Speech of Lavrov at the Military Academy of the General Staff

March 24, 2017

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s remarks and answers to questions during a lecture for senior officers of the Military Academy of the General Staff, Moscow, March 23, 2017

23 March 201714:21

http://www.mid.ru/en/foreign_policy/news/-/asset_publisher/cKNonkJE02Bw/content/id/2702537

For English subtitles click the ‘cc’ button on the bottom right.

 

Mr Kuralenko,

Comrade officers, colleagues, friends,

I am grateful for the invitation to speak at the Military Academy as part of the Army and Society series of lectures. The organisers are doing a great job supporting the tradition of unity of the people and the army, as it should be and has always been in the best years of Russia’s history. Today, we will focus on Russia’s role in international politics. This theme has always been of interest to our citizens, patriots, and all the more so to servicemen protecting our state.

How is the role of state determined in international politics? Just like in other social disciplines, there are specific fundamental values ​​and criteria in international relations for making judgments on that.

Geopolitical weight is among the most important ones. It is clear that a vast country like Russia, with its wealth of resources and unique geographical location spanning Europe and Asia, is unlikely to remain on the side, let alone be isolated from international processes, especially in the modern era when trade, economic, financial, information, cultural and human relations simply demand that our planet be united into one truly unified space.

I’m aware that some entertain the notion, which is eagerly picked up by Russophobes, that Russia’s vast geography took shape due to expansion resulting from an internal sense of insecurity. As if the Russians, who for several centuries expanded their territory, were trying to “push back” a potential aggressor. To this, I can say that the greatest misfortunes in the past centuries came to Russia almost always from the West, while Russia, according to Mikhail Lomonosov’s famous dictum, “expanded through Siberia,” bringing different peoples and lands in the East under its wing. Many centuries of experience of harmonious coexistence of different ethnicities and religions within one state now allow Russia to promote a dialogue and form partnerships between cultures, religions and civilisations, which is also what happens within the UN, the OSCE and other international and regional organisations.

Another hallmark associated with our vast Russian territory concerns respect for the state, which is the guarantor of the country’s unity and the security of its citizens. A strong state also underpins an independent foreign policy. In international relations, all of that is embodied in the notion of sovereignty.

The sovereignty of states, their equality as the main subjects of international relations, was substantiated and approved within the Westphalian system that took shape in Europe in the 17thcentury. Currently, these traditional notions are being questioned in a number of Western countries. They are trying to secure for themselves, for example, the ability to interfere in other people’s affairs under the pretext of non-compliance with all sorts of unilaterally engineered human rights concepts like the so-called “responsibility to protect.” We are against such a distorted interpretation of the most important universal international legal norms and principles. Healthy conservatism with regard to the inviolability of the stabilising foundations of international law unites Russia with most countries of the world.

Of course, it takes more than just the size of a country’s territory for it to be considered “big and strong” in today’s world. There is also the economy, culture, traditions, public ethics and, of course, the ability to ensure one’s own security and the security of the citizens under any circumstances. Recently, the term “soft power” has gained currency. However, this is power as well. In other words, the power factor in its broad sense is still important in international relations. Its role has even increased amid aggravated political, social, and economic contradictions and greater instability in the international political and economic system. We take full account of this fact in our foreign policy planning.

Thanks to its advanced nuclear deterrent capabilities, Russia plays an important stabilising role in global politics. At the same time, strategic stability for us is not confined to maintaining the nuclear balance between us and the United States. Given globalisation processes, the increasing mutual dependence of countries and the development of technologies, including military technology, we’re taking a broader view of this concept. In politics, strategic stability is a state of international relations that ensures strict compliance with international law by all countries and their associations, respect for the legitimate interests of all countries and peoples and non-interference in their political affairs. In the military context, it means consistently bridging the gap between military capabilities, ensuring a high level of confidence, transparency and predictability and abstaining from steps which may be perceived as a threat to the national security of other countries, forcing them to resort to retaliatory measures. We stand for the strengthening of all aspects of strategic stability which is the foundation for a lasting peace and reliable, equal and indivisible security for all.

Recently, there has been a push towards forcing the nuclear states to abandon their nuclear arsenals and banning nuclear weapons altogether. It is crystal clear that this is premature. Let me remind you that it wasn’t for nothing that the parties to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty wrote into it that the nuclear arsenals had to be fully scrapped but only in the context of general and complete disarmament. We are prepared to discuss the possibility of further gradual reductions in nuclear capabilities but only if we take all the factors influencing strategic stability into account and not just the quantity of strategic offensive weapons. Another reason why we’re prepared to discuss this issue is the growing sense of urgency about making this process multilateral. The restrictions on nuclear capabilities which Russia and the United States have repeatedly accepted for many years have led them to a situation where, essentially, they cannot proceed doing this on the bilateral basis.

We take pride in the fact that there has been a qualitative change in the Russian Armed Forces’ capabilities in recent years. It’s particularly important to note that the position of Russia today is that force can only be used in strict compliance with international law and its own laws and commitments – not to conquer, and not to export political ideas as repeatedly happened in world history and in our past history, for that matter, but to defend our most vital interests, when all other means have been exhausted, or to help our allies and friends at their request, as is happening today in Syria at the invitation of the country’s legitimate government.

Regretfully, not all countries in the world are so scrupulous in providing legal grounds for the use of military force. We have noted cases of loose interpretations of the UN Charter and of removing any boundaries for designating something a threat to one’s own security.

The negative trend of using economic tools of coercion is accelerating in international relations. These are diverse kinds of unilateral sanctions and restrictions that clash with the UN Security Council’s positions and prerogatives. As we know, there are attempts to use these tools on Russia, on the assumption that we are especially sensitive to this kind of influence.

However, it is impossible, and will remain impossible to ignore the fact that Russia is among the largest and most stable economies in the world. It is hard to overestimate its role in some fields of the global economy, particularly in energy, including nuclear energy.

Whether some people like it or not, Russia remains the economic centre of gravity for the post-Soviet countries. This objective factor, not Moscow’s mythical urge to “revive the empire”, underlies the movement toward Eurasian integration. We and our partners in the Eurasian Economic Union are linked in today’s globalised world by centuries-long economic and cultural contacts and the intertwined destinies of our nations. We also advance the EAEU’s foreign contacts to implement President Vladimir Putin’s initiative to form a multilevel integration model in Eurasia. Interest in this initiative is growing steadily.

Historical traditions should also be mentioned among the factors that determine a nation’s role in world politics. “History is the memory of States,” said Henry Kissinger, the theoretician and practitioner of international relations. By the way, the United States, whose interests Mr Kissinger has always defended, did not aspire to be the centre of the liberal world order for a greater part of its own fairly short history, and did not see that role as its preeminent mission. Its Founding Fathers wanted its leadership and exceptional nature to derive from its own positive example. Ironically, the American elite, which emerged as freedom fighters and separatists anxious to cast off the yoke of the British crown, had transformed itself and its state by the 20th century into a power thirsting for global imperialist domination. The world is changing, however, and – who knows – America might yet purify itself and return to its own forgotten sources.

Russia has its own experience with messianic fervour. Its current foreign policy is pragmatic, not ideological. Our country has its traditions and wholesome values, and we do not try to impose them on anyone. We warn our partners at the same time that when they are in Rome they should do as the Romans do.

After many centuries of trials, our country made it to the forefront of international and European politics under Peter the Great – his name graces one of the academies whose students, as I understand it, are here today – and then fully participated in European affairs during the Vienna Congress of 1814-1815. At that time, with the direct participation of Alexander I, a system for a balance of power that existed for many years and mutual recognition of national interests, precluding domination of any one state, was created in Europe.

The ensuing developments show us the futility of any efforts to drive our country out of the European or international arena. Resolving any pressing international issues without Russia became impossible. We can also see the major damage caused by such efforts to all the participants in this process. The collapse of the Vienna system (during which events such as the Crimean War of 1853-1856, the unification and the rise of Germany, and the final collapse of monarchy in France took place) resulted in the bloodletting of World War I. After it ended, Soviet Russia was left outside of the Treaty of Versailles, which largely predetermined its brief existence. The distrust of Western democracies and the reluctance to interact with us on an equal footing doomed the attempts to create collective security in Europe in the 1930s, which resulted in the even greater destruction of World War II. Only after it was over were the foundations of the international order laid with our active participation, which remain relevant to this day.

