Balkan Report: Pauvre Serbie, Pauvres Serbes

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March 10, 2019

Balkan Report: Pauvre Serbie, Pauvres Serbes

by Stephen Karganovic for The Saker Blog

In World War I, there was a popular refrain in France and the West generally expressing sympathetic support for their gallant Serbian allies, who were standing up to combined enemy armies on the Salonica front: Pauvres Serbes…That refrain still very much resonates but is no longer exclusively confined to the moral sphere, as it largely was a hundred years ago. Today, it epitomizes the dismal overall condition of the broken Serbian nation (on that subject, more in a later dispatch). For accuracy and clarification it should undoubtedly be amended, or expanded if you will, to read Pauvre Serbie, as well.

Following three serious bloodlettings in the course of a century (World War I, with up to a third of the population missing on Armistice day in 1918, World War II, with three quarters of a million slaughtered in the genocide committed by the Nazi satellite Croatia in 1941 – 1945, and a minimum of 100,000 of the best, brightest, and most able Serbs executed and exiled on ideological grounds by the Tito regime after it was installed in 1945) present-day Serbia is the ravaged land of an exhausted, dispirited, and dispossessed people. Its ambitions are low and its defenses are down.

Serbia today is ruled by a Uganda-style madman and his coterie of venal incompetents. This sorry bunch is manifestly unfit to govern any country (African or European, or even just Balkan for that matter).

Serbia’s current regime was conceived, by all accounts, as a clever stratagem of Western intelligence services in the early years of this century. It was an attempt to politically profit from the leadership vacuum in the rabidly nationalist Radical Party, whose leader had been safely locked away at the Hague, battling trumped-up (no pun intended) war crimes charges. His two main deputies in Belgrade were correctly diagnosed as ripe for recruitment. The “main prize” (to borrow a famous meme from the Ukrainian crisis) in that particular game of thrones was formal recognition by Serbia of the NATO-sponsored “independence” of Serbia’s resource-laden province of Kosovo, with some subsequent collateral benefits such as Serbia’s humiliating incorporation into NATO, for instance.

One of the two turncoats was even lionized as Serbia’s potential De Gaulle, perhaps with the prospect of a drastically devalued Nobel Peace prize dangled before him, and just for the trifle of signing off on the Kosovo land grab, unilaterally declared under Western auspices in 2008.

The false analogy was missed by all the interested parties. For whatever reasons that concern the French alone, De Gaulle did stop the colonial war in Algeria, giving up a territory that had no link whatsoever to historical France and coming under French rule relatively recently in 1830 when in a fit of anger its tactless bey slapped a French diplomat. Kosovo, on the other hand, is the historical and cultural heartland of the Serbian nation and its Orthodox church. There is no comparison. Renouncing Kosovo would not be the meritorious act of a Serbian De Gaulle, but conjures up more precisely the treachery of Mexican president Santa Ana, when he signed the treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo.

A small but by no means insignificant detail that was inexplicably missed by all the geniuses involved.

Hence, as Robert Burns pointed out, even the best-laid schemes of mice and men tend to sometimes go awry or be seriously delayed at any rate. So far, that exactly has been the case with the legalization of the Kosovo robbery, with its booty of mouth-watering riches. After many fumbling attempts, the Serbian regime has so far failed to come up with the correct formula to hand over Kosovo while protecting its back from the fury of the country’s public, all the while dangerously eroding the patience of the foreign sponsors who installed it and expect a return for their investment. They are still turning a blind eye to the regime’s mischief, but precisely on condition that the Kosovo issue is settled forthwith to their greedy satisfaction. (Note might be taken of the fact that all the major and still influential actors of the 1999 aggression on Yugoslavia, which resulted in NATO’s occupation of Kosovo, such as Madeleine Albright and General Wesley Clark have helped themselves to generous pieces of the Kosovo pie and are, naturally, eager to secure their ill-gotten acquisitions.)

ENTREFILET: Serbian “opposition leaders” were caught on Candid Camera in early February taking orders from US Embassy officials at the Belgrade Hilton. That strongly suggests that weekly Saturday street protests in Belgrade and towns across Serbia are foreign embassy coordinated and that “opposition” leaders are lying when they claim to be advocating for the interests of citizens. They are acting on behalf of their foreign bosses and paymasters and their task is to produce internal destabilization designed to serve foreign interests.

Serbian “opposition” taking orders at the Belgrade Hilton:

“Opposition protest leader,” actor Sergej Trifunovic, in his latest role: pow-wow with Embassy officers at the Belgrade Hilton

In a pathetic attempt to test the waters, the regime’s capo di tutti capi may have inadvertently let the cat out of the bag in a recent interview with an Italian journalist when he averred that “Serbia might legally renounce Kosovo, but only if it receives something in return.” In the wake of the popular uproar that ensued, the regime put pressure on the news agencies that quoted from the interview to drop the embarrassing phrase and explained the gaffe as a “mistranslation.” (It never occurred to anyone to ask to listen to the recording in order to easily verify that convenient claim.)

There is not the slightest doubt, however, that the Kosovo noose is rapidly tightening. Matthew Palmer, State Department official in charge of disciplining Balkan chieftains, has just made it crystal clear on March 8 that the signing of a comprehensive treaty of mutual recognition with the NATO-run narco outfit of Kosovo “is the essence” of what Serbia is expected to do, and that was not a mistranslation. There is not much wiggle room left for Serbia’s Santa Ana.

