system of international relations is now being formed. It is an irreversible process; it is happening before our eyes and is objective in nature. The position of Russia and many other countries is that this democratic, more just world order should be built on the basis of mutual respect and trust, and, of course, on the generally accepted principles of international law and the UN Charter.

At the same time, it is being said that law cannot adequately respond to the problems and challenges of today, to today’s turbulent and fundamental changes. There are also more radical assessments that the idea of international law is being dismantled. I fundamentally disagree with these conclusions.

Undoubtedly, the system of international law needs to be further developed, but we should not confuse cause and effect. Crises happen not because law is faulty, but because of attempts to replace law with dictate, and international standards with the national jurisdiction of certain states or groups of states in a deliberate refusal to follow essential legal principles – justice, conscientiousness, equality and humanity. These are not just legal ideals, but values that reflect the diversity of our civilisation.

Some states are not ready to accept losing their supremacy on the international stage, and they are striving to preserve the unjust unipolar model. Under the guise of what they call order based on rules, and other questionable concepts, they try to control and direct global processes at their own discretion, and hold to a course of creating closed blocs and coalitions that make decisions for the benefit of one country, the United States of America. The natural rights of others in international relations are being ignored; the fundamental principle of indivisibility of security is being used selectively. The West’s unilateral, illegitimate sanctions against sovereign states have reached an unprecedented scale.

I will add that the countries that advocate their own exceptionalism also overstep the law and cross out such concepts as inviolability of property and freedom of speech in their own domestic policy as well. In sum, the domination of one country or a group of countries on the global stage is not only counter-productive, but also dangerous and inevitably creates global, systemic risk.

The multipolar world of the 21st century does not have a place for inequality or for discrimination against states and peoples. Therefore, our country speaks for the practical realisation of the pivotal international legal principle of the sovereign equality of states and the right of each state to pursue its own development model.

The Russian foreign affairs agenda has always been and remains constructive. We develop multipolar relations with all who are interested in them and place great value on cooperation within the UN, the G20, BRICS, the SCO and other associations.

Russia is open to dialogue on ensuring strategic stability, preserving agreements on the non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and improving the situation in arms control. We are focused on joining efforts on crucial issues like the climate agenda, fighting famine, providing stability in food and energy markets, and fair rules in international trade and competition.

All of these areas require appropriate and flexible legal regulation and meticulous cooperation. With this approach, we could avoid crises such as the current one in Donbass that is happening to protect its residents from genocide – and there can be no other definition for the Kiev regime’s actions than “a crime against humanity.”

At the same time, Russia will continue to create a more democratic and just world where the rights of all peoples are guaranteed and mankind’s cultural and civilizational diversity is preserved.

I am confident that, by consistently following international law and joining our efforts, it is possible to resolve the most difficult problems that the world is facing and to provide for the stable, sustainable and progressive development of all states. Both practicing lawyers and jurists can and should bring a significant contribution to the recreation of the authority of law, strengthening its legal institutions and rebuilding trust in international relations.

I wish all of you productive work and interesting networking.

Thank you for your attention.

Behind the Tin Curtain: BRICS+ vs NATO/G7

June 28, 2022

Photo Credit: The Cradle

The west is nostalgically caught up with outdated ‘containment’ policies, this time against Global South integration. Unfortunately for them, the rest of the world is moving on, together.

The Cradle

Once upon a time, there existed an Iron Curtain which divided the continent of Europe. Coined by former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, the term was in reference to the then-Soviet Union’s efforts to create a physical and ideological boundary with the west. The latter, for its part, pursued a policy of containment against the spread and influence of communism.

Fast forward to the contemporary era of techno-feudalism, and there now exists what should be called a Tin Curtain, fabricated by the fearful, clueless, collective west, via G7 and NATO: this time, to essentially contain the integration of the Global South.

BRICS against G7

The most recent and significant example of this integration has been the coming out of BRICS+ at last week’s online summit hosted by Beijing. This went far beyond establishing the lineaments of a ‘new G8,’ let alone an alternative to the G7.

Just look at the interlocutors of the five historical BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa): we find a microcosm of the Global South, encompassing Southeast Asia, Central Asia, West Asia, Africa and South America – truly putting the “Global” in the Global South.

Revealingly, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s clear messages during the Beijing summit, in sharp contrast to G7 propaganda, were actually addressed to the whole Global South:

– Russia will fulfill its obligations to supply energy and fertilizers.

– Russia expects a good grain harvest – and to supply up to 50 million tons to world markets.

– Russia will ensure passage of grain ships into international waters even as Kiev mined Ukrainian ports.

– The negative situation on Ukrainian grain is artificially inflated.

– The sharp increase in inflation around the world is the result of the irresponsibility of G7 countries, not Operation Z in Ukraine.

– The imbalance of world relations has been brewing for a long time and has become an inevitable result of the erosion of international law.

An alternative system

Putin also directly addressed one of the key themes that the BRICS have been discussing in depth since the 2000s — the design and implementation of an international reserve currency.

“The Russian Financial Messaging System is open for connection with banks of the BRICS countries.”

“The Russian MIR payment system is expanding its presence. We are exploring the possibility of creating an international reserve currency based on the basket of BRICS currencies,” the Russian leader said.

This is inevitable after the hysterical western sanctions post-Operation Z; the total de-dollarization imposed upon Moscow; and increasing trade between BRICS nations. For instance, by 2030, a quarter of the planet’s oil demand will come from China and India, with Russia as the major supplier.

The “RIC” in BRICS simply cannot risk being locked out of a G7-dominated financial system. Even tightrope-walking India is starting to catch the drift.

Who speaks for the ‘international community?’

At its current stage, BRICS represent 40 percent of world population, 25 percent of the global economy, 18 percent of world trade, and contribute over 50 percent for world economic growth. All indicators are on the way up.

Sergey Storchak, CEO of Russian bank VEG, framed it quite diplomatically: “If the voices of emerging markets are not being heard in the coming years, we need to think very seriously about setting up a parallel regional system, or maybe a global system.”

A “parallel regional system” is already being actively discussed between the Eurasia Economic Union (EAEU) and China, coordinated by Minister of Integration and Macroeconomics Sergey Glazyev, who has recently authored a stunning manifesto amplifying his ideas about world economic sovereignty.

Developing the ‘developing world’

What happens in the trans-Eurasian financial front will proceed in parallel with a so far little known Chinese development strategy: the Global Development Initiative (GDI), announced by President Xi Jinping at the UN General Assembly last year.

GDI can be seen as a support mechanism of the overarching strategy – which remains the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), consisting of economic corridors interlinking Eurasia all the way to its western peninsula, Europe.

At the High-level Dialogue on Global Development, part of the BRICS summit, the Global South learned a little more about the GDI, an organization set up in 2015.

In a nutshell, the GDI aims to turbo-charge international development cooperation by supplementing financing to a plethora of bodies, for instance the South-South Cooperation Fund, the International Development Association (IDA), the Asian Development Fund (ADF), and the Global Environment Facility (GEF).

Priorities include “poverty reduction, food security, COVID-19 response and vaccines,” industrialization, and digital infrastructure. Subsequently, a Friends of the GDI group was established in early 2022 and has already attracted over 50 nations.

BRI and GDI should be advancing in tandem, even as Xi himself made it clear during the BRICS summit that “some countries are politicizing and marginalizing the developmental agenda by building up walls and slapping crippling sanctions on others.”

Then again, sustainable development is not exactly the G7’s cup of tea, much less NATO’s.

Seven against the world

The avowed top aim of the G7 summit in Schloss Elmau at the Bavarian Alps is to “project unity” – as in the stalwarts of the collective west (Japan included) united in sustainable and indefinite “support” for the irretrievably failed Ukrainian state.

That’s part of the “struggle against Putin’s imperialism,” but then there’s also “the fight against hunger and poverty, health crisis and climate change,” as German chancellor Scholz told the Bundestag.

In Bavaria, Scholz pushed for a Marshall Plan for Ukraine – a ludicrous concept considering Kiev and its environs might as well be reduced to a puny rump state by the end of 2022. The notion that the G7 may work to “prevent a catastrophic famine,” according to Scholz, reaches a paroxysm of ludicrousness, as the looming famine is a direct consequence of the G7-imposed sanctions hysteria.

The fact that Berlin invited India, Indonesia, South Africa and Senegal as add-ons to the G7, served as additional comic relief.

The Tin Curtain is up

It would be futile to expect from the astonishing collection of mediocrities “united” in Bavaria, under de facto leader of the European Commission (EC), Fuehrer Ursula von der Leyen, any substantial analysis about the breakdown of global supply chains and the reasons that forced Moscow to reduce gas flows to Europe. Instead, they blamed Putin and Xi.

Welcome to the Tin Curtain – a 21st century reinvention of the Intermarium from the Baltic to the Black Sea, masterminded by the Empire of Lies, complete with western Ukraine absorbed by Poland, the Three Baltic Midgets: Bulgaria, Romania, Slovenia, Czechia and even NATO-aspiring Sweden and Finland, all of whom will be protected from “the Russian threat.”

An EU out of control

The role of the EU, lording over Germany, France and Italy inside the G7 is particularly instructive, especially now that Britain is back to the status of an inconsequential island-state.

As many as 60 European ‘directives’ are issued every year. They must be imperatively transposed into internal law of each EU member-state. In most cases, there’s no debate whatsoever.

Then there are more than 10,000 European ‘rulings,’ where ‘experts’ at the European Commission (EC) in Brussels issue ‘recommendations’ to every government, straight out of the neoliberal canon, regarding their expenses, their income and ‘reforms’ (on health care, education, pensions) that must be obeyed.

Thus elections in every single EU member-nation are absolutely meaningless. Heads of national governments – Macron, Scholz, Draghi – are mere executants. No democratic debate is allowed: ‘democracy,’ as with ‘EU values,’ are nothing than smokescreens.

The real government is exercised by a bunch of apparatchiks chosen by compromise between executive powers, acting in a supremely opaque manner.

The EC is totally outside of any sort of control. That’s how a stunning mediocrity like Ursula von der Leyen – previously the worst Minister of Defense of modern Germany – was catapulted upwards to become the current EC Fuhrer, dictating their foreign, energy and even economic policy.

What do they stand for?

From the perspective of the west, the Tin Curtain, for all its ominous Cold War 2.0 overtones, is merely a starter before the main course: hardcore confrontation across Asia-Pacific – renamed “Indo-Pacific” – a carbon copy of the Ukraine racket designed to contain China’s BRI and GDI.

As a countercoup, it’s enlightening to observe how the Chinese foreign ministry now highlights in detail the contrast between BRICS – and BRICS+ – and the imperial AUKUS/Quad/IPEF combo.

BRICS stand for de facto multilateralism; focus on global development; cooperation for economic recovery; and improving global governance.

The US-concocted racket on the other hand, stands for Cold War mentality; exploiting developing countries; ganging up to contain China; and an America-first policy that enshrines the monopolistic “rules-based international order.”

It would be misguided to expect those G7 luminaries gathered in Bavaria to understand the absurdity of imposing a price cap on Russian oil and gas exports, for instance. Were that to really happen, Moscow will have no problems fully cutting energy supply to the G7. And if other nations are excluded, the price of the oil and gas they import would drastically increase.

BRICS paving the way forward

So no wonder the future is ominous. In a stunning interview to Belarus state TV, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov summarized how “the west fears honest competition.”

Hence, the apex of cancel culture, and “suppression of everything that contradicts in some way the neoliberal vision and arrangement of the world.” Lavrov also summarized the roadmap ahead, for the benefit of the whole Global South:

“We don’t need a new G8. We already have structures…primarily in Eurasia. The EAEU is actively promoting integration processes with the PRC, aligning China’s Belt and Road Initiative with the Eurasian integration plans. Members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations are taking a close look at these plans. A number of them are signing free trade zone agreements with the EAEU. The Shanghai Cooperation Organization is also part of these processes… There is one more structure beyond the geographic borders of Eurasia.”

“It is BRICS. This association is relying less and less on the Western style of doing business, and on Western rules for international currency, financial and trade institutions. They prefer more equitable methods that do not make any processes depend on the dominant role of the dollar or some other currency. The G20 fully represents BRICS and five more countries that share the positions of BRICS, while the G7 and its supporters are on the other side of the barricades.”

“This is a serious balance. The G20 may deteriorate if the West uses it for fanning up confrontation. The structures I mentioned (SCO, BRICS, ASEAN, EAEU and CIS) rely on consensus, mutual respect and a balance of interests, rather than a demand to accept unipolar world realities.”

Tin Curtain? More like Torn Curtain.

BRICS+: It’s Back with Scale and Ambition

June 28, 2022

http://infobrics.org/post/36006/

By Jaroslav Lissovolik

After several years of being relegated to backstage of the BRICS agenda, in 2022 the BRICS+ format is back and is at the very center of the discussions surrounding China’s chairmanship in the grouping. With the return of the BRICS+ paradigm the BRICS is going from introvert to extrovert and its greater global ambition raises hopes across the wide expanses of the Global South of material changes in the global economic system. The main question now centers on what the main trajectories of the evolution of the BRICS+ framework will be – thus far China appears to have advanced a multi-track approach that targets maximum scope and diversity in the operation of the BRICS-plus paradigm.

