The Neo-Nazi Threat From The East

22 SEPTEMBER 2021

By Slavisha Batko Milacic

Source

The Neo-Nazi Threat From The East

In the course of the seven years of Ukraine’s “pro-Western turn” the local right-wingers, who already represented an organized force, were reinforced by veterans of the Donbass war, members of the country’s military and security forces.

Late this summer, Estonia, in the person of its president, Kersti Kaljulaid, became the first EU country to declare that Ukraine remains as far away from EU membership as it was after the “Revolution of Dignity” – the events of 2013-14 in Kiev, which toppled Ukraine’s vacillating pro-Russian president, Viktor Yanukovych. Shortly after, the ambassador of Estonia’s neighbor, Latvia, in Ukraine, echoed Kaljulaid’s statement, although in a slightly softer form. This came as unpleasant news for the current authorities of Kiev, especially amid the celebration of Ukraine’s 30th independence anniversary and the “Crimean Forum,” which, according to President Zelensky’s plan, was supposed to rally international support for the country in its confrontation with Russia. However, during the past seven years, Ukraine has been a serious problem for the EU, which is becoming increasingly hard to solve.

Back in 2014, the Kremlin’s response to the overthrow of its ally, Yanukovych, was just as harsh as to the coming to power in Kiev of pro-Western elites. Without firing a single shot, Russia annexed Crimea, a major base for the Russian Black Fleet, and populated by a Russian-speaking majority, many of whom sincerely welcomed the region’s reunification with Russia. Meanwhile, a civil war broke out in Ukraine’s also Russian-speaking southeast where the local separatists were actively supported by Moscow. Europe then realized that it was now necessary to ramp up pressure on Russia and support the budding democratic transformations in Ukraine. However, the country’s successive pro-Western presidents, Petro Poroshenko and Volodymyr Zelensky, who shared European values, have since failed to achieve any significant results in European integration. Moreover, they became enmeshed in US electoral scandals and the war of compromising evidence, and they do not create the impression of being independent figures. Moreover, they were consistently making one mistake after another. In two major battles with separatists near Debaltsevo and Ilovaisk in 2014-15, the Ukrainian Armed Forces suffered a crushing defeat, despite the upsurge of patriotism backed by US and European support. The closure of the borders with Russia has divided families and left tens of thousands of people without jobs. An inept language policy and rabid nationalism split the Ukrainian nation, which had just begun to shape up, with wholesale corruption plunging the country into poverty.

In their clumsy effort to prove their adherence to European values, Petro Poroshenko, and after him Volodymyr Zelensky, both made clumsy attempts to prove their adherence to Western values, starting to prioritize the interests of the country’s LGBT community. As a result, gay people were given prominent positions in the country’s leadership, and the square outside the presidential palace became the venue of almost weekly gay pride parades. This open disregard for the conservative values of the overwhelming majority of Ukrainians led to an even greater split between the ruling elites and the nationalists, who are now at loggerheads with the Zelensky administration on many issues – another gigantic problem hindering Ukraine’s European integration.

The fact is that Ukrainian nationalism has old and very controversial roots. Starting out as fighters for independence, the Ukrainian right-wingers quickly joined the camp of Hitler’s admirers and committed a number of serious war crimes not only in Ukraine proper, but on the territory of neighboring Poland as well. Their heirs now honor Hitler and Ukrainian collaborationists, deny many crimes of Nazism and espouse anti-Semitic views that are unacceptable for Europe. Moreover, they do not see Russia as their only enemy, actively provoking conflicts with the Poles and accusing them of the “genocide of the Ukrainians” during the 1930s in the territories that until 1939 were part of the Polish state.

In the course of the seven years of Ukraine’s “pro-Western turn” the local right-wingers, who already represented an organized force, were reinforced by veterans of the Donbass war, members of the country’s military and security forces. They were long regarded by Washington as important allies in the fight against Russia, failing to see real neo-Nazis hiding under patriotic slogans. Now it is exactly these people, who are breaking up gay parades in Kiev and crippling LGBT activists. They feel no need for European values because they take much closer to heart the legacy of the Third Reich. Thanks to visa-free travel to Europe, they have become regulars, and often the striking force of neo-Nazi gatherings from Germany to Spain. They are ready to kill refugees from the Middle East and burn synagogues. Moreover, some of them have retained ties with their Russian neo-Nazi brethren, who, although in deep opposition to Vladimir Putin, continue to propagate the idea of superiority of the Slavic race.

President Zelensky and his administration are smart enough to distance themselves from the local right-wingers. Moreover, they are detained, and sometimes their rallies are broken up by police (albeit without any consequences for the leaders). Even though the ultra-nationalist Right Sector lost their seats in parliament in the last elections, they retained their hard-core base and influence. De facto neo-Nazi leaders maintain good contacts with the outwardly liberal presidential administration and are thus immune from prosecution. They also go to Europe, where right-wing sentiments are very popular.

Meanwhile, President Zelensky continues to pointlessly lose soldiers along the “contact line” with separatists, unable to “be strong with his weakness” and establish a full-fledged truce in a war he does not yet want to win. As a result, more and more illegal arms are seeping into the country’s central regions from the frontlines and many soldiers, fed up with the war, are now joining the ranks of right-wing militants! These are by no means pro-European activists. They will be just as happy to beat up LGBT members and destroy a refugee camp as the Russian embassy. The authorities simply cannot fight them in earnest because the ultranationalists have too many supporters in the state apparatus and too many activists capable of plunging Kiev into chaos in a matter of hours. Small wonder that such post-Soviet countries as Estonia and Latvia, which themselves had problems with both nationalism and the justification of local collaborationists, were the first to raise their voices criticizing Kiev.

Well, Ukraine could and should be viewed as a potential new EU member. However, it must be forced to root out Nazism, instead of holding staged gay prides in downtown Kiev just for show to demonstrate the elites’ adherence to European values! Otherwise, we would have a faction of real neo-Nazis in the European Parliament, compared to whom any members of the European Far Right would look like moderate conservatives. In addition to stamping out corruption, President Zelensky needs to eradicate neo-fascism, which threatens Europe just as it does his own country. Only then can we talk about European integration. Meanwhile, we have to admit that, just as the Estonian president said, seven years of “European democracy” have not brought Ukraine one step closer to the United Europe…

Iran Seeks Action Rather Than Words From JCPOA Parties – Amir Abdollahian

September 22, 2021 

Iran Seeks Action Rather Than Words From JCPOA Parties – Amir Abdollahian

By Staff, Agencies

Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian met with new UK foreign secretary Liz Truss on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly on Wednesday to discuss Afghanistan and issues of mutual interest as well as the Join Comprehensive Plan of Action [JCPOA].

At the meeting, the top Iranian diplomat said that the rebuilding of bilateral relations requires serious actions and stressed the need for the implementation of the repayment of Britain’s debt to Iran.

Amir Abdollahian said Iran just had heard words from the other parties to the JCPOA and no actions, adding, “Unfortunately, Britain is also part of this inaction and this approach must change.”

He further said that “The US administration, with Europe’s silence and cooperation, continues to impose its illegal sanctions [against Iran] and at the same time claims it wants to return to JCPOA.”

“This is a clear paradox that is carefully being seen by the Iranian people,” he noted, adding that for the current Iranian government action rather than words matters most.

Amir-Abdollahian stressed that Britain needs to pay attention to the fact that fulfilling its obligations is the only way to rebuild relations, and that Tehran will respond appropriately to any positive and constructive step.

The two sides also discussed consular issues, including the issue of dual-national prisoners.

The Iranian foreign minister further stressed the need to pay attention to the humanitarian situation in Yemen and Bahrain.

Regarding Afghanistan, he said that the formation of an inclusive government that represents the ethnic and demographic composition of the country is the only comprehensive solution to achieve lasting stability and peace in Afghanistan.

During the meeting, the new British foreign secretary, for her part, said that her country is ready to repay its debts to Iran.

Regarding the Iran nuclear deal, Liz Truss said that the most urgent issue now is the attention of all parties to the time of the start of the talks process.

The British top diplomat also thanked the Islamic Republic of Iran for facilitating the evacuation of the remaining British nationals from Afghanistan.

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بعد التضحية بأفغانستان… أميركا تلفظ أوروبا تأهّباً لمقارعة التنين الصيني

سبتمبر 17, 2021 

 محمد صادق الحسيني

بينما كان الاتحاد الأوروبي يناقش استراتيجيته الجديدة، في المحيطين الهندي والهادئ، كما أعلن مسؤول السياسة الخارجية في الاتحاد جوزيب بوريل، قام الرئيس الأميركي بالإعلان المفاحئ عن إقامة حلف آوكوس AUKUS  بين بلاده وبريطانيا وأستراليا من دون إعلام الاتحاد الأوروبي بأي شيءٍ.

وأكد بوريل للصحافيين بأنهم علموا بذلك (من وسائل الإعلام) لكنهم لم يستشاروا أبداً. كما أعرب عن أسفه أن لا يكون الاتحاد الأوروبي جزءاً من هذا التحالف.

صحيح أن أزمات الدول الغربية، وعلى رأسها الولايات المتحدة الأميركية، هي أزمات بنيوية تتعلق بالنظام الرأسمالي، المحكوم عليه بالزوال، لأسباب موضوعية ليس لها مكان في هذا المقام، ولكن الأزمة الحالية التي تعصف بالعلاقات الأوروبية الأميركية، بشكل عام وتلك الفرنسية الأميركية بشكل خاص، تأتي في هذا الظرف الدولي الحالي، في ظل موازين القوى الدولية، التي تختل بشكل واضح ومتسارع لصالح القوى المعادية للامبريالية والهيمنة الأميركية الأوروبية، على مقدرات شعوب العالم، بالتالي فهي تشكُل تعبيراً جلياً على أن الصراعات الحادة والتناقضات المتزايدة بين الدول الأوروبية والولايات المتحدة الأميركية، سببها التناقض الموضوعي لمصالح الطرفين، الاقتصادية والسياسية والعسكرية، على صعيد العالم.

وهذا يعني أن الصراع الدولي يزداد تصعيداً ويشي بتغيرات محتملة في التحالفات الدولية، لنقل الاصطفافات الدولية القائمة حالياً في العالم من جهة لجهة أخرى.

ونقول اصطفافات لأن الولايات المتحدة لا تتعامل مع أية دولة في العالم، بما في ذلك أعضاء حلف شمال الأطلسي وكبريات هذه الدول، مثل فرنسا وبريطانيا وألمانيا واليابان على أنها دول مستقلة، وإنما هي تتعامل معها كدول محتلة (منذ نهاية الحرب العالميه الثانية، كدول تابعة لواشنطن) وهي بالتالي لا ترقى إلى مستوى الحليف.

من هنا فإن واشنطن، وانطلاقاً من هذه القاعدة، تتعامل مع تلك الدول، إضافة إلى أذناب الولايات المتحدة الأميركية في “الشرق الأوسط”، بما فيها “إسرائيل”، على أنها أدوات لخدمة المصالح الأميركية، يجب أن تعمل طبقاً للأوامر التي يتلقونها من سيد البيت الأبيض لا أكثر.

أما مناسبة المقدمة هذه، فهي موجة الغضب الهستيري التي ظهرت على لسان وزير الخارجية الفرنسي، جان إيڤ لودريان، والهجوم الحاد الذي شنه، خلال مؤتمر صحافي عقده يوم 16/9/2021، على الرئيس الأميركي جو بايدن وقوله عنه إن تصرفاته المفاجئة لا تختلف عن تصرفات سلفه، دونالد ترامب. وذلك في تعقيبات له على قيام أستراليا (جزء من التاج البريطاني وليست دولة كاملة الاستقلال كما كندا ونيوزيلاندا) بإلغاء صفقة الغواصات مع بلاده.

فما هي هذه الصفقة وما هو سبب حالة الهستيريا، التي يعيشها رأس الديبلوماسية الفرنسية هذه الأيام، وماذا يمكن لها أن تفرز من تداعيات؟

بدأت القضية بقيام لودريان نفسه، عندما كان وزيراً للدفاع في فرنسا عام 2016، كسمسار لشركات الصناعات العسكرية الفرنسية، حيث نجح، آنذاك، بإقناع رئيس وزراء أستراليا في حينه، مالكولم تيرنبول، بشراء 12 غواصة فرنسية، تعمل بالوقود التقليدي (الديزل) تقوم بصناعتها شركة  “دي سي أن أس” الفرنسية للتعاقدات البحرية.

وقد اختارت الحكومة الأسترالية، في شهر نيسان عام 1916، هذه الشركة الفرنسية ووقعت معها عقوداً رسمية، للبدء في تصنيع الغواصات، حيث قام رئيس الوزراء الأسترالي لاحقاً بزيارة لمقر هذه الشركة الفرنسية، في ميناء شيربورغ الفرنسي، وافتتح مشروع صناعة الغواصات الاثنتي عشر، التي كان يفترض أن تنتهي الشركة من تسليمها، لأسطول شبه الدولية في أستراليا، عام 2030.

علماً أن القيمة الإجمالية لهذه الصفقة كانت تساوي 90 مليار دولار أسترالي، أي ما قيمته 56 مليار دولار أميركي، وهي بذلك من الصفقات العملاقة التي تعقد بين الدول، والتي لها تأثيرات مباشرة في الاقتصاد الفرنسي، سواءً من جهة تشغيل اليد العاملة أو من جهة قيمة الضرائب التي تحصل عليها الدولة الفرنسية، في صورة ضرائب دخل للعاملين في شركة التصنيع وشركات الدعم التي تمدها بالمواد نصف المصنعة أو غيرها من شركات التصميم والتزويد والإمداد.

كما أن لمثل هكذا صفقة كبيرة تأثيراً جديداً في السمعة الدولية للصناعات العسكرية الفرنسية، التي يعمل السياسيون الفرنسيون بشكل متواصل لتسويق منتجاتها. وعليه فإن ما حدث يعد ضربةً اقتصاديةً وماليةً وسياسيةً كبرى وجهتها. واشنطن لباريس.

يعزو المراقبون السبب وراء الهيجان، الذي يعاني منه وزير الخارجية الفرنسي، لودريان، والذي أدى به للإدلاء بهذه التصريحات النارية، ضد الرئيس الأميركي بايدن وضد الولايات المتحدة وأستراليا نفسها إلى قيام الرئيس الأميركي، يوم 15/9/2021، بعقد مؤتمر صحافي في البيت الأبيض، تناقلت وقائعه جميع وكالات الأنباء العالمية، ومن بينها وكالة الأنباء الفرنسية.

حيث أعلن الرئيس الأميركي، خلال المؤتمر الصحافي، عن قيام تحالف أمني واسع النطاق، بين بلاده وبريطانيا وأستراليا، تحصل أستراليا بموجبه على 12 غواصة حديثة تعمل بالوقود النووي (مقابل الغواصات الفرنسية التي كانت ستتسلمها من فرنسا تعمل بوقود الديزل التقليدي)، لمواجهة العداء المتزايد تجاه الصين، بحسب تعبير وكالة الأنباء الفرنسية.

وقد كانت النتيجة الأولى لهذا الإعلان هو فسخ أستراليا لعقد شراء الغواصات الفرنسية، الأمر الذي دفع وزير الخارجية الفرنسي ووزيرة الجيوش الفرنسية بإطلاق تلك التصريحات غير المعهودة تجاه واشنطن ورئيسها.

إذ قال وزير الخارجية الفرنسية إنّ هذا القرار، الذي أعلن عنه بايدن، يُعتبر طعنة في الظهر (لفرنسا) وأن بايدن اتخذ قراراً مفاجئاً كما كان يفعل ترامب (و. ص. ف.)، بينما قالت وزيرة الجيوش الفرنسية، فلورانس بارلي، أن فسخ العقد (من قبل أستراليا) أمر خطير من الناحية الجيوسياسية وعلى صعيد السياسة الدولية (إشارة الى إمكانية تغيّر التحالفات او الاصطفافات الدولية الحاليّة – توجه دول أوروبية باتجاه الصين وروسيا). يضاف إلى ذلك ما قالته وزيرة الجيوش الفرنسية، عن احتمال مطالبة فرنسا بتعويضات عن فسخ عقود رسمية، في الوقت الذي لم تفصح فيه ما إذا كانت المقصودة هي الحكومة الأسترالية فقط وإنما بريطانيا والولايات المتحدة أيضاً، وهما اللتان تسببتا في فسخ تلك العقود، بعد إعلان الرئيس الأميركي، عن تشكيل التحالف الدولي الجديد، بين الولايات المتحدة وبريطانيا و”شبه الدولة الأسترالية”، والذي أطلق عليه اسم “آوكوس / AUKUS /، وهو اختصار ودمج لأسماء أستراليا والمملكة المتحدة والولايات المتحدة الأميركية باللغة الإنكليزية …. Australia / United Kingdom / USA ….، والهادف إلى مواجهة الصين في آسيا والمحيط الهادئ، كما أعلن الرئيس بايدن نفسه، بحسب ما أوردته هيئة الإذاعة البريطانية.

وفي خطوة، من قبل الرئيس الأميركي، اعتبرها المحللون الاستراتيجيون محاولة من قبله لمراضاة فرنسا، قال الرئيس بايدن: “نتطلع للعمل بشكل وثيق مع فرنسا وشركاء رئيسيين آخرين في هذه المنطقه الاستراتيجية… وأضاف أن باريس شريك وحليف أساسي” (لواشنطن)، بحسب ما نقلت وكالة الصحافة الفرنسية.

ومن نافل القول أيضاً إن العديد من المسؤولين الصينيين قد اعلنوا إدانتهم لهذا الحلف الأمني العسكري الجديد، الذي يعكس استمرار تحكم عقلية الحرب الباردة بسياسات الولايات المتحدة وبريطانيا (التي لم تعد عظمى)، وتؤجج الصراع في بحار الصين والبحار والمحيطات القريبة من الصين وروسيا معاً وتزيد سباق التسلح بشكل كبير جداً، كما صرح الناطق باسم وزارة الخارجية الصينية، شاو لي جيان، الذي قال: “إنّ هذا (الحلف) يقوّض بشكل جدي السلام والاستقرار الاقليميين (يعني في منطقة بحار الصين وآسيا) ويزيد من حدة سباق التسلح”.