To drive the point home, Serbia’s Guaidos-in-waiting are staging weekly demonstrations (peaceful for the moment) to demand a variety of abstract-sounding democratic concessions from the regime. Significantly, demonstration organizers make no mention of the Kosovo issue, which is uppermost in the hearts and minds of most Serbs. Not to be overlooked, Belgrade just happens to be the location of the headquarters of Otpor, the Western-intelligence funded outfit famous for its leading role in organizing protests which toppled Slobodan Milosevic. Otpor is now renamed Canvas. Canvas is renting out its experience and services to their paymasters around the world, wherever a “color revolution” is deemed needed. By a huge coincidence, no doubt, Canvas was recently detected as having trained Juan Guaido personally in Belgrade as far back as 2005 and boasts of its role in Venezuela on its internet site. Add to that London Freedom House’s ominous “assessments” of the Serbian situation (e.g. “Serbia’s status declined from Free to Partly Free due to deterioration in the conduct of elections, continued attempts by the government and allied media outlets to undermine the independent journalists through legal harassment and smear campaigns, and […] de facto accumulation of executive powers that conflict with constitutional role”), and all the elements are in place for insomnia at the presidential palace.

Not to be outdone, just days ago, after visiting the imperial metropolis for “consultations,” one of the potential Serbian Guaidos, former foreign minister Vuk Jeremic, accused the regime of having already secretly committed itself to capitulate on Kosovo within weeks, hinting that this information was disclosed to him at the highest levels (never mind that Jeremic’s hypothetical regime would continue where the present regime left off). Another Guaido hopeful, Dragan Djilas, was off to Skopje to pay respects to NATO-installed local puppet and presumably his future model Zoran Zaev, gushing excitedly that being received by a statesman of such caliber was an unforgettable “honor.” With Freedom House greasing the skids for “partly fee” Serbia’s enlistment in the next axis or troika of evil, Canvas close at hand to pull off the street job, eager candidates ready to declare themselves “interim president” on Belgrade’s main square, and rumors of a “Balkan spring” in the air, for the beleaguered Belgrade officials a quick Google search for countries without an extradition treaty with Serbia would not be an entirely foolish waste of time.

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The Other Ukraine

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by arras for The Saker blogThe Other Ukraine

Ukraine is a country in the Eastern Europe, which doesn’t require introduction to most readers as it was and still is filling pages of the newspapers and screens of a TVs. Courtesy of ongoing geopolitical conflict between the United States and the Russian Federation there. Some say, this is a conflict between East and West and thus suggesting that it is not just a place of competition between the world great powers, but between cultures and civilizations.

This conflict isn’t new to Ukraine. Ukraine is one of those places, where history never falls asleep it merely takes short naps. After the last nap, which we call the Cold War, history is back in Ukraine, writing new pages full of dramatic lines.

However, Ukraine has a sister. It was on the front pages of the newspapers as well not long time ago and it is also rich with dramatic history. The fate and history of both, including the most recent history, bears remarkable similarity and many parallels. Parallels that I intend to show you.

The name of the “other” Ukraine is Krajina and a reader might remember it as a place in the Balkans, which was one of the frontlines of the civil war in Yugoslavia. Krajina is a part of Croatia, but historically it was inhabited by the Serbs. The name of Ukraine in the native Slavic languages is “Ukrajina” and thus the difference in the name is just a prefix “U”. That’s not by a coincidence. Ukrajina and Krajina are the virtually same word, just pronounced slightly different in different Slavic languages. In English, it means “edge”, “margin”, “frontier” or “borderland” and that’s exactly what Ukraine and Krajina were. They were one of those places where realms, cultures, civilizations and empires converged and clashed. Seems they still are, and because of that, Ukraine and Krajina were not just ordinary frontiers, they were military frontiers. Romans used to call such places as “limes” and in the Western Medieval Europe, they were called as “march” or “mark” – ruled by “marquis” and of the same etymological origin as the word “margin”.

Ukraine was a borderland between Russia, Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and Crimean Khanate which itself was a remnant of the mighty Mongol Empire and at that time, it was a protectorate of the Ottoman Empire. Today Poland and Lithuania might seem like small countries compared to Russia while Crimean Khanate doesn’t even exist, but back in medieval and early modern era these were powerful realms vying for control over the whole region of the Eastern Europe. Krajina together with the similar region called Vojvodina on the other hand was a borderland between the Austro-Hungarian Empire and the Ottoman Empire. These places, were such powerful states, even religions and civilizations met weren’t the most peaceful ones and not very well suited for long prosperous life. They were in the state of almost perpetual conflict and war, because even if realms were in formal peace, irregular forces and local chieftains and feudal lords carried raids across the border seeking plunder or revenge, often with the silent consent of their sovereigns. Today we call it a hybrid war and plausible deniability. For that reason, such military frontiers had special status and were organized according to the military rather than civilian principles. Their purpose was to serve as a buffer zone, which was supposed to shield deeper inland territories from enemy attacks and raids and as a staging place for own attacks and raids against the enemy. Traditionally military settlers who had special status populated such territories. These settlers were typically freemen, as opposed to serfs in more secure territories and were exempt of taxes. Instead, they were obliged to carry military service on the border. Being half soldiers, half farmers, these men weren’t the best trained, equipped and disciplined comparing to the regular troops, but they were always available on the spot and required little or no pay as they supported themselves from their land which they supplemented with plunder from lands of the enemy.

These military settlers were often recruited from refugees. In the case of Ukraine, these were the peasants fleeing wars between Russia and Mongol Golden Horde in the east on the one hand and on the other advancing feudalization of Russia itself, which saw farmers being forced in to serfdom in the increasing numbers. Refugees were fleeing to the areas away from the main conflict and out of the reach of the central authorities. Here they begun to organize in to small communities and as soon as the situation in the central parts of Russia was consolidated and Russia has emerged victorious from the wars with Golden Horde and its successor khanates, these communities came in to attention of the Russian authorities who begun to utilize them as military settlers, giving them lands and tax exemption in return for the military service. Thus famous Cossacks were born. The word Kazak, which is Russian for Cossack, is of Turkic, not Slavic origin, and it is assumed to be originally describing nomadic mercenaries hired by the Russian princes to fight in their wars. Later it was used to describe men for hire, both in civilian and military roles and that is likely how it was originally applied to the people we now know as Cossacks.