One of the novelties of China’s BRICS chairmanship in 2022 has been the launching of the extended BRICS+ meeting at the level of Ministers of Foreign Affairs that apart from the core BRICS countries also included representatives from Egypt, Nigeria, Senegal in Africa, Argentina from Latin America, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Thailand. And while the inclusion of Saudi Arabia and Indonesia may reflect their role in the G20 and overall size of their economies in the developing world, the inclusion of countries such as Senegal (chairmanship in the African Union in 2022), United Arab Emirates (chairmanship in the Gulf Cooperation Council in 2022) and Argentina (chairmanship in CELAC in 2022) is suggestive of a regional approach to building the BRICS+ platform.

That regional approach was also evidenced in the Forum of political parties, think-tanks and NGOs that was held on May 19th in BRICS+ format – among the countries invited to participate were Cambodia (chairmanship in ASEAN in 2022) as well as Senegal and Argentina that represented Africa and Latin America respectively. In effect China thus presented an inclusive format for dialogue spanning all the main regions of the Global South via aggregating the regional integration platforms in Eurasia, Africa and Latin America. Going forward this format may be further expanded to include other regional integration blocks from Eurasia, such as the GCC, EAEU and others.

During the meeting of foreign ministers of BRICS countries China also announced plans to open up the possibility of developing countries joining the core BRICS grouping. This approach differed to some degree from the line pursued by BRICS in the preceding years, when any expansion outside of the BRICS core was deemed to be the purview of the BRICS+ format. It remains to be seen whether the expansion in the core BRICS grouping is going to be supported by other members, but at this stage it appears unlikely that a speedy accession of any single developing economy is likely in the near term.

One important consideration in the future evolution of the BRICS+ format is its evenhandedness and balance observed between the main regions of the Global South. In this respect the inclusion of several countries into the “core BRICS” group may be fraught with risks of imbalances and asymmetries in terms of the representation of the main regions of the developing world in the core BRICS grouping. There is also the risk of greater complexity in arriving at a consensus with a wider circle of core BRICS members. While the option of joining the core should be kept open, there need to be clear and transparent criteria for the “BRICS accession process”.

Another issue relevant to the evolution of the BRICS+ framework is whether there should be a prioritization of the accession to the BRICS core of those developing economies that are members of the G20 grouping. In my view the G20 track for BRICS is a problematic one – the priorities of the Global South could get weakened and diluted within the broader G20 framework. There is also the question about the efficacy of G20 in coordinating the joint efforts of developing and developed economies in the past several years in overcoming the effects of the pandemic and the economic downturn. Rather than the goal of bringing the largest heavyweights into the core BRICS bloc from the G20 a more promising venue is the greater inclusivity of BRICS via the BRICS+ framework that allows smaller economies that are the regional partners of BRICS to have a say in the new global governance framework.

The next stage in the BRICS+ sequel is to be presented by China in June during the summit of BRICS+ countries. The world will be closely gauging further developments in the evolution of the BRICS+ format, but the most important result of China’s chairmanship in BRICS this year is that BRICS+ is squarely back on the agenda of global governance. The vitality in BRICS development will depend to a major degree on the success of the BRICS+ enterprise – an inert, introvert BRICS has neither global capacity, nor global mission. A stronger, more inclusive and open BRICS has the potential to become the basis for a new system of global governance.

Valdai Discussion Club

Source: Valdai Discussion Club

June 27th This and That

June 27, 2022

BRICS members agree on including new states – Chinese Foreign Ministry

June 28, 2022

Source: Agencies

By Al Mayadeen English 

A Chinese Foreign Ministry official stated that BRICS countries agree to accept new countries into the bloc.

BRICS members agree on including new states.

The BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa) countries agree that the bloc needs new members while retaining its original character, according to Li Kexin, Director-General of the Chinese Foreign Ministry’s Department of International Economic Affairs.
 
China wishes to keep the BRICS format open to new members’ participation. Despite the fact that there are no set dates for the expansion, all BRICS countries agree on this, according to Li Kexin.
 
“I believe there is a shared understanding that we need to enlarge, get ‘new faces,'” he said at a press conference dedicated to the results of the 14th BRICS summit in Beijing. The diplomat emphasized that the goal of the BRICS expansion is not to create a new bloc.
 
According to the director-general, BRICS leaders are working to reach an agreement on potential future members. “There are several countries currently ‘at the door,’ for example, Indonesia, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Argentina,” he said. 
 
As stated in the Beijing Declaration of the XIV BRICS Summit, BRICS leaders support the continuation of discussions on the expansion process, particularly through the Sherpas’ channel.

Two days ago, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi expressed Iran’s readiness to use its potential to help BRICS to reach its goals.

BRICS, a group of countries consisting of emerging economies – Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa – has been functioning on a working mechanism that runs against the tide of the economic and political isolation of Russia which is created by NATO.

At a virtual summit of the BRICS Business Forum, Raisi delivered a speech in which he spoke of Iran’s willingness to use its unique energy reserves, wealth, manpower, and transportation networks to help BRICS achieve its goals. 

He started off by congratulating Xi Jinping, China’s president, on holding the summit and inviting Iran to the dialogue, then went on to address a few points in the conference, which went under the title “Participating in Global Development in the New Era”.

Earlier in May, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi stated that China would initiate the process of BRICS expansion. He stated that it will demonstrate BRICS openness and inclusiveness, meet the expectations of developing countries, increase their representation and voice in global governance, and contribute more to global peace and development.

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Europe’s Third Attempt at Suicide and Generation Z+

June 27, 2022

Source

By Batiushka

‘The next war in Europe will be between Russia and Fascism, except that Fascism will be called Democracy.’

Fidel Castro, c. 1992

Introduction

Europe is a serial suicide. The first attempt began in Sarajevo in 1914 and finished in Versailles in 1919. The second began a generation later in Warsaw in 1939 and ended in Berlin in 1945. Having very nearly succeeded at the second attempt (it missed atomic bombs by mere months), Europe sobered up and slowed down, waiting till the centenary of 1914 before it tried for the third time. This attempt began in Kiev, again in Eastern Europe, in 2014 and is continuing in the Special Military Operation (SMO). At every attempt Europe has lost. The first time it lost three empires (the Russian, the Austro-Hungarian and the German), the second time two Empires, the fatally weakened British and French, so ensuring the supremacy of the American Empire in Europe, as in the rest of the world.

What will Europe lose this time? It will lose the only Empire remaining – the EU. When? Only some time after the conclusion of the SMO. Now, it would be foolish to predict with exactitude when that, which is the culmination of Europe’s third attempted suicide, will be. It could all be over in early July. Alternatively it could drag on for years. However, both those outcomes are extreme possibilities and there are other possibilities inbetween. Nevertheless, some tendencies are clear. It is only the extent and speed at which they will progress that is uncertain. In any case, whatever happens in the Ukraine, Europe will be reformatted. It will never be the same again. The seed sown by the Western elite in Kiev in 2014 is being reaped today in the harvest of division, discontent and poverty in Europe.

If we look at the three aims of the Special Military Operation, we can see that the first and second aims, the liberation of the Donbass and demilitarisation, are both 75% done, despite new arrivals of Western arms to prolong the agony. However, the reality is also that the operation has had to be much extended from the Donbass to the east and south of the Ukraine and there we are not even 50% done. However, the third aim, the denazification of the Ukraine, has not even begun and cannot begin until the murderous Zelensky regime has been replaced with a government which actually cherishes the independence and cultural traditions of the Ukraine. Then it will no longer be a servile chimpanzee of the LGBT West and its Nulands who, very politely speaking, have no time for Europe.

Military

Some have criticised the Allied Special Operation in the Ukraine. After four months, they say, not even the whole of the Donbass has yet been liberated. Such critics should get out of their armchairs and go and fight against NATO. We would soon see how fast they would go. Why has progress been ‘slow’? Firstly, because though the Allied Forces are small in size, they are fighting against the vast bulk of the Kiev Army, which has been trained, retrained, supplied and resupplied and dug into its fortified positions by NATO over eight years. Secondly, because the Allies are trying to avoid civilian casualties and of course casualties to themselves. That is not easy when Kiev is using civilians as human shields and shelling from residential areas. The Allies will not carpet-bomb like the West. There is no hurry.

However, with the very recent events in Severodonetsk and Lisichansk, the gateway to the whole of Central and Western Ukraine is being opened. Thus, we read the report on 25 June: ‘The Office of the President ordered the transfer of all reserves from the Mykolaiv/Odessa/Kharkiv direction for a counterattack in the Severodonetsk direction’. In other words, Kiev has only reserves left and it wants to transfer all of them. This sounds like desperation – the end is near. Judging by the quality of Kiev’s reserves so far, this will be a walkover. And that firstly presumes that the reserves will be willing to be massacred. And that secondly presumes that they can be transferred when all around the roads are occupied by Allied troops, or are controlled by Russian radar, artillery, drones and aircraft.

Most significantly of all, this means that Mykolaiv/Odessa/Kharkiv will be left more or less defenceless, without even reserves. According to serious Western data, Ukrainian military losses are about 200,000 killed with nearly three quarters of military equipment and ammunition destroyed. In just four months. This is catastrophic. If even Western spies from MI6, the BRD and Poland say this, then there is little future or hope for the US puppets in Kiev. We can only expect military collapse and the formation of a new government, authentically pro-Ukrainian (that is anti-American) and therefore pro-Russian. What happens after the liberation of the Ukraine? The liberation of Moldova? Of the Baltics? We do not know. But if aggressive NATO/EU sabre-rattling continues, all is possible.

Economic, Political and Ideological

As we know, the Western anti-Russian sanctions, have been a self-imposed economic disaster, an own goal. Blowback has been nasty. Dedollarisation is happening. Pay in roubles, please. Now. Food, fertiliser, oil, gas, all are rocketing in price, and it is not winter. Popular discontent and street demonstrations in Western Europe are mounting. In France the Rothschild candidate Macron has lost control of the French Parliament to the left and to the right. In the UK the ‘delusional’ (the word of members of his own Party) Johnson (a man condemned by his own as ‘an opportunistic journalist who has at his heart a moral vacuum’) is seen as a liability, who will lead the Tory Party to annihilation in any election. We will not speak here of other nonentities like Scholz, Draghi, Trudeau and Biden.

Then there is the formation of alternatives to the Western bloc. A new G8/BRICS+? Russia has seen plenty of discreet and not so discreet support from China, India, Kazakhstan, Brazil, Iran, Indonesia, Africa (from Egypt to South Africa), Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, Argentina, Hungary…. That is, from the aptly-named ‘emerging’ world on all five Continents, from those who have raw materials and manufacturing infrastructure. They want to emerge from the ruins of colonialism and neo-colonialism. The isolated West, the US, Canada, UK, EU, Australia, has few friends outside its inward-looking little world. There are just a few occupied vassals in Asia, like Israel, Japan, Taiwan and South Korea, who are forced to buy Western arms in order to stop themselves being liberated from themselves, and that is it.

Even the mercenaries of the State-controlled Western media are beginning to go back on their State-paid lies. They are used to turning everything on its head, to inverting it all. Thus, the Russian Army was composed of ‘demoralised and untrained raw conscripts’, who had suffered ‘massive losses’ and ‘lacked fuel and ammunition’, ‘raped children and murdered’, were ‘in full retreat’ and bombed and shelled ‘residential areas and civilians’. Just change the word ‘Russian’ to ‘Kiev’ and we are a lot nearer the truth. Does anybody believe these media lies any more? Surely only the living dead? It must be embarrassing for these hacks who have been telling, or rather were ordered to tell, the opposite of the truth. They used to report their dreams as reality. Now they have to report reality – their worst nightmares.

Conclusion: The Age of Empires Is Over

After the Western defeats, or rather routs, in Iraq and Afghanistan, NATO has no military or political future. In fact, it should have been abolished after the fall of the USSR. The Ukraine (or whatever it will be called in whatever borders it will have when its liberation is complete) is Russian. Just forget it, NATO. You have already lost. The expansion of NATO into Asia? What a joke. Taiwan is Chinese, as will be all the Western Pacific. Just forget it, NATO. You have already lost. The American Century which began in February/March 1917 with the palace revolt by corrupt aristocrats and generals in the Russian Empire, carefully orchestrated from London and New York, is over. Europe no longer needs to attempt suicide, let alone succeed. You are free to restore the sovereignty of your nation states.

The fact is that the Age of Empires is over. 1917 signalled the beginning of this. In 1991 the Red Star (USSR) Empire collapsed. Today the White Star (USSA) Empire, with its Twelve-Star EU (USSE) vassal Empire in tow, is collapsing, and for exactly the same reason: because nobody believes in their ideologies any more. Both Communism and Capitalism have failed. Now is the Age of Free Alliances of Sovereign Nations. What is the future of Europe after its third failed attempt at suicide? It is in reintegrating the Sovereignty of Eurasia, protected by the Russian resource umbrella. The Atlantic never united Europe, it divided Europe. If those who live across the Atlantic want to rediscover from us how to start living normal lives again, they can. But it will be on our terms, those of our Sovereignty, not on theirs.

