How to Undermine a Diplomatic Triumph

About me

26 July 2021

by Lawrence Davidson

Part I—The Backstory

The true status of current negotiations to reinstate the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) with Iran is unknown to the American public—most of whom are tragically indifferent to the outcome. This is so even though the successful negotiation of this deal with Iran back in 2015 represents one of the greatest triumphs of diplomacy in the last hundred years. What we do know is this triumph was followed by tragedy—a premeditated tragedy—the sort of tragedy only fools can produce. But very few Americans care. That is the way it is with foreign policy. On the one hand, you can start wars to great public acclaim, and on the other, you can destroy hard-won diplomatic achievements almost without public notice. 

At the end of President Obama’s term of office (January 2017) the JCPOA was complete and in force. In exchange for a lifting of “nuclear-related sanctions,” Iran undertook not to pursue research that might allow her to develop nuclear weapons. Up until May of 2018 “Iran’s compliance has been repeatedly verified by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which oversees the most intrusive inspections regime ever negotiated.” It was in May of 2018 that Donald Trump, perhaps the most despicable human being to hold the presidency since Andrew Jackson, withdrew from the JCPOA, apparently for two reasons: (1) was the treaty was completed by Obama and Trump wanted to destroy the achievements of his non-white predecessor, and (2) Trump thought he could bully the Iranians into a “better deal.” It is important to note that the other signatories to the treaty did not initially follow Trump’s lead. “The leaders of France, the United Kingdom, and Germany issued a joint statement on behalf of their countries that reemphasized their support for the deal and its importance to the nonproliferation regime.” The United Nations expressed “deep concern” over Trump’s decision and released a statement in support of the JCPOA. Russia’s Foreign Ministry also reiterated its support for the JCPOA, and further stated that “U.S. actions compromise international trust in the IAEA.”

How did the Iranians react to Trump’s withdrawal from the treaty and reimposition of harsh sanctions? At first, Tehran suggested that if the other signatories to the agreement would remain loyal to their obligations, Iran too would keep to the treaty. Unfortunately, most of the European nations involved would soon succumb to U.S. economic pressure and cease to hold to their obligations. Nonetheless, it was not until a year following Trump’s irresponsible act that Iran announced that “The Islamic Republic of Iran in reaction to the exit of America from the nuclear deal and the bad promises of European countries in carrying out their obligations will restart a part of the nuclear activities which were stopped under the framework of the nuclear deal.” Even while the Iranian government took this position, it insisted that if at any time the United States returned to the treaty and removed all nuclear-related sanctions, Iran too would return to its obligations. Tehran even suggested a process whereby the U.S. and Iran would take simultaneous steps to that end. 

Everyone but Trump devotees, Israel and its supporters, and those Iranian exiles who would like to see the return of the country’s monarchy recognized that the U.S. withdrawal from the JCPOA had been a mistake. Accordingly, in the campaign run-up to the 2020 presidential election in the U.S., the Democratic candidate, Joe Biden, promised that upon election he would rejoin the treaty if Iran returned to compliance as well. 

Biden did win, but he has not yet fulfilled his promise. Instead, he entered an extended period of negotiations that is still ongoing. At first it was said that these were about “who goes first” when it comes to returning to requirements of the treaty. Was Iran to give up the small steps in nuclear enrichment since the Trump withdrawal, or was the U.S. going to go first in removing the draconian sanctions placed on Iran by the Trump administration? It was Iran who realized the childish nature of this question and offered a simultaneous return to the compliance mentioned above. While the Biden administration rejected this offer, it has been reported that now both sides are working toward “simultaneous, sequential steps” back to requirements of the treaty. 


Part II—Misleading the American Public


In the meantime, the Biden administration has been releasing misinformation to the public. For instance, Biden has insisted that sanctions relief depends on Iran “returning to compliance.” But, of course, for anyone familiar with the relevant events, it was Washington that broke the treaty and needed to return to compliance. Any subsequent Iranian actions following Trump’s folly were, and still are, perfectly legal under the terms of the JCPOA. Joe Biden can continue to justify draconian economic sanctions in this way—sanctions that are ruining the lives of millions—only because he is addressing an ignorant American audience. 

When Iran failed to be bullied, Biden’s diplomats adopted a “shift the blame” tactic. In May 2021, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said “Iran, I think, knows what it needs to do to come back into compliance on the nuclear side, and what we haven’t yet seen is whether Iran is ready and willing to make a decision to do what it has to do. That’s the test and we don’t yet have an answer.” Translation: the American people should know that we, the Biden administration, are trying, but those Iranians seem to be too thick-headed to do what is necessary. So if the whole thing fails, it is their fault and not ours. 

Blinken went on, “If both sides can return to the original deal, then we can use that as a foundation both to look at how to make the deal itself potentially longer and stronger—and also [to] engage on these other issues, whether it’s Iran’s support for terrorism [or] its destabilizing support for different proxies throughout the Middle East.”

That scenario will not encourage the Iranians. They have repeatedly stated that the JCPOA, and the present negotiations, are about two things: sanctions and the scope of nuclear development. It is not about Iranian foreign policy, which has been so blandly assumed to be “terrorism” by both Trump and Biden. If Mr. Blinken keeps tagging on these extras, we will still be running in circles come Christmas.   

What is the diplomatic aim of the Biden administration? Is it to pursue the Democrats’ traditional, and bankrupt, aim of sounding as tough on foreign policy as the Republicans? That irrelevant goal (remember most Americans don’t care about foreign policy) would not be surprising coming from a professional Democratic politician of Joe Biden’s generation. However, after all the work that has gone into the JCPOA and all the suffering endured by the Iranian population due to brutal U.S. sanctions, such a petty motive reflects the mentality of a street gang competing with rivals, rather than the peaceful ends of an alleged civilized society. 

With statements like this, Secretary of State Blinken transforms himself into someone we might mistake for a

Fox News TV anchor. It would seem that many who pride themselves on eschewing Fox’s lies are ready to swallow whole Mr. Blinken’s bunk. 

Part III—An Israeli Connection?

We know that ex-Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and ex-President Trump were in agreement on Iran policy. In this regard, all the yelling and screaming about Iran’s nuclear program carried on by both men hid their real goal. Particularly for Netanyahu, the hyperbole was aimed at creating a “credible reason” to force regime change in Iran, even if it meant a U.S. invasion. Essentially, the model here was Iraq. Netanyahu was ready to pursue this end till the last dying American soldier. Obviously, the JCPOA was a major obstacle in that path. So was Barack Obama, who thought he was helping Israel and the world in general by negotiating the treaty. 

Now Netanyahu and Trump are gone from office. However, why should we believe that the new Israeli government has changed the ultimate goal? And why should we believe that Joe Biden—who is, as he never fails to remind us, an “ironclad” Zionist—will really follow in Obama’s footsteps?

In June, Israel sent some of its highest-ranking leaders to see Biden. These included Israeli President Reuven Rivlin and Defense Minister Benny Gantz. Both meetings were basically about Iran. “Iran will never get a nuclear weapon on my watch,” Biden told Rivlin. This was billed as a “stark warning” to Iran—a country which has, for religious as well as other reasons, disavowed the desire for such a weapon. How many Americans know this? Does President Biden know this?

Many scholars and other experts in Middle East policy believe that “Mr. Biden’s calculations are rooted in a different era of American-Israeli relations—when Israel’s security concerns commanded far more attention than Palestinian grievances.” This is true. But there is a more personal connection. Biden personally identifies with Israel like no other U.S. president since Lyndon Johnson. He collects yarmulkes and is reported to have knelt down in an impromptu “show of respect” after learning that Rivka Ravitz, President Rivlin’s Orthodox chief of staff, was the mother of 12 children. The Israeli Orthodox Jews often have such large families out of fear of a “demographic holocaust”—that is, the consequences of the Palestinians’ much higher birth rate than that of most Israeli Jews. Finally, Biden has completely accepted the highly debatable notion that world Jewry, many of whom are not Zionists, cannot be safe apart from the existence of Israel. 

Those same experts also believe that, when it comes to Israel, President Biden’s approach has much to do with domestic politics. Thus, getting back to the JCPOA is less important than catering to the desires of the Israel Lobby. This only makes sense for a politician born and bred to the power of that lobby.

Part IV—Conclusion


The U.S. and Israeli leaders are suffering from a group-think environment and tunnel vision, all shaped in good part by political pressure generated by dominant special interests.  At least in this instance, one cannot say the same for the Iranians who, though led by a rigid religious elite, broke through their tunnel vision and joined the JCPOA treaty. The present stalemate is the work of American ideologues tied hand and foot to a major U.S. lobby. 

Outside the tunnel one can see the obvious answer to the present stalemate. Having been polite and empathetic toward Rivlin and Gantz, Joe Biden should ask over to the Oval Office an outsider, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. At the end of June Guterres said, “I appeal to the United States to lift or waive its sanctions outlined in the plan.” He also appealed to Iran to return to full implementation of the deal. Right from the beginning of Biden’s election, the Iranians have been willing to follow Guterres’s lead. It is Biden who has temporized while being encouraged by his confidants from Jerusalem. 

UK Warns China Against Obstructing Navigation In South China Sea لندن تحذّر بكين من أيّ عرقلة لحرية الملاحة في بحر الصين الجنوبي

20 Jul 21

Source: Al Mayadeen & Agencies

The United Kingdom warns the Chinese Navy against obstructing its fleet in the South China Sea ahead of HMS Queen Elizabeth docking in Japan.

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Aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth

The United Kingdom army announced Tuesday that a powerful navy task force would visit five ports in Japan in September, warning China against any threats concerning freedom of navigation in the region’s tense seas.

UK officials said during a visit by Defence Secretary Ben Wallace to Tokyo that after exercises with allied navies, the group, led by HMS Queen Elizabeth, will pay visits to five Japanese ports in September.

Moreover, the offshore patrol vessels HMS Spey and HMS Tamar will start a permanent deployment to the region next month. It was announced that they would be supported by Australian, Japanese, and Singaporean ships.

UK Secretary of State for Defense Ben Wallace stated in an interview with The Times that the United Kingdom has a duty to stress freedom of navigation when a group of its ships – the most powerful navy task force in a generation – passes through the South China Sea toward Japan.

In parallel, Beijing asserts its sovereignty over the majority of the South China Sea islands, which has angered many countries that have declared their right to have access to the waters adjacent to its territory and prompted the objection of other countries, including the United States.

Japanese Minister of Defense Nobuo Kishi endorsed his British counterpart after their meeting, “We reconfirmed our shared position that we firmly oppose attempts to change the status quo by coercion and the importance of a free and open Indo-Pacific based on rule of law,” Kishi said.

لندن تحذّر بكين من أيّ عرقلة لحرية الملاحة في بحر الصين الجنوبي

المصدر: وكالات+الميادين 20 تموز 2021

بريطانيا “تحذّر” البحرية الصينية من التعرّض لأسطولها في بحر الصين الجنوبي، وذلك قبيل وصول قوة كبيرة، على رأسها حاملة الطائرات “الملكة إليزابيث” إلى موانئ اليابان.

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حاملة الطائرات البريطانية “إتش أم أس إليزابيث”

أعلن الجيش البريطاني، اليوم الثلاثاء، إرسال مجموعة كبيرة من السفن في أيلول/سبتمبر إلى 5 موانئ يابانية، محذّراً الصين من “أي عرقلة لحرية الملاحة في مياه المنطقة التي تشهد توترات”.

وذكرت السلطات البريطانية أنّه “بعد إجراء سلسلة تدريبات مع الجيوش الحليفة، ستقوم مجموعة من سفن البحرية الملكية، تقودها حاملة الطائرات الجديدة “إتش أم أس الملكة إليزابيث” بزيارة 5 موانئ يابانية في أيلول/سبتمبر”، بمناسبة زيارة يقوم بها وزير الدفاع البريطاني، بن والاس، لطوكيو.

وسيتمّ نشر سفينتين طوافتين بصورة دائمة في المنطقة، اعتباراً من الشهر المقبل، تدعمهما سفن أسترالية ويابانية وسنغافورية.

وأكد والاس، في مقابلة مع صحيفة “تايمز”، أنّ المملكة المتحدة “من واجبها” تأكيد حرية الملاحة عندما تعبر مجموعة سفنها – أكبر انتشار بحري بريطاني في زمن السلم منذ جيل – بحر الصين نحو اليابان.

وقال للصحيفة “ليس سراً أنّ الصين تتعقّب السفن التي تمرّ عبر المياه الدولية سالكة طرقاً شرعية، وتُسبّب مشكلات لها”، مضيفاً “أننا سنحترم الصين ونأمل في أن تحترمنا”، موضحاً “سنبحر حيثما يسمح القانون الدولي بذلك”.

وتؤكد بكين سيادتها على أغلبية جزر بحر الصين الجنوبي، الأمر الذي أثار غضب عدد من الدول التي أعلنت أحقيّتها في المياه المجاورة لأراضيها، واعتراض دول أخرى، بينها الولايات المتحدة.

وأيّد وزير الدفاع الياباني نوبوو كيشي نظيره البريطاني بعد اجتماعهما، مشدداً على “موقفهما المشترك”، قائلاً “نعارض بشدة محاولات تغيير الوضع الراهن بالإكراه، ونعيد تأكيد أهمية إبقاء منطقتَي المحيطين الهندي والهادئ حرتَين ومفتوحتَين، كما ينصّ على ذلك القانون”

Fake News London Guardian Kremlin Papers Report

 July 18, 2021

By Stephen Lendman

Source

US/Western dark forces never quit proving that they’re hostile to what just societies hold dear.

Time and again, their press agent media show they long ago abandoned what journalism is supposed to be — banning it on issues mattering most.

On domestic issues, they support privileged interests at the expense of most others — notably by pushing health destroying flu/covid jabs, instead of warning about their hazards.

On all things geopolitical mattering most, they stick to state-approved talking points — notably US/Western rage for control of planet earth, its resources and populations.

Days earlier, a fake news London Guardian report turned truth on its head as follows, saying:

“Vladimir Putin personally authorized (sic) a secret spy agency operation to support a ‘mentally unstable’ Donald Trump in the 2016 US presidential election during a closed session of Russia’s national security council (sic), according to…leaked Kremlin documents (sic)” — that don’t exist.

No responsible editors would permit publication of the above claim no evidence suggests, made up rubbish alone with no credibility — part of longstanding US/UK Russia bashing.

Yet in true fake news Guardian tradition, it defied reality by claiming a Trump White House “would help secure Moscow’s strategic objectives, among them ‘social turmoil’ in the US (sic) and a weakening of the American president’s negotiating position (sic).”

Not a shred of evidence was presented by the Guardian to support what it falsely called “genuine…documents.”

More bald-faced Big Lies followed, including by saying:

A so-called Kremlin “expert department recommended…’all possible force’ to ensure a Trump victory (sic).”

Time and again, phony claims like the above about Russia and other foreign nations are debunked as Big Lies that won’t die.

Throughout US history from inception to the present day, no credible evidence ever suggested foreign inference in its electoral process — what dark forces in Washington do repeatedly against other nations worldwide. 

Political scientist Dov Levin earlier documented over 80 times that US dark forces interfered in the electoral process of other nations from end of WW II to year-2000.

Since then, the US illegally tried to influence the outcome of elections or overall political process in Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, Libya, Yemen, Egypt, Tunisia, Venezuela, Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay, Bolivia, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Honduras, Mexico, Russia, Belarus, and elsewhere. 

What could a foreign nation hope to achieve by meddling in so-called US elections?

Farcical when held, both right wings of the one-party state take turns running things — serving privileged interests exclusively at the expense of ordinary people at home and abroad.

US diabolical actions also include attempted color revolutions, old-fashioned coups, political assassinations — most recently against Haiti’s president — and wars by hot and/or other means against nations free from imperial control.

In response to the Guardian’s fake news, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov called it “pulp fiction,” adding:

The report “is complete nonsense.”

It’s “the hallmark of an absolutely low-quality publication.” 

“Either (it’s) trying to increase its popularity or is sticking to a rabidly Russophobic line.”

Ill-conceived trash best describes what no evidence supports because none exists — just baseless accusations with nothing supporting them.

Time and again, Russia, China, Iran, Venezuela, Cuba, North Korea and other nations free from US imperial control are falsely accused of all sorts of things they had nothing to do with.

Indisputable evidence reveals US high crimes of war, against humanity, and other dirty tricks against one nation after another, targeting ones named above and many others.

In his books and Anti-Empire reports, the late William Blum documented US high crimes.