The UN is called on to play the central coordinating role in the international order. It has proved that there are no alternatives to it and that it enjoys unique international legitimacy despite all the shortcomings of this huge “organism” which unites almost 200 states. Russia supports ensuring the inviolability of the UN Charter’s key provisions, including those related to consolidating the outcomes of World War II. We support comprehensive efforts to expand the capacity of this international organisation to efficiently adapt to new international realities.

In modern Europe, the roots of many problems can be seen in the irrational and doomed desire to sideline Russia, the Eurasian power. NATO and EU expansion has reached the point where Ukraine and other CIS countries were all but presented a false choice: either you are with Russia, or with Europe. Such an ultimatum was beyond the capacity of yet inherently unstable Ukrainian statehood. As a result, a major crisis in the heart of Europe broke out directly on the borders of Russia and the West. Frankly, the prospects for its settlement and the implementation of the Minsk agreements have so far been bleak. First, this is due to the lack of political will and a realistic vision for the future of this country from the Ukrainian government, and due to its attempts to look for ways to resolve Ukrainian problems not on the basis of pragmatic interests in the name of national harmony and prosperity, but at the behest of external sponsors who have no regard for the aspirations of Russians, Ukrainians and Eastern Slavs, in general.

We do not see that our European partners are willing to work honestly in favour of creating a common security and cooperation space. A fair settlement of the Ukrainian crisis in line with the Minsk agreements, which we have consistently advocated, could become part of it. In general, the European Union has been tangibly “losing itself” recently. In fact, they are serving other people’s interests, failing to find their own unified voice in foreign affairs. We are patient people, and we will wait for our colleagues to realise that due to a number of reasons – including historical, geopolitical, economic, and cultural – we, Russia and Europe, need each other.

The historical, geopolitical, moral foundations that shape the foreign policy of Russia are solid and constant. They set the tone of our day-to-day diplomatic efforts which, in keeping with the Constitution, are guided directly by the President of the Russian Federation.

The world is really changing fast. Another “industrial revolution” is unfolding, and a new, more technologically advanced way of life is taking shape.  Uneven development, a wider gap in the wealth of states and nations, and the battle for resources, access to markets, and control over transport arteries are exacerbating differences. Competition is acquiring civilisational dimensions and becoming a rivalry of values and development models.

In the region of the Middle East and North Africa, the situation has reached a point beyond which lies the annihilation of states and of the regional political map. This widespread chaos has been conducive to an unprecedented increase in the threat of terrorism embodied by the aggression of the so called Islamic State and other similar groups. Global terror is a challenge to international security, and it can only be addressed by establishing a joint international coalition, acting on a solid legal basis — as Russian President Vladimir Putin suggested in his speech at the 70th United Nations General Assembly.

The redistribution of the global balance of power continues. We are witnessing new centres of economic power and associated political influence come into being in the world. The Asia-Pacific Region has established itself as the driver of the world economy. Latin American and African nations, which have considerable human and resource potential, are taking a more active role. These developments bring into stark relief the cultural and civilisational diversity of the modern world. The need to democratise relations between states is becoming a more pressing issue.

The formation of a polycentric international order is an objective process. It is in our common interest to make it more stable and predictable. In these conditions, the role of diplomacy as a tool to coordinate balanced solutions in politics, economics, finance, the environment, and the innovation and technology sectors has increased significantly. Simultaneously, the role of the armed forces as the guarantor of peace has increased too.

It is clear that there simply isn’t any other way except painstaking daily work to achieve the compromises necessary to peacefully overcome the numerous problems in the world. History shows that betting on hegemony and one’s own exceptionalism leads to greater instability and chaos.

There is an objective, growing need for Russia-advanced approaches to key modern issues that are free of ideology and rooted in the principles of multilateralism and respect for international law. More and more countries are coming to share these approaches, which strengthens Russia’s authority and its role as a balancing factor in world politics.

We do not favour confrontation or isolationism. Guided by the Foreign Policy Concept approved by President Vladimir Putin, we will continue to advance a positive agenda in our relations with our partners and neighbours, including the United States and the European Union.

Under the current circumstances, there is no alternative to an independent, pragmatic and multi-vector foreign policy based on the consistent defence of national interests along with the simultaneous development of equal cooperation with all who are interested in reciprocating. All our actions are aimed at protecting our sovereignty and creating conditions for the peaceful and sustainable development of Russia and the Russians.

Thank you for your attention. I will now take questions.

Question: Recent experience shows that, in terms of the damage they cause, aggressive actions in the media at times have consequences similar to the use of weapons of mass destruction. In your opinion, isn’t it time, at the UN, in the format of bilateral ties with other states, to move forward with drafting and signing a comprehensive treaty in this field, similar to strategic arms limitation treaties?

Sergey Lavrov: We’ve been working on this for several years now. Russia put forward an initiative that became known at the UN as International Information Security [Initiative]. It has been a subject of independent resolutions at a number of UN General Assembly sessions. While initially these resolutions were rejected by some of our Western partners, in recent years resolutions related to the UN contribution to international information security have been adopted unanimously.

Several years ago, a group of government experts was set up. It drafted a report that was approved by consensus at the UN General Assembly. The General Assembly expressed support for continuing this effort in the context of identifying specific cyberspace risks at present. Another government expert group was also formed, which is beginning to work. It is meant to prepare specific proposals in one and a half years.

I’d like to say right away that despite the apparently constructive participation of all states in this discussion, we are aware of the desire [of certain states] to limit themselves to discussions and not reach practical international legal agreements. So, alongside the work that I just mentioned, Russia and its partners, in particular in the SCO, have drafted a document entitled Code of Conduct for Cyberspace. It was also distributed at the UN and is designed to promote targeted dialogue on the legal aspects of this problem. Overall, we believe (and we have already submitted this proposal) that it is time to draft an international convention on cyber security, including the elimination of threats and risks related to hacking. We were the first to propose penalising and banning hacking within the framework of international law. We will see how those who are accusing Russian hackers of seeking to blow up the world in the style of James Bond will respond to this.

There is another important topic related to these issues. It concerns internet governance. For several years now a discussion on the democratisation of the internet and internet governance has been ongoing at the International Telecommunication Union. A very serious ideological struggle, if you will, is under way. Some people are upholding free market principles but there are also those who believe that farming out the internet to the free market is tantamount to giving it away to just one country. In this context, serious debate lies ahead.

We see all these problems. The majority of countries agree on the need to enforce some generally acceptable order. Focused work is under way but it is too early to expect any results yet.

Question: I am a participant in the Aerospace Forces’ operation in Syria, so my question is related to that country. The results achieved by the Russian centre for reconciliation in Syria show how effective it has been. At the same time such things as the search for missing persons and the return of POWs often encounter difficulties related to inter-agency coordination. Do you believe direct cooperation between the centre for reconciliation of opposing sides and the Russian Embassy in Syria in dealing with certain problems would be possible?

Sergey Lavrov: Actually, this comes as a surprise to me. I was under the impression (and I receive daily confirmation of it) that this cooperation exists. If you have facts pointing to insufficient cooperation in this respect, please let us know. The Russian Embassy in Damascus and the centre in Hmeymim are in daily contact on issues of both the centre’s practical operation and Syria’s international contacts with its foreign partners with our assistance. A delegation of MPs from Europe and the Russian Federal Assembly recently visited it. The Hmeymin centre and our Embassy were actively involved in organising that visit.

If you were somewhat concerned by the topic you mentioned – the exchange of POWs – perhaps the Embassy is not supposed to play a leading role in this process. As far as my colleague and friend Sergey Shoigu and I see our roles, the main objective here is to establish contact with those who are holding POWs who fought terrorists and extremists. The most important thing here is contact between military departments, intelligence services, the Hmeymim centre, our Turkish partners and other countries that have their special forces (or their representatives in other forms) on the ground and have influence with the militants. Politically, we actively cooperate with the Russian Defence Ministry through the Astana process. At the most recent meeting in Astana, a week ago, in addition to preparing constitutional reform, consolidating the ceasefire and developing a mechanism to respond to ceasefire violations, the topic of establishing dialogue between the parties to the conflict with the aim of exchanging POWs as a humanitarian confidence building measure was also addressed. I’m highlighting in particular the aspect you have mentioned. To be sure, things can always be better and communication can always be taken to a higher level. I assure you that the efforts of the Embassy and the Hmeymim centre are well coordinated.