We have spoken of the Special Military Operation as the culmination of Europe’s third attempted suicide. We have said that Europe will never be the same again after it. This is because, unless Europe is really serious this time about suicide (and it has managed to avoid it twice before), this Operation Z is going to split up the tyrannical Western world, EU and UK Europe, from the USA. It is Operation Z+. And who are we, those who will survive? We are Generation Z+. We are those who will come ‘out of great tribulation’ and survive. We are those who are going to live in the real Global world, not in the Western bubble Globalist world. We are the real Europeans of ancient and new European history, who refused to commit suicide, the Sovereign Europeans. Reality is dawning at last.

The BRICS+ show themselves as an alternative to the current international financial system, but still with caution

June 25, 2022

By Guilherme Wilbert

Since the beginning of Operation Z in Ukraine, unfortunately interpreted as an invasion or an occupation of Ukrainian territory by the Russians, realpolitik has accelerated integration among economic blocs of emerging countries, with several speeches by BRICS regional leaders speaking openly about the weight of emerging economies in global economic development.

Source

The last BRICS meeting on 06/23, with open criticism of western sanctions by China and Russia, showed well what the emerging economies are discussing at the moment: how to escape dollarized debt? Or better yet: how to implement an alternative system to the one established at Bretton Woods?

Vladimir Putin, the Russian president who overnight became “persona non grata” in Europe, is already talking openly about a possible basket of BRICS own currencies as an alternative to strengthen the national economies, with the most advanced countries, for example Russia itself or China, working openly with an economy of real production based on resource ballast for their national currencies, in the Russian case the Gaso-Ruble becomes a character, in the Chinese case, the PetroYuan emerges as an alternative to strengthen the Chinese currency.

Caution is walking hand in hand with haste for the emerging countries

While emerging countries are trying to gain international prominence through economic blocs that can prove to be alternative to the current international financial system, the members of these blocs, especially China, despite acting as a kind of leadership in this global turn towards de-dollarization, do not show imperialistic intentions as seen in the U.S. within their geopolitical blocks. For example, NATO, where it is clearly an aggressive military alliance led by the US to impose its policies and state interests. On the other side, this is not seen within the BRICS or Mercosur for example with a military alliance led by China or with groupings supported by the Chinese establishment for color revolutions in non-aligned countries.

Therefore the caution: BRICS cannot emerge as an alternative to do the same things in the same ways committing the same Western mistakes, in fact the opposite, if negotiating with Westerners you would be willing one day to have to deal with Uncle Sam carrying out a lawfare in its territory to overthrow a legitimate government, with China the concern is much more diplomatic regarding Taiwan for example, with criticism much more focused on humanitarian aspects by some analysts.

Brazilian diplomacy has shown concern with the political intentions of the BRICS, wanting the strategic partnership to continue in a win-win system and not to mix geopolitical meanings in order to face the old system, but this is due to the fact that Brazil is still strongly influenced by Washington, despite its recent independent foreign policy.
We are witnessing a paradigm shift in all senses with this Russian police operation in Ukraine, which revealed the face of the irresponsible weak western leaders that have hurt the global economy by causing 1. sanctions to have the reverse effect to the desired one (of breaking the Russian economy) and 2. sanctions to have the opposite effect to the desired one (of breaking the Russian economy). Many countries that carry out military offensives on their neighbors (like Saudi Arabia in Yemen) even though supported by international law and ratifying humanitarian conventions on the battlefield saw that Westerners, unfortunately, can still simply loot the wealth of some countries they consider non-aligned like Russia, Iran, Venezuela… And given this the emerging countries logically seek an alternative, with the difference being that for Westerners to do what was accomplished in Libya when Gaddafi attempted the same, they will now have to deal with a bear sitting on just over 5,000 nuclear warheads. The conversation is now essentially different.


Guilherme Wilbert is a Bachelor’s Law with interests in geopolitics and international law.

References: https://investogist.com/president-putin-says-that-brics-are-developing-global-reserve-currency/
https://noticias.uol.com.br/colunas/jamil-chade/2022/06/23/brasil-ve-com-preocupacao-ambicao-da-china-para-expandir-brics.html

BRICS Summit

June 24, 2022

Vladimir Putin took part in the 14th BRICS Summit, held via videoconference and chaired by China.

The meeting’s topic is Foster High-Quality BRICS Partnership, Usher in a New Era for Global Development.

President of Brazil Jair Bolsonaro, President of the People’s Republic of China Xi Jinping, Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi, and President of the Republic of South Africa Cyril Ramaphosa are also taking part in the meeting.

The Beijing Declaration of the 14th BRICS Summit formalises the key agreements of the meeting.

* * *

Speech by the President of the Russian Federation at the BRICS Summit

President of Russia Vladimir Putin: President Xi Jinping, President Ramaphosa, President Bolsonaro, Prime Minister Modi, ladies and gentlemen,

To begin with, I would like to join the previous speakers in thanking President of the People’s Republic of China Xi Jinping and all our Chinese friends for their proactive efforts this year to promote our strategic partnership within BRICS.

The countries that form this group have been seeking to step up their cooperation on all global and regional matters. The BRICS format has been consistently increasing its prestige and international influence. This is an objective process, since the five BRICS countries, as we all know, have immense political, economic, scientific, technical and human potential. We have everything we need to work together and achieve results for ensuring global stability and security, sustained growth and prosperity, and better well-being for our people.

I believe that the topic of today’s meeting, Foster High-Quality BRICS Partnership, Usher in a New Era for Global Development, is very relevant. Considering the complexity of the challenges and threats the international community is facing, and the fact that they transcend borders, we need to come up with collective solutions. BRICS can make a meaningful contribution to these efforts.

We have repeatedly said that challenges like conflict settlement, the fight against terrorism and organised crime, including the criminal use of new technologies, climate change, and the spread of dangerous infections, can only be addressed through joint efforts.

And, of course, it is only on the basis of honest and mutually beneficial cooperation that we can look for ways out of the critical situation that has emerged in the world economy because of the ill-conceived and selfish actions of certain states, which, by using financial mechanisms, are actually shifting their own macroeconomic policy mistakes onto the rest of the world.

We are confident that today, as never before, the world needs the BRICS countries’ leadership in defining a unifying and positive course for forming a truly multipolar system of interstate relations based on the universal norms of international law and the key principles of the UN Charter. In this context, we can count on support from many states in Asia, Africa and Latin America, which are seeking to pursue an independent policy.

I am sure that by tradition the present BRICS Summit will be substantive and effective, and that we will manage to hold a frank and detailed exchange of views on all the most important global and regional issues and various aspects of strategic partnership, including in the extended dialogue format of BRICS+.

Let me stress: Russia is ready to continue promoting close and versatile interaction with all BRICS partners and contributing to the group’s greater role in international affairs.

Thank you for your attention.

<…>

Summary of the main points agreed to during this summit

Events in Ukraine

“We have discussed the situation in Ukraine and recall our national positions as expressed at the appropriate fora, namely the UNSC and UNGA. We support talks between Russia and Ukraine,” the declaration reads.

The association voiced its support to the efforts of the UN and its Secretary General Antonio Guterres, as well as the International Committee of the Red Cross on provision of humanitarian aid for Ukraine.

Global politics

BRICS states reaffirmed its “respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all States, stress our commitment to the peaceful resolution of differences and disputes” and its “strong commitment to nuclear disarmament.”

The leaders voiced their support to “a peaceful, secure and stable Afghanistan,” and emphasized the respect for its sovereignty, independence, territorial integrity, national unity and non-interference in its internal affairs,” stressing that its territory must not be used to threaten or attack any country or to shelter or train terrorists, or to plan to finance terrorist acts.”

BRICS hopes for success of talks on restoration of the Iran Nuclear Deal and support bilateral and multilateral talks for resolution “of all issues pertaining to the Korean Peninsula, including its complete denuclearization.”

The association continues to advocate a “comprehensive reform of the UN, including its Security Council,” in order to increase the representation of the developing countries so that it can adequately respond to global challenges. It also calls to preserve and reinforce the arms control system.

Global economy

“Unbalanced recovery” after the pandemic is ” aggravating inequality across the world,” the global growth momentum has weakened, and the economic prospects have declined, the declaration says.

“We urge major developed countries to adopt responsible economic policies, while managing policy spillovers, to avoid severe impacts on developing countries,” BRICS leaders said, urging “multilateral financial institutions and international organizations to play a constructive role in building global consensus on economic policies and preventing systemic risks of economic disruption and financial fragmentation.”

The five leaders underscored that the G20 “shall remain intact and respond to current global challenges.”

Food security

The leaders pointed out that BRICS states produce about one third of all food in the world and noted the “strategic importance” of agriculture inputs, including, inter alia, fertilizers, on ensuring global food security. The document does not mention the food crisis issue directly.

Cooperation on currencies

The five leaders acknowledged “the importance of strengthening the Contingent Reserve Arrangement (CRA) mechanism, which contributes to strengthening the global financial safety net and complements existing international monetary and financial arrangements.” They also welcomed the “central banks’ further cooperation on the payments track.”

Climate and sustainable development

Developed countries have “historical responsibilities for global climate change, and should take the lead in scaling up mitigation actions,” the declaration says.

BRICS opposed “green” trade barriers: “all measures taken to tackle climate change and bio-diversity loss must be designed, adopted and implemented in full conformity with the WTO agreements and must not constitute a means of arbitrary or unjustifiable discrimination or a disguised restriction on international trade and must not create unnecessary obstacles to international trade.”

Combating the pandemic

The leaders emphasized the need for creation of the complex early warning system for epidemic risks within the association, and underscored that the member states must be better prepared for future healthcare emergencies.

The association also advocated “equitable distribution of vaccines” and called on international agencies and charities to purchase vaccines and boosters “from manufacturers in developing countries, including in Africa, to ensure that the manufacturing capabilities being developed are retained.”.

<…>

Besides the five BRICS countries, these countries also took part in various capacities:  Algeria, Argentina, Egypt, Indonesia, Iran, Kazakhstan, Cambodia, Malaysia, Senegal, Thailand, Uzbekistan, Fiji, Ethiopia.

We now wait for an expansion of BRICS

BRICS Leaders Vow to Enhance & Expand New Development Bank

23.06.2022

Samizdat 

The leaders of Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa held their 14th annual summit on Thursday virtually. This year, the summit was chaired by China.

BRICS members vowed to widen the Shanghai-based New Development Bank (NDB) on Thursday, following the successful admission of Bangladesh, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Uruguay in September 2021.

“We look forward to further membership expansion in a gradual and balanced manner in terms of geographic representation and comprising of both developed and developing countries, to enhance the NDB’s international influence as well as the representation and voice of Emerging Market and Developing Countries (EMDCs) in global governance,” the 75-point joint declaration released after the summit read.

BRICS has supported the NDB’s goals of attaining the highest possible credit rating and institutional development. The BRICS member nations have also stressed that they have a similar approach to the global economic governance, and their mutual cooperation can make a valuable contribution to the post-Covid economic recovery.

Geopolitical Concerns

Leaders also discussed the ongoing crisis in Eastern Europe, recalling their national positions at different global forums, including the United Nations’ Security Council and General Assembly.

“We support talks between Russia and Ukraine. We have also discussed our concerns over the humanitarian situation in and around Ukraine,” the joint declaration said.

Amid border tensions between India and China, the leaders committed to “respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all States,” stressing the peaceful resolution of differences and disputes through dialogue and consultation.

The BRICS countries – which represent 24 percent of the global GDP and 16 percent of worldwide trade – further reiterated the need to resolve the Iranian nuclear issue through peaceful and diplomatic means as per international law. They stressed the importance of preserving the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, a deal reached between Iran and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council in 2015. The stand-off between Iran and western nations continues following the US’ withdrawal from the JCPOA in May 2018.

Exile on Main Street: The Sound of the Unipolar World Fading Away

June 22, 2022

The future world order, already in progress, will be formed by strong sovereign states. The ship has sailed. There’s no turning back.

By Pepe Escobar, posted with the author’s permission and widely cross-posted

Let’s cut to the chase and roll in the Putin Top Ten of the New Era, announced by the Russian President live at the St. Petersburg forum  for both the Global North and South.

The era of the unipolar world is over.

The rupture with the West is irreversible and definitive. No pressure from the West will change it.

Russia has renewed with its sovereignty. Reinforcement of political and economic sovereignty is an absolute priority.

The EU has completely lost its political sovereignty. The current crisis shows the EU is not ready to play the role of an independent, sovereign actor. It’s just en ensemble of American vassals deprived of any politico-military sovereignty.

Sovereignty cannot be partial. Either you’re a sovereign or a colony.

Hunger in the poorest nations will be on the conscience of the West and euro-democracy.

Russia will supply grains to the poorer nations in Africa and the Middle East.

Russia will invest in internal economic development and reorientation of trade towards nations independent of the U.S.

The future world order, already in progress, will be formed by strong sovereign states.

The ship has sailed. There’s no turning back.

How does it feel, for the collective West, to be caught in such a crossfire hurricane? Well, it gets more devastating when we add to the new roadmap the latest on the energy front.