إذن فها هي الولايات المتحدة الأميركية تتعامل مع الدولة النووية العظمى، فرنسا، والعضو في حلف شمال الأطلسي منذ تأسيسه، تتعامل معها وكأنها أقلّ من جمهورية موز. لا بل على أنها ليست موجودة، إذ يقوم الرئيس الأميركي بإعلان تحالف أمني عسكري، بين بلاده ودولتين أطلسيتين أخريين، من دون أن يقوم حتى بإعلام الحكومة الفرنسية أو الرئيس الفرنسي بذلك…!

وهنا يجب أن يطرح السؤال الجدي على إمارات نفط الجزيرة العربية، من صغيرهم إلى كبيرهم، كيف سيتعامل معكم الرئيس الأميركي في كل شؤون المنطقة؟ وكيف سيتعامل مع آمر الحاجز الطيار “الإسرائيلي” في فلسطين المحتلة وغيره في المنطقة؟ هل تعتقدون أنه سيعاملكم معاملة أفضل من معاملته لفرنسا، الدولة النووية؟ وهل ما زلتم تعتقدون أن الحاجز الإسرائيلي الطيار في فلسطين المحتلة قادر على حمايتكم، بعد رفع الغطاء الأميركي عنكم جميعاً، بمن فيكم عناصر الحاجز الطيار؟

إن الجهة الوحيدة القادرة على حمايتكم، هي عودتكم إلى رشدكم والتخلي عن عباءات المحتلين الصهاينة والإميركان وغيرهم، وفتح آفاق التعاون الواسعة، مع دول ومنظمات حلف المقاومة المنتصر، الذي ها هو يرغم سادة البيت الأبيض على كسر الحصار الاقتصادي والمالي على كل من إيران وسورية ولبنان، وجعل ما يطلق عليه قانون قيصر الأميركي لخنق سورية، فعلَ ماضٍ ناقص…!

استخلصوا العبر قبل أن تستخلص شعوبكم حقوقها منكم بطريقة مختلفة جداً هذه المرة وتخلصوا من هذا السيد المنافق إلى الأبد وافتحوا آفاق التعاون الإقليمي مع جيرانكم من الدول الشقيقة ومع بقية دول الجوار العربي ودول العالم المختلفة، سعياً وراء التطور والتنمية وتأمين الحياة الكريمة والمستقبل الزاهر لشعوب عربية عانت من التبعية للأجنبي منذ أكثر من مئة عام منذ نهاية الحرب العالمية الأولى وتقسيم العالم العربي إلى إمارات وكيانات ضعيفة ممزقة.

بعدنا طيبين قولوا الله…

Why’s The EU’s Infowar Outlet Implying A Conspiracy About US Policy Towards The Taliban?

14 SEPTEMBER 2021

By Andrew Korybko

Source

Why

American officials should investigate what’s really going on with this infowar outlet, even if they do so discretely considering how sensitive this provocation is.

The EU is generally regarded as subservient to America’s grand strategic interests, but one of its infowar outlets just surprisingly implied a conspiracy about US policy towards the Taliban by hinting that it might be influenced by a Russian “conspiracy narrative”, as incredulous as this innuendo sounds. “EU vs. Disinfo”, the self-described “flagship project of the European External Action Service’s East Stratcom Task Force” (the EEAS being the self-described “EU’s diplomatic service”) that functions as one of the bloc’s top infowar instruments against Russia, already had its claim about last summer’s Belarus-Wagner provocation debunked by CNN just last week.

It’s now further worsening its already fraught credibility through its recent article about “9/11 And Russia’s Descend From Dialogue To Feeding Conspiracy Narratives”. The unnamed writer began their piece by informing readers that “A closer look at how disinformation found its way into Russian state-owned and pro-Kremlin media illustrate the instrumentalisation of conspiracy theories.” The portion of pertinence to this analysis is that article’s final section titled “2021: The Next Phase – Down With US, Moderate Taliban” where the anonymous author pushes forth what can objectively be described as a genuine conspiracy theory.

They very strongly implied that the description of “the Taliban as moderate, sensible and pragmatic” is part of the earlier speculated “instrumentalisation of conspiracy theories” by the Kremlin, yet this innuendo directly contradicts the US’ policy towards that group. This very strongly suggests that one of Russia’s alleged “conspiracy narratives” is successfully influencing America’s stance towards the Taliban. After all, US officials including President Joe Biden, Chair of the Joint Chiefs Of Staff Mark Milley, and Secretary of State Antony Blinken have publicly articulated policies which imply that the group is “moderate, sensible and pragmatic”.

The American leader explained on 26 August after ISIS-K‘s Kabul Airport terrorist attack that his country was cooperating with the Taliban during the ongoing withdrawal from the country at that time not because they trust one another but due to the group’s “self-interest”. This is the very definition of pragmatism, especially since he acknowledged going as far as having his government give the names of fleeing Americans and others to Taliban members in order to help them pass through the group’s checkpoints en route to the airport. Quite obviously, the Commander in Chief regards the Taliban as “moderate, sensible and pragmatic”.

His top military leader is no different. General Milley said on 1 September that “It’s possible” that the Pentagon might cooperate with the Taliban against ISIS-K. It’s difficult to imagine that he’d ever publicly countenance doing this if he didn’t share President Biden’s implied assessment of the group as “moderate, sensible and pragmatic”. Secretary of State Blinken, meanwhile, confirmed on 3 September that “We continue to maintain channels of communication with the Taliban, on issues that are important.” The only reason why he’d do such a thing is if he also regards the Taliban as “moderate, sensible and pragmatic” enough to talk with the US.

There have been no credible claims that any of these three leading officials have been exposed to so-called Russian “conspiracy narratives” or “disinformation”, let alone are operating under their influence, yet that’s what “EU vs. Disinfo” wants those in its audience who are aware of the US’ policy towards the Taliban to think. There’s no other sensible reason why they’d describe any assessment of the Taliban as “moderate, sensible and pragmatic” as allegedly being the result of Russian “conspiracy narratives” and “disinformation” unless their taxpayer-funded writers were simply unaware of US policy and thus just made a major narrative blunder.

The EEAS should be publicly challenged to account for this infowar product which arguably implies the genuinely false narrative that was exposed in this analysis. American officials should also investigate what’s really going on with this infowar outlet, even if they do so discretely considering how sensitive this provocation is. It’s either a clever attack against their country’s political, military, and diplomatic leaderships by a supposed ally or an example of gross professional incompetence which should result in the writer and their supervisor being held accountable for insinuating that US policy as supposedly being influenced by Russia.

ارتباك اللاقرار في واشنطن بعد الصدمة… وزمام المبادرة

أيلول 4 2021

 ناصر قنديل

لا أحد يستطيع تفسير كلّ حالات الفشل الأميركي والغربي بمعايير الخصوصية التي تحيط بكلّ حالة منها، لمجرد الرغبة بنفي صفة المشترك بينها، وهو التراجع التاريخي للمشروع الغربي وفي طليعته المشروع الأميركي. فالمعادلة التاريخية سياق وليست حدثاً منفصلاً يليه حدث منفصل تفسرهما الخصوصية، وثمة مسار بين نهاية الحرب العالمية الثانية والانسحاب من أفغانستان وبينهما سقوط جدار برلين يحكي حكاية تراجع مسار السيطرة، حيث الأميركي الذي كان يمثل 6% من سكان العالم ويستحوذ على 50% من ثرواته، وصار عام 1990 يمثل 4% من سكان العالم ويستحوذ على 40% من الثورات، هو اليوم أقل من 3% من سكان العالم ويستحوذ على أقل من 30% ثروات العالم. والأميركي الذي أنهى التحالف النازي الذي قادته ألمانيا بالشراكة مع الاتحاد السوفياتي، ثم أنهى الاتحاد السوفياتي وتفرد في حكم العالم، أمضى عقدين من الفشل والتراجع في كل الحروب التي خاضها في محاولة فرض نموذجه كمثال عالمي أحادي يمثل نهاية التاريخ، وهو لا يملك اليوم سبيلاً سياسياً أو عسكرياً للخروج من هذا الفشل، والفشل في أفغانستان يختصر هذا العجز، حيث السبيل السياسي انتهى بالفشل، والسبيل العسكري لن يحل شيئاً ولو بقي لعشرين عاماً أخرى كما قال جو بايدن، والبديل الثالث هو الذهاب لتفاهمات دولية كبرى تمنح الخصوم الكبار انتصارات كبرى، أو الدخول في مسلسل عنوانه العناد على البقاء منعاً لذل الهزيمة، وانتقاماً لصورة الهروب الكبير من أفغانستان، أو الانسحابات المتلاحقة وصولاً لمزيد من الفراغ يملأه الخصوم المحليون أو الإقليميون أو الدوليون، منفردين أو مجتمعين، كما يقول مثال أفغانستان أيضاً.

يتداخل في الوضعية الأميركية والغربية، على رغم الكلام الانفعالي الأوروبي وأوهام الانفراد العسكري والسياسي، كل شيء، فالغرب كله أمام خطر الهزيمة الإستراتيجية، لأن ساحة المعركة هي آسيا، وفي آسيا أكثر من نصف سكان العالم وأكثر من نصف مساحته وأكثر من نصف ثرواته وأكثر من نصف قوته العسكرية، وجوهر عنوان المعركة هو استقلال آسيا، التي تنتمي اليها كل دول وقوى المواجهة مع أميركا والمشروع الغربي على تنوعها، ولا ينتمي إليها أي من دول الغرب، ولذلك فالغرب بقيادة الأميركي يخوض مواجهة يائسة من الخارج مع نضوج ونمو قوى الداخل الآسيوي سياسياً واقتصادياً وعسكرياً وشعبياً لمعركة الاستقلال، واختلال التوازن لصالحها، وأفغانستان ليست إلا العينة الصغرى لهذه المعركة، ولم يعد ممكناً للأميركي بعد أفغانستان إلا الاختيار بين مواجهة قد تتصاعد نحو حرب، تحت شعار استعادة الهيبة المجروحة في أفغانستان، ووقف مسلسل الانهيارات، أو مواصلة الانكفاء والتراجع تفادياً للمواجهة، والاختبار هو في العراق وسورية، وفي هذه الحال سيكون أمام مواجهة مع قوى ودول ليس عندها مجال للتهاون مع بقاء القوات الأميركية وليس لديها الاستعداد لمنح الأميركي جوائز ترضية كثمن للانسحاب، ما يعني أن الشهور المقبلة ستحمل تصاعداً تدريجياً في المواجهة، وصولاً إلى انفجارها بصورة دراماتيكية بمجرد انكشاف صورة القرار الأميركي برفض الانسحاب، بعد نهاية المهلة المعقولة لاحتواء نتائج الانسحاب من أفغانستان، وفي هذه المواجهة التي ستتحول إلى حرب، أمام الأميركي ومن خلفه حلفائه في الغرب فرضية كان قد ناقشها مراراً، وهي أن أي خيار مواجهة يعني فرضية حرب كبرى، قد تشترك فيها دول كثيرة في المنطقة وخارج المنطقة، لكن الأخطر فيها هو أن «إسرائيل» ستصبح ميدان الرمي الحر في هذه الحرب، وهو ما سبق وقاله الرئيس الأميركي السابق باراك أوباما في حوار مع صحيفة «هآرتز» عام 2012 في تفسيره لسبب عدم تكرار نموذج ليبيا، مع سورية، وكل شيء يقول إن «إسرائيل» لن تستطيع الصمود وجودياً إذا واجهت هذه الفرضية في أي حرب مقبلة.

البديل المتاح هو مواصلة الانكفاء، والانكفاء الذي بدأ في أفغانستان قدم مثالاً، فهو بدأ بتفاوض لعام كامل مع حركة طالبان بشراكة حليف موثوق لواشنطن هو دولة قطر، وانتهى إلى تفاهم على حكومة شراكة بين طالبان والنظام الذي أقامه الأميركيون في كابول، يحميها توازن عسكري يمثله الجيش الذي قاموا ببنائه مقابل مقدرات طالبان العسكرية، لكن كل شيء تهاوى عندما بدأوا الانسحاب، فتقدمت طالبان وتفكك نظام أشرف غني وجيشه وهرب الرئيس وأركان حربه، ثم ذهب الأميركي إلى الخطة (ب) والتي تقوم على الانخراط مع طالبان بتفاهمات تقطع الطريق على خصوم واشنطن الكبار، روسيا والصين وإيران، وتحرمهم من الوقوف على خط الرابحين، لكن الأمور سارت سريعاً باتجاه مخالف، فروسيا ضامن ضروري لحسم طالبان مع أحمد مسعود الذي يدعمه بعض الغرب وينغص على طالبان نصرها بحكم محورية دورها في طاجكستان، وإيران مصدر الضرورات الحياتية اليومية لأفغانستان من محروقات ولحوم وخضار وطحين، والصين هي دولة التمويل المتاح بسخاء لإنعاش الاقتصاد وشق الطرق وسكك الحديد وخطوط نقل الطاقة واستكشاف واستخراج الثورات المعدنية وتطوير صناعاتها، كما قال قادة طالبان علناً، وإذا كرر الأميركي تجربة الانكفاء في حالتي سورية والعراق كما فعل في أفغانستان، ستنهار التشكيلات التي بناها في البلدين بأسرع من انهيار حكومة غني وجيشه، وسيتقدم الروسي والصيني والإيراني أسرع مما يتقدمون في أفغانستان، والأخطر هو أن محور المقاومة الذي يمثل القوى المحلية الصاعدة سيمسك بزمام المبادرة في الإقليم وسيضع أمن كيان الاحتلال في دائرة الخطر عاجلاً أم آجلاً.

لبنان في قلب هذا الارتباك الأميركي في الخيارات، وفي قلب محاولة محور المقاومة الإمساك بزمام المبادرة، كما يقول اختبار سفن المحروقات الإيرانية، الذي أطلقته المقاومة، غداة الانسحاب من أفغانستان، يسرع حسم الخيارات الأميركية، ويجعل معادلة خاسر خاسر أسرع بالنسبة للأميركيين بعد رهانات لسنوات على إسقاط لبنان على رأس المقاومة، وإظهار المقاومة سبباً لكل ما لحق ويلحق بلبنان، وإذا بواشنطن تظهر وهي تعلن أنها ستفك بعضاً من حصارها لتنافس المقاومة على صورة من يخفف المعاناة، وكانها تعترف بأن هذا الحصار هو السبب الرئيسي للأزمات، ولكنها تصيب حلفاءها بالذهول لتجنبها خيار المواجهة، واعتمادها طريق المنافسة على حلول لأزمات كانت هي المسبب الرئيسي لها.

فيديوات متعلقة

فيديوات متعلقة

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.

Comment by Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova on the meeting of the so-called Crimea Platform in Kiev

August 25, 2021

Comment by Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova on the meeting of the so-called Crimea Platform in Kiev

https://www.mid.ru/en/main_en

We have taken note of an event that was held in Kiev on August 23 and was entitled a “Crimea Platform Summit.” The stated aim of this political project, developed with active involvement of government experts from the United States, the UK and the European Union and funded by the United States Agency for International Development, is “the de-occupation of Crimea and its reintegration with Ukraine.”

The participants involved are just right for this goal – mainly being NATO countries and some international organisations sharing a common delusion that the Crimean Peninsula should be part of the current Ukrainian state and that it can be torn away from the Russian Federation by increasing political and economic pressure on Russia.

In this regard, we would like to point out the following.

The matter of Crimea’s reunification with the Russian Federation was settled in March 2014.This hard-won decision was made by the local residents themselves in a referendum that followed the unconstitutional coup d’etat in Kiev in February 2014. This way Crimeans could remain true to their history, to their Russian culture, the right to speak their native languages, including Ukrainian and Crimean Tatar, and at the same time avoid the dangers of the punitive operation and civil war, which was later unleashed by the Kiev regime in Donbass, as well as the Nazi-like atrocities that Odessa residents suffered in May 2014.

With this background, Ukraine’s new idea is pure populism, a political show outside of reality with the sole aim of keeping the story of Crimea’s temporary period as a region of Ukraine afloat in the public discourse.

At the same time, as we have already warned, we will have to view the participation of certain countries, international organisations and their representatives in the Crimea Platform initiative as an encroachment on the Russian Federation’s territorial integrity, which will have an inevitable impact on our relations.

There is also something else. The final declaration of the “summit” calls on the Russian Federation to “engage” in the “Crimea Platform” activities. We do not see any possibility of participating in this political act due to its cynical anti-Russia nature.

At the same time, we are fully open to interaction with all our international partners in unleashing the unique potential of the Russian Crimea. To do this, we invite our foreign friends to the peninsula to participate in truly Crimean platforms for economic, humanitarian and cultural cooperation.

Al-Assad: Extremism Tied to EU’s Failed Policies in Middle East

22 Aug 2021

Source: Al Mayadeen

Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad discusses recent developments in Syria and the region with European Parliament Member, Thierry Mariani, and his accompanying delegation.

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Syrian President Bashar al-Assad attributes spread of extremism to the European Union’s ‘failed policies’ in the Middle East. 

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad stated that the Syrian people have found new ways to overcome the odds.

SANA news agency tweets: Al-Assad delivered his speech after being greeted by Thierry Mariani, a member of the European Parliament and a member of the French National Rally party, as well as a delegation accompanying him.

During the meeting, a discussion on the developments of the situation in Syria and the region took place. Al-Assad answered the delegation members’ questions about the situation and the difficult conditions experienced by Syrians as a result of the sanctions and the unjust siege imposed on them. He noted that despite all the troubles this sieges afflicts on all aspects of life, the Syrian people are resilient.

President al-Assad considered it necessary to have a dialogue at parliamentary, intellectual and cultural levels to analyze and understand the developments and changes taking place in the region and the world. He emphasized the importance of parliamentary and cultural delegations visiting Syria and the region to see things as they are, and to be able to link political statements to the current situation. Such dialogue is important because as Europe grapples with the refugee crisis, terrorism and extremism seem to be the result of its failed policies in the Middle East.

