China to receive two million barrels of Iranian oil, despite US sanctions

Iran has been cooperating with China, Russia, Venezuela, and Cuba in order to bypass the effects of US economic sanctions

May 19 2022

(Photo credit: Press TV)

ByNews Desk

China is scheduled to receive around two million barrels of Iranian crude oil this week that it will pump into an oil terminal in the Zhanjiang city of Guangdong province, southwest of the country.

The oil will be discharged by the Diona crude oil carrier owned by the National Iranian Tanker Company (NITC), according to Vortexa Analytics, an agency that specializes in tanker tracking.

“This would be the third Iranian oil cargo destined for government stockpile following two similar-sized shipments in December and January,” the agency reported.

Despite ongoing economic sanctions imposed on Iran by the US, China has been purchasing large amounts of Iranian oil over the past two years.

Iran plays a crucial role in the Belt and Road Initiative, a mega-infrastructure and economic initiative launched by Beijing to link the economies of Europe, Asia, and Africa, with an eye on expanding to Latin America.

Over recent years, Iran has played an instrumental role in cooperating with other countries to overcome the effects of punitive US sanctions.

On 3 May, Iranian Oil Minister Javad Owji met with Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro in Caracas to discuss energy relations and ways to overcome the repercussions of US sanctions unilaterally imposed on the two countries.

Venezuela and Iran have recently stepped up energy cooperation to overcome sanctions, with Venezuela importing condensate and thinners from Iran.

Back in January, an Iranian supertanker started discharging about two million barrels of Iranian condensate at the main port of Venezuela’s state-run oil company, as part of a bilateral deal that defies the US sanctions imposed on both nations.

On 17 May, UN Special Rapporteur Alena Douhan said the US must lift economic sanctions on Iran