A Short-Term Geopolitical Forecast

January 20, 2022

By Dmitry Orlov and posted with the author’s permission

Ever since Putin announced his demands for security guarantees from the US and NATO (in brief, stop NATO’s eastward expansion, have NATO retreat to its positions of 1997 and remove offensive weapons from Russia’s immediate vicinity) we have been subjected to a barrage of irrelevancies from Western press:

• Are these security guarantees an ultimatum or a negotiating tool?

• Will the US and NATO agree to them or reject them?

• Will Putin invade the Ukraine or will he be stopped in his tracks through the judicious and timely use of frowning, head-shaking, finger-wagging and tisk-tisking by sundry and assorted Western luminaries?

• If Putin does invade the Ukraine, does this mean that World War III is finally upon us and we shall all surely die?

I hope that I am not alone in being sick and tired of this pathetic, tiresome attempt to throw up a smokescreen and hide the inevitable reality of what is about to unfold. In case it isn’t completely clear to you yet, I would like to spell it all out. I am normally more cautious when making specific predictions, but in this case our immediate future has been carefully plotted out for us by Russia and China, with the US and its assorted puppets reduced to the status of non-playable characters in a video game who can only do one thing: hide behind a dense smokescreen of risible lies.

First, Russian security guarantee demands are not ultimatums. An ultimatum is an “or else” sort of thing, offering a choice between compliance and consequences, whereas in this case both the noncompliance and the consequences will follow automatically. The West and NATO are, for well understood internal political reasons, unable to sign these guarantees; therefore, the consequences will unfold in due course.

Russia has demanded that both the US and NATO put their refusal to agree to the security guarantees in writing; these pieces of paper will be important moving forward. To understand why, we need to take on board the fact that everything within these security guarantees has already been agreed to by the West; namely, the “not an inch to the east” guarantee given to the Russians by the US 30 years ago and the collective security principle agreed to by all members of the OSCE. By signing a document in which they declare their refusal to abide by what they previously agreed to, the US and NATO would essentially declare themselves to be apostates from international law and order. This, in turn, would imply that their own security needs can be disregarded and that instead they deserve to be humiliated and punished.

Further, by putting their refusal in writing, the US and NATO would declare the collective security principle itself—specifically with respect to the US and NATO—to be null and void, meaning that if, for instance, the Bahamas, a sovereign nation since July 10, 1973, decides to reinforce its sovereignty by hosting a Russian missile battery pointed across the Gulf Stream at Miami and Fort Lauderdale, Florida, the US would have no say in the matter, and if the US did try to speak up, they’d get beat up with this very piece of paper they signed. “Do you feel threatened now?” the Russians would ask; “Well, maybe you should have thought of that when you threatened us by putting your missiles in Poland and Romania.”

The initial stated purpose of the two installations of Aegis Ashore in Poland and Romania was to shoot down Iranian missiles, which didn’t exist then, don’t exist now, and never would have taken a giant detour and fly over Poland or Romania in any case. Although the stated purpose of these systems was for missile defense, their launch platforms can also be used to launch offensive strategic weapons: Tomahawk cruise missiles with nuclear payloads. These Tomahawks are obsolete and the Russians know how to shoot them down extremely well (as they demonstrated in Syria) but this is still very annoying, plus seeding the Russian countryside with pulverized American plutonium would not be good for anyone’s health.

Thus, we should expect bad things to happen to these installations, but we should expect to remain rather ill-informed about the details. While the non-negotiations over the Russian security guarantee demands will be as public as possible (in spite of Western plaintive cries asking that they be held in private) the “technical-military means” which Russia will use to deal with Western noncompliance will not be widely publicized. The Romanian installation might become inoperative due to a newly discovered small volcano nearby; the Polish one might succumb of a freak swamp gas explosion.

A further series of unfortunate accidents may cause the US and NATO to become shy and reticent about encroaching on Russia’s borders. NATO troops stationed in the Baltics, a stone’s throw from St. Petersburg, which is Russia’s second-largest city, might complain of repeatedly hearing the word “Thud!” clearly and loudly annunciated, causing them all to be diagnosed with schizophrenia and evacuated. A US spy plane might experience a slight GPS malfunction causing it to blunder into Russian airspace, get shot down, and have its catapulted pilot sentenced to many years of teaching English to kindergarteners in Syktyvkar or Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky. US Navy and NATO vessels, already prone to collisions with each other, underwater mountains and barges, might suffer an unusually large number of such mishaps in proximity to the Russian coastline, causing them to shy away from it. A large number of such events, most out of them transpiring out of sight of the public, news of them suppressed in Western press and social media, would force the mighty US military to confront an uncomfortable existential question: “Are the Russians still afraid of us, or are we just jerking each other off here?” Their response will be to go into denial and to jerk each other off harder and faster than ever before.

But if they are indeed just jerking each other off, then what about their policy of containment? What’s to contain Russia and keep it from recreating USSR 2.0?—other than the fact that the Russians aren’t stupid, learned their lesson the first time around, and Mother Russia will no longer allow a bunch of useless non-Russian ingrates to suckle at her ample bosom. “But when is Russia going to invade the Ukraine?” inquiring minds demand to know, especially those who have been paying attention to Western news sources claiming that Russia has amassed 100090 troops on the Ukrainian border (it hasn’t).

The latest theory is that what is preventing Russia from invading is the warm weather. Apparently, it has been unusually warm since 2014, which is why Russian troops haven’t rolled across the Ukrainian border yet. What have they been waiting for? The next ice age that’s due any millennium now? Instead, Russia just got the bits of the Ukraine it wanted—Crimea, the Donbass and a couple of millions of highly trained Russian-speaking professionals—all without staging an invasion, and is now waiting for the rest of the Ukraine to degenerate into its end state as an ethnic theme park and nature preserve. The only thing that’s not going well with this plan is that the Ukraine needs to be demilitarized, as required by Russia’s recent security guarantee demands.

But what if Russia’s security guarantees aren’t met and US/NATO continue stuffing the Ukraine full of weapons, sending in trainers and establishing bases? Well, then, those will need to be destroyed. This can be done by launching some rockets from small ships sailing around in the Caspian Sea, as was done to destroy ISIS bases in Syria; no ground force invasion needed. It won’t take much to prompt US/NATO to evacuate the Ukraine in a panic, seeing as they have already worked out plans for doing so and have announced that they won’t fight to defend it.

If that’s what unfolds, what do you think will happen next? Will the US start a nuclear war over the Ukraine? Umm… how about “NO!!!” Will the US impose “sanctions from hell”? Perhaps, but you have to understand that at this point in time the US and other Western economies can be accurately caricatured as a crystal vase full of excrement parked on the very edge of a high shelf over a hard marble floor. The hope is that nobody is going to sneeze because the sound pressure might cause it to go over the edge. Sanctions from hell do sound like they could cause a bit of a sneeze. Needless to say, the US will continue to talk about sanctions from hell and maybe even pass some legislation so titled, and claim to have sent “a strong message,” but to no effect.

Will Russia act immediately upon acceptance in writing the West’s refusal to provide it with the requested security guarantees? No, there is bound to be a delay. You see, February 4th is barely two weeks away, and that’s just not enough time to start and finish a military action. What’s on February 4th? Why, the opening ceremony at the Beijing Olympics, of course, at which Putin will be the guest of honor while US dignitaries weren’t even invited.

At the Olympics Putin and Xi will be signing a raft of major agreements, one of which may transform the already very strong relationship between China and Russia into an actual military alliance. The tripartite world order announced by Gen. Milley, in which the US, Russia and China figure as equals, will have lasted all of three months. With Russia and China acting as a unit, the SCO, which by now includes almost all of Eurasia, becomes more than just a geopolitical pole. In comparison, the US and the 29 dwarves of NATO do not quite add up to a geopolitical pole and the world once again becomes unipolar but with the polarity flipped.

And so we should not expect any military action to take place between February 4th and February 20th. Should any military mischief occur during the Olympics, which is traditionally a time of peace in the world, it is sure to be a Western provocation, since the Olympics are a traditional time of Western provocations (Georgia during the Beijing Olympics in 2008; the Ukraine during the Russian Olympics in Sochi in 2014). We can be sure that everyone is very much prepared for this provocation and that it will be dealt with very harshly.

The worst kind of provocation would be if NATO advisers actually succeed in goading the hapless and demoralized Ukrainian troops into invading the Donbass. If that happens, there will be two steps to that operation. The first will involve confusing the Ukrainians into walking into a trap. The second will be to threaten to destroy them using Russian long-range artillery from across the Russian border. When that happened previously, the Ukrainian government in Kiev was forced to sign the Minsk agreements that required the Ukrainian military to pull back and the Kiev government to grant autonomy to the Donbass by amending the Ukraine’s constitution.

But since the government in Kiev has shown no intention of fulfilling the terms of these agreements during the intervening years and instead has done its utmost to sabotage them, there is no reason to expect a new round of Minsk agreements to be signed. Instead, it will be the end of the road for Ukrainian statehood. Putin has promised exactly that. NATO advisers are likely to be frustrated in their efforts to cause the Ukrainians to attack: it is preferable for them to sit there being poked and prodded by their NATO handlers and nagged by US/EU officials and spies than to have their best and brightest obliterated by Russian artillery or to face a final round of national humiliation.

After February 20th, however, we should expect some new and interesting domestic distraction. It could have to do with Western financial house of cards/pyramid scheme finally pancaking, or it could be a fun new virus, or natural gas running out and causing a huge humanitarian emergency. Or it could be a combination of these: the virus can be blamed on China, the gas emergency on Russia, and the financial collapse on both. While everyone is distracted, an aircraft carrier or two might go missing, the Aegis Ashore installation in Poland might get totaled by freak swamp gas explosion and so on and so forth. But then nobody would take notice.

There will still be the major existential question nagging the US military/industrial complex: “Are Russia and China still afraid of us or are we just jerking each other off?” I think I know what answer Russia and China would offer: “Don’t worry about us. Just go on jerking each other off.”

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This Is How the U.S. Does ‘Dialogue’

January 13, 2022

Washington will not consider Russian proposals on no expansion of NATO, and has no intention of even discussing the idea. So much for “dialogue”.

by Pepe Escobar,

It was the first high-level Russia-NATO meeting since 2019 – coming immediately after the non sequitur of the U.S.-Russia “security guarantee” non-dialogue dialogue earlier in the week in Geneva.

So what happened in Brussels? Essentially yet another non-dialogue dialogue – complete with a Kafkaesque NATO preface: we’re prepared for dialogue, but the Kremlin’s proposals are unacceptable.

This was a double down on the American envoy to NATO, Julianne Smith, preemptively blaming Russia for the actions that “accelerated this disaster”.

By now every sentient being across Eurasia and its European peninsula should be familiar with Russia’s top two, rational demands: no further NATO expansion, and no missile systems stationed near its borders.

Now let’s switch to the spin machine. NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg’s platitudes were predictably faithful to his spectacular mediocrity. On the already pre-empted dialogue, he said it was “important to start a dialogue”.

Russia, he said, “urged NATO to refuse to admit Ukraine; the alliance responded by refusing to compromise on enlargement”. Yet NATO “welcomed bilateral consultations” on security guarantees.

NATO also proposed a series of broad security consultations, and “Russia has not yet agreed, but has not ruled out them either.”

No wonder: the Russians had already noted, even before it happened, that this is noting but stalling tactics.

The Global South will be relieved to know that Stoltenberg defended NATO’s military blitzkriegs in both Kosovo and Libya: after all “they fell under UN mandates”. So they were benign. Not a word on NATO’s stellar performance in Afghanistan.

And then, the much-awaited clincher: NATO worries about Russian troops “on the border with Ukraine” – actually from 130 km to 180 km away, inside European Russian territory. And the alliance considers “untrue” that expansion is “an aggressive act”. Why? Because “it spreads democracy”.

Bomb me to democracy, baby

So here’s the NATO gospel in a flash. Now compare it with the sobering words of Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Grushko.

Grushko carefully enounced how “NATO is determined to contain Russia. The United States and its allies are trying to achieve superiority in all areas and in all possible theaters of military operations.” That was a veiled reference to Full Spectrum Dominance, which since 2002 remains the American gospel.

Grushko also referred to “Cold War-era containment tactics”, and that “all cooperation [with Russia] has been halted” – by NATO. Still, “Russia honestly and directly pointed out to NATO that a further slide of the situation could lead to dire consequences for European security.”

The conclusion was stark: “The Russian Federation and NATO do not have a unifying positive agenda at all.”

Virtually all Russophobic factions of the bipartisan War Inc. machine in Washington cannot possibly accept that there should be no forces stationed on European states that were not members of NATO in 1997; and that current NATO members should attempt no military intervention in Ukraine as well as in other Eastern European, Transcaucasian, and Central Asian states.

On Monday in Geneva, Deputy Foreign Minister Ryabkov had already stressed, once again, that Russia’s red line is unmovable: “For us, it’s absolutely mandatory to make sure that Ukraine never, never, ever becomes a member of NATO.”

Diplomatic sources confirmed that in Geneva, Ryabkov and his team had for all practical purposes to act like teachers in kindergarten, making sure there would be “no misunderstandings”.

Now compare it with the U.S. State Department’s Ned Price, speaking after those grueling eight hours shared between Ryabkov and Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman: Washington will not consider Russian proposals on no expansion of NATO, and has no intention of even discussing the idea.

So much for “dialogue”.

Ryabkov confirmed there was no progress. Referring to his didacticism, he had to stress, “We are calling on the U.S. to demonstrate a maximum of responsibility at this moment. Risks related to a possible increase of confrontation shouldn’t be underestimated.”

To say, in Ryabkov’s words, that “significant” Russian effort has been made to persuade the Americans that “playing with fire” is not in their interests is the euphemism of the young century.

Let me sanction you to oblivion

A quick recap is crucial to understand how things could have derailed so fast.

NATO’s not exactly secret strategy, from the beginning, has been to pressure Moscow to directly negotiate with Kiev on Donbass, even though Russia is not mentioned in the Minsk Agreements.

While Moscow was being forced to become part of the Ukraine/Donbass confrontation, it barely broke a sweat smashing a coup cum color revolution in Belarus. Afterwards, the Russians assembled in no time an impressive strike force – with corresponding military infrastructure – in European Russia territory to respond in lightning quick fashion in case there was a Ukrainian blitzkrieg in Donbass.

No wonder an alarmed NATOstan had to do something about the notion of fighting Russia to the last impoverished Ukrainian. They may at least have understood that Ukraine would be completely destroyed.

The beauty is how Moscow turned things around with a new geopolitical jiu-jitsu move. Ukro-dementia encouraged by NATO – complete with empty promises of becoming a member – opened the way for Russia to demand no further NATO expansion, with the withdrawal of all military infrastructure from Eastern Europe to boot.

It was obvious that Ryabkov, in his talks with Sherman, would refuse any suggestion that Russia should dismantle the logistical infrastructure set up in its own European Russia territory. For all practical purposes, Ryabkov smashed Sherman to bits. What was left was meek threats of more sanctions.

Still, it will be a Sisyphean task to convince the Empire and its NATO satrapies not to stage some sort of military adventure in Ukraine. That’s the gist of what Ryabkov and Grushko said over and over again in Geneva and Brussels. They also had to stress the obvious: if further sanctions are imposed on Russia, there would be severe blowback especially in Europe.

But how is it humanly possible for seasoned pros like Ryabkov and Grushko to argue, rationally, with a bunch of amateur blind bats such as Blinken, Sullivan, Nuland and Sherman?

There has been some serious speculation on the timeframe ahead for Russia to in fact not even bother to listen to the American “baby babble” (copyright Maria Zakharova) anymore. Could be around 2027, or even 2025.

What’s happening next is that the five-year extension of the new START treaty expires in February 2026. Then there will be no ceiling for nuclear strategic weapons. The Power of Siberia 2 gas pipeline to China will make Gazprom even less dependent on the European market. The combined Russia-China financial system will become nearly impervious to U.S. sanctions. The Russia-China strategic partnership will be sharing even more substantial military tech.

All of that is way more consequential than the dirty secret that is not a secret in the current “security guarantees” kabuki: the exceptionalist, “indispensable” nation is congenitally incapable of giving up on the forever expansion of NATO to, well, outer space.

At the same time, the Russians are very much aware of a quite prosaic truth; the U.S. will not fight for Ukraine.

So welcome to Instagrammed Irrationalism. What happens next? Most possibly a provocation, with the possibility, for instance, of a chemical black ops to be blamed on Russia, followed by – what else – more sanctions.

The package is ready. It comes in the form of a bill by Dem senators supported by the White House to bring “severe costs” to the Russian economy in case Moscow finally answers their prayers and “invades” Ukraine.

Sanctions would directly hit President Putin, Prime Minister Mishustin, Foreign Minister Lavrov, the Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces Gen Gerasimov, and “commanders of various branches of the Armed Forces, including the Air Force and Navy.”

Targeted banks and financial institutions include Sberbank, VTB, Gazprombank, Moscow Credit Bank, Alfa-Bank, Otkritie Bank, PSB, Sovcombank, Transcapitalbank, and the Russian Direct Investment Fund. They would all be cut off from SWIFT.

If this bill sounds like a declaration of war, that’s because it is. Call it the American version of “dialogue”.

بوتين ينتقل الى الهجوم الاستراتيجي الوقائي

الاثنين 10 يناير 2022

 ناصر قنديل

في مطلع القرن الواحد والعشرين تقدّم الأميركيون في الجوار الروسي بما هو أبعد من مجرد ضمّ دول أوروبا الشرقية إلى الاتحاد الأوروبي، فكان التزامن بين وصول فلاديمير بوتين الى الرئاسة الروسية وبدء الهجوم الأميركي الأوروبي بالثورات الملوّنة وبالقضم الأمني والعسكري لدول الجوار الروسي، من أوكرانيا الى جورجيا ولتوانيا وصولاً الى دول البلطيق، والتلويح بضمّ دول هذا الجوار الى حلف الناتو الذي تقوم عقيدته العسكرية على اعتبار روسيا العدو الأول، وفي كلّ هذه المرحلة الممتدة حتى عام 2015 سنة التموضع الروسي في سورية، كان موقف موسكو السعي لاحتواء الهجوم الأميركي والغربي، والتركيز على بناء القدرات الاقتصادية والعسكرية لروسيا.