Rosneft CEO Igor Sechin, in St. Petersburg, stressed that the global economic crisis is gaining momentum not because of sanctions, but exacerbated by them; Europe “commits energy suicide” by sanctioning Russia; sanctions against Russia have done away with the much lauded “green transition”, as that is no longer needed to manipulate markets; and Russia, with its vast energy potential, “is the Noah’s Ark of the world economy.”

For his part Gazprom CEO Alexey Miller could not be more scathing on the sharp decline in the gas flow to the EU due to Siemens’ refusal and/or incapacity to repair the Nord Stream 1 pumping engine: “Well, of course, Gazprom was forced to reduce the volume of gas supplies to Europe by 20%+. But you know, prices have increased not by 20%+, but by several times! Therefore, I’m sorry if I say that we don’t feel offended by anyone, we are not particularly concerned by this situation.”

If this pain dial overdrive was not enough to hurl the collective West – or NATOstan – into Terminal Hysteria, then Putin’s sharp comment on possibly allowing Mr. Sarmat to present his business card to “decision-making centers in Kiev”, those that are ordering the current shelling and killing of civilians in Donetsk, definitely did the trick:

“As for the red lines, let me keep them to myself, because this will mean quite tough actions on the decision-making centers. But this is an area that shouldn’t be disclosed to people outside the military-political leadership of the country. Those who deserve appropriate actions on our part should draw a conclusion for themselves – what they may face if they cross the line.”

Baby please, stop breaking down

Alastair Crooke has masterfully outlined  how the collective West’s zugzwang leaves it lumbering around, dazed and confused. Now let’s examine the state of play on the opposite side of the chessboard, focusing on the BRICS summit this Thursday in Beijing.

As much as the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), the Eurasia Economic Union (EAEU) and ASEAN, now it’s time for a reinvigorated BRICS to step up its game. In conjunction, these are the key organizations/instruments that will be carving the pathways towards the post-unipolar era.

Both China and India (which between them were the largest economies in the world for centuries before the brief Western colonial interregnum) are already close and getting closer to “the Noah’s Ark of the world economy”.

The G20 – hostages of the Michael Hudson-defined FIRE scam that is the core of the financialized neoliberal casino – is slowly fading away, while a potential new G8 ramps up: and that is directly connected to BRICS expansion, one of the key themes of this week’s summit. An expanded BRICS with a parallel G8 configuration is bound to easily overtake the Western-centric one in importance as well as GDP by purchasing power parity (PPP).

BRICS in 2021 already added Bangladesh, Egypt, the UAE and Uruguay to its New Development Bank (NDB). In May, at Foreign Ministry-level debates, Argentina, Egypt, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Nigeria, the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Senegal and Thailand were added to the 5 BRICS members. Leaders of some of these nations will be connected to the Beijing summit.

BRICS plays a completely different game from the G20. They aim for the grassroots, and it’s all about slowly “building trust” – a very Chinese concept. They are creating an independent Credit Rating Agency – away from the Anglo-American racket – and deepening a Currency Reserves Arrangement. The NDB – including its regional offices in India and South Africa – has been involved in hundreds of projects. Time will tell: one day the NDB will make the World Bank superfluous.

Comparisons between BRICS and the Quad, a U.S. concoction, are silly. Quad is just another crude mechanism to contain China. Yet there’s no question India treads on tightrope walker territory, as it’s a member of both BRICS and Quad, and made a vastly misguided decision to walk out of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) – the largest free trade deal on the planet – opting instead to adhere to the American pie-in-the-sky Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF).

Yet India, long term, skillfully guided by Russia, is being steered to find essential common ground with China in several key issues.

BRICS, especially in its expanded BRICS+ version, is bound to increase cooperation on building truly stable supply chains, and a settlement mechanism for resources and raw material trade, which inevitably has to be based in local currencies. Then the path will be open for the Holy Grail: a BRICS payment system as a credible alternative to the weaponized U.S. dollar and SWIFT.

Meanwhile, a torrent of bilateral investments from both China and India in the manufacturing and services sector around their neighbors is bound to lift up smaller players in both Southeast Asia and South Asia: think Cambodia and Bangladesh as important cogs in a vast supply wheel.

Yaroslav Lissovolik had already proposed a BEAMS concept as the core of this BRICS integration drive, uniting “the key regional integration initiatives of BRICS economies such as BIMSTEC, EAEU, the ASEAN-China free trade agreement, Mercosur and SADC/SACU.”

It’s only (BRICS) rock’n roll

Now Beijing seems eager to promote “an inclusive format for dialogue spanning all the main regions of the Global South via aggregating the regional integration platforms in Eurasia, Africa and Latin America. Going forward this format may be further expanded to include other regional integration blocks from Eurasia, such as the GCC, EAEU and others.”

Lissovolik notes how the ideal path from now on should be “the greater inclusivity of BRICS via the BRICS+ framework that allows smaller economies that are the regional partners of BRICS to have a say in the new global governance framework.”

Before he addressed the St. Petersburg forum on video, President Xi called Putin personally to say, among other things, that he’s got China’s back on all “sovereignty and security” themes. They also, inevitably, discussed the relevance of BRICS as a key platform towards the multipolar world.

Meanwhile, the collective West plunges deeper into the maelstrom. A massive national demonstration of trade unions this past Monday paralyzed Brussels – the capital of the EU and NATO – as 80,000 people expressed their anger at the rising and rising cost of living; called for elites to “spend money on salaries, not on weapons”; and yelled in unison “Stop NATO.”

It’s zugzwang all over again. The EU’s “direct losses”, as Putin stressed, provoked by the sanctions hysteria, “could exceed $400 billion a year”. Russia’s energy earnings have hit record levels. The ruble is at a 7-year high against the euro.

It’s a blast that arguably the most powerful cultural artifact of the entire Cold War – and Western supremacy – era, the perennial Rolling Stones, is currently on tour across a “caught in a crossfire hurricane” EU. On every show they play, for the first time live, one of their early classics: ‘Out of Time’.

Sounds much like a requiem. So let’s all sing, “Baby baby baby / you’re out of time”, as one Vladimir “it’s a gas, gas, gas” Putin and his sidekick Dmitry “Under My Thumb” Medvedev seem to be the guys really getting their rocks off. It’s only (BRICS) rock’n roll, but we like it.

Mixed Bag June 22

June 22, 2022

Please visit Andrei’s website: https://smoothiex12.blogspot.com/
and support him here: https://www.patreon.com/bePatron?u=60459185

Sitrep: International reserve currency based on a basket of BRICS currencies.

June 22, 2022

This news just out – MAJOR!

Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday that banks from BRICS nations can freely connect to the System for Transfer of Financial Messages (SPFS), Russia’s alternative to SWIFT.

While addressing a BRICS business forum, Putin said that together with its BRICS partners – Brazil, India, China and South Africa – Russia is developing reliable alternatives for international payments.

“The Russian system for transmitting financial messages is open to connecting banks from the five countries,” he said, adding: “The geography of the use of the Russian payment system Mir is expanding.”

The Russian president also noted that work is underway to create an international reserve currency based on a basket of BRICS currencies.

https://www.rt.com/business/557620-russian-financial-messenger-brics/

Sitrep Operation Z: Cauldrons and Fatigue

June 22, 2022

by Saker Staff

Best again today, is Military Summary and worth listening to and watching.  He is ‘predicting’ a ‘riot’ in among the Ukie troops in the cauldron.  There is an update on Snake Island (Serpent Island).

What does become clear is that the map is going to turn very red in large areas very soon.

Yes there is a cauldron with estimated 1,500 to 2,000 Ukrainian forces.  This is where Military Summary expects the ‘military riot’.

The main take-away from the Russian MoD report is this:  “The enemy suffers considerable losses.”

Now we wait for

  • cessation of the shelling into the Donbass and
  • the results of all oil refineries in the Ukraine now non-functional and the results of
  • … this Kadyrov announcement: the imminent encirclement of Lisichansk and the subsequent cleansing of the city.

The Russian Defense Ministry also reported that as many as 500 Ukrainian troops from a single brigade were killed in the city of Nikolaev.

In the wider world, Ukraine War fatigue is setting in.  We still get reports that this country or another country will be sending wizzbang weapons, but if you read the fine print, it is usually dependent on arrival of US or other weapons in exchange.  Here is only one example:

Slovakia is trading with Germany on the terms of military assistance to Ukraine, writes Buisness Insider.According to the publication, Slovakia agrees to supply Kiev with 30 Soviet-made T-72 tanks, but in return requires 30 Leopard 2A4 tanks from Berlin.Germany does not like this formula, they are ready to supply only 15 tanks there — one Leopard for two T-72s.  As a result, all tanks remain in their places, deliveries are delayed, the newspaper notes.

While Ukraine War Fatigue is setting in in the western climes, the fear of cold and a powerless future is also setting in.  The disgust and fatigue with the Ukrainian refugees are now palpable.  What also is turning decidedly red, is some faces of the greens, because we hear that in various places in the EU, they are un-mothballing their old coal power plants.  It is of course not easy to recommission these plants, and one can only laugh because at least 70% of European thermal coal, is imported from Russia.

Our own Mr P, who knows about power plants and engineering wrote up a piece for us in the Cafe.  It is worth taking a look at: http://thesaker.is/moveable-feast-cafe-2022-06-18/#comment-1111759

A central idea is that the coal power plants can be taken out of mothballs, but what about the old skilled craftsmen?

Some overall themes that are appearing, are that Turkey may want to leave NATO (or should we say, subtext, Break NATO) and the EU cannot agree on anything, so, they want to change their ways so that they do not need 100% agreement or approval on anything from the member states.  What this should indicate to us, is that NATO may just be history in a while and the EU as well, in its current form.  Something else can be predicted to change its current form, and that is the United States.  In Texas they have this referendum to determine if it will secede from the US.  It won’t be the last state either.

We are in a tsunami of change, but there is one term that can be used and that is the old military term SNAFU everywhere.  This applies to Zelensky as well, as Zelensky fatigue has now really set in.   Zelensky addressed the African Union and only 4 out of 55 invited heads of state attended the virtual session.

2 Short Updates

The US Embassy in Moscow has a new address (https://t.me/donbassr/22283): 1 Donetsk People’s Republic Square.

Putin: The issue of creating an international reserve currency based on a basket of BRICS currencies is being worked out.  The Russian President also invited representatives of the BRICS countries to the economic forum in Vladivostok in September.

St. Petersburg sets the stage for the War of Economic Corridors

In St. Petersburg, the world’s new powers gather to upend the US-concocted “rules-based order” and reconnect the globe their way

June 18 2022

The Cradle

By Pepe Escobar

At St. Petersburg on Friday, backers of multipolarity pushed forward integration of their networksPhoto Credit: The Cradle

The St. Petersburg International Economic Forum  has been configured for years now as absolutely essential to understand the evolving dynamics and the trials and tribulations of Eurasia integration.

St. Petersburg in 2022 is even more crucial as it directly connects to three simultaneous developments I had previously outlined, in no particular order:

First, the coming of the “new G8” – four BRICS nations (Brazil, Russia, India, China), plus Iran, Indonesia, Turkey and Mexico, whose GDP per purchasing parity power (PPP) already dwarfs the old, western-dominated G8.

Second, the Chinese “Three Rings” strategy of developing geoeconomic relations with its neighbors and partners.

Third, the development of BRICS+, or extended BRICS, including some members of the “new G8,” to be discussed at the upcoming summit in China.

There was hardly any doubt President Putin would be the star of St. Petersburg 2022, delivering a sharp, detailed speech to the plenary session.

Among the highlights, Putin smashed the illusions of the so-called ‘golden billion’ who live in the industrialized west (only 12 percent of the global population) and the “irresponsible macroeconomic policies of the G7 countries.”

The Russian president noted how “EU losses due to sanctions against Russia” could exceed $400 billion per year, and that Europe’s high energy prices – something that actually started “in the third quarter of last year” – are due to “blindly believing in renewable sources.”

He also duly dismissed the west’s ‘Putin price hike’ propaganda, saying the food and energy crisis is linked to misguided western economic policies, i.e., “Russian grain and fertilizers are being sanctioned” to the detriment of the west.

In a nutshell: the west misjudged Russia’s sovereignty when sanctioning it, and now is paying a very heavy price.

Chinese President Xi Jinping, addressing the forum by video, sent a message to the whole Global South. He evoked “true multilateralism,” insisting that emerging markets must have “a say in global economic management,” and called for “improved North-South and South-South dialogue.”

It was up to Kazakh President Tokayev, the ruler of a deeply strategic partner of both Russia and China, to deliver the punch line in person: Eurasia integration should progress hand in hand with China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Here it is, full circle.

Building a long-term strategy “in weeks”

St. Petersburg offered several engrossing discussions on key themes and sub-themes of Eurasia integration, such as business within the scope of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO); aspects of the Russia-China strategic partnership; what’s ahead for the BRICS; and prospects for the Russian financial sector.

One of the most important discussions was focused on the increasing interaction between the Eurasia Economic Union (EAEU) and ASEAN, a key example of what the Chinese would define as ‘South-South cooperation.’

And that connected to the still long and winding road leading to deeper integration of the EAEU itself.