The discussion touched on the role of nationalism in the Arab region, identity, and the relationship between religion and politics, as well as the major challenges confronting nations as a result of extremism that has infiltrated many societies, including European ones. This spread of extremism comes as a result of the EU’s failure to develop appropriate policies to ensure immigrants’ integration into Europe while preserving their original identity.

How Russia-China are stage-managing the Taliban

August 18, 2021

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By Pepe Escobar: The Saker Blog and cross-posted at the Unz Review.

The first Taliban press conference after this weekend’s Saigon moment geopolitical earthquake, conducted by spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid, was in itself a game-changer.

The contrast could not be starker with those rambling pressers at the Taliban embassy in Islamabad after 9/11 and before the start of the American bombing – proving this is an entirely new political animal.

Yet some things never change. English translations remain atrocious.

Here is a good summary of the key Taliban statements, and

here (in Russian) is a very detailed roundup.

These are the key takeaways.

– No problem for women to get education all the way to college, and to continue to work. They just need to wear the hijab (like in Qatar or Iran). No need to wear a burqa. The Taliban insists, “all women’s rights will be guaranteed within the limits of Islamic law.”

– The Islamic Emirate “does not threaten anyone” and will not treat anyone as enemies. Crucially, revenge – an essential plank of the Pashtunwali code – will be abandoned, and that’s unprecedented. There will be a general amnesty – including people who worked for the former NATO-aligned system. Translators, for instance, won’t be harassed, and don’t need to leave the country.

– Security of foreign embassies and international organizations “is a priority.” Taliban special security forces will protect both those leaving Afghanistan and those who remain.

– A strong inclusive Islamic government will be formed. “Inclusive” is code for the participation of women and Shi’ites.

– Foreign media will continue to work undisturbed. The Taliban government will allow public criticism and debate. But “freedom of speech in Afghanistan must be in line with Islamic values.”

– The Islamic Emirate of Taliban wants recognition from the “international community” – code for NATO. The overwhelming majority of Eurasia and the Global South will recognize it anyway. It’s essential to note, for example, the closer integration of the expanding SCO – Iran is about to become a full member, Afghanistan is an observer – with ASEAN: the absolute majority of Asia will not shun the Taliban.

For the record, they also stated that the Taliban took all of Afghanistan in only 11 days: that’s pretty accurate. They stressed “very good relations with Pakistan, Russia and China.” Yet the Taliban don’t have formal allies and are not part of any military-political bloc. They definitely “won’t allow Afghanistan to become a safe haven for international terrorists”. That’s code for ISIS/Daesh.

On the key issue of opium/heroin: the Taliban will ban their production. So, for all practical purposes, the CIA heroin rat line is dead.

As eyebrow raising as these statements may be, the Taliban did not even get into detail on economic/infrastructure development deals – as they will need a lot of new industries, new jobs and improved Eurasian-wide trade relations. That will be announced later.

The go-to Russian guy

Sharp US observers are remarking, half in jest, that the Taliban in only one sitting answered more real questions from US media than POTUS since January.

What this first press conference reveals is how the Taliban are fast absorbing essential P.R. and media lessons from Moscow and Beijing, emphasizing ethnic harmony, the role of women, the role of diplomacy, and deftly defusing in a single move all the hysteria raging across NATOstan.

The next bombshell step in the P.R. wars will be to cut off the lethal, evidence-free Taliban-9/11 connection; afterwards the “terrorist organization” label will disappear, and the Taliban as a political movement will be fully legitimized.

Moscow and Beijing are meticulously stage-managing the Taliban reinsertion in regional and global geopolitics. This means that ultimately the SCO is stage-managing the whole process, applying a consensus reached after a series of ministerial and leaders meetings, leading to a very important summit next month in Dushanbe.

The key player the Taliban are talking to is Zamir Kabulov, Russia’s special presidential envoy for Afghanistan. In yet another debunking of NATOstan narrative, Kabulov confirmed, for instance, “we see no direct threat to our allies in Central Asia. There are no facts proving otherwise.”

The Beltway will be stunned to learn that Zabulov has also revealed, “we have long been in talks with the Taliban on the prospects for development after their capture of power and they have repeatedly confirmed that they have no extraterritorial ambition, they learned the lessons of 2000.” These contacts were established “over the past 7 years.”

Zabulov reveals plenty of nuggets when it comes to Taliban diplomacy: “If we compare the negotiability of colleagues and partners, the Taliban have long seemed to me much more negotiable than the puppet Kabul government. We proceed from the premise that the agreements must be implemented. So far, with regard to the security of the embassy and the security of our allies in Central Asia, the Taliban have respected the agreements.”

Faithful to its adherence to international law, and not the “rules-based international order”, Moscow is always keen to emphasize the responsibility of the UN Security Council: “We must make sure that the new government is ready to behave conditionally, as we say, in a civilized manner. That’s when this point of view becomes common to all, then the procedure [of removing the qualification of the Taliban as a terrorist organization] will begin.”

So while the US/EU/NATO flee Kabul in spasms of self-inflicted panic, Moscow practices – what else – diplomacy. Zabulov: “That we have prepared the ground for a conversation with the new government in Afghanistan in advance is an asset of Russian foreign policy.”

Dmitry Zhirnov, Russia’s ambassador to Afghanistan, is working overtime with the Taliban. He met a senior Taliban security official yesterday. The meeting was “positive, constructive…The Taliban movement has the most friendly; the best policy towards Russia… He arrived alone in one vehicle, with no guards.”

Both Moscow and Beijing have no illusions that the West is already deploying Hybrid War tactics to discredit and destabilize a government that isn’t even formed and hasn’t even started working. No wonder Chinese media is describing Washington as a “strategic rogue.”

What matters is that Russia-China are way ahead of the curve, cultivating parallel inside tracks of diplomatic dialogue with the Taliban. It’s always crucial to remember that Russia harbors 20 million Muslims, and China at least 35 million. These will be called to support the immense project of Afghan reconstruction – and full Eurasia reintegration.

The Chinese saw it coming

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi saw it coming weeks ago. And that explains the meeting in Tianjin in late July, when he hosted a high-level Taliban delegation, led by Mullah Baradar, de facto conferring them total political legitimacy. Beijing already knew the Saigon moment was inevitable. Thus the statement stressing China expected to “play an important role in the process of peaceful reconciliation and reconstruction in Afghanistan”.

What this means in practice is China will be a partner of Afghanistan on infrastructure investment, via Pakistan, incorporating it into an expanded China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) bound to diversify connectivity channels with Central Asia. The New Silk Road corridor from Xinjiang to the port of Gwadar in the Arabian Sea will branch out: the first graphic illustration is Chinese construction of the ultra-strategic Peshawar-Kabul highway.

The Chinese are also building a major road across the geologically spectacular, deserted Wakhan corridor from western Xinjiang all the way to Badakhshan province, which incidentally, is now under total Taliban control.

The trade off is quite straightforward: the Taliban should allow no safe haven for the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM), and no interference in Xinjiang.

The overall trade/security combo looks like a certified win-win. And we’re not even talking about future deals allowing China to exploit Afghanistan’s immense mineral wealth.

Once again, the Big Picture reads like the Russia-China double helix, connected to all the “stans” as well as Pakistan, drawing a comprehensive game plan/road map for Afghanistan. In their multiple contacts with both Russians and Chinese, the Taliban seem to have totally understood how to profit from their role in the New Great Game.

The extended New Axis of Evil

Imperial Hybrid War tactics to counteract the scenario are inevitable. Take the first proclamation of a Northern Alliance “resistance”, in theory led by Ahmad Masoud, the son of the legendary Lion of the Panjshir killed by al-Qaeda two days before 9/11.

I met Masoud father – an icon. Afghan insider info on Masoud son is not exactly flattering. Yet he’s already a darling of woke Europeans, complete with a glamour pose for AFP, an impromptu visit in the Panjshir by professional philosopher swindler Bernard-Henri Levy, and the release of a manifesto of sorts published in several European newspapers, exhibiting all the catchphrases: “tyranny”, “slavery”, “vendetta”, “martyred nation”, “Kabul screams”, “nation in chains”, etc.

The whole set up smells like a “son of Shah” [of Iran] gambit. Masoud son and his mini-militia are completely surrounded in the Panjshir mountains and can’t be de facto effective even when it comes to regimenting the under 25s, two-thirds of the Afghan population, whose main worry is to find real jobs in a nascent real economy.

Woke NATOstan “analyses” of Taliban Afghanistan don’t even qualify as irrelevant, insisting that Afghanistan is not strategic and even lost its tactical importance for NATO. It’s a sorry spectacle illustrating how Europe is hopelessly behind the curve, drenched in trademark neo-colonialism of the White Man’s Burden variety as it dismisses a land dominated by clans and tribes.

Expect China to be one of the first powers to formally recognize the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, alongside Turkey and, later on, Russia. I have already alluded to the coming of a New Axis of Evil: Pakistan-Taliban-China. The axis will inevitably be extended to Russia-Iran. So what? Ask Mullah Baradar: he couldn’t care less.

Taliban; a Fait Accompli and Prevailing Common Interests

Source: Al Mayadeen

By Abbass Al Zein

The analysis of the social structure of the Taliban Movement and linking that structure to its military expansion during the past months indicate that the Movement has, in fact, exited the cities it captured, rather than entering them.

Taliban has always been at the core of Afghan events

The truth is that the Taliban Movement has not returned to the forefront of the Afghan events recently; it has always been at the core, ever since the United States attacked this Asian country at the turn of the current millennium. So, it continued to be an influential factor in the country and in the ongoing events therein, over the past two decades.

That is why analyzing the Afghan scene from the perspective that the Taliban is an impromptu case that has emerged during the past months is primarily in the interest of the United States, by suggesting that the ongoing hectic situation in Afghanistan is the result of the US withdrawal from the country, and not of it being there to start with.

Taliban… A national-Islamic movement

The rapid expansion of the Taliban Movement in the Afghan provinces reflects the extent of the Movement’s penetration into the Afghan society, otherwise, it would have faced many difficulties in preserving its gains and maintaining its very existence for 20 years, despite its lack of influence in power in terms of sponsorship or relations.

Here, it is necessary to differentiate between the Taliban and other movements that have emerged in recent years regardless of their political and ideological stances, given that these movements did not emerge from a social status, which subjected them to rapid political and security setbacks, in a few years, and perhaps even in a few months in some cases. And perhaps the “al-Qaeda” organization in Afghanistan is the best example of this, not to mention other similar organizations at the international level.

Upon looking into its ideological and national backgrounds, the Taliban is defined as a “national-Islamic” movement. The Islamic dimension is understandable and clear, but it is necessary to understand the national dimension herein in order to understand the Movement’s positioning in the Afghan fabric, how rapidly its expansion is, and how stable it is at the social level, in spite of all the wars, battles, and strikes it has gone through.

The Movement’s militants, in their majority, belong to the Pashtun ethnicity, which represents about half of the Afghan population and is concentrated over a large area in the east and south. In this context, it is worth noting that Kandahar, south Afghanistan, which was controlled by the Taliban during the past two days, is the second-largest city in Afghanistan. Kandahar’s significance is derived from that time phase during which the Taliban ruled Afghanistan in the 90s of the last century, being the Movement’s stronghold. It is also considered the homeland of the “Pashtuns” since it was the capital of the “Pashtun” Kingdom during some time in the eighteenth century before the capital was moved to Kabul later.

The analysis of the social structure of the Taliban Movement and linking it to the military expansion during the past months indicates that the Movement has, in fact, exited the cities it has captured, rather than entering them. This means that it was there waiting for an opportunity and the right moment to take action, otherwise, there is not any other military and political explanation for its control of 17 provinces (out of 34) during that period until August 13, especially that it moved from the bordering provinces and cities towards the center; the location that ensures a logistical and security weight for the Movement’s militants.

Relations with neighboring countries

The Taliban is regarded, at different levels, internally and externally, politically and militarily, as a movement that is facing a government backed by the United States and the West in general. As for why the Movement is not facing the US forces directly, it is due to the fact that those forces are withdrawing from the country, otherwise, they would have undergone attacks, based on the statements of the Movement’s leaders and on the stage that preceded the February 2020 “Doha Agreement”, when the roadmap related to the withdrawal of foreign forces was announced.

Therefore, there are two routes that govern how the international powers deal with the Taliban and its course of action in Afghanistan. The first route has to do with how close the Movement is to their borders and the impact of its presence there. The second route has to do with the Movement’s political project in Afghanistan, in terms of its relations with the West and the East, amid heated international political “arm wrestling”.

The geographical location of Afghanistan grants the country a very important geopolitical role in this “arm wrestling”, as it is a country that has direct borders with China and Iran and with most of the Central Asian countries, which are within Russia’s orbit, in addition to the American-western interests in it. Based on this, the Russian-Chinese stances regarding the progress of the Taliban in the recent months are approached based on the Taliban’s confrontation with the US influence in the country and the Movement’s unwillingness (and rejection) to establish any political project that is against Moscow and Beijing. To this end, several Taliban delegations have arrived in China in recent months to meet with Chinese officials in order to reassure them about the future of the relations and to ensure that Afghanistan will not turn into a military or security base against China, contrary to what the United States had in mind. Most importantly, the two sides have drawn up a roadmap for Chinese projects and investments in the country.

As for Russia, which hastened military exercises with its allies in Central Asia, its Special Envoy to Afghanistan, Zamir Kabulov, stated last July that the most active clashes are happening in the northern provinces bordering Central Asian states that are allies and partners of Russia. At the same time, he saw that Moscow’s steps are meant to prevent combat from spreading from Afghanistan to neighboring countries. Kabulov discussed this issue directly with the Taliban during their visit to Moscow, during which he confirmed that the Movement will not allow the presence of ISIS on Afghan territory, amid Russia’s continuous warnings that ISIS elements are moving from Syria and Libya to Afghanistan. In the meantime, the maneuvers it has conducted and is still conducting with Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, as well as other countries bordering Afghanistan, simulate the elimination of “terrorist groups that infiltrated the territory of one of these countries.”

These Russian statements and the accompanying practical steps indicate that Moscow’s concerns have nothing to do with the Taliban’s military expansion against the Kabul government, but are rather related to the resulting combat that other organizations and countries might exploit to expand towards the Central Asian regions, which have for so long been a US target in particular. The Russian Special Envoy to Afghanistan expressed this by saying that “the process of withdrawing US troops from Afghanistan should not turn into the relocation of US military infrastructure to neighboring countries,” while describing the Taliban’s control of areas in northern Afghanistan as “a positive factor that provides security for Russia’s partners in Central Asia.

The Taliban has been keen on reassuring Moscow and Beijing in recent months regarding its political project and military expansion, based on its desire to open new relations with them, which will mostly be focused on confronting the US project in Afghanistan and the region in general. Russia and China received these assurances and responded similarly by demonstrating their acceptance of an influential role for the Taliban in Afghanistan’s politics and even offering support to this end. This came in parallel with caution related to fears of chaos that Washington could exploit against them, through terrorist organizations that can infiltrate into Chinese territory or Central Asia.

As for Iran, which has always been accused of having “hidden” ties with the Taliban, its stance is close to that of the Russians and Chinese, in terms of preventing chaos from spreading in the region, particularly near its borders. Iran has expressed, on more than one occasion, that Afghanistan’s security is part of its security while stressing that “the Taliban Movement is part of the Afghan fabric.” On its part, the Taliban expressed its “deep sadness”, in January 2020, over the martyrdom of the “Quds Force” Commander Major General Qassem Soleimani, emphasizing at the time the necessity of “fighting American brutality”. At the same time, it sent similar assurances to Iran during its repeated visits to Tehran, the most prominent of which took place last January, when a Taliban delegation met Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif. However, the process of ensuring the safety of Iran’s mission in the Afghan city of Herat, which was recently captured by the Taliban, 150 km away from the Iranian border, put these guarantees to test, at a time when the majority of the Afghan border area with Iran is under the Taliban’s control.

In addition to Tehran hosting several rounds of talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government, there are multiple indicators that a change has occurred in the relations between Iran and the “Taliban,” after the two had reached the brink of war in 1998 upon the killing of Iranian diplomats at the time. The change in the course of the relations is related to the changes in the Taliban’s structure, framework, and project, as well as the guarantees it can provide inside and outside Afghanistan, given that they are of equal importance to Iran.

It is worth noting that Western reports spoke of security cooperation that came into existence in the last few years between Taliban leaders and Iran, in the face of the United States. In 2016, Foreign Policy reported cooperation between Iran and the Taliban in order to establish a buffer zone on the border with Afghanistan to ward off the ISIS threat and to secure the 572-mile border. This area extends from Helmand Province in the south all the way to Kunduz along the border.

European tension

The United Kingdom was against the US withdrawal, and the European Union threatened the Taliban with “international isolation.” Those are the latest European statements regarding the Afghan developments. In contrast to the Russian-Chinese-Iranian calm in dealing with the situation, the Europeans appear tense and unable to deal with events in a manner that guarantees their interests and influence, as the pressure related to the Afghan refugees in European countries mounts. Therefore, the European stance remains vague, but without doubt, it does not welcome the ongoing contact between the Taliban, Beijing, and Moscow. Similarly, it is not in favor of the rapid collapse of the government forces it backs. While waiting for the last moments related to the political scene after the battles, it is evident that the European countries, being part of the NATO, were unable to impose their full agenda in Afghanistan. The issue is not whether or not they were defeated, but rather, it is related to the future of its presence in that part of Asia, starting with Afghanistan. It goes without saying, however, that the Taliban assuming power after more than 20 years of the invasion, is not what the European countries concerned with this file had in mind.

What does Washington want?