شكل العام 2015 محطة فاصلة في كيفية تعامل روسيا مع الهجوم الأميركي والغربي المستمرّ منذ سقوط جدار برلين وتفكك الاتحاد السوفياتي، فكان قرار الرئيس بوتين بالدخول طرفاً مباشراً في مواجهة الحرب المفتوحة على سورية بقيادة أميركية معلنة، تعبيراً عن قرارة متعددة الأبعاد، أولها القناعة بخطورة المدى الذي بلغه التغوّل الأميركي وخطورة الإنكفاء أمامه، وقد كشف تحالفه المعلن مع الإرهاب من جهة، وحجم تحدّيه للأمن القومي الروسي من جهة موازية، وفي المقابل بعدما ظهر في سورية أنّ مفهوم الدولة الوطنية كمشروع مناهض للمشروع الأميركي هو استثمار قادر على الإنجاز، وأنّ منطقة غرب آسيا التي اختارها الأميركي لإحكام الطوق على روسيا وإيران عبر اللعب على وتر الإسلام السياسي الذي مثلته تركيا بمشروع العثمانية الجديدة، تستطيع ان تكون مقبرة هذا المشروع بتشعّباته التركية والمتطرفة ومن خلفهما الأميركي خصوصاً والغربي عموماً.

عندما تمّ تحريك أوكرانيا بوجه روسيا في قلب الحرب السورية كانت رؤية موسكو واضحة، وقرارها حازماً، بأن لا تراجع مهما كان الثمن، والروس قد قرأوا جيداً ما كتبه زبينغيو بريجنسكي مستشار الأمن القومي الأميركي السابق في ثمانينات من القرن الماضي، وما قاله عن أوكرانيا نقطة الضعف الروسية في التاريخ والجغرافيا، ولذلك تشبّث الرئيس بوتين بقراره في المضيّ قدماً نحو التموضع في سورية وصولاً للحسم الذي بدأته معركة حلب الفاصلة، وذهب نحو قرار ضمّ شبه جزيرة القرم، وهو القرار الذي تحوّل الى أمر واقع رغم كلّ ما قيل يومها عن أنه لن يمرّ، ورغم كلّ التهديدات الغربية بالعواقب الوخيمة، وقد ثبت لموسكو انّ الكلام الغربي عن التهديدات يبقى حبراً على ورق وبعض العقوبات، ولم يحل كلّ ذلك دون السير قدماً ولو بتقطع بمشروع أنابيب السيل الشمالي لنقل الغاز الروسي الى ألمانيا.

هذه المرة عندما أثير ملف أوكرانيا بلغة التهديد لروسيا مجدداً، لم ترتبك موسكو في فهم الرسالة، فالمطروح هو تهديد موسكو بالخروج عن اتفاقات مينسك ودعم حكومة أوكرانيا لضمّ مناطق دونباس في شرق أوكرانيا بالقوة، ولم تتردّد موسكو، فلم تنف استعدادها لإجتياح أوكرانيا إذا تمّت إطاحة اتفاقات مينسك، ووضعت معادلة جديدة على الطاولة، لا ضمانات بعدم اجتياح أوكرانيا، بل مطالبة بضمانات لعدم ضمّ الغرب لأوكرانيا وسواها من دول الجوار الروسي الى حلف الناتو، وشيئاً فشيئاً لم تعد القضية أوكرانيا، بل صارت الضمانات الروسية الموثقة المطلوبة من الغرب، ودار الحوار بين الرئيسين الأميركي جو بايدن والروسي فلاديمير بوتين حول هذا الأمر، تمهيداً لحوارات قيد الانطلاق تحت هذا العنوان، تقول موسكو سلفاً إنها غير مستعدة لتقديم ايّ تنازل خلالها عن ثوابت تمثل أمنها القومي.

جاءت أحداث كازاخستان لتكشف بالمقارنة الزمنية بين الزمن الذي احتاجته القيادة الروسية لاتخاذ قرار التحرك الميداني نحو سورية، والزمن الموازي الذي احتاجته للتحرك الميداني نحو كازاخستان، من سنوات وشهور الى أيام وساعات، تحوّلاً كبيراً في توجهات القيادة الروسية لجهة الإنتقال من الدفاع الاستراتيجي الى الهجوم الاستراتيجي الوقائي، وهو غير الهجوم الاستراتيجي في المطلق، لكنه أحد أشكاله وبداياته.

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Russia to Seek Firm Guarantees of NATO Not Moving Eastward: Foreign Ministry Spox

 December 30, 2021

Russia Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova

The Russian Foreign Ministry says Moscow seeks firm security guarantees from the West in the upcoming talks between Russia and NATO member states amid rising tensions over Ukraine.

“During the talks we will seek firm legal guarantees of Russia’s security from the US side, namely that NATO will not move eastwards and that weapons systems threatening Russia will not be deployed near our borders,” Maria Zakharova, Russia’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson, told a news briefing in Moscow on Thursday.

Zakharova said the talks between Russia and the US-led military alliance are scheduled for January 10, adding that Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov and his American counterpart will lead the security talks in the Swiss city of Geneva.

“I can report that on January 10 in Geneva, we plan to hold inter-ministerial delegation talks between the US and Russia. The Russian delegation will be led by Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov, and the US delegation will be led by Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman,” the Russian foreign ministry spokesperson added.

Russia is also due to hold talks with NATO in Brussels on January 12, before a broader meeting on January 13, which Zakharova said would take place in Vienna.

The January 13 talks will involve the Vienna-based Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), which includes the United States and its NATO allies, as well as Russia, Ukraine and other ex-Soviet states.

Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said last Monday that talks on a list of security guarantees Moscow wants from Washington regarding the rubbing points in relations with NATO over Ukraine are scheduled to be held between Russian and American officials next month.

Lavrov said in an interview live-streamed on the Russian Foreign Ministry’s website that the talks would take place immediately after Russia’s New Year holidays. The first official working day of 2022 in Russia starts on January 10.

Earlier in the month, Russia unveiled a list of security proposals it wants to negotiate with the US, including a pledge that NATO would give up any military activity in Eastern Europe and Ukraine.

US President Joe Biden’s administration has said a number of Russia’s security proposals are obviously unacceptable but that the US will respond with more concrete ideas on the format of any talks.

Tensions have been mounting in eastern Ukraine since November, when several Western media outlets reported that Russia had been amassing troops near the border with the objective of a large-scale military invasion of the country. Moscow denies the allegations, saying it is free to move its troops around within its own borders and that its military buildup is in response to increased NATO activity near its borders.

Russia says it does not seek an armed conflict with Ukraine but “has all the capabilities in place to ensure a full military and technical response to any kind of provocations that might unfold around us.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin has repeatedly warned the West against crossing the Kremlin’s red lines by staging military exercises in and sending lethal weaponry to Ukraine.

Moscow has already ordered some 10,000 servicemen who had gathered close to the Ukrainian border to return to their permanent bases.

Source: Agencies

Russia says Nord Stream 2 ready for commissioning

Dec 30 2021

Net Source: Agencies

By Al Mayadeen

After several western attempts to block its construction, citing “dependence on Russia”, Russia’s Nord Stream 2 is complete and ready for commissioning.

Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a session of the SPIEF in Saint Petersburg, Russia, June 4, 2021 (Reuters)

Russian Gazprom’s Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline is ready for commissioning after its second line from Russia to Germany has been filled with gas, Gazprom CEO Alexei Miller announced Wednesday.

According to Miller, the Russian energy giant has met all long-term gas supply contracts.

“Today at 12:58 Moscow time [09:58 GMT], Gazprom completed the filling of the second thread of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline with gas. The first and second threads of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline are under operational pressure and are fully ready for operation,” Miller declared.

The CEO also revealed that the company had fulfilled its obligations to transit gas through Ukraine.

“Gazprom fully fulfilled its obligations under the contract for gas transit via Ukraine, our planned volume of 40 billion cubic meters of gas. Today we have already transited 41.5 billion cubic meters through Ukraine,” he said during a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Russia ready to supply gas to Europe

President Putin announced that Russia would be ready to immediately start supplying Europe with Gas if the European countries decide to launch Nord Stream 2.

Now, of course, he said, everything depends on Moscow’s partners, European consumers, and Germany.

“As soon as they decide to start work, large volumes, additional volumes of Russian gas will immediately begin to flow to Europe. Let me remind you that this is 55 billion cubic meters per year.”

According to Putin, the launch of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline will see gas prices decreasing, not only for Europe but also for Ukraine.

The Director of the Russian Foreign Ministry’s Department of Economic Cooperation said Wednesday Washington’s sanctions against the Nord Stream 2 project were pointless, as the construction of the gas pipeline had been completed.

“To be honest, we see no point in Washington’s sanctions policy in conditions when the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline has already been built,” the diplomat declared.

In light of the Russian-Ukrainian tensions, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said Sunday Russia’s Nord Stream 2 would not be allowed to operate in Ukraine, citing an agreement between Washington and Berlin.

The pipeline, which has been backed by Russian President Vladimir Putin on the one hand and Scholz’s predecessor Angela Merkel on the other in recent years, has been criticized by several sides. 

The US and several Eastern European countries are worried that Europe would be too dependent on Russia. 

In mid-November, the German energy regulator had suspended the certification procedure for Nord Stream 2 by requiring the Swiss-based consortium in charge of its operation to create a company under German law.

Related

America’s ‘Suez moment’: Another strategic mistake would be its last

27 December 2021

“The chance of a global conflict involving real armies and real arms has never been higher. Biden should bear this in mind” (Illustration by MEE)
David HearstDavid Hearst is co-founder and editor-in-chief of Middle East Eye. He is a commentator and speaker on the region and analyst on Saudi Arabia. He was The Guardian’s foreign leader writer, and was correspondent in Russia, Europe, and Belfast. He joined the Guardian from The Scotsman, where he was education correspondent.

David Hearst

In 2021, President Joe Biden truly reaped a bitter harvest from the strategic foreign policy errors of four of his predecessors. But Washington would do well to think before it makes its next move

“America has just had its Suez Crisis,” commented a member of the Iranian delegation at the nuclear talks in Vienna about the fall of Afghanistan to the Taliban, “but it has yet to see it.”

It’s not just the fall of Kabul.

In 2021, President Joe Biden truly reaped a bitter harvest from the strategic foreign policy errors of four of his predecessors. As he was the vice president for one of them, Barack Obama, he has trouble seeing this as well. The seeds of each of the major global conflict zones post – Afghanistan, Ukraine, Taiwan, and Iran were planted long ago. 

It’s not just the fall of Kabul. What unravelled this year was no less than three decades of bungled US global governance

What unravelled this year was no less than three decades of bungled US global governance.

Each US president in the post-Soviet period shared the belief that he had the file to himself. It was not something to be shared at the UN Security Council. He was the commander-in-chief of the largest, best-equipped and most mobile armed force in the world, one that could stage over the horizon attacks with devastating accuracy. The US president controls 750 military bases in 80 different countries. He also had the biggest pocket, the world’s reserve currency, so, ergo, he could now set the rules.

What could possibly go wrong?

With that belief came two assumptions that proved to be fatally flawed: that the US monopoly on the use of force would last forever – it ended with Russia’s intervention in Syria – and that the US could continue to enforce a “rules-based” world order – so long as it continued to make the rules. Biden has quietly buried both assumptions by admitting that great powers will be forced to “manage” their competition to avoid conflict that no one can win. 

But hang on a moment. There is something not quite right here.

The cause and effect theory

Major conflicts, which have the potential to produce tank battles not seen since World War II, like Ukraine, do not just happen.

There is cause and effect. The cause was the unilateral but at the time uncontroversial decision to expand Nato eastwards in the 1990s, abandoning the model of a largely demilitarised and missile-free Eastern Europe that had been discussed with president Mikhail Gorbachev a decade earlier.Why global conflict is no longer unthinkableJoe Gill Read More »

This was done to give new meaning to Nato, a military pact whose purpose died when its enemy did. Complete rubbish was talked about Nato “cementing” democracy in Eastern Europe by guaranteeing its independence from Moscow. But remember the mood at the time. It was triumphalist. Not only was capitalism the only economic system left, but its neo-liberal brand was the only brand worth promoting. 

For a brief moment, Moscow became an eastern gold rush, a Klondike for venture capitalists, Ikea, Carrefour, Irish pubs, and bible bashers. The Russians, meanwhile, were obsessed with designer labels, not politics.  

The Americans in Moscow – at the time – did not bother much about what their hosts thought or did. Russia became irrelevant on the international stage. US advisers boasted about writing the decrees the Russian president Boris Yeltsin issued. And Yeltsin returned the favour by handing over the designs of the latest Russian tank and the wiring diagram of bugs placed by the KGB in the concrete foundation of an extension being built in the US embassy. 

Then US President George Bush and his Soviet counterpart Mikhail Gorbachev after a two-day US-Soviet Summit dedicated to the disarmament on 31 July, 1991 (AFP)
Then-US president George Bush and his Soviet counterpart Mikhail Gorbachev after a two-day US-Soviet summit dedicated to disarmament, on 31 July 1991 (AFP)

For Russian nationalists, this was nothing less than an act of treason. But doors were open so wide to the West that literally everything that was not nailed down flew through them – nuclear scientists, missile engineers, the cream of the KGB, and suitcases full of cash. Where do you think the Russians who settled in Highgate in North London, or the Hamptons on Long Island, or Cyprus, or Israel got their money from?

For a time, even the word “West” dropped out of Russian political vocabulary because the new Russians thought they had just joined it.

Ukraine, the West’s victim

The first US ambassador to the newly created Russian Federation, Robert Strauss, spent more time defending what happened in the Kremlin than the White House. Western embassies became spokesmen for a Russia they thought they now owned. 

It is now in the US’ strategic interest to staunch any more bloodletting in the battlefields it created this century

Strauss downplayed the first reports of the rise of the Russian mafia state, as a mere bagatelle. “This is what Chicago was like in the 20s,” he told me. This was followed by inanities about the green shoots of democracy and the time it took to mow an English lawn. As if he knew.

Bill Clinton and Tony Blair were similarly blasé about what they did in Russia.

The Russian army was “a joke”. When the Russians sent their armoured columns into Grozny in December 1994, the West thought it could be stopped by small bands of determined Chechens; their pilots had only three hours flying time each month: their frigates sailed in pairs – one to patrol, the second to tow back the first one when it broke down; their submarines sunk.

And so Nato pushed eastwards.

No one at the time bought the argument that all Nato would do was to push the line of confrontation eastwards. Russia’s pleas to negotiate a security architecture for Eastern Europe fell on deaf ears. They are not falling on deaf ears now, with 90,000 Russian troops massed on Ukraine’s borders. 

The victim of this gross act of western stupidity was Ukraine, which for at least the first decade after the fall of the Soviets had survived intact and largely in peace. Civil wars raged all around it, but Ukraine itself maintained its political and social unity despite being comprised of very different communities. With the exception of Western Ukraine, which never forgot that it had been captured by the Bolsheviks from the crumbling Austro-Hungarian empire, Russian and Ukrainian speakers lived in peace.

Now it is divided forever, scared by a civil war from which it will never recover. Ukraine will never regain its lost unity, and for that, Brussels is as much to thank as the bully boys from Moscow.

Ukrainian servicemen take part in the joint Rapid Trident military exercises with the US and other Nato countries not far from Lviv on 24 September 2021 (AFP)
Ukrainian servicemen take part in the joint Rapid Trident military exercises with the US and other Nato countries not far from Lviv, on 24 September 2021 (AFP)

The new cold war

Then there is China. Pivoting eastwards surely did not mean ending one Cold War and starting a new one with China, but that too is inexorably happening. Biden cannot decide whether to calm President Xi down or confront him, but doing each in sequence will not work. 

To get a measure of what mainland China feels when British warships sail through the Taiwan Strait, how would Britain react if Chinese warships appeared in the Irish Sea and sailed between Scotland and Northern Ireland?How to avert a global conflict between China, Russia and the WestMarco Carnelos

Read More »

The game of “managing” competition has human consequences as devastating as the superpower triumphalism of the 1990s, and those can be observed in Afghanistan today. The Afghanistan of the ousted Afghani president Ashraf Ghani truly was a Potemkin village, a facade of independent statehood. 

An astonishing 300,000 troops and soldiers on its government’s books did not exist. “Ghost soldiers” were added to official lists so that generals would pocket their wages, Afghanistan’s former finance minister Khalid Payenda told the BBC. The black hole of the former corrupt regime’s finances was an open secret long before Biden set a date for withdrawal. 

A report for the US special inspector general for Afghanistan (SIGAR) warned in 2016: “Neither the United States nor its Afghan allies know how many Afghan soldiers and police actually exist, how many are in fact available for duty, or, by extension, the true nature of their operational capabilities.”

Now that the tap of US income has been turned off, Afghanistan is on the verge of a nationwide famine. But, incredibly, the US is blaming this situation on the Taliban. It withholds money on the grounds of human rights, the night-time revenge killings on former state employees, or the suppression of education for women.

Much of the Afghan central bank’s $10bn in assets is parked overseas, including $1.3bn in gold reserves in New York. The US Treasury is using this money as a lever to pressure the Taliban on women’s rights and the rule of law. It has granted a licence to the US government and its partners to facilitate humanitarian aid and it gave Western Union permission to resume processing personal remittances from migrants overseas.

But the US does not hold itself to account for having nurtured a state that cannot function without the money that it is now withholding. The US has direct responsibility for the famine that is now taking place in Afghanistan. To withhold money from the Taliban because they took power militarily, rather than negotiate their re-entry with other Afghan warlords, also wears somewhat thin. 

Same story

The Taliban walked into Kabul with barely a shot fired because everything crumbled before them. The speed of the collapse of Afghan forces blindsided everybody – even Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), who are accused by India and western governments of running the Haqqani network of the Taliban. The only country that really knew what was happening was Iran, because officers of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) were with the Taliban as they walked in, according to Iranian sources close to the IRGC.

US President Joe Biden looks at Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) prior to their meeting at the 'Villa la Grange' in Geneva on 16 June, 2021 (AFP)
A child cries on a sidewalk in Kabul, on 27 December 2021 (AFP)

Even the ISI were blindsided by the speed of this collapse. An informed source told me in Islamabad: “We had expected the NDS [National Directorate of Security] to put up a fight in Mazar-i-Sharif, Herat, Kandahar and Kunduz. That would have produced a stalemate and the possibility for negotiation a more inclusive government.”