It should be noted however that modern Ukraine is not identical to historical Ukraine. Historical Ukraine was much smaller compared to modern Ukraine and it never was official name of some administrative region with definitive borders. Not until the creation of the modern Ukraine at the end of the First World War. This term was vaguely applied to the lands that were bordering Russia, Poland-Lithuania and Crimean Khanate, border that kept changing with the fortunes in wars. Moreover, Russia did not had just one Ukraine, there were several ukraines and “little” ukraines (ukrajinka) all along Russia’s sensitive borders. There were ukraines in the west, on the territory of contemporary Belarus, there were ukraines in the south near Caucasus Mountains and there were ukrainas in the Eastern Siberia. Only in the north where Russia shared a border with polar bears, Russia did not have ukraine. However, as Russia kept growing in power, securing its borders or expanding them further, most of the other historical ukraines disappeared and the one that was left longest became The Ukraine. Consequently, Cossacks did not exist only in Ukraine, there were and in some cases still are other Cossacks. Cossacks on the rivers Volga and Don, Siberian Cossacks and Terek Cossacks in the Caucasus to name the most notable ones. Russians were not the only ones who recognized usefulness of Cossacks either, Poles and Tatars were actively using them as well. Cossacks themselves were keen on exploiting conflicts between those powers to extract political and economic advantages for themselves.

Delineatio Generalis Camporum Desertorum vulgo Ukraina cum adjacentibus Provinciis-General Draving of the Deserted Fields, vulgarly known as Ukraine together with its neighbouring Provinces by French cartographer Guillaume Le Vasseur de Beauplan (1600-1673), note that North is down and South is up): source: Wikipedia

Military settlers in Krajina on the other hand were recruited mostly from Serbs, Vlachs (Romanians) and Croats fleeing Ottoman Turks who conquered Constantinople, capital of the East Roman Empire (also known as Byzantium) and defeated the kingdom of Serbia and the fragments of Bulgarian empire in the Balkans and were aggressively pushing north towards the Central Europe engaging with Hungarians and Austrians. That’s how Krajina got its Serbian population. Just like in Russia, historical Krajina does not necessarily copy the borders of what is considered Krajina in Croatia today. And just like in Russia, there are other krajinas elsewhere in Balkans. Bosanska Krajina near Banja Luka, Timocka Krajina between Serbia and Bulgaria, to name a few. In 1881, with the danger of Ottoman incursions all but disappearing, Austrian Emperors dissolved Krajina as an administrative region and incorporated it in to the kingdom of Croatia.

Map of the Krajina (in red) cca 1800:source: Wikipedia

While Cossacks are widely known as famous horsemen, a few people know that Krajina, and neighboring regions of Balkans are where the other most famous light cavalry of Europe comes from. Not less famous Hussars. Hussars were originally irregular cavalry from Balkans. Hungarian kings and Austrian emperors who employed them in their armies introduced them to the Western Europe, where they were quickly copied and adopted by the other armies for their effectiveness. With the advent of firearms, European knights in their shining expensive armors, riding heavy warhorses were gradually withdrawn from the battlefields as European armies begun to appreciate less heavily armed cavalry in their place, which substituted speed and agility for direct protection and ambushes and flanking for charges in to the enemy front lines. And that’s where experience of combating Turks and Tatars of Asia who always preferred lighter cavalry came in handy. Through centuries of constant fighting, Cossacks and Hussars adapted themselves to the fighting methods of their opponents and adopted many elements of their equipment and tactics. Not everybody though served in the cavalry and contrary to popular belief, most Cossacks served as infantrymen. Horse, especially saddle horse back in those days was something that only the wealthiest Cossacks could afford.

Hungarian hussar in the 16th century. Woodcut by Jost Amman:source: Wikipedia

When Ottoman and Austro-Hungarian empires collapsed in the flames of the Balkan Wars and the First World War, which had aroused from the conflict over the Bosnia, Croatia and Serbia joined Yugoslavia, a new state that supposed to unite all the Slavic people of the Balkans. Krajina ceased to be a province on the edge and it seemed that history there would slow down. Nevertheless, history just took a nap. On April 1941, German army invaded Yugoslavia under Adolf Hitler’s orders and Yugoslavia quickly fell apart. In Croatia, with the support of the Germans, puppet state with the pro-German fascist political party of Ustashe in power was established. Ethnic cleansing campaign and persecution of Serbs and other minorities followed, and lasted until the defeat of Nazi Germany in the WWII. The exact number of Serbs who perished in those repressions is unknown, estimates vary between 300,000 and 500,000. About 50,000 alone died in one of the concentration camps in Jasenovac.

With the National Socialist Germany and their allies defeated, Yugoslavia was reinstated under the leadership of the Communist party and a war hero Josip Bros Tito. Whereas survived Nazi collaborators found a shelter under the wings of the US and British secret services in the West Germany, Canada, USA and Australia. Unlike Nazi scientists, they did not possess any great knowledge or technical skills, but experience of political repression and anti-guerrilla warfare were of the value for the CIA in the upcoming Cold War. The end justifies the means. Interestingly enough, Ustashe from Balkans found themselves thriving at the same centers and under generous tutelage of the same secret services of the same governments as Nazi collaborators from Ukraine – the infamous UPA (Ukrainian Insurgent Army) and its political leaders like Stephan Bandera. In some instances, political and cultural institutions of the Ustashe and UPA were located on the same streets, sometimes even inside the same buildings of Western cities like Munich. Just like Ustashe, the WWII records of UPA are full of the ethnic cleansings, mass murders and war crimes against civilian population that did not fit UPA’s racial and ethnic standards. Now they were to be sustained like bacteria of a biological weapon on a Petri dish in CIA laboratories, waiting for their time.

Ironically, their time did not come during the Cold War, even when there were some failed attempts to utilize them. Their time came with the end of the Cold War and fall of the Communist rule in the Eastern Europe and the collapse of the Soviet Union. The easiest way to destroy multinational country is to start ethnic conflicts between the peoples of a country itself and let them destroy it themselves. Under Tito, who himself was from mixed Croat-Slovenian family, stability was maintained between the various ethnic groups dwelling in Yugoslavia, but that balance was fragile and rested to a large extend on the authority of Tito himself. With his death, the institutions of the state and the way Yugoslavia was constructed came for a test.