This implies steps towards more self-sufficient economic development for members; establishing the priorities for import substitution; harnessing all the transport and logistical potential; developing trans-Eurasian corporations; and imprinting the EAEU ‘brand’ in a new system of global economic relations.

Russian Deputy Prime Minister Alexey Overchuk was particularly sharp on the pressing matters at hand: implementing a full free trade customs and economic union – plus a unified payment system – with simplified direct settlements using the Mir payment card to reach new markets in Southeast Asia, Africa and the Persian Gulf.

In a new era defined by Russian business circles as “the game with no rules” – debunking the US-coined “rules-based international order” – another relevant discussion, featuring key Putin adviser Maxim Oreshkin, focused on what should be the priorities for big business and the financial sector in connection to the state’s economic and foreign policy.

The consensus is that the current ‘rules’ have been written by the west. Russia could only connect to existing mechanisms, underpinned by international law and institutions. But then the west tried to  “squeeze us out” and even “to cancel Russia.” So it’s time to “replace the no-rules rules.” That’s a key theme underlying the concept of ‘sovereignty’ developed by Putin in his plenary address.

In another important discussion chaired by the CEO of western-sanctioned Sberbank Herman Gref, there was much hand-wringing about the fact that the Russian “evolutionary leap forward towards 2030” should have happened sooner. Now a “long-term strategy has to be built in weeks,” with supply chains breaking down all across the spectrum.

A question was posed to the audience – the crème de la crème of Russia’s business community: what would you recommend, increased trade with the east, or redirecting the structure of the Russian economy? A whopping 72 percent voted for the latter.

So now we come to the crunch, as all these themes interact when we look at what happened only a few days before St. Petersburg.

The Russia-Iran-India corridor

A key node of the International North South Transportation Corridor (INTSC) is now in play, linking northwest Russia to the Persian Gulf via the Caspian Sea and Iran. The transportation time between St. Petersburg and Indian ports is 25 days.

This logistical corridor with multimodal transportation carries an enormous geopolitical significance for two BRICs members and a prospective member of the “new G8” because it opens a key alternative route to the usual cargo trail from Asia to Europe via the Suez canal.

The International North South Transportation Corridor (INSTC)

The INSTC corridor is a classic South-South integration project: a 7,200-km-long multimodal network of ship, rail, and road routes interlinking India, Afghanistan, Central Asia, Iran, Azerbaijan and Russia all the way to Finland in the Baltic Sea.

Technically, picture a set of containers going overland from St. Petersburg to Astrakhan. Then the cargo sails via the Caspian to the Iranian port of Bandar Anzeli. Then it’s transported overland to the port of Bandar Abbas. And then overseas to Nava Sheva, the largest seaport in India. The key operator is Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines (the IRISL group), which has branches in both Russia and India.

And that brings us to what wars from now will be fought about: transportation corridors – and not territorial conquest.

Beijing’s fast-paced BRI is seen as an existential threat to the ‘rules-based international order.’ It develops along six overland corridors across Eurasia, plus the Maritime Silk Road from the South China Sea, and the Indian Ocean, all the way to Europe.

One of the key targets of NATO’s proxy war in Ukraine is to interrupt BRI corridors across Russia. The Empire will go all out to interrupt not only BRI but also INSTC nodes. Afghanistan under US occupation was prevented from become a node for either BRI or INSTC.

With full access to the Sea of Azov – now a “Russian lake” – and arguably the whole Black Sea coastline further on down the road, Moscow will hugely increase its sea trading prospects (Putin: “The Black Sea was historically Russian territory”).

For the past two decades, energy corridors have been heavily politicized and are at the center of unforgiving global pipeline competitions – from BTC and South Stream to Nord Stream 1 and 2, and the never-ending soap operas, the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) and Iran-Pakistan-India (IPI) gas pipelines.

Then there’s the Northern Sea Route alongside the Russian coastline all the way to the Barents Sea. China and India are very much focused on the Northern Sea Route, not by accident also  discussed in detail in St. Petersburg.

The contrast between the St. Petersburg debates on a possible re-wiring of our world – and the Three Stooges Taking a Train to Nowhere to tell a mediocre Ukrainian comedian to calm down and negotiate his surrender (as confirmed by German intelligence) – could not be starker.

Almost imperceptibly – just as it re-incorporated Crimea and entered the Syrian theater – Russia as a military-energy superpower now shows it is potentially capable of driving a great deal of the industrialized west back into the Stone Age. The western elites are just helpless. If only they could ride a corridor on the Eurasian high-speed train, they might learn something.

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

Notes From Spief: St Petersburg International Economic Forum

June 16, 2022

Pepe Escobar is following various discussions at Spief:  https://twitter.com/spief?lang=en and here are some of his updates from his telegram channel:

THE ST. PETERSBURG FORUM IS ON A ROLL

I spent the morning back and forth following some fab discussions at the forum – especially on Russia-China, SCO business, BRICS, the Russian financial sector, the Northern Sea Route and this one linked below, with Glazyev, on the Eurasia Economic Union and ASEAN.

This afternoon there are some extra killers, including a Triple Treat EAEU-SCO-ASEAN.

I’ll have a detailed column out – ideally to be published for the weekend. Putin’s address is tomorrow, and should be a howler.

https://forumspb.com/en/programme/business-programme/..

The contrast with The Three Stooges in their train to nowhere – country 404 – could not be more graphic.

ST. PETERSBURG UPDATE

Key facts rollin’ out of the forum – officially and after discussions:

– Dollars and euros will continue to circulate in Russia.

– There will be NO return to a Soviet economy.

– Import substitution will be only partial.

– The ruble under 60 per dollar is not a good thing for the Russian economy. The government will intervene.

– Changes on the global economy are irreversible. There’s no going back.

– A significant part of the Russian economy will be reoriented to the internal market.

– Because NATOstan will continue to weaponize Kiev, the Donetsk People’s Republic’s troops will NOT stop at the border.

It came out last night, before the St. Petersburg forum: it’s all interconnected.

Here you will see how…

the new G8…

interconnects with China’s Three Rings…

and with BRICS +…

and all that interconnects with what they are discussing in St. Petersburg: EAEU, SCO, ASEAN.

The ‘New G8’ Meets China’s ‘Three Rings’

June 15, 2022

The coming of the new G8 points to the inevitable advent of BRICS +, one of the key themes to be discussed in the upcoming BRICS summit in China.

By Pepe Escobar, posted with the author’s permission and widely cross-posted

The speaker of the Duma, Vyacheslav Volodin, may have created the defining acronym for the emerging multipolar world: “the new G8”.

As Volodin noted, “the United States has created conditions with its own hands so that countries wishing to build an equal dialogue and mutually beneficial relations will actually form a ‘new G8’ together with Russia.”

This non Russia-sanctioning G8, he added, is 24.4% ahead of the old one, which is in fact the G7, in terms of GDP in purchasing power parity (PPP), as G7 economies are on the verge of collapsing and the U.S. registers record inflation.

The power of the acronym was confirmed by one of the researchers on Europe at the Russian Academy of Sciences, Sergei Fedorov: three BRICS members (Brazil, China and India) alongside Russia, plus Indonesia, Iran, Turkey and Mexico, all non adherents to the all-out Western economic war against Russia, will soon dominate global markets.

Fedorov stressed the power of the new G8 in population as well as economically: “If the West, which restricted all international organizations, follows its own policies, and pressures everyone, then why are these organizations necessary? Russia does not follow these rules.”

The new G8, instead, “does not impose anything on anyone, but tries to find common solutions.”

The coming of the new G8 points to the inevitable advent of BRICS +, one of the key themes to be discussed in the upcoming BRICS summit in China. Argentina is very much interested in becoming part of the extended BRICS and those (informal) members of the new G8 – Indonesia, Iran, Turkey, Mexico – are all likely candidates.

The intersection of the new G8 and BRICS + will lead Beijing to turbo-charge what has already been conceptualized as the Three Rings strategy by Cheng Yawen, from the Institute of International Relations and Public Affairs at the Shanghai International Studies University.

Cheng argues that since the beginning of the 2018 U.S.-China trade war the Empire of Lies and its vassals have aimed to “decouple”; thus the Middle Kingdom should strategically downgrade its relations with the West and promote a new international system based on South-South cooperation.

Looks like if it walks and talks like the new G8, that’s because it’s the real deal.

The revolution reaches the “global countryside”

Cheng stresses how “the center-periphery hierarchy of the West has been perpetuated as an implicit rule” in international relations; and how China and Russia, “because of their strict capital controls, are the last two obstacles to further U.S. control of the global periphery”.

So how would the Three Rings – in fact a new global system – be deployed?

The first ring “is China’s neighboring countries in East Asia, Central Asia, and the Middle East; the second ring is the vast number of developing countries in Asia, Africa, and Latin America; and the third ring extends to the traditional industrialized countries, mainly Europe and the United States.”

The basis for building the Three Rings is deeper Global South integration. Cheng notes how “between 1980-2021, the economic volume of developing countries rose from 21 to 42.2 percent of the world’s total output.”

And yet “current trade flows and mutual investments of developing countries are still heavily dependent on the financial and monetary institutions/networks controlled by the West. In order to break their dependence on the West and further enhance economic and political autonomy, a broader financial and monetary cooperation, and new sets of instruments among developing countries should be constructed”.

This is a veiled reference to the current discussions inside the Eurasia Economic Union (EAEU), with Chinese participation, designing an alternative financial-monetary system not only for Eurasia but for the Global South – bypassing possible American attempts to enforce a sort of Bretton Woods 3.0.

Cheng uses a Maoist metaphor to illustrate his point – referring to ‘the revolutionary path of ‘encircling the cities from the countryside’”. What is needed now, he argues, is for China and the Global South to “overcome the West’s preventive measures and cooperate with the ‘global countryside’ – the peripheral countries – in the same way.”

So what seems to be in the horizon, as conceptualized by Chinese academia, is a “new G8/BRICS+” interaction as the revolutionary vanguard of the emerging multipolar world, designed to expand to the whole Global South.

That of course will mean a deepened internationalization of Chinese geopolitical and geoeconomic power, including its currency. Cheng qualifies the creation of a “three ring “ international system as essential to “break through the [American] siege”.

It’s more than evident that the Empire won’t take that lying down.

The siege will continue. Enter the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF), spun as yet another proverbial “effort” to – what else – contain China, but this time all the way from Northeast Asia to Southeast Asia, with Oceania thrown in as a bonus.

The American spin on IPEF is heavy on “economic engagement”: fog of (hybrid) war disguising the real intent to divert as much trade as possible from China – which produces virtually everything – to the U.S. – which produces very little.

The Americans give away the game by heavily focusing their strategy on 7 of the 10 ASEAN nations – as part of yet another desperate dash to control the American-denominated “Indo-Pacific”. Their logic: ASEAN after all needs a “stable partner”; the American economy is “comparatively stable”; thus ASEAN must subject itself to American geopolitical aims.

IPEF, under the cover of trade and economics, plays the same old tune, with the U.S. going after China from three different angles.

– The South China Sea, instrumentalizing ASEAN.

– The Yellow and East China Seas, instrumentalizing Japan and South Korea to prevent direct Chinese access to the Pacific.

– The larger “Indo-Pacific” (that’s were India as a member of the Quad comes in).

It’s all labeled as a sweet apple pie of “stronger and more resilient Indo-Pacific with diversified trade.”

BRI corridors are back

Beijing is hardly losing any sleep thinking about IPEF: after all most of its multiple trade connections across ASEAN are rock solid. Taiwan though is a completely different story.

At the annual Shangri-La dialogue this past weekend in Singapore, Chinese Defense Minister Wei Fenghe went straight to the point, actually defining Beijing’s vision for an East Asia order (not “rules-based”, of course).

Taiwan independence is a “dead end”, said General Wei, as he asserted Beijing’s peaceful aims while vigorously slamming assorted U.S. “threats against China”. At any attempt at interference, “we will fight at all costs, and we will fight to the very end”. Wei also handily dismissed the U.S. drive to “hijack” Indo-Pacific nations, without even mentioning IPEF.

China at it stands is firmly concentrated on stabilizing its western borders – which will allow it to devote more time to the South China Sea and the “Indo-Pacific” further on down the road.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi went on a crucial trip to Kazakhstan – a full member of both BRI and the EAEU – where he met President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev and all his counterparts from the Central Asian “stans” in a summit in Nur-Sultan. The group – billed as C+C5 – discussed everything from security, energy and transportation to Afghanistan and vaccines.

In sum, this was all about developing much-needed corridors of BRI/ New Silk Roads – in sharp contrast to the proverbial Western lamentations about BRI reaching a dead end.

Two BRI-to-the-bone projects will go on overdrive: the China-Central Asia Gas Pipeline Line D, and the China-Kyrgyzstan-Uzbekistan railway. Both have been years in the making, but now have become absolutely essential, and will be the flagship BRI projects in the Central Asian corridor.

The China-Central Asia Gas Pipeline Line D will link Turkmenistan’s gas fields to Xinjiang via Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. That was the main theme of the discussions when Turkmen President Berdimuhamedow visited Beijing for the Winter Olympics.

The 523 km China-Kyrgyzstan-Uzbekistan railway for its part will crucially link the two Central Asian “stans” to the China-Europe freight rail network, via the existing rail networks in Turkmenistan.