But we are where we are. “There were some improvements in the last 20 years. There was a middle class in Kabul, women’s education. But if you want to lose everything, this is the way to do it. The Taliban will go hardline if the place runs out of money. If you want to protect the liberal elements, you have to make Afghanistan stable.”

Pivoting eastwards surely did not mean ending one Cold War and starting a new one with China, but that too is inexorably happening

The Pakistani source listed 10 jihadi groups, as opposed to the one jihadi group, al-Qaeda, that was around in 2001. And the ISI do not know what happened to the arms the Americans left behind.

“We simply don’t know in whose hands they have ended up,” he said. When they pressed the Taliban on forming an inclusive government, the Taliban shot back at them: “Do you have an inclusive government? Do you have a government that includes the PML-N? What do you think it would be like in Pakistan if you had to reconcile groups of fighters who had killed each other’s sons and cousins?”

Starved of funds, there is only one way for the breakaway groups to go – into the hands of the jihadists. He ended his analysis with the following thought: is it really in the US interest to stabilise Afghanistan? If they let the money through, it would mean supporting the very axis of China, Russia and Pakistan that they were now determined to push back. The faltering talks in Vienna, the crisis on Ukraine’s border, renewed tension and military posturing in Taiwan, are all part of the same story.

Strategic mistakes

Washington would do well to look at the map of the world and think before it makes its next move. A long period of reflection is needed. Thus far it has obtained the dubious distinction of getting every conflict it has engaged with in this century wrong. 

The US has entered a new era where it can no longer change regimes by force of arms or sanctions

The chance of a global conflict involving real armies and real arms has never been higher and the tripwire to using weapons of mass destruction has never been strung tighter. Nor have all the world’s military powers been better armed, able and willing to start their own inventions.

Biden should bear this in mind.

It is now in the US’ strategic interest to staunch any more bloodletting in the battlefields it created this century. That means the US should come to a deal with Iran by lifting the sanctions it imposed on Tehran since the 2015 JCPOA. If it wants to balance the growing Chinese and Russian influence in the Middle East, that is the surest way to do it.

Iran is not going to give up its missiles any more than Israel is going to ground its air force. But a deal in Vienna could be a precursor to regional Gulf security negotiations. The Emiratis, Qataris, Omanis and Kuwaitis are all ready for it. If Washington wants to apply rules, let it do so first with its allies, who have extraordinary impunity for their brutal actions.

If Washington is the champion of human rights it claims to be, start with Saudi Arabia or Egypt. If it is the enforcer of international law, let’s see Washington make Israel pay a price for its continued settlement policy, which makes a mockery of UN Security Council resolutions, and the US’ own policy for a resolution to the Palestinian conflict. 

The Abraham Accords were devised to establish Israel as America’s declared and open regional surrogate. Had Donald Trump secured a second term, such a policy would have been a disaster for US strategic interests in the Middle East. Already Israel thinks it has a veto on US decision making in the region. With this policy fully in place, it would have been in charge of it, which would have meant permanent conflict created by a military power that always strikes first.

Israel acts with ruthless logic. It will use any opportunity to expand its borders until a Palestinian state becomes an impossibility. It probably has already succeeded in that aim. However, this is not US policy. But this expansion continues, almost week in, week out, because no one in Washington will lift a finger to stop it. Doing nothing about armed lynch mobs of settlers attacking unarmed Palestinian villagers in the West Bank is the same as agreeing to them. 

If you want to be a champion of rules, apply those rules to yourself first.

This is the only way to regain lost global authority. The US has entered a new era where it can no longer change regimes by force of arms or sanctions. It has discovered the uselessness of force. It should drop the stick and start handing out bucket loads of carrots. It should get on with the urgent task of deconfliction.

After the damage done this century by conflicts ordered, created and backed by US presidents – Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Libya – that is not only a responsibility but a duty. 

Another US strategic mistake would be its, and Western Europe’s, last. 

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Eye.

ZELENSKY OPENS THE WAY FOR FOREIGN TROOPS TO BE PERMANENTLY AND LEGALLY BASED IN UKRAINE

24.12.2021 

South Front

NATO and Ukraine aim to influence upcoming Putin-Biden meeting.

Written by Paul Antonopoulos, independent geopolitical analyst

The Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine (Unicameral Parliament) adopted a law that allows foreign forces on its territory to participate in multinational exercises in 2022. The decision was made at a meeting on Tuesday and was supported by 318 parliamentarians (out of the 423 seats that are occupied), far surpassing the required minimum of 226 votes.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky asked the Rada to approve his decision on allowing foreign forces on Ukrainian territory to participate in military exercises in 2022. In particular, these are for the United Efforts multinational exercises, the Ukrainian-American Rapid Trident exercises, the Ukrainian-British Cossack Mace, the multinational Light Avalanche, the Ukrainian-Polish Silver Saber, the Ukrainian-American Sea Breeze, the Ukrainian-Romanian Riverine, the multinational Maple Arch exercise and the Viking multinational exercise.

According to Ukrainian legislation, the functioning of any military formation is not provided for by law and is therefore prohibited on the country’s territory. Also, the deployment of foreign military bases is not allowed in Ukraine, therefore, foreign troops are only allowed each time into the country by a special law.

The Ukrainian law change comes as Russian President Vladimir Putin held his 17th annual major press conference this week, where he highlighted that it is not Russia building military bases or placing missiles on the US’ border, but rather it is the US with their missiles that are “coming to our home, they’re on the doorstep of our home.” Putin also highlighted that NATO broke their 1990’s promise of not expanding the bloc eastwards towards Russia’s borders.

Even if Ukraine is not a NATO member, Kiev is certainly desperate to be accepted into the NATO Membership Action Plan and loyally enacts Washington’s interests in Eastern Europe. With this, the Russian Foreign Ministry’s Second CIS Department said that in 2021, seven joint military maneuvers between Kiev and NATO members took place on Ukrainian territory. Nine maneuvers will be carried out in 2022 and the number of military personnel participating in them will almost double compared to 2021 – to 64,000. The number of aircraft and helicopters will more than triple – to 361, and warships almost 4 times – to 256.

“The scale, territorial scope and duration of joint exercises between Ukraine and NATO countries are increasing… All exercises are linked by a single concept and have an anti-Russian orientation,” highlighted the Second CIS Department.

On Thursday, a senior US official felt the need to reiterate that the Biden administration would issue “massive sanctions” on Russia if it were to invaded Ukraine, something that Moscow continually repeats that it has no plans of doing. However, even more provocatively, the official stressed the increase in defensive aid to Kiev and NATO allies in central and Eastern Europe. “We and our allies are prepared to impose severe damage to Russia’s economy, and bring about exactly what it says it does not want: more NATO capabilities, not less, and closer [geographically] to Russia, not further away.”

Effectively, the US announced that it has no plans on scaling back escalations with Russia in Eastern Europe, and rather plans to continue provocations and tensions by promising more pressure on the borders of the Eurasian Giant.

Germany’s Welt newspaper quoted an unnamed senior NATO source as saying that NATO has strengthened its Response Force’s combat readiness because of Russia’s supposed actions.

“Before the Russian military increased near the border with Ukraine, NATO responded with the first concrete military measure and increased readiness for 40,000 rapid response forces,” the source said.

In this way, Putin’s claim that it is NATO encroaching on the borders of Russia and not vice versa is shamelessly not even denied by the Biden administration and NATO, but rather is highlighted with a sense of pride. The increase in combat readiness of NATO rapid response forces and Ukraine welcoming foreign troops on its territory near Russia’s borders is part of the ongoing hybrid war against Moscow.

NATO is attempting to pressure Moscow before the upcoming scheduled Putin-Biden meeting in an attempt to influence the negotiation process between the two leaders. It is also likely that Biden will weaponize this Ukrainian law change to place more US troops right on the border with Russia to continue its campaign of pressure that aims to limit Russian influence and compete for its traditional sphere of influence.

MORE ON THE TOPIC:

Exit Nord Stream 2, Enter Power of Siberia 2

THURSDAY 23 DEC 21

Military superpower Russia, having had enough of U.S./NATO bullying, is now dictating the terms of a new arrangement.

PEPE ESCOBAR 

Coming straight from President Putin, it did sound like a bolt from the sky:

“We need long-term legally binding guarantees even if we know they cannot be trusted, as the U.S. frequently withdraws from treaties that become uninteresting to them. But it’s something, not just verbal assurances.”

And that’s how Russia-U.S. relations come to the definitive crunch – after an interminable series of polite red alerts coming from Moscow.

Putin once again had to specify that Russia is looking for “indivisible, equitable security” – a principle established since Helsinki in 1975 – even though he no longer sees the U.S. as a dependable “partner”, that diplomatically nicety so debased by the Empire since the end of the USSR.

The “frequently withdrawing from treaties” passage can easily be referred to as Washington in 2002 under Bush Jr. pulling out of the ABM treaty signed between the U.S. and the USSR in 1972. Or it could be referred to as the U.S. under Trump destroying the JCPOA signed with Iran and guaranteed by the UN. Precedents abound.

Putin was once again exercising the Taoist patience so characteristic of Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov: explaining the obvious not only to a Russian but also a global audience. The Global South may easily understand this reference; “When international law and the UN Charter interfere, they [the U.S.] declare it all obsolete and unnecessary.”

Earlier, Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Grushko had been uncommonly assertive – leaving nothing for the imagination:

“We just make it clear that we are ready to talk about switching over from a military or a military-technical scenario to a political process that will strengthen the security of all countries in the area of the OCSE, Euro-Atlantic and Eurasia. If that doesn’t work out, we signaled to them [NATO] that we will also move over to creating counter threats, but it will then be too late to ask us why we made these decisions and why we deployed these systems.”

So in the end it comes down to Europeans facing “the prospect of turning the continent into a field of military confrontation.” That will be the inevitable consequence of a NATO “decision” actually decided in Washington.

Incidentally: any possible, future “counter threats” will be coordinated between Russia and China.

Mr. Zircon is on the line, Sir

Every sentient being from Atlanticist shores to Eurasian steppes by now knows the content of the Russian draft agreements on security guarantees presented to the Americans, as detailed by Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov.

Key provisions include no further NATO expansion; no Ukraine admission; no NATO shenanigans in Ukraine, Eastern Europe, Transcaucasia and Central Asia; Russia and NATO agreeing not to deploy intermediate and short-range missiles in areas from where they can hit each other’s territory; establishment of hotlines; and the NATO-Russia Council actively involved in resolving disputes.

Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs extensively reiterated that the Americans received “detailed explanations of the logic of the Russian approach”, so the ball is in Washington’s court.

Well, National Security advisor Jake Sullivan at first seemed to kick it, when he admitted, on the record, that Putin may not want to “invade” Ukraine.

Then there were rumblings that the Americans would get back to Moscow this week with their own “concrete security proposals”, after de facto writing the script for their NATO minions, invariably conveyed in spectacularly mediocre fashion by secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg.

The Ukraine narrative didn’t change an inch: “severe measures” – of an economic and financial nature – remain in the pipeline if Russia engages in “further aggression” in Ukraine.

Moscow was not fooled. Ryabkow had to specify, once again, that the Russian proposals were on a bilateral basis. Translation: we talk only to those with deciding power, not to minions. The involvement of other countries, Ryabkov said, “will deprive them of their meaning.”

From the start, NATO’s response had been predictably obvious: Russia is conducting a “substantial, unprovoked, and unjustified” military buildup along its border with Ukraine and is making “false … claims of Ukrainian and NATO provocations”.

That once again proved the point it’s a monumental waste of time to discuss with yapping chihuahuas of the Stoltenberg variety, for whom “NATO expansion will continue, whether Russia likes it or not.”

In fact, whether U.S. and NATO functionaries like it or not, what’s really happening in the realpolitk realm is Russia dictating new terms from a position of power. In a nutshell: you may learn the new game in town in a peaceful manner, civilized dialogue included, or you will learn the hard way via a dialogue with Mr. Iskandr, Mr. Kalibr, Mr. Khinzal and Mr. Zircon.

The inestimable Andrei Martyanov has extensively analysed for years now all the details of Russia’s overwhelming military dominance, hypersonic and otherwise, across the European space – as well as the dire consequences if the U.S. and NATO minions “decide that they want to continue to play dumb.”

Martyanov has also noted that Russia “understands the split with the West and is ready to take any consequences, including, already declining, shrinkage of trade and reduction of the supply of hydrocarbons to the EU.”

That’s where the whole ballet around the security guarantees intersects with the crucial Pipelineistan angle. To sum it all up: exit Nord Stream 2, enter Power of Siberia 2.

So let’s revisit why the looming energy catastrophe in the EU is not forcing anyone in Russia to lose his/her sleep.

Dancing in the Siberian night

One of the top takeaways of the strategic Putin-Xi video conference last week was the immediate future of Power of Siberia 2 – which will snake in across Mongolia to deliver up to 50 billion cubic meters of natural gas annually to China.

So it was hardly an accident that Putin received Mongolian President Ukhnaagiin Khurelsukh in the Kremlin, the day after he talked to Xi, to discuss Power of Siberia 2. The key parameters of the pipeline have already been set, a feasibility study will be completed in early 2022, and the deal – minus last-minute pricing tune-ups – is practically clinched.

Power of Siberia 2 follows the 2,200 km long Power of Siberia 1, launched in 2019 from Eastern Siberia to northern China and the focus of a $400 billion deal struck between Gazprom and China’s CNPC. Power of Siberia 1’s full capacity will be reached in 2025, when it will be supplying 38 billion cubic meters of gas annually.

Power of Siberia 2, a much bigger operation, was planned years ago, but it was hard to find consensus on the final route. Gazprom wanted Western Siberia to Xinjiang across the Altai mountains. The Chinese wanted transit via Mongolia straight into central China. The Chinese eventually prevailed. The final route across Mongolia was decided only two months ago. Construction should begin in 2024.

This is a massive geoeconomic game-changer, totally in line with the increasingly sophisticated Russia-China strategic partnership. But it’s also supremely important geopolitically (Remember Xi: China supports Russia’s “core interests”).

The gas for Power of Siberia 2 will come from the same fields currently supplying the EU market. Whatever demented concoctions the European Commission – and the new German government – may apply on stalling the operation of Nord Stream 2, Gazprom’s main focus will be China.

It doesn’t matter for Gazprom that China as a customer in the near future will not fully replace the whole EU market. What matters is the steady business flow and the absence of infantile politicking. For China what matters is an extra, guaranteed overland supply rote boosting its strategy of “escaping from Malacca”: the possibility, in case Cold War 2.0 turns hot, that the U.S. Navy would eventually block maritime shipping of energy sources via Southeast Asia to China.

Beijing of course is all over the place when it comes to buying Russian natural gas. The Chinese have a 30% stake in Novatek’s $27 billion Yamal project and a 20% stake in the $21 billion Arctic project.

So welcome to 2022 and the new, high stakes realpolitik Great Game.

U.S. elites had been terrified of playing Russia against China because they fear this would lead Germany to ally with Russia and China – leaving the Empire of Chaos out in the cold.

And that leads to the “mystery” inside the enigma of the whole Ukrainian face: use it to force the EU away from Russian natural resources.

Russia is turning the whole show upside down. As an energy superpower, instead of an internally corroded EU dictated by NATO, Russia will be mostly focused on its Asian customers.

In parallel, military superpower Russia, having had enough of U.S./NATO bullying, is now dictating the terms of a new arrangement. Lavrov confirmed the first round of Russia-U.S. talks on security guarantees will be held in early 2022.

Are these ultimatums? Not really. Seems like Ryabkov, with notable didacticism, will have to keep explaining it over and over again: “We do not speak in the language of ultimatums with anyone. We have a responsible attitude towards our own security and the security of others. The point is not that we have issued an ultimatum, not at all, but that the seriousness of our warning must not be underestimated.”

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Andrei Martyanov: The Timing of Russia’s Ultimatum to NATO

December 20, 2021

Putin: US Can’t be Trusted to Honor its Promises

Dec 21 2021

By Staff, Agencies 

Russian President Vladimir Putin warned that hopes for a deal with Washington to limit NATO expansion in Eastern Europe are slim, arguing that even a signed agreement could be torn up by the American side at a moment’s notice.

In a speech to Moscow’s senior military officers on Tuesday, Putin said he no longer viewed the West as a dependable partner. Russia has been seeking written assurances about the presence of US troops and hardware near its borders, he said, but even those assurances could not be depended on.

“We need long-term legally binding guarantees. But you and I know them well. And that is something that cannot be trusted,” Putin went on, noting that the US “easily withdraws from international treaties that it becomes uninterested in,” apparently referencing Washington’s unilateral withdrawal from the landmark Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty in 2002. The accord, inked between the USSR and US in 1972, intended to limit both sides’ missile defense capabilities. 

“You and I both know very well: under various pretexts, including the purpose of ensuring their own security, that they act thousands of kilometers away from their national territory,” he said. “When international law and the UN Charter interfere, they declare it all obsolete and unnecessary.”

The Russian president added that he considered NATO’s further expansion into Eastern Europe a consequence of the “euphoria” that stemmed from the West’s apparent victory in the Cold War and the result of a misanalysis. He also expressed his confusion at the US-led military bloc’s encroachment on his country’s borders despite the friendly relations between Moscow and the West at that time.

Putin stressed that Russia was ready to take both military and technical measures as a response to what it perceived as the unfriendly steps taken by Washington, insisting that it was Moscow’s right to do so.

His remarks come shortly after Moscow issued two documents, one addressed to NATO and the other to US officials, requesting a range of guarantees it said were aimed at boosting the security of all parties.

The proposals focus on the movement of military personnel and hardware, and include the requirement that Ukraine’s long-held requests to become a member of the bloc would not be granted. A separate document calls for current NATO members to desist from any military activity on Kiev’s territory, as well as in Eastern Europe, the South Caucasus, and Central Asia.

In the draft agreement sent to Washington, Moscow requested that officials make a firm commitment to ruling out the enlargement of the bloc to include any other former Soviet republics. Speaking via video link earlier in December, Putin told his US counterpart, President Joe Biden, that Russia was “seriously interested” in getting “reliable and firm legal guarantees” that would prohibit NATO’s expansion further eastwards, as well as the deployment of “offensive-strike weapons systems” nearby.

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أوكرانيا تشعل المواجهات الدولية فهل تجتاح موسكو أوروبا الشرقية؟

روسيا تستنفر قواتها النووية
 محمد صادق الحسيني

الأحداث تتسارع بقوة في موضوع المواجه الروسية الأميركية الأوروبية والأمور تتدحرج بسرعة فائقة على الجبهة الأوكرانية…!