Question: US President Donald Trump, in a recent statement, unexpectedly proposed revisiting the issue of reducing strategic arms as a platform for bargaining. Should strategic nuclear forces today be a subject of negotiations with the Americans or would it be advisable at this point to put them outside the bounds of Russian-US relations?

Sergey Lavrov: To a very large extent, President Trump’s position on the majority of key issues on the foreign policy agenda, including further steps to limit strategic nuclear weapons as you’ve mentioned, has yet to be finalised. By the way, if I remember right, Donald Trump mentioned the issue of cooperation with us in this field as an example. He was asked whether he would be prepared to lift sanctions on Russia. I believe that was the way the question was formulated. He responded by saying they should see if there were issues on which they could cooperate with Russia on a mutually beneficial basis in US interests, in particular, mentioning nuclear arms control. At the same time, as you know, the US president said the Americans should modernise and build up their nuclear triad. We need to wait until the military budget is finally approved under the new administration and see what its priorities and objectives are and how these funds will be spent.

As for our further conversation, I briefly mentioned in my address that we are ready for such a conversation but it should be conducted with acknowledgment of all strategic stability factors without exception. Today, those who propose implementing the so-called nuclear zero initiative as soon as possible, banning and destroying nuclear weapons and generally outlawing them absolutely, ignore the fact that since the nuclear bomb was made and this new kind of weapon began to be produced on a large scale in the USSR, the US, China, France and the UK, colossal changes have taken place in military science and technology. What is being developed in the US under the codename Prompt Global Strike are non-nuclear strategic weapons. If they are developed (and this work is moving forward very actively, with the objective of reaching any point in the world within an hour), of course, they will be more humane than nuclear weapons, because there will be no radiation, no Hiroshima or Nagasaki effect. However, in terms of military superiority, my friends at the Defence Ministry tell me the effect will be more devastating than from a modern nuclear bomb.

What’s more, our American partners are not abandoning the programme of deploying weapons in outer space, and they are essentially alone in voting against the initiatives co-sponsored by us, China and many other colleagues to commit not to do so. The Americans refuse to ratify the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, which is also an important strategic stability factor. And of course the global missile defence system has an absolutely direct impact on strategic stability.

Another point: imbalances in conventional weapons, which are also being modernised very quickly. We always begin our dialogue with NATO by stressing the need to restore normal relations. We propose normalisation and agreements on mutual verification measures but before that, it is necessary to sit down and look at what each of us has deployed in proximity to each other, as well as in the entire Euro-Atlantic region. There are a lot of factors that need to be considered if we want not simply to ban nuclear weapons as idealists, but to ensure peace and security in the world and ensure strategic stability that will be sustainable and based on global parity. Everything that I’ve mentioned needs to be discussed. I may have missed some other factors.

I should also add that restrictions imposed by Russia and the US on each other have reached a point where it is hard to say that we will be able to do a great deal together anymore. All states that have nuclear weapons should be brought in – importantly, not only those that have them officially but also de facto.

Question: The United States started using the so-called managed chaos technology long ago. What can be used to counter such technology on the international scale? Is there a response to the concept of global stability and security management? Which countries could potentially initiate this project?

Sergey Lavrov: The concept of managed chaos appeared long ago as a method of strengthening US influence. Its basic premise is that managed chaos projects should be launched away from the United States in regions that are crucial for global economic and financial development. The Middle East has always been in the focus of politicians and foreign policy engineers in Washington. Practice has shown that this concept is dangerous and destructive, in particular for the countries where the experiment was launched, namely Iraq, Libya, Syria, Yemen and Afghanistan.

In the case of Afghanistan, the United States launched its operation there with international support following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. The UN Security Council unanimously confirmed the US right to self-defence under Article 51 of the UN Charter. The US operation against the Taliban and al-Qaeda was supported by all countries. It’s another matter that after receiving the international approval, the United States and its NATO allies, which took over in Afghanistan, started acting rather inconsistently, to put it mildly. During their operation in Afghanistan, the terrorist threat has not been rooted out, while the drug threat has increased many times over. The drug industry prospered. There is factual evidence that some of the NATO contingents in Afghanistan turned a blind eye to the illegal drug trafficking, even if they were not directly involved in these criminal schemes. Afghanistan is a separate case, although the current developments there, which are a result of the NATO operation’s failure, despite the carte blanche the bloc received from the international community, can be considered an unintended cause of managed chaos. In Iraq, Syria and Libya, this chaos was created intentionally.

I have also mentioned Yemen. The situation there can be described as a huge humanitarian catastrophe. It is not at the top of the international agenda, for some reason, although representatives of the UN Secretariat who are responsible for humanitarian affairs have described the situation in Yemen as the “largest humanitarian crisis in the world”, larger than in Syria or Iraq. Responsible politicians have come to see that the managed chaos theory is destroying life in many regions. Some parties can benefit in the short term from fluctuations on the raw materials markets provoked by the revolutions orchestrated by external forces, but this theory ultimately backfires at its engineers and executors in the form of massive migration inflows, which terrorists use to enter these countries. We can see this in Europe. Terrorist attacks have been staged even in the United States. The Atlantic Ocean has not protected it from the terrorist threat. This is the boomerang effect. Serious people are coming to see this. Reliance on international law is the only weapon against this threat. The UN Charter offers the necessary tools for this. Military force can only be used by decision of the UN Security Council, or a country can resort to anticipatory self-defence in keeping with the spirit of the UN Charter when an armed attack is imminent and inevitable. Russia acts in keeping with these premises in its relations with other countries. China, India, Brazil and the majority of other countries share this view.

There is one more thing connected with the issue of managed chaos and its consequences.

The policy of countries in Africa and Latin America, as well as their regional organisations – the African Union and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) – is based on a formal principle on the unacceptability of the unconstitutional change of power via a coup d’état. Since this danger is not purely African or Latin American (we have seen it surface in other parts of the world), we have proposed that the UN General Assembly formalise the universal unacceptability of coups as a means of changing government. Last autumn, a resolution was adopted at the initiative of a large group of co-authors – our Cuban colleagues were among the most active advocates of this idea, alongside other countries. This resolution recognised the importance of creating a more democratic and equitable world order and openly rejected the change of governments through unconstitutional coups and attempts to interfere in the internal affairs of states and to impose alien ideas and values on them as unacceptable. It is also unacceptable when national jurisdictions are applied extraterritorially, when a country hunts down other countries’ legal entities and nationals around the world even though they have not violated international law but are believed to have violated the national legislation of the said country. Three countries voted against this resolution and a few dozen countries – mostly Western ones – abstained. The resolution was adopted by a far larger vote than some other resolutions that our Western partners like to quote, for example the resolution on the violation of human rights in Crimea.

Question: Because of the sharp decline in authority of international institutions, including the UN, the OSCE, and the Council of Europe which are potentially under the influence of their American partners and curators, the Russian Federation needs other alternatives to solve vital issues, sometimes directly with the heads of states including the US, Germany, India, China and other powers. Don’t you think we should resume direct state-to-state relations?

Sergey Lavrov: Direct state-to-state relations have never been suspended. In spite of the very tight agenda of international organisations, bilateral dialogue with the overwhelming majority of states has today become even more intensive. For now there is an objective pause in our relations with the US because our American colleagues, the new administration has not yet made all its post appointments for the leading positions at the State Department, the Pentagon and other agencies. In addition to departmental heads, their deputies have yet to be appointed, which calls for Senate approval. And it is unclear when these appointments will be made, so there is a natural waiting period. But I have met with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. As for the General Staff, several meetings have been held between the Chief of the Russian General Staff Valery Gerasismov and US General Joseph Dunford who heads the US Joint Chiefs of Staff. There has been contact on another level on how to avoid unforeseen and unintended incidents in Syria between the Russian Aerospace Forces and the US-led coalition. So, bilateral dialogue is important with any country. Regarding multilateral, universal and regional institutions, we are well aware of their shortcomings, but these are, if you like, inevitable.