At home, the Taliban is a fait accompli that cannot be disregarded and whose spread cannot go unheeded socially, politically, and even culturally. Abroad, the Movement has been able to impose itself as a regional player, and it has paved the way for those who seek to establish an understanding with it in a way that guarantees its interests and the others’. In this particular instance, it is difficult to say that the US withdrawal came after the task was completed and that it was intended. The questions related to the future of Afghanistan’s political project in several aspects do not concern US opponents, but rather US allies. This is proven through the Afghan facts, statements, and ongoing events themselves. However, assuming that Washington is looking for loopholes to use the Afghan developments for its own advantage and that it has left the Afghan arena to the Taliban, its opponents are sparing no efforts ahead to fill those loopholes, from the northern borders of Russia’s allies to the eastern borders with China, all the way to the western border with Iran.

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The West, Eurasia, and the Global South: The Development of Underdevelopment

The West, Eurasia, and the Global South: The Development of Underdevelopment

August 01, 2021

By Francis Lee for the Saker Blog

‘The dependency thesis, like all good (and great) theories can be summed up in a single phrase: Modern ‘’underdevelopment’’ is not ‘’historical backwardness’’ the result of late and insufficient development; it is the product of capitalist development, which is polarizing by nature’. (Andre Gunder Frank -1996.)

The leader of the UK Conservative Party, Mrs Thatcher, first came to power in the UK in 1979 with a brief to end the post-war consensus which had prevailed from the Labour party victory in 1945. Although Labour lost the ensuing elections from 1951-1963, the Conservative Party nonetheless adopted many of Labour’s social-democratic policies, particularly the economic policies, which characterised the post-war years. The same process was to take place when Ronald Reagan established a similar ascendency in the United States. The Thatcher-Reagan duo was born and was to terminate the post-war settlement in both the UK and the US.

Theories were put forward by economic luminaries on both sides of the Atlantic, but particularly by Milton Friedman at the University of Chicago. The notion that there existed a magic panacea that would banish all the problems associated with the failing British and American economic policies of 1945-1979, formed the basis of the Thatcher-Reagan economic radicalism, which was to be followed by the Blair-Clinton consolidation of the 1990s. The so-called ‘supply-side’ revolution consisted of removing all the controls which undergirded capitalism, and which had been painstakingly put in place during the course of the 20th century, and simply letting the system find its own level. Privatisation, deregulation, and liberalisation were the components in this policy paradigm.

Of course none of this is news; it had been the staple of the West’s chattering classes in the late 20th century. But its effects were more than restricted to the North Atlantic bloc and was to have a global impact changing the political and economic policies and structures of the whole world.

NEO-LIBERALISM & GLOBALIZATION

­In international terms ‘free’-trade as it was known was at the heart of the system – a system, which was later to become known as globalization, packaged and sold as an irresistible force of nature. Globalization was considered to be neo-liberalism writ large. But on the contrary, a more nuanced interpretation was to be put forward by one of the more astute commentators on the issue.

‘’The standard and most popular narrative is of globalization as the twin of neo-liberalism, expressing the market-fundamentalist view that state-intervention is bad for the economy. It is argued that the state interferes too much with the self-regulating power of the markets, thereby undermining prosperity. This perspective would explain why Alan Greenspan regarded it as fortunate that globalization was rendering the government as being redundant. We call this the anti-state narrative. An alternative narrative is actually considerably more germane: an anti-politics, specifically an anti-mass politics narrative. Greenspan’s statement incorporated the conventional presumption that the West has reached the frontiers of traditional politics: politics has lost its efficacy in the face of global forces. As a result, especially economic policy, is now pretty irrelevant if not actually detrimental, because everything is driven by – determined by – the impersonal force of globalisation. (1) So it is argued.

It was of course taken as axiomatic that free-trade – a vital component in the new economic paradigm – was always and everywhere the best policy. This conventional wisdom was to become known as the ‘Washington Consensus’ and was given a legitimating cachet by political, business, and academic elites around the world. However many of the elements – if not all – of the Washington Consensus where hardly new, many date back to the 18th and 19th centuries and perhaps beyond. It could be said that the newly emergent mainstream orthodoxy represented a caricature of an outdated and somewhat dubious political economy.

The free-trade canon is, of course, spoken of in almost reverential terms. It is as jealously guarded by the economics priesthood in Wall Street and the City of London and of course academia. In short, the theory is based upon a type of formal logic expounded by the early pioneers of political economy, viz., Adam Smith and David Ricardo; and in particular in Ricardo’s magnum opus, The Principles of Political Economy and Taxation first published in 1817. Briefly he argued that nations should specialise in what they do best and in that way world output would be maximised. The hypothetical example he used was England and Portugal and the production of wine and cloth, where he calculated that England should produce cloth and Portugal should produce wine. It was asserted, although no evidence was ever presented, that all would gain from this international division of labour.

However, even a cursory glance at economic history, and particularly the transition from agrarian to industrial societies, demonstrates the weaknesses, and indeed serves to falsify the whole Ricardian model – taken as a model of development. The brute historical fact is that every nation which has successfully embarked upon this transition, including most importantly the US and Germany, has done so adopting catch-up policies which were the exact opposite of those advocated by the free-trade school. (2)

In the world of actually existing capitalism free-trade is the exception rather than the rule. Contemporary free-trade is mainly a matter of intra-firm trading, that is to say, global companies trading with their own subsidiaries and affiliates mainly for tax avoidance purposes, transfer pricing for example. Next come the regional trading blocs – the EU, NAFTA, (which was superseded by the United States–Mexico–Canada Agreement USMCA) and Mercosur (in Latin America). With regard to Mercosur there is no common currency as is the case in most of the EU. Thirdly there is barter trade where goods and services are exchanged for other goods and services rather than money. Finally only about 20% of world trade can at most be considered free trade, and even here there are exceptions involving bilateral specifications and agreements.

INTERVENTIONISM

Modernisation and industrialisation, wherever it took place, involved tariffs, non-tariff barriers (3) infant industry protection, export subsidies, import quotas, grants for Research and Development (R&D), patents, currency manipulation, mass education and so forth – a smorgasboard of interventionist policies whereby the economy was directed from above by the state. For example, during its period of industrialisation, the United States erected tariff walls to keep out foreign (mainly British) goods with the intention of nurturing nascent US industries. US tariffs (in percentages of value) ranged from 35% to almost 50% during the period 1820-1931, and the US itself only became in any sense a free trading nation after WW2, that is once its financial and industrial hegemony had been established.

In Europe laissez-faire policies were also eschewed. In Germany in particular tariffs were lower than those in the US, but the involvement of the German state in the development of the economy was decidedly hands on. Again there was the by now standard policy of infant industry protection, and this was supplemented by an array of grants from the central government including scholarships to promising innovators, subsidies to competent entrepreneurs, and the organisation of exhibitions of new machinery and industrial processes. In addition ‘’during this period Germany pioneered modern policy, which was important in maintaining social peace – and thus promoting and encouraging social investment – in a newly unified country.’’ (4)

This path from under-development to modern industrial development, a feature of historical and dynamic economic growth and expansion which has taken place in the US, Europe, and East Asia is not a ‘natural’ progression, it was a matter of state policy. It has been the same everywhere that it has been applied. That being said the Ricardian legacy still prevails. But this legacy takes on the form of a free-floating ideology with little connexion to either practical policy prescriptions or the real world.

Turning to the real world it can be seen, by all of those who have eyes to see, that, ‘’ … history shows that symmetric free-trade between nations of approximately the same level of development, benefits both parties.’’ However, ‘’ … asymmetric trade will lead to the poor nation specialising in being poor, whilst the rich nation will specialise in being rich. To benefit from free-trade, the poor nation must rid itself of its international specialisation of being poor. For 500 years this has not happened anywhere without any market intervention.’’ (5)

GLOBAL ECONOMIC ASYMMETRY

This asymmetry in the global system is both cause and consequence of globalization. It should be borne in mind that the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) are the providers of cheap raw material inputs to the industrial countries of North America, Western Europe and East Asia. In technological terms the LDC’s find themselves locked into low value-added, dead-end production where no discernible technology transfer takes place. Thus under-development is a structural characteristic of globalization, not some unfortunate accident. Put another way,

‘’ … If rich nations (the North) as the result of historical tendencies (i.e., colonialism – FL) are relatively well-endowed with vital resources of capital, entrepreneurial ability, and skilled labour, their continued specialisation in products and processes that use these resources intensively can create the necessary conditions for their further growth. By contrast LDCs (the global South) endowed with abundant supplies of cheap unskilled labour, by intentionally specialising in products which use cheap, unskilled labour … often find themselves locked into a stagnant situation which perpetuates their comparative advantage in unskilled unproductive activities. This in turn inhibits the domestic growth of needed capital, and technical skills. Static efficiency becomes dynamic inefficiency, and a cumulative process is set in motion in which trade exacerbates already unequal trading relationships, distributes benefits largely to the people who are already well off, and perpetuates the physical and human resource under-development that characterises most poor nations. (6)

Examples of these unequal economic relationships are not difficult to find. US global trade policy was openly based upon a ‘Me Tarzan, you Jane’ set up. America’s trade ‘partners’ were somewhat less endowed with both political and economic capital compared with their senior trading associate – this fact provides a number of typical case studies in this connexion.

Agriculture was always a particular example of the double standard inherent in the trade liberalization agenda. The United States always insisted that other countries reduce their barriers to American products and eliminate subsidies for those products which competed against theirs. However, the US kept up barriers for the goods produced by the developing countries whilst it continued to underwrite massive subsidies for their own producers.

Agricultural subsidies encouraged American farmers to produce more output, forcing down global prices for the crops that poor developing countries produce and depend upon. For example, subsidies for one crop alone, cotton, went to 25,000 mostly very well-off US farmers, exceeded in value the cotton that was produced, lowering the global price of cotton enormously. American farmers, who account for a third of global output, despite the fact that US production costs twice the international price of 42 cents per pound, gained at the expense of the 10 million African farmers in Mali, West Africa, who depended on cotton for their meagre living. Several African countries lost between 1 and 2 percent of their entire income, an amount greater than what these particular countries received in foreign aid from the US. The state of Mali received US$37 million in aid but lost US$43 million from depressed cotton prices.

In other grubby little deals the US tried to keep out Mexican tomatoes, and Mexican trucks, Chinese honey, and Ukrainian women’s coats. Whenever an American industry is threatened, the US authorities swing into action, using so-called fair-trade laws, which had been largely blessed by the Uruguay Round.

Such Treaties were little more than a con game between two grossly unequal partners where one of the partners holds all the cards. Nor does it end there. Transnational Companies can and do avoid much local taxation by shifting profits to subsidiaries in low-tax venues by artificially inflating the price which they pay for their intermediate products purchased from these same subsidiaries so as to lower their stated profits. This phenomenon is usually called ‘transfer pricing’ and is a common practice of Transnational Companies (TNCs), one over which host governments can exert little control as long as corporate tax rates differ from one country to the next.

It should also be borne in mind that although the IMF and World Bank enjoin LDCs to adopt market liberalisation policies they apparently see – or conveniently ignore – the past and current mercantilist practices of developed nations. Agriculture, as has been noted, is massively subsidised in both NAFTA and the EU. But it really is a question of don’t do what I do – do as I say.

The hypocrisy at the heart of the problem represents the elephant in the room. We know that countries which attempt to open their markets when they are not ready to do so usually pay a heavy price (Russia during the Yeltsin period and the shock therapy for example). The countries which protect their growing industries until they are ready to trade on world markets – e.g. South Korea –have been the successes, even in capitalist terms. The wave of development during the 19th century and the development of East Asia in the 20th bears witness to this.

NOT IN THE DEVELOPMENT BUSINESS

But the object of the free-trade rhetoric and finger-wagging posture of the developed world is precisely to maintain the status quo. We should be aware that … ‘’Transnational Corporations are not in the development business; their objective is to maximise their return on capital. TNCs seek out the best profit opportunities and are largely unconcerned with issues such as poverty, inequality, employment conditions, and environmental problems.’’ (7)

Given the regulatory capture of the political structures in the developed world by powerful business interests, it seems that this situation is likely to endure for the foreseeable future. Development will only come about when the LDCs take their fate into their own hands and emulate the national building strategies of East Asia.

‘’…markets have a strong tendency to reinforce the status quo. The free market dictates that countries should stick to what they are good at. Stated bluntly, this means that poor countries are supposed to continue with the current practices in low-productivity, low-value added, and low research-intensive activities. But engagement in these activities is exactly what makes them poor in the first place. If they want to leave poverty behind, they have to defy the market and do the more difficult things that bring them higher income and development – there are no two ways about it.’’ (8)

APPENDIX

THE RUSSIAN ROAD.

The legacy of the Yeltsin years had left Russia badly exposed to a triumphalist Western US/EU/NATO bloc. The NATO expansion up to Russia’s western frontiers posed a serious threat to Russia’s security. Internationally Russia was relatively isolated. The socialist political and economic alliances (Warsaw Pact and Comecon) were disbanded, and their previous commercial and economic networks were dismantled. The Russian Federation was excluded from membership of the European Union and was not (yet) a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO). This was the background for the widespread popular support for the assertive policy of President Putin.

But the geopolitical situation was to say the least – challenging. For his part Putin objected to NATO’s deployment of missiles in Poland and Romania pointed directly at Russia. In 1999 the Visegrad countries, Czech Republic, Poland and Hungary, joined NATO and in 2004 they were joined by Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia. All these states joined in 2009. Albania and Croatia joined in the same year. Economically, politically and militarily, the ‘’West’’ had arrived at Russia’s borders.

In addition to its external enemies Russia had an abundance of internal foes. This latter group was a product of the Yeltsin model and prior to this a tottering bureaucratic system which barely worked and ultimately collapsed. It was possible to distinguish two main groups which, for better or worse, undermined the Soviet system, which were identified as 1. The Administrative Class, and 2. The Acquiring Class, to which should be added the black-market entrepreneurs who were keen to emulate their western business icons in addition to the American mafia. Powerful reactionary and criminal elements in Russia were keen to bring about deep-rooted changes at the expense of the Russian people.

‘’Ostensibly the reforms in Russia were overseen by a group of senior state officials headed by one Yegor Gaidar and advised, supported and encouraged by senior figures from the US administration, as well as by various American ‘experts.’ But according to an American scholar, Janine Wedel, the Russian reforms were worked out in painstaking detail by a handful of specialists from Harvard University, with close ties to the American government, and were implemented in Russia through the politically dominant ‘Chubais Clan’. (Wedel – 2001). Chubais was officially reported as having engaged foreign consultants including officers of the CIA, to fill leading roles in the State Property Committee. Jonathan Hay, citizen of the USA and Officer in the CIA, was appointed director of the Foreign Technical Aid and Expertise Section and Deputy to the chairperson of the committee (Anatoliy Chubais) within the Expert Commission. The Expert Commission was empowered to review draft decrees of the president of Russia to review for the decisions by the government and instructions by the Chairman and Deputy Chairman of the State Property Committee of the Russian Federation of the details of privatisation in various sectors of the economy … The memoirs of Strove Talbott, Assistant to the US President William Jefferson Clinton on Russian affairs, left no doubt that the US administration viewed (the then) Russian President, Boris Yeltsin, as a reliable conduit for its interests in Russia.

The US neo-liberal economists Jeffrey Sachs and Andrei Shleifer, and Jonathan Hay, had an unprecedented degree of influence over Russia’s economic policy which was unparalleled for a sovereign state. Together with Gaidar and Chabais they formulated decisions that were inserted directly into Presidential decrees … Analysis shows that the implementation of Russian reforms organically combined an aspiration by Soviet bureaucrats to transform themselves from State functionaries into private property owners, and a desire on the part of the ruling elites in the West to impose their own system of values on their historical rival. It was thus inappropriate to speak of Russia and its neighbours in the CIS as having been independent in their conduct of radical economic reforms, and this very lack of independence was crucial for determining the strategy applied in these transformations.’’ (9)

Be that as it may, the damage to Russia carried out and orchestrated by both internal and external enemies was to push back Russian development at least two decades, if not more. Russia has been described by various informed opinion as being a ‘semi-peripheral economy’ and there is some truth in this, its main exports being raw materials and military and defence hardware. But this was a choice forced upon Russia by the US-western alliance. At the turn of the 19/20 century Russia needed to defend itself from western aggression. There were two absolute priorities. Agricultural security and military security. This was the sine qua non for Russia’s continued survival and development. The mixed economy – a characteristic of the western economic models, was for the moment, out of reach. But then the west started to run into its own problems, so things began to balance, particularly with the emergence of the Russian-Chinese alliance. However, the Yeltsin period which had produced a crop of cronies, co-conspirators, criminal and mafia elements, are still hidden in the shadows, often in very high places. The struggle goes on. La Lotta Continua.

NOTES

(1) Phillip Mullan – Beyond Confrontation – p.36

(2) These economic policies as advocated by Alexander Hamilton in the US. In the month of January of 1791, the Secretary of Treasury to the then President George Washington’s administration, Mr. Alexander Hamilton, proposed a seemingly innocuous excise tax on spirits distilled within the United States of America. The move was part of Hamilton’s initiative to encourage industrialization and higher degree of national sufficiency. In his December 1791 report to manufacturers, Hamilton called for protective tariffs to spur domestic production. Also, Hamilton called for the reduction of duties on goods that were carried by American ships.

This was also the case of Freidrich List in Germany in his short work – The National System of Political Economy.

(3) A non-tariff barrier (NTB) is a policy implemented by a government that acts as a cost or impediment to trade. It is not tariffs on products but rather different rules and regulations that are often the biggest practical barrier to trade between countries. Examples of non-tariff barriers include rules on labelling and safety standards on products. Other types of non-tariff barriers to trade can also be the result of policies that differentiate between national and international companies and firms. For example, domestic subsidies by governments to a carmaker may help keep that manufacturer in their country. However, that acts as essentially an indirect non-tariff barrier to other car companies looking to compete. Governments are also often likely to give preferential treatment to companies in their own country when it comes to government procurement contracts. Governments also buy products from their own industries in preference to foreign companies, these are called procurement policies another NTB. This can be seen as an impediment to free and fair international trade.

(4) Ha-Joon Chang – Kicking Away the Ladder – p.32/33.