ولكن ثمة اجتياحاً روسياً لأوكرانيا فعلاً كما يروّج الغرب؟

خبراء متابعون يؤكدون بانّ روسيا وقيادتها ليست بحاجة الى اجتياح هناك، في الوقت الذي تستطيع فيه اللجوء الى القيام بانقلاب عسكري وهي التي تملك نفوذاً واسعاً في الجيش الأوكراني، خاصة أنّ باستطاعتها ان تواكب ذلك مع خطوة تحريك الشرق الأوكراني الذي يميل بأكثريته للتعاطف مع موسكو…

الرئيس بوتين في هذه الأثناء أطلق تصريحات في غاية الخطورة قال فيها: ما يجري في شرق أوكرانيا هو إبادة جماعية.

فهل هذا الكلام تهيئة لظروف الانقضاض الروسي على الأطلسي، أم مجرد تعبئه للرأي العام الروسي؟

من جهة إخرى… وبعد فشل قمة بايدن ـ بوتين التلفزيونية

واستمرار الاستفزازات الأطلسية للروس في البحر الأسود، كانت قد خرجت تصريحات هامه جداً لرئيس الأركان الروسي يقول فيها انّ 95% من الصواريخ النووية الروسية في حالة جهوزية قتالية…

كلام رئيس الأركان الروسي، عن جاهزية الصواريخ النووية الاستراتيجية القتالية، جاء خلال لقاء عقده مع الملحقون العسكريون الأجانب في موسكو.

وهذا يعطي الكلام أبعاداً غاية في الأهمية.

فهذا كلام استراتيجي وهو بمثابة تحذير نهائي للغرب بأن يتوقفوا عن اللعب بالنار وإلا… خاصةً انه جاء بعد قمة بوتين ـ بايدن الفاشلة عملياً.

في هذه الأثناء فإنّ إطلاق إعلان جديد لوزارة الدفاع الروسية يقولون فيه: بأن اقتراب سفينه حربية أوكرانية من مضيق كيرتش (يربط البحر الأسود مع بحر آزوف الروسي) يعرّض الأمن للخطر.

واقتراب تشكيل جوي كامل لحلف الأطلسي من القوات الروسية المتوثبة على الحدود القومية للأمن الروسي، فقد يراه البعض بأنه مزيد من الاستفزاز الأميركي لجر الجبهة هناك الى صدام يفتر من عضد الجبهة الداخلية الروسية كما يخطط الأميركيون!

محللون استراتيجيون يعتقدون بانّ ما يجري على هامش القضية الأوكرانية بات أشبه بما حصل في ستينيات القرن الماضي في ما سمّي في حينه بأزمة الكاريبي التي كادت ان تشعل حرباً عالمية عندما اكتشف الأميركان في حينها قواعد نووية في كوبا، وأطلقوا العنان يومها لقواتهم في تركيا ووضعها في الوضعية القتالية في محاولة للانقضاض يومها على الاتحاد السوفياتي السابق.

هذه الأجواء المشتعلة بين واشنطن وموسكو يعتقد كثيرون انّ هدف اميركا من ورائها هو إشغال الروس بأزمة استراتيجية خانقة إما لتوجيه ضربة استباقية لهم لتفجير الوضع الداخلي الروسي او لإبعادهم عن الصين التي تعتبر العدو الأخطر الذي يعرقل واشنطن في كلّ استراتيجياتها.

الخبراء بالشأن الروسي يعتقدون بانّ بوتين وجنرالاته لديهم تخوّف من احتمال تمادي الأطلسي في التصعيد وصولاً الى توجيه ضربة عسكرية في العمق الروسي بحجة منعه من اجتياح روسي لأوكرانيا.

وبالتالي فانّ القيادة الروسية باتت تفكر جدياً بالقيام بضربة استباقية اكبر تتمثل باجتياح كلّ أوروبا الشرقية سابقاً للتخلص بشكل جذري مما بات يُعرف بالمسألة الأوكرانية، وتنهي بذلك أحلام الأطلسي وواشنطن بضربة واحدة بالتوسع شرقاً حتى تخوم الكرملين..!

اخيراً وليس آخراً فانّ هذه الأجواء المتشنّجة والمتوترة على جبهة أوكرانيا ربما كانت بنظر البعض فرصة تاريخية لتضع إيران في أحسن حالاتها لانتزاع تنازل أميركي في الاتفاق النووي، او جرّ الغرب الى مفاوضات استنزافية تخرجه من عنق الزجاجة الى حين اكتمال ترتيباتها الداخلية والخارجية الاقتصادية منها والأمنية والاستراتيجية لتجعلها في غنى كامل عن الاتفاق النووي.

ومثل هذا السيناريو قد يكون قد تمّ التفاهم عليه بين موسكو وبكين وطهران…

بانتظار المزيد من المفاجآت من الآن حتى دخول العام الميلادي الجديد…

بعدنا طيبين قولوا الله…

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Lukashenko’s Russian Nuke Proposal Should Prompt NATO To Finally Pay Attention

2 DECEMBER 2021

Lukashenko’s proposal should hopefully prompt NATO to finally pay attention to Russia’s legitimate security concerns. The bloc cannot continue expanding eastward in violation of the oral obligations that it made to Moscow at the end of the Old Cold War not to advance past the then-recently reunified German frontier.

Belarusian President Lukashenko earlier said that he’d allow Russia to place nuclear weapons on his country’s territory if NATO moved their own into Poland or elsewhere near his state’s borders. Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov elaborated that this was said in reaction to the West’s “reckless policy” of countenancing the placement of such strategic arms in that part of Europe. This isn’t mere speculation either but was suggested by NATO Secretary General Stoltenberg in response to the possibility of Germany’s new coalition government requesting that the American ones that it currently hosts be withdrawn. Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Ryabkov added that “our Western colleagues should stop and think of their own actions” after the security scandal that Stoltenberg provoked.

Lukashenko’s proposal should hopefully prompt NATO to finally pay attention to Russia’s legitimate security concerns. The bloc cannot continue expanding eastward in violation of the oral obligations that it made to Moscow at the end of the Old Cold War not to advance past the then-recently reunified German frontier. President Putin, being the constructive and pragmatic leader that he is, suggested that some kind of deal might be brokered with NATO sometime in the future in order to ensure this. His announcement is consistent with the author’s prediction that the upcoming Biden-Putin Summit (which will most likely be a virtual one) will largely focus on Eastern Europe. It would also align with both Great Power’s ongoing efforts to responsibly regulate their rivalry, which began during last summer’s summit.

The greatest challenge in this respect is the subversive role being played by Poland, Ukraine, and the Baltic States. These five countries feel that their interests are being “sacrificed” for the sake of reaching a “new normal” between Russia and the US-led West. As evidence of this, they point to the US’ waiver of most Nord Stream II sanctions earlier in the year and what they claim is the comparatively blind eye that Washington is turning towards what they describe as Moscow’s so-called “hybrid warfare” against them through the ongoing Eastern European Migrant Crisis. It must be remembered, however, that Nord Stream II is a completely apolitical energy project while the second-mentioned issue owes its origins to the US-led West’s wars against majority-Muslim countries and its anti-Belarusian sanctions.

Coupled with Kiev’s false fearmongering about a supposedly inevitable “Russian invasion”, which is being amplified by those anti-Russian elements of the American “deep state” (permanent military, intelligence, and diplomatic bureaucracies) which also want to sabotage any incipient Russian-US rapprochement, the end effect has been that tensions have unprecedentedly spiked in the region. While it’s extremely unlikely that Russia will initiate any hostilities in Ukraine, it’s much more probable that Kiev might be encouraged by anti-Russian US “deep state” elements and its regional partners to launch an “Operation Storm”-like ethnic cleansing campaign in Donbass in order to prompt a Russian response.

Chaos In Eastern Europe Doesn’t Serve Putin’s Interests Unlike What CNN Claims”, the author noted late last month, yet there’s no denying that there are powerful forces that are manipulating perceptions in order to make it seem otherwise as part of their subversive goal that was just described. These same forces would like nothing more than for the US to transfer its nukes from Germany to Poland in order to indefinitely put an end to Washington’s ongoing negotiations with Moscow aimed at responsibly regulating their rivalry. Should Poland and its regional allies succeed in exacerbating regional tensions to the point of provoking another Russian-US crisis, then the strategic situation will worsen for everyone.

By contrast, if they fail in their respective efforts, then the strategic situation will improve for everyone. This includes those five countries too, which are regrettably too blinded by delusions influenced by their “negative nationalism” vis-à-vis Russia to realize that everyone would be better off if Russia and the US agreed to a “new normal” for responsibly regulating their rivalry. It was against this increasingly tense context that Lukashenko proposed hosting Russian nukes in response to the possibility of Poland first doing the same with the US’. Ryabkov clarified that “We are not going in this direction”, yet Russia nevertheless could in theory should the worst-case scenario transpire. Hopefully NATO will finally pay attention to Russia’s legitimate security concerns after Lukashenko’s remark so that doesn’t happen.

By Andrew Korybko

American political analyst

Lavrov gives press conference after OSCE Ministerial Council in Stockholm

December 02, 2021

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov holds a press conference after the 28th OSCE Ministerial Council in Stockholm on Thursday, December 2. The annual OSCE Ministerial Council, chaired by Sweden, takes place on December 2-3. The ministers are expected to discuss security issues in the OSCE area and review the organisation’s activities.

Please forward the video.

To see Putin and die

November 29, 2021

by Rostislav Ischenko for Ukraina.ru
source: 
Note: this machine translated text

Joseph Biden, the 46th president of the United States, has asked Russian President Vladimir Putin for a meeting for the second time in six months. This would not be surprising: in the end, international tensions have reached a limit, and not only the most alarmist of experts, but also the most cautious of politicians have already started talking about the high probability of war

In such circumstances, responsible leaders of great powers are simply obliged to meet and seek compromises.

But this is the same Biden, whose team cried all the tears over Russian interference in the American elections and twice tried to organize the impeachment of the 45th US President Donald Trump, accusing the latter of surrendering American interests to Russia and working for Putin. Meanwhile, Putin and Trump had only one full-format meeting (in Helsinki, July 16, 2018, a year and a half before the expiration of Trump’s powers), and the rest — about five short conversations “on the sidelines” of various summits.

Relations between Russia and the United States had sunk to the freezing point even before Trump. At the same time, the 45th American president, although he negotiated more harshly, was still much more constructive than the 46th. Trump was inclined to seek a compromise, despite all the contradictions, because only a mutually acceptable compromise can ensure a long and lasting peace.

Biden, in a typical American manner, is trying to deceive a partner in the negotiation process, seeking only a truce – a postponement of confrontation for some time, during which the United States will try to solve its problems in order to take up the old with renewed vigor later.

That is why Biden’s team is begging for meetings with Putin, as if their ancient boss is afraid to die without telling Vladimir Vladimirovich something important. Pay attention to the diplomatic activity of the American president who does not always adequately perceive reality during the first year of his term:

* spring – activation of the US-European Union, an attempt to force the EU to go to a sharp deterioration in relations with Russia and abandon the SP-2;
* summer – a sudden request for a meeting with Putin, insistence on its early organization, declared readiness to resolve the entire spectrum of controversial issues. In fact, absolutely empty and unacceptable hints for Russia about the readiness of the United States not to interfere if the Kremlin decides to restore its exclusive sphere of influence in the post-Soviet space by force, so that, as a reciprocal courtesy, Russia refuses an informal (but very problematic for the United States) alliance with China. The rest of the summer is devoted to spreading disinformation that Moscow is ready to negotiate with the United States at the expense of Beijing;
* autumn — the formation of an anti-Chinese alliance of US vassals in the Asia-Pacific region and part of the European powers, followed by a sharp and persistent desire to organize a personal meeting between Xi Jinping and Biden (the meeting took place, was in vain, after which the United States began spreading disinformation that Beijing is ready to negotiate with Washington at the expense of Moscow);
* winter — against the background of the sharp aggravation of the situation on the borders of Russia and Belarus that began in the autumn and an undisguised attempt to draw Russia into a war with the participation of Eastern European members of NATO and the EU, a new insistence on a personal meeting with Putin.

In my opinion, there is no need to have an outstanding intellect to see the “swing” on which the United States is trying to “rock” Russia and China in order to break their partnership (absolutely nullifying all attempts by the United States to regain the status of a global hegemon) and suppress Moscow and Beijing one by one and one by one. The United States offers everyone something unnecessary, but seriously binding their hands and requiring large resource costs, they try to link everyone with a regional war with their allies (who, however, are not in a hurry to drag chestnuts out of the fire for Washington), they inspire everyone that the partner has almost agreed to the American proposal and we must hurry to negotiate ourselves so as not to be made fools of.

The method is simple, has been used since ancient times and quite often led to success. The United States understands that neither Russia nor China want to win right now and annex the post-Soviet territories in Europe and Taiwan (respectively).

Moscow and Beijing would prefer to solve these problems peacefully and later. At this stage, the too clearly expressed intention to return the fallen imperial territories may not only limit the possibilities of cooperation between Russia and China to resist the military-political and financial-economic pressure of the United States, but also undermine the entire system of Eurasian unions built by them.

Therefore, the United States, in order to persuade Russia and China to make concessions in the negotiations, frighten both of them with an unnecessary regional war, while at the same time offering to negotiate and solve this problem. If someone gives up and starts at least discussing options, Washington will immediately provide a proof leak of information in order to persuade the second partner to make a concession, and then bargain with both from a favorable position to bring down the price.

Realizing all this, the Russian leadership is in no hurry to talk with Biden. Peskov, on behalf of the Kremlin, said that the exact date has not yet been determined. However, the Kremlin has agreed in principle to organize a videoconference before the end of the year. Why did they do that?

Every month (not to mention a year) without war, Russia and China strengthen and weaken the United States. If we hold out for two or three years, the war will become meaningless for the United States, because, by their own admission, after 2024 they do not see the possibility of defeating China militarily. Consequently, in two years, the opportunities for American blackmail will decrease sharply, and America’s allies, who are already unwilling to risk themselves because of the Washington games, will become even more thoughtful, it will be even more difficult to persuade them to demonstrative aggressive actions against Moscow and Beijing. A certain US deadline is approaching, we need to act already. Under these conditions, Washington, having lost hope of achieving its goal by peace, can really bet on provocation of war.

Any negotiations are a way to delay time. While they are preparing and while they are going, it is unprofitable for the United States to be unconstructive, which means they will try to keep their allies on a short leash. But vassal states are not trained dogs that can be set on an object or calmed down in one second, rocking the situation takes time (albeit a little). The solution suggests itself: as long as possible to delay the time in determining the date of negotiations, postponing them for later. As soon as it becomes impossible to pull further – to hold negotiations and try, without giving a single opportunity to interpret their outcome as a willingness to take seriously American proposals for the surrender of an ally, to involve the United States in the preparation of the next meeting by creating permanent expert groups in the areas.

Any diplomatic department is a complex bureaucratic machine that is extremely difficult to force to move simultaneously in two directions. If you give the task to begin diplomatic preparations for war, this apparatus will move in one direction, if you set the task of finding a compromise, then in another. At the same time, it will have a serious informational impact on both the international and domestic agenda. That is, even meaningless, but regular meetings of experts reduce (though not completely remove) the risk of fatal confrontation.

Russia’s actions indicate that the Kremlin clearly sees the threat and has chosen the right tactics. The agreement on the creation of expert groups was reached during the first meeting with Biden, with the organization of which they stretched out as much as they could. However, America countered this agreement by saying that the expert groups did not work. So, now Russian diplomats will point this out and demand more constructive.

The current meeting is also being delayed as much as they can, having already postponed it until the end of December. If it works out, then under the pretext of New Year’s holidays they will postpone it until the middle-end of January (however, this is unlikely, the United States is in a hurry). The current meeting will be held online: the coronavirus. Although he does not interfere with Putin and Biden’s meetings with other politicians, but in this case only online. And not because I don’t want to waste time on flights, knowing in advance that the negotiations will be in vain. The online mode does not allow the organization of fake leaks about the content of negotiations. This is not a face-to-face conversation (in the presence of only unknown and controlled translators, in an office protected from wiretapping) – everything is recorded, and by both sides.

Thus, Russia is trying to win one and a half to two months out of the 48 required. Will it be possible to win the world completely?

This question has no definite answer. On the one hand, time is running out, and with the approach of 2024, the United States has nothing to lose, and in the vassal countries designated by them for slaughter, there are their own war parties that (for personal gain) are ready to start even a losing war that destroys their states. On the other hand, the current authorities, who are now in charge of American consumables, are doing everything possible to get rid of the honorable mission of pointlessly dying for the interests of the United States. How strong will they have enough strength to continue maneuvering on the verge of a foul? How ready are Americans to increase pressure on the dependent elites of limitrophs? Where is the weak link ready to break: in Europe or in Asia and who is it (Ukraine, Taiwan, someone else)? We can only assume with more or less certainty.

Often the expected danger comes at all from where it is not expected or when they stopped waiting and relaxed.

Who Wants Some Ukraine?

November 25, 2021

by Dmitry Orlov, posted with permission of the author

On Tuesday, 23 November, Russia’s most senior military general, Valery Gerasimov, had a “deconfliction” phone conference with US Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley, in which the two discussed “pressing issues of international security.

US, Russia army chiefs talk recent skirmish in Syria

” Actual details of what they discussed are not available; what is available is Western media speculation, which in recent days has included false reports of Russian troops massing on the Ukrainian border and supposedly getting ready to invade. What Western media has studiously ignored is an actual massing of Ukrainian troops on the borders of the Donbass region—the industrialized temporarily Ukrainian region that has been de facto independent since the Kiev putsch of 2014.

Following that putsch, and the refusal of the Donbass (along with Crimea) to recognize the new US State Department-installed Ukrainian government, the Ukrainians made attempt to recapture the Donbass by force. This attempt failed, and Kiev managed to avoid all-out defeat by signing the Minsk agreements of February 2015, but has clearly had no intention of ever fulfilling them. Instead, ever since then, Ukrainian forces have been shelling the no man’s land between Ukrainian-held territory (which is mostly open prairie) and Donbass (which is urbanized and thickly settled), killing small numbers of civilians and local militia members and causing considerable property damage. Although Western press has continuously reported on “Russian forces” in the Donbass, they are yet to present any evidence of it. And although Western press likes to describe the Donbass using the hackneyed epithet “war-torn” it is actually more prosperous and stable than the rest of the Ukraine, integrated into the Russian economy and essentially functioning as a Russian region.