Yugoslavia was constructed as a federation in such a way, as to prevent any one of the constituent nations from dominating the state. Serbs were always the most numerous and therefore strongest nationality in Yugoslavia and other nationalities, particularly Croats and Slovenians feared that Serbs would dominate the state. Not without a good reason either as interwar Yugoslavia indeed ended up being dominated by the Serbs and their elite. To prevent that, in post war Yugoslavia, Serbia was divided in to four parts: republics of Serbia and Montenegro and autonomous regions of Kosovo and Vojvodina. Later three had significant non-Serbian ethnic minorities. That accomplished the goal of creating a balance between the powers of national republics inside Yugoslavia, but it inevitably created feeling of injustice among the Serbs. It was only Serbia which was divided and weakened in such a way, neither Croatia, nor Bosnia or Macedonia were divided even if they too had regions with ethnic minorities present. Serbs in Krajina were an example and Bosnia was heterogeneous to such extent, that it was sometimes nicknamed as Little Yugoslavia.

After period of unsuccessful Communist experimenting with creating single Yugoslav supranational identity, which would replace individual nationalities, Tito and his Communists went the other way and in the new constitution of 1974 tried to placate nationalist sentiments by bestowing more power on to the republics and strengthening autonomy of the regions. In Voivodina, Montenegro and Kosovo that led to an increasing cultural, economic and political pressure against Serbs who became convinced that system inside Yugoslavia works at their expense and they are loosing. In Kosovo where Albanian population was steadily increasing due to immigration from Albania and higher birth rates, issue was especially sensitive because Serbs consider Kosovo to be historical cradle of their civilization.

But any attempts to change the situation by the Serbs, inevitably led to the reaction in the other republics creating endless spiral of increasing suspicion and tensions between the republics. With the economy and central institutions weakened by the gradual decline in the power of the Communists and change of the political and economic situation in the whole of Eastern Europe, it required only a gentle push from the outside to spark ethnic conflict. That’s were Ustashe and other similar groups been held in the reserve during the Cold War in the West were finally put to a good use. Under disguise of democracy and freedom of speech, they were re-imported back in to their countries of origin along with the literature and propaganda created around their ideologies in the Cold War exile thanks to the generous US and German sponsorship. Money from Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries played similar role in the Muslim communities of Yugoslavia.

Eventually it brought yields. Spinning in spasms, in 1990 Yugoslavia has arrived at the cliff when constitutional crisis completely paralyzed federal institutions, including Communist party itself. Republics were fighting each other. The only significant federal institution left willing to defend Yugoslavia was its army. However, army required an order from politicians to start acting, and there was no one to issue it. Yugoslavia was going to dissolve. The only question was how and when.

Anybody remotely familiar with Yugoslavia, knew, that if it would be done in unilateral uncontrolled manner, it would lead to a war. Only in Slovenia, the administrative borders were identical to the ethnic borders. The rest of Yugoslavia had ethnic minorities living all over the place. This was also well known in Washington and Berlin. Despite, or may be because of it, Washington and Berlin chose exactly this option even against the warnings from other European capitals. Berlin was the first to recognize independent Slovenian and Croatian states and hence British diplomats unofficially named the war that begun immediately in Croatia as “Gensher’s war“, after German foreign minister at that time Hans-Dietrich Gensher.

Single picture that explains civil war in Yugoslavia:source: Wikipedia

When Croatian government declared independence from Yugoslavia in 1991, Serbs of Krajina in response declared their own independence from Croatia. All peoples have equal rights for independence. Right? Wrong. “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others” to paraphrase George Orwell and his famous book. Everybody likes to be independent himself, but not when others want to be independence at his expense. Croats are no different and independence of Republic of Serbian Krajina, which is how Serbs named their new country, was met with more than a strong disapproval in Zagreb, the capital of Croatia. A conflict flared almost immediately and it set off bloody civil war that engulfed other parts of Yugoslavia, eventually ending its existence.

When declaring independence, the most important thing isn’t who has the right for independence and who does not, the most important thing is who supports it. And here Serbs of Krajina were placed at a disadvantage because they were supported only by small Serbia, which itself was having plenty of problems inside, while Croats were supported by several world’s most powerful countries – USA, Germany and the entire NATO alliance. Serbs held for several years, but at the end fight was just too uneven. It ended when Croatian forces supported by the USA and Germany overrun Serbian lines manned mostly by local militiamen on August 1995 and proceeded to ethnically cleanse Krajina of its Serbian inhabitants for good. Up to 1500 of them lost their lives, 2/3 of that number were civilians and up to 200,000 had to flee to Serbia and Bosnia. It was one of the two places in former Yugoslavia, where an entire historical region was ethnically cleansed of its population during the civil war. The other region being ethnically cleansed of Serbs was Kosovo, also with the support of the USA and it’s allies. The irony that is still carefully hidden from the public by the politicians and journalists in Washington, London and Berlin who worked tirelessly to convince people in their countries that those are Serbs who perpetrate crime of ethnic cleansing and had to be stopped by noble and smart bombs, enriched with uranium. Everyone else were portrayed as victims. It was a deliberate lie. Even supposed plan of ethnic cleansing of Albanians in Kosovo by the Serbs, named “Operation Horseshoe” which served as a pretext for bombing of Serbia itself by the NATO forces, was after the war exposed as entirely fabricated by the German secret service BND with the help of Bulgarian government. To be sure, there were plenty of cases of local ethnic cleansing, perpetrated by all sides of the civil war, Serbian one including, but not on the scale of the entire historical regions like Krajina or Kosovo. Nevertheless, ethnic cleansing wasn’t the real reason for the intervention, the real reason was that USA, Germany and EU wanted Yugoslavia to be gone and Serbs in Krajina and Kosovo stood in their way. Yugoslavia was too large to be incorporated in to the EU and NATO, one has to join the EU and NATO as weak as possible and under the conditions favoring those who are in charge of the EU and NATO. Conditions that demand political, economic and cultural subordination and transfer of the control over national resources and markets to the global corporations. Corporations of the global Empire. Therefore, Serbs of Krajina and Kosovo had to go. All of them. Yugoslavia had to be broken in to small pieces and pieces then digested by the Empire one by one until the whole Balkans had “proper” democracy, endorsed “proper” values and values were “protected” by the US military base or two. Divide et impera, Romans used to say.