(5) How Rich Countries Got Rich and Why Poor Countries Stay Poor. – Erik Reinert. It could be argued that political intervention would be the prerequisite for an industrial policy.

(6) Development Economics – Todaro and Smith – 2009

(7) Todaro and Smith – Development Economics – Ibid.

(8) Ha-Joon Chang – Bad Samaritans – p.210

(9) Ruslan Dzarasov – Russia, Ukraine and Contemporary Imperialism – Semi-Peripheral Russia and the Ukraine Crisis – pp.82-97

Do Foreign Powers Want a Government in Lebanon Today? هل يريد الخارج حكومة في لبنان اليوم؟

Do Foreign Powers Want a Government in Lebanon Today?

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July 28, 2021

Source: Al-Mayadeen

Ghassan Saoud

Reliable sources have confirmed that France wants a government as soon as possible, one that can guarantee three principle things for it.

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The primary obstacle that prevented Hariri from forming the government is non-existent for Mikati.

Many wind up believing the lies they tell, ignoring, in terms of forming the Lebanese government (or impeding its formation), all internal and external talk of the Saudis’ refusal of a government presided by Saad Hariri. Instead, they continue to talk of internal obstacles and of swapping ministers here or there, which impeded the formation of a government for nine months.

When studying the odds of formation as far as the PM-designate is concerned, we need to dust off the many lies that have piled over the primary reason that has prevented Hariri from forming the government: France, Egypt, and Turkey have all asked Hariri to go ahead and pushed him in that direction, and at the same time, the President and the Free Patriotic Movement (FPM) made one concession after the other. It even got to the point where they made ten concessions to help him form; yet, he did not, for the sole reason that he received no Saudi signal that would allow him to do so.

This primary obstacle that has prevented Hariri from forming is non-existent for the new PM-designate. Mikati is not Hariri – the hated in the eyes of Saudi Arabia – and neither is the latter the great power Mikati cannot breathe without. 

Mikati is considerate to Saudi Arabia, tries not to displease it, and would never do anything to provoke it. However, (in contrast to Hariri) he never waited for its signals in his political career. On the other hand, the Kingdom has no veto against “a Mikati government” as it did with Hariri in terms of possible cooperation and finds nothing provoking about Mikati as it did with Hariri, which leads us to say that the first and primary reason that prevented Hariri from forming the government is non-existent today.

The second obstacle that worried Hariri was the removal of subsidies and the severe basket of procedures, which the international community calls reforms, that would have a huge impact on the regular citizen. Most of these procedures are now a fait-accompli, and the Mikati government must work on reducing their severity.

As for the traditional obstacles, such as ministerial quotas and the form of Hezbollah’s representation , these are all minor details that Mikati can find speedy settlements for, should an international decision to form a government exist. These settlements were never a reason to delay the formation or veto it, but they were mere tools used by the local forces waiting for external signals. Most importantly, Mikati is more capable here than anyone else in resolving issues and finding a middle ground that can please everyone, again if there is a definite international decision to form.

The question here is, do foreign powers want a government in Lebanon today? 

Diplomatic and political intel from multiple reliable sources confirms that France wants a government as soon as possible, one that can guarantee three principle things for it:

1- Quick cash for its companies: the French President is late in delivering on the promises he made for major companies benefiting from the “Cedre” finances, which the Lebanese people are borrowing, only for the money to be rerouted to French companies for projects (that no one knows if they are truly necessary). It should be noted that the French Foreign Ministry has for years been reduced to no more than a PR employee looking for projects for French companies.

2- An attempt to close in on Russia’s advances in the region: France and Germany notice that the US is withdrawing from the region and that Russia is investing heavily in Iraqi oil, coupled with its exceptional military presence in Syria and a unique drive towards Lebanon, the first of its kind.

3- Stop the security collapse because of its dangerous political repercussions in terms of Hezbollah’s endurance, the collapse of all other forces, and the loss of the West’s substantial financial investments in the army and security forces.

An additional explanation is necessary here: The French and their international partners do not want a security collapse, but they do want the financial and services collapse to continue, at least until the next parliamentary elections. The US allies’ electoral program consists of only one thing: “hunger, poverty, and humiliation.” They are working hard to pin this on Hezbollah and the FPM so that they can reap its electoral benefits in the FPM’s areas. If they lose this one thing, they have nothing to base their coming elections on. 

The unavailability of raw materials in the Lebanese market, under the direct, close supervision of the Central Bank, will definitely continue, with or without a government. Moreover, not giving depositors their money back, with or without a government, will also continue, and so will the surge in living expenses closely tied to the dollar exchange rate. The cries over the unavailability of medicines need to grow louder now that the pictures of children, the ill, and the elderly have become prime election material.

As such, they want the government to sign deals with them that would allow their companies to get their hands on money for long-term projects that add nothing to people’s lives or living conditions (more useless roads and bridges and dysfunctional treatment plants). They want a government that can put an end to the feeble attempts of some ministers to secure alternative solutions for the unavailability of medicine, electricity, and some foodstuffs. They want a government that can put an end to the Russian ambitions in the port, refineries, and oil. They want a government that would borrow more money to spend on futile projects without any serious work in accounting books, quality of execution, or economic feasibility studies, whilst threatening those who try to impede or modify these dangerous goals behind the formation with silly European sanctions.

In the end, the government will likely be formed: the foreign powers want a government. Hezbollah and its allies (except for the Strong Lebanon Bloc) have all supported designating Mikati and voted for him. The President respects the constitution in terms of cooperating with the person designated by the parliamentary majority, whomever that may be.

Both the President and the FPM will not shoulder the responsibility of standing in the way of all the aforementioned. However, they will prepare for the elections, in their own way, letting the majority that named Mikati shoulder the responsibility for everything his government might do, taking advantage of the opportunity that enables them to finally show that they do not have a parliamentary majority, nor a cabinet majority, nor a power majority. The President and the FPM had some suspicions, but their conviction today is definite and firm: we cannot turn the table, so the least we can do is not sit at it.

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هل يريد الخارج حكومة في لبنان اليوم؟

28 تموز 2021

غسان سعود

المعلومات الدبلوماسية والسياسية من مصادر موثوقة متعددة تؤكد أن الفرنسيّ يريد حكومة بأسرع وقت ممكن تضمن له 3 أمور رئيسية.

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العقبة الأولى التي منعت الحريري من التشكيل غير موجودة بالنسبة إلى ميقاتي.

غالباً ما ينتهي كثيرون إلى تكذيب الكذبة وتصديقها، فيتجاهلون في موضوع تشكيل الحكومة اللبنانية وتعطيلها مثلاً كلّ ما صدر من الداخل والخارج عن عدم القبول السعودي بتشكيل حكومة برئاسة سعد الحريري، ويواصلون الحديث عن عراقيل داخلية ووزير بالزائد أو بالناقص يمكن أن يوقف تشكيل الحكومة 9 أشهر.

ولا بدّ بالتالي عند البحث في احتمالات التشكيل بالنسبة إلى الرئيس المكلف من نفض الأكاذيب الكثيرة المتراكمة فوق السبب الأول الذي منع الحريري من التشكيل: طلب كلّ من الفرنسي والمصري والتركي من الحريري أن يُشكل، وضغطوا بهذا الاتجاه، في ظل تقديم رئيس الجمهورية و”التيار الوطني الحرّ” التنازل تلو التنازل، حتى بلغت 10 تنازلات لحثِّه على تدوير الزوايا والتشكيل، إلا أنَّه لم يشكّل لسبب وحيد أوحد هو عدم تلقّيه إشارة سعودية تسمح له بالتّشكيل. 

هذه العقبة الأولى التي منعت الحريري من التشكيل غير موجودة بالنسبة إلى الرئيس المكلّف الجديد؛ لا نجيب ميقاتي هو سعد الحريري (المغضوب عليه) بالنسبة إلى السعودية، ولا السعودية هي تلك القوة العظمى التي لا يمكن التنفس من دون إشارة منها بالنسبة إلى ميقاتي. 

ميقاتي يراعي السعودية، ويقف على خاطرها، ولا يمكن أن يفعل من قريب أو بعيد ما من شأنه استفزازها، لكنه (بعكس الحريري) لم ينتظر منها الإشارات يوماً في محطات مسيرته السياسية. في المقابل، إن السعودية لا تضع فيتو على “حكومة برئاسة ميقاتي”، كما كانت تضع فيتو على “حكومة برئاسة الحريري” لجهة التعاون المحتمل، ولا تجد في ميقاتي أي استفزاز لها كما كانت تجد في الحريري، وهو ما يدفع إلى القول إن السبب الأول والرئيسي الذي حال دون تشكيل الحريري للحكومة غير موجود اليوم. 

أما العقبة الثانية التي كانت تُقلق الحريري، فهي رفع الدعم وسلة الإجراءات القاسية بحق المواطنين العاديين، والتي يصفها المجتمع الدوليّ بالإصلاحات، وهي في غالبيتها باتت أمراً واقعاً يفترض بحكومة ميقاتي أن تتمكّن من الحدِّ من قسوته قليلاً. 

أما العقبات التقليدية، كالحصص الوزارية وشكل تمثيل “حزب الله”، فهذه جميعها تفاصيل صغيرة يمكن لميقاتي إيجاد حلول تسووية سريعة لها في حال وجود قرار دولي بالتكليف، وهي لم تكن بالمناسبة يوماً سبباً بحد ذاتها لتأخير حكومة أو تطييرها، إنما مجرد وسائل تعتمدها القوى المحلية في انتظار الإشارات الخارجية. والأهم هنا أن ميقاتي يتمتع أكثر من أي شخص آخر بالقدرة على تدوير الزوايا وإيجاد حلول وسطى ترضي الجميع، إذا كان ثمة قرار دولي حاسم بالتشكيل. 

والمؤكد في هذا السياق أن نجيب ميقاتي ما هو في نهاية الأمر إلا نجيب ميقاتي: إذا أشار إليه المجتمع الدولي ممثلاً بالولايات المتحدة وفرنسا بالتشكيل سيُشكل، وإذا طلب منه المجتمع الدولي التريث سيتريث، وإذا لفتوا نظره إلى وجوب عدم الترشح أو رفض التكليف أو الاعتذار عن التكليف فسيفعل قبل صياح الديك. مصالحه في الخارج، وثرواته الموزعة في عواصم العالم، وعدم امتلاكه وريثاً سياسياً يخشى على مستقبله السياسيّ، يدفعه كله إلى الالتزام الحرفي بتوصيات الخارج، مهما كانت الحالة في الداخل.

وعليه، هل يريد الخارج حكومة في لبنان اليوم؟ المعلومات الدبلوماسية والسياسية من مصادر موثوقة متعددة تؤكد أن الفرنسيّ يريد حكومة بأسرع وقت ممكن تضمن له 3 أمور رئيسية:

1. أموال سريعة لشركاته، بعد تأخّر الرئيس الفرنسي كثيراً في تحقيق وعوده للشركات الكبرى باستفادتها من أموال “سيدر” التي يستدينها الشعب اللبناني لتذهب إلى الشركات الفرنسية من أجل بناء مشاريع (لا أحد يعلم ما إذا كانت ضرورية فعلاً)، مع العلم أنَّ الخارجية الفرنسية تحوّلت منذ سنوات إلى موظف علاقات عامة يبحث عن مشاريع للشركات الفرنسية الكبرى لا أكثر.

2. محاولة مزاحمة معجلة مكررة لروسيا في المنطقة بعدما لاحظ الفرنسي والألماني أن الأميركيّ ينسحب من المنطقة تزامناً مع استثمار روسي كبير في النفط العراقي، وحضور عسكري استثنائي في سوريا، واندفاع جدي أول من نوعه نحو لبنان.

3. إيقاف الانهيار الأمني، نظراً إلى تداعياته السياسية الخطيرة لجهة صمود “حزب الله”، وانهيار جميع الأفرقاء السياسيين الآخرين، وضياع الاستثمارات الغربية الكبيرة في الجيش والقوى الأمنية.

وهنا، لا بدّ من شرح إضافي: لا يريد الفرنسيون وشركاؤهم الدوليون انهياراً أمنياً، لكنهم يريدون استمرار الانهيار المالي والخدماتي، أقلّه حتى موعد الانتخابات النيابية المقبلة، حيث يتألّف البرنامج الانتخابي لحلفاء الولايات المتحدة في لبنان من بند وحيد أوحد هو “الجوع والفقر والذل”، الذي يعملون جاهدين لتحميل “حزب الله” و”التيار الوطني الحر” مسؤولياته، ويذهبون إلى الانتخابات في مناطق نفوذ “التيار” تحديداً على هذا الأساس، وهم إذ يخسرون هذا البند، فإنهم لا يملكون أي عنوان آخر يخوضون الانتخابات على أساسه؛ فانقطاع المواد الأولية من السوق اللبناني بإدارة مباشرة ودقيقة من حاكم مصرف لبنان رياض سلامة سيتواصل حكماً، مع حكومة أو من دون حكومة، وعدم دفع المصارف مستحقات المودعين سيتواصل هو الآخر، مع حكومة أو من دون حكومة، والغلاء المعيشي المربوط بسعر الصرف سيبقى على حالته السيئة. ولا بدّ من أن يتعاظم البكاء من انقطاع الدواء بعدما باتت صور الأطفال والمرضى والمسنين هي المادة الانتخابية الرئيسية. 

وعليه، هم يريدون من الحكومة أن توقّع معهم الاتفاقيات التي تسمح لشركاتهم بالحصول على الأموال للبدء بمشاريع طويلة الأمد لا تؤثر من قريب أو بعيد في حياة المواطنين والظروف القاهرة (المزيد من الطرقات والجسور ومحطات التكرير التي لا تعمل)؛ حكومة تقطع الطريق على المحاولات الخجولة جداً لبعض الوزراء في حكومة تصريف الأعمال لتأمين حلول بديلة لانقطاع الدواء والكهرباء وبعض المواد الغذائية، حكومة تقطع الطريق أيضاً على الطموحات الروسية في المرفأ والمصافي والنفط، حكومة تستدين المزيد من الأموال لصرفها على المزيد من المشاريع العبثية من دون تدقيق جديّ بالحسابات ونوعية التنفيذ والجدوى الاقتصادية، مع تسليط سيف العقوبات الأوروبية السخيفة على كل من يحاول إعاقة التشكيل أو تعديل هذه الأهداف الخبيثة للتشكيل.

وفي النتيجة، احتمال التشكيل كبير جداً: الخارج يريد حكومة. “حزب الله” وحلفاؤه (باستثناء تكتل لبنان القوي) دفعوا باتجاه تكليف ميقاتي وسمّوه. رئيس الجمهورية يحترم الدستور لجهة التعاون مع من كلَّفته الأكثرية النيابية، أياً كان اسمه، وهو و”التيار الوطني الحر” لن يأخذا على عاتقهما من قريب أو بعيد مسؤولية الوقوف بوجه كل ما سبق تعداده، إنما سيستعدون على طريقتهم للانتخابات، تاركين للأكثرية التي كلّفت ميقاتي أن تتحمّل مسؤوليّة كلّ ما يمكن أن تفعله حكومته، بعدما سنحت الفرصة أخيراً لتظهير أنهم لا يملكون أكثرية نيابية، ولا أكثرية وزارية، ولا أكثرية سلطوية. كان لدى رئيس الجمهورية و”التيار الوطني الحرّ” بعض الشكوك، لكنَّ قناعتهما اليوم راسخة وحاسمة: لا قدرة لنا على قلب الطاولة. أقل ما يمكن أن نفعله هو عدم الجلوس عليها.

Russian Foreign Ministry on Nord Stream 2, Britain, and US Support for ISIS

By Stephen Lendman

Source

From beneath the Baltic Sea, Russia’s 745-mile pipeline will supply 55 billion cubic meters of gas annually to Germany and Europe.

Nearly completed, it’ll soon be operational despite US efforts to undermine the project.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova (MZ below) stressed that the project “is in full accord with norms of international law, EU regulatory requirements and laws of littoral states” Finland, Sweden, Denmark and Germany.

It’ll greatly enhance European energy security, not undermine it as US dark forces claim.

According to Gazprom Export head Elena Burmistrova, European consumers will save at least 7.9 billion euros in annual energy costs over 30% more expensive US LNG.

MZ stressed that Russia never uses “energy supplies or the transit issue as a weapon and has no intention to do this in the future.” 

Moscow is “committed to politics-free energy cooperation and its development with all countries based on the principles of respect for partners’ interests and mutual benefit.”

Despite Russia’s good faith in dealings with Germany on the project important to its energy security, an unacceptable joint US/German agreement didn’t reciprocate, Moscow’s US envoy Anatoly Antonov explained, saying:

Its “hostile tonality directed at our country fundamentally contradicts the spirit of” what bilateral and multilateral relations should be all about, adding:

“The attempts to present us as an aggressor and a country involved in ‘malign’ activities have long become the calling card of Russophobes.” 

“The threats against us are groundless and futile.”

“We’ve never inflicted our deliveries on anyone, never used our energy resources as a weapon of political pressure, nor tried to resolve by these means any opportunistic goals ascribed to us.” 

“We reject any accusations on that score.” 

“We view these attempts as nothing else but unscrupulous competition.”

“Russia is ready to deliver as much” energy to recipient countries as they wish to recieve.

According to what the Biden and Angela Merkel regimes agreed on, US sanctions on Nord Stream 2 will be rescinded in return for US/German investments in Ukraine’s energy security.

Berlin also pledged to demand that Russia extend the gas pipeline to Ukraine so its US-controlled ruling regime will get $3 billion in annual transit fees.

Germany will support renewed sanctions on Russia if accused of “aggression” the Kremlin abhors by any nations against others.

According to an unnamed State Department Russophobe:

“Should Russia attempt to use energy as a weapon or commit further aggressive acts against Ukraine (sic), Germany will take action at the national level and press for effective measures at the European level, including sanctions to limit Russian export capabilities to Europe in the energy sector.”

Nord Stream 2 is a commercial project. Yet Biden/Merkel regime dark forces continue to unacceptably politicize it.