Turning down Western media noise, a Russian military effort to capture the Donbass, never mind the rest of the Ukraine, is exceedingly unlikely. Russia already has everything it wants. Unlike Crimea which in its 2014 referendum produced a 97% vote for integration of the region into the Russian Federation with an 83% voter turnout, in a similar referendum in the Donbass (held against Moscow’s wishes) only 27.5% of the 74.87% who turned out voted in favor of joining the Russian Federation. Based on this result, Moscow chose to soft-pedal the Donbass situation, providing humanitarian aid and diplomatic support, granting Russian citizenship to those who want it and gradually integrating the region socially and economically. In other Ukrainian regions, were similar referendums to be held there, the level of support for joining Russia would in all likelihood have been even lower, and now, seven years later, would be lower still. From this, a conclusion can be drawn: other than Crimea (which was part of an independent Ukraine for just 23 years), none of the Ukraine was or is a candidate for inclusion within the Russian Federation. The Russians living there will receive some amount of Russian support and are, of course, welcome to move to Russia, but that is really it.

Having ruled out that which is exceedingly unlikely, let us turn to that which is quite likely; and that is a provocation in the Donbass staged by the authorities in Kiev and by their State Department, Pentagon and CIA handlers, designed to deflect the blame from the truly disastrous economic situation that is unfolding there in the hopes of being able to maintain political control of the situation. In blundering into the Ukraine and converting it into a sort of anti-Russian bulwark, the US gained a brazenly corrupt and unruly dependency. Unable to stop its inexorable slide into failed-statedom and political and social disintegration, the US is faced with the prospect of another Afghanistan-style rout, with desperate left-behinds running after US transport planes hastily taking off from Kiev’s Borispol Airport, after which point even the mental laggards who run the European Union will be forced to admit that American security guarantees are an utter joke and will start getting ready to walk into the Kremlin on their knees to kiss the gem-encrusted felt slipper.

Given this unwelcome scenario, the US is quite eager to control the optics and to make it look like it is all Russia’s fault. Since merely jumping up and down and screaming “The Russians are coming! The Russians are coming!” is no longer doing the trick, they are looking for something—anything!—that will make the Russians show up and put up even a tiny bit of a fight so that CNN and MSNBC can broadcast staged photos of a bloodied baby blanket and US Congress can then harrumph-harrumph about “Russian aggression” and impose sanctions on Russian baby blanket manufacturers. That “anything” is called a provocation, and what better place to stage it than the Donbass, which is an existing bleeding sore they’ve been picking away at for seven years now. Of course, they will do this in great trepidation of an escalation they would be unable to control, hence the hasty “deconfliction” conference with General Gerasimov: “Look, we go pew-pew, then you go pew-pew, then we declare hostilities over and toast each other with vodka and caviar; OK?”

Given that a provocation of some sort appears to be very likely, it is worth pondering what it would look like and what the outcome of it might be.

First, here is some background. The Ukraine (which is Russian for “borderland”) has always been less a country than a heterogeneous, endlessly disputed territory, tossed back and forth between Russia, Turkey, Poland, Austria, Germany and even, very briefly, Sweden. It mostly borders Russia (Crimea, Krasnodar, Rostov, Voronezh, Belgorod, Кursk and Bryansk regions). It also borders Belarus (short for “White Russia”) which is a whole lot like Russia. It has smaller borders with Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, Moldova and the unrecognized, Russian-defended Transnistria. It also borders Donetsk and Lugansk regions, collectively known as the Donbass, which is short for “Donetsk Coal Basin,” and which was formerly part of the Ukraine but de facto independent for the last 7 years and economically integrated with Russia.

Of these, the Ukraine, Belarus and Moldova were quite recently part of the USSR while the rest were part of the Warsaw Pact allied with the USSR. For most of them, those were the good days; for reasons incomprehensible to rapacious Western imperialists, Russia lavished a great deal of attention and investment on its ethnically heterogeneous periphery, not only building a great deal of social and industrial infrastructure and enterprises there but also staffing it all with relocated Russians. This, most Russians now realize, was a poor choice. This lesson is continuously reinforced by observing just how poorly the former Soviet republics have performed since they gained their independence. The Ukraine is a case in point, losing as much as a third of its population (exact numbers are impossible to ascertain) and steadily degenerating from a prosperous, highly developed region to the poorest one in all of Europe.

The Ukraine aspires to NATO and EU membership, but this prospect appears exceedingly unlikely since it is much more of a liability than an asset: destitute, bankrupt, politically unstable and not in control of its own government or its own territory—a failed state, essentially. Plus, the EU and NATO are themselves perhaps not too long for this world, the EU having recently lost the United Kingdom and NATO having just fabulously failed in Afghanistan, and not really capable of accepting new members. Sensing their own weakness, and projecting onto Russia their own instincts to engulf and devour all that they can, they automatically assume that Russia will exploit this weakness and reconquer the Ukraine and perhaps some other parts of Eastern Europe as well. But this is all it is—a projection, because the contemporary Russian project is something else entirely. Russia does periodically move its troops around its own territory, thereby keeping the West in a constant state of nervous agitation bordering on outright panic, but from the Russian perspective that is just a pleasant side-effect of regularly scheduled training exercises. There was a recent hysterical outburst in Western press over Russian tanks massed on the Belorussian border, for instance. Russia is always “about to invade,” on Tuesdays especially, but somehow never gets around to it.

That is not because Russia lacks the means or the opportunity; but it does entirely lack the motive. Does it need more land? Certainly not! Does it need a restive, alienated population that will then demand to be fed, hospitalized as needed and kept safe and warm all the while resisting assimilation? Not at all! Does it need the reputational losses from unprovoked aggression? Again, no. Quite the opposite, Russia is most eager to draw the line somewhere—a notional Great Wall of Russia, with the stable, economically liberal and socially conservative Orthodox/Moslem/Buddhist Russian World on one side and an alien, increasingly bankrupt, culturally degenerate, sexually deviant and permanently hostile Europe on the other. This will give Russia the peace and stability it needs to continue developing. The problem is that, because of the messy way in which the USSR broke up, many Russians were left stranded on the wrong side of previously insignificant borders, and this Great Wall has to remain porous, allowing Russians to filter back in.

A point can be made that Russia’s romance with Western Europe was always destined to end in tears. Russia’s cooperative, egalitarian instincts have been developed and perfected over many centuries within the Eurasian context of a relatively small population controlling a vast but difficult land with almost infinite but rather diffuse resources. In this context, cooperation rather than competition are keys to survival. These instincts have been wasted on little Eastern European fiefdoms that have spent an eternity squabbling over their tiny plots of land. Their history has conditioned them to only understand and respect subservience and domination, causing them to see Russian largesse as a weakness to be exploited. When the USSR suddenly vanished, they swiftly switched allegiance, forgetting their Russian, learning English and eagerly welcoming American and Western European financial swindlers and thieves to come and pick them clean. And now that they’ve been picked clean and Americans are leaving, they would perhaps be happy for Russia to “reoccupy” them and resume feeding them (if it were not for their wounded pride), but Russia will have none of it.

Within this overall context, each Eastern European country has its own unique fate. Most of them—specifically, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Moldova—are simply too small and inconsequential to matter and have been left to wither away slowly, being of little interest to the West or to Russia. Belarus stands out in that it quickly joined a union state with Russia, but this has not saved it from some fateful dalliances with the West which almost ended in disaster in the summer of 2020 when a foreign-instigated astroturf insurgency threatened to overthrow the elected government and install a Western stooge by the name of Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, nicknamed the cutlet fairy. Since then, Minsk and Moscow turbocharged their integration process, producing the odd situation where the Belorussians feel free to poke their fingers in the eyes of Western leaders while hiding behind Russia’s broad back.

And then there is the Ukraine. It is the second-largest country in Europe by area—second only to Russia—and strategically located to be rather consequential. Ever since its independence, which it was awarded against the wishes of the majority of its population when the USSR was dissolved by a tiny group of conspirators, it has been ruled by a succession of swindlers and thieves who have continuously looted and robbed it until now it is a mere shadow of its former self, broken and destitute. This has made it an easy mark for Western geopolitical engineers who sought to fashion into a sort of anti-Russia, with the idea of preventing Russia from becoming an empire based on some flawed reasoning by the rabidly Russophobic Pole Zbigniew Brzeziński. Grand plans hatched by fools tend to misfire grandly, and this one is no exception. Instead of somehow containing Russia, it gave Russia everything it could ever want:

1. The fantastic level of Ukrainian political dysfunction that resulted from endless Western political meddling reduced the Ukraine from one of Russia’s major regional competitors to а major regional basket case and supplier of qualified Russian-speaking labor. The Ukraine once had strategically important industries that were essential for Russia’s military and civilian production, including large marine diesels, helicopter engines, rocket engines, aircraft building, shipbuilding and much else. All of these industries have now been relocated to Russia, often together with all of the blueprints and the technical expertise, and produce great value for both domestic consumption and export.

2. The 2014 putsch allowed Russia to return Crimea by undoing two mistakes—by Khrushchev, who gave it to the Ukraine in 1954, and by Gorbachev, who failed to get it back in 1991. It also allowed Russia to partially undo an older mistake—by Lenin, who gave the Donbass to the Ukraine in 1920. While the Donbass is strategically not too consequential, the return of Crimea provided numerous benefits. Coupled with the western enclave of Kaliningrad on the Baltic and new Russian hypersonic rockets, Crimea has allowed Russia to keep all of NATO’s European territory within its sphere of military dominance, providing an effective treatment for Europe’s congenital defect which causes it to periodically march on Moscow. Western sanctions imposed in response to Russian annexation of Crimea allowed Russia to claw back all of the disadvantages it incurred by joining the World Trade Organization, including bringing back agriculture and key manufacturing sectors, to find new, friendlier trading partners around the world, and to find ways to thrive within conditions of limited autarky. Crimea has also provided a very useful litmus test for political participation: automatically excluding anyone who would claim that Crimea is Ukrainian made it possible to effectively purge the ranks of all internal enemies and foreign agents. There are numerous other benefits as well, too many to mention.

3. The civil war in the Donbass, which is ongoing, gave Russia the opportunity to force through the Minsk agreements, whose implementation is mandated by the UN Security Council Resolution 2202 (2015), and which require the Ukraine to federalize, granting a high level of autonomy to its regions. This, in the Ukrainian context, equates with the end of the Ukrainian unitary state. Beyond that point, the Ukraine becomes a set of disparate, disconnected, foreign-dominated fiefdoms, each with its own pathetic little oligarchy, with Kiev retained as a purely symbolic capital and an ancient Kievan Russia museum and tourist attraction. The government in Kiev has resisted the implementation of the Minsk agreements, realizing full well that this would spell its end, but this is merely a postponement. The civil war also simplified any future anti-Nazi mop-up operation and war crimes tribunal. Whereas before various Ukrainian nationalists and krypto-Nazis might have been difficult to identify, it has forced them to not only stand up and be counted but also to commit crimes for which there is no statue of limitations, making it easy to permanently take them out of circulation when the time comes to clean the place up.

This, then, is the background to the current situation, bringing us to the present, in which the US seems to be cooking up something in a big hurry. First, the US sends the message that Kiev must fulfill the terms of the Minsk agreements. Second, the US claims that Russia is massing troops on the Ukrainian border, getting ready to invade. The Ukrainian military denies this fact. The US repeats their claim and also sends some more weapons to the Ukraine. As the Ukrainian military is still unsure what’s going on, they are summoned and told exactly what to think. And so, there is going to be a provocation. But Russia is certainly not interested in any sort of attack or invasion, so what do you suppose is going to happen? A reasonable battle plan is for the Ukraine to attack first, to preempt the Russian invasion and to take up defensive positions within the Donbass territory. That’s a brilliant plan, if I say so myself!

The most the Ukrainian military can do is launch an attack on the Donbass. Attacking Crimea across the isthmus would be stupid and pathetic; attacking Crimea from the water would be stupid and absolutely hilarious to watch. And so Donbass it has to be, again. It won’t take long for the Russians to respond using unidentified long-range precision artillery and demolish the Ukrainians’ supply lines, trapping them in cauldrons where they will run out of ammunition, food and fuel and gradually bleed out. This is what transpired before, in 2015, leading Kiev to sign on to the Minsk agreements, because their other choice was to lose their entire army. Except now there will not be another set of Minsk agreements, no terms of surrender, no cease fires and no safe corridors for withdrawal. There will just be death. To the Russians, these people are terrorists, and terrorists get to meet God before the rest of us.

And that, perhaps, may be the entire point. The US wants to close out the entire sorry Ukrainian saga, cut its losses, pull an Afghanistan and leave in a hurry, because it has a long list of countries it has to pull out of before the fuel and the money run out, and it badly needs to pick up the pace. Okinawa is on that list; Guam; Puerto Rico; Alaska. California. Texas. The Ukraine has been refusing to even start fulfilling the Minsk agreements, which start with military deescalation along the line of contact. What seems to be the problem? Perhaps, as the US has finally figured out, it has to do with the fact that the Ukraine has a military; if it no longer had any military of any sort at all, there would be nothing to deescalate and the problem would not exist. And so that may be the clever plan for the Ukraine: suicide by Russia. As an added bonus, there will be Russia to blame because, no doubt at all, it will have all been Russia’s fault. Sanctions against Russian baby blanket manufacturers are being drafted as we speak. American TV viewers will watch it, and they will like it. They will think, “Bad Russkies! America strong!”

“But what about the Ukraine?” you might be tempted to ask. Well, the correct answer to that question seems to be, “Nobody cares.” Seriously, looking at recent Ukrainian history, that seems to be the only answer that makes sense. The Americans certainly never cared, the Russians once cared but care less and less with each passing day, and the Ukrainians themselves don’t care either and have been making that point by voting with their feet. The European Union and NATO may care a great deal about having a large failed state in the middle of Europe, and they should, because that is probably just the beginning, but a very good start.

Post-American world

NOVEMBER 14, 2021

Post-American world

Rostislav Ishchenko develops his theme first posted here: Russian World as a global project into global multipolarity and covers why and how the West ran into a dead end, and where the multipolar situation may lead.

Please note it is a machine translation with some human assistance, and it is not a perfect document.  It however makes his points clear enough, for the discussion on this massive global change.


Today we are in a unique situation – for the first time in the history of mankind, a global empire is breaking up.

Humanity is constantly living in an era of decay. At the same time, humanity is constantly living in an era of centralization. The dialectic of history works simply: the centers of disintegration and centralization are constantly changing places both horizontally (some states are weakening, others are strengthening) and vertically (against the background of a weakening center, power in the shires is always strengthening, and the weakness of the regions leads to the strengthening of the center). The art of leading a state is to correctly determine its internal and external state.

Accordingly, you need to move the control center of gravity from the regional level to the central level and back. In the field of foreign policy, in an era of weakness, try not to be too active in order to suffer as few losses as possible (and it is better not to lose anything at all), while at the time of strength, try to carefully acquire additional resources. Depending on the era, this resource can be nominated in terms of land, people, industrial power, market access, ideological leadership, information superiority, and other resources. As a rule, several interrelated factors from among the above play an important role.

The Empire of the Collective West

Today we are in a unique situation. This has never happened before in the history of mankind. For the first time, a global empire is breaking up. We used to call it the American world, because after the collapse of the USSR, the United States remained the only superpower for twenty or twenty – five years (who thinks so) and became a symbol of Western dominance. But in reality, it was the empire of the collective West.

The United States did not share the profits made by robbing the rest of humanity with Canada and Australia, New Zealand and South Korea, Japan and the EU out of a love of art or an innate desire for charity. It’s just that without the support of these vassal regimes, Washington was unable to manage the globalized world.

And, as has been known since classical feudalism, the vassal owes the master exactly the same amount as the master owes the vassal. If a prince or duke does not dress his retinue luxuriously, does not provide it with expensive horses and weapons, does not feed it to the brim and does not drink it to the point of drunkenness, then the retinue has every right to abandon such a leader and

look for a new master (the right to leave).

COMECON collapsed when the Soviet Union could no longer provide Eastern Europe with an additional resource.

In politics, these relations are expressed in a change of allies. For example, when the USSR could no longer provide Eastern Europe with an influx of additional resources (at the expense of its own population) The ATS and COMECON instantly disappeared in time and space, and their yesterday’s members lined up in NATO and the EU. Next in line were the Union republics, which fled the Union in full confidence that they were feeding Russia and would live better on their own. At the same time, the republics did not really think about any independence either. They took the queue “to the West” for Eastern Europeans, fully confident that they only need to join the EU and NATO and everything will be like in the USSR, only even more satisfying and better.

Some managed to join, some did not, but everyone was disappointed. And not at all because, as some think, the West did not want to feed freeloaders. The EU and the US were well aware of their responsibilities to their vassal countries, and they also understood that spending on their “weapons, horses, clothing, food and drink” would pay off by strengthening Western dominance around the world. The annexation of Eastern Europe and the post-Soviet states (except for Russia and the Asian republics) was supposed to significantly improve the geopolitical position of the West, strengthen its military capabilities and make its political and economic dictates insurmountable.

The sale of weapons to Eastern Europe was supposed to lead to the strengthening of Western dominance throughout the world.

When the West overestimated its strength

At first, it worked that way. The costs of maintaining Poland and demonstrating the success of the Baltic Tigers were more than repaid by predatory exploitation of Russia (in the 1990s, the West established direct or indirect control over most of Russia’s resources through local oligarchs) and outright piracy in the rest of the world (Iraq, Afghanistan, Yugoslavia, and after it Serbia).

Economically booming, China was unable to stand up to the collective West militarily. Russia seemed completely destroyed and only temporarily preserved the appearance of unity. At this point, the West overestimated its strength.

In any society, there are always different groups that see the purpose and meaning of existence and the direction of development of the corresponding society in different ways. And as long as there is an obvious external danger, these groups reject internal contradictions, rallying against the external enemy. If, for some reason, the authorities lose the ability to reconcile and balance internal contradictions, a catastrophe of the 1917 model occurs.

After the fall of the Berlin Wall, many in the West believed they had won the Cold War.