The conflict in Ukraine is driven by exactly the same motives and reasons and using the same old methods and the same propaganda tricks. Timed bombs in the form of the arbitrary changes of the administrative borders made by the ruling Communist elite blew up during break up of the USSR too, as well as their policies of creating new Soviet people. Former Nazi collaborationist were also used to instigate ethnic hatred. Place Soviet Union instead of the Yugoslavia, Russians instead of Serbs, Ukraine instead of Croatia, Donbas and Crimea instead of Krajina and Kosovo and the story is almost identical. Ukraine and Krajina share similar history once again. Almost. With the exception that the Soviet Union was much larger than Yugoslavia, Russia is much larger than Serbia, and Russia has powerful allies in the world of its own. A victim turned out to be too big and vital and the Empire appears to suffer major digestive problems as a result. Will Ukraine end up sharing the fate of its sister after all?

Or will Ukraine turn out to be one mouthful too many? One thing is certain, history did not stop. History has no end. Prophets of the Empire has been proven wrong.

arras‘s mini-bio: HIC SVNT LEONES

Decoding the hypersonic Putin on a day of remembrance

Image result for end of World War I, Putin and Trump
November 14, 2018Decoding the hypersonic Putin on a day of remembrance

Sitting alongside French President Macron during the 100th anniversary to commemorate the end of World War I, Putin and Trump stole the show in Paris

by Pepe Escobar (cross-posted with The Asia Times by special agreement with the author)

The Elysee Palace protocol was implacable. Nobody in Paris would be allowed to steal the spotlight away from the host, President Emmanuel Macron, during the 100th anniversary of Armistice Day marking the end of World War I.

After all, Macron was investing all his political capital as he visited multiple World War I battlefields while warning against the rise of nationalism and a surge in right-wing populism across the West. He was careful to always place the emphasis on praising “patriotism.”

A battle of ideas now rages across Europe, epitomized by the clash between the globalist Macron and populism icon Matteo Salvini, the Italian interior minister. Salvini abhors the Brussels system. Macron is stepping up his defense of a “sovereign Europe.”

And much to the horror of the US establishment, Macron proposes a real “European army” capable of autonomous self-defense side by side with a “real security dialogue with Russia.”

Yet all these “strategic autonomy” ideals collapse when you must share the stage, live, with the undisputed stars of the global show: President Donald  Trump and President Vladimir Putin.

So the optics in Paris were not exactly of a Yalta 2.0 conference. There were no holds barred to keep Trump and Putin apart. Seating arrangements featured, from left to right, Trump, Chancellor Angela Merkel, Macron, his wife Brigitte and Putin. Neither Trump nor Putin, for different reasons, took part in a “walking in the rain” stunt evoking peace.

And yet they connected. Sir Peter Cosgrove, the governor general of Australia, confirmed that Trump and Putin, at a working lunch, had a “lively and friendly” conversation for at least half an hour.

No one better than Putin himself to reveal, even indirectly, what they really talked about. Three themes are absolutely key.

On the Macron-proposed, non-NATO European army: “Europe is … a powerful economic union and it is only natural that they want to be independent and … sovereign in the field of defense and security.”

On the consequences of such an army: It would be “a positive process” that would “strengthen the multipolar world.” On top of it, Russia’s position “is aligned with that of France.”

On relations with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and Washington: “It is not us who are going to withdraw from the INF Treaty. It is the Americans who plan to do that.” Putin added that Moscow has not scheduled military drills near NATO borders as an attempt to appease an already tense situation. Yet Russia has “no issue with” NATO drills and expects at least a measure of dialogue in the near future.

Enter the Avangard

Vast sectors of the US Deep State are in denial, but Putin may have been able to impress on Trump the necessity of serious dialogue due to an absolutely key vector: the Avangard.

The Avangard is a Russian hypersonic glide vehicle capable of flying over Mach 20 –  24,700km/h, or 4 miles per second – and one of the game-changing Russian weapons Putin announced at his ground-breaking March 1 speech.

The Avangard has been in the production assembly line since the summer of 2018, and is due to become operational in the southern Urals by the end of next year or early 2019.

In the near future, the Avangard may be launched by the formidable  Sarmat RS-28 intercontinental ballistic missile and reach Washington in a mere 15 minutes, flying in a cloud of plasma “like a meteorite” – even if the launch is from Russian territory. Serial production of Sarmat ICBMs starts in 2021.

The Avangard simply cannot be intercepted by any existing system on the planet – and the US knows it. Here is General John Hyten, head of US Strategic Command:  “We don’t have any defense that could deny the employment of such a weapon against us.”

Iran as the new Serbia?

I wish I had been in Paris – my home in Europe – to follow these concentric World War I–related plots live. But it was no less fascinating to follow them from Islamabad, where I am now, back from the northern part of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). The British Empire used 1.5 million to 2 million Indian colonial subjects to fight, and die, for empire in that war. Quite a few were Punjabis, from what is now Pakistan.

As for the future, Trump is certainly aware of Russia’s hypersonic breakthroughs. Trump and Putin also talked about Syria, and might have touched on Iran, although no one at the working lunch leaked anything about it.

Assuming the dialogue continues at the Group of 20 summit in Buenos Aires at the end of November, Putin might be able to impress on Trump that just as Serbia catalyzed a chain of events that led great powers to sleepwalk into World War I, the same could happen with Iran leading to the terrifying prospect of World War III.