The UN has 193 member countries. The West, Russia, China, India, Africa and Latin America – they are all interested in promoting their viewpoints on decisions that are taken and then implemented, or set the political agenda for further discussions. Of course, we would like to have a say on all these matters. From time to time our Western partners find a way to obstruct us, or put forward absolutely unacceptable ideas which we have to block. In such situations some “well-wishers” like to say that the UN has outlived its usefulness because the right of veto is abused and so on. This is disingenuous. The veto was included in the UN Charter at the insistence of the US after the League of Nations came to a sad end precisely because its activities and mechanisms did not provide for a special role of the big powers. Because of this the US decided that it had no time to just listen to moralising without being able to exert decisive influence. That’s why today the right of veto is not some kind of privilege, but an instrument for maintaining stability in international affairs which guarantees that no decision by the international community can be taken unless it is backed by the five permanent UN Security Council members. This needs to be understood.

Our French colleagues are pushing the idea that the UN Security Council members should voluntarily refrain from exercising their veto when mass human rights violations are involved. We asked them how they see it from the purely practical point of view. If there are 99 victims, this is not yet a violation, and if there are a hundred, we should refrain from using the veto? This is an old concept. Previously it was served “under the guise” of responsibility to protect, of humanitarian intervention, arguing that the international community had the right to intervene in certain conflicts regardless of UN Security Council resolutions if genocide or some other mass human rights violations are taking place in a country.  This is a mathematical approach. Who will determine whether or not mass violations are taking place? This is a very cynical approach, where they say that the death of one person is a tragedy, but a list of military casualties are statistics. You can discuss this at length, but the right of veto must remain part of any concept for reforming the UN Security Council. It needs to be reformed and made more representative. Without the right of veto by current permanent Security Council members it will be unable to function and will morph into an organ that rubberstamps shortsighted and ideologically charged documents. The OSCE does not have the veto right, but it has the principle of consensus which also sometimes leads to exhausting debates. Nevertheless consensus safeguards the interests of those who take part in that organisation. This can be useful in spite of all the criticism it incurs in connection with  OSCE activities in Ukraine. In any case the presence in that country of a special monitoring mission, which we support, helps to bring down the level of violence and keep the situation under control. We witnessed a flare-up of violence, for example, the day before yesterday the radicals from the Azov battalion were acting provocatively around Mariupol. The mission records these facts which we then use in our work with the Normandy four, at the Contact Group to motivate the Ukrainian authorities to stop sabotaging the Minsk Agreements.

I can cite some positive examples for any international organisation, but we have to keep in mind that none of them – neither the UN, nor the OSCE, nor the G20, not even BRICS or the SCO — will follow the wishes of any one country a hundred per cent. It’s always a compromise, a consensus or a balance of interests. As our President Vladimir Putin constantly stresses, we are not imposing anything on anyone, we are always ready to look for a balance of interests through mutual concessions with any country that is ready to talk with us as an equal. This is how diplomacy works. The same is true for bilateral relations. Sometimes it is even more difficult to reach an agreement bilaterally than multilaterally because in a multilateral format, say at the UN, you have allies you can call on and they will exert additional pressure. In bilateral talks your partner is sitting opposite you and it’s either you or him who gains the upper hand. It’s better that no one should gain the upper hand and that there should be a consensus. We are ready for this kind work, including, as I said, with the US because we are well aware what great influence the relations between the two biggest nuclear powers have on the overall situation in the world. We are prepared to exercise our responsibility for such influence through dialogue with the US.

Question: Today we see a growing split of the world political elites. There are globalists who express the interests of transnational corporations and world financial organisations and there is a new political concept, the so-called populists who express the interests of the people in their countries. A vivid example is the election of US President Donald Trump, and there are a number of other political leaders who are seen as fringe politicians in the West, for example Marine Le Pen. Given this, it is not by chance that Russia is seen as a leader in half of the world. Is this view justified? Can we talk about a future victory for one of these ideologies? How would this influence today’s world order?

Sergey Lavrov: I wouldn’t call Donald Trump or Marine Le Pen “fringe politicians” if only because they absolutely fit into the principles that underlie the functioning of the American and French states. Marine Le Pen is a European member of parliament and her party is active in the national parliament.  Donald Trump has been elected in full accordance with the American constitution, with its two-level indirect system of electing the president. I would not even call them populists. The word “populist” has a negative connotation. You said interestingly that populists are those who represent the people. There are nuances in the interpretation of the word “populist.” In modern Russian it tends to be applied to people who go into politics, but do not bear the responsibility for their words and just seek to lure voters. A populist is someone who might promise to triple wages while the budget absolutely cannot support it, etc. So I would rather call them realists or anti-globalists, if you like. Having said that, anti-globalists are also associated with hooligans who try to disrupt the G20 and G7 summits, and so on. Come to think of it, even now that the new president of the world’s largest power has declared that it is necessary to think not of global expansion, but of how America lives, the role of globalists will be changing. American corporations have already demanded a reduction in manufacturing in developing countries to move it to the US in order to create jobs there. Granted, this may not be very good news for the consumer because labour is more expensive in the US, so the prices for goods, cars and so on will increase. But this is the trend. In general, President Trump’s conceptual slogans during his election campaign to the effect that America should interfere less in the affairs of other countries and address its own issues send a very serious signal to the globalists themselves. Again, up until now the US has been perceived as a symbol of globalism and the expansion of transnational corporations. Those who represent their interests are the huge team that has taken up arms against President Trump and his administration and in general against everything he does, and which tries, in any way possible, to throw a spanner in the works. Something similar things are happening in France where mountains of compromising materials of ten or fifteen years ago have been unearthed which invariably are presented through an “anti-Russia prism.” It’s been a long time since I’ve seen such a dirty campaign when at stake are the concepts and ideas of how to develop the state and their country, and a smear war is being waged. We had this not so long ago, and I don’t see anything good about it.

In parallel the global market and the global trade system are being reappraised through the actions and statements of the new US administration. As you know, they have walked away from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, from the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership and said they would work through regional and bilateral agreements. We believe, though, that the World Trade Organisation which it took us such a long time to join did provide a common umbrella for world trade. Some regional structures could be built into these universal systems so as not to break the ties with the non-members of these regional organisations to maintain some common contact and exchanges through the WTO. That too is now under threat. So, we are in a period of rethinking our approaches, and I don’t think it has everything to do with Trump. These changes have been brewing; otherwise the American position on so many issues could not have changed so abruptly. They were long in coming, and the WTO was in a major crisis when the Western countries categorically refused to listen to the leading developing countries on a range of issues connected with investment, financial services, etc.

I wouldn’t say that there are globalists and populists. There are simply people who want to get elected and follow a well-trodden path and preserve the neoliberal structures that are all over the place in the West, and then there are people who see the neoliberalism and permissiveness which are part of the neoliberal approach as a threat to their societies, traditions and cultures. This is accompanied by philosophical reflections and practical discussions of what to do about the problem of illegal migrants, their own roots and religions, whether it is politically correct to remind people that you are an Orthodox or Catholic or whether you should forget about religion altogether. I have said more than once that the European Union wanted to adopt a constitution many years ago and was drafting it. The commission was headed by Giscard d’Estaing and he proposed a very simple sentence about Europe having Christian roots. He was prevented from doing so on the grounds that it would not be politically correct and would insult the Muslims. In reality it turns out that if you are cautious about making your religious roots known you end up not caring about the religious roots of others and the consequences are not usually good. Therefore, at the UN and UNESCO, we actively support all the initiatives that are particularly relevant today: the Dialogue of Civilisations, the Dialogue of Cultures and the Dialogue of Religions. It is not by chance that they have become topical issues on the agenda because they reflect the fermentation within societies and the need to somehow search for a national consensus.

Question: The traditional definition of war is “war is nothing more than an extension of state policy by alternate means.” We usually understand “alternate means” as military violence and therefore claim that war always involves military action. Do you think it would be correct to say that the nature of war has changed in contemporary circumstances, that is, now the term includes measures for information, economic, political and psychological impact?