Considering the current incandescent geopolitical scenario in Ukraine, this is a bombshell in itself, because it will enable freight from China to travel via Iran or via Caspian ports, bypassing sanctioned Russia. No hard feelings, in terms of the Russia-China strategic partnership: just business.

The Kyrgyz, predictably, were ecstatic. Construction begins next year. According to Kyrgyz President Zhaparov, “there will be jobs. Our economy will boom.”

Talk about China acting decisively in its “first ring”, in Central Asia. Don’t expect anything of such geoeconomic breadth and scope being “offered” by IPEF anywhere in ASEAN.

Lavrov x two

May 30, 2022

Source

Introduction by Amarynth

This posting contains one recent interview and one recent address by Mr Lavrov.  One is extensive and the second contains a few comments not included in the first.  One is directed to an international audience (more specifically the Arab world) and the other to a domestic audience.  Why should we look at these very carefully, and why do we post them on the Saker Blog?   Mr Lavrov is arguably one of the best diplomats in the world today.  In that role, he is a pleasure to read or listen to.  But, that is not the main reason.  He has a fine facility with language and explains exactly Russia’s position and further, the world position in its process toward multipolarity and a new financial system in a pragmatic realpolitik style, undergirded by an encyclopedic knowledge of world affairs.

Sidebar:  While Mr Lavrov is speaking to the Arab countries, his counterpart in China, Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi, is speaking to all of the smaller Pacific island countries (PICS).  Comparing the welcome that these statesmen receive, it is beginning to clarify that the other geopolitical axis (which we roughly and in shorthand refer to as Zone B)  of this war for the world is active and up and running.  Mr Lavrov mentions the organizations.   It is then worthwhile to mention that BRICS is expected to grow by at least two countries during the next general meeting.  It is expected that Argentina will be next, which will then start including the new Latin American groupings such as Celac (The Community of Latin American and Caribbean States) or ALBA-TCP.  Thus we see a coalescence of countries around the principles of international law, the true principles in the UN Charter, and a world community built on cooperation and collective values, instead of one ruler of the world.

First up is an interview with RT Arabic, clearly for an international audience.

Second up is remarks to the Heads of Constituent Entities of the Russian Federation, clearly a domestic audience.


Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s interview with RT Arabic, Moscow, May 26, 2022

Question: Your recent visit to Algeria and Oman generated a lot of interest. What can you say about its results? Why did you decide to visit these states?

Sergey Lavrov: We communicate with all interested countries. As for this tour, it was planned long ago. The programme of my visits and their timeframe were coordinated some time ago.

In Algeria, I had good, lengthy talks with President of the People’s Democratic Republic of Algeria Abdelmadjid Tebboune and Foreign Minister Ramtane Lamamra. We emphasised that for many years our relations were based on the Declaration on Strategic Partnership that was signed by our presidents in 2001. Since then we have intensively developed our strategic ties as partners in many areas. It is enough to mention our regular political dialogue, trade (it went up by several percent in 2021 to exceed $3 billion despite the pandemic), the economy, joint investment, our work in the OPEC+ and the Gas Exporting Countries Forum, extensive military-technical ties and cultural and humanitarian exchanges.

We concluded (at the prompting of Algeria) that our relations are reaching a qualitatively new level. This should be reflected in a document that is already being drafted. We hope to sign this document when President of Algeria Abdelmadjid Tebboune visits Russia at the invitation of President of Russia Vladimir Putin.

We appreciate that the countries of the Arab world are refusing to follow in the wake of the West and are objectively assessing the events in Ukraine and refusing to join the anti-Russia sanctions. They understand that the current situation was caused by the flat refusal of our Western colleagues to reach an accommodation on equal and indivisible security in our common region.

As for Oman, this was the first visit since its new Sultan Haitham bin Tariq Al Said acceded to the throne. The Sultan received me with good grace and devoted much time to me. I was particularly grateful to his Majesty for this gesture (the protocol of the Sultanate of Oman does not envisage communication with ministers in this format). Our detailed talks showed that we have a good potential for developing trade and economic ties. We want to raise them to the level of our trust-based political dialogue. We have many opportunities in energy and ICT and interesting cultural projects. A half-year exhibition of Islamic Art in Russia ended in the National Museum of Oman last March. This museum and the Hermitage have been closely cooperating since 2015. Both museums display their own expositions on each other’s territory.

These two planned visits to both countries at the planned time were useful, in my view.

Question: What about a top-level visit?

Sergey Lavrov: I have already said that during a telephone conversation with President of Algeria Abdelmadjid Tebboune, President of Russia Vladimir Putin invited him to visit the Russian Federation. Now we are preparing the documents required for this visit.

Question: And what about Oman?

Sergey Lavrov: No top-level visits are envisaged for Oman for the time being. We are planning to develop practical cooperation, make it more intensive and productive.

Question: Will there be additional agreements on military cooperation?

Sergey Lavrov: Our military-technical cooperation with many countries develops according to their wishes. We are always ready to examine ways to strengthen their defence capabilities. We consider them as we receive relevant requests.

Question: We are talking about Algeria, which also produces both gas and oil. The OPEC+ countries have shown firmness about the previously agreed positions within the organisation on the parameters of oil production and pricing on the oil market. Do you have confidence in the stability of your partners’ position?

Sergey Lavrov: We have discussed our further cooperation not only within OPEC+ but also the Gas Exporting Countries Forum (GECF), where Russia and Algeria are also included. All OPEC+ and GECF members without exception publicly affirmed their commitment to the agreements reached in these formats and their intention to continue working in this direction in order to stabilise the energy market.

Question: Where will you visit next?

Sergey Lavrov: The next visit will take place very soon. On May 31 and June 1, based on my invitations, I plan to visit Bahrain first. Later, on June 1, Riyadh will host a regular meeting of the Russia-GCC Foreign Ministers Forum. This forum has been around for a long time. Due to the pandemic, there was a break in our meetings. Now our friends have proposed resuming them. In addition to the Russia-GCC meeting, there will also be bilateral meetings with almost all members of this organisation.

Question: How do you find Arab countries’ position on the Ukrainian crisis?

Sergey Lavrov: Just now, answering the previous question, I said that all Arab countries have a responsible position. This proves that they rely solely on their national interests and are not ready to sacrifice them for the sake of anyone’s opportunistic geopolitical adventures. We have mutually respectful relations. We understand the vital interests of the Arab countries in connection with the threats to their security. They reciprocate our feelings and understand the threats to the security of the Russian Federation that the West has been creating right on our borders for decades, trying to use Ukraine to contain Russia and seriously harm us.

Question: Do you think these countries will continue to pursue this policy, despite the pressure from the West, particularly, from the Anglo-Saxon alliance?

Sergey Lavrov: The arrogance of the Anglo-Saxon alliance has no limits. We are offered evidence of that every day. Instead of delivering on their obligations under the UN Charter and honouring, as is written in this charter, the sovereign equality of states and abstaining from interfering in their domestic affairs, the West churns out ultimatums every day, issuing them through their ambassadors or envoys to each, without exception, capital not only in the Arab world but in other regions of the world as well, and, in so doing, blatantly blackmailing them, citing some subjective situations. The West is directly threatening their interlocutors, saying they will regret failing to join the sanctions against Russia and will be punished for this. It is blatant disrespect for sovereign countries. The reaction of Arab countries and almost all other countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America that we are seeing shows that these countries do not want to disregard their national dignity, running errands, in a servile manner, for their senior colleagues. This situation is yet another example of colonial thinking. The habits of our Western colleagues have not vanished. In their traditional style, the United States and Europe are still preaching the colonial customs they adhered to at a time when they could dictate to all others. It is wrong and regrettable, and flies in the face of the historical process, which objectively shows that a multipolar world is taking shape now. It has several centres of economic growth, financial power and political influence. Everyone understands now that China and India are fast-growing economies and influential countries, just like Brazil and other Latin American countries. The tapping of Africa’s enormous potential of natural resources has been held back by the colonialists during the period of neo-colonialism as well, which is not over yet. That is why Africa is also making its voice heard. There is no doubt whatsoever that the Arab world is objectively one of the pillars or one of the centres of a multipolar world that is being shaped now.

Question: We are talking about good relations between Russia, China and India. Can these countries form an alliance against US hegemony?

Sergey Lavrov: We never form alliances against anyone and never make friends with someone against others. We have a ramified network of partner organisations established many years ago. I will mention the organisations established after the Soviet Union’s disintegration. These are the CIS, the CSTO, the EAEU and the SCO on a broader geopolitical plane. The SCO has established and is developing close ties with the EAEU and as part of the linkage of Eurasian integration projects with the Chinese Belt and Road Initiative. The EAEU and the PRC have signed an agreement. The linkage of these integration projects is embracing more and more territories. Thus, in addition to EAEU-SCO cooperation, these organisations have memorandums on cooperation with ASEAN. The Greater Eurasia project (or the Greater Eurasia Partnership) should embrace the whole of Eurasia. President of Russia Vladimir Putin spoke about this at the Russia-ASEAN summit six years ago. It is based on the processes on the ground and has a Eurasian dimension.

Many countries of the Arab world are interested in establishing partner relations with the SCO that represents all other leading sub-regions of our enormous common continent. These are efforts to build constructive and positive (not antagonistic) alliances that are not aimed against anyone. They are gradually acquiring a global character, which is reflected in the development of the BRICS Five (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa). Our Saudi friends and Argentina are interested in it. Argentine Foreign Minister Santiago Cafiero expressed his country’s desire to become a full member of BRICS.

BRICS is preparing for a regular summit. It will create an outreach format in which a dozen developing nations will take part. These processes are underway. We know that our Western friends have many phobias and complexes of their own superiority and infallibility. But they are also paranoid. The West sees opposition and a threat to its domination in any process in which it does not take part and which it does not control. It is time to get rid of these manners and customs.

Question: What about the recent Russia-China military exercises? What do they show?

Sergey Lavrov: This is the continuation of our cooperation aimed at enhancing security in this region. They supplement regular military undertakings: drills and training sessions with counterterrorism aims, efforts to strengthen the security of our common borders within the SCO. Russia-China bilateral military cooperation already has a long history. This is not the first year that we are holding events in the zone of our common borders where our security interests directly overlap; we do it regularly. They show that both Russia and China have a responsible attitude to fulfilling these tasks.

Question: Despite the evidence cited by Russia, the development of biological weapons by the United States in Ukraine has not evoked any concern in the West. What should be done for the world to understand how dangerous this is? The Arab press writes about the historical importance of Russia’s efforts to show how these laboratories operate.

Sergey Lavrov: This is a direct violation of the Convention on the Prohibition of Biological and Toxin Weapons. Enjoying support of all countries except the US, we have long been advocating the formation of a universal transparent verification mechanism within its framework that would allow all states to be sure that no participants of the Convention violate it. The United States has simply blocked this initiative since 2001 (for more than 20 years). Now it is clear why it occupies this position. During all these years, the Americans have been setting up their military bio laboratories all over the world. The Pentagon’s unit – the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) – is in charge of these activities. In developing a network of such laboratories, the Pentagon is focusing on the post-Soviet space and Eurasia. Available information shows that these laboratories have been or are being established along the perimeter of the Russian Federation and closer to the PRC. We initially suspected that the experiments made in these laboratories were not entirely peaceful and innocent. When the Russian Armed Forces and the militias of Donetsk and Lugansk liberated Mariupol during the military operation, they discovered laboratories left by the Americans in a rush. The Americans tried to get rid of documents and samples but didn’t destroy all of them. The samples of pathogens and the documents found there clearly pointed to the military character of these experiments. It is clear from the documents that there are several dozen such laboratories in Ukraine. We are pursuing two goals. First, we will convince the UN Security Council to take seriously the information we presented to it (you noted that the overwhelming majority of the developing nations do take it seriously). Second, we want this information to lead to specific actions that must be taken under the Biological Weapons Convention. It requires that the United States explain what it was doing there. We held five special briefings in the UN Security Council, one of them quite recently. We will work to make the US take specific actions proceeding from its commitments under the Convention. We will also analyse additional information about the involvement of other countries in these experiments and military bio laboratories in Ukraine. According to some sources, these are Great Britain and Germany.

Question: If you don’t mind my asking, where are other similar laboratories located in the vicinity of Russia?

Sergey Lavrov: No, I don’t mind. There are such laboratories in Armenia, Kazakhstan, and Central Asian countries. Russia and these countries have been analysing these problems both bilaterally and at the CSTO. We are signing (or have signed, or are preparing) memorandums on interaction in biological security with practically all CSTO and other CIS countries.  These documents stipulate that the signatories will inform each other of how biological programmes develop in each country.

What is important is transparency, which makes it possible to ascertain that these programmes have no military dimension, since this is prohibited under the Convention. These memorandums imply that the parties will pay mutual visits and familiarise themselves with the activities conducted by these laboratories.  In addition, it is stipulated that there should be no military representatives of any third party at the biological facilities in each of our countries.

Question: How are these countries motivated in having such laboratories? Will this bring them any material or political benefits?