Team Trump’s obsession on strangling Iran into economic submission is a no-go, even for the Macron-Merkel-led European Union. On top of it, the Russia-China strategic partnership simply won’t allow any funny – reckless – games to be played against a crucial node of Eurasia integration.

Putin won’t even need to go hypersonic to make his case to Trump.

Dangerous Crossroads: Extensive Russian and Allied War Games in Response to US-NATO Military Buildup

Global Research, October 23, 2018
India

Barely reported by the Western media, Russia has launched a series of war games in Europe and the Far East together with several of its allies.  These war games are largely in response to NATO’s military buildup on Russia’s Western frontier, in Eastern Europe, The Baltic States and Scandinavia.

They also coincide with Donald Trump’s decision to repeal the 1987 INF agreement signed between Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev. The Intermediate Nuclear Force Treaty (INF), “aimed to eliminate short and medium range nuclear missiles.”

We are at a dangerous crossroads in our history. The broader public must be informed, particularly in NATO countries. It is crucial to restore sanity in international diplomacy to prevent the unthinkable. 

Examine the overlapping chronology of these war games. (September-December 2018).

The structure of military alliances has shifted. Russia and China have harnessed the support of two of Washington’s (former?) allies, namely India and Pakistan, both of which are now full members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO). 

October 25, 2018. NATO War Games. Largest since Cold War

NATO war games under Operation Trident Juncture commence on October 25, 2018. Trident Juncture 2018 is NATO’s largest exercise since the Cold War.

Around 50.000 troops, 250 aircrafts, aircraft carrier Harry S. Truman, 64 vessels and 10,000 vehicles will participate to Nato’s collective defence scenario (Article 5) from 25 October to 7 November 2018.

All Nato’s members as well as NATO partners Finland and Sweden will participate. (See Global Research, October 21, 2018)

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September 13, 2018. Russia-China-Mongolia War Games in Eastern Siberia. Russia’s Largest War Games Ever

Russia, China and Mongolia undertook The Vostok-2018 drills in eastern Siberia close to China’s border. The exercise was on on massive scale involving 300,000 Russian forces. “The exercises, … involve more than 1,000 military aircrafts as well as up to 36,000 tanks, … China sent about 3,200 troops, 900 combat vehicles, and 30 aircrafts to join the drills” Al Jazeera, September 13, 2018)

September 30, 2018. Russia-Serbia Air Drills 

Together with Serbia, Russia launches air drill: “Pilots of Russia’s Aerospace Defence Forces and the Serbian Air Force and Air Defence will conduct a joint tactical flight exercise BARS-2018 on the territory of the Republic of Serbia.”

The drills will see the militaries from both countries practice intercepting aerial targets, air-to-air engagements and mid-air manoeuvres.

Aircraft will also carry out tactical strikes on ground targets and a search-and-rescue mission.

The drills come as Russia revealed it had created one of the world’s most advanced missiles to date.

The Kremlin has boasted about its R-37M missile, which will turn the country’s air force into one of the world’s most fearsome and has a greater range than any belonging to the US military. (Daily Star, UK, September 30, 2018)

October 20, 2018: Russia-India Military Exercises Involving Land Forces, Navy and Air Force

India and Russia initiated a 10-days military exercises involving land forces, navy and air force. The war games were launched in the eastern military district of Russia. The timing of these war games coincides with the onslaught of those conducted by NATO in Scandinavia and the Baltic States.

In the midst of evolving security situation in the region, India and Russia will hold a mega war game in October involving their armies, navies and the air forces for the first time to further ramp up military ties.

The exercise Indra, which will be held in Russia from October 19 to 29, will primarily focus on achieving coordination between forces of the two countries in a tri- services integrated theatre command scenario, military sources said.

Of significance, the Russia-India war games are also marked by the establishment of joint command and control structures between the two countries.

What is at stake is a geopolitical realignment. We are no longer dealing with a bilateral military cooperation agreement. India has not only entered Russia’s military orbit, it is now a full  member together with Pakistan of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO).

In recent developments, the SCO is evolving towards a de facto collective security arrangement with Russia and China playing a central  role.

In turn, India is slated to acquire Russia’s S400 state of the art air defense system.

December 2018: India-China Joint Military Exercise

It is worth noting that India and China have also reasserted their intent to build upon a military cooperation within the framework of the SCO:

“India and China have agreed to resume the joint military exercise, Hand-in-Hand, which was suspended after the Doklam face-off. In sync with the renewed efforts by both countries to reset ties, the military exercise will take place in the second week of December in Kunming, China.”

October 22, 2018: Russia-Pakistan Joint Military Training

Coinciding with the Russia-India war games (which started on October 20), Russia is also involved in a joint training exercise with Pakistan which started on Monday October 22.

Russian Army Contingent arrived in Pakistan to participate in Pak-Russia Joint Training Excercise ‘Druzhba-III’. This is 3rd exercise as part of Pak-Russia bilateral training cooperation. The 1st Exercise was held in Pakistan during 2016 while 2nd in Russia during 2017. pic.twitter.com/Qbu8zx7tQl

What this ultimately suggests is that neither Pakistan nor India are no longer Washington’s trusted allies.

But also, the conflict between India and Pakistan, which dates back to the British empire, is in the process of being resolved under the auspices of the SCO.

Tragic deaths inspire a Bosnian miracle

By Slavoj Žižek
Source

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The violent deaths of two young men have united Bosnians, crossing rigid ethnic lines. Could something finally be stirring in the divided Balkan country?

When we think of miracles and Bosnia, the first association that pops up is the appearance of the Virgin Mary a couple of decades ago in Medjugorje – an event that brought millions of pilgrims to the area.

However, a week ago, a much greater and more important miracle took place in Banja Luka, the capital of the Serb part of Bosnia (“Republika Srpska”), and then also in other Bosnian cities across the ethnic divide.