Sergey Lavrov: You know, in the West they coined the term ‘hybrid war.’ As a matter of fact, this is the concept they seem to be forming based on their experience. Unilateral economic sanctions are definitely a declaration of war, no doubt about it. An information war is underway when slander becomes a mandatory condition for the media. This is an objective fact. These days we talk a lot about Syria. Allegedly, there is a non-governmental organisation called the White Helmets funded by several Western countries and countries in the Persian Gulf. A film about this organisation won the Oscar for best documentary this year. They present themselves as a humanitarian agency helping people attacked by bombs – particularly, in Syria. On several occasions, they were caught lying and showing staged video clips. For one such clip, they painted a girl with red paint and on camera she was sitting down and allegedly suffering from Russian and Syrian bombs. Several days ago in Geneva, an American journalist presented research in which he proved that the White Helmets are fake and that they only deal with developing falsified and provocative news, while dragging Russia, Iran, the Syrian government and armed forces through the mud. He also proved that they are providing direct assistance to terrorists and extremists, including medical supplies and equipment, and treating injured members of extremist groups. This is just one example. But anywhere you go, when I just try talking to my Western colleagues, the White Helmets are exempt from any criticism and seem to have a monopoly on the truth. There are many other tricks like that. Certainly, in a wider perspective, cyberspace is an area where there is a material possibility to inflict potentially very serious harm. Cyber forces were created and, apparently, they have some significance. This is exactly why we need forums where these things can be discussed as a single package. The military discusses purely military issues, which now extends to cyberwars. Those dealing with information and sharing experience are trying to convince each other that the media must be used not for provocation but to reconcile people. When it comes to the economy, it should be understood – and many have come to realise this – that unilateral sanctions will come back like a boomerang and hit the countries that joined them, especially small countries. It is very short-sighted to impose unilateral sanctions on a country like Russia, with its huge potential, human and natural resources. By encouraging dialogue in each of these areas to build a general understanding, mutually beneficial and generally acceptable approaches, we need a forum where all these issues can be considered in their relation to each other because they all affect the general status of international relations. Except for the UN, there is no other framework like this. This is a very topical issue and we have no doubt that it will be in the centre of very heated and engaging debates for the foreseeable future.

To be continued…

Many thanks to our research assistant Baaz for discovering the video.

Comments of the Russian MID on the EU authority on human rights

March 22, 2017

The EU has long lost its moral right to act as an authority on human rights issues

The following statement is an important step taken by the MID. Until recently, they refrained from directly pointing out that the European nations that are orchestrating the anti-Russian campaign are the same nations that participated in the  war on the USSR in 1941-1945. Some of them sent their armies to invade Russia and to burn Russian towns and villages and to hang Russians women and children, some of them were busy producing tanks, ammunition and ropes, while others were treating the injured invaders and financing the war.

Let’s list the crimes of the Western nations against the Russians every time we write about their political representatives, governments and military alliances.

Today marks the 74th Anniversary of the horrific massacre, Ukrainian nationalists & Nazis burned 150 people alive

 Comment by the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs Information and Press Department on a declaration by the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy on behalf of the European Union on Crimea and the European Parliament resolution on Ukrainian political prisoners in Russia and situation in Crimea

March 20th, 2017

We were perplexed by the March 18 declaration by the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy on behalf of the European Union on Crimea, timed to coincide with the anniversary of the reunification of Crimea and Sevastopol with Russia. Apparently, Brussels remains detached from reality and refuses to acknowledge the obvious, positive changes in the lives of the people in the Republic of Crimea and Sevastopol, which are now part of the Russian Federation.

Instead of repeating unsubstantiated assertions by Kiev regarding alleged “human rights violations” and the “annexation of Crimea,” European officials wishing to receive objective information regarding the situation in Russia’s Crimea would do better to visit the peninsula and see with their own eyes what is happening there, as many unbiased public and political figures from EU member countries have already done.

The EU invokes international law but seems to forget about its gross violations in Yugoslavia, Iraq, Libya, and, for that matter, Ukraine, with the goal of toppling unwanted regimes in which its member countries took an active part. The EU has yet to respond adequately to the regular marches and rallies of Waffen-SS veterans in Latvia, which not only insult the memory of millions of victims, but also ignore the rulings of the Nuremberg Tribunal, as well as the UN General Assembly resolutions on inadmissibility of the glorification of Nazism.

Fabrications about “threats to international security” and the “ongoing militarisation” of Crimea also come as a surprise. The EU prefers not to notice the deployment of US missile defence elements in Romania and Poland, the ever more frequent NATO exercises in the Black Sea, and the increased NATO military presence in Eastern Europe, which have a negative impact on the security situation in Europe, including the Black Sea region.

The attempt to portray the EU’s blanket discriminatory restrictive measures against Crimeans as part of the “policy of non-recognition” of the reunification of Crimea with Russia appears cynical. In the context of EU visa policies, they are reminiscent of “visa reprisals” and run counter to a range of norms of international law. The same applies to the EU’s appeals to UN member states to impose sanctions on Russia.

The adoption by the European Parliament on March 16 of the resolution on Ukrainian Political Prisoners in Russia and Situation in Crimea once again demonstrates a prejudiced approach to human rights. Clearly, the EU has long lost its moral right to act as an authority on human rights issues. For the sake of dubious political expediency, Brussels prefers to turn a blind eye to the actions of the Kiev regime and the Ukrainian nationalists blocking water and energy supplies to Crimea, non-payment of pensions and benefits, as well as the blocking of railway links with southeastern Ukraine, not to mention the numerous migrant issues in the EU itself, including the disappearance of migrant children and violations of their rights, the status of “non-citizens” in Latvia and Estonia, growing racism and xenophobia throughout the European Union, and the blatant human rights violations in the course of involvement of a number of EU countries in the infamous secret CIA prisons. Those are the cold hard facts. However, MEPs in their resolutions on Crimea prefer to see only the mythical deterioration of the situation of the Crimean Tatar population, despite the fact that real progress in restoring its rights was made only after reunification of the peninsula with Russia.

To reiterate, Crimea and Sevastopol are an integral part of the Russian Federation, and methods of political or economic pressure, to which the European Union persistently resorts, are futile efforts and will not change this fact.

Nikki Haley Calls Apartheid Israel ‘the one true democracy in the Middle East’

Out of all of Trump’s appointees, Nikkie Haley is probably one of the worst. Formerly a governor of South Carolina, Haley is the current US ambassador to the United Nations. That’s her in the video above giving a presentation at the UN last Thursday.

I’m not sure how much Haley knows about international law. According to Wikipedia, she graduated from Clemson University with a Bachelor of Science degree in accounting. How she ended up as UN ambassador, after criticizing Trump in the general election, is unclear. *

At any rate, Haley seems fully unaware that Israeli settlements are illegal under international law. Nor does she seem to comprehend why other UN-member states might press for resolutions seeking to call Israel to account, both for its settlements as well as its 50-year occupation of the West Bank–land universally recognized as necessary for a Palestinian state. So perhaps she is simply uninformed and does not understand the nature of Israel’s occupation or its devastating impact upon the lives of those forced to live under it. Or at least that’s one possibility.

The other possibility, of course, is that Haley does understand these things…and that she simply believes Israel is exceptional and should not have to follow the same laws and international standards that apply to other states. If so, apparently in Israel are those who would agree with her. Less than a week after her talk at the UN–in which she accused the body of a “prejudiced approach to Israeli-Palestinian issues”–an Israeli military court handed down an 18-month sentence to an Israeli soldier who carried out an execution-style slaying of a wounded Palestinian in March of last year. There was no doubt the soldier was the one who pulled the trigger. The shooting was captured live on video. The sentence of 18 months he received for killing a Palestinian is lighter than what Palestinian children are often given for throwing stones.

* Incredibly, Haley also voiced criticism of Trump–over his stance on Russia–during her congressional confirmation hearings back in January. At that time she accused Russia of “war crimes,” and said, “They (the Russians) have done some terrible atrocities.”

British radio station interviews the Saker

January 19, 2017

How the UN resolution on Crimea and Trump’s tweet will restore Russian historical borders, by Scott

How the UN resolution on Crimea and Trump’s tweet will restore Russian historical borders, by Scott

December 23, 2016

19 December 2016, the Assembly adopted, by a vote of 70 in favor to 26 against with 77 abstentions, the draft resolution titled “Situation of human rights in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol (Ukraine)”.

The Western and Ukrainian media true to its practice to never say a word of truth reported this as “The UN General Assembly adopted a resolution on human rights in Crimea.”