In the 1990s, the collective West believed in the “end of history”, that the world is forever Westernized, that the roles of governors and governed are assigned to different countries forever. Being in a state of euphoria, the Western left liberals launched an ideological offensive not only on the external front, but also on the internal one, trying to make their “tolerant new world” mandatory for everyone, not only in the conquered countries, but also among those who, in their opinion, “won the Third world war (cold war).”

As long as the leftists did not dig in, the resistance to their expansion in Western society was provided by certain marginal groups of conservatives, who were branded fascists by the” new left”. Broad strata of Western society were virtually untouched by the confrontation between these groups until the mid-noughties of the third millennium. Moreover, the main ideological expansion of the West was aimed at the development of “conquered territories”. It was there that the most “advanced” “public organizations” were created, spreading the propaganda of equality of norm and perversion to Western grants, even the advantages of perversion over the norm, because it “suffered for a long time”.

There, on the” new lands”, the” Soros funds ” and their many similarities worked. And left-liberal ideas, having fallen into the post-communist ideological void accustomed to the presence of a” leading and guiding ” people, were in the greatest demand. The additional appeal of these ideas was given by the fact that their local adherents, due to the support of Western funds, instantly became super-successful people against the background of the rapidly impoverished (in the 1990s) post-Soviet society.

The main ideological expansion of the West was aimed at the development of “conquered territories”, where the “Soros funds” and their numerous similarities worked.

It is difficult to say how all this would have ended if the West had had the wit and patience to wait, not to immediately cut the post-Soviet “chicken”, but to give the liberals the opportunity to demonstrate at least some success. Then it was inexpensive. But, having invested in a thin layer of people temporarily in power, the West decided that all the problems were solved. The elites will cope with educating the masses. And it was seriously mistaken.

Split in the Western family

I don’t know if Russia and China would have had a chance to stand up to the united West, which by the end of the 1990s was totally superior to them in all indicators, except for Chinese industrial growth (but it is not enough to grow quickly, you need to have time to grow), if the expansion of Western neolithic ideas would have remained exclusively external. But the left-wing liberals, sensing that they had significantly strengthened their positions due to external expansion, launched an offensive against conservatives inside the West. This was the beginning of the end, for” Every kingdom divided against itself will become desolate; and every city or house divided against itself will not stand ” (Matthew 12: 25).

The West faced several divisions at once. First, there were divisions between conservatives and liberals within each individual country. Second, there is a split between conservative Eastern Europe and liberal Western Europe within the EU. Third, a split has emerged between the European bureaucracy and national Governments.

Moreover, since the European bureaucracy came out from radical left-liberal positions, in the fight against it, even liberal national governments were forced to seek the support of conservatives, which weakened the position of liberals in each individual country.

An increasing amount of Western resources began to be directed not to maintain the hegemony of the West, but to the internal struggle of liberals for an ideological monopoly. The West has lost the ability to control planetary processes, but, being in euphoria, on the wave of success, it did not immediately notice this. When it noticed, it was too late. The divided Western society could no longer unite and was increasingly slipping into a state of cold, and then almost hot, civil war. The struggle between liberals and conservatives, like any struggle of roughly equal forces, began to devour almost all available resources, and the West began to feel resource hunger.

The struggle between liberals and conservatives began to devour almost all available resources, and the West began to feel resource hunger.

Since the opportunity to pay off the resource shortage at the expense of Russia and/or China was lost (the West thought it was temporary, but in fact it turned out to be forever), cannibalism had to be engaged: the stronger countries of the West began to redirect resources that had previously been used to support weaker and poorer countries in their favor. Immediately, the internal split deepened. In Europe, in addition to the division into West and East, there was a problem of “rich North” and “poor South”. These two parts of the EU had different views not only on the prospects of economic and financial policy of the European Union, but also set different foreign policy goals for themselves.

Divisions between the US and the EU, the US and Israel, the US and Turkey, Turkey and Israel, Israel and the EU, and the EU and Turkey have emerged and begun to deepen. Washington’s position began to weaken even in the traditionally loyal monarchies of the Arabian Peninsula.

Political laws are inexorable

The West is still trying to present a united front. In particular, the United States is forming an all-Western coalition against China and is trying to bind Russia’s forces in the European direction by forming a single pan-European anti-Russian front. In the statements of government officials, on the paper of signed agreements and according to the estimates of expert offices funded from Western budgets, it seems to work, but not so much in terms of the self-perception of the population of Western countries, which the press is increasingly forced to reflect with minimal objectivity.

The US is using NATO to form an all-Western coalition against China and Russia.

The collective West still retains a sense of civilizational unity, but in the face of growing resource scarcity, this cannot help it in any way. Still, the strong, in order to survive, is forced to withdraw resources from the weak. At the same time, even if the weak does not rebel, but allows themselves to be robbed to the end, the weakening of the West will progress at an increasing pace. On the example of Ukraine, Moldova, Bulgaria, and the former “Baltic tigers”, we see that sooner or later there comes a time when the robbed statehood loses the ability to support itself. Starting from this period, it is necessary either to pump additional resources into it just for the sake of preserving it, or to accept that it will de facto disappear, first as an economic unit, and then as a political one, which will reduce the amount of available resources, respectively aggravating the problem.

Today, the West is already clearly divided into three clusters: the American one (the main one, torn apart in the United States by the struggle of right-wing conservative Trumpists and left-wing radical Bidenites); the European one (whose economic interests require cooperation with Russia, but the ruling elites of most countries are afraid that they will not be able to retain power if they leave the American umbrella); and the Asia-Pacific one (which has already fallen into the sphere of Chinese economic influence, but does not want to admit it for the same reason that modern Europe does not want to break with America).

Historical experience shows that political laws are inexorable. If you try to slow down the development of natural processes, then the longer you delay, the more terrible the final catastrophe will be. In the 1990s, the West could still win, in the noughties conclude a compromise peace, being in a favorable position, in the tenth it was still possible to talk about a compromise, but the main bonuses were already received by Russia and China.

At this stage, the West can only count on a complete and unconditional surrender. Further delay will lead to the fact that there will be no one to capitulate. People, houses and cities will remain, but the western system will disappear.

In the 2010s, Russia and China already received the main bonuses.

Yet the United States is trying to continue playing the game of victory, and its allies have no strength to step out of the American shadow. Further decisions should be made in the next three to five years. Either the United States will risk starting a war against China (then it should be started as early as possible, since it may be too late), or they will have to admit defeat in the global confrontation. For the collective West, this will be a greater shock than the one that shook the Soviet sphere of influence during the collapse of the USSR. The wreckage of the collective West in the form of junior partners of the United States will start looking for new patrons even more frantically than the post-socialist countries did in the 1990s.

At this point, the question will arise: where is the new assemblage point, around whom will the new centralization take place?

The square trinomial and its political roots

So far, we believe that such an assemblage point can be the Russian-Chinese Eurasia based on the SCO, the EAEU, the CSTO and other structures created and being created by Russia and China. However, China, which is trying to protect itself against a sudden (but more than likely) collapse of Western markets, has recently taken several cautious steps to establish its own control over the Trans-Eurasian trade routes under Russian control. A possible clash of interests is in Africa and Latin America, where both powers are actively increasing their economic expansion.

The Russian-Chinese Eurasia based on the SCO, EAEU, and CSTO can become an assembly point.

Finally, while not yet obvious, but in the long run, the most dangerous contradiction is that the fragments of the collective West that fall into the Chinese sphere of influence (the Republic of Korea, Australia, and New Zealand), along with the Southeast Asian states already located there, have interests diametrically opposed to the interests of Europe that potentially falls into the Russian sphere of influence. Plus, India and Japan are too big a prize for Beijing and Moscow to allow each other’s sole influence there.

These contradictions are objective, and whether they can be overcome depends on the collective will of Russia and China. Today, we cannot say unequivocally that this will be achieved, if only because we do not know in what geopolitical conditions we will have to move on to building a “beautiful new world”. One thing is clear: Washington’s belated recognition of multipolarity in the form of a statement that there are three centers of power in today’s world (Russia, the United States, and China), although formally true, cannot satisfy anyone, because the dynamics of global processes are negative for the United States, and they will still try to change it, which means that the three-member structure will not be stable due to American opportunism.

In general, today the crisis is developing, the catastrophe of the collective West seems inevitable, but the subsequent catharsis does not promise peace.

The Taliban, 9/11, the Empire, MAGA eastern wet pampers

September 09, 2021

The Taliban, 9/11, the Empire, MAGA eastern wet pampers

by Andrei for the Saker Blog

Most of you must have heard it: the Taliban will organize a major celebration on September 11th to mark the liberation of Afghanistan from the US occupation and the creation of the new Afghan government.  The Russians and the Chinese have been invited.  As are the Pakistanis.  Not sure about Iran (do you know?)?

The Afghan government could be called a “GITMO government” since 5 members are former GITMO hostages and one, the head of security/intel, is still on the FBI most wanted list.

Needless to say, the Taliban had nothing to do with 9/11.  As for Bin-Laden and al-Qaeda they were somewhat involved, but only as “patsies”.

But the US government declared that the Taliban guilty and invaded Afghanistan.

Twenty years later, the Taliban are in total control and the US has probably executed one of the dumbest, worst and generally immoral military operation in history.  And 20 years later, the US was totally defeated.  Not by Russia.  Not by China.  Not by Iran.  Not even by Venezuela.  By the Afghans, after 20 years of warfare and trillions spent.

I have to agree with a Russian analyst who recently declared that “no, this is not even a “regular/normal” imperial collapse, this is the worst and most shameful imperial collapse in history”.

I fully concur.

As for what the Taliban will do this Saturday, it can’t even be called “spitting in Uncle Shmuel’s face”.  It’s even more than that.  Maybe we could speak of “urinating into Uncle Shmuel’s face” or some other even ruder metaphor showing both the total and utter contempt in which the Taliban hold not only the USA but the entire AngloZionist Empire AND somehow express the magnitude of the humiliation inflicted upon the USA.

I lack the words to come up with a suitable metaphor.

Can somebody come up with something sufficiently powerful?

Also, and especially for the MAGA folks out there:

CNN has reported that the entire “Ukie plan” to kidnap Russian PMCs was organized by the CIA and botched by the Ukies.  The harcore Ukronazis are now accusing CNN of either being “duped by the FSB” or even for being used by Putin personally.  Or both.

Anyway, what this goes to prove that Trump approved a clear terrorist attack against Russia.  Either that, or he did not even know about it, which might be worse…

And you guys are seriously discussing his possible comeback?!?!

Get real!

I saw an interesting poll somewhere (sorry, don’t remember where exactly) which shows that 49% of US Americans feel safer than on 9/11 20 years ago and 41% feel less safe.

And that is the real outcome of this monumentally evil and stupid Neocon plan.

After 20 years of warfare, pompous self-aggrandizement, many thousands dead and maimed and trillions spent.

Nothing will ever wash off this shame from the awareness of folks in Zone B and even many in Zone A.

Finally, today the Ukronazis shelled the Donbass again, with howitzers and mortars.  They were aiming at a water pumping station, miss and wounded/killed a couple.  Either way, this is a warcrime.  The Russians have declared that they have the designation of the unit which fired and the name of the commander who gave the order.

Which is all very predictable, since 1) US officials just visited the Ukraine 2) the CNN story is a HUGE scandal in the Ukie Rada and 3) Zelenskii is desperate to show that he might still be useful to the USA.

As for the Poles, they are fearing Russian invasion, so they put bared wire (I kid you not!) along their eastern border.  Which remind me of a Russian joke: a man walks down the street minding his own business, when he sees a woman on a balcony screaming “help! he wants to rape me! help!!!” from the top of her lungs.  The man looks up and says, “ma’am, calm down, I have no interest in you whatsoever and you are on the balcony while I am in the street” to which the woman replies, “yeah, maybe, but I can come down!“.

The Russian military is engaged in some large and serious, not fake, military maneuvers: 200’000 soldiers in both Russia and Belarus.  Hence all the wet pampers in eastern Europe (especially in Poland – the “hyena of Europe” always was a cowardly animal).

The Poles have even predicted the date of the Russian invasion: tomorrow (not a joke)

I have terrible news for Poland, the Baltic statelets and the Ukraine: nobody in Russia has any need for you, or your land.  Nobody.  Oh, and, for your information: “defenses” like walls, barbed-wires or even trenches cannot stop a modern military, such crap would not even slow the Russians down.

Summary: both Biden and Zelenskii might get impeached or otherwise removed.  That’s won’t solve anything for the US or the Ukraine, but sheer magnitude of their incompetence and stupidity makes such an outcome quite possible.

Not even in my most wildest and craziest dreams could I ever have imagined such a quick and total collapse of the Empire and of the USA.  I have to pinch myself several times a day, each time I get the news 🙂

Cheers

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s remarks and answers to questions from MGIMO students and faculty

September 02, 2021

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s remarks and answers to questions from MGIMO students and faculty

Ed: This is a wide ranging discussion of international affairs

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s remarks and answers to questions from MGIMO students and faculty on the occasion of the beginning of a new academic year, Moscow, September 1, 2021

Friends,

As always, I am delighted to be here on September 1, and not only on this day, of course, since we hold events here at other times of the year as well. But September 1 has special importance, since this is Knowledge Day. First-year students get to feel the university spirit, and meetings like this help us streamline this experience and are sure to benefit students in their studies.

I am certain that you will not regret choosing this university. MGIMO graduates find work in a wide variety of spheres, from public service and research to business and journalism. We are proud that our alma mater has such a great reputation. MGIMO Rector, Anatoly Torkunov, has just shared some enrolment statistics. They are impressive. He said that the minister keeps a close eye on everything going on in this school. But you cannot keep track of everything, and I mean this in a good way. MGIMO University constantly improves its programmes and activity and expands its partnership networks. Today, MGIMO University will sign yet another cooperation agreement, this time with Ivannikov Institute for System Programming. This shows that we always need to be in step with the times. This is the right way to go. The quality of the education that graduates receive at this university is recognised both in Russia and around the world.

I am glad MGIMO University continues to attract international students. This is an important channel for maintaining humanitarian, educational and people-to-people ties. In today’s world these ties have special importance, since at the intergovernmental level our Western colleagues have little appetite for talking to us on equal terms. As you probably know, and I am certain that you have a keen interest in foreign policy, they persist with their demands that we change the way we behave and act the way they view as being correct. This is a dead end. We are open to a frank, constructive, mutually beneficial dialogue, taking into account each other’s interests. It is along these lines that we maintain dialogue and promote cooperation and partnerships with the overwhelming majority of countries around the world. This includes our closest allies and strategic partners – members of the CSTO, CIS, EAEU, SCO and BRICS. We have many reliable friends, almost in all continents interested in promoting mutually beneficial projects that benefit all the participants.

To counter this trend toward a multipolar world, which reflects the cultural and civilisational diversity on this planet, our Western partners seek to maintain their dominant standing in international affairs. They are acting in quite a brash manner making no secret out of the fact that their main objective is to contain their competitors, primarily Russia and China. The documents adopted at the NATO, EU, and US-EU summits over the past months are designed to consolidate the “collective West” in their efforts to counter the Russian Federation and the People’s Republic of China.

The Indo-Pacific strategies that are openly pursuing the goal (as it has been proclaimed) of containing China have gained currency in the Asia-Pacific region. They are trying to implicate another of our strategic partners, India, in these games. Everyone can see it and everyone understands what it is all about. But those who gave up their sovereignty and joined the ranks of the countries led by the United States and other Western countries are not in a position to utter a word of disagreement.

Truth be told, following the tragic events in Afghanistan and after the United States and its NATO allies had hurriedly left that country, a chorus of voices began to be heard in Europe advocating self-reliance in foreign affairs, especially in matters involving the deployment of armed forces, rather than reliance on directives issued by Washington that it can change in an instant. These are glimpses of something new in the position of the West, in this case, the Europeans.

The second notable aspect highlighted by US President Joe Biden and President of France Emmanuel Macron is as follows: both announced within one or two days of one another that it was time to give up on interfering in other countries’ internal affairs in order to impose Western-style democracy on them.

We welcome such statements. We have long been urging our Western colleagues to learn from the reckless ventures that they have got themselves into in recent decades in Iraq and Libya, and they tried to do the same in Syria. I hope (if the above statements are a true reflection of their hard-won understanding of the matter) that our planet will be a safer place in the future. But all the same, we have to “clear out the rubble” of the past policies. Hundreds of thousands of people, civilians, were impacted or killed during the invasion of Iraq and the attack on Libya. There are lots of problems stemming from the revived international terrorism in the Middle East and North Africa and huge numbers of illegal migrants. The illegal arms trade, drug smuggling and much more are on the rise. All this needs to be “cleared up” by the international community, because it affects almost everyone.

Now that the NATO troops have pulled out from Afghanistan, the most important thing for us is to ensure the security of our allies in Central Asia. First, they are our comrades, including comrades-in-arms, and second, the security of Russia’s southern borders directly depends on this.

I hope that if we act together, we will be able to agree on these external steps that will help create an environment within Afghanistan for forming a truly national leadership. We are working energetically to this end.

We are witnessing two trends in the international arena. On the one hand, it is about the formation of a multipolar and polycentric world. This trend reflects the position of most states around the world. On the other hand, efforts are being made to hold back this objective historical process and to artificially preserve control over everything that is happening in the international arena, including with the use of unscrupulous methods such as unilateral illegal sanctions, competition that is occasionally reminiscent of ultimatums, or changing the rules in the midst of an ongoing project.

The West tends to mention less often (if at all) the term “international law” and calls on everyone to maintain a “rules-based world order.” We have nothing against the rules. After all, the UN Charter is also a set of rules, but they were agreed with all states without exception. They are supported by every country that is a member of this one-of-a-kind organisation with incredible and unmatched legitimacy. The West has different rules in mind. They are creating formats of their own. For example, the US has announced that it will convene a Democracy Summit to create an Alliance of Democracies. Clearly, Washington will be the one to determine who will be invited and who is considered a democracy. By the same token, France and Germany announced an initiative to create an Alliance for Multilateralism, i.e. “multilateralists.” When asked why these issues cannot be discussed at the UN, where multilateralism is at its finest in the modern world, the answer is that the UN is home to “retrogrades” and they want to create an Alliance for Multilateralism based on “advanced” ideas. And the “leaders,” above all the EU, will set the rules for multilateralism, and the rest will have to look up to them. This is a crude description, but it conveys the essence of what they are trying to tell us in so many words.