The miracle is not the elections which took place this Sunday. As usual, Bosnian elections (with all the accompanying irregularities) were marked by apathy and indifference, and just confirmed the tripartite division of the state along ethnic lines.
Today, the Serb part is more and more acting as a sovereign state, while in the Muslim Sarajevo, Islamization progresses, evidenced by how it’s more and more difficult to get a beer in a restaurant or bar, among other things.

Meanwhile, a specific form of the much-publicized PPP (public-private partnership) is flourishing in all of Bosnia: local political elites intertwined with half-legal private businesses, their rule legitimized as protectors of ethnic entities (Bosnians, Serbs etc.) against the “enemy.” In such a situation where poverty is everywhere and young people are migrating to Western Europe in search of jobs, nationalism thrives and defense of ethnic identity easily prevails over economic issues.

Lessons from past

The problem facing Bosnia is best exemplified by what took place a couple of years ago in Croatia. There, two public protest gatherings were announced: trade unions called for a protest against exploding unemployment and poverty (felt very much by ordinary people). At the same time, rightist nationalists announced a gathering in order to protest the re-introduction of the official status of Cyrillic writing in Vukovar (because of the Serb minority there).

Of course, at the first gathering, a couple of hundred people came, and to the second gathering, over 100,000 people came. Poverty was experienced as a daily life problem much more than the Cyrillic threat by ordinary people, but nonetheless trade unions failed to mobilize the masses.

Wise commentators like to evoke such stories to cynically mock leftist claims that our goal should be to defeat local nationalism and to bring about a transnational coalition of those who are manipulated and exploited by the ruling ethnic elites. They patiently explain how, especially in an area like the Balkans, “irrational” ethnic hatred runs all too deep to be overcome by “rational” economic concerns – meaning the transnational coalition of the exploited is a miracle that will never happen.

Well, suddenly this miracle is happening now. And it makes Medjugorje pale by comparison.

Human toll

David Dragicevic, a young Serb-Bosnian hacker, disappeared in the night from March 17 to March 18 this year, and his body was found in the vicinity of Banja Luka on March 24; it was clear from his heavily disfigured body that he was killed by protracted brutal torture.

From March 26, daily protests have taken place in the main square of Banja Luka, organized by his father Davor under the title “Justice for David.” Police first declared David’s death a suicide, and only after strong public pressure began to investigate it as a case of murder, but with no results yet.

Eventually, it became clear that David had discovered traces of corruption and other criminal activities of the ruling clique. So he had to disappear.

A week ago, the continuous protests erupted into a large mass gathering, with tens of thousands participating, and dozens of buses bringing people from all of Republika Srpska into Banja Luka. The ruling clique reacted with panic: thousands of policemen controlled the streets and blocked entry to the city.

Now comes the true miracle. Unexpectedly, in a wonderful display of trans-ethnic solidarity, similar gatherings took place in other Bosnian cities where Muslims are a majority. In Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia, hundreds demanded justice for a similar case that happened in their midst: the death of Dzenan Memic, who disappeared in the night of February 8 to February 9, 2016, which was never seriously investigated, although his body was also disfigured by traces of torture.

Alone together

Protesters in Banja Luka, Sarajevo, and other Bosnian cities exchanged messages and emphasized their solidarity across ethnic divides, since they all share the same fate of being controlled by corrupted PPP elites.

So, finally, they became fully aware that the true threat does not come from other ethnic groups but from the corruption in their own group, and that they can get rid of this malignant tumor only by acting together. And then the impossible and “unimaginable” (for cynical realists) happened.

Of course, one should not expect too much from such explosions. A similar trans-ethnic movement against economic poverty already took place a couple of years ago, in an echo of the Arab Spring, and gradually dwindled.

However, the fire continues to burn beneath the surface, and this fire is the only beacon of hope in Bosnia. In this, it reconfirms the truth of Abraham Lincoln’s old saying: You can deceive some people all the time, you can deceive all the people for some time, but you cannot deceive all the people all the time.

 

Washington Forbids Serbia from De-Mining Syria

An act of goodness is okay with the American Empire only if it serves its own clandestine objectives. Otherwise, all good acts shall be prohibited by blackmailing an entire nation. So much so for the human rights mantra…!

Friends of Syria

Washington Forbids Serbia from De-Mining Syria

Daniel MCADAMS

This may be one of the cruelest and most cynical moves of Washington in its entire dark “regime change Syria” chapter. Serbian media sources are reporting, based on quotes from US Embassy Belgrade personnel, that the United States has sought and been given assurances by the Serbian government and military that Serbian de-mining experts will not be deploying to Syria to assist in removing the ubiquitous horrific mines and other explosive devices left behind by a retreating ISIS.

As the rout of ISIS forces continues in Syria, the civilian population begins returning to their homes and their lives that had been disrupted by the Islamic State, al-Qaeda, and other extremist groups. According to the United Nations, more than 600,000 Syrians have returned to areas liberated by the Syrian government with the assistance of Russia and Iranian forces.

But that is where the tragic problems often begin. As the…

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US Ambassador to Serbia: If You Want Peace, Give Kosovo Islamists Their Own State

US Ambassador to Serbia: If You Want Peace, Give Kosovo Islamists Their Own State

US Ambassador to Serbia: If You Want Peace, Give Kosovo Islamists Their Own State

On May 29th, a group of Serbs displaced from the Kosovo village of Petrich by Albanian violence attempted to visit the remains of the demolished village church and the village cemetery to mark Holy Trinity holiday (according to the Julian calendar). However, as is usual in most of NATO-occupied Kosovo, they were met by a violent Albanian mob who blocked the road leading to the church and hurled stones at them, injuring three, one seriously. In addition, another Serb participating in a holiday ritual was arrested inside the church yard by Kosovo Albanian police on dubious charges, only to be released a few hours later.

Marko Djurich, Director of the Serbian Government Office for Kosovo and Metohija, condemned this latest act of violence, referring to it as “anti-civilizational,” charging that displaced Kosovo Serbs have been “systematically prevented from marking Christian holidays in their villages” for years and that Albanian extremists “want to completely eradicate and suppress every memory related to the Serb existence” in that part of Serbia’s breakaway province.