MZ stressed that the pipeline “will function reliably (by) providing affordable energy to European consumers. 

It will “strengthen energy security of (recipient) European countries.”

Totalitarian Britain partners with Washington’s diabolical war on Russia by other means.

MZ slammed Big Lies by MI5 head Ken McCallum.

He falsely accused Russia of threatening UK security by cyber attacks — a US, UK, EU, Israeli specialty, not how Russia operates against any nations.

No evidence suggests otherwise, none by McCallum.

Like other Johnson regime hardliners, he’s hostile to all things Russia, inventing things to accuse the Kremlin of. No legitimate ones exist.

MZ: If Britain has concrete facts, not “empty talk,” reveal it. 

Otherwise its remarks are baseless like many times before.

“Moscow is guided by the principle of non-interference in the domestic affairs of other countries” — polar opposite how the US-dominated West operates. 

The Kremlin “repeatedly warned London that the anti-Russia hysteria that has been launched in the UK will eventually have a backlash against its masterminds.”

Russian Special Presidential Representative for Afghanistan Zamir Kabulov has indisputable evidence of the US/ISIS connection.

MZ explained that Russia repeatedly raised this issue with other world community member states.

It “provided evidence multiple times…based on (credible) data,” adding:

“We have many questions about unmarked helicopter flights, recorded since 2017, over the areas of activity of ISIS militants” where they’re deployed as proxy US foot soldiers.

Afghan sources explained that US helicopters are “used to deliver reinforcements, weapons and munitions, and remove killed and wounded terrorists from battlefields.” 

“We made this information public and said that (it) should attract serious attention from specialized bodies and all involved parties.” 

“We spoke about this before, and, I should stress once again, this kind of activity was not possible without the knowledge of the US and NATO that control Afghan air space.”

The same thing has gone on in Syria throughout at least most of the past decade.

The US and its imperial partners use ISIS and likeminded jihadists as proxies in Washington’s war theaters.

Russia supplied this information to the UN — ignored by pro-Western secretary general Guterres and his predecessor. 

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

See the source image

July 23, 2021

Source

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!

The Empire is throwing in the towel on North Stream 2

The Empire is throwing in the towel on North Stream 2

July 21, 2021

This was expected for quite a while now, but nonetheless, this is huge news: the Biden Admin has given up on US plans to prevent the NS2 from being completed.  Not only that but, apparently, Blinken wants the Ukies to stop bitching about NS2.

Yet another “ally” betrayed by Uncle Shmuel when needed.  True.  And, tonight, the Ukro nationalists are busy mixing mourning, hysterics and vague promises/threats to “do something about this”.

Still, good news.  This might well be the first time Europe has shown some tiny little balls, but maybe they will now start growing, God knows the EU needs them 🙂

Yet another proof that the Empire is already dead and the USA in agony.

The Saker

160 Academics Urge EU to Ban “Israeli” Universities Complicit in Tel Aviv Crimes

July 23, 2021

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By Staff, Agencies

One-hundred and sixty academics from 21 countries demand that the European Union exclude all “Israeli” academic institutions complicit in the regime’s violation of international law and the rights of Palestinians from the EU’s taxpayer-funded research programs.

This is according to the official Palestinian news agency Wafa quoting a press statement issued by the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions [BDS] movement on Friday.

The academics include the past and current recipients of some of the most prestigious EU research funding programs, including the European Research Council and the Marie Sklodowska Curie Fellowship.

The “Israeli” entity’s latest round of violence, the statement said, was part of its “decades-long campaign of repression” against “Palestinians who are an occupied, stateless people under a settler-colonial and apartheid regime.”

The statement commended an existing policy of the EU which bans the allocation of research funds to “Israeli” entities located in the occupied territories.

The European Commission recently announced that research and innovation activities funded by the union must comply with ethical principles and be in conformity with international law. This, however, has not been the case on several occasions.

The EU should extend “the prohibition of European research funds to include ‘Israeli’ institutions complicit in ‘Israel’s’ violations of Palestinian human rights, regardless of where they are situated,” the statement read.

It also pointed to evidence on “the relationship between ‘Israeli’ academic institutions and the systematic state practices of settler colonialism, and the crimes of apartheid and persecution.”

There has been an “emerging consensus among some of the most prominent human rights organizations,” the statement added, and war crimes perpetrated by the “Israeli” entity are characteristic of a single regime expanding from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea.

In recent weeks, nearly 350 academic departments, programs, unions, and associations, and over 23,000 university faculties, staff, and students have endorsed statements supporting the Palestinian rights or calling for accountability measures to end complicity in the entity’s violations.

The BDS movement was initiated in 2005 by over 170 Palestinian organizations that were pushing for “various forms of boycott against ‘Israel’ until it meets its obligations under international law.”

Tens of thousands of volunteers worldwide have since then joined the movement, which calls for people and groups across the world to cut economic, cultural and academic ties to Tel Aviv, to help promote the Palestinian Cause.

Turkish conflict with United States

Turkish conflict with United States

July 14, 2021

by Batko Milacic – Independent analyst – for The Saker Blog

The events in the Middle East have made a large number of interstate relations of the former “allies” very complicated due to the large-scale operation “Arab Spring”. After the failure of the original idea of creating the Great Middle East, a project in which the main role was played by Washington, in alliance primarily with the Gulf monarchies but also with Turkey, there was a great redefinition of relations within the axis.

Realizing that its interests in the region will not be satisfied in the alliance with the United States, Turkey turned another page in foreign policy, trying to satisfy its own interests, thus at the same time defying the synergistic policy of the NATO pact in the Middle East.

This act was a revolt within the NATO bloc itself. The most concrete results were seen with the realization of the “Turkish Stream” project with Russia and the purchase of modern S-400 anti-aircraft systems from Russia, despite numerous warnings from official Washington.

However, the question arises as to what other choice the Turkish leadership had. The “Arab Spring” project failed, and European leaders were clear that Turkey would not become a member of the European Union. On the other hand, out of its own interests in the war against Syria, Washington continued to support the Kurds and their parastate in northeastern Syria, thus calling into question Turkey’s national interests.

Faced with these problems, Turkey has decided to formulate its own policy, of course paying the price. The coup organized against Erdogan was the best example of how Washington does not forgive betrayal but also neither the change in foreign policy of “allies“. Especially when foreign policy is not in line with the interests of official Washington.

The surviving coup was a good lesson for the Turkish leadership that the United States is a superpower, and that enmity with Washington is costly. This was best felt by Turkish citizens, as Turkey’s economy has weakened significantly, because of the escalation of economic sanctions by Washington towards Turkey.

However, strong pressure from Washington further united the Turks. The lived experience, regardless of the political differences, united a significant part of the Turkish, primarily nationalist opposition, with Erdogan in relation to the United States. Erdogan has begun to pursue an increasingly Turkish-oriented foreign policy. Turkish society, especially its nationalist and secular elements reached the historical peak of contempt for US foreign policy.

Turkey, no matter how economically weaker than the United States, has shown that it is not a small nation that a “big boss” can discipline simply as it has in some other periods of history. The example of Turkish resistance to subordinate its policy to Washington interests is becoming dangerous, because the Turkish example of sovereignty of foreign policy and rebellion within the NATO pact can be followed by others.

Turkish nationalism got a new impetus by merging what previously seemed incompatible, and that is the greatest merit of US politics. With the failed Gulenist coup against Erdogan, Washington showed that it tried to treat this great nation as Haiti, which awakened Turkish national pride and opened the biggest gap in relations with the United States so far.

On the other hand, Russia, which was originally and still is in a geopolitical conflict with Turkey, accepted Turkish sovereignist policy and showed that, unlike America, it wants cooperation with Turkey and wants to treat Turkey without humiliation. In addition to the aforementioned “Turkish Stream” and the S-400 system, cooperation has also been established in the field of nuclear energy.

It is also very indicative that the last war in the Caucasus passed with the coordination of Moscow and Ankara, for mutual benefit. And guess who was the biggest loss of that war? Again of course the United States!

Russia and Turkey have demonstrated in a simple way who is the boss in the region, and that Washington is incapable of protecting its “allies”. This is especially related to Armenia, whose government is headed by a pro-US prime minister, Nikol Pashinyan. Turkey was a demonstrator of force through Azerbaijan, while Russia appeared as a protector, which was another slap in the face for Washington. Turkish society is increasingly mobilizing against the United States, especially in the media. The extent to which Turkish society is antagonized in relation to the United States is best shown by the new Turkish documentary “Dying Empire”:

A Catastrophe Unveils Itself

BY GILAD ATZMON

Pfizer.jpg

 By Gilad Atzmon

On July 9, we learned that Pfizer planned to ask U.S. and European regulators to authorize an urgent booster dose of its COVID-19 vaccine, “based on evidence of greater risk of infection six months after inoculation and the spread of the highly contagious Delta variant.” 

On the same day we also learned that the FDA and CDC weren’t very enthusiastic about the idea. In a joint statement both institutions announced that “Americans who have been fully vaccinated do not need a booster COVID-19 shot at this time.” 

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) also said that “it was too early to determine whether more than the two shots that are currently required would be called for, saying it was confident for now that the established regimen was sufficient.” 

 It was revealed later that day that Pfizer’s emergency booster request was initiated following some catastrophic data from Israel.  

Searching for a clue in Hebrew media sources, I came across a spectacular revelation dated 6 July that showed around 85% of new COVID Delta infections in Israel are fully vaccinated.   

israeli hm's numbers.jpg

 

The above data suggests that while in the youngest age group (20-29) the vaccinated were about 2.3 over-represented amongst COVID infection cases. In some of the older age group (50-59 for instance), the vaccinated were overrepresented by even more than 15-fold. We should take into consideration that in Israel most senior citizens are fully vaccinated. And yet, since in Israel only 57% of the population is fully vaccinated, one would expect the balance between Delta cases in Israel to be shared by a rate that doesn’t exceed beyond a 6:4 ratio between the vaccinated and the unvaccinated.  Clearly this is not the case. On average, according to the data above the vaccinated are more likely to catch delta by a ratio of 5:1 on average.  

 Being slightly suspicious of the above data and its origin, I asked my Israeli partners to trace an official government document that could confirm the above numbers. Within a few minutes the Israeli Health Ministry announcement for July 6  surfaced in my email inbox and it validates the above finding. 

 

The most significant information is produced by the following table. 

health minestry _edited-1.jpg

 The above study reveals that while in February 2021 (31/1-27/2) the unvaccinated dominated the COVID cases by a ratio of 20:1, six months later in June 2021 (6/6-3/7) it is actually the vaccinated who are prone to be infected by a ratio of 5:1. It is the vaccinated who  happen to develop symptoms by a ratio of 5:1. It is the vaccinated who are more likely to be hospitalized and develop critical illness. If Israel was a ‘world experiment,’ as Benjamin Netanyahu presented it at one stage, this experiment is now turning into a disaster (at least for the vaccinated). In Israel, the vaccinated are becoming infected at a growing rate and as such are spreading the virus rather than stopping it. We also have a good reason to believe that the rest of the Western world will witness a similar pattern as it has followed the Israeli vaccine doctrine. 

People like to fiddle with statistics and draw the conclusions that suit them. If only 11 out of the 1271 vaccinated cases develop critical illness, we are dealing with slightly less than 1% of the vaccinated developing critical illness. At the same time more than 2% of the unvaccinated develop critical illness. Yet, since Delta cases are 5 times more common amongst the vaccinated as time passes by, I may suggest that we are facing a possible emerging disaster as far as the Pfizer-vaccinated are concerned.  

I guess that Pfizer scientists understand all of this very well and this is why they asked for an immediate booster approval. 

Update 14.7.2021 15:40. Minutes after publishing the this article this new data came in from Israel. It suggests that when it comes to Delta cases, the Vaccine has no impact whatsoever as the percentage of vaccinated Delta cases is pretty much identical with their representation in society.

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The EU’s shameless complicity in Israel’s crimes

ولیعهد ابوظبی گرفتار کابوس خودساخته - میدل ایست نیوز

David Hearst

14 July 2021 14:43 UTC

Israel works actively, day and night, to quash all forms of resistance and bury the dream of a Palestinian state

A Palestinian woman outside the house of Montaser Shalabi after it was demolished by Israeli forces in the village of Turmus’ayya near Ramallah in the occupied West Bank, 8 July 2021 (AFP)


Two months after Palestinians rose to defend al-Aqsa Mosque and contest the evictions in occupied East Jerusalem, the conflict barely registers on the world stage. Media coverage is sporadic and selective. It’s all quiet on the Western Front.

No one in the EU council reminded Lapid of what Israel is doing actively to tear down Palestinian homes and bury a Palestinian state

Israel’s new foreign minister, Yair Lapid, has once more become the acceptable face of Israeli rejectionism. Delivering the same message as his predecessors, Lapid was given a quiet ride at the Foreign Affairs Council, the EU’s chief foreign policy body, in Brussels this week.

He felt comfortable telling the EU that there was no possibility of a Palestinian state. So at ease was he that he wagged his finger at his European audience. “There is one thing we need to remember. If there will be a Palestinian state, it needs to be a peace-seeking democracy… You cannot ask us to build with our own hands another threat to our lives,” said Lapid.

No one in the council challenged him. No one reminded Lapid of what Israel is doing actively, day and night, to tear down Palestinian homes – with their own hands – and bury a Palestinian state. 

The following is a brief (and almost certainly incomplete) list of what happens in Palestine when nothing happens.

When nothing happens

Mohammed Said Hamayel, aged 15, was shot. When the villagers tried to evacuate the wounded boy, they were shot. By the time they reached his body, he was dead, according to eyewitnesses.

A second boy from the same clan, Mohammed Nayaf Hamayel, was shot and wounded. These were not clean wounds. The internal damage the boy received was immense: his spleen was seriously damaged because of the bullets the Israelis use, which fragment and turn inside the body. A total of four Palestinians from Beita were killed in demonstrations. 

On 29 June, a butchery in al-Bustan, Silwan, was demolished, the first of 20 units that received demolition orders on 7 June. Israeli police fired rubber-coated bullets to disperse a crowd aiming to protect their homes.

On 3 July, Mohammed Hasan, aged 21, was finishing work on his house in Qusra when it was attacked by dozens of armed settlers. They were attempting to break into the house. A group of soldiers arrived to surround the house while the settler attack continued. Hasan locked the doors and went to the rooftop, where he threw stones to fend off the attack. He was shot dead by the soldiers. Palestinian medics and ambulances were unable to reach his body.

Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid (L) talks with Crotian Foreign Minister Gordan Grilc Radman (C) and European High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs Josep Borrell (R) (AFP)
Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid (L) talks with Croatian Foreign Minister Gordan Grlic Radman (C) and European High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs Josep Borrell (R) in Brussels, 12 July 2021 (AFP)

On 7 July, the Israeli Civil Administration returned to the Palestinian herding community of Humsa in the Jordan Valley, accompanied by the military. According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, they demolished 27 residential and animal structures and water tanks. They took all the food and milk for the children, including their nappies and toys. Eleven households, comprising dozens of people, were left in the desert. Temperatures ranged from 37 to 42 degrees Celsius during the eviction period.

More arrests

While this was happening, the Knesset was debating the Citizenship and Entry Law, which bars almost 45,000 Palestinian families inside Israel and occupied East Jerusalem from uniting with their spouses and children.

Without Israeli documents, these people have no health insurance or Covid-19 jabs, and cannot travel. The law failed to be renewed but according to Israeli press reports, every application submitted by Palestinian families will be faced by the automatic rejection of Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked.

On 8 July, Ghandanfar Abu Atwan, aged 28, was released from 10 months of administrative detention, after 65 days on hunger strike. He was transferred to a hospital in the occupied West Bank, where doctors described him as clinging to life. Abu Atwan was arrested 10 months ago and has been held without charge. The Israeli government has no obligation to present any evidence to justify an arrest or detention. He is one of 520 Palestinians held in military jails without charge or trial.

On the same day, Israeli forces demolished the family home of Montaser Shalabi, a Palestinian American accused of involvement in a shooting that killed an Israeli student and wounded two others last May. The two-storey villa in Turmus Ayya was levelled in a controlled explosion.

Meanwhile, in the city of Akka in Israel, more than 200 Palestinians were arrested or detained, in the wake of the demonstrations in May. The mother of one of the detainees told Middle East Eye: “More than 30 militarised police forces raided our house at the break of dawn. They arrested my 16-year-old son, cuffed him and covered his eyes with black tape, and dragged him to a police car. They did the same to more than 20 youngsters.”

Palestinian demonstrators chant during a rally in Ramallah city in the occupied West Bank on July 11, 2021
Palestinian demonstrators chant during a rally in Ramallah city in the occupied West Bank on 11 July 2021 (AFP)

All of the above only elicited one statement of condemnation. It came from the US embassy in Jerusalem over the punitive demolition of a Palestinian American home. It called on all parties to refrain from unilateral steps that exacerbate tensions, which includes “the punitive demolition of Palestinian homes”.

EU-Israel common values

Now, please tell me how Lapid was allowed to tell the EU this week that Israel and the EU share common values. Lapid listed those common values as “human rights, rights for the LGBT community, a commitment to the basic components of democracy – a free press, independent judiciary, a strong civil society and freedom of religion”, along with “fighting together against climate change, international terrorism, racism and extremism”.

What common values does Israel share with the EU? Settler lynch mobs protected by armed soldiers? Illegal demolitions of houses and villages? Shoot-to-kill policies targeting children? 

But what Lapid omitted to mention, and what his hosts did not remind him of, was Israel’s other values: lynch-mob justice, forcible transfer, collective punishment, illegal demolitions of houses and villages, shooting to kill, maiming children and detention without trial.

Nor did Lapid mention that in July, the Supreme Court ruled that Israel’s nation-state law was constitutional and did not negate the state’s democratic character. This basic law states that the right to exercise national self-determination in the state of Israel is unique to the Jewish people. It openly discriminates against Israel’s Christian and Muslim citizens.