There are initiatives to create partnerships, including in the areas that were supposed to be discussed at universal platforms long ago. Numerous initiatives appearing in the developing world are also being used for the same purpose. There are attempts to channel them to meet Western interests.

The policy of undermining international law and universal principles sealed in the UN Charter is reflected, to a certain extent, in the efforts to call into doubt the results of World War II. They are aimed at trying to equate the winners in this bloodiest war in human history with those who unleashed it and proclaimed the destruction of whole nations as their goal. These attempts are aimed at undermining our positions in the world. Similar attacks are being made on China’s positions. We cannot give up and remain indifferent on this issue.

Every year, we put forward major initiatives at the UN on the inadmissibility of glorifying Nazism, waging a war against monuments and fuelling any forms of racial discrimination and xenophobia.

The overwhelming majority of states not only support these initiatives but also become their co-authors. In most cases, our Western colleagues bashfully abstain from this. They explain that the appeal to prevent certain trends runs counter to democracy and freedom of speech. In other words, for them the neo-Nazi trends that are obvious in Europe, in part, in the Baltic states and Ukraine, do not amount to a gross violation of the Nuremberg trials verdict but merely reflect a commitment to tolerance and freedom of speech.

I do not think it is necessary to explain in detail the harmful and pernicious nature of such attempts to rewrite history and give the green light to those who want to reproduce misanthropic attitudes in the world arena. I do not believe it is necessary to speak in detail about the need to counter these attitudes with resolve and consistency.

We have a foreign policy course endorsed by President of Russia Vladimir Putin. Its main goal is to ensure the most favourable conditions for national development, security, economic growth and the improvement of the living standards of our citizens. We will consistently translate this course into reality.

We have never striven for confrontation, not to mention isolation. We are open to cooperation with the Western countries if they change their approach and stop acting like teachers who “know everything” and are “above reproach,” treating Russia like a pupil that must do its homework.  It is inappropriate to talk to anyone in this manner, let alone Russia.

Our plans enjoy firm support of our people for the course towards strengthening the sovereignty of the Russian Federation and promoting good, friendly relations with our neighbours and all those who are willing to do this honestly, on an equitable basis.

Question: The question has to do with the changes in modern diplomacy under the influence of new technology. Digital diplomacy is a widespread term today. Technological development adds a fundamentally new dimension to a diplomats’ work, and also leads to a qualitative transformation of the system of international relations. How do you think new technologies will affect energy policy in particular and diplomacy in general?

Sergey Lavrov: I am asked this question every time I speak at Knowledge Day here. Apparently, this reflects the thinking of each new generation of students, about how technology will generally affect the processes concerning state-level problem solving and international relations.

Indeed, digital technologies are rapidly penetrating our lives, even faster in the context of the coronavirus pandemic. Many events, including international events, have transitioned to the online format. There is an upside to this. To a certain extent, it helps to save time, which is becoming a more sparse resource every day, given the aggravating international challenges and problems that our foreign policy tries to resolve.

When it comes to holding official meetings such as the UN Security Council or the UN General Assembly with a pre-agreed agenda where each country wants to express its point of view, such statements are prepared in advance through the efforts of a large number of specialists. The result is a policy document on a specific matter on the international agenda, which then goes through debates in one format or another. I see no problem with participating in this kind of discussion online using digital technology.

There are other international meetings, when something needs to be agreed upon as soon as possible; these meetings can also be held remotely. At least this way is better than a phone call because you can see the other person’s face, and this is very important.

But the most serious issues cannot be resolved online. All my colleagues agree with this. Maybe in the future, humanity will invent a way to convey the feeling of personal contact. But I doubt this will be possible. No machine is capable of replacing a person.

I am confident that conventional diplomacy will retain its importance as the main tool in international affairs. As soon as a serious problem arises, it is imperative to meet and try to negotiate.

Question: Will the autumn 2021 elections to the State Duma of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation impact Russia’s foreign policy in the international arena?

Sergey Lavrov: A good question. Elections in our country actually begin in a little more than a fortnight. Even now Western colleagues make it clear that they are set to cast discredit on them. Various political scientists are publishing articles and making speeches aimed at preparing public opinion in the direction of the narrative that the elections results will be rigged.

We regularly invite international observers to our national elections. This year, around 200 observers will come to us as well, including those from international organisations. The only one of them who arrogantly declined the invitation was the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR). We told them they could send a group of 60 observers. This is the largest group we invite from abroad. They said they wanted 500. When you are being invited to visit someone, you do not demand gifts for yourself instead of showing respect towards the hosts. OSCE does not have a rule under which ODIHR must dictate election monitoring provisions. All the countries have only one obligation there – to invite international observers to elections. It is not even written down that they should be from OSCE. They may be from anywhere you like. We do it regularly and meet our obligations in full. This is an example of how international law (and this principle is prescribed at OSCE, I mean that all issues must be solved by consensus) is being replaced by “rules.” This Office itself made up a rule, along the same lines the West operates, by demanding that its own “rules” must be obeyed.

However important international observers might be, we will also have our own observers. Their number is immense. The voting will be streamed live in full. Our Central Electoral Board provides detailed coverage of this and other innovations being introduced. We are taking steps to ensure maximum transparency of voting at our embassies and general consulates. As always, we are making arrangements so that it is possible for our citizens abroad to cast their vote and fulfil their election right.

With all the importance of international observers, it is ultimately our citizens who will take a decision on how we will live on and with which members our parliament will draft new laws. Those who are going to objectively figure out developments in the Russia Federation are always welcome. As to those who have already passed a judgement, let them bear the shame.

Question: I know that poetry and art are among your hobbies. How can we make Russian literature and cinema more effective as a soft power tool abroad?

Sergey Lavrov: There is only one way, and that is to promote these works in other countries’ markets. This policy was vigorously pursued in the Soviet Union. That was a useful experience for the international film and literary community as well. I believe we are renewing these traditions now. I do not know about literary exhibitions, I just do not think I have seen a lot of information on this, but many film festivals recognise the work of our directors, actors and producers. A number of Russian films are highly valued in Cannes and in Karlovy Vary. We must continue to do this.

Question: Does Russia have effective and proportionate methods of fighting manifestations of Russophobia, oppression of Russians, persecution against the Russian language and the Russian world in certain countries?

Sergey Lavrov: This is a difficult question, given the recent manifestations of inappropriate attitudes towards ethnic Russians in a number of countries, including some of our neighbours. This topic has several dimensions to it. The most important point is that the government of a country where our citizens are subjected to some kind of discriminatory influence must firmly oppose such manifestations and take steps to prevent them. This is important, not only because they attack Russians or our other compatriots, but also because it’s required by international conventions, the UN Charter, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and many other documents that are universal and approved by everyone.

In Russia, too, we have seen situations recently where some migrant labourers were at odds with other labour migrants. This is also a problem because Russia needs migrant labourers. We are trying to make immigration as clear, transparent and legitimate as possible. We negotiate with the countries they come from for long-term employment (mostly the Central Asian countries) and agree on special courses for potential migrants that make sure they speak minimal Russian and are familiar with Russian customs, our laws, and that they are planning to behave in a way that is appropriate for being hired in the Russian Federation. This is important for our economy. Without migrant labourers, many Russian industries are now experiencing a significant shortage of personnel.

It is also important to keep in mind that these countries are our allies. We, as allies, must support each other; one way to do so is to ensure an appropriate environment for citizens who represent a different ethnic group.

We have a huge number of ethnic groups living in Russia. Russia is a record holder in multi-ethnicity. All this cultural and religious diversity has always made our country strong, providing the solid foundation on which we stand. We have never tried to destroy the traditions, cultures or languages ​​of any peoples that have lived here since the Russian Empire, then the Soviet Union and now the Russian Federation. We have always supported their languages, cultures, and customs.

Another factor that must be taken into account is the basic quality of life for each and every citizen. We pursue a most open policy. We will make every effort to ensure that our neighbours or other countries where our compatriots live or work fully comply with their international obligations. The fight against discrimination must use political methods based on respect for international commitments.

Question: Do conditions exist for economic and investment cooperation with Japan on the Kuril Islands?

Sergey Lavrov: Yes, they do, of course. It is even more than that. We made a relevant proposal to our Japanese colleagues a long time ago. When, several years ago, Russian President Vladimir Putin met with the Japanese Prime Minister at the time, Shinzo Abe, we came up with an initiative to engage in joint economic activity on these islands. Our Japanese neighbours agreed to this proposal after a while, but decided to confine our cooperation to relatively unsophisticated areas, like aquaculture and waste treatment. These things are important but they are of no strategic significance. We offered them cooperation in any industry of their choice on the southern Kuril Islands and this has been stated repeatedly in the correspondence with our Japanese colleagues. However, the Japanese are seeking to secure a deal with us that would allow them to engage in economic activity and invest money [in the area], not in compliance with Russian law, but rather on the basis of an agreement that provides for another jurisdiction – not that of the Russian Federation. Under this jurisdiction, Russian and Japanese representatives in a certain administrative body would enjoy equal rights, meaning that some hybrid laws would be introduced. This cannot be done under our Constitution.

Regretfully, our Japanese friends are missing out on the opportunity to invest money with us for our mutual benefit. Nonetheless, we have good plans. Soon, new privileges will be announced for our foreign partners who agree to work with us in this part of the Russian Federation. I believe there will be practical interest in this.

Question: In one of your interviews you said (and I fully agree) that modern Western-style liberal democracies have run their course. How will nation states evolve going forward? What forms of state organisation hold the most promise? What should we be striving for?

The UN is plagued by many problems, ranging from Greta Thunberg to agreements that are not being acted upon, such as, for instance, the Paris Agreement. What can be done to turn this deplorable trend around? What laws need to be adopted? What kind of organisations must be created? What does Russia think about this?

Sergey Lavrov: I briefly touched on this matter in my opening remarks. I believe each state should be structured around its customs and traditions and be comfortable for its residents who will have children, grandchildren, etc. It appears that they have promised to stop trying to impose democracy on other countries. At least, President Biden and President Macron said this almost simultaneously. We’ll see how they deliver on their promises.

Each country should take care of its own affairs independently. Everyone now agrees that imposing a Western system on Afghanistan was a grave mistake. Afghanistan has always been a fairly decentralised country where clan-based and other bonds, as well as relations between different ethnic groups, have always played a major role. And Kabul usually balanced out these relations. Saying that tomorrow you will have elections and everyone should go and cast their vote to elect a president who will have certain powers – it was not the Afghans who came up with this idea. It was imposed on them and the ones who did it hurt themselves badly. I hope the promises not to impose democracy on anyone else will be kept.

With regard to environmental protection, the Paris Agreement can hardly be described as a treaty that is not being acted upon. It was based on the fundamental principle that included the need to reduce carbon dioxide and greenhouse gas emissions, but each country was supposed to assume commitments of its own. Preparations for another conference of the parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, which will take place in Glasgow this autumn, are underway.

As part of this process, the most important thing is to agree on variables that will meet the interests of each participant. The proposal of several Western countries to stop using coal-fired power generation starting literally today cannot be complied with by many countries, including several Western countries, simply because this would undermine their energy security. The same applies to large developing countries, including China and India. They are reluctant to stop their growth. They are making it clear to the West that the Western countries have attained their current level of development due to intensive use of natural resources, which gave rise to the greenhouse effect, and now the West wants large developing countries to skip their current phase of development and go straight to a post-carbon economy. It doesn’t work that way, they say. First, they need to complete the economic development of their respective states, which is a complex process that involves the interests of each state. An attempt to balance these interests is being undertaken in the course of preparations for the next conference of the parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.

We made a commitment that by 2030 we would have 70 percent of the 1990 level when the countdown began under the UN Climate Convention. It is unlikely that anyone would have complaints with regard to us. President Vladimir Putin has made clear more than once that we must be extremely careful with regard to everything that is happening. The fact that Russia’s Arctic zone, which is mainly permafrost, is warming up much faster than the rest of the planet is worrisome. This matter is being carefully addressed by several of our ministries, and it is a concern for all of our Government.

Question: Can environmental issues motivate the world powers tо unite against a background of general discord? What is the potential for green diplomacy?

Sergey Lavrov: Environmental protection and concern for the planet’s climate must become a motive for pooling our efforts. It is hard to say now to what extent the world powers will manage to achieve this.

Let me repeat that the developing nations are strongly inclined to use their opportunities for the current stage of their development before assuming the commitments promoted by their Western colleagues. Many interests come together here. Our global interest lies in the health of the planet and the survival of humanity. However, every country has its own national assessment of the current situation and the commitments to their people. It is a complicated matter, but there is no doubt that this is a challenge that must prompt all of us to come together. We stand for pooling our efforts.

Question: Can the Russian Federation “enforce Ukraine to peace” under the Minsk Agreements?

Sergey Lavrov: The Minsk Agreements do not envisage any enforcement. They have been voluntarily approved, signed and unanimously endorsed by the UN Security Council, thereby becoming international law. When Ukraine as a state, both under Petr Poroshenko and Vladimir Zelensky, is doing all it can to avoid fulfilling these agreements, we must point this out to those who compiled them with us. I am primarily referring to Germany, France and other Western countries that are going all-out to justify the Kiev regime. When I say that it is trying to avoid fulfilling these agreements, I am referring to many laws that actually prohibit the Russian language, the transfer of special authority to the territories that have proclaimed themselves the Donetsk and Lugansk people’s republics and the efforts to harmonise the parameters of local elections in them. These are the basics of the Minsk Agreements.

Recently, German Chancellor Angela Merkel visited Moscow. This issue was raised at her talks with President of Russia Vladimir Putin. We showed our German colleagues the legal bans that Mr Zelensky adopted himself to justify his complete inability to fulfil what is required by all states in the world. All countries without exception believe that there is no alternative to the Minsk Agreements for settling the crisis in Donbass. Our Ukrainian colleagues are true prestidigitators. At one time, they believed that Rus was the true name of Ukraine (our ministry has already replied to this, so I will not repeat it). Later they said that the conversion of Rus was a Ukrainian holiday. This is sad. Mr Zelensky claims that Russian gas is the dirtiest in the world. He is doing this not because he is particularly bright but because he wants to maintain and fuel his Russophobic rhetoric and actions to prompt the West to continue supporting Kiev.

Ukraine continues to exploit the obvious efforts of the West to unbalance and destabilise Russia, sidetrack it from resolving its vital problems and make our foreign policy less effective. The Ukrainian regime is exploiting all this. This is clear to everyone. Having placed its bets on Kiev, the West feels uncomfortable about giving up on them. But this approach has obviously failed. The realisation of this fact is coming up but has not yet been embodied in practical steps aimed at convincing or, to use your expression, “enforcing” anything. It is the West that must enforce compliance from its client.

Question: How do you see yourself as a State Duma deputy, something you may soon be? Do you have proposals or ideas to offer? Perhaps, you have specific initiatives to promote our relations with Armenia or Georgia?

Sergey Lavrov: I will not speculate on the outcome of the elections to the State Duma.

We deal with our relations with Armenia and Georgia as Foreign Ministry officials. Armenia is our ally. New Foreign Minister Ararat Mirzoyan was just in Moscow, on August 31. We had a good discussion. Our bilateral agenda is quite fulfilling and includes mutual visits, major projects and expanded economic cooperation. All of that is unfolding in a very intensive and confident manner.

There is the Nagorno-Karabakh problem, and Russia has played a decisive role in bringing a solution to it. The President of Russia, the President of Azerbaijan and the Prime Minister of Armenia signed agreements on November 9, 2020 (on ceasing hostilities and developing cooperation in this region) and on January 11. These agreements include specific actions that follow up on our leaders’ proposals to unblock all transport lines and economic ties. This is not a one-day project. It is underway, and the leaders of Russia, Armenia and Azerbaijan are closely following it. Our military personnel in the Russian peacekeeping contingent in Nagorno-Karabakh work daily on the ground to reduce tensions and build trust. The border guards are helping their Armenian allies sort out issues with their Azerbaijani neighbours.

Relations with Georgia are almost non-existent. There is a Section of Russia’s Interests in Georgia and a Section of Georgia’s Interests in Russia. There is trade, which is quite significant. Russia is one of Georgia’s leading trade partners. Our people love to go to Georgia (I myself love the country). There are no official interstate or diplomatic relations; they were severed at Tbilisi’s initiative. We have offered to resume them more than once. We planned to reciprocate to our Georgian neighbour when they introduced visa-free travel for our citizens. At first, we followed closely the developments as they were unfolding. We are not banning anyone from going to Georgia. In 2019, we were also willing to announce visa-free travel for Georgian citizens, but an unpleasant incident occurred with gross provocations against the Russian parliamentary delegation, which arrived in Tbilisi for a meeting of the Inter-Parliamentary Assembly of Orthodoxy. Our deputy was the assembly chairman. In a conference room in Georgia, the Georgian hosts offered him the chair of the chairman of the parliament themselves. Then, immediately, a group of thugs came in the room demanding that Russia stop interfering in Georgia’s internal affairs and stop “occupying” their parliament. It even came to fisticuffs. With no apologies coming our way, we held back introducing visa-free travel for Georgian citizens and put our decision to resume regular flights on hold. We were ready to go ahead with it. If Georgia really doesn’t want to “play the Russian card” in an effort to retain Western protection, but instead prefers to have good relations with us as a neighbour, we will respond at any time.

Question: What qualities do you think a diplomat’s wife might need? What rules of etiquette she should observe?

Sergey Lavrov: There are no special rules here. A wife and a husband should both understand each other. Rather than obstructing the other, they should help each other carry out the ideas they have decided to devote their lives to and also achieve self-fulfillment in their professions. There is no universal advice.

When I was a rank-and-file diplomat, I worked with some top officials, whose wives had different “styles” – this occurs sometimes. In both cases, this proved to be effective and useful in our work. If a wife has a profession, her husband should also have respect for it. When a woman, regardless of whether she is the wife of an ambassador or a diplomat in a lower position, goes to a country which her husband has been posted to but where she cannot realise her professional potential, this can be a serious problem, which has to be addressed. In this situation, each family decides on its own whether the spouses go together or each of them keeps his or her job and tries to travel as often as possible to see the other. This is life; it doesn’t necessarily fit into a particular pattern.

Question: I believe the man himself comes first – Sergey Lavrov – and only then there is the Russian Foreign Minister. I like to look at politics through the prism of humaneness. What is your favourite song, the one you listen to and feel happy?