There is a hope that the NATO members pushing for this resolution would abandon this issue, but when did they ever behave reasonably?

Quoting the UN transcript: “Regarding the draft on the human rights situation in Crimea, the statement delivered by Ukraine’s delegate had compelled the Russian Federation to take the floor.  He expressed hope that delegates would vote against the text, demonstrate their positions in principle and focus their attention on the human rights situation in all of Ukraine, including where the Government was waging warfare with its own means.”

“References to territorial integrity in the resolution concerning Ukraine went beyond the objective of that text.” per representative of Armenia

In it’s new “resolution” the UN General Assembly names the Russian Federation as the “occupying power in Crimea.” So, twenty five years after the biggest tragedy in our history, a forced dissolution of the USSR in the Russian historical borders, we Russians are being named “the occupiers” of our own Russian land, including those Russians who live on this land. It’s very important that in this “resolution” Russians are not named even once as the population of Crimean. Also, Russians are never named as the majority of population  elsewhere on the territory of the Russian Federation.

The resolution was submitted by NATO occupied Ukraine and supported by all of the NATO members.

Brief history of the resolution on Crimea:

In November 2016, Russia Withdrew from ICC,  the international criminal court, after this court frivolously accused Russia of war crimes in Crimea.

At the 46th meeting, on 8 November, the representative of Ukraine, on behalf of Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Czechia, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Palau, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and United States of America: draft resolution, introduced a draft resolution entitled “Situation of human rights in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol (Ukraine)” (A/C.3/71/L.26). Subsequently, Albania, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Malta, Montenegro, Norway and the Republic of Moldova joined in sponsoring the draft resolution.

On 15 November, the Secretary of the Committee read out a statement of the programme budget implications of the draft resolution.

At the same meeting, a statement was made by the representative of Ukraine. Subsequently, Iceland, the Marshall Islands and New Zealand joined in sponsoring the draft resolution.

On December 19th, 2016 the Assembly took up the report on the “Human rights situations and reports of special rapporteurs and representatives” (document A/71/484/Add.3), containing four draft resolutions.

“Joint statement on human rights situation in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea”

Dec 19, 2016 Press statement

 

The following is some of the wording that has been used in this  piece of legislature:  the Referendum for re-unification with Russia called “discriminatory legislation,”  demands for an “unconditional and immediate access of international and regional human rights mechanisms to the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol.”  Calls for recognition of Crimea is “part of Ukraine and call upon Russia to end its occupation.”

The UN Assembly also encourage the Secretary-General in this regard to consult regularly with the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights” Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, a representative of Saudi Arabia.

The document calls on Russia to provide  access to international missions and non-governmental human rights organizations that were kicked out of the Russian territory for anti-government activities in years following the 2014 anti-government putsch in Ukraine.

The resolution thinks that “the international presence is necessary in Crimea to prevent further deterioration of the situation.” The document claims “violations of the rights of the inhabitants of Crimea,” without providing specific facts and explanations.

By this UN General Assembly effort, Russians are turned  into “inhabitants” of Russia. I have been looking for another UN document that would use a term “inhabitants” in relation to the country’s population, but I couldn’t find any. In political literature, the term “inhabitants” is routinely used to describe the population of the Western colonies in Africa.   It seems that the UN Western coalition has specifically designated the use of derogatory politically charged term as “inhabitants” to Russian people, naming them as “inhabitants” on the territory of Russia and simultaneously its “occupiers.

Predictably, the Russian Foreign Ministry Sergei Lavrov called this document proposed by Kiev “a useless propaganda leaflet.”

 

I want to beg the difference with the Mr. Lavrov. Instead of just shrugging this draft resolution off as another NATO sponsored propaganda stunt, maybe it makes sense to look into its workings and to see if Russia can use this document and other like this to bring forward the issue of the violation of the territorial integrity of the USSR, and as a consequences, to declare the EU and NATO memberships of the territories of the former Soviet Union as being under occupation.

As pertinent to the paragraph:

“Reaffirming the responsibility of States to respect international law, including the principle that all States shall refrain from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any State and from acting in any other manner inconsistent with the purposes of the United Nations, recalling its resolution 2625 (XXV) of 24 October 1970, in which it approved the Declaration on Principles of International Law concerning Friendly Relations and Cooperation among States in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations, and reaffirming the principles contained therein…” page 1,  A/C.3/71/L.26

There are known statements made by Gorbachev and Yeltsen that indicate that if the Belavezha Accords of the dissolution of the Soviet Union wasn’t signed, the US and other NATO members threatened the Communist government with nuclear strikes.

As pertinent to the paragraph of the draft that says the following:

“Recalling its resolution 68/262 of 27 March 2014 on the territorial integrity of Ukraine, in which it affirmed its commitment to the sovereignty, political independence, unity and territorial integrity of Ukraine within its internationally recognized borders, and relevant decisions of international organizations, specialized agencies and bodies within the United Nations system…”

The UN made a grave mistake by its failure to affirmed its commitment to the sovereignty, political independence, unity and territorial integrity of the USSR.

The UN has also failed to adopt a resolution condemning the dissolution of the USSR, failed to condemn the violation of the territorial integrity of the USSR, failed to affirmed its commitment to the sovereignty, political independence, unity and territorial integrity of the USSR within its internationally recognized borders at the time when parts of the USSR have been occupied by the EU and NATO.

Using A/C.3/71/L.26  as blueprint, Russia should condemn the temporary occupation of the parts of the territory of the former USSR, afterwards named Russian Federation,  by the EU members and members of the aggressive military anti-Russian alliance known as  NATO.

Russia should also reaffirm the non-recognition of the annexation of its territories.

Furthermore, Russia should condemn the imposition of the legal system of the European Union and the negative impact on the human rights situation of it’s territories occupied by the EU and NATO military forces.

Russia should condemn the reported serious violations and abuses committed against residents of its territories of Ukraine, Moldova, Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania, and Georgia,  occupied by the EU and NATO, in particular extrajudicial killings, abductions, enforced disappearances, politically motivated prosecutions, discrimination, harassment, intimidation, violence, arbitrary detentions, torture and ill-treatment of detainees and their transfer from the named territories to the territory of EU and US, as well as reported abuses of other fundamental freedoms, including the freedoms of expression, religion or belief and association and the right to peaceful assembly.

Russia should expressing serious concern at the decision of the so-called European Council and other judicial entities of the occupiers, to declare the liberation movement of the Russian population on the occupied territories to be an extremist organization and to ban its activities.

The UN General Assembly has to recall the prohibition under the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949 for the occupying Power to compel a protected person to serve in its armed or auxiliary forces, and for the occupied territories of Russia to become and to be a part of aggressive anti-Russian military alliance of Western country known as NATO.

Russian Federation should condemns the abuses, measures and practices of discrimination against the residents of the temporarily occupied territories of the Russian Federation, including Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia, as well as Russians and persons belonging to other ethnic and religious groups, by the European Union occupation authorities.

Russia should express its outrage with the racist and Russophobic stance of the UN officials using the term “ethnic Ukrainians” that refer to an alleged existence of “Ukrainian ethnicity” that is somehow genetically different from Russian ethnicity.

Since it’s has been already genetically proven that there is no such genetic entity as “ethnic Ukrainian,”  Russian authorities should demand a scientific independent evaluation of this claim and condemnation of the UN member as being racists and Nazis.

In conclusion: If there are any legal experts here, please help me to extend on my discovery. We would submit the final draft to the Russian Federation Mission to UN. Trying to think as a lawyer, I believe we have  here an outline for the legal framework on declaring the dissolution of the USSR to be illegal. Next step will be demand for re-unification of territories of the Russian Federation and its people.

With this I want to remind you recent statement made by President Putin that Russia’s border is limitless, and that it doesn’t end anywhere.

The UN org News:

23 Dec 2016 the US president-elect made a promise that after his inauguration the UN will be reformed.  Experts for some reason blame the UN resolution on Israel, but I think it’s because of the UN draft resolution on Crimea.

As to the U.N., things will be different after Jan. 20th. “

My other article on matters of international judicial malpractice

 

Thank you for your time

Scott

Follow me on twitter for more updates and communication

Iran Planning to Resume Nuclear Activity

December 2, 2016

Iran flag

Iran’s Parliament (Majlis) is to mull a three-urgency plan which mandates Iranian government to resume nuclear activities.