His was not a low-level visit. Lapid met with Josep Borrell, the high commissioner for foreign affairs, on Sunday, followed by the foreign ministers of Germany, France, Holland and the Czech Republic and the Nato secretary-general, Jens Stoltenberg. 

What common values does Israel share with the EU? Settler lynch mobs protected by armed soldiers? Illegal demolitions of houses and villages? Shoot-to-kill policies targeting children? The use of bullets that fragment inside the body? The prevention of medics attending the wounded? The passing of racist laws? Israeli citizens are not prevented from uniting with their English, French or German spouses – but they are if they happen to be Palestinian.

Is this what the EU or Nato call common values? None of what the various arms of the Israeli state, their settlers, their soldiers, their police, their administrators or their courts have done to Palestinians in the last weeks is new. 

However, it’s not business as usual.

Dialogue with bullets

The West Bank is in a ferment with weekly demonstrations, as much against the increasingly authoritarian Palestinian Authority (PA) as against the Israeli occupiers themselves. The PA has only further repression as an answer to the basic democratic demand for elections, which the ageing and out-of-touch president, Mahmoud Abbas, will surely lose. Israel-Palestine: Offering ‘concern’ solves nothing. It’s time for a new approachRead More »

The latest warning was given by Mahmoud Aloul, deputy chairman of Fatah and deputy to Abbas. He said: “Do not provoke Fatah because if you do, Fatah will not be merciful to anyone.” This authority has not held an election for 14 years. Is the failure to hold elections for 14 years part of the EU’s values ? The PA is funded by the EU.

The EU continues to look the other way. Those who look the other way are as responsible for these egregious crimes of occupation as those who carry them out. 

I would really like to know how Heiko Maas, the German foreign minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian, the French foreign minister, Sigrid Kaag, the Dutch foreign minister or Jakub Kulhanek, the Czech foreign minister, justify shaking hands with Lapid. An EU statement said: “They discussed the importance of enhancing EU-Israel relations and considered how to address existing challenges in order to achieve this common goal.”

They also spoke about “how the dialogue with Palestinians can be moved forward”.

With eviction orders, bulldozers and rubber-tipped bullets?

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.

Article by Vladimir Putin ”On the Historical Unity of Russians and Ukrainians“

July 13, 2021

Article by Vladimir Putin ”On the Historical Unity of Russians and Ukrainians“

http://en.kremlin.ru/events/president/news/66181

July 12, 2021

During the recent Direct Line, when I was asked about Russian-Ukrainian relations, I said that Russians and Ukrainians were one people – a single whole. These words were not driven by some short-term considerations or prompted by the current political context. It is what I have said on numerous occasions and what I firmly believe. I therefore feel it necessary to explain my position in detail and share my assessments of today’s situation.

First of all, I would like to emphasize that the wall that has emerged in recent years between Russia and Ukraine, between the parts of what is essentially the same historical and spiritual space, to my mind is our great common misfortune and tragedy. These are, first and foremost, the consequences of our own mistakes made at different periods of time. But these are also the result of deliberate efforts by those forces that have always sought to undermine our unity. The formula they apply has been known from time immemorial – divide and rule. There is nothing new here. Hence the attempts to play on the ”national question“ and sow discord among people, the overarching goal being to divide and then to pit the parts of a single people against one another.

To have a better understanding of the present and look into the future, we need to turn to history. Certainly, it is impossible to cover in this article all the developments that have taken place over more than a thousand years. But I will focus on the key, pivotal moments that are important for us to remember, both in Russia and Ukraine.

Russians, Ukrainians, and Belarusians are all descendants of Ancient Rus, which was the largest state in Europe. Slavic and other tribes across the vast territory – from Ladoga, Novgorod, and Pskov to Kiev and Chernigov – were bound together by one language (which we now refer to as Old Russian), economic ties, the rule of the princes of the Rurik dynasty, and – after the baptism of Rus – the Orthodox faith. The spiritual choice made by St. Vladimir, who was both Prince of Novgorod and Grand Prince of Kiev, still largely determines our affinity today.

The throne of Kiev held a dominant position in Ancient Rus. This had been the custom since the late 9th century. The Tale of Bygone Years captured for posterity the words of Oleg the Prophet about Kiev, ”Let it be the mother of all Russian cities.“

Later, like other European states of that time, Ancient Rus faced a decline of central rule and fragmentation. At the same time, both the nobility and the common people perceived Rus as a common territory, as their homeland.

The fragmentation intensified after Batu Khan’s devastating invasion, which ravaged many cities, including Kiev. The northeastern part of Rus fell under the control of the Golden Horde but retained limited sovereignty. The southern and western Russian lands largely became part of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, which – most significantly – was referred to in historical records as the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and Russia.

Members of the princely and ”boyar“ clans would change service from one prince to another, feuding with each other but also making friendships and alliances. Voivode Bobrok of Volyn and the sons of Grand Duke of Lithuania Algirdas – Andrey of Polotsk and Dmitry of Bryansk – fought next to Grand Duke Dmitry Ivanovich of Moscow on the Kulikovo field. At the same time, Grand Duke of Lithuania Jogaila – son of the Princess of Tver – led his troops to join with Mamai. These are all pages of our shared history, reflecting its complex and multi-dimensional nature.

Most importantly, people both in the western and eastern Russian lands spoke the same language. Their faith was Orthodox. Up to the middle of the 15th century, the unified church government remained in place.

At a new stage of historical development, both Lithuanian Rus and Moscow Rus could have become the points of attraction and consolidation of the territories of Ancient Rus. It so happened that Moscow became the center of reunification, continuing the tradition of ancient Russian statehood. Moscow princes – the descendants of Prince Alexander Nevsky – cast off the foreign yoke and began gathering the Russian lands.

In the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, other processes were unfolding. In the 14th century, Lithuania’s ruling elite converted to Catholicism. In the 16th century, it signed the Union of Lublin with the Kingdom of Poland to form the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth. The Polish Catholic nobility received considerable land holdings and privileges in the territory of Rus. In accordance with the 1596 Union of Brest, part of the western Russian Orthodox clergy submitted to the authority of the Pope. The process of Polonization and Latinization began, ousting Orthodoxy.

As a consequence, in the 16–17th centuries, the liberation movement of the Orthodox population was gaining strength in the Dnieper region. The events during the times of Hetman Bohdan Khmelnytsky became a turning point. His supporters struggled for autonomy from the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth.

In its 1649 appeal to the king of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, the Zaporizhian Host demanded that the rights of the Russian Orthodox population be respected, that the voivode of Kiev be Russian and of Greek faith, and that the persecution of the churches of God be stopped. But the Cossacks were not heard.

Bohdan Khmelnytsky then made appeals to Moscow, which were considered by the Zemsky Sobor. On 1 October 1653, members of the supreme representative body of the Russian state decided to support their brothers in faith and take them under patronage. In January 1654, the Pereyaslav Council confirmed that decision. Subsequently, the ambassadors of Bohdan Khmelnytsky and Moscow visited dozens of cities, including Kiev, whose populations swore allegiance to the Russian tsar. Incidentally, nothing of the kind happened at the conclusion of the Union of Lublin.

In a letter to Moscow in 1654, Bohdan Khmelnytsky thanked Tsar Aleksey Mikhaylovich for taking ”the whole Zaporizhian Host and the whole Russian Orthodox world under the strong and high hand of the Tsar“. It means that, in their appeals to both the Polish king and the Russian tsar, the Cossacks referred to and defined themselves as Russian Orthodox people.

Over the course of the protracted war between the Russian state and the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, some of the hetmans, successors of Bohdan Khmelnytsky, would ”detach themselves“ from Moscow or seek support from Sweden, Poland, or Turkey. But, again, for the people, that was a war of liberation. It ended with the Truce of Andrusovo in 1667. The final outcome was sealed by the Treaty of Perpetual Peace in 1686. The Russian state incorporated the city of Kiev and the lands on the left bank of the Dnieper River, including Poltava region, Chernigov region, and Zaporozhye. Their inhabitants were reunited with the main part of the Russian Orthodox people. These territories were referred to as ”Malorossia“ (Little Russia).

The name ”Ukraine“ was used more often in the meaning of the Old Russian word ”okraina“ (periphery), which is found in written sources from the 12th century, referring to various border territories. And the word ”Ukrainian“, judging by archival documents, originally referred to frontier guards who protected the external borders.

On the right bank, which remained under the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, the old orders were restored, and social and religious oppression intensified. On the contrary, the lands on the left bank, taken under the protection of the unified state, saw rapid development. People from the other bank of the Dnieper moved here en masse. They sought support from people who spoke the same language and had the same faith.

During the Great Northern War with Sweden, the people in Malorossia were not faced with a choice of whom to side with. Only a small portion of the Cossacks supported Mazepa’s rebellion. People of all orders and degrees considered themselves Russian and Orthodox.

Cossack senior officers belonging to the nobility would reach the heights of political, diplomatic, and military careers in Russia. Graduates of Kiev-Mohyla Academy played a leading role in church life. This was also the case during the Hetmanate – an essentially autonomous state formation with a special internal structure – and later in the Russian Empire. Malorussians in many ways helped build a big common country – its statehood, culture, and science. They participated in the exploration and development of the Urals, Siberia, the Caucasus, and the Far East. Incidentally, during the Soviet period, natives of Ukraine held major, including the highest, posts in the leadership of the unified state. Suffice it to say that Nikita Khrushchev and Leonid Brezhnev, whose party biography was most closely associated with Ukraine, led the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU) for almost 30 years.

In the second half of the 18th century, following the wars with the Ottoman Empire, Russia incorporated Crimea and the lands of the Black Sea region, which became known as Novorossiya. They were populated by people from all of the Russian provinces. After the partitions of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, the Russian Empire regained the western Old Russian lands, with the exception of Galicia and Transcarpathia, which became part of the Austrian – and later Austro-Hungarian – Empire.

The incorporation of the western Russian lands into the single state was not merely the result of political and diplomatic decisions. It was underlain by the common faith, shared cultural traditions, and – I would like to emphasize it once again – language similarity. Thus, as early as the beginning of the 17th century, one of the hierarchs of the Uniate Church, Joseph Rutsky, communicated to Rome that people in Moscovia called Russians from the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth their brothers, that their written language was absolutely identical, and differences in the vernacular were insignificant. He drew an analogy with the residents of Rome and Bergamo. These are, as we know, the center and the north of modern Italy.

Many centuries of fragmentation and living within different states naturally brought about regional language peculiarities, resulting in the emergence of dialects. The vernacular enriched the literary language. Ivan Kotlyarevsky, Grigory Skovoroda, and Taras Shevchenko played a huge role here. Their works are our common literary and cultural heritage. Taras Shevchenko wrote poetry in the Ukrainian language, and prose mainly in Russian. The books of Nikolay Gogol, a Russian patriot and native of Poltavshchyna, are written in Russian, bristling with Malorussian folk sayings and motifs. How can this heritage be divided between Russia and Ukraine? And why do it?

The south-western lands of the Russian Empire, Malorussia and Novorossiya, and the Crimea developed as ethnically and religiously diverse entities. Crimean Tatars, Armenians, Greeks, Jews, Karaites, Krymchaks, Bulgarians, Poles, Serbs, Germans, and other peoples lived here. They all preserved their faith, traditions, and customs.

I am not going to idealise anything. We do know there were the Valuev Circular of 1863 an then the Ems Ukaz of 1876, which restricted the publication and importation of religious and socio-political literature in the Ukrainian language. But it is important to be mindful of the historical context. These decisions were taken against the backdrop of dramatic events in Poland and the desire of the leaders of the Polish national movement to exploit the ”Ukrainian issue“ to their own advantage. I should add that works of fiction, books of Ukrainian poetry and folk songs continued to be published. There is objective evidence that the Russian Empire was witnessing an active process of development of the Malorussian cultural identity within the greater Russian nation, which united the Velikorussians, the Malorussians and the Belorussians.

At the same time, the idea of Ukrainian people as a nation separate from the Russians started to form and gain ground among the Polish elite and a part of the Malorussian intelligentsia. Since there was no historical basis – and could not have been any, conclusions were substantiated by all sorts of concoctions, which went as far as to claim that the Ukrainians are the true Slavs and the Russians, the Muscovites, are not. Such ”hypotheses“ became increasingly used for political purposes as a tool of rivalry between European states.

Since the late 19th century, the Austro-Hungarian authorities had latched onto this narrative, using it as a counterbalance to the Polish national movement and pro-Muscovite sentiments in Galicia. During World War I, Vienna played a role in the formation of the so-called Legion of Ukrainian Sich Riflemen. Galicians suspected of sympathies with Orthodox Christianity and Russia were subjected to brutal repression and thrown into the concentration camps of Thalerhof and Terezin.

Further developments had to do with the collapse of European empires, the fierce civil war that broke out across the vast territory of the former Russian Empire, and foreign intervention.

After the February Revolution, in March 1917, the Central Rada was established in Kiev, intended to become the organ of supreme power. In November 1917, in its Third Universal, it declared the creation of the Ukrainian People’s Republic (UPR) as part of Russia.

In December 1917, UPR representatives arrived in Brest-Litovsk, where Soviet Russia was negotiating with Germany and its allies. At a meeting on 10 January 1918, the head of the Ukrainian delegation read out a note proclaiming the independence of Ukraine. Subsequently, the Central Rada proclaimed Ukraine independent in its Fourth Universal.

The declared sovereignty did not last long. Just a few weeks later, Rada delegates signed a separate treaty with the German bloc countries. Germany and Austria-Hungary were at the time in a dire situation and needed Ukrainian bread and raw materials. In order to secure large-scale supplies, they obtained consent for sending their troops and technical staff to the UPR. In fact, this was used as a pretext for occupation.

For those who have today given up the full control of Ukraine to external forces, it would be instructive to remember that, back in 1918, such a decision proved fatal for the ruling regime in Kiev. With the direct involvement of the occupying forces, the Central Rada was overthrown and Hetman Pavlo Skoropadskyi was brought to power, proclaiming instead of the UPR the Ukrainian State, which was essentially under German protectorate.

In November 1918 – following the revolutionary events in Germany and Austria-Hungary – Pavlo Skoropadskyi, who had lost the support of German bayonets, took a different course, declaring that ”Ukraine is to take the lead in the formation of an All-Russian Federation“. However, the regime was soon changed again. It was now the time of the so-called Directorate.

In autumn 1918, Ukrainian nationalists proclaimed the West Ukrainian People’s Republic (WUPR) and, in January 1919, announced its unification with the Ukrainian People’s Republic. In July 1919, Ukrainian forces were crushed by Polish troops, and the territory of the former WUPR came under the Polish rule.

In April 1920, Symon Petliura (portrayed as one of the ”heroes“ in today’s Ukraine) concluded secret conventions on behalf of the UPR Directorate, giving up – in exchange for military support – Galicia and Western Volhynia lands to Poland. In May 1920, Petliurites entered Kiev in a convoy of Polish military units. But not for long. As early as November 1920, following a truce between Poland and Soviet Russia, the remnants of Petliura’s forces surrendered to those same Poles.

The example of the UPR shows that different kinds of quasi-state formations that emerged across the former Russian Empire at the time of the Civil War and turbulence were inherently unstable. Nationalists sought to create their own independent states, while leaders of the White movement advocated indivisible Russia. Many of the republics established by the Bolsheviks’ supporters did not see themselves outside Russia either. Nevertheless, Bolshevik Party leaders sometimes basically drove them out of Soviet Russia for various reasons.

Thus, in early 1918, the Donetsk-Krivoy Rog Soviet Republic was proclaimed and asked Moscow to incorporate it into Soviet Russia. This was met with a refusal. During a meeting with the republic’s leaders, Vladimir Lenin insisted that they act as part of Soviet Ukraine. On 15 March 1918, the Central Committee of the Russian Communist Party (Bolsheviks) directly ordered that delegates be sent to the Ukrainian Congress of Soviets, including from the Donetsk Basin, and that ”one government for all of Ukraine“ be created at the congress. The territories of the Donetsk-Krivoy Rog Soviet Republic later formed most of the regions of south-eastern Ukraine.

Under the 1921 Treaty of Riga, concluded between the Russian SFSR, the Ukrainian SSR and Poland, the western lands of the former Russian Empire were ceded to Poland. In the interwar period, the Polish government pursued an active resettlement policy, seeking to change the ethnic composition of the Eastern Borderlands – the Polish name for what is now Western Ukraine, Western Belarus and parts of Lithuania. The areas were subjected to harsh Polonisation, local culture and traditions suppressed. Later, during World War II, radical groups of Ukrainian nationalists used this as a pretext for terror not only against Polish, but also against Jewish and Russian populations.

In 1922, when the USSR was created, with the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic becoming one of its founders, a rather fierce debate among the Bolshevik leaders resulted in the implementation of Lenin’s plan to form a union state as a federation of equal republics. The right for the republics to freely secede from the Union was included in the text of the Declaration on the Creation of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and, subsequently, in the 1924 USSR Constitution. By doing so, the authors planted in the foundation of our statehood the most dangerous time bomb, which exploded the moment the safety mechanism provided by the leading role of the CPSU was gone, the party itself collapsing from within. A ”parade of sovereignties“ followed. On 8 December 1991, the so-called Belovezh Agreement on the Creation of the Commonwealth of Independent States was signed, stating that ”the USSR as a subject of international law and a geopolitical reality no longer existed.“ By the way, Ukraine never signed or ratified the CIS Charter adopted back in 1993.

In the 1920’s-1930’s, the Bolsheviks actively promoted the ”localization policy“, which took the form of Ukrainization in the Ukrainian SSR. Symbolically, as part of this policy and with consent of the Soviet authorities, Mikhail Grushevskiy, former chairman of Central Rada, one of the ideologists of Ukrainian nationalism, who at a certain period of time had been supported by Austria-Hungary, was returned to the USSR and was elected member of the Academy of Sciences.