Calling them “worse than you imagine,” he once explained the following:

“If you flip over the rock of American foreign policy (throughout) the past century, this is what crawls out: invasions, bombings, (subversion), overthrowing governments, suppressing (popular) movements for social change, assassinating political leaders, perverting elections, manipulating labor unions, manufacturing ‘news,’ death squads, torture, (chemical), biological (and nuclear) warfare, (radiological contamination), drug trafficking, mercenaries,” police state repression, and endless wars on humanity.”

That’s what the scourge of US hegemonic rage is all about.

Stressing it’s not a pretty picture, Blum said it’s “enough to give imperialism a bad name.” 

Millions of corpses attest to US ruthlessness, a rogue state exceeding history’s worst over a longer duration, operating globally, willing to risk destroying planet earth to own it, the human cost of its wars and other barbarism of no consequence.

Blum called democracy “America’s deadliest export,” the way it should be is abhorrent to the US and its imperial partners.

Directly and through its press agent media like the Guardian, Russia and other sovereign independent countries are bashed for not bending to higher powers in Washington, London and other Western capitals.

As for dubious Guardian claims about covert Russian support for Trump over Hillary in 2016, they’re not worth the (toilet) paper they’re written on.

A Final Comment

The Russiagate hoax throughout Trump’s tenure was all about delegitimizing his triumph over media darling Hillary — a Big Lie still refusing to die despite no evidence supporting it.

It remains one of the most shameful political chapters in US history, exceeding the worst of McCarthyism.

Ignored was House testimony by former US Director of National Intelligence James Clapper (2010 – 2017), saying:

“I never saw any direct empirical evidence that the Trump campaign or someone in it was plotting (or) conspiring with the Russians to meddle with the election,” adding:

“I do not recall any instance when I had direct evidence of” alleged Trump team-Russia collusion.

Congressional and Mueller probes were exercises in mass deception.

They found no evidence suggesting Russian meddling in the US political process because there was none.

The Mueller probe notably laid an egg, ending with a whimper, not a bang.

His 19-lawyer team, 40 FBI special agents, intelligence analysts, forensic accountants, and other professional staff spent around $25 million.

They issued 2,800 subpoenas, 500 search warrants, almost 50 orders authorizing use of pen registers, 13 requests to foreign governments for evidence, over 230 orders for communication records, interviewed about 500 individuals, and made 34 politicized indictments on dubious charges unconnected to his mandate.

Despite all of the above from May 2017 – March 2019, it struck out, finding no evidence of Russian US election interference — because there was nothing to find.

Yet phony claims otherwise remain like a bad aftertaste — the fake news Guardian report the latest example of yellow journalism instead of the real thing.

Mleeta National Monument of Resistance – the “Miracle of Lebanon”

Steve Sweeney
International Editor of the Morning Star newspaper in Britain.

11 Jul 2021

Steve Sweeney

Source: Al Mayadeen

“the National Monument is not about war, it is about peace.”

“We are blessed” Mohammad tells me, a sentence he would repeat a number of times during our gatherings.

He is referring to the so-called “Miracle of Lebanon,” the 2006 war that catapulted Hezbollah to legendary status in the country, as it became the first Lebanese force to defeat “Israel”.

And it was a loss that led to serious recriminations in Tel Aviv as Israeli soldiers were humiliated by the resistance fighters, in a war they were expected to win, but instead, ended up weakening the Zionist regime and strengthening the very forces they hoped to crush.

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The victory remains a source of national pride and certainly boosted the standing of the Shia political movement in the minds of the Lebanese people.

This was a war that pitted resistance fighters against one of the most technically advanced nations on the planet. “Israel” has the world’s fourth-largest military and, despite denials, is a major nuclear power.

But as Robert Taber points out in his seminal work ‘The War of the Flea’, a conventional army cannot defeat a resistance force fighting for a sacred cause that carries the support of the civilian population.

“Yes, here, the resistant had much more than the support of his own people,” Mohammad said, “all inhabitants in surrounding areas were part of the forces that fought against “Israel”. The resistance couldn’t have survived and arisen without the support its people.”

We are at the National Monument, in the mountainous village of Mleeta in southern Lebanon, the site of the 2006 resistance base, described disparagingly by Britain’s Daily Mail newspaper as “Hezbollah’s Disneyland.”

It was clear that the newspaper, known for supporting Nazi Germany during the 1930s has never set foot in the former Hezbollah military post that has been turned into a museum commemorating the 2006 war.

Far from the “theme park where children are indoctrinated the glory of martyrdom,” the Mleeta museum is a respectful commemoration to the Lebanese people martyred during “Israel’s” war.

In fact, it is not different from war memorials in other countries, including Britain’s Imperial War Museum or the Museum of the Battle of Normandy in France.

But not for the first time, the Daily Mail was missing the point as Mohammad explained “the National Monument is not about war, it is about peace.”

Opening in 2010 to mark the commemoration of the 10th anniversary of Hezbollah’s ability to oust “Israel” from Lebanon. The popular tourist site consists of original Hezbollah bunkers and a 200 meter tunnel that was made a fully operational resistance command center.

An array of weapons, including anti-aircraft guns, that were used in the defeat of the Zionist entity are displayed on the so-called Martyr’s Hill, which also commemorates all those who sacrificed their lives defending Lebanon.

“We are blessed” Mohammad told me once again. 

He is referring to the natural green blanket that provided the resistance fighters with camouflage, making the base impenetrable and undetectable despite the close proximity of the Israeli Sujud military post.

“The trees here remain green all year round, Mohammad told me, “Night vision doesn’t work. They didn’t know Hezbollah was here, they never discovered the military base” my guide explained as he pointed at the mountain opposite where the Zionist soldiers were located.

“Nature always defeats technology,” he said,” It is the master of everything. This is the nearest place to God.”

But life in the mountains was tough. The nearest hospital was over an hour away and it was difficult for those who were wounded to receive treatment. 

Movements were restricted to avoid detection and it was cold – fires were not allowed to avoid them being spotted by Israeli surveillance planes.

“There were no roads as there are now,” Mohammad explained. “Volunteers were expected to make their own way here, which wasn’t easy as they would have to carry weapons and missiles too.”

A large part of the resistance was what Hezbollah leader Sayed Hassan Nasrallah has described as “the brain war” which had a huge impact on moral as “Israel” did not know what technology Hezbollah fighters were using.

His infamous statement stressing that “Israel” is “weaker than a spider’s web” is encapsulated in a showpiece at the entrance of the museum, which proudly displays helicopters and tanks downed by the resistance.

“This was a turning point in the war” Mohammad said as he indicated the destroyed Merkava tank. Known as God’s chariot, the Israeli Defence Force (IDF) believed that it was indestructible.

“The resistance did something that “Israel” didn’t expect,” he added. “This was one of their most elite tanks and it was destroyed by the resistance forces. It was a harsh damage to the Israeli military and people’s moral, who turned against the war.”

The war that was supposed to be won swiftly by “Israel”, ended with a UN-brokered ceasefire and the withdrawal of IDF troops just a month after the invasion was launched.

Nearly 2000 Lebanese people were killed and around one million internally displaced as Israeli missiles destroyed civilian infrastructure.

During the war, the United States, Britain, Australia and Canada backed “Israel”. Washington provided “Israel” with precision-guided missiles as part of the so-called “War on Terror.”

The British government, led at the time by Tony Blair, shamefully blocked a move by the European Union to call for an immediate ceasefire.

This was a stark contrast to the people of those nations who demonstrated, claiming an end to “Israel’s” war.

Chants of “We are all Hezbollah” reverberated on the streets of London which provoked some controversy as leading figures in the smaller left-wing parties scurried to tell their members not to join in.

What it reflected was an expression of unconditional solidarity with the resistance party, rejecting the media’s portrayal of Hezbollah, classified as an “Islamist terrorist party.”

It was a British, European, US classification that triggered nervousness around the chants.

Another guide named Mohammad – “we are all called Mohammad here” he joked – said that this was a hypocritical move designed to delegitimize the resistance.

“They are guilty of double standards” he added as we discussed Operation Timber Sycamore – the covert CIA program; millions of dollars in cash, weapons and training were channeled to a myriad of Salafi groups in Syria.

“We are against terrorism” he told me, as he went on to condemn any actions against the people of Europe, Britain and the US.

At the time of writing, Lebanon is going through another crisis – an economic crash due, in large part, to the US Caesar sanctions that aimed people’s starvation and submission, with the intention of disarming Hezbollah.

To do so would be to leave the people of Lebanon at the mercy of “Israel” and trigger a potential massacre. The monument in Mleeta serves as a reminder of why that must never be allowed to happen.

It is not up to the US – or for that matter the Western liberal left – to determine how the Lebanese people resist. The only beneficiaries of a disarmed Hezbollah are “Israel” and US imperialism.

We saw during “Israel’s” recent bombardment of the Palestinian people in the besieged Gaza strip efforts to delegitimize the resistance through the media and other channels by branding Hamas – the democratically elected government – as terrorists.

Deranged, former US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has used the Hezbollah bogeyman to demonize Venezuela, Cuba and other Latin American countries, insisting on having operating cells there.

This dangerous narrative shifts the focus away from the real global terrorists – US imperialism. 

Washington has at least 800 military bases across the world and has funded death squads and supported coups in Latin America and the Middle East at great human cost.

Fearful of the decline of the dollar as the world currency – and with it the ability of the US finance capital to control world markets – it has embarked on a new Cold War against China and imposed crippling sanctions on other countries during the middle of the pandemic.

As Sayed Nasrallah said about “Israel”, the US is weaker than a spider’s web. But this also makes it more dangerous.

Hezbollah remains an important force in the fight against US imperialism and supporting the rebuilding of Lebanon. We might not agree on everything – in fact we almost certainly don’t. But this is to miss the point.

The future of Lebanon must be determined by its people, not external forces driven by their own imperialist interests.The opinions mentioned in this article do not necessarily reflect the opinion of Al mayadeen, but rather express the opinion of its writer exclusively.

Moderna and Pfizer Coronavirus Vaccines Linked to Mild Heart Inflammation

Today 08:42

The cases were most commonly found in men under 40

Source: Al Mayadeen

After the second dosage, both the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna COVID vaccinations have been related to cases of myocarditis and pericarditis (swelling of or near the heart) in a small number of people, mostly men under 40.

  • The cases were most commonly found in men under 40

Although the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna vaccines have been linked to incidents of mild heart inflammation, European and UK health organizations believe the benefits exceed the dangers.

In a tiny percentage of persons who received the immunizations, myocarditis (inflammation of the heart muscle) and pericarditis (inflammation of the lining around the heart) have been reported.

Both the European Medicines Agency (EMA) and the UK’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) say that younger men were most likely to see the complication, especially after their second jab.

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) and the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) are advising healthcare professionals and the general public to watch for signs of heart inflammation in patients who have received the two vaccines.

Chest pain, shortness of breath, palpitations, and an irregular heartbeat are all symptoms.

Anyone who has been vaccinated and is experiencing these symptoms should seek “urgent medical assistance,” according to the MHRA.

The instances were most common in men under the age of 40, and they occurred within 10 days following a second dose.

The majority of patients who had myocarditis and pericarditis healed fast with standard myocarditis and pericarditis therapies as well as rest.

Myocarditis and pericarditis are now listed as side effects of the vaccines by the EMA.

Short news update from the Saker (UPDATED 2x)

Short news update from the Saker (UPDATED 2x)

July 07, 2021

Dear friend,

Today I am starting a new kind of post – a short news update.  This is not an open thread where everybody shares all the latest information during a crisis, nor is it a full analysis.  In this new category, I plan to include several small news which are relevant to what was discussed in the past or factoids/developments which might be discussed in a full analysis in the near future. I will include links to my sources only when I have them readily available, otherwise you will have to wait until my analyses to get the full sources.  Note that this new category will appear under the “Saker Analyses and Interviews” section to give it maximal visibility.  Finally, and just to make this clear, the regular rules of moderation will apply to this new section too.  I hope that you will find this feature useful (by all means, let me know). 

Cheers

The Saker

PS: please feel free to also contribute short news items in the “short news update” section!


  • Amazing!  The US forces in Afghanistan left the (Soviet built) airbase in Bagram at night, not even informing their supposed Afghan “allies”.  The base was looted for several hours as the US Americans left A LOT of stuff, including guitars and plenty of weapons (all of which will now go on sale in the various public markets in Afghanistan.
  • Comparing the Soviet and the US performance in Afghanistan is quite amazing.  To make a long story short, I find the performance of Uncle Shmuel’s forces absolutely appalling and laughable.  Killed lots of people, built nothing, never controlled much of the country, fled in the middle of the night and abandoned its allies.   They literally switched off the electricity in Bagram and then fled.  Absolutely typical “garden variety” for all US interventions.  The Soviets even left with all their dignity safe – but the wannabe world hegemon had to leave in shame, like he always does.
  • The Taliban are now shooting Afghan collaborators in the streets, and floods of terrified refugees are now running for the border in the hope of escaping the Taliban’s wrath.
  • Did you know that since the US invasion of Afghanistan the volume of heroin produced by this country increased FIFTEEN FOLD!
  • Bottom line: the US+NATO+EU were defeated by the Taliban.  Totally and comprehensively.
  • Today Russian Su-30SM has intercepted a US Poseidon aircraft over the Black Sea and forced it to turn away from the Russian border.
  • Three more days left for Sea Breeze 2021.  Never say never, and we can’t be sure, but I don’t believe that NATO will try to breach the Russian maritime border again (these guys lost a long war to the Afghans, I don’t think they have the stomach for Russia!).

This is how the Soviet Forces left Afghanistan:

And this is how the “greatest military force in the Milky Way” left Afghanistan:

  • There are several reports, so far unconfirmed, that US bases in Iraq and Syria have come under attack.  There has also been a huge explosion in the port of Dubai.
  • UK Foreign Minister Raab just repeated in the British Parliament that the British Navy fully intends to repeat the actions of the HMS Defender.

Expired Vaccines! “Israel” Planned to Extend Expiration Date of Pfizer Doses

03/07/2021

Expired Vaccines! “Israel” Planned to Extend Expiration Date of Pfizer Doses

By Staff, Agencies

Swapping soon-to-expire COVID vaccines is one thing, but extending the expiry date is a whole new level!

The “Israeli” had previously tried to swap its expired stockpiled coronavirus shots with the United Kingdom, and before that with the Palestinian authority.

Under the exchange, the “Israeli” entity, which currently has an excess of doses, would swap around 1 million of its Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines that are due to expire on July 30 with fresh vaccines.

The PA announced it had cancelled the agreement with the “Israelis” on Friday, 18 June 2021, saying the doses are set to expire soon.

Relatedly, an “Israeli” Channel 12 report said on Wednesday, 30 June 2021, that the entity is holding negotiations with the UK to broker a COVID vaccine swap deal.   

But the most recent “Israeli” action regarding COVID inoculation is planning to extend the expiration date of the Pfizer vaccines.

The “Israeli” entity has been encouraging “Israelis” to get vaccinated before the July 9 deadline with a focus on inoculating adolescents.

The entity’s so-called Ministry of Health said Friday morning that 295 cases of coronavirus have been identified in the past 24 hours.

The percentage of positive tests decreased slightly from the previous day and stands at 0.5 percent.

Meanwhile, Pfizer has rejected the entity’s request to extend the expiration date on over a million of its vaccines that are due to expire on July 30, Channel 12 reported Thursday night.

The biotech company told the entity that it does not currently have enough information to ensure that the doses will still be safe beyond the current expiration date.

Without the go ahead from Pfizer, the entity may be unable to offer the first COVID-19 shot to “Israelis” after July 9 as there will be no vaccines for the second dose three weeks later.

Channel 13 reported Thursday that “Israel” has a stockpile of unused Moderna vaccines that it can use if the Pfizer vaccine extension is not given.

Pfizer and Moderna are both “messenger” RNA, or mRNA, vaccines, marking the first mRNA vaccines available to the public.

Will the Russians sink a British ship the next time around?

June 28, 2021

To begin, let’s recap what just happened in the Crimean waters. First, the HMS Defender deliberately entered the Russian waters under the pretext that the Brits don’t recognize what they call the “annexation” of Crimea. The Brits deny it, but after seeing 4 bombs explode ahead of the HMS Defender, they altered their course as the Russians demanded.