Dalibor Jevtich, one of the Serbs still living in Kosovo who has tried to work with the majority Albanian authorities, but who recently resigned as Kosovo Minister for Communities and Return, reacted similarly:

“This is not just preventing the displaced from visiting the church and to preach their faith, this is a blockade of everything we are trying to do in terms of the return and survival of Serbs in Kosovo,” said Jevtich Just a day before, a clinic in the Serbian village of Suvi Do was stoned as well, with several windows being broken. Director of the Kosovska Mitrovica medical center, Dr. Milan Ivanovich, said that this was not the first time that the clinic had been attacked. “The surgery in the village of Suvi Do was stoned twice in 24 hours and before that scores of times,” he said, adding that the purpose of the stoning was to demonstrate that Albanians “do not want to co-exist with Serbs,” and that Kosovo government institutions “have shown no will to prevent similar attacks or find the perpetrators.”

Earlier in May, the 14th century Serbian Orthodox Dechani Monastery, the endowment of Serbian King Stefan Urosh III (1322-1331), was imperiled by an illegal road being built by the so-called Kosovo government. According to a communique of the Diocese of Rashka and Prizren of the Serbian Orthodox Church, the government initiated illegal construction works on the transit road within the Special protected zone around the Monastery, which is “severely prohibited by the Law on Special protected zones which was adopted by Kosovo Parliament.” However, as the Monastery is on the UNESCO List of World Heritage in Danger, enough dust was raised to force the government to back down and “suspend” the roadworks. Still, that seems like nothing more than a temporary reprieve, as majority Muslim Albanian pressure on the remaining Orthodox Christian population and its holy sites shows no prospects of abating. Fr. Sava Janjich, Abbot of the Dechani Monastery, has concluded as much, posting a photo of the monastery’s walls topped by barbed wire on his Twitter page, “which says more than many words.” Indeed, practically all Christian holy sites in NATO and EU supervised Kosovo still need protection from attack, after almost 20 years of presence and billions spent by these two Western military and political blocs.

In fact, since tens of thousands of NATO troops arrived in Serbia’s southern Kosovo province in June 1999, following NATO’s illegal bombing of Serbia and Montenegro (at that time known as the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia), on the basis of UN Security Council Resolution 1244, the lot of the local Christians – and all non-Albanians for that matter – has grown progressively worse. More than 250.000 of them have been expelled and almost none allowed to return, and over 150 churches, monasteries and holy sites, many of them irreplaceable medieval treasures, have been severely damaged or destroyed. More than 1,000 Serbs have been murdered in this period, but the crimes have gone unpunished.

This, of course, did not deter the U.S. and other “liberal democracy” flag-waivers from recognizing so-called Kosovo’s unilateral declaration of independence of February 2008, and from pressuring other countries, including Serbia itself, to follow suit. It is no wonder that the culture of impunity has taken such firm hold among Kosovo Albanian politicians and, especially, the Islamists among them. According to a 2016 Deutsche Welle report, 50,000 Kosovo Albanians (out of a population of about 1 million) are now members of “conservative Islamic groups,” with the former relatively liberal form of Islam that had been practiced there for centuries increasingly being replaced by strict forms of the Saudi Wahhabism, and Kosovo Albanian society increasingly shifting to a “religious-ethnic society.” In addition, Kosovo has become the largest per capita supplier of ISIS fighters in Europe. All on NATO’s and the EU’s watch. Democracy at its finest on display.

However, all is not lost: this horrible reality could, apparently, quite easily end, if Serbia were to heed the advice of the U.S. Ambassador to Serbia, one Kyle Scott. This was Scott’s reaction to the stoning of the displaced Serbs mentioned at the beginning of this article:

“Yesterday’s incident in Petric further emphasizes the need for working on an agreement on a comprehensive normalization of relations between Kosovo and Serbia, which must ensure the Serbian population the freedom to participate in the political, social and religious life of Kosovo without fear for their own security,” Scott wrote in his Twitteraccount after the brutal attack on Christian churchgoers.

There it is. No condemnation, no call for mobilization, international action or arrest, and certainly no call for any sort of “humanitarian bombing,” the pathetic, false excuse used by Bill Clinton to attack a sovereign country for 78 days in order to snatch away 15% of its territory and its holiest Christian sites. Instead, according to the U.S. ambassador, Kosovo’s former (?) terrorist leadership and associated Islamist thugs should to be rewarded yet again, through a “comprehensive normalization of relations between Kosovo and Serbia,” which is State Department newspeak for Serbia acquiescing to so-called Kosovo’s formal independence through diplomatic recognition and consent for Kosovo’s being granted a seat in the UN.

In other words, following the American ambassador’s logic (sic!), the anti-Serbian and anti-Christian violence in Kosovo is perfectly understandable and expected, and the only cure is to reward the perpetrators – with formal recognition of statehood. That would, naturally, be followed by the formation of a real army, something that Western governments, (naturally) led by the U.S., have been quietly aiding and abetting for years, thus violating UN SC Resolution 1244, which, among other things, provides for “demilitarizing the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) and other armed Kosovo Albanian groups.” If armed former terrorists and present future Islamists don’t bring peace to the Balkans – nothing will! Since the Syrian recipe has worked so well, let’s apply it to the Balkans. Or is it that the Balkan recipe was (un)successfully applied in Syria… Either way, the master chef sits in Washington.

Memo to Mike Pompeo, the “very devout Christian” now in charge of the U.S. Department of State, with several questions: 1. Is it your State Department’s policy to continue to reward violent Islamist violence against Christian peoples and holy sites? 2. Is this a new interpretation of Christianity, unknown to the rest of fallen humanity? 3. How is your Kosovo and general Balkans policy different from that of the Clintons, who spearheaded the destabilization and Islamization of the region during the 1990s?

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