Sergey Lavrov: The USSR pursued a large-scale biological programme. After the Soviet Union joined the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin Weapons and on their Destruction, this programme was stripped of its military aspects, but the scientific value of the biological research is retained.  We all remember the state in which this country was in 1991, when the USSR ceased to exist. We faced the problem of preserving the Russian Federation’s integrity. There were no state reserves to repay the national debt or even to purchase the basic necessities for the Russian population’s everyday life. At that time, our Western partners “hopped to it,” as we say, offering their services in all areas of life. They penetrated all spheres of the newly independent states, sending their advisers and advice-givers. Today we are experiencing the aftermath of those times. Major changes have occurred. There are no Soviet republics, which became independent overnight. They had no experience of independent international activity. But now all of this is a thing of the past. All the post-Soviet republics have consolidated their stand, asserting themselves as absolutely sovereign, independent states.  They decide what partners to choose on their own. We have agreements with them to the effect that the commitments assumed within the framework of the Commonwealth of Independent States, the Collective Security Treaty Organisation, and the Eurasian Economic Union should be fully respected by other countries interested in developing relations with all post-Soviet states. We discussed the problems that all of us encountered during the emergence of the new statehood.  Various agencies exchange information about the risks involved in this sweeping cooperation with foreign countries in sensitive spheres. Biology is, of course, one of these spheres.  There is awareness that we have a unified biological security space. The CSTO’s purview includes security issues that are directly related to public health and the environment.  We will continue our constructive cooperation based on these statutes.

Question: Turkey and Italy have proposed a plan for organising talks between Russia and Kiev. Is Russia ready to continue the talks, which have not yielded any results lately?

Sergey Lavrov: We pointed out on numerous occasions that our Western colleagues want to use Vladimir Zelensky and all citizens of Ukraine to the last Ukrainian, which has become proverbial, to damage Russia as much as possible, to defeat it on the battlefield. This has been openly declared in Washington, Berlin, London and especially loudly in Warsaw. Poland has proposed that the Russian world must be destroyed like a “cancer” which is a deadly threat to the whole world. I would like to look at this world as it is represented by our Polish neighbours. For many years Russia has tried to explain why NATO’s eastward expansion and the drawing of Ukraine into the bloc are unacceptable to us. They listened to us but did not comprehend what we said.

When the coup was staged in 2014, the [Ukrainian] opposition trampled on the agreements reached despite the EU’s guarantees. The EU proved unable to force the putschists to respect the signatures of France, Germany and Poland. In 2015, the war in Donbass unleashed by the new Ukrainian authorities, who seized power in the coup, was stopped. The Minsk agreements were signed and guaranteed by France and Germany. All these years we called on Kiev to honour its commitments. Since the West had the decisive influence on it, we also worked with the Europeans and Americans, appealing to their conscience. Regrettably, they have no conscience.

Instead of forcing Kiev to implement the agreements, which should have been done through a direct dialogue with Donetsk and Lugansk, the West tried to justify Zelensky and his team, even when they said publicly that they would never talk with “those people,” although this is stipulated in the UN Security Council resolution approving the Minsk agreements. They said that they would never implement the Minsk agreements or give a special status to these republics. At the same time, they adopted laws that prohibited the Russian language in education and media. Media outlets were shut down. The Russian language was even prohibited in everyday life. Only the Ukrainian language was allowed as the medium of interaction between people in Ukraine.

Moreover, Vladimir Zelensky stated that those who feel Russian must go to Russia. He said this in September 2021. We drew the attention of some Western countries, the OSCE, the Council of Europe and the relevant UN bodies to these aggressively Russophobic and racist statements made in the spirit of the neo-Nazi policy which was gaining a foothold in the Ukrainian legislation. They did not react in any way. Some officials sometimes called for respect for international commitments. But Zelensky doesn’t give a damn about international commitments or the Constitution of Ukraine, which guarantees the rights of Russian speakers in Ukraine. They showed no respect for the Constitution and international conventions and adopted a lot of anti-Russian laws.

As for Russia’s readiness for talks, we have already explained why we couldn’t sit on our hands any longer. What we found on the Ukrainian army positions during the special military operation proved that we were barely in time with starting it, because Ukraine’s Plan B was to be enacted on March 8. A huge group of the Ukrainian armed forces, which was deployed on the contact line with Donbass by mid-February, planned to attack and occupy these territories in flagrant violation of the Minsk agreements and the UN Security Council resolution.

I have no doubt that had they succeeded the West would have turned a blind eye to these violations, just as it pretended not to notice Kiev’s disregard for all the agreements during the previous eight years.

When the Ukrainian authorities proposed negotiations several days after the operation began, we agreed immediately. We held several in-person rounds of talks in Belarus, trying to understand Ukraine’s position and what it wants to achieve at the talks, because we had presented our approach. After several rounds were held in Belarus and online, the idea of meeting in Istanbul was put forth, and the Ukrainian delegation brought, for the first time, written proposals signed by the head of the delegation to the meeting we held on March 29. We analysed these proposals, reported our opinion to President Putin and told our Ukrainian colleagues that we were ready to proceed on that basis. Since they didn’t present a complete agreement but only its individual provisions, we used them to quickly draft an agreement that was based on the Ukrainian proposals and turned it over to the Ukrainian delegation. The following day a flagrant provocation was staged in Bucha, where dead bodies were found in the streets three days after Russian troops had left the city, after three days of peaceful life. We were accused of killing those people. You remember what happened next.

The West adopted a new package of sanctions, as if it had been waiting for it to happen. The Ukrainians said that they had reviewed their position and would reformulate the principles underlying the agreement. Nevertheless, contacts between us continued. The latest draft agreement, which we submitted to Ukraine nearly a month ago, is gathering dust. If you ask who wants to hold and is ready for talks, Vladimir Zelensky said in an interview the other day (he does this almost every day) that he is ready for talks, but they must be held between himself and Vladimir Putin, because there is allegedly no use doing this at any other level. He said the talks should be held without any intermediaries and only after Ukraine resumed control of its territory as of February 23, 2022. Anyone can see that this is not serious. But it suits the West to keep up this unreasonable and unsubstantiated obstinacy. This is a fact.

The West has called for defeating Russia on the battlefield, which means that the war must continue and that increasingly more weapons must be provided to the Ukrainian nationalists, to the Ukrainian regime, including weapons that can hit targets in the Russian Federation. It is such weapons that Vladimir Zelensky demands publicly. We have issued most serious warnings to the West that it is, in fact, fighting a proxy war against the Russian Federation with the hands, bodies and brains of the Ukrainian neo-Nazis, which can become a major step towards an unacceptable escalation. I hope that the remaining reasonable forces in the West are aware of this.

As for Turkey and Italy, Turkey doesn’t have a plan. At least nobody has presented it to us, although President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has noted on many occasions that Turkey is ready to provide a venue just as it did in Istanbul on March 29.  In fact, it was a useful contact. For the first time the Ukrainians presented their vision of a peace agreement on paper in response to our numerous requests, which we accepted and translated into the legal language. I have told you what happened after that. President Erdogan stands for peace and is ready to do all he can to bring it about. But Vladimir Zelensky has said that he doesn’t need intermediaries. That’s his business. He is as fickle as the wind: first, he rallied the support of all the G7 countries, and now it appears that former NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen is creating an advisory group at Kiev’s request that will provide proposals on security guarantees for Ukraine in the context of a peace settlement.

I would like to remind you that initially the Ukrainians’ concept was to draft a comprehensive agreement which would include Ukraine’s pledge not to join any blocs or have nuclear weapons, as well as guarantees of its neutral status. It would also stipulate the guarantor countries’ guarantees that will take into account the security interests of Ukraine, the Russian Federation and other countries in the region. As I have mentioned, Kiev is moving away from that concept. If Andreas Fogh Rasmussen has been recruited to formulate certain “guarantees” in a narrow circle of the Ukrainian regime’s Western sponsors and to subsequently try to submit them to Russia, it is a path that leads nowhere.

Question: Is this a non-paper? Just an initiative of former [NATO] officials?

Sergey Lavrov: We are looking into this now. This has already been promoted as a breakthrough step. The same applies to the Italian initiative.  Luigi Di Maio is quite active in the media landscape promoting the Italian four-point initiative. All we know about it is that it can bring the long-awaited peace, and not just suit both Russia and Ukraine, but launch something like a new Helsinki process, a new agreement on European security, and that it already enjoys the support of the G7 and the UN Secretary-General. I don’t know whether this is true, or to whom he has shown it. No one has sent us anything. All we can go by is speculation, descriptions of this initiative as they appear in the media.

But what we have read (if it is true, of course) makes us regret that the sponsors of this initiative show so little understanding of what is happening or knowledge of the subject, the history of this matter. Allegedly, it says that Crimea and Donbass should be part of Ukraine, which should grant those regions broad autonomy. Serious politicians who want to achieve results, not just grandstand to impress their voters, cannot be proposing such things. Donbass could have returned to Ukraine a long time ago if the Ukrainian regimes (Petr Poroshenko, and then Vladimir Zelensky) had fulfilled the Minsk agreements and granted a special status to the people that refused to accept the coup. The package included the status of the Russian language. However, instead of granting that status, Ukraine banned the Russian language. Instead of unblocking economic ties, Poroshenko announced a transport embargo on those regions, making retirees travel many kilometres to receive their pension benefits.

This Italian initiative you asked me about – as reported by the media – also calls for launching a new Helsinki process, in addition to reconciliation between Russia and Ukraine, to ensure the safety of everyone and everything.  Our colleagues in Rome came to their senses too late. The Helsinki process has given a number of important gains to the world, to our region, to the Euro-Atlantic region, including declarations signed at the highest political level, at the OSCE summits, in particular in Istanbul in 1999, in Astana in 2010 – declarations on indivisible security. Those documents said security can only be equal and indivisible. Further elaborating on this, they said all participating states have the right to be or not to be a party to treaties of alliance, but no country can join any alliances or otherwise strengthen its security if it affects the security of any other state. The third component of this formula is that no country, no organisation in the OSCE area will claim to dominate security issues.

Anyone familiar with the situation in Europe understands that Western countries have been grossly violating the key components of that commitment by strengthening their security in violation of Russia’s right to its own security. They claim that only NATO can call the tune in this region, and no one else. We have tried to make those beautiful political words become reality, to make them work rather than keep them on paper signed off by the presidents of the United States and European countries. We proposed making that political commitment legally binding. As far back as in 2009, we proposed an agreement to NATO countries. They said they wouldn’t even discuss it because only NATO could provide legal security guarantees. When we asked about the OSCE’s role, they said those were just political promises and slogans. That showed how Western politicians treat the signatures of their presidents. But we did not stop there.

We made another attempt last year. In November 2021, President Vladimir Putin instructed his team to draft new documents to agree with the United States and NATO on the principles that would be approved by all at the highest level. We drafted those treaties and transferred them to Washington and Brussels in early December 2021. Several rounds of negotiations followed. I met with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken. We were told that we could discuss the arms control agenda, but NATO expansion was not our business or anybody’s business, for that matter. When we again quoted their commitment not to strengthen their security at the expense of others, they dismissed that as immaterial. What mattered was NATO’s so-called open door policy. We have warned them repeatedly – in 2009, then in 2013, 2014 (when a coup d’état occurred in Ukraine), and in 2015 (the Minsk agreements). All these years, we have been telling our Western colleagues that it will end badly because they continue to ignore our legitimate interests and rudely tell us no when we ask them to take us into consideration – not somewhere tens of thousands of kilometres away, but right on the borders of the Russian Federation. This arrogance, this air of being exceptional, this colonial mentality (I can do anything and you will do what I tell you) is not manifested only in their attitude to our interests.

Remember 1999, when the United States suddenly decided that Yugoslavia, lying 10,000 kilometres away from its coasts, posed a threat to its security? They bombed it to dust in a heartbeat. They used OSCE Mission leader William Walker from the United States to loudly declare that several dozen corpses discovered in the village of Racak were a crime against humanity. As it turned out later, these corpses were not civilians, but militants who were disguised as civilians and scattered around the place.

The same setup was used in Bucha near Kiev on April 3. It works regardless of whether the public finds it convincing or not. They didn’t need to convince anyone. They bombed Yugoslavia, created an independent Kosovo violating every OSCE principle in the process and then said it would be like that from then on.

They said no after the referendum in Crimea. According to them, self-determination in Kosovo is a good thing, but self-determination in Crimea is not. This is being done as if nothing were wrong. No one is even blushing, although it’s a shame for Western diplomacy which has lost its ability to provide elegant explanations for their grossly reckless moves.

In 2003, the United States decided that a threat was coming from another country located 10,000 kilometres away and produced a vial with what I think was tooth powder. Poor Colin Powell later lamented that he had been set up by the intelligence. Several years later, Tony Blair, too, said it was a mistake, but nothing could be done about it. Nothing can be done about it. They bombed the country killing under a million civilians. Until now, Iraq’s integrity has not been restored. There are enough problems there, including terrorism, which did not exist there before. Indeed, Iraq and Libya were authoritarian regimes, but there were no terrorists, ongoing hostilities, or military provocations.