Next, before looking into this deeper, let’s also keep in mind the following fact: the entire Black Sea is a de facto “Russian lake” meaning that Russia has the full military control of the Black Sea. For those alternatively gifted, let me explain what this means:

  • The Bal and Bastion coastal defense missiles can sink any ship in the Black Sea in minutes.
  • The Black Sea Fleet has seven advanced diesel-electric attack submarines, arguably the most advanced on the planet.
  • The HMS Defender was operating without any air cover but detected over 20 Russian military aircraft overflying it.

For a more detailed discussion of this reality, please see these four (hereherehere and here) articles by Andrei Martyanov. For a more detailed discussion of the laws of the sea, please see this discussion by Nat South.

In other words, the HMS Defender was a sitting duck with no chance of survival had the Russians decided to fire in anger. General Konashenkov, who is in charge of contacts with the media, had this to say about the outcome of the British provocation: (emphasis added)

“The epic fiasco of the provocation of the British destroyer Defender in the Black Sea, which abruptly changed course from Russian territorial waters after the warning shots of the patrol ship, will remain a fragrant stain on the reputation of the Royal Navy for a long time”

(-: Thereby suggesting that the Brits soiled their pants and ran for their lives 

Speaking of anger: I have been parsing the Russian media over the past couple of days and I will only say that there are A LOT of commentators who are mad at the Kremlin for NOT opening fire in earnest and sinking the Defender.

Furthermore, several Russian officials have now indicated that the next time around, the intruders would be destroyed.

Did I mention that the British Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, George Eustice declared in an interview that the Brits plan to repeat such operations in the future?

This now begs the question: would the Kremlin really risk WWIII by sinking a British Navy Ship trying to, to use a British expression, “poke the Russian bear”?

Interestingly, the Brits deny that the Russians fired any munitions ahead of the Defender. Why would they do that? My personal explanation is that the British government does not want to freak out the British and European public opinion. But if they are hiding the truth, it means that this is a truth which makes them uncomfortable. What do you think they might be hiding?

Still, the two UK reporters who were on the Defender (by total coincidence, I am sure), both reported hearing explosions and seeing Russian combat aircraft. The Russian FSB also released video footage taken from the Russian border patrol ships which were shadowing the HMS Defender. You can clearly see the Russian firing their guns ahead of the HMS Defender:

The Russians also have radar footage from many sources and it has been really easy for them to prove that the Defender changed course and left after four bombs exploded ahead on its course.

The reason for all this? “We don’t recognize the annexation of Crimea”. Which makes no sense because EVEN if the UK does not recognize the Russian “annexation” of Crimea (and, along with that, the democratic will of the people of Crimea), they should still recognize the indisputable fact that Russia is the “occupying power” which, therefore, has the legal right to deny any ship “innocent passage” if it believes that this ship is a threat, collecting intelligence or used for propaganda purposes (again, read Nat South’s superb discussion on the applicability of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea to this situation). As usual, the Brits are lying about everything, including what the UNCLOS really says…

Now let’s look at this from the Russian point of view.

First, the Russians remember how the Brits declared a 200 miles zone around the Malvinas Islands (“Falklands” in UK parlance) and immediately sunk the cruiser General Belgrano as soon as it entered this zone. The Russians also remember how the Turks shot down a Russian SU-24 over Syria because it had penetrated in Turkish air space for exactly 6 seconds. The HMS Defender spent about 30 minutes in Russian waters.

Can you really blame them for feeling that “some are more equal than others”?

The Brits, being the superior race which only they think they are, declared that they only changed course because a slower Russian vessel was ahead of them and they decided to pass it from the open waters side. In fact, the Brits are so superior to the mongoloid Russian hordes and their dictator that they refused to even reply to the Russian coast guard vessel when it threatened to open fire if the Brits did not change course.

NOT talking to Russia, ever, seems to be the latest fad with NATOThe same goes for the EU which is now hostage to the 3B+PU nutcases.

(I wonder, does anybody still believe this crap? Does anybody still believe that Great Britain is, well, great? In Russia the expression “мелкобритания” is increasingly used. Translated into English this would be something like “Tiny Britain”)

Anyways, all of the above clearly shows one of two things:

  • The Brits do not believe that Russia could sink a UK warship
  • The Brits are willing to risk a major military incident possibly leading to war in order to maintain tensions between Russia and the collective West (aka the AngloZionist Empire).

This begs the question: are the Brits correct, or are they delusional?

First, we need to understand the purpose of this provocation: to disrupt the planned summit between the EU and Russia which France and Germany seemed to support, and which the 3B+PU and the Netherlands and the Czech Republic (iirc) categorically opposed (the Ukraine is not member of the EU, but they sure acted as if they had some kind of moral veto power over EU decisions). Sure, the UK has Brexited and should therefore not have any say in EU decisions, but the Anglosphere has enough power over the EU to make this completely irrelevant. We also know that Boris Johnson personally gave the order to the HMS Defender to enter Russian waters. Obviously, that kind of high level decision could not have been taken without Uncle Shmuel’s approval, thus we are dealing with a very deliberately calculated action. If this was the goal, it has been a total success and the Brits just screwed over Macron and Merkel.

Second, this is really largely irrelevant for Russia. If the EU cannot muster enough political courage to talk to Russia, then Russia will directly talk with those countries which want to talk to Russia. To put it bluntly, Russia does not give a damn about the 3B+PU. As for the Netherlands, they are a big investor in the Russian economy and Russians don’t care about what the Dutch might or might not say, as long as they keep investing (in Euros, by the way!), which, so far, they still are. Besides, considering the economic size of Holland, even if they stopped investing this would only be a minor nuisance for Russia. In fact, Merkel has even declared that if the EU cannot agree to have a dialog with Russia, Germany would seek other venues for this purpose.

Third, what just happened is yet another clear sign that the EU is profoundly dysfunctional. After the end of the USSR in 1991, russophobic Neocons in the West decided to make the Russians “pay” by incorporating ex WTO and ex Soviet Republics into NATO. At first, it looked great, but now it has become clear that the blowback from this truly idiotic policy has many unexpected benefits for Russia and major problems for the Empire. They include:

  • Russia got rid of all the Soviet periphery which was bleeding the Soviet Union dry.
  • None of the newly created states has become a viable, successful state.
  • The Empire spent many billions trying to prop up these newly independent states (ex USSR and eastern Europe) and tried to turn them into some anti-Russia showcase. They totally and comprehensively failed.
  • Now the UK and, even more so, the 3B+PU have taken the EU hostage and are preventing the countries which matter from, well, mattering anymore.
  • Countries bordering Russia are now all demanding NATO troops, which puts the latter in the worst possible position, right across the Russian border and, therefore, within range of too many Russian weapons to list here.
  • Last, but not least, the stupid and, frankly, totally irresponsible actions of countries like the UK and the Ukraine risk involving all of Europe in a most dangerous and devastating war.

Bottom line is this: the leaders of the AngloZionist thought they had scored big with the expansion of the EU and NATO. Now they are screwed in a major way and with no solution in sight.

This all is hardly big news, but yet another confirmation of the advanced state of collapse of both NATO and the EU. Conversely, the more EU countries decide to hold bilateral talks with Russia, the better for the future of the European continent.

As for the Brits, they are clearly suffering from phantom pains for their lost empire. Think of it, in less than one century the British Empire went from being the empire upon which the sun never sets, (Britannia rules the waves, etc.) to being the USA’s poodle which nobody respects or takes seriously. Bojo is desperate to prove that he is a “new Churchill” which will teach the damn Russians (and Chinese!) to kowtow to the UK or, failing that, at least kowtow to the Anglosphere. And, as a typical western politician, Bojo is both too ignorant and too narcissistic to understand the risks he is taking.

The Brits seemed to be combining imperialist arrogance (and delusion!) with a truly shocking lack of PR skills. Not only did they deny that the Russians opened warning fire ahead of them, only to have the FSB prove this denial false by publishing the video of the Russian coast guard vessel firing ahead of the Defender, but now they came up with a truly clumsy piece of nonsense about how a “super dooper secret” dossier on the British plans was somehow apparently found by a passer-by in a heap of trash behind a bus stop in Kent (you think I am joking, then see here). Needless to say, the Russians openly made fun of the Brits saying that “007 agents agents aren’t what they used to be”. Furthermore, it now appears that some top UK officials were very much opposed to this move which was demanded by Johnson personally (see here and here).

What about the British military?

We know that their actual capabilities are laughable. But what about their understanding of the situation?

I am not a mind reader and I don’t know what the British sailors (and their bosses) were thinking, but there is one thing which I am sure of: the next time around (and, there will be a next time according to UK ministers), the Russians will use force. If possible, they will try to ram the intruding vessel; if not, they might strike at the intruding vessel’s engines/props to disable it and, possibly, tow it. Should the intruding vessel try to fire back, the Russians would probably fire a torpedo and disable it. That is my best guess. I also decided to ask Andrei Martyanov (a former Soviet Navy officer) what he thinks will happen the next time around. Here is his reply:

“Most likely, they will open fire, but first only with small-caliber naval artillery (30-mm from the Russian border patrol ship or even 76-mm), and that fire will be aimed at the propeller-steering group (i.e. at the stern) to begin with. At the same time, the coastal defense batteries will actively track the intruder with their targeting radar, plus the Russian will “hang” 15-20 Su-24 and SU-30SM in immediate readiness to use more serious means – for example, the supersonic (M = 3.5) anti-radiation X-31 and take out the mast with its radar. That is just for starters. Next, the Russians will gage the reaction of the intruder: if they try to shoot at any Russian target, they will be sunk. But this would only happen inside Russian territorial waters. Outside Russian waters the Russians will only monitor their moves. Lastly, do not forget – there are anywhere between 4 and 7 Project 636 submarines at any one time patrolling the Black Sea, each capable of firing 6 3M54 anti-ship missiles in one salvo.”

The British paratroopers also recently engaged in a major airdrop in Jordan. The Brits see that as, quote “as show of force to ISIS and Russia”. Russia’s reaction? The Russian Aerospace Forces dispatched two MiG-31K carrying the Kinzhal hypersonic missiles to the Russian Aerospace base in Khmeimim, thus showing the Brits that their ships in the Mediterranean and Black Sea sail at the pleasure of Russia. Again, this won’t be reported by the western legacy ziomedia in order to keep the public opinion totally unaware of the risks Bojo and his gang are taking in the name of their phantom pains about empire. Russian Aerospace Forces Tu-22M3M were also recently deployed to Khmeimim.

Here is a short video of the Russian MoD Zvezda channel to give you an idea of how this all looks (in Russian, but no translation needed) and which quite openly shows whom the Russians consider their likely target.

Here is a Zerohedge article discussing some of this.

Does anybody still remember what happened when the “invincible” British Navy tried to participate in Trump’s (totally failed) cruise missile attack on Syria? The British subs in the Mediterranean were shadowed by not one, but apparently two Russian submarines. That convinced the British sub commander that firing its missiles would be suicidal. The Brits gave up and left the area.

There is a pattern here: western politicians make a lot of very loud statements; the Russians simply take whatever actions they deem necessary, which frees them from the need to make threats of roaring statements in the first place.

This approach has a problem: only highly specialized people in the West are fully aware of what the Russians are doing and even less people fully understand the implications of the Russian actions. Add to this a western media which lies for a living, and this results in a population in Europe which is almost totally unaware of the very real risks the reckless actions of their (supposed) representative governments engage in. How many Brits will realize that a grinning and apparently happy Boris Johnson has almost stumbled into a war with Russia? Very few I bet. If anything, the common folk in the West are told that (a) their military is the best and (b) that the Russian military is much weaker and the Russians understand that. Ergo: there is no risk.

Then there is the fact that while the general population is kept in total ignorance, western political elites are mostly composed of folks with very strong narcissistic tendencies combined with a total inability to learn from mistakes (both theirs and those of others). Needless to say, history does not inform these people either. Finally, since these folks can never admit a mistake, however minor or serious, they cannot change course; doubling down over and over is pretty much all they are capable of.

Conclusion:

There is no doubt that the Biden Administration has taken a very different course towards Russia (and Iran, by the way!) than the one favored by the Trump administration. I attribute this change of policy to the likely realization by top Pentagon officials that the US desperately needs to “catch its breath” and that the US military is in no condition to take on any other halfway competent military. Even if this is a ploy to win time for reorganizing, I welcome this as, by definition, anything is preferable to war, especially a full-scale war. However, there are clearly interests in both the US and Europe which are desperately opposed to any form of detente with Russia and who want to maintain an atmosphere of crisis and tensions just short of war. Of course, I don’t believe in any meaningful differences between the various factions competing for power on a strategic level: they all want to destroy, submit, break up and otherwise devastate Russia. This 1000 year old dream of the western ruling elites (pretty much all of them) still remains the strategic target of the West. But on a tactical level there appear to be two factions, one which understands that the Empire desperately needs a break to regroup and refine its strategy and another one which still seems to believe that the Empire is invincible and appears to be hell-bent on triggering as many conflicts/wars as it deems necessary to restore Uncle Shmuel’s worldwide hegemony.

That second group, clearly strong, has ties with the UK and the 3B+PU gang who are desperate to remain relevant and who understands that should there ever be any type detente (or even a tense modus vivendi) agreed upon between Russia and the West, that group would become comprehensively irrelevant to the future of our planet. While we can disagree with this logic, we have to remain aware that for countries like the UK or the 3B+PU this is truly an existential issue and that they see a continuation of tensions as the only path to political survival. On this specific point, I happen to agree with them.

I mentioned that ever since Dubya, all the US Presidents who came to the White House were extremely weak, which resulted in the breakup of any single US foreign policy into many different, and often contradictory, “mini foreign policies” by various branches of the government (Congress vs White House, plus a Pentagon foreign policy, a CIA foreign policy, a Foggy Bottom policy, a DoE policy, etc. etc. etc.). Hence, for example, the recent seizure by Uncle Shmuel of the PressTV domain name. (BTW – the domain name https://www.presstv.ir/ still works!).

This all makes for a very dangerous brew. Especially since the Russians clearly and sincerely believe that they cannot back down any further.

I therefore conclude that a future military incident, with the use of fire in anger, and possibly resulting in a real war, remains not only possible, but even likely, unless the factions in the West which want a time-out to regroup manage to get the russophobic nutcases under control.

Will that happen? I doubt it very much. Biden is not only weak and senile, his Administration has been organized with wokeness and (pseudo) “diversity” as opposed to competence or expertise. Thus, the collective Biden (which I designate as “Biden” as opposed to the real Biden) is probably too weak to get the crazies under control, even for a short time.

And here is the really scary thing: from the Russian point of view (and Russians all understand all of the above), sinking a British ship might well be the best solution. Why? Because once this happens, it will be impossible to conceal from the western public opinion that its so-called “leaders” are reckless, incompetant, delusional and simply dangerous narcissists who are now willing to risk a continental war (possibly nuclear!) just in order to keep denying the reality of their irrelevance. If Russia wanted to invade the UK, I believe that most Brits would be willing to risk it all to defend their motherland. But I very much doubt that a majority/plurality of Brits would support the notion of dying for Crimea even if they believe that Russia “annexed” the peninsula and is now “oppressing the Ukrainian people of Crimea”. Nor would they want to die over MH17, Skripal, Syria, Navalnyi or the oppressed homos in Chechnia.

There is one more thing I think Putin could do: make a solemn speech and directly address the people of the West telling them the truth about what the western political leaders are doing. He could honestly tell the people in the West that Russia has retreated as far as she could. He can tell the people of the West that Russia did what she so often did in history, she traded space for time and that the four years break of the Trump Administration has allowed Russia to fully rearm, retrain and reorganize her armed forces which are now quite capable of taking on both the US and NATO and prevail.

Yes, I know, Saddam Hussein and Muammar Gaddafi tried to appeal to the people of the West and, in both cases, the democratic and free western media completely obfuscated these admittedly naive and clumsy attempts. But if Putin speaks directly to the people of the West, and explains to them what a war (even a conventional one) would mean for Europe, they would have to listen. Putin could clearly indicate to the people of the West which actions of the Empire Russia could never and would never tolerate. Finally, he could clearly spell out why the Russian people would prefer war to any surrender to the Empire. And, just to make sure that the message gets through, the Russian Navy might want to have one of its Yasen-M class SSGN surface somewhere in the Channel or the Tu-160 practice a cruise missile release on London (only electronically, of course). Hussein and Gaddafi did not have such capabilities. Russia does, and she should make use of them.

Fear, especially existential fear, might well be the only thing which could break through the wall of silence and disinformation which the western media has been feeding the people for decades.

How much hope do I place in the Biden Administration taking control of the nutcases or for Putin to directly address the people of the West? Not much at all. And the next best outcome is for Russia to sink a US/UK warship (or shoot down an aircraft) without triggering a continental war. Is that even possible? Yes, I think so. Very dangerous, but possible.

Does Russia have any other choice? If so, I don’t see it. Do you?

Post scriptum: this just in – the USS Ross (DDG-71), an Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer in the United States Navy, has just entered to Black Sea on her way to Odessa where the Ukies are preparing monoevers if their “mosquito fleet” in the latest “Sea Breeze” NATO maneuvers (the biggest ones to date – 30 countries participate!). The Ukies have also declared that the Ross plans to follow the exact same course as the Defender did. The Russians? They announced that the USS Ross is now a “fat target” on their coastal defense missiles Bal and Bastion. As for Foreign Minister Lavrov, he just authored a seminal article entitled “The Law, the Rights and the Rules” which, still using diplomatic language, shows the utter disgust even Russian diplomats feel for the incompetence and hypocrisy of the West.

“More of the same” seems to be the trend of the day…

Yemenis Talk of ‘Immense Loss’ To Drone Strikes

28/06/2021

Yemenis Talk of ‘Immense Loss’ To Drone Strikes

By Staff, The Guardian

Relatives of people martyred in drone strikes in Yemen have written to the UK’s war secretary to ask about his country’s involvement in the killings and request that he meet them.

In a piece by Haroon Siddique published by The Guardian, the family members said they have suffered “immense loss” of loved ones – including children – at the hands of US targeted drone strikes and are demanding to know what part the UK has played.

Among the bereaved signatories are members of the al-Ameri and al-Taisy families who between them have lost 34 relatives, nine of them children – the youngest just three months old – in a series of strikes over several years. They included a US drone strike in 2013 on the wedding of Abdullah al-Ameri and Warda al-Taisy.

The letter to war secretary Ben Wallace, seen by The Guardian, says: “The loved ones that have been taken from us are not ‘collateral damage’ or casualties of war. We live far from any battlefield and have no connection to militant groups of any kind. Can you tell us, face to face, that the UK played no role in the missile attacks that have ripped our families to pieces?

“We would like to know: was the UK involved in the strikes that killed our family members? Did UK intelligence feed into the strikes? Were our family members selected for death from US bases on British soil? And do UK pilots fly the surveillance missions that continue to terrorize our communities?”

The US drone program has been criticized as unlawful. The extent of the UK’s role has long been the subject of concern with carefully worded denials issued by the government.

The letter, from clients of the charity Reprieve, which supported them in coordinating and sending it, refers to the UK government’s fight to keep secret its policy for helping the US target drone strikes. Reprieve has been seeking full disclosure of the UK’s targeting policy, which also governs assistance provided to partners and US bases in the UK, under the Freedom of Information Act, but its attempts have so far been rebuffed.

The signatories say that not only did they lose loved ones but the strikes have left a legacy of fear with “the buzzing noise above … a constant reminder that our lives could be ended in an instant, without warning”.

Ahmed bin Ali Jaber, 31, said his uncle Salem, a teacher, and cousin Waleed, a policeman, were both killed when a missile struck their village in 2012. He said children and adults alike have been psychologically scarred, with his wife crying in fear every time a drone flies overhead.

“I can’t even begin to explain how painful and very horrifying the incident was, it’s a day that the whole village won’t forget,” he said. “We want to live peacefully. I know that Britain is a democracy and I would hope if the British government has any role in aiding the US drone program it would not accept that such a peaceful village still continues to live in fear.”

The bereaved signatories acknowledge that Covid travel restrictions make an in-person meeting impossible so ask that Wallace meet them via Zoom.

Another signatory, Adel al Manthari, who was the only survivor of a strike in 2018 which killed four of his family members and paralyzed him, said: “For three years there has been no accountability for the drone strike that paralyzed me, just silence. Now I understand the British may have been involved. Will they provide the accountability their partner [the US] has not?”

A ministry of war spokesperson said: “The secretary will review this correspondence when it is received and respond through the appropriate channels.”

The UK Is Dangerously Trying To Sabotage Russia’s Rapprochement With The West

By Andrew Korybko

Source

The UK Is Dangerously Trying To Sabotage Russia

The British Navy’s violation of Russia’s Black Sea maritime border on Wednesday was a dangerous attempt to sabotage Russia’s rapprochement with the West by provoking an international security incident between these nuclear-armed Great Powers.

The world was shocked on Wednesday after reports came streaming in that Russian fighter jets and ships fired off warning shots at the British Navy after the latter violated the Eurasian Great Power’s maritime border in the Black Sea. For its part, London denied that any such warning shots were fired and insisted that it behaved within international norms. Moscow immediately countered by accusing the UK of lying, which seems to be the most accurate interpretation of reality after a BBC journalist’s account conforms with Russia’s. The UK doesn’t recognize Crimea’s democratic reunification with Russia though, hence its claim that everything it did was “legal”. This observation very strongly suggests that the UK was deliberately trying to provoke an international security incident with Russia, which raises the question of why it would do so.

While it can’t be known for sure, it might very well be the case that the UK wanted to sabotage Russia’s rapprochement with the West after last week’s Geneva Summit. That event brought together Presidents Putin and Biden, who both agreed that it’s time to de-escalate tensions between their countries and more responsibly manage their comprehensive competition with one another. The outcome of that scenario successfully unfolding could increase the UK’s post-Brexit strategic isolation, especially if it results in a complementary Russian-EU rapprochement as well. Speaking of which, it might be more than a coincidence that the UK’s dangerous provocation against Russia occurred just hours before reports came in that French President Macron and German Chancellor Merkel are considering inviting President Putin to a European leaders summit sometime in the coming future. The UK might have been tipped off and sought to sabotage it.

Readers should remember that the UK has been waging a fierce Hybrid War against Russia for the past couple of years. I hyperlinked to six of my relevant analyses in a piece two months ago asking “Are The British Behind Czechia’s Surprise Decision To Expel Russian Diplomats?”, which should at the very least be skimmed by anyone who’s interested in this topic. My argument is that empirical evidence very strongly suggests that the UK is acting as the US’ anti-Russian attack dog in continental Europe after Brexit, but considering the recent geopolitical twist of the publicly expressed desire from both Washington and Moscow to repair their immensely damaged relations after last week’s Geneva Summit, it’s entirely possible that London is “going rogue” to an extent. Either that, or it’s more powerfully under the influence of the remaining anti-Russian faction of the US’ permanent military, intelligence, and diplomatic bureaucracies (“deep state”).

The UK, just like Poland, mistakenly bet everything on the US continuing its anti-Russian grand strategic course. London invested heavily in expanding its hybrid capabilities in Central & Eastern Europe (CEE), in particular Latvia, from where it runs a regional disinformation network. It therefore might have understandably felt left in the lurch in light of recent developments. Not only that, but former MI6 agent Christopher Steele’s leading role in the factually debunked Russiagate conspiracy theory’s origins hints at the close working relationship between British intelligence and the anti-Russian faction of the US “deep state”. It therefore wouldn’t be too surprising if the UK is continuing to act as the US’ anti-Russian attack dog in Europe, albeit at the orders of an increasingly less influential “deep state” faction as opposed to the American state itself. This would explain why it just dangerously attempted to provoke a security incident between two nuclear-armed Great Powers.

Keeping in mind the recent fast-moving developments in Russian-American relations and Russian-Western ones more broadly, it doesn’t seem all that likely that the UK will succeed unless the US’ anti-Russian “deep state” faction somehow surprisingly regains its influence at this decisive moment in time, whether due to this particular provocation or perhaps following subsequent ones that might soon be attempted by other disgruntled states like the Baltic ones, Poland, and/or Ukraine. Should this gambit fail like some expect it to, then the UK will only find itself more isolated than ever before from both the US and EU. It could also potentially serve as a deterrent to others like the ones that were mentioned in the preceding sentence unless they become even more desperate to attempt their own provocations. In any case, the Biden Administration must urgently regain control of its allies lest the most Russophobic among them ruin relations with Russia.

Sailing into Black Sea trouble: the right of innocent passage (with some caveats of course)

Sailing into Black Sea trouble:   the right of innocent passage  (with some caveats of course)

June 25, 2021

by Nat South for the Saker Blog

HMS Defender’s highly visible transit past the Crimea coastline, off Cape Fiolent, is the latest bout of heated tensions in the Black Sea and in this article, I’d like to present some aspects relating to UNCLOS and consider some interesting issues that have been revealed following the incident.

The UK sailed a warship, HMS Defender, inside 12nm territorial waters near to the main Russian naval base of Sevastopol. The location of the event was subsequently corroborated by satellite imagery and AIS data. Also nearby was the Dutch warship HHLMS ‘Evertsen’, (not in territorial waters apparently), according to radio communications. Still in the Black Sea at the was the US Navy destroyer, ‘USS Laboon’, (which has now since left the Black Sea).

The incident was quickly escalated via the media and on social media. Interestingly, a BBC journalist crew and a Daily Mail reporter were on board the vessel and the BCC showed footage and gave accounts of the events, (more on this later).

The Russian MoD was VERY quick in releasing information, its version of events, which ultimately caused a flurry of lurid headlines, given the reported spectacular nature of actions, including the firing of warning shots, taken to get the Royal Navy destroyer to leave territorial waters. Although the journalist onboard reported that the shots were out of range, the UK MoD denied that this happened, (see tweet below).

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The whole package of information needs to be treated with a pinch of salt and to emphasise that there some kernels of truth are hidden away in the mass of posts, articles and reports.

Part 2 — dates and events

Some more context with regards to the political dynamics at play, needs to be added as well, given that:

  1. Self-declared adversarial state, (part of current state policy) and NATO member, who consider Russia as a near-peer adversary.
  2. 22 June: The Nazi operation to invade the USSR started in 1941.
  3. 22 June:   Signing of joint UK-Ukrainian military agreement onboard HMS Defender in Odessa on military.
  4. Ongoing NATO activities and exercises in the region, (Sea Defender 21 just finished.
  5.  Large-scale ‘Sea Breeze 21’ soon to happen, (28 June — 10 July). The U.S. lead annual will be headed by Ukraine will lead 32 countries in a naval exercise including Israel, Brasil, Japan and South Korea, (personnel, aircraft or ships);
  6.  Annual MCIS— ongoing in Moscow.
  7. Signing end of May of a Russia and UK protocol updating the bilateral IncSea agreement.

Durable and worthwhile, (long-game) diplomacy got kicked into touch, several times over, considering some of the events and dates listed above, (22 June in particular, as it is a highly significant day, so the timing could be viewed in a jaundiced manner by Russia).

A very poorly thought-out stunt pulled by the UK government, that could have easily backfired, just over a pretext of demonstrating the UK’s policy on non-recognition of Crimea as Russian territory, via several nautical miles. The Russian Navy head called the incident: ” a crude, ops-ended provocation”.

Back to the past and present, one of naval gunboat ‘diplomacy’ to score futile points in the “rule-based international order”. This one incident has temporarily but very visibly overshadowed diplomat events such as MSC or the post work after the Biden-Putin Summit, as it once more shows the disparity between rhetoric and actions on the grounds.  Certainly, Washington would have known of the UK intentions relating to the passage of HMS Defender, (see later).

Part 2 – UNCLOS aspects

It isn’t quite an open and shut cases of innocent passage transit, as some would like to portray and leave like that.  The transit was vigorously challenged by the Russian authorities, more intensely than the last time that a British destroyer, HMS Dragon tried in the same area back in autumn 2020, (but without the attendant intense media storm). There are some factors to consider that are different to HMS Dragon’s voyage, (more later), which have a bearing on how this incident developed in the way it did.

There are several provisions in UNCLOS that are specific to innocent passage, (Article 17 outlines the right and Article 18 defines it). In a nutshell, naval ships as well as commercial ships may be permitted “innocent passage”, as a key right under UNCLOS, but there is a list of caveats attached.  As always with UNCLOS, there’s more than what first meets the eye.

On the face of it, HMS Defender was proceeding as per the right and definition under UNCLOS. Western experts, media outlets and politicians leave like that. The consensus generally is on ‘innocent passage” as a right enshrined in UNCLOS, as long it genuinely innocent. Of course, a coastal state can respond or resort to this if innocent passage is deemed not to fully meet the criteria of innocent passage.  Zooming in on Article 19 (2), which outlines the situations when a coastal state can act:

  • (a) any threat or use of force against the sovereignty, territorial integrity or political independence of the coastal State, or in any other manner in violation of the principles of international law embodied in the Charter of the United Nations;
  • (b) any exercise or practice with weapons of any kind;
  • (c) any act aimed at collecting information to the prejudice of the defence or security of the coastal State;  (x)
  • (d) any act of propaganda aimed at affecting the defence or security of the coastal State; (x)
  • (e) the launching, landing or taking on board of any aircraft;
  • (f) the launching, landing or taking on board of any military device;
  •  (g) the loading or unloading of any commodity, currency or person contrary to the customs, fiscal, immigration or sanitary laws and regulations of the coastal State;
  • (h) any act of willful and serious pollution contrary to this Convention;
  • (i) any fishing activities;
  • (j) the carrying out of research or survey activities;
  • (k)  any act aimed at interfering with any systems of communication or any other facilities or installations of the coastal State; (x)
  • (l) any other activity not having a direct bearing on passage. (x)

(x) is my denotation — possibility of where the coastal state could deem the passage of HMS Defender as being non-innocent). Explanations for this are given later on.

It has to be noted that Russia took the steps as contained in Article 25, to prevent and force the warship to leave territorial waters. Additionally, a number of examples are outlined later on in this article that highlight the potential categories that fall under a non-innocent passage, as also noted under Article 30 of UNCLOS.

Bearing in mind that a combination of Russian Coastguard and naval ships were shadowing the two NATO warships that had left Odessa in Ukraine, movements and activities would have been duly logged by the escorting ships.

Part 3 — Certain aspects

Quick run through of some of the issues to consider:

a. Gunnery exercises (as initially mentioned in the radio comms) taking place in nearby area, (seen as an exclusive pretext some Western Think Tank experts and pundits), but the publication and the radio comms between the Russian coastguard and HMS Defender, indicate the application of Article 24 (2)

Taking note of this part of Article 25: “suspend temporarily in specified areas of its territorial sea the innocent passage of foreign ships if such suspension is essential for the protection of its security, including weapons exercises. Such suspension shall take effect only after having been duly published.”

Article 25(3)

(Yet the referred published  NAVAREA expired on 21 June).

The closed areas were mentioned in many articles when they were first published back in April 2021, the Kommersant published an article including a map of these areas:

Source Kommersant

Back in April 2021, a coastal warning No 152/21 was issued “on the temporary suspension of the right of innocent passage for foreign warships and state-owned vessels” for the Black Sea near the entrance to the Kerchenska Strait and around the southern coast of the Crimean Peninsula during the period from April 24 to 31 October 2021.  This was followed by another warning No 0392/21.

Effectively, Russia created an obstacle and limitations on only navigation of warships and government-owned vessels. (The aspect that the think tank experts and pundits miss completely). To note, that this is situation of suspending the right to innocent passage is provided under international law, not you would hear much about it, under the status of “occupying power”, irrespective of whether Russia is the ‘coastal state’ or not. This status is confirmed by the UN Assembly Resolution 68/292, (For further details – legal opinion provided by Stefan Tamlon on Russia’s restrictions of warships in the Black Sea). This maritime precedent was set by the U.S. in 2004 in Iraq. Thus, the current administration of a territory is a distinct element as to the question whether Russia has lawfully gained Crimea or not.

b. No prior notification or authorisation for transit. — Contentious  and thorny issue all round. Not going down any of those rabbit holes now.

c. Initial disregard of multiple radio requests to change course, followed by refusal to comply with directions. (Radio comms) (Just that alone would suffice getting an Article 30 situation requirement to “leave the territorial sea immediately’).

The catch-all for the coastal state to use: “any other activity not having a direct bearing on passage. “.

One thing is for sure, Russia has not stated publicly the reasons why it took issue to the transit of HMS Defender, under UNCLOS.

d. The UK stated that HMS Defender was passing through Ukrainian waters in a commonly used and internationally recognised transit route.  (see image).

There is a Traffic Separation Scheme (TSS) in area, (internationally recognised by the IMO), so this is what is being referred to and referred to in Article 25 of UNCLOS.  This is also mentioned in the BBC report:

However, the use of a TSS as part of an innocent passage is somewhat made irrelevant given the BBC report that consider the ship making a “deliberate move to make a point to Russia.” Not exactly innocent passage in the cited context given.  (See also point 2 on mode of operation below to see how the concept of using an internationally or legally (as the BBC reported) recognised transit route got mangled and made a farce of. This is not the same as transits through the Dover Straits, (straits is the keyword here and there is a huge difference in re UNCLOS rules).

A TSS is used to regulate the traffic at busy, confined waterways or around capes, notably for commercial ships, and the one off Folient Cape partly runs just inside the 12 NM. Yet, via the Coastal Warnings, the TSS from Cape Khersones to Cape Aitodor was out of bounds to NATO and other foreign warships.  HMS Defender duly ignored these yet deliberately chose to voluntarily comply with an IMO-approved routing for a short period of time that happens to skirt inside the 12NM, to validate its ‘innocent passage” claim under Article 22 of UNCLOS. Warships can voluntarily comply with a TSS in the same way as they can comply with AIS requirements.

According to the Russian coastguard video screenshot of the radar screen, the two ships’ tracks and projected course are clearly visible.

Close up of screen

Strange indeed, that HNMS Evertsen managed not to need to pass through the TSS in the same way as HMS Defender, in order to sail from Ukraine to Georgia.

Part 4 -Things of interest to note

  1. Media

The presence of a BBC and Daily Mail journalist ought not be ignored, one it reaffirms that the BBC  is the state broadcaster, any information, reporting would be deliberate slanted. As such, the Russian military provocation will be recorded and reported.  It does make me wonder if the ‘innocent passage’ wasn’t that innocent, if the BBC gets a spectacular scoop, which could be seen as being as an “act of propaganda aimed at affecting the defence or security of the coastal State” under UNCLOS. (The box has now been ticked for the next incursion by a British warship) — handy to note response by journalist that it is common to have journalists on ships when in the Black Sea. Nice for the UK MoD to have handily arranged press coverage but also at the same time, clumsily bolstered a number of legal implications for any future FONOP challenge.

“Our correspondent, who had been invited on board the ship before the incident happened, saw more than 20 aircraft overhead and two Russian coastguard boats which at times were just 100m (328ft) away.”

The BBC reporter outlines the events in an article:

Source: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-57583363

Cringeworthy headline from the Daily Mail

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(Notice the cannon shots, those warning shots fired at a very safe distance & elevation by the Russian Coastguard, which the UK MoD and Pentagon spokesman claim as Russian lies).

2. Mode of operation

The first thing to stand out is this part mentioned by the BBC journalist:

“The crew were already at action stations as they approached the southern tip of Russian-occupied Crimea. Weapons systems on board the Royal Navy destroyer had already been loaded.”

“Already at Action Stations”, not a normal mode of operations for a naval ship on an ‘innocent-passage, add in the fact that weapons systems had been loaded, (something more than likely to have been noticed by the Russian ships shadowing the destroyer). Double ‘no’ normal mode of operating a warship, jeopardizing and likely voiding its ‘innocent passage” by having carried out these actions alone.

Normal mode of operation is the basis for an innocent passage, otherwise it is likely fall under one of the categories listed in Article 19(2).

“As they approached the southern tip”, meaning as they entered the TSS parallel  to the coast, (see note about TSS above) on a “routine transit” at action stations, (explanation). (See 0:13s in BBC report, “hands to action stations”).

Passage can only be declared to be innocent so long as it is not prejudicial to the peace, good order or security of the coastal State.  Is it peaceful, is it in good order for a warship to transit with weapons loaded and at action stations? No, not in my book and if an incident like this happened with another non-US or non-NATO vessel, the would be absolute howling from the rafters on the negative behaviour and activities.

Another important aspect to consider re Article 19 is: “any act aimed at collecting information to the prejudice of the defence or security of the coastal State;”.  There is no information in open sources or media to suggest that this was being done.  However, if the crew were already at ‘action stations’, then part of this is collect information on military activities in the area, at sea and in the air, so it could be construed that this was indeed happening.  Certainly not “normal mode of operation” either.

Whether it was prejudicial to the coastal State, that’s open to debate, but the timing and location do not do anything to reduce tensions or improve security conditions. Another element to consider is the deployment of an US intelligence gathering military aircraft in the area, certainly collecting information on the Russian activities and response at the same time.   If HMS Defender was really on an innocent passage, then it is just coincidental that the US military is flying in the area? Not to mention what HNLMS ‘Evertsen’ could provide in support on the other side of the 12NM limit if in area, (judging by Russian radio comms, the ship was in the area and the wording used by the RN watchkeeper, “ both of our vessels” 0:55s radio comms on video).

I’m not going to discuss the maritime security aspect as viewed by Russia to the incursion of an UK warship, or the relationship of the UK and Ukraine, as I presume the reader will be aware of the hostile nature and geopolitical environment anyway.

The mission planners and commanding officer of HMS Defender knew what they were doing,  by carrying out a mission, of a nature as to affect the security or welfare of the coastal state, to activate a military response, by carrying actions coming from a country that has Russia as adversarial state in its military doctrine, sailing under 12nm, from the main Russian Black Sea Fleet base.

Hubris and provocation.

Part 5 — Conclusion

There has been numerous controversial debate and international disputes relates to the innocent passage of warships since the early days of UNCLOS, the incident will be just one in the latest of events, fondly termed as a FONOPs by Washington.

The bottom line that the right of “innocent passage” will be invariably subject to the interpretation and application relevant to the national law adopted by the coastal state.  The issue that blurs this is the recognition of sovereignty as a coastal state, (Ukrainian rather than Russian in this area). However, since there are so many nuances involved, it is too complex to outline it all here.

Proving a point based on selected application of international law norms, that suit the narrative and agenda, rather than to maintain or defuse overall tensions, was the objective of the Royal Navy ship, sabre-rattling and hubris well demonstrated. HMS Defender stated “mission confidence and not provocative”.  No attempt to keep tensions at bay or to keep the door ajar for security detente. But the shots to do this were called from Whitehall.

To say that the British warship had international law on its side is ridiculous, by stating that it was in recognised international seaway but also at action stations, and while US and Dutch military units are operating in the area, is stretching the understanding of the concept of ‘innocent passage”. That’s just from the glimpse of information available in the public domain, but the story of the moral superiority of a ship on ‘innocent passage” is in tatters. This particular incident will undoubtedly set the baseline for any future challenges of this kind in the Black Sea. More trouble on the horizon is forecast for the next NATO warship.

US/UK Planned Black Sea Incident?

June 25, 2021

By Stephen Lendman

Source

Colonized Britain partners with US wars by hot and/or other means against invented enemies like Russia — a nation complying fully with international law, threatening no one.

Wednesday’s provocative UK warship’s incursion into Russian territorial waters near its Republic of Crimea and Federal City of Sevastopol mostly likely was jointly planned by Biden and Boris Johnson regime hardliners.

US/UK/EU actions toward Russia are implacably hostile over its freedom from Western control.

Wednesday’s incident followed earlier US/UK provocations against Russia — in flagrant violation of international law their ruling regimes long ago abandoned.

What happened Wednesday — and numerous times earlier — suggests more of the same ahead in various forms.

It shows that the notion of improved Western relations with Moscow is clealy off-the-table, what the incident — like earlier ones — made crystal clear.

Commenting on what happened, UK war secretary Ben Wallace defied reality by claiming that the HMS Defender (sic) carried out “a routine transit from Odessa towards Georgia across the Black Sea (sic).”

A UK war ministry statement falsely said no warning shots across the bow were fired at Britain’s warship by a Russian patrol boat (sic).

A war ministry tweet defied reality by claiming that HMS Defender “conduct(ed) innocent passage through Ukrainian territorial waters (sic) in accordance with international law (sic),” adding:

“(T)he Russians were undertaking a gunnery exercise in the Black Sea (sic) and provided the maritime community with prior-warning of their activity (sic).” 

“No shots were directed at HMS Defender (sic), and we do not recognize the claim that (high-explosive fragmentation bombs) bombs were dropped in her path” to obstruct its Black Sea passage (sic).

Reporter from state owned and controlled BBC Jonathan Beale onboard HMS Defender falsely said the following:

“We heard shots fired…well out of range (sic).”

“The crew were already at action stations as they approached the southern tip of Russian-occupied Crimea (sic).” 

“Weapons systems on board the Royal Navy destroyer had already been loaded.”

“(C)aptain (Vincent Owen) insisted he was only seeking safe passage through an internationally recognized shipping lane (sic)…(that) his mission was…non-confrontational (sic).”

“The warship was in the southern Ukrainian port of Odessa earlier this week, according to the British embassy in Ukraine.” 

“It said the UK and Ukraine had signed an agreement to jointly build warships and construct two naval bases.”

The US, UK and EU falsely claim that Russia annexed Crimea in 2014. There’s no ambiguity about the Big Lie.

Western regimes falsely consider Russian waters off the peninsula Ukrainian territory (sic).

According to another BBC fake news report, HMS Defender wasn’t off Crimea’s coast “to pick a fight (sic) but to make a point (sic) — to assert its right to freedom of navigation in international waters (sic).”

Britain’s provocation was a “dangerous action” and “gross violation” of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, Russia’s Defense Ministry stressed, adding:

Its patrol boat fired warning shots after the UK warship illegally entered Russian territorial waters.

A Russian Su-24 dropped four bombs in HMS Defender’s path as a warning to change course.

On Thursday, Commander-in-Chief of Russia’s Navy Adm. Nikolay Yevmenov said the following:

Britain’s provocation was “an audacious challenge.”

“The UK side must give an appraisal of the crew’s actions, and conduct an investigation.” 

“We, in turn, comply with all standards of the international maritime law.”

Russia’s UK embassy tweeted the following:

“HMS Defender turn(ed) HMS Provocateur and violate(d) Russia’s border. Not exactly a ‘routine’ transit, (was) it?”

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova called Wednesday’s Black Sea incident a “dangerous(ly) crude provocation (in breach of) international and Russian law,” adding:

It could not have happened without US approval.

HMS Defender was in northwest Black Sea waters “in preparation for” the US Sixth Fleet’s annual Exercise Sea Breeze drills from June 28 — July 10.

Co-hosted by the Pentagon and Ukraine, numerous other countries are involved — including Britain.

Zakharova explained that “special ops unit of the US, UK and Ukraine were engaged in trainings aboard (HMS Defender) at the time of the incident.” 

“In these conditions, it is impossible that the ‘peaceful passage’ of the British destroyer was not agreed with the ‘big brother’ ” in Washington.

Separately in response to White House press secretary Psaki saying the Biden regime will not “warn about cyberattacks” on Russia ahead, Zakharova said the following:

The US “is still trying to reserve the right to deliver cyberattacks on the basis of groundless fabricated accusations…which they so often level against Russia.” 

If the Biden regime cyberattacks Russian targets, “it will not be a (US) response…but an undeclared and perfidious attack they will be the first to carry out,” adding:

“We want these words to be treated by Washington as seriously as possible.” 

“Our country, which just marked the 80th anniversary of the beginning of the Great Patriotic War remembers and knows well what perfidy is.” 

“Even hints at the possibility of behavior like this are totally unacceptable.”

Since Biden replaced Trump by brazen election fraud, US relations with Russia plunged to their most dangerous level post-WW II.

No-summit/summit talks between Vladimir Putin and Biden’s double on June 16 achieved nothing toward improving bilateral relations.

Looking ahead, they’re much more likely to worsen, not improve.

A Final Comment

Moscow released a video of HMS Defender’s Black Sea provocation in Russian territorial waters — exposing the Boris Johnson regime’s Big Lie about the incident.

The video clearly showed warning shots fired at the UK warship.

As it approached Russian waters,  its coast guard vessel captain said the following:

“If you don’t change course to starboard, I will fire.”

“You must immediately leave the territorial sea of the Russian Federation.”

When the warning was ignored, the clearly audible order to Britain’s warship said the following:

Fire warning shots. Do not, repeat (do) not hit the Defender. Confirm, over.” 

Britain’s claim about no warning shots fired was exposed as a bald-faced Big Lie.

The same goes for its fabricated claim of “innocent passage (sic) through Ukrainian territorial waters (sic) in accordance with international law (sic).”

Europeans Leaders Refuse to Hold Official Meeting with MBS

10-06-2021

Source

Europeans Leaders Refuse to Hold Official Meeting with MBS

By Staff, Agencies

A Western diplomatic source revealed that European leaders have refused to meet with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman [MBS] because of his black record of human rights violation.

The source stressed that in recent weeks, the Saudi embassies in UK, France, and other European countries had been seeking to arrange an official meeting between MBS and leaders of the mentioned European countries.

But European leaders have strongly refused to accept MBS neither now nor in the near future.

The unanimous response of these European countries was that bin Salman could have informal meetings without an official welcome.

European officials do not want to meet with Bin Salman in any official way for fear of domestic and international criticism, the source added.

The news comes as, in March, Media watchdog ‘Reporters Without Borders’ [RSF] filed a criminal case in a German court against Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and four other high-ranking officials for “crimes against humanity” in connection with the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist critical of Saudi policies under the crown prince, was murdered at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in October 2018. The gruesome killing led by a Saudi hit squad drew global condemnation and adversely affected MBS’s global standing.

The CIA report, that announced that the Saudi Crown Prince had ordered the assassination of Jamal Khashoggi, was the first official report in this regard.  The CIA report has led to the international isolation of the Saudi Crown Prince, at least for a relatively long time.

MBS has been in international isolation since 2017 after a coup against former Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Nayef.

Peace in the Middle East is a prerequisite for Global Peace.

Peace in the Middle East is a prerequisite for Global Peace.

May 28, 2021

By Zamir Awan for the Saker Blog

Without going into history, how the Jewish State of Israel was created in the middle of the Arab World (Muslim World), let’s focus on the current issues and find a solution. As long as it was recognized by the United Nations in 1948, we have to accept this reality; either one likes it or not. The irony is that, since 1948, Israel kept on expanding and pushing Arabs out of their homes and lands and forcing them to leave their land and property, either to immigrate to other countries or live a miserable life in refugee camps.

After Eleven days of recent aggression, it is encouraging that the ceasefire has been implemented. There were multiple reasons for the truce, but the most important was public opinion, which was condemning Israel worldwide. Almost all big cities all over the World have witnessed mass protests, demonstrations, and agitations. It seems the whole World was standing in solidarity with Palestinians. Although few Governments, like the UK, US, and France, were supporting Israeli acts of brutalities, but the public in their own countries was against Israeli aggressions. Some of the biased Western Media was supporting Israel and fabricating lame excuses and irrational justification for Israeli aggressions. But Social Media has played a positive role and rectified public opinion globally. Of Course Russian, and Chinese pressure was also irresistible on the State of Israel to stop air raids. On the ground, within Israel, a civil war erupted among Muslims, Jews, and Christians. Moreover, the Israeli defense system was not so much practical and could not save its territories from rocket attacks. There are reports that the Israeli defense system has shot down its own drones and fighter jets too. Also, there are reports that Israeli security forces killed one suspect within Israel, which was identified as American Jew later on.

Since 1848, Isreal was building its defense and spending lavishly. American economic assistance and Military aid were generous. Even during the recent 11 days conflict, the US was supplying the latest and advanced weapons to Israel, which is an open breach of the UN charter and all norms of the civilized World. Even the US was behind to postpone three times the UNSC statement to stop killings of innocent Palestinians.

Israeli defense capabilities are unmatched in the whole region. With Nuclear weapons, hi-tech, advanced systems, missiles, and the latest war techniques, Israel maintains hegemony. There is no comparison between the whole Arab World’s defense capabilities with Israel alone. Nothing to talk about Palestine or Gazza only, which is a fraction of Israel and that is too dependent on Israel for day-to-day life even.

Looking at the Israeli atrocities and brutalities against the Arab World since 1948, one can reach the conclusion that The Jewish State of Israel is Zionist, aggressive, and illegitimate. Based on its military might, it keeps on expanding and becoming bigger and stronger day by day.

This phenomenon is not new; history tells us there were Germany and Japan, two aggressive countries, and were held responsible for World Wars. But soon, they were brought to justice and held responsible for war crimes. They were made to pay war compensation, and their Military might was scattered and capped to revive in the future. Under the treaty, both Germany and Japan were prevented from rebuilding their Military power again. Both countries are still paying for war crimes, compensation as well as could not reconstruct their military might again.

Once it is established that Israel is an aggressive state and held responsible for killings of Muslims in millions, making them homeless in millions, and refused to live in peace and harmony with their neighbors. It is time for International Community to take action.

The international community must do more to safeguard the lives and fundamental rights of the Palestinian people, who continue to suffer under illegitimate foreign occupation. It should also not condone the violations of international law that underpin global and regional security.

For long-lasting and durable Peace in the region, it is imperative that the Palestinian people are granted their inalienable right to self-determination according to respective UN consensus. It is believed that a viable, independent, and contiguous original Palestinian State, with the pre-1948 borders, and Al-Quds Al-Sharif as its capital, is the only just, comprehensive and ever-lasting solution to the Palestine issue in accordance with the relevant United Nations and OIC resolutions. All Arab lands occupied in 1967 and 1973 should be returned back to Arabs.

International Community should mobilize all possible humanitarian assistance for the devastated Palestinian population in Gaza and other parts of the occupied territories. In addition to the UNRWA emergency appeal, the UN Secretary-General should launch a comprehensive humanitarian aid plan to deliver succor and sustenance to the Palestinians. There is a dire need to provide medical teams, medicines, and other supplies, food, and other necessities to Gaza and other parts of the occupied Palestinian territories immediately. Egypt’s immediate supply of humanitarian assistance to Gazza is highly appreciated. Israel must open all the access and entry points to Gaza to ensure the timely and urgent delivery of international aid and end the siege of Palestine immediately.

The UN General Assembly should call for concrete steps to protect the Palestinians and should deploy an international peace force, as was called for in General Assembly Resolution ES-10/20 and as demanded by the Islamic Summit Conference held on 18 May 2018.

If the Security Council cannot approve immediately to send the safeguarding force, a “coalition of the willing” can be shaped to provide at least civilian observers to monitor a cessation of the hostilities and supervise the delivery of humanitarian help to the Palestinians.

The UN Secretary-General and the High Commissioner for Human Rights to offer safety to Israel’s Arab (Muslims and Christians both) citizens living within Israel who are being lynched and murdered by fascist Israeli gangs at the present time.

The UN General Assembly should condemn: Israel’s forcible and illegal eviction of Palestinians, including in Al-Jarrah district of Jerusalem and constantly construction of Jewish new settlements; the onslaught against Palestinian worshipers in Haram Al-Sharif and Al-Aqsa mosque, the first Qibla of Islam, during the month of Ramadan; and Israel’s brutal and indiscriminate aerial and land wild-bombardment of Gaza.

Israel’s crimes against humanity should not spurt accountability. There should be no exemption for violation of international law, including the Fourth Geneva Convention and other human rights Conventions. The Human Rights Council, the ICC, the ICJ, and other avenues should be actuated to ensure Israeli accountability for its war crimes.

International Community should enhance concrete efforts to end Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories and to dismantle the illegal settlements and the apartheid-like regime Israel has enforced in the occupied territories. The General Assembly should secure unconditional implementation of resolution 242 of November 1967 in which the Security Council declared the “inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war” and demanded that Israel withdraw its armed forces from territories occupied in the 1967 war. It is, therefore, commanding to initiate bold steps to secure the implementation of the Security Council and General Assembly resolutions calling for the establishment of a viable, independent, and contiguous original Palestinian State with Al-Quds Al-Sharif as its capital. President of Palestine (Fateh Group) Mehmood Abbas’s call for an International Conference to secure a peaceful settlement must be appreciated.

The Palestine catastrophe is at the heart of the chaos and conflicts in the Middle East. It is also the principal root cause of the humiliation and irritation in the Muslim and Arab world – anger which breeds extremism and often spawns acts of violence. A just solution for Palestine is imperative for the preservation of regional and global peace and security. It is to be understood well that Peace and stability in the Arab-Isreal are vital for international Peace, stability, and prosperity. Our next generations deserve a peaceful and happy life; we must understand that the Peace in Middle-east is an energy-rich region and can play a vital role in the global economy and prosperity. Peace in the Middle-east is a prerequisite for international Peace

It is only through determined and significant action that this Assembly can reinstate the credibility of the United Nations and demonstrate its effective role in stabilizing world peace and global order based on equity and justice.

Author: Prof. Engr. Zamir Ahmed Awan, Sinologist (ex-Diplomat), Editor, Analyst, Non-Resident Fellow of CCG (Center for China and Globalization), National University of Sciences and Technology (NUST), Islamabad, Pakistan. (E-mail: awanzamir@yahoo.com).

British schoolchildren face punishment for wearing Palestine flags and keffiyeh’s

Students said they were threatened with detention, expulsion and barred from taking exams due to their pro-Palestine activism

Children across the UK have faced disciplinary action for their Palestine activism on school premises (AFP)

By Areeb Ullah

Published date: 26 May 2021

Schoolchildren in the UK are being punished for their pro-Palestine activism on school premises, with some being disciplined for wearing keffiyehs and holding Palestine flags.

Several students who spoke to Middle East Eye said they were threatened with detention, expulsion and being blocked from taking their exams if they continued protesting for Palestinian rights on school premises.

The forms of activism being penalised by schools include displaying the Palestinian flag on face masks or their hands and putting up posters designed by students to educate their peers on the Israel-Palestinian issue.

Every student and teacher who spoke to MEE requested anonymity as they feared possible repercussions from their school for speaking out.

Picture of Palestine posters put up by students at Allerton George in Leeds (Supplied)
Picture of Palestine posters put up by students at Allerton George in Leeds. Students had to take pictures in secret as phones are banned on school premises (Supplied)

Pupils who spoke to MEE attended schools in Birmingham, Leeds, Manchester, Rochdale and different areas of London.

Taking inspiration from last year’s Black Lives Matter protests (BLM) and her school’s awareness campaigns on LGBT rights and mental health, Jay assumed Allerton George would encourage discussion on Palestine.

But when students put up posters around the school in communal areas without permission, teachers quickly took them down.

“The teachers went as far as ripping the Palestine posters into pieces and scrunching the ripping the Palestine posters into pieces and scrunching them up in our faces,” Jay told MEE.

“When we asked why they took down the posters, the teachers said they didn’t have to justify it to us and were given clear instructions to take down these posters as they were seen as sending antisemitic messages.”

Jay stressed the messages on the posters were not antisemitic and said: “End Israeli Apartheid, End illegal Occupation and Free Palestine”. 

She added: “They took our lanyards from us because they had the Palestine flag.

“When we asked them why it was okay to wear BLM or LGBTQ+ flags on our lanyards but not Palestine, they couldn’t give us an answer and later said as a political cause, it caused distress to others.”

Students from Allerton Grange later posted a video of headteacher Mike Roper describing the Palestinian flag as a “call to arms” and “symbol of antisemitism”. Roper has since apologised after facing protests outside the school. 

‘Posters were torn down and binned’

Jay said the school had refused to take down the Israeli flag displayed in the library after seeing the Palestine flag taken down.

Allerton George had not responded to MEE’s requests for comment at the time of this article’s publication.

Some teachers from other schools who spoke to MEE also confirmed that students were placed in detention for putting up posters in support of Palestine.

Like Jay, Sam from West London put up posters in his school for Palestine on their class boards and wore badges to raise awareness about Palestine.

“We put up small Palestinian flags and posters on our class poster boards wearing badges that read ‘Free Palestine’, drawing Palestine flags on our hands and wearing keffiyehs to spread awareness and pique student interest,” Sam told MEE.

“The posters were torn down and binned, the students were told to remove their badges at the threat of suspension from school and all ‘flags and symbols’ were removed from sight at the threat of detention.” 

Sam added that students were threatened with being withdrawn from their GCSE exams if they refused to delete a video of senior staff taking down posters or wore a Palestine badge.

Aisha faced a similar situation as Sam did at Brampton Manor Academy in Newham, east London, where she says she was punished for wearing a Free Palestine badge in her school.

She said her teachers banned students from protesting and threatened them with detention if they continued putting them up. 

Students fear speaking out

Several students from other parts of the UK also expressed their disappointment at how their schools reacted towards their activism following the BLM protests.

Letters given to MEE that were sent to teachers and parents by Redbridge Council and a school in Birmingham told them that schools are “apolitical” bodies and could not allow students to participate in Palestine protests despite holding discussions for BLM and selling poppies to students.

Ilyas Nagdee, an activist who campaigns against the Prevent strategy, said children and their parents had contacted him about schools clamping down on pro-Palestine activism.

‘What we are seeing now is a product of years of Prevent trying to micro-manage political conversations’

– Shereen Fernandez, Queen Mary University

His call-out on Twitter to help students facing issues at school for their Palestine protests was retweeted 1,300 times at the time of writing.

Since then, Nagdee has received nearly a hundred requests for help, with many students afraid to speak out publicly.

“The cases we have received span the entire length of the country with hotspots where there are sizeable Muslim communities. The sanctions applied are wide in range, from young people being spoken to in class or given lunchtime isolation all the way to exclusions,” said Nagdee.

“We are also receiving a growing number of concerned parents who are contacting us due to fear their child has fallen into the clutches of Prevent or fearful of visits from the police.

Prevent in schools

Shereen Fernandez, a lecturer at Queen Mary University in London who specialises in Prevent in schools, believes the school reaction to Palestine protests is a direct result of the Prevent strategy telling teachers that campaigning for Palestine is associated with extremism.

Prevent is a strand of the British government’s counter-terrorism strategy that aims to “safeguard and support those vulnerable to radicalisation, to stop them from becoming terrorists or supporting terrorism”.

It was publicly launched in the aftermath of the 2005 London bombings and was initially targeted squarely at Muslim communities, prompting continuing complaints of discrimination and concerns that the programme was being used to collect intelligence.

“Although Prevent will maintain that schools are ‘safe spaces’, that is not the case, as teachers will be anxious about approaching ‘controversial’ topics like Palestine because of its alleged association to extremism as indicated in the training material.”

“Symbols of solidarity such as wearing a badge supporting Palestine has been enough to refer students in the past to Prevent.”

In 2016, MEE revealed that the UK government told teachers in schools, colleges and universities to monitor Muslim students who display an interest in Palestine as being susceptible to terrorism.

And in 2014, Rahmaan Mohammadi, a 17-year-old student from Luton, was reportedly referred to Prevent and visited by the police after he organised a Palestine fundraiser at his school.

A teacher from Mayfield school in the London area of Ilford said the school’s reaction to pro-Palestine protests was “confusing”, adding that colleagues perceive “pro-Palestine activism as racism”.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if Prevent is involved in constructing that line for schools across the country, and I’d say issues like BLM and poppies are allowed because they are considered neutral enough for schools to talk about.”

Mayfield School had not responded to MEE’s requests for comment by the time of this article’s publication.

Nagdee, the activist, said that many parents who spoke to him said they feared their children would be referred to Prevent because of their campaigning.

‘Biased’ assemblies

Following the protests, many schools across the UK held assemblies to address student concerns on raising awareness. 

But students who spoke to MEE said the assemblies fuelled further anger among students.

Images posted online showed students protesting at Judgemeadow Community College in Leicester after it was perceived to minimise Palestinian suffering. 

It remains unclear whether students in the video were punished for protesting.

Sam noted how his teacher described the tensions between Israelis and Palestinians as similar to a “messy bedroom” and disputed the phrasing of tensions as a “conflict”. 

“To address the discomfort many students felt about censorship of student voices, they organised an assembly on the concept of ‘conflict’ where the events in Palestine was compared to a ‘messy bedroom where a rebellious child and their parent had differing opinions on how it should be dealt with,” said Sam. 

“It just felt patronising and demeaning to us all.” 

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Russia: White Helmets Planning New Gas Attack Outrage in Syria

By VT Editors -May 21, 2021

Damascus will be holding presidential elections on 26 May even though the government still does not control the province of Idlib, where the opposition and terrorist groups are in charge. It also does not control the country’s north-east, seized by the Kurdish militia backed by US forces.

The Al-Nusra Front* terrorist group is amassing chemicals in the Idlib de-escalation zone in Syria’s north in order to use them against the civilian population, the Russian Foreign Ministry has warned. According to the ministry, the terrorists are planning to carry out the provocation in the form of time-tested false-flag chemical attacks with the help of the White Helmets.

The White Helmets group calls itself a volunteer organisation and was established by former UK Army officer James Le Mesurier to allegedly help the victims of the Syrian civil war. However, they’ve often been spotted working hand-in-hand with terrorists from the Al-Nusra Front* and, according to Russian authorities citing witnesses, helped the group stage false-flag chemical attacks pretending to be assisting victims.

The Russian Foreign Ministry said that it obtained the information about the planned false-flag attack from a reliable source. The ministry stressed that the attack is scheduled to take place ahead of a crucial moment for Syria – the presidential election on 26 May.

“We express the hope that the disclosure of this information may help disrupt these criminal plans and prevent the deaths of innocent people”, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said.

The western media and governments have repeatedly accused Damascus of using chemical weapons against its own citizens in the war against the opposition and terrorists. Following the first accusations, the government agreed to destroy all of its stockpiles of chemical weapons under the surveillance of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW). While Damascus destroyed its chemical armaments by June 2014, it warned that terrorists controlling some regions of the country, including Syrian Army warehouses, might still possess some.

Despite the supervised destruction of chemical weapons, western governments once again accused Damascus of using them in Douma, a city not far from the capital, on 7 April 2018. That attack was reported by the White Helmets, who published videos showing them purportedly treating survivors of the alleged attack. Although Damascus denied the act, the US, UK, and France launched airstrikes against Syrian government objectives claiming it was retaliation for the alleged chemical attack.

Smoke is rising over town of Saraqib, Syria's Idlib Governorate
© SPUTNIK / BASEL SHARTOUH

Terrorists Preparing Provocations Using Poisonous Substances in Syria’s Idlib, Russian Military Says

Russian chemical and military experts later found individuals who witnessed the actions of the White Helmets and who testified that there was no chemical attack and that members of the pseudo-humanitarian group simply grabbed them from off the street, poured water on them, and injected unknown medicine pretending to treat them for exposure to chemical weapons. Despite their testimonies, the OPCW failed to officially recognise the Douma incident as a false-flag attack.

ABOUT VT EDITOR

SVT EditorsVeterans Today

VT Editors is a General Posting account managed by Jim W. Dean and Gordon Duff. All content herein is owned and copyrighted by Jim W. Dean and Gordon Duff

editors@veteranstoday.com

US, UK, EU barbaric sanctions are killing Syrians — The Wall Will Fall

Syria has been the stage upon which a world war is being fought and our global power balance is being re-calibrated as a result – a balance which does not comply with US allied unipolarity. Russia, Iran, China and the non-aligned axis would see a multi-polar world emerge from the ashes of this conflict. Washington clings to the supremacist exceptionalism with which it has dominated the world and any threat to that supremacy must be crushed and destroyed – diplomacy is dead in the West. Politicians, diplomats in the US-aligned sphere have become talking heads for central power policy diktats, there is no anti-war party, there is no “democracy” there is only dictatorship and military aggression either direct or proxy when their demands are not met.

US, UK, EU barbaric sanctions are killing Syrians — The Wall Will Fall

Dr Bouthaina Shaaban: a decade of dirty war on Syria

May 8, 2021

International support for Palestine | The Communiqué with Richard Medhurst

We look back on 73 years of Palestinian resistance against the Israeli occupation and the international support for it or lack thereof for the Palestinian cause especially as violence from Zionist mobs unfolds against Palestinians in the heart of Palestine’s capital in the Holy City of Jerusalem.

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s interview with Director General of Rossiya Segodnya International Information Agency Dmitry Kiselev Moscow, April 28, 2021

April 28, 2021

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s interview with Director General of Rossiya Segodnya International Information Agency Dmitry Kiselev Moscow, April 28, 2021

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation

We have available video in Russian and transcript in English.

Transcript:

Dmitry Kiselev: Our relations with the United States are really “hell”. Personally, I don’t recall them being at such a low ebb ever before. This is even worse than the Cold War times, in my opinion. Ambassadors have returned back to their home countries. What’s going to happen next? What is the possible scenario?

Sergey Lavrov: If it depended on us alone, we would gladly resume normal relations. The first possible step towards this, which I regard as obvious, is to zero out the measures restricting the work of Russian diplomats in the United States. It was as a response measure that we restricted the operations of American diplomats in Russia.

We proposed this to the Biden administration as soon as it had taken the oath and assumed office. I have mentioned the idea to US Secretary of State Antony Blinken. I did not try to press it; I just said that an obvious way to normalise our relations would be to zero out the measures initiated by Barack Obama. Several weeks before leaving office, he was so annoyed he virtually slammed the door by seizing Russian property in violation of all the Vienna conventions and throwing Russian diplomats out. This has caused a chain reaction.

We patiently sat back for a long time, until the summer of 2017, before taking any response measures. The Trump administration asked us to disregard the excessive measures taken by the outgoing Obama administration. However, Donald Trump’s team failed to normalise the situation, and so we had to take reciprocal measures. But the Americans have not stopped there.

We can see that the Biden administration continues to go downhill, although US President Biden said during his conversation with President of Russia Vladimir Putin soon after his inauguration, and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken told me that they are thoroughly reviewing their relations with Russia, hoping that this would clarify many things. However, instead they adopted new sanctions, which triggered not simply a mirror response on our part. Our response was asymmetrical, just as we had warned them on numerous occasions. It has to do, in part, with a considerable disparity in the number of diplomats and other personnel of the US diplomatic missions in Russia, which is way above the number of Russian diplomats in the United States.

As for the strategic picture of our relations, I hope that Washington is aware, just as Moscow is, of our responsibility for global stability. There are not only the problems of Russia and the United States, which are complicating our citizens’ lives and their contacts, communications, businesses and humanitarian projects, but also differences that are posing a serious risk to international security in the broadest possible meaning of the word.

You remember how we responded to the outrage that took place during Joe Biden’s interview with ABC. You are also aware of how President Putin reacted to President Biden’s proposal of a meeting. We have taken a positive view of this, but we would like to understand all aspects of this initiative, which we are currently analysing.

Nothing good will come out of this, unless the United States stops acting as a sovereign, as President Putin said during his Address to the Federal Assembly, accepts the futility of any attempts to revive the unipolar world or to create an architecture where all Western countries would be subordinate to the United States and the Western camp would work together to “rally” other countries across the world against China and Russia, admits that it was for a purpose that the UN Charter sealed such principles as respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity as well as non-interference in the internal affairs of other states and sovereign equality of states, and simply honours its commitments and starts talking with us, just as with any other country, on the basis of respect for each other and for a balance of interests, which must be established. President Putin said this clearly in his Address, pointing out that Russia is always open to broad international agreements if they suit our interests. But we will harshly respond to any attempts to cross the red line, which we ourselves will determine.

Dmitry Kiselev: Would it be realistic to expect them to become aware of this and stop acting as a sovereign? Hope is fine, but the reality is completely different.

Sergey Lavrov: I have not expressed any hope. I just mentioned the conditions on the basis of which we will be ready to talk.

Dmitry Kiselev: And what if they refuse?

Sergey Lavrov: It will be their choice. This means that we will be living in conditions of a Cold War, or even worse, as you have already mentioned. In my opinion, tension did run high during the Cold War and there were numerous high-risk conflict situations, but there was also mutual respect. I believe that this is lacking now.

There have been some schizophrenic notes in the statements made by some of the Washington officials. White House press secretary Jen Psaki said just a while ago that sanctions against Russia would be continued, that they are producing, by and large, a desired effect, and that their objective is not to “escalate” with Russia. Even I am at a loss about how to comment on this. I hope anyone can see that such statements are doing no credit to those who are upholding and promoting this policy.

Dmitry Kiselev: I had a chance to hear an opinion – perhaps even a commonplace opinion, to some extent, in certain circles – to the effect that diplomats are doing a poor job, that we are constantly digging in our heels, that our position is inflexible and non-elastic, and this is the reason why our relations are poor.

Sergey Lavrov: Are you alluding to circles inside this country?

Dmitry Kiselev: Yes, inside this country.

Sergey Lavrov: Yes, I also read these things. Thankfully, this country protects freedom of speech much better than many Western countries, including the United States. I read the opposition’s online resources and newspapers, and I think that perhaps these people have a right to express their point of view that consists in the following: “If we refrained from disputing with the West, we’d have Parmesan cheese and lots more things that we are sincerely missing; but for some reason, they have cut short food purchases in the West [they do not even explain that this was done in response], they have stopped buying food and gone into import substitution, thus increasing the price of food.”

You know, this is a narrow, lopsided view taken entirely from the standpoint of creature comforts, a choice between a television set and a fridge. If they think it essential to accept US values, I would like to remind them about what US President John Kennedy, the greatest US President to my mind, once said: “Don’t think what your country can do for you. Think what you can do for your country.” This is a radical distinction from today’s liberal views, where personal wellbeing and personal feelings alone are the things that matter.

The promoters of these philosophical approaches, as I see it, are not just unaware of what our genetic code is all about, but are trying in every way to undermine it. For, apart from the desire to live well, to be well-fed, to be confident that one’s children, friends and relatives are well too, a feeling of national pride always played an equally important role in what we did throughout our one thousand years’ history. If someone thinks that these values are of no importance for him or her, as it is [politically] correct to say now, it is their choice, but I am certain that the overwhelming majority of our people have a different opinion.

Dmitry Kiselev: Are you counting on a meeting with Antony Blinken? When can this meeting be held, and will it take place at all in the foreseeable future?

Sergey Lavrov: When we were talking over the phone, I congratulated him in keeping with the diplomatic etiquette. We exchanged a few appraisals of the [current] situation. The talk was, I feel, well-meaning, calm and pragmatic. When our US colleagues have completed staffing their Department of State, we will be prepared to resume contacts – naturally, on the understanding that we will engage in a search for mutually acceptable arrangements on many problems, starting from the functioning of the diplomatic missions and ending with strategic stability and many other things. US and Russian business communities are concerned with expanding their cooperation, something that the American-Russian Chamber of Commerce has recently told us. We have concluded by stating that there will be some joint multilateral events, on whose sidelines we will be able, as chance offers, to talk. But no signals have come from the US so far. Speaking about the schedule of events, Russia will be taking over the Arctic Council chairmanship from Iceland three weeks from now. An Arctic Council ministerial meeting is scheduled to take place in Reykjavík on May 20-21. If Secretary Blinken leads the US delegation, I will, of course, be prepared to talk with him, if he is interested.  Given that we will chair the Arctic Council for the next two years, I have informed our Iceland colleagues that I will attend this ministerial meeting.

Dmitry Kiselev: Is there any certainty as to who will definitely join the list of unfriendly states?

Sergey Lavrov: The Government of Russia is attending to this on instructions from President of Russia Vladimir Putin. We are participating in this work, as are other respective agencies.  I would not like to jump the gun right now.  We are reluctant to be indiscriminate and put on that list just any country that will say somewhere “something wrong” about Russia. Our decision will be based, of course, on a deep-going analysis of the situation and on whether we see opportunities to have a dialogue with that country in a different way. If we come to the conclusion that there is no chance of this, then, I think, the list will, of course, be periodically extended. But this is not a “dead” paper. As is only natural, it will be revised in tune with how our relations develop with this or that state.

Dmitry Kiselev: When will the public be able to read this list?

Sergey Lavrov: Soon, I think. The Russian Government has concrete assignments. We understand the criteria that are guiding us in this work. So, I think, the wait will not be very long now.

Dmitry Kiselev: Will the unfriendly states be banned from hiring local workforce?

Sergey Lavrov: There will be a ban on hiring any physical persons whether Russian or foreign.

Dmitry Kiselev: Is this the only measure with regard to unfriendly states or some others are in the offing?

Sergey Lavrov: At this stage, this is the concrete aim set in the executive order signed by President of Russia Vladimir Putin.

Dmitry Kiselev: Donbass is another subject. Tensions have continued to escalate there since early 2021, and it appears that they have subsided a little since US President Joe Biden called President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin. In my show News of the Week, I noted that US military guarantees to Ukraine had turned out to be a bluff. Nevertheless, shootouts continue, and they are using banned large-calibre weapons. It seems like this peace is not very different from war, and that the balance is highly unstable. Over 500,000 Russian citizens now live in Donbass. Will there be a war?

Sergey Lavrov: War can and should be avoided, if this depends on us and on the self-defence fighters, as far as we understand their principled approaches. I cannot speak and make guesses on behalf of the Ukrainian party and President of Ukraine Vladimir Zelensky because, by all indications, his main goal is to stay in power. He is ready to pay any price, such as pandering to neo-Nazis and ultra-radicals who continue to brand the Donbass self-defence fighters as terrorists. Our Western colleagues should reassess the developments that have taken place since February 2014.  None of these districts attacked the rest of Ukraine. They were branded as terrorists, and an anti-terrorist operation was launched against them and then another operation involving “joint forces.”. But we do know for sure that they have no desire to make war on representatives of the Kiev regime.

I have repeatedly told our Western colleagues, who are totally biased in their assessment of current developments, and who unconditionally defend Kiev’s actions, that Russian journalists and war correspondents working on the other side of the demarcation line show an objective picture. They work in trenches there almost without respite, and they provide daily news reports. These reports show the feelings of the people living in these territories that are cut off from the rest of Ukraine by an economic blockade, where children and civilians are being regularly killed, and where the civilian infrastructure, schools and kindergartens are being destroyed. I asked our Western colleagues why they don’t encourage their media outlets to organise the same work on the left side of the demarcation line, so that the scale of damage there can be assessed and to see which facilities have been the hardest hit.

As for the recent developments, when we openly announced the military exercises in the Southern and Western military districts – we made no secret of that, you remember the shouts about the alleged Russian build-up on the border with Ukraine. Just take a look at the terms used: we speak about drills in the Southern and Western military districts, while they say that Russia is amassing troops on the Ukrainian border. And when the drills ended and we made the relevant announcement, the West claimed maliciously that Russia had to back off, to withdraw. This is an example of wishful thinking.

This is reminiscent of the situation with the G7: every time they meet they announce that Russia will not be invited to the group. We have stated on numerous occasions that we will never re-join it, that there will not be any G8, and that this is a thing of the past. However, continued references to this subject, as well as claims that Russia has “rolled back” and has ordered its troops to “return to their barracks” shows, of course, that in this instance the West wants above all to take advantage of this situation to prove that it has the last word and the dominant place in modern international relations. This is regrettable.

The subject of a settlement in Ukraine has been discussed by President Putin and German Chancellor Angela Merkel. The other day President Putin spoke about it with President of France Emmanuel Macron. The issue was also raised during a recent conversation with US President Joe Biden. The situation is clear, as I see it. The patrons of President of Ukraine Vladimir Zelensky and his team refuse to make him honour the Minsk Agreements, even though they are aware of the futility of trying to use military force; they have heard the signals sent from Donetsk and Lugansk about their readiness to defend their land, their homes and their people who refuse to live by the laws being enforced by neo-Nazis.

President Putin has said clearly that we will never abandon the people of Donbass, who are standing up to the openly radical neo-Nazi regime. President Zelensky keeps saying in his interviews that there are no problems with the Russian language or the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate, and that he is willing to discuss all these subjects with President Putin. It is a shame perhaps that a person I have always regarded as clever says that the Russian language and the Ukrainian Orthodox Church have no problems in Ukraine. I have no doubt that he is very well aware of the situation. Maybe nothing at all is being reported to him, but in that case he is living in a dream world. But the West has definitely sent its signals to Zelensky.

As you have mentioned, it would be senseless to pin hopes on US military assistance. This has always been clear to everyone. If anyone entertained such illusions, such advisers are good for nothing in any government, including the government of Mr Zelensky. Regrettably, the West continues to try to convince us that the Minsk Agreements should be mitigated and the sequence of the actions set out in them changed. Zelensky says he likes the agreements, but only if it is all the other way round, that they first take full control of these territories, including the border with Russia, and only then deal with the elections, amnesty and a special status for these territories. It is clear that if they did this, if they were allowed to do this, there would be a massacre. The West is unable or unwilling to force Zelensky to comply with the Minsk Agreements strictly in accordance with the sequence set out in them, which does not permit any double interpretation and has been formulated unambiguously from the first to the last step. Control of the border is the very last step to be taken after these territories receive a special status, which must be sealed in the Constitution of Ukraine, after free elections are held there and their results are recognised as such by the OSCE.

Of course, there must also be total amnesty. Not in the way envisaged by the Poroshenko government or the current regime, which only want to approve an  amnesty on an individual basis for those who are proved to have committed no crime. This is yet another misinterpretation. The Minsk Agreements stipulate an amnesty for those who took part in fighting on both sides, without any transitional justice process, which our Western colleagues are now beginning to discuss.

I believe that the brunt of responsibility lies with the West, because only the West can make President Zelensky honour the commitments which his predecessor signed and he himself signed in Paris in December 2019 when he, the presidents of Russia and France and the Chancellor of Germany reaffirmed the absence of any alternative to the strict observance of the Minsk Agreements, and he pledged to amend the legislation and the Ukrainian Constitution to formalise the special status of Donbass on a permanent basis.

Dmitry Kiselev: Many people are wondering why Russia fails to recognise Donbass. It did recognise Abkhazia and South Ossetia. There is an inner “lobby” in Russia, even among my fellow journalists, who are demanding that we recognise Donbass – the Donetsk People’s Republic and the Lugansk People’s Republic. Why are we failing in this?

Sergey Lavrov: You are right that there is an analogy with Abkhazia and South Ossetia. But there is just one exception: no agreements similar to the Minsk Package of Measures were signed in those countries, when Saakashvili’s aggression against Tskhinval and the positions of peacekeepers, including Russian peacekeepers, occurred. The Medvedev-Sarkozy document was discussed there, and it implied a number of steps. But it was not signed by Georgia. President Nicolas Sarkozy of France, after reaching an agreement with us in Moscow, took a plane to Tbilisi to ensure Saakashvili’s support for the document. Saakashvili signed it, but he deleted all the key provisions.  Mr Sarkozy attempted to represent this as a compromise, but everyone understood everything. It had a preamble saying that the Russian Federation and the French Republic, desirous of normalising the situation in South Caucasus, propose to Georgia, Abkhazia and South Ossetia the following:  a ceasefire. Saakashvili crossed out the heading, leaving just the first and subsequent items. Since then, the West has been demanding that we comply with these agreements. This is just an example.

In the case of Donbass, the situation was different. The 17-hour long negotiations in Minsk involving the Normandy format leaders (President Franсois  Hollande of France, Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, President Petr Poroshenko of Ukraine, and President of Russia Vladimir Putin) produced a result, which was endorsed, two days later, by the UN Security Council without any amendments or doubts that it should be implemented.

Today, the moral and international legal truth is on our side and on the side of the Donbass militias.  I think that we must not let Mr Zelensky and his entire team “off the hook,” writhing as they might. Mr Zelensky’s statement is a fine specimen (made when he had all but given up hope of turning the Minsk Agreements upside down) to the effect that they are no good, albeit necessary, because the saving of the Minsk Agreements guarantees that the sanctions against Moscow will be preserved as well. We asked the West, what they think about this. They just look aside shamefacedly and say nothing.  I think it is a shame and a disgrace, when an international legal document is held up to mockery in this manner.  The West, which has co-authored this document and supported it at the UN Security Council, is demonstrating absolute helplessness.

Dmitry Kiselev: President of Ukraine Vladimir Zelensky cannot get a call through to President of Russia Vladimir Putin, who is not picking up the receiver. Your Ukrainian counterpart, Dmitry Kuleba, cannot get a call through to you. What does this mean? Why is this?

Sergey Lavrov: This means that they are seeking to revise the Minsk Agreements and represent Russia as a party to the conflict even in this area of their activities.

Requests that came in until recently both from my counterpart Kuleba and President Zelensky dealt with the topic of settlement in Donbass. We replied that this [topic] should be discussed not with us, but with Donetsk and Lugansk, as you agreed under the Minsk Agreements.   The agreements say in black and white that the key stages of settlement should be the subject of consultations and coordination with Donetsk and Lugansk. When they say that a “nasty situation is looming large” at the line of contact and want to talk to Minister Sergey Lavrov and President Vladimir Putin, they are barking up the wrong tree. Meeting with President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko in the Kremlin the other day, President Putin made it amply clear that if they wanted to talk about this, the address should be different.  If our colleagues, including President Zelensky, want to discuss how to normalise bilateral relations, they are welcome. We are always ready to talk about this.

Dmitry Kiselev: There is no reply or acceptance so far, is there?

Sergey Lavrov: I heard that Mr Zelensky instructed the chief of his office, Andrey Yermak, to come to terms on the timeframes. The location is of no importance, because each day of delay means new deaths.