The localization policy undoubtedly played a major role in the development and consolidation of the Ukrainian culture, language and identity. At the same time, under the guise of combating the so-called Russian great-power chauvinism, Ukrainization was often imposed on those who did not see themselves as Ukrainians. This Soviet national policy secured at the state level the provision on three separate Slavic peoples: Russian, Ukrainian and Belorussian, instead of the large Russian nation, a triune people comprising Velikorussians, Malorussians and Belorussians.

In 1939, the USSR regained the lands earlier seized by Poland. A major portion of these became part of the Soviet Ukraine. In 1940, the Ukrainian SSR incorporated part of Bessarabia, which had been occupied by Romania since 1918, as well as Northern Bukovina. In 1948, Zmeyiniy Island (Snake Island) in the Black Sea became part of Ukraine. In 1954, the Crimean Region of the RSFSR was given to the Ukrainian SSR, in gross violation of legal norms that were in force at the time.

I would like to dwell on the destiny of Carpathian Ruthenia, which became part of Czechoslovakia following the breakup of Austria-Hungary. Rusins made up a considerable share of local population. While this is hardly mentioned any longer, after the liberation of Transcarpathia by Soviet troops the congress of the Orthodox population of the region voted for the inclusion of Carpathian Ruthenia in the RSFSR or, as a separate Carpathian republic, in the USSR proper. Yet the choice of people was ignored. In summer 1945, the historical act of the reunification of Carpathian Ukraine ”with its ancient motherland, Ukraine“ – as The Pravda newspaper put it – was announced.

Therefore, modern Ukraine is entirely the product of the Soviet era. We know and remember well that it was shaped – for a significant part – on the lands of historical Russia. To make sure of that, it is enough to look at the boundaries of the lands reunited with the Russian state in the 17th century and the territory of the Ukrainian SSR when it left the Soviet Union.

The Bolsheviks treated the Russian people as inexhaustible material for their social experiments. They dreamt of a world revolution that would wipe out national states. That is why they were so generous in drawing borders and bestowing territorial gifts. It is no longer important what exactly the idea of the Bolshevik leaders who were chopping the country into pieces was. We can disagree about minor details, background and logics behind certain decisions. One fact is crystal clear: Russia was robbed, indeed.

When working on this article, I relied on open-source documents that contain well-known facts rather than on some secret records. The leaders of modern Ukraine and their external ”patrons“ prefer to overlook these facts. They do not miss a chance, however, both inside the country and abroad, to condemn ”the crimes of the Soviet regime,“ listing among them events with which neither the CPSU, nor the USSR, let alone modern Russia, have anything to do. At the same time, the Bolsheviks’ efforts to detach from Russia its historical territories are not considered a crime. And we know why: if they brought about the weakening of Russia, our ill-wishes are happy with that.

Of course, inside the USSR, borders between republics were never seen as state borders; they were nominal within a single country, which, while featuring all the attributes of a federation, was highly centralized – this, again, was secured by the CPSU’s leading role. But in 1991, all those territories, and, which is more important, people, found themselves abroad overnight, taken away, this time indeed, from their historical motherland.

What can be said to this? Things change: countries and communities are no exception. Of course, some part of a people in the process of its development, influenced by a number of reasons and historical circumstances, can become aware of itself as a separate nation at a certain moment. How should we treat that? There is only one answer: with respect!

You want to establish a state of your own: you are welcome! But what are the terms? I will recall the assessment given by one of the most prominent political figures of new Russia, first mayor of Saint Petersburg Anatoly Sobchak. As a legal expert who believed that every decision must be legitimate, in 1992, he shared the following opinion: the republics that were founders of the Union, having denounced the 1922 Union Treaty, must return to the boundaries they had had before joining the Soviet Union. All other territorial acquisitions are subject to discussion, negotiations, given that the ground has been revoked.

In other words, when you leave, take what you brought with you. This logic is hard to refute. I will just say that the Bolsheviks had embarked on reshaping boundaries even before the Soviet Union, manipulating with territories to their liking, in disregard of people’s views.

The Russian Federation recognized the new geopolitical realities: and not only recognized, but, indeed, did a lot for Ukraine to establish itself as an independent country. Throughout the difficult 1990’s and in the new millennium, we have provided considerable support to Ukraine. Whatever ”political arithmetic“ of its own Kiev may wish to apply, in 1991–2013, Ukraine’s budget savings amounted to more than USD 82 billion, while today, it holds on to the mere USD 1.5 billion of Russian payments for gas transit to Europe. If economic ties between our countries had been retained, Ukraine would enjoy the benefit of tens of billions of dollars.

Ukraine and Russia have developed as a single economic system over decades and centuries. The profound cooperation we had 30 years ago is an example for the European Union to look up to. We are natural complementary economic partners. Such a close relationship can strengthen competitive advantages, increasing the potential of both countries.

Ukraine used to possess great potential, which included powerful infrastructure, gas transportation system, advanced shipbuilding, aviation, rocket and instrument engineering industries, as well as world-class scientific, design and engineering schools. Taking over this legacy and declaring independence, Ukrainian leaders promised that the Ukrainian economy would be one of the leading ones and the standard of living would be among the best in Europe.

Today, high-tech industrial giants that were once the pride of Ukraine and the entire Union, are sinking. Engineering output has dropped by 42 per cent over ten years. The scale of deindustrialization and overall economic degradation is visible in Ukraine’s electricity production, which has seen a nearly two-time decrease in 30 years. Finally, according to IMF reports, in 2019, before the coronavirus pandemic broke out, Ukraine’s GDP per capita had been below USD 4 thousand. This is less than in the Republic of Albania, the Republic of Moldova, or unrecognized Kosovo. Nowadays, Ukraine is Europe’s poorest country.

Who is to blame for this? Is it the people of Ukraine’s fault? Certainly not. It was the Ukrainian authorities who waisted and frittered away the achievements of many generations. We know how hardworking and talented the people of Ukraine are. They can achieve success and outstanding results with perseverance and determination. And these qualities, as well as their openness, innate optimism and hospitality have not gone. The feelings of millions of people who treat Russia not just well but with great affection, just as we feel about Ukraine, remain the same.

Until 2014, hundreds of agreements and joint projects were aimed at developing our economies, business and cultural ties, strengthening security, and solving common social and environmental problems. They brought tangible benefits to people – both in Russia and Ukraine. This is what we believed to be most important. And that is why we had a fruitful interaction with all, I emphasize, with all the leaders of Ukraine.

Even after the events in Kiev of 2014, I charged the Russian government to elaborate options for preserving and maintaining our economic ties within relevant ministries and agencies. However, there was and is still no mutual will to do the same. Nevertheless, Russia is still one of Ukraine’s top three trading partners, and hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians are coming to us to work, and they find a welcome reception and support. So that what the ”aggressor state“ is.

When the USSR collapsed, many people in Russia and Ukraine sincerely believed and assumed that our close cultural, spiritual and economic ties would certainly last, as would the commonality of our people, who had always had a sense of unity at their core. However, events – at first gradually, and then more rapidly – started to move in a different direction.

In essence, Ukraine’s ruling circles decided to justify their country’s independence through the denial of its past, however, except for border issues. They began to mythologize and rewrite history, edit out everything that united us, and refer to the period when Ukraine was part of the Russian Empire and the Soviet Union as an occupation. The common tragedy of collectivization and famine of the early 1930s was portrayed as the genocide of the Ukrainian people.

Radicals and neo-Nazis were open and more and more insolent about their ambitions. They were indulged by both the official authorities and local oligarchs, who robbed the people of Ukraine and kept their stolen money in Western banks, ready to sell their motherland for the sake of preserving their capital. To this should be added the persistent weakness of state institutions and the position of a willing hostage to someone else’s geopolitical will.

I recall that long ago, well before 2014, the U.S. and EU countries systematically and consistently pushed Ukraine to curtail and limit economic cooperation with Russia. We, as the largest trade and economic partner of Ukraine, suggested discussing the emerging problems in the Ukraine-Russia-EU format. But every time we were told that Russia had nothing to do with it and that the issue concerned only the EU and Ukraine. De facto Western countries rejected Russia’s repeated calls for dialogue.

Step by step, Ukraine was dragged into a dangerous geopolitical game aimed at turning Ukraine into a barrier between Europe and Russia, a springboard against Russia. Inevitably, there came a time when the concept of ”Ukraine is not Russia“ was no longer an option. There was a need for the ”anti-Russia“ concept which we will never accept.

The owners of this project took as a basis the old groundwork of the Polish-Austrian ideologists to create an ”anti-Moscow Russia“. And there is no need to deceive anyone that this is being done in the interests of the people of Ukraine. The Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth never needed Ukrainian culture, much less Cossack autonomy. In Austria-Hungary, historical Russian lands were mercilessly exploited and remained the poorest. The Nazis, abetted by collaborators from the OUN-UPA, did not need Ukraine, but a living space and slaves for Aryan overlords.

Nor were the interests of the Ukrainian people thought of in February 2014. The legitimate public discontent, caused by acute socio-economic problems, mistakes, and inconsistent actions of the authorities of the time, was simply cynically exploited. Western countries directly interfered in Ukraine’s internal affairs and supported the coup. Radical nationalist groups served as its battering ram. Their slogans, ideology, and blatant aggressive Russophobia have to a large extent become defining elements of state policy in Ukraine.

All the things that united us and bring us together so far came under attack. First and foremost, the Russian language. Let me remind you that the new ”Maidan“ authorities first tried to repeal the law on state language policy. Then there was the law on the ”purification of power“, the law on education that virtually cut the Russian language out of the educational process.

Lastly, as early as May of this year, the current president introduced a bill on ”indigenous peoples“ to the Rada. Only those who constitute an ethnic minority and do not have their own state entity outside Ukraine are recognized as indigenous. The law has been passed. New seeds of discord have been sown. And this is happening in a country, as I have already noted, that is very complex in terms of its territorial, national and linguistic composition, and its history of formation.

There may be an argument: if you are talking about a single large nation, a triune nation, then what difference does it make who people consider themselves to be – Russians, Ukrainians, or Belarusians. I completely agree with this. Especially since the determination of nationality, particularly in mixed families, is the right of every individual, free to make his or her own choice.

But the fact is that the situation in Ukraine today is completely different because it involves a forced change of identity. And the most despicable thing is that the Russians in Ukraine are being forced not only to deny their roots, generations of their ancestors but also to believe that Russia is their enemy. It would not be an exaggeration to say that the path of forced assimilation, the formation of an ethnically pure Ukrainian state, aggressive towards Russia, is comparable in its consequences to the use of weapons of mass destruction against us. As a result of such a harsh and artificial division of Russians and Ukrainians, the Russian people in all may decrease by hundreds of thousands or even millions.

Our spiritual unity has also been attacked. As in the days of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, a new ecclesiastical has been initiated. The secular authorities, making no secret of their political aims, have blatantly interfered in church life and brought things to a split, to the seizure of churches, the beating of priests and monks. Even extensive autonomy of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church while maintaining spiritual unity with the Moscow Patriarchate strongly displeases them. They have to destroy this prominent and centuries-old symbol of our kinship at all costs.

I think it is also natural that the representatives of Ukraine over and over again vote against the UN General Assembly resolution condemning the glorification of Nazism. Marches and torchlit processions in honor of remaining war criminals from the SS units take place under the protection of the official authorities. Mazepa, who betrayed everyone, Petliura, who paid for Polish patronage with Ukrainian lands, and Bandera, who collaborated with the Nazis, are ranked as national heroes. Everything is being done to erase from the memory of young generations the names of genuine patriots and victors, who have always been the pride of Ukraine.

For the Ukrainians who fought in the Red Army, in partisan units, the Great Patriotic War was indeed a patriotic war because they were defending their home, their great common Motherland. Over two thousand soldiers became Heroes of the Soviet Union. Among them are legendary pilot Ivan Kozhedub, fearless sniper, defender of Odessa and Sevastopol Lyudmila Pavlichenko, valiant guerrilla commander Sidor Kovpak. This indomitable generation fought, those people gave their lives for our future, for us. To forget their feat is to betray our grandfathers, mothers and fathers.

The anti-Russia project has been rejected by millions of Ukrainians. The people of Crimea and residents of Sevastopol made their historic choice. And people in the southeast peacefully tried to defend their stance. Yet, all of them, including children, were labeled as separatists and terrorists. They were threatened with ethnic cleansing and the use of military force. And the residents of Donetsk and Lugansk took up arms to defend their home, their language and their lives. Were they left any other choice after the riots that swept through the cities of Ukraine, after the horror and tragedy of 2 May 2014 in Odessa where Ukrainian neo-Nazis burned people alive making a new Khatyn out of it? The same massacre was ready to be carried out by the followers of Bandera in Crimea, Sevastopol, Donetsk and Lugansk. Even now they do not abandon such plans. They are biding their time. But their time will not come.

The coup d’état and the subsequent actions of the Kiev authorities inevitably provoked confrontation and civil war. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights estimates that the total number of victims in the conflict in Donbas has exceeded 13,000. Among them are the elderly and children. These are terrible, irreparable losses.

Russia has done everything to stop fratricide. The Minsk agreements aimed at a peaceful settlement of the conflict in Donbas have been concluded. I am convinced that they still have no alternative. In any case, no one has withdrawn their signatures from the Minsk Package of Measures or from the relevant statements by the leaders of the Normandy format countries. No one has initiated a review of the United Nations Security Council resolution of 17 February 2015.

During official negotiations, especially after being reined in by Western partners, Ukraine’s representatives regularly declare their ”full adherence“ to the Minsk agreements, but are in fact guided by a position of ”unacceptability“. They do not intend to seriously discuss either the special status of Donbas or safeguards for the people living there. They prefer to exploit the image of the ”victim of external aggression“ and peddle Russophobia. They arrange bloody provocations in Donbas. In short, they attract the attention of external patrons and masters by all means.

Apparently, and I am becoming more and more convinced of this: Kiev simply does not need Donbas. Why? Because, firstly, the inhabitants of these regions will never accept the order that they have tried and are trying to impose by force, blockade and threats. And secondly, the outcome of both Minsk‑1 and Minsk‑2 which give a real chance to peacefully restore the territorial integrity of Ukraine by coming to an agreement directly with the DPR and LPR with Russia, Germany and France as mediators, contradicts the entire logic of the anti-Russia project. And it can only be sustained by the constant cultivation of the image of an internal and external enemy. And I would add – under the protection and control of the Western powers.

This is what is actually happening. First of all, we are facing the creation of a climate of fear in Ukrainian society, aggressive rhetoric, indulging neo-Nazis and militarising the country. Along with that we are witnessing not just complete dependence but direct external control, including the supervision of the Ukrainian authorities, security services and armed forces by foreign advisers, military ”development“ of the territory of Ukraine and deployment of NATO infrastructure. It is no coincidence that the aforementioned flagrant law on ”indigenous peoples“ was adopted under the cover of large-scale NATO exercises in Ukraine.

This is also a disguise for the takeover of the rest of the Ukrainian economy and the exploitation of its natural resources. The sale of agricultural land is not far off, and it is obvious who will buy it up. From time to time, Ukraine is indeed given financial resources and loans, but under their own conditions and pursuing their own interests, with preferences and benefits for Western companies. By the way, who will pay these debts back? Apparently, it is assumed that this will have to be done not only by today’s generation of Ukrainians but also by their children, grandchildren and probably great-grandchildren.

The Western authors of the anti-Russia project set up the Ukrainian political system in such a way that presidents, members of parliament and ministers would change but the attitude of separation from and enmity with Russia would remain. Reaching peace was the main election slogan of the incumbent president. He came to power with this. The promises turned out to be lies. Nothing has changed. And in some ways the situation in Ukraine and around Donbas has even degenerated.

In the anti-Russia project, there is no place either for a sovereign Ukraine or for the political forces that are trying to defend its real independence. Those who talk about reconciliation in Ukrainian society, about dialogue, about finding a way out of the current impasse are labelled as ”pro-Russian“ agents.

Again, for many people in Ukraine, the anti-Russia project is simply unacceptable. And there are millions of such people. But they are not allowed to raise their heads. They have had their legal opportunity to defend their point of view in fact taken away from them. They are intimidated, driven underground. Not only are they persecuted for their convictions, for the spoken word, for the open expression of their position, but they are also killed. Murderers, as a rule, go unpunished.

Today, the ”right“ patriot of Ukraine is only the one who hates Russia. Moreover, the entire Ukrainian statehood, as we understand it, is proposed to be further built exclusively on this idea. Hate and anger, as world history has repeatedly proved this, are a very shaky foundation for sovereignty, fraught with many serious risks and dire consequences.

All the subterfuges associated with the anti-Russia project are clear to us. And we will never allow our historical territories and people close to us living there to be used against Russia. And to those who will undertake such an attempt, I would like to say that this way they will destroy their own country.

The incumbent authorities in Ukraine like to refer to Western experience, seeing it as a model to follow. Just have a look at how Austria and Germany, the USA and Canada live next to each other. Close in ethnic composition, culture, in fact sharing one language, they remain sovereign states with their own interests, with their own foreign policy. But this does not prevent them from the closest integration or allied relations. They have very conditional, transparent borders. And when crossing them the citizens feel at home. They create families, study, work, do business. Incidentally, so do millions of those born in Ukraine who now live in Russia. We see them as our own close people.

Russia is open to dialogue with Ukraine and ready to discuss the most complex issues. But it is important for us to understand that our partner is defending its national interests but not serving someone else’s, and is not a tool in someone else’s hands to fight against us.

We respect the Ukrainian language and traditions. We respect Ukrainians’ desire to see their country free, safe and prosperous.

I am confident that true sovereignty of Ukraine is possible only in partnership with Russia. Our spiritual, human and civilizational ties formed for centuries and have their origins in the same sources, they have been hardened by common trials, achievements and victories. Our kinship has been transmitted from generation to generation. It is in the hearts and the memory of people living in modern Russia and Ukraine, in the blood ties that unite millions of our families. Together we have always been and will be many times stronger and more successful. For we are one people.

Today, these words may be perceived by some people with hostility. They can be interpreted in many possible ways. Yet, many people will hear me. And I will say one thing – Russia has never been and will never be ”anti-Ukraine“. And what Ukraine will be – it is up to its citizens to decide.

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