Libya is on that list, as well. In 2011, President Obama said that they would be “leading from behind” Europe.  France, the most democratic nation in the Old World (freedom, equality, fraternity), led the NATO operation to destroy the regime. As a result, they destroyed the country. It is hard to put it back together now. Again, the French are trying to do so as they come up with initiatives, convene conferences and announce election dates. All in vain, because, before going in, they needed to think about what would become of Libya after the West ensured its “security” in that country.

I’m citing this example not to say: they can, but we can’t. That would be simplifying matters. What I’m saying is that the Western countries believe that the entire world is part of their security, and they must rule the world.

As NATO was crawling up to Russia’s borders, it told us not to be concerned about it, since NATO is a defensive alliance and does not threaten our country’s security. First, this sounds like a diplomatic effrontery. We must decide for ourselves on our security interests, just like any other country. Second, NATO was a defensive alliance when there was someone to stand up to like the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact. There was the Berlin Wall between Western and Eastern Europe. Everyone was clear about the line of defence. After the Warsaw Pact and the Soviet Union ceased to exist, any lieutenant with basic training knew there was no longer any such thing as a defence line. All you need to do now is live a normal life based on shared values and a common European space.

We put our signature under multiple slogans including “from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean,” “from Lisbon to Vladivostok,” and “we are brothers and sisters now.” However, they retained their military nature as they continued to move the “line of defence” closer to our borders. We have just had an in-depth discussion on the outcomes of this policy. In recent months, the NATO Secretary General and warmongering politicians like the British Foreign Secretary have been publicly stating that the alliance must have global responsibility. NATO must be in charge of security in the Pacific. This may mean that next time NATO’s “defence line” will move to the South China Sea.

Not only NATO, but the EU leaders also decided to “play soldiers.” Ursula von der Leyen, who is rivalling EU top diplomat Josep Borrell in terms of bellicosity, claimed that the EU must be in charge of security matters in the Indo-Pacific region. How are they going to accomplish this? They keep talking about an EU “army.” No one will let them create this “army” as long as NATO exists.

To all appearances, no one is going to even reform NATO. They are going to turn this “defensive alliance” into a global alliance claiming global military dominance. This is a dangerous path that is definitely doomed to failure.

Question: To what extent are these developments affecting the Russian army’s presence in Syria?

Sergey Lavrov: We are present in Syria at the request of the legitimate President of the Syrian Arab Republic and the legitimate government of that country. We are there in full compliance with the principles enshrined in the UN Charter and are addressing the tasks set by UN Security Council Resolution 2254. We will stick to this policy and support the Syrian government in its efforts to fully restore Syria’s territorial integrity. The armed forces of the countries that no one had invited to Syria are still deployed there. Until now, the US military, which has occupied a significant portion of the eastern bank of the Euphrates River, is openly building a quasi-state there and is directly encouraging separatism taking advantage of the sentiment of a portion of the Kurdish population of Iraq. Problems are arising between the various entities that unite the Iraqi and Syrian Kurds. All of that intensifies tensions in this region. Of course, Turkey cannot stay on the sidelines.

We want to address these issues solely on the basis of respect for Syria’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. We are talking to the Kurds. We have channels which we use to communicate with all of them. We encourage them to take a closer look at recent developments where the United States promised something to someone and then failed to deliver. Starting a serious dialogue with Damascus and agreeing on arrangements of living in a single state is a much more reliable approach even from these purely pragmatic considerations, not to mention international law.

Of course, Russia will continue to provide humanitarian aid. The United States is trying to keep the crisis situation unchanged and to encourage the sides to resume hostilities. The notorious Caesar Act is designed to strangle the Syrian economy. We see that a growing number of Arab countries are starting to understand the utter futility of this policy and are interested in resuming relations with Syria. Recently, the UAE restored its embassy’s activities in full. A number of Arab countries have never withdrawn their embassies from Damascus. Preparations are underway for a summit of the League of Arab States, which I discussed with Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune. The vast majority of the League members (as far as we can tell from our contacts) are in favour of a solution that will make it possible to resume Syria’s full Arab League membership.

Refugees are another issue. The UN mediators are trying to get involved in this matter, but the United States and the compliant Europeans are doing their utmost to make the return of these people impossible. Remember when Syria held a conference in Damascus a couple of years ago to raise funds and make it possible for the refugees to return, the Americans went out of the way to keep everyone from attending this conference. Not everyone listened to them and about 20 countries, primarily Arab countries, as well as the People’s Republic of China and other countries, took part in it.

The UN showed its weakness by refusing to participate in that conference and only sending its representative in Damascus to sit there as an observer. That decision hit the United Nations’ reputation hard because its Resolution 2254 explicitly calls for the return of refugees. Both the UN Secretariat and the Secretary-General personally have an obligation to contribute to this directly. Until recently, the European Union held its own conferences on refugees (and they were not devoted to creating conditions for their return, but to raising money to pay the host countries). The purpose of those conferences was to make the current situation permanent and prevent any chance of positive developments in Syria. Yet, the Secretary-General did not just send representatives to them, but participated in these conferences as a co-chair. We have been pointing out that serious misinterpretation of his direct responsibilities.

As for the process that is taking place in Geneva, including the Constitutional Committee, its Drafting Commission – I keep in touch with Geir Pedersen, who represents the UN as a mediator in this process. He visited Russia not long ago. We also communicate through our mission in Geneva. There is an agreement that the next meeting of the Drafting Commission will begin at the end of May. I believe that President Bashar al-Assad’s recent decision to grant amnesty to Syrians charged with terrorism-related crimes was an important positive step. As far as I understand, a lot of work has been done, and the amnesty was announced. It will be a good chance to see how it goes. Geir Pedersen as well as many of our Western colleagues said Bashar al-Assad should take some steps. Okay. Whatever prompted the Syrian president’s decision, he did take a step. Let’s reciprocate now. Let Geir Pedersen talk to the opposition and those who control it, and persuade them to show some constructive action in this regard.

Question:  Is Russia keeping the same number of troops in Syria?

Sergey Lavrov: We have not had any requests from the Syrian government. If any such decisions are deemed expedient, they will be implemented. The numbers on the ground are determined by the specific objectives our force is tasked with there. It is clear that there are practically no military objectives left, but only ensuring stability and security. As for the remaining military objectives that the Syrian army is working for, with our support – there is the terrorist threat in Idlib, and it has not gone anywhere. Our Turkish friends and neighbours are trying, as they are telling us, to fulfil what presidents Vladimir Putin and Recep Tayyip Erdogan agreed on a few years ago. As we all see, things are going hard. This objective remains on the agenda. However, thanks to the actions by our contingent and the Syrian armed forces, we have not seen any provocations from Idlib lately targeting the Syrian army strongholds or our bases in Syria.


Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s remarks at the 38th meeting of the Foreign Ministry’s Council of the Heads of Constituent Entities of the Russian Federation, Moscow, May 27, 2022

Colleagues,

We are holding a regular meeting of the Foreign Ministry’s Council of the Heads of Constituent Entities of the Russian Federation. The meeting is taking place against the background of the special military operation in Ukraine, which is being conducted in connection with the tasks set by President of Russia Vladimir Putin, tasks involving the protection of civilians, the elimination of the Ukraine-posed security threats to the Russian Federation, and the denazification of this kindred country whose people have suffered and continue to suffer at the hands of a regime which encourages extreme neo-Nazi sentiments and practices.

You see the United States and its satellites double, triple and quadruple their efforts to contain Russia with the use of a broad range of tools, from unilateral economic sanctions to utterly false propaganda in the global media space. Popular Russophobia has taken on an unprecedented scale in many Western countries, where, to our regret, it is nurtured by government circles.

Under these circumstances, it is of crucial importance that the foreign policy course approved by President Vladimir Putin is based on a broad national accord and supported by the key political forces of Russia and the leading public and entrepreneurial associations. We also feel daily the support from all Russian regions. This country is witnessing the consolidation of all healthy and patriotic forces. This is an important aspect of the present stage.

Colleagues,

At our last meeting, we discussed regions’ cultural diplomacy. The recommendations that we approved have made it possible to give a new impetus to international cultural ties maintained by Russian regions and expand the geographical reach and range of partners (of Russia’s republics, regions and territories). But the situation has changed since that time: the West has declared a total war on us and the entire Russian world. No one is concealing this any longer.

The cancel culture directed at Russia and all things Russian is reaching the apogee of absurdity. Russian greats, including Pyotr Tchaikovsky, Fyodor Dostoevsky, Leo Tolstoy and Alexander Pushkin, are banned. Russian cultural figures and artists representing our culture today are persecuted.

It may safely be said that this situation is here to stay. We should be ready to accept the fact that it has revealed the West’s true attitude to those fine-sounding slogans concerning human values and the need to create a united Europe, a “common European home” stretching from the Atlantic to the Pacific, which were put forward 30 years ago after the end of the Cold War. Today we see the true worth of all these empty words.

Let us not become self-complacent. Under the current circumstances, we need a detailed analysis of the Foreign Ministry’s effort to promote cooperation with civil society, including at the level of regions.

A sufficiently effective system of collaboration between the Foreign Ministry and non-profit organisations focusing on international issues has been established. For example, the recent assembly of the Council on Foreign and Defence Policy has clearly demonstrated the high expert potential of scientific diplomacy. Our joint work has made it possible to carry out a comprehensive analysis of the highly intricate and complex developments in the world.

That said, the presence of NGOs from regions at international venues is insignificant. However, the inclusion of certain regional NGOs in Russian delegations to the UN General Assembly has been a success. This experience shows that this partnership has a promise. We would like to make it regular and broad in nature.

I would like to highlight a number of priority areas concerning interaction with civil society institutions:

1. Mobilising Russian NGOs’ capabilities to promote recovery and to provide humanitarian aid to residents of the DPR and the LPR, as well as the liberated Ukrainian territories.

2. Engaging public diplomacy channels for outreach activities with constructive international partners, including stepping up efforts to debunk fakes about the special military operation and promoting our views in social media and the blogosphere.

3. Using NGO resources, in particular, regional associations of entrepreneurs and the Chamber of Commerce and Industry, to minimise the consequences of unilateral sanctions, and to promote ties with the friendly countries, primarily, our allies and like-minded partners in the CSTO, the SCO, the CIS, the EAEU and BRICS.

On a separate note, regional consultative mechanisms with the participation of top executives from national cultural associations are working productively. Clearly, this helps maintain inter-ethnic and inter-religious peace and accord. I think broader use of this set of tools should be made in order to strengthen business ties with the expat communities’ countries of origin, primarily in the CIS.

4. Working with our compatriots residing abroad is particularly important. They are at the forefront of dealing with the phenomenon known as Neanderthal Russophobia. Our foreign-based communities are facing unprecedented pressure and are being discriminated against on national and linguistic grounds. In spite of everything, our compatriots are holding their own and bravely defending their right not to sever contacts with the Motherland even in the most challenging times. The Immortal Regiment drive that took place in over 80 countries, including the United States and Europe, clearly showed it. Our duty is to continue to support our compatriots, and we count on the regions’ proactive moves in this regard.

It is gratifying to know that many regions, in particular, Moscow, St Petersburg, Tatarstan, Crimea, the Altai Territory and the Yamalo-Nenets and Khanty-Mansi autonomous areas (the list goes on) are effectively working with the Russian expat communities and their coordinating bodies. The most recent examples include the Moscow Government holding, in conjunction with other regions, round table discussions on the topic “Interactions with compatriots abroad at the regional level.” Such events took place in certain regions, in particular, Kaliningrad in late March, and Khabarovsk and Vladikavkaz in April. More such meetings will be held this year. We strongly support these initiatives and will sponsor such events. We are ready to provide advice to our colleagues from non-governmental organisations on the corresponding issues. We will update them on the situation of their compatriots, including instances of their legal rights being violated.

5. The developments in Ukraine confirm the importance of continued efforts to counteract the falsification of history and glorification of Nazism. The absurd content of modern Ukrainian school textbooks is a case in point. However, the problem is not limited to Ukraine. The West does not stop trying to pit the peoples of the former Soviet Union against each other through a biased interpretation of historical facts.

The other day the German government approved plans for a World War II and the German Occupation of Europe documentation centre. At first glance, this concept raises serious questions regarding its historical truthfulness. The planned centre is structured not only to downplay the Soviet Union and the Soviet people’ decisive role in defeating German Nazism, but also to play down the crimes committed by the Third Reich against the Soviet people. These themes are not indicated in the planned expositions. The plans also contain language that seeks to equate German criminals to liberators of Europe. This is yet another step within the policy adopted by modern Berlin which seeks to rewrite the history of World War II and to rehabilitate the Third Reich.

It is important to focus on preserving the common chapters of history, primarily, the Great Patriotic War, and to promote shared memories of the war and the fallen war hero search movement, as well as the ongoing CIS historians’ dialogue on existing platforms.

Proper resources and staff are required in order to overcome these challenges, and the broad involvement of NGOs that should be issued targeted grants and subsidies to this end as well. Let’s not forget about this, either.

Many Russian regions are addressing these issues adequately, including through the use of extrabudgetary sources. We are ready to support this work and supplement these initiatives with increased funding from the federal budget.

In conjunction with Rossotrudnichestvo and the Civic Chamber, we will continue to help the regions use public and people’s diplomacy in the interest of promoting our foreign policy.

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