The move is made in reaction to the US Senate approval of a legislation which extends the Iran Sanction Act (ISA) for another ten years.

Member of Majlis Presiding Body Akbar Ranjbarzadeh said the US Senate approval of a legislation which extends the ISA for another ten years is in violation of the JCPOA and international law.

Ranjbarzadeh told IRNA, ‘The three-urgency plan on resumption of nuclear activities has been compiled on emergency to counter the US move.’

He said the plan consists an article and five notes in line with the two- and three-urgency plans to counter the Senate approval.
He added that the two- or three-urgency nature of the plan will be decided by Iranian lawmakers, aiming to confront the approval by the US Senate and House of Representatives.

The parliamentarian said the two-urgency plans will be finalized within 72 hours and turn into a law.

He said the reason the plan is three-urgency in nature is the emergency condition arising as a result, justifying taking the course which would let adoption of fundamental and principled measures in reaction to the damage thus far inflicted on Iran and in proportion to explicit action of Americans, especially the approval of the Senate.

Ranjbarzadeh said per Article 160 of Parliament (Majlis), the two-urgency plans are taken on the necessity to avoid damage. This is while damage has been inflicted and “we wish to present the vital plan in three-urgency form to repel the absolute damage inflicted on the country.”

He noted that from the leadership point of view, the two-urgency plan had been brought to the information of the arrogance.

“We will go our own way so as not to lose time and we will embark on action. The US president has taken the course of confrontation; we will also take our own way and the three-urgency plan is more suitable than the two-urgency plan so as to confront Americans’ plan more speedily.”

“Now too the land of our nuclear and knowledgeable scientists has been invaded and they have taken away considerable portion of what we had already gained; they wish to deprive us of all our nuclear achievements,” said Ranjbarzadeh.

He concluded,

“The ones who have acted in violation of the international regulations and have defied them are the US and the Congress of the country and we are going to condition the plan on rapid launching of our action and taking comprehensive and complete measures in connection with resumption of the nuclear activities. We constantly and round-the-clock inform the world through the (Iranian) diplomatic organ and the media that the US was the initiator of the illegal act and we have no option but reciprocating. Our ways are reciprocation and defensive in nature and are not aimed at intruding into the scientific and ethical borders.”

Source: IRNA

International Criminal Court Gets Slammed; Russia, Other Countries, Withdraw from Body

iccartoon

By Richard Edmondson

The International Criminal Court, based in The Hague, Netherlands, seems to feel that the only people capable of committing war crimes are Africans.

You can go here to view a list of 32 people indicted by the ICC since the year 2005. All of them are from Africa. The list includes such notable U.S. enemies as Muammar Gaddafi and his son, Saif al-Islam Gaddafi.

Some African nations have said ‘enough is enough’ and ended their membership in the court, and just last week Russia announced that it too will follow suit.

The International Criminal Court, or ICC, was set up with the passage of the Rome Statute, an international treaty adopted in Rome in 1998. The treaty formally went into effect in 2002, and the ICC began operations that same year. States which have either ratified or become signatories to the treaty become, in turn, members of the ICC. Currently 124 countries, at least officially, hold such membership. These are each allowed one voting representative on the Assembly of State Parties. The ASP is a legislative body set up to provide “management oversight” of the ICC, but usually it only meets once a year.

The court was given a mandate to investigate and prosecute crimes of genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity, and crimes of aggression. There’s lots of that going on in the world, you know. Crimes against humanity for instance entail large-scale attacks against civilian populations. Just off the top of our heads we might think of, oh, say, Israel’s attacks against Gaza and its deliberate targeting of hospitals, UN schools, and residential buildings.

ustortureiraq

Or take the category “war crimes”–crimes falling under this classification include the torture of prisoners, oh, such as occurred in US-run torture facilities.  Heck, we even have Obama admitting, “We tortured some folks.”

But up until January of this year, just about the only armed conflict venues the ICC had ever launched formal investigations into were in… Africa.

Ah! But on January 27, 2016, in a rare departure, the ICC announced it wouldlook into some alleged crimes committed outside of Africa.

gazaphos

Umm…to be sure, the scope of this new investigation will not cover US officials such as, say, Alberto Gonzales, or the US treatment of prisoners in Iraq; and…well…neither is the ICC investigating Israel for its firing of white phosphorus shells into a UN compound in Gaza City on January 15, 2008, or the Jewish state’s use of the controversial “Hannibal Directive” during its 2014 war on Gaza, a measure which resulted in the deaths of 190 civilians in the town of Rafah on August 1, 2014–the date Palestinians have since come to refer to as “Black Friday.”

No.

Specifically the ICC has begun, or found itself compelled to begin, an investigation into the Russia-Georgia war over South Ossetia that occurred in 2008. And just to make sure the world understands it is being fair and impartial, the court has announced it has “gathered information on alleged crimes attributed to the three parties involved in the armed conflict – the Georgian armed forces, the South Ossetian forces, and the Russian armed forces.”

So yes, the court is now investigating Russia.

But as I say, the only indictments so far have been of Africans.

Perhaps it should come as no surprise, then, that last month three African countries announced their withdrawal from the court. The three countries are: South Africa, Burundi, and Gambia. The Parliament of Kenya has also voted to leave the ICC. And in 2015, the African National Congress issued a public statement in which it asserted that the “ICC is no longer useful for the purposes for which it was intended.”

But perhaps the real blockbuster came last week when Russia announced it, too, will be withdrawing from the Rome Statute and the ICC. This took place via an announcement posted on the website of the Russian Foreign Ministry on November 16.

Interestingly, on that same day, November 16, University of Illinois Law Professor Francis A. Boyle sent out an email containing a scathing indictment of the ICC, the legal scholar denouncing the court as “a joke and a fraud.”

The comments of both Boyle, who has an extensive background in international law, and the Russian government, were prompted by a recently-released ICC report blandly entitled, “Report on Preliminary Examination Activities 2016,” that was  published on the ICC’s website on November 14.

The report (available here in PDF) offers the results of a “preliminary investigation” into nine different conflict areas in the world. The ICC views a preliminary investigation as a necessary step in order to determine “whether a situation meets the legal criteria” needed to warrant a full investigation. In other words, the ICC is investigating whether or not to do an investigation.

Of the nine different conflict areas, two are of particular interest: Palestine and Ukraine. Russia’s main concern, as you might expect, would be the findings pertaining to the latter. The concerns expressed by Boyle, on the other hand, were focused on the section of the report dealing with Palestine. Let’s take Palestine first.

The ICC on Palestine

bennsouda2

ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda

The report is a declaration of activities undertaken by the branch of the ICC known as the Office of the Prosecutor, referred to in the document as “OPT”, or simply “the Office.” The OPT’s main area of inquiry is the 2014 Gaza conflict, known as Operation Protective Edge. By contrast, Operation Cast Lead, the bloody conflict which took place in 2008-09, goes completely unmentioned, and the term “white phosphorus” does not appear anywhere in the report.

While the report does supply a “contextual background” to the Israel-Palestine conflict–in the course of which the Six-Day War is mentioned, as are Israel’s “unilateral withdrawal” from Gaza in 2005 and the election of Hamas the following year–most of the section on Palestine, as I say, deals with the events of 2014.

“All parties are alleged to have committed crimes during the 51-day conflict,” the report states, and the words “alleged” or “allegedly” are employed repeatedly throughout.

Alleged crimes said to have been committed by Palestinians include “attacks against civilians,” “use of protected persons as shields” and “ill-treatment of persons accused of being collaborators.” A single paragraph is devoted to each category, following which the report moves on to “Acts allegedly committed by the IDF,” and here the “alleged” crimes include “attacks against residential buildings and civilians,” “attacks against medical facilities and personnel,” “attacks against UNRWA schools,” and “attacks against other civilian objects and infrastructure.” Once again, a single paragraph is devoted to each alleged crime.

The ICC says it has reviewed “over 320 reports as well as related documentation and supporting material” in the course of conducting its preliminary investigation. The report also mentions a trip to Israel by the OPT that took place October 5 to 10, 2016. The visit is said to have been facilitated by “Israeli and Palestinian authorities,” but apparently did not include a visit to Gaza. At least none is mentioned. One place they did visit, however, is Hebrew University in Jerusalem, where supposedly the OPC staff “engaged with the law faculty.” Why there was need for such an engagement is not clear, although the report does say the trip to Israel as a whole was undertaken for purpose of “raising awareness about the ICC” as well as to “address any misperceptions” about the judicial body.