Sergey Lavrov: There are many. I will not give examples. The list is long. I do not want to leave anyone out. These are mostly songs by singer-poets. I enjoy listening to them whenever I have the chance, say, in my car or when I meet with my friends.

Question: I have a question about Russia’s relations with the Eastern European countries, given the complexity of regulating relations in this region since World War II, not to mention after the USSR’s collapse. How will they develop in the near future?

Sergey Lavrov: If a particular country has a government concerned about national interests, projects that meet the needs of its population, economic growth, and a search for partners that will help it resolve these problems in the best way, Russia has no problems in relations with any Central or East European country or any other country in the world.

We have close ties with Hungary and it is being criticised for this. In the European Union, Hungary and Poland are reprimanded for not obeying the EU’s general standards and principles. Thus, they hold referendums calling into doubt LGBT rights. Recently, Hungary held a referendum on the same law as Russia did. This law does not prohibit anything but imposes administrative liability for promoting LGBT ideology among minors. Nothing else. I think this is the right thing to do. In addition to major economic projects (nuclear power plants, and railway carriage production for Egypt), we have many other undertakings and good humanitarian cooperation.

Together with Armenia and the Vatican in the OSCE and the UN Human Rights Council, Russia and Hungary are acting as the driver in protecting the rights of Christians, including in the Middle East where Christians are seriously harassed. Hungary is not embarrassed about its Christian roots (incidentally, nor is Poland ashamed of its past and present). When they start talking about the need to raise their voice in defence of Christians, other European countries say that this is not quite politically correct.

In the OSCE, we suggested adopting a declaration against Christianophobia and Islamophobia, because it has already passed a declaration on anti-Semitism. However, these proposals are getting nowhere. Seven years ago, the West promised to adopt them but so far the OSCE countries have failed to adopt a common position on banning both Christianophobia and Islamophobia.

Regarding other East European countries, we have good relations with Slovenia. In particular, we are both working to preserve our common memory, including the bloody events of WWI and WWII. People in Slovenia care a lot about war memorials. Recently, they established a new monument devoted to all Russian soldiers who perished in both world wars. Our economic cooperation is in good shape.

We are implementing economic projects with other Eastern European countries, for instance, with Slovakia. We have considered many ideas about projects with the Czech Republic, but in the past few months it has decided to take a more Russophobic attitude and adopt overtly discriminatory decisions, like banning Rosatom from a tender on building a new nuclear power plant unit. It justified its policy with allegations that have never been proved by anyone. It blamed us for detonating some arms depots in 2014. Even many people in the Czech Republic consider this far-fetched.

However, the allegations remain. We are used to being accused of all kinds of “sins” without any evidence. This happened during the so-called poisoning of the Skripals and Alexey Navalny, and the investigation of the Malaysia Airlines crash in Donbass in July 2014. As in many other cases, these accusations are not buttressed by anything. Our requests to present facts are ignored or qualified as “classified.” Or we are told someone has “prohibited” to transmit information or some other excuse. This position is not serious. It reflects the Western approach to fueling Russophobic tensions without grounds.

Question: Do you think that we can describe the meeting between President of Russia Vladimir Putin and US President Joe Biden in Switzerland as the beginning of a relative normalisation of relations between the two countries?

Sergey Lavrov: Holding a meeting is better than having no contact at all. No breakthroughs occurred, but there was a mutually respectful conversation, on an equal footing, without any grievances expressed to either side.  The dialogue was permeated with the awareness of responsibility that the two biggest nuclear powers had for the state of affairs in the world. The presidents paid attention to the need to intensify bilateral contacts, particularly in the interests of stakeholders in the business community. But the main focus was on the international agenda.

The United States withdrew from the Treaty on Open Skies (TOS) just a few months before the meeting and from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) in 2019.   This has created a background for the fading of the international arms reduction and control agenda. When Joe Biden took office, he promptly responded to the proposal (which was made way back to the Trump administration but remained unanswered for a couple of years) on the need to extend the New START Treaty without any preconditions. We have managed to preserve at least this element of the arms control architecture for the next five years.

This was the context for the presidents’ meeting in Geneva. The main positive result of the meeting is that the two leaders reaffirmed the position that there can be no winners in a nuclear war and therefore it must never be unleashed. A statement to this effect was made a long time ago by the USSR and the USA. We suggested that the United States confirm this axiom. The previous administration evaded this, but Joe Biden accepted the proposal.

Within the same statement that spoke about the inadmissibility of unleashing a nuclear war, the two presidents outlined an instruction to start a dialogue on matters of strategic stability.  The first tentative meeting took place in July of this year. The second one is scheduled for September. At this stage, the parties’ positions are far apart, but the fact that the dialogue is under way gives hope for the coordination of a basis for further specific talks on arms limitation.   These are our short-term objectives.

They also talked in general terms about the need to establish a dialogue on cyber security. This is yet another topic on which we were unable to reach out to Washington for several years. Vladimir Putin’s official statement was dedicated to the initiatives on ensuring a transparent dialogue based on trust and facts on cyber security in Russian-American relations. Contacts of this kind are being prepared as well. There are reasons to believe that we will reduce international tension just a little in some areas. But this does not abolish the fact that the United States continues to see the containment of Russia and China as one of its main tasks, as well as the encouragement of measures that may be instrumental in having an irritating effect on us.

Analysis of Euro-Paralysis: Uncle Sam’s Last Afghan Stand

 August 30, 2021

By Mohammad Al-Jaber

The United States dragged Europe into the Graveyard of Empires and used it as a shield in the face of its own burial.

Europe, under the guise of providing the conditions for ‘long-term’ security and stability in Afghanistan, entered the country, and the rest is history. Havoc, destruction, death, and misery infested the Southern Asian country, placing it among the world’s poorest.

A New Age Crusade

Following the September 11 attacks, the United States developed an interest in “combatting terrorism,” prompting the country known for “exporting democracy” to the rest of the world to launch what was called the “War on Terror”—an international military campaign whose goal was to eradicate terrorism abroad,

not for the safety of the populace, but rather for that of US soil.

The US, a NATO ally and core member state, did what any benevolent ally would do and dragged NATO into a multi-generational war in Afghanistan—the organization’s first commitment outside European territories.

The whole debacle started a week after 9/11, when President George W. Bush signed a resolution authorizing the use of force against those behind the attacks, followed by an October 7 announcement that the US and the UK started launching airstrikes in Afghanistan against Al-Qaeda and Taliban sites when demands for the extradition of Osama bin Laden went unanswered.

After the US ‘retaliation’ act, the Taliban announced they are ready for “Jihad”; alas, it was a short-lived dream.

The “Jihad” lasted barely over two months, as the group was defeated and its rule in the country was declared over after heavy air bombardment from the US and UK, with ground support from its allies, which included the Northern Alliance and other anti-Taliban militias and groups.

Now, the US did not get the man they came after; bin Laden fled the country. However, they did accomplish what they are always after—influence and power. Afghanistan became ruled by the US-backed Hamid Karzai, whom the western power saw as best-fitting to rebuild the war-torn country.

So, the United States had everything laid out the way it wanted it to be:

  • The European hand was forced into Afghanistan
  • The burden was basically split in half with Europe reaping fewer benefits
  • The US was in control of a geopolitically significant country
  • The US intimidating its regional foes, namely Russia, China, and Iran

A Mandated European Venture

Now back to Europe; how and why did the old continent join the war in Afghanistan?

In 2001, the UNSC-mandated International Security Assistance Force, which had the mission of re-instating a central authority in the country that was ruled by militias and the Taliban at the time, in addition to working on enhancing the capabilities of the Afghan National Security Forces, was deployed in Afghanistan. 

The mission was not led by a certain country, as its leadership was rotational between its nations—the most prominent of which were the US, the UK, Germany, Canada, and France.

On August 11, 2003, NATO assumed the ISAF’s leadership. The mission’s goals were still the same; however, when seeing the current state of Afghanistan, it’s safe to say the mission failed miserably.

The ISAF’s European nations accounted for more than half the soldiers in Afghanistan. The countries that had little to nothing to do with the conflict led the invasion of a country that never did any harm to them; the US convinced them to partake in the conflict by raising national security concerns. If anything, failure in Afghanistan would have had way more political and financial repercussions for Europe than the United States, for refugees and terrorists could reach Europe a lot easier than they could North America.

Europe: The United States’ Hadrian’s Wall

Europe has been the main bearer of consequences whenever there had been a US-related flop anywhere in the Eastern hemisphere. Take the Syrian refugee crisis, for example. A US-sparked war on a Middle Eastern country resulted in hundreds of thousands of refugees flocking toward Europe. And, of course, extremists were among those who got into the continent, leading to an increase in terror attacks and national security threats.

This, alongside many other crises, is a fine testament to the US strategy that uses Europe as a shield. In the ongoing crisis and anticipation of the incoming influx of Afghan refugees, Greece took to reinforcing the European borders by building a wall. What this means is that the Syrian scenario will be replayed, as hundreds of dead children will wash up on shore in a failed attempt to flee their country.

The Europeans had little to say regarding invading Afghanistan, for the continent’s nations lacked coordination and had many domestic political issues. Had they been united in the European Union, Europe would have been able to properly alter the coalition and advocate for a much better international approach to the situation in Afghanistan—that would’ve been the best-case scenario for Europe. Obviously, on the ground, it was completely different.

Even the majority of Europeans disagree with using military force to defend a NATO ally from a hypothetical attack by Russia, according to a Pew Research Center report

All that Europe gained from Afghanistan was more refugees, more dead soldiers, and wasted taxpayer money. Altogether, Europe lost nearly a thousand soldiers, gained hundreds of thousands of Afghan refugees and asylum seekers, and spent tens of billions of dollars. The UK and Germany, the second-largest troop-contributors, spent an estimated $30 billion and $19 billion respectively, over the course of the two-decade-long war—a portion of what Europe in its entirety paid to keep the war’s flame ablaze.

At the peak of the invasion of Afghanistan in 2011, the year the US had finally achieved its dream of killing bin Laden, there were 90,000 US troops in the country and 41,300 troops from NATO and its allies. The US and its allies did not equally bear the responsibility, for, as we must not forget, this wasn’t a European issue per se. It only became one after the US forced its hand to invade Afghanistan, yet Europe was bearing nearly half the burden.

The situation was incredibly frustrating for Europe, it was stuck in a self (mostly US)-made pit. The choice was between pulling out from Afghanistan and putting the US-European relations at risk, as well as its security and economy following the influx of Afghan refugees from Afghanistan to Europe, (which was not an option altogether), or staying in Afghanistan and putting up with the financial losses and human casualties.

How Europe was the Stalin to the Munich Agreement

To add insult to injury, the United States decided to withdraw from Afghanistan in February of 2020. This was the then-President Donald Trump signed the 2020 Doha Agreement to “end the war in Afghanistan” without consulting European allies—it came as a shock to them. Europeans objected to the decision to withdraw from Afghanistan in such a short period of time but to no avail; there was no reversing the decision.

Furthermore, when the Biden Administration took the decision to completely withdraw from Afghanistan ahead of the agreed-upon date—which had been previously postponed from May 1st as set by the Trump administration—his decision received criticism from all US allies. NATO officials, from Germany, the United Kingdom, France, and Italy, slammed Biden over this decision that was taken without any consultation.

Leaders all across Europe were in disbelief following the decision, even those who long-supported Biden saw it as a mistake and a miscalculation. There wasn’t any direct criticism, for it is known that would harm diplomatic relations; instead, leaders voiced their criticism behind the scenes. However, the storm is yet to come, as no NATO summits have taken place following the failure, which will most definitely redefine the future of US-EU relations.

How will European leaders react to this whole ordeal? Will they be silent in the face of the US abuse? There could be a change in the way Europe manages its external affairs, moving away from the United States and aiming for autonomy; but nothing is certain. One thing that is though, is the fact that even the Israelis do not trust the Americans due to their abandonment of Afghanistan and their allies there, meaning the US is prone to abandoning Europe and other allies in such ‘dire’ circumstances, rendering it unreliable. After all, the US got its troops out of Kabul right around its fall while leaving Europe and the rest of its allies stuck in the mud.

Josep Borrell, the EU’s foreign policy chief, went as far as calling for an independent army for the European Union in light of the growing panic amongst the Europeans out of fear of not being able to complete their evacuations before the United States does.

Even prior to this whole fiasco, Europe was considering forming an autonomous army. In 2018, French President Emmanuel Macron had warned that Europeans could not be protected without a “true, European army,” (before declaring that NATO was experiencing “brain death“) – an idea backed by German Chancellor Angela Merkel and the person who could be Germany’s next Chancellor, Armin Laschet. The idea of a European army did not seem too appealing for the UK, for it could be something that equates to NATO. Instead, they prefer a joint force to defend Europe in a case relying on the US was out of the window.

During the Trump administration, the rift between the US and Europe was at its vastest since the establishment of diplomatic ties and alliances between the two powers, but it seems that the Biden administration will be the straw that broke the camel’s back in the US-EU relations.

Afghanistan reminds us why it’s called the Graveyard of Empires, as the future of diplomacy between the two behemoths could crumble over its invasion.

Nord Stream 2 ‘Deal’ Is Not an American Concession, It’s Admission of Defeat

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July 23, 2021

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All in all, Washington’s virtue-signaling is one helluva gas!

After much arm-twisting, bullying and foghorn diplomacy towards its European allies, the United States appears to have finally given up on trying to block the giant Nord Stream 2 project with Russia. What an epic saga it has been, revealing much about American relations with Europe and Washington’s geopolitical objectives, as well as, ultimately, the historic decline in U.S. global power.

In the end, sanity and natural justice seem to have prevailed. The Nord Stream 2 pipeline under the Baltic Sea will double the existing flow of Russia’s prodigious natural gas to Germany and the rest of Europe. The fuel is economical and environmentally clean compared with coal, oil and the shale gas that the Americans were vying with Russia to export.

Russia’s vast energy resources will ensure Europe’s economies and households are reliably and efficiently fueled for the future. Germany, the economic engine of the European Union, has a particular vital interest in securing the Nord Stream 2 project which augments an existing Nord Stream 1 pipeline. Both follow the same Baltic Sea route of approximately 1,222 kilometers – the longest pipeline in the world – taking Russian natural gas from its arctic region to the northern shores of Germany. For Germany’s export-led economy, Russian fuel is essential for future growth, and hence benefiting the rest of Europe.

It was always a natural fit between Russia and the European Union. Geographically and economically, the two parties are compatible traders and Nord Stream 2 is merely the culmination of decades of efficient energy relations.

Enter the Americans. Washington has been seething over the strategic energy trade between Russia and Europe. The opposition escalated under the Trump administration (so much for Trump being an alleged Russian stooge!) when his ambassador to Germany, Richard Grenell, fired off threatening letters to German and other European companies arrogantly warning that they would be hit with sanctions if they dared proceed with Nord Stream 2. Pipe-laying work was indeed interrupted last year by U.S. sanctions. (So much for European sovereignty and alleged meddling in internal affairs by Russia!)

The ostensible American rationale was always absurd. Washington claimed that Russia would exploit its strategic role as gas supplier by extracting malicious concessions from Europe. It was also claimed that Russia would “weaponize” energy trade to enable alleged aggression towards Ukraine and other Eastern European states. The rationale reflects the twisted Machiavellian mentality of the Americans and their supporters in Europe – Poland and the Baltic states, as well as the Kiev regime in Ukraine. Such mentality is shot-through with irrational Russophobia.

The ridiculous paranoid claims against Russia are of course an inversion of reality. It is the Americans and their European surrogates who are weaponizing a mundane matter of commercial trade that in reality offers a win-win relationship. Part of the real objective is to distort market economics by demonizing Russia in order for the United States to export their own vastly more expensive and environmentally dirty liquefied natural gas to Europe. (So much for American free-market capitalism!)

Another vital objective for Washington is to thwart any normal relations developing between Russia and the rest of Europe. American hegemony and its hyper-militaristic economy depend on dividing and ruling other nations as so-called “allies” and “adversaries”. This has been a long-time necessity ever since the Second World War and during the subsequent Cold War decades, the latter constantly revived by Washington against Russia. (So much for American claims that Russia is a “revisionist power”!)

However, there is a fundamental objective problem for the Americans. The empirical decline of U.S. global power means that Washington can no longer bully other nations in the way it has been accustomed to doing for decades. The old Cold War caricatures of demonizing others have lost their allure and potency because the objective world we live in today simply does not make them plausible or credible. The Russian gas trade with the European Union is a consummate case in point. In short, Germany and the EU are not going to shoot themselves in the foot, economically speaking, simply on the orders of Uncle Sam.

President Joe Biden had enough common sense – unlike the egotistical Trump – to realize that American opposition to Nord Stream 2 was futile. Biden is more in tune with the Washington establishment than his maverick predecessor. Hence Biden began waiving sanctions imposed under Trump. Finally this week, the White House announced that it had come to an agreement with Germany to permit Nord Stream 2 to go ahead. The Financial Times called it a “truce” while the Wall Street Journal referred to a “deal” between Washington and Berlin. (Ironically, American non-interference is presented as a “deal”!)

The implication is that the United States was magnanimously giving a “concession” to Europe. The reality is the Americans were tacitly admitting they can’t stop the strategic convergence between Russia and the rest of Europe on a vital matter of energy supply.

In spinning the eventuality, Washington has continued to accuse Russia of “weaponizing” trade. It warns that if Russia is perceived to be abusing relations with Ukraine and Europe then the United States will slap more sanctions on Moscow. This amounts to the defeated bully hyperventilating.

Another geopolitical factor is China. The Biden administration has prioritized confrontation with China as the main long-term concern for repairing U.S. decline. Again, Biden is more in tune with the imperial planners in Washington than Trump was. They know that in order for the United States to have a chance of undermining China as a geopolitical rival the Europeans must be aligned with U.S. policy. Trump’s boorish browbeating of Europeans and Germany in particular over NATO budgets and other petty issues resulted in an unprecedented rift in the “transatlantic alliance” – the euphemism for American dominance over Europe. By appearing to concede to Germany over Nord Stream 2, Washington is really aiming to shore up its anti-China policy. This too is an admission of defeat whereby American power is unable to confront China alone. The bully needs European lackeys to align, and so is obliged to offer a “deal” over Russia’s energy trade.

All in all, Washington’s virtue-signaling is one helluva gas!

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