Incidentally, let us take the fact that people are dying and what is happening at the line of contact. Over the last couple of weeks, Kiev has been insisting quite aggressively on the need to reaffirm the ceasefire. All of its Western patrons have also been urging us to influence Donbass so that the ceasefire takes hold in earnest. Speaking on the phone with President Emmanuel Macron and Chancellor Angela Merkel last week, President Putin reminded them of the facts. And the facts are as follows: In July 2020, the Contact Group reached what was perhaps the most serious and effective ceasefire agreement, because it contained a verification mechanism.  It implied a sequence of actions, primarily each side’s commitment not to return fire immediately on the spot but report the violation to the top command and wait for its order on how to act, to wit, whether to respond in kind or to negotiate an arrangement under the mechanisms created for commander-to-commander liaison on the ground.   This agreement, as it was implied, was translated into military orders issued by the DPR and the LPR. These orders were published. Kiev pledged to do the same, but did nothing. Instead it started fiddling with words again. Instead of performing the obligation to report each shelling attack to the top command and get orders from them, they began replacing this clear-cut arrangement with confused formulas, although they were blamed for this by Donetsk and Lugansk at all subsequent meetings, and Russian representatives in the Contact Group, too, repeatedly said as much. The same happened in the Normandy Format.  This is what Deputy Chief of Staff of the Presidential Executive Office Dmitry Kozak has been doing all these months in contacts with his French and German colleagues. The head of President Zelensky’s Office, Andrey Yermak, was representing Ukraine. I read transcripts of their talks. It was like talking to a brick wall. They were at cross purposes: the Ukrainian leaders had obviously decided that it was necessary to revive the ceasefire story. It was shameful and unseemly.

It was a great pleasure to watch the Servant of the People series, when no one suspected that its main character would follow this path in real life. But he took the wrong path. If Mr Zelensky watched the series again today and tried to fathom the convictions of the person he had impersonated so well on screen, and later compared those convictions with what he is doing now, he would, perhaps, have achieved one of the most effective transformations.  I do not know when he was himself and when he underwent a transformation. But the contrast is striking.

Dmitry Kiselev: Another subject is the Czech Republic. What was it? How are we to understand it?

Sergey Lavrov: I cannot speculate on this because I do not understand intellectually what they wanted. One can watch it like a not too elegant television series.

This story is full of schizophrenic components. Czech president Milos Zeman says it should be sorted out, not denying the possibility of a subversive act by foreign agents, but suggesting taking into account the story told by the Czech leadership, including the incumbent Prime Minister Andrej Babis (the then Minister of Finance, in 2014), that it was the result of negligence by the depot owners. President Zeman only suggested that consideration should be given to the case that has never been disproven over the seven years. He is accused of high treason now. President of the Senate Milos Vystrcil said that by stating the need to investigate all the leads President Zeman had disclosed a state secret. Is this not schizophrenia? A pure case, I think.

There needs to be an investigation into what was stored in the depot. The German media said that they kept antipersonnel mines prohibited by the convention signed, inter alia, by the Czech Republic and Bulgaria. A lot of questions remain.

Dmitry Kiselev: Indeed, how could it happen that a certain Bulgarian citizen supplying antipersonnel mines (by all appearances they were found there), controlled a depot in the Czech Republic which was not then under the control of the government?

Sergey Lavrov: It so happens.

Dmitry Kiselev: Maybe the Czechs would be better to start with themselves?

Sergey Lavrov: Probably. Or follow the example of Ukraine where too a vast number of armed people, weapons and ammunition are controlled not by the Ukrainian armed forces, but by “volunteer battalions.” It is a trend where the state proves its inability to ensure, if you like, its monopoly over the use of force.

Dmitry Kiselev: Ukraine is one thing but the Czech Republic is a member of the EU. It is bound by other international commitments than those of Ukraine and presents itself differently.

Sergey Lavrov: Above all, in addition to the aforementioned conventions (Ottawa Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention and the so-called Arms Trade Treaty, they are all parties to it), the EU has its own quite strict rules that do not encourage but rather prohibit any actions like supplies and sending forces to regions where there are conflicts.

Dmitry Kiselev: What do you think about the so-called British files? This looks like an orchestrated information campaign against Russia.

Sergey Lavrov: As before, the British continue to play a very active, serious and subversive role in relations between Russia and Europe. Britain has withdrawn from the EU but it has not slackened its activities there. On the contrary, it has been trying to exert maximum influence on the EU countries’ positions towards Moscow. This is not surprising at all.

You don’t even need to go very far back in history. In 2006, Alexander Litvinenko was poisoned with polonium. The inquest began in one way, and then the process was classified because it was necessary to analyse the materials of intelligence services. And then they announced the verdict, but the materials involved in the case have never been made public. As Arnold Schwarzenegger used to say, “Trust me.” I would rather side with Ronald Reagan’s “trust but verify.” But they don’t allow us to verify; they only demand that we trust them.

In 2014, the Malaysian Boeing was downed. They formed a team comprising a narrow group of four countries – the Netherlands, Belgium, Australia and Ukraine. They did not even invite Malaysia, the country that lost the plane. These four countries have agreed, as it has since transpired, that any information would only be revealed on the basis of consensus. Ukraine, where the disaster took place, was given the right of veto, while Malaysia was invited to join the group only six months later. The black boxes, which the self-defence forces provided to Malaysia, were analysed in London. I don’t recall them making the information public.

In 2018, there were the Skripals and the “highly likely.” Nobody knows to this day how the Skripals survived the alleged poisoning, why the police officer who worked with them did not display any symptoms of poisoning, and why the woman involved died while her partner did not get sick. There are very many questions.

In 2020, we had the case of Alexey Navalny. He was flying from Tomsk to Moscow, but the plane landed in Omsk. Nobody on board the plane or in the Omsk hospital got sick. A bottle of water [from his hotel room] was taken by Maria Pevchikh to Germany on the plane that transported Navalny – nobody knows anything. Doctors at the Charité hospital did not find any traces of poison, but they were found at the Bundeswehr. German Defence Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer demanded transparency in connection with our recent military drills in the southern and western regions of Russia. But we announced the drills beforehand, whereas the Bundeswehr, whose experts allegedly found traces of Navalny’s poisoning, is keeping information from us. Our request for the results of tests and biomaterials has been denied.

After that there was a long story involving the OPCW. It allegedly took part in collecting samples from Navalny. According to the remarkable information from Berlin, German experts were present during the collection of the samples, but OPCW experts are not mentioned at all. We are trying to sort this information out. Nobody wants to explain anything. Germany is directing us to the OPCW, which says that the request came from Germany and so we should ask them. It is a conspiracy of silence. We have seen this happen in crime movies about bandit groups operating all over the country after the war. This is regrettable.

Getting back to Britain, we can see that London is continuing its anti-Russia policy. Chief of the UK Secret Intelligence Service (MI6) Richard Moore said a few days ago that Russia is “a declining power” whose allegedly “reckless behaviour” needs to be dealt with. This is inherent arrogance and a belief that they continue to rule the world. They are sending “signals” to us and propose establishing ties. In other words, they are not against communicating with us, but they are trying to discourage others from doing the same. This could be an aspiration for a monopoly of contacts and a desire to prove that they are superior to others.

Dmitry Kiselev: Speaking about decline, Britain is a perfect example of a declining empire “on which the sun never sets,” a small island in the North Sea with clouded prospects. To return to the Czech Republic, opinions within the country on the latest developments are totally inconsistent. There is no consensus, and nothing has yet been proven, but diplomats have been expelled. There has already been a result.

Sergey Lavrov: They claim that this is not the reason why our diplomats were expelled.  Two statements were made on the same day. They appeared to be interconnected. Prague is now trying to prove that there is no connection between them. They have announced that the explosions were organised by Petrov and Boshirov, the ubiquitous Russian suspects. It’s like blaming them for the sinking of the Titanic. The same day it was announced that 18 diplomats would have to leave the country. The majority of people accepted this as “punishment” for the 2014 explosions. After that, the Czech authorities said they would track down Petrov and Boshirov and issue an arrest warrant for them. As for the 18 diplomats, they identified them as spies. They expelled them because they turned out to be intelligence agents. No proof that any of these 18 diplomats are guilty of illegal activities has been provided. It is not surprising that former Czech President Vaclav Klaus said that the country’s authorities were like a tiny pooch barking at a huge dog, hoping that the big boys (the United States and Britain) would throw their weight behind them. Do you remember a time from your childhood when local bullies waited until dusk to demand 15 kopeks from a smaller kid, and if he refused they summoned the “big boys.” The logic is very similar. This is regrettable.

We never schemed against our Czech colleagues. Why would we need to blow up that warehouse? Some people say that the Russians were angry that the Bulgarian planned to send munitions to Ukraine. This is a completely schizophrenic view of the situation. This is impossible to imagine. But the machinery has been set in motion. I hope our Czech colleagues will come to their senses after all and will take a look at what they have done. If reason prevails, we will be ready to gradually rebuild the conditions for our diplomatic missions to function normally.  If not, we will make do. We know how we will be working. We don’t have to ingratiate ourselves with anyone.

Dmitry Kiselev: Working on what?

Sergey Lavrov: We know how we will be working in the Czech Republic and other countries. Pinpoint attacks are being made against Russia in the Baltics, Poland and, recently, Romania. Bucharest has added, though, that its decision was in no way connected to the EU’s position. This came as a surprise. They just decided to send that Russian diplomat back home. Why? They have not explained.

Dmitry Kiselev: It is notable that Germany has not supported the Czech Republic.

Sergey Lavrov: I have read the relevant statement by German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas. He spoke like a responsible politician. It is not always that the German Foreign Ministry takes such a balanced and astute position. Many of its other statements have indiscriminately supported injustice, for example when Ukraine adopted sanctions against the Opposition Platform – For Life political party, its leader Viktor Medvedchuk and several of his associates, all of them Ukrainian citizens.  The German Foreign Ministry expressed its approval, saying that this was fully in keeping with OSCE principles. This is absurd.

Therefore, what Heiko Maas said the other day is a responsible political statement. It has not smoothed over differences but pointed out the importance of maintaining dialogue and looking for agreements, since we live side by side.

Dmitry Kiselev: Recently in China, you said we needed to look for alternatives to the SWIFT international payment system, and Russia was preparing for this. Is there a specific timeframe, and what stage of the preparations are we at?

Sergey Lavrov: Many have already spoken about this. This is happening because in recent years, the West has been looking for more ways of infringing on Russia’s legitimate interests. Now they are openly mentioning the possibility of disconnecting our country from SWIFT. Responsible politicians just have to think of ways to play it safe.

In addition to these statements, the United States is increasingly abusing the role of the dollar in the international monetary system, using certain countries’ dependence on dollar settlements to limit their competitive opportunities – China and other states they dislike. China, Russia, and Turkey are now looking for opportunities to reduce their dependence on the dollar by switching to alternative currencies, or even better – by making settlements in their national currencies. The responsible agencies, including in our country, are thinking about how to prevent damage to the economy and the financial system if some hotheads actually disconnect us from SWIFT. Russia launched a national payment card system a few years ago; MIR cards have been in use in Russia since then. The system is already developing ties with its foreign counterparts, as similar cards are being issued in China and Japan. It is also building ties with the internationally accepted payment card Maestro.

As regards the SWIFT system, specifically, the Central Bank of Russia recently introduced and continued to develop a system for the transfer of financial messages. It is quite popular. I think we need to support and strengthen this in every possible way to ensure we do not depend on anyone. Let me emphasise that we are not trying to self-isolate. We want to be part of the international community. Part of a community where justice and democracy work. We have discussed the problems of democracy with the West. But once they are asked to come to an agreement, to declare that democracy should triumph in international relations, too, they lose their enthusiasm. They are full of lectures on internal democratic processes, but when it comes to the international arena, we get raised eyebrows. Here, allegedly, there are established ‘practices’ that ‘Russia and China are trying to implement’ (it’s about this). But in reality, Moscow and Beijing only want to preserve the principles of the UN Charter, according to which everyone is equal and must seek agreement.

One needs to have a safety net in terms of payment systems and transfer of financial messages. We have one. I hope it will grow stronger and be able to provide a guarantee if suddenly, contrary to our desire to cooperate with everyone, the West discriminates against Russia, abusing its current position in the international economic and monetary systems, in this situation, we really cannot afford to depend on anyone.

Dmitry Kiselev: So the Central Bank’s system for transfer of financial messages is the budding alternative to SWIFT?

Sergey Lavrov: I am not an expert. I don’t know how reliably and effectively it provides a full warranty. But the groundwork is already there. I am confident that the Government and the Central Bank must do everything to make it reliable and guarantee us complete independence and protection from more damage that might be inflicted on us.

Dmitry Kiselev: In a conversation with your Chinese counterpart Wang Yi, you proposed an initiative to create a coalition of countries affected by illegal sanctions. To what extent has this project progressed? What countries could join it?

Sergey Lavrov: I would not put it like that. We have been working at the UN for a long time to end the practice of unilateral illegitimate sanctions such as embargoes, blockades and other restrictions. We have been working for a number of decades to lift the embargo the United States declared on Cuba. The respective resolution is supported by more than 190 votes annually, with only the United States and one small island nation voting against it.

However, since this practice of unilateral restrictions began to be widely used (started by Barack Obama, expanded by Donald Trump, and applied to this day), a large group of countries voted in the UN to establish the position of Special Rapporteur on the negative impact of the unilateral coercive measures on the enjoyment of human rights and their impact on the civilian population and the socioeconomic situation in a particular country. Special Rapporteur Alena Douhan is a citizen of Belarus. This institution, created by the UN General Assembly, is working and circulating reports. I think it is a very useful step.

Another specific course of action is now being developed in New York to the same end, as you mentioned, to counter illegal unilateral measures. It is a group in support of the UN Charter. Nothing revolutionary – just in response to our Western colleagues forming flagrantly non-universal groups.

US President Joe Biden has put forth the idea of ​​holding a Summit for Democracy. Naturally, the Americans will recruit the participants and will judge who is worthy to be called a democracy and who is not.

Also, in recent years, our French and German colleagues have being making calls to ensure freedom of the media through the Alliance for Multilateralism, a group they announced outside the framework of universal institutions. They rallied more than thirty states under its banners even though there is UNESCO, where the same topic is discussed by everyone.

Or, there was an appeal in support of international humanitarian law. Law is universal. It is the responsibility of the UN bodies. But again, they recruited about 50 states.

Such appeals have nothing to do with universal bodies, but they cover the agenda that is discussed at a universal level. They place that agenda into a framework where they are more comfortable negotiating with those who obey, and then they present it as the ultimate truth.

This movement against illegitimate unilateral actions is much broader than just sanctions.

Dmitry Kiselev: Can this movement be formalised by membership?

Sergey Lavrov: The membership is in the UN. This is the difference: we are not creating anything against anyone. In the Asia-Pacific region, we would like to leave everything as it is. ASEAN has its partners, while anyone else can join security discussions. The logic of the West acts against this. They are implementing the Indo-Pacific Strategy with its declared goal of containing China and isolating Russia.

The same is happening at the UN. They create various partnerships on topics that need to be discussed as part of the UN agenda. We insist that everyone must fulfil their obligations under the UN Charter, not scatter the global agenda across their compartments, only to present it later as the international community’s opinion.

Dmitry Kiselev: A recent update: the Americans confirmed they had made efforts to prevent Brazil from buying the Russian Sputnik V vaccine. Brazil indeed refused, even though the coronavirus situation in that country is simply awful. What is your assessment?

Sergey Lavrov: This does not surprise me. The Americans are not even embarrassed to do things like that; they are not hiding it.

When former US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo travelled to Africa, he openly and publicly called on his colleagues at a press conference to cut off trade with Russia and China because these countries pursue selfish goals. Right, the United States trades with African states for the sole benefit of their peoples, of course.

As for the vaccine issue, a protest movement kicked off in Brazil against that decision. If the Americans have admitted they were behind it, that means they are true to their logic and believe everything is possible and permitted, and they can now openly dictate their will.

Not so long ago, French President Emmanuel Macron warned of a new type of world war, and that Russia and China were using vaccines as a weapon and means of propaganda. That rhetoric is now receding. Germany, including Chancellor Angela Merkel, is already seriously talking about the possibility of using the Russian vaccine.

We are not going to force anyone. I think life itself will set things straight. Vladimir Vysotsky said: “I always try to find the good in people. They will show the bad themselves.”

Dmitry Kiselev: A year ago, in an interview with our agency in the midst of the pandemic, you said you missed football. Are you back to sport yet?

Sergey Lavrov: In fact, I am. I did miss playing for a couple of weeks. We took a break and kept it low-key. But later, when we realised what precautions we could take, the games resumed. We play every Sunday.

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