Boyle’s comments about the ICC report, or at least his “alleged” comments, we might say, were posted at the Al-Awda Yahoo group (Yahoo login required), and were also sent out by email.

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In addition to branding the ICC “a joke and a fraud” the comment also makes reference to the visit to Hebrew University, which indeed is described on page 32 of the report.

The ICC’s “conclusion and next steps” in regard to its investigation on Palestine will be aimed at “continuing to engage in a thorough factual and legal assessment of the information available, in order to establish whether there is a reasonable basis to proceed with an investigation.” It will also “assess information on potentially relevant national proceedings, as necessary and appropriate.”

The ICC on Ukraine

Like Boyle’s posted comment, Russia’s announced withdrawal from the ICC also came on November 16–in a statement posted on the website of the nation’s Foreign Ministry. The statement does not single out Ukraine or the ICC report specifically. Its criticisms of the court are generalized. But the timing, just two days after the report’s publication, would strongly suggest that the one was prompted by the other.

The ICC report portrays the Maidan protests largely as a spontaneous popular uprising, making no mention of the US role in the overthrow of the Yanukovych government. Reference to the leaked phone conversation between the State Department’s Victoria Nuland and Jeffry Pyatt, the US ambassador to Ukraine, in which the two discussed who would become the new Ukrainian head of state, is completely omitted. “The protest movement continued to grow in strength and reportedly diversified to include individuals and groups who were generally dissatisfied with the Yanukovych Government and demanded his removal from office,” says the report, and the narrative adhered to is primarily that of the US:

On 21 February 2014, under European Union mediation, President Yanukovych and opposition representatives agreed on a new government and fixed Presidential elections for May 2014. However, on 22 February 2014, the Ukrainian Parliament voted to remove President Yanukovych, and he left the country that day to the Russian Federation.

In other words, it was all legal and on the up-and-up.

The relaying of events in Crimea and in Eastern Ukraine also follows a similar pattern. The Crimean referendum of March 16, 2014, in which 96.77% of voters chose to rejoin Russia, is referred to as “the alleged decision of residents of Crimea to join the Russian Federation,” with the report mentioning that the referendum “was declared invalid by the interim Ukrainian Government.” The “interim Ukrainian Government” means, of course, the government installed by the US, though the report doesn’t say so.

While occasional reference is made to crimes committed by “all sides” or “both sides” in the Ukrainian conflict, clearly the main focus is on the alleged transgressions of Russia and, to a lesser extent, those of armed opposition groups in Donbass that are allied to Russia. The crimes cited include:

  • Harassment of Crimean Tatar population
  • Killing and abduction
  • “Ill treatment”
  • Detention
  • Disappearance
  • Torture

The report also talks about destruction of property, including homes and schools, asserting that this has occurred “in both government-controlled territory and in areas controlled by armed groups.” But its fundamental conclusion is that the situation in Ukraine is legally classified as an “armed conflict.” As such, “the situation within the territory of Crimea and Sevastopol factually amounts to an on-going state of occupation.” Occupation by Russia, that is. Furthermore, “a determination of whether or not the initial intervention which led to the occupation is considered lawful or not is not required.” Or in other words, while Russia conceivably may have had some valid concerns (though the report leaves it entirely up to the reader’s imagination to guess what these might be), none of these will be taken into consideration by the ICC.

As noted above, the statement put out by the Russia Foreign Ministry makes no direct reference to the November 14 report, and its criticisms of the ICC are of a mostly generalized nature:

The ICC as the first permanent body of international criminal justice inspired high hopes of the international community in the fight against impunity in the context of common efforts to maintain international peace and security, to settle ongoing conflicts and to prevent new tensions.

Unfortunately the Court failed to meet the expectations to become a truly independent, authoritative international tribunal. The work of the Court is characterized in a principled way as ineffective and one-sided in different fora, including the United Nations General Assembly and the Security Council. It is worth noting that during the 14 years of the Court’s work it passed only four sentences having spent over a billion dollars.

And while Ukraine isn’t specifically mentioned, the 2008 conflict between Russia and Georgia is:

The Russian Federation cannot be indifferent to the Court’s attitude vis-a-vis the situation of August 2008. The Saakashvili regime’s attack on peaceful Tshinval, the assassination of the Russian peacekeepers resulted in the Court’s accusations against South-ossetian militia and Russian soldiers. Eventual investigation of actions and orders of Georgian officials was left to the discretion of the Georgian justice and remains outside of the focus of the ICC Prosecutor’s office attention. This development speaks for itself. We can hardly trust the ICC in such a situation.

The statement also acknowledges the widespread dissatisfaction with the ICC by countries in Africa:

In this regard the demarche of the African Union which has decided to develop measures on a coordinated withdrawal of African States from the Rome Statute is understandable. Some of these States are already conducting such procedures.

Conclusions

While some of those indicted over the years by the ICC may well have deserved it, at the same time, it’s hard not to draw the conclusion that the court has been used as a tool by powerful countries. Yes, it’s true, the ICC is conducting an ongoing “preliminary investigation” into the conflict in Afghanistan. The November 14 report in fact includes a section on Afghanistan which addresses crimes committed by the three main parties to the conflict: the Taliban, Afghan government forces, and the US-led international forces. With regard to the latter, the ICC states it has “a reasonable basis to believe” that the US “resorted to techniques amounting to the commission of the war crimes of torture, cruel treatment, outrages upon personal dignity and rape.”

Yet elsewhere in the same section, a somewhat contradictory view is offered:

Having reviewed information on a large number of incidents attributed to the international forces, the Office has determined that, although these operations resulted in incidental loss of civilian life and harm to civilians, in most incidents the information available does not provide a reasonable basis to believe that the military forces intended the civilian population as such or individual civilians not taking direct part in hostilities to be the object of attack.

The report goes on to discuss “a few other incidents,” said to involve international forces, though without offering much hope of a prosecution due to “a paucity of the information” concerning them.

The chances of the ICC prosecuting any US official for war crimes seems slim, and indeed as the New York Times put it in a report published on November 14, the court’s prosecutor “has been considering whether to begin a full-fledged investigation into potential war crimes [committed by the US] in Afghanistan for years.”

Or to be more precise, for years the prosecutor has been “investigating whether to investigate” the US.

Interestingly, the Times article goes on to note as well that the court has been “under great pressure to show that it is unbiased in its targets for investigation.”

I have yet to point it out, but I will do so here: the ICC report of November 14 also contains no mention of Saudi war crimes in Yemen.

In the wake of Moscow’s announcement of its withdrawal from the ICC, two Russian writers, Dmitry Rodionov and Sergey Aksenov, published a commentaryon the issue, noting, as did the Foreign Ministry, that the judicial body had spent more than $1 billion over the 14 years of its existence and in the process had handed down only four sentences. They comment:

…The Hague prosecutor called the Crimean referendum “illegal” and the situation on the peninsula “occupation.” The fact that Russian troops were present on the peninsula according to agreements with Ukraine is ignored by the report.

For all of next year and perhaps even longer, the ICC will gather evidence on Crimea. Hague investigations are usually dragged on for years. For example, the court’s prosecutor received permission to investigate the events in South Ossetia from 2008 only this year….

According to lawyer Ilya Novikov, the court’s negative decision on Crimea could potentially result in formal charges and ICC arrest warrants. This will enable the countries complying with the Rome Statue to arrest Russian citizens and send them to the Hague court.

Assistant professor of political theory at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations, Kirill Koktysh, has pointed out that the ICC’s legal position is incorrect. It was not an annexation that took place in Crimea like the Hague asserts, but a secession: first Crimea seceded from Ukraine and only then joined Russia. According to Koktysh, the ICC’s initiative resembles a PR action rather than a strict legal procedure.

Whether the ICC is engaging in a “PR action,” as the Russians comment, or whether the court is a “joke and a fraud,” as Boyle would seem to have it, the upshot is that for the entire 14 years since the court came into existence, the biggest war criminals in the world have skated away scot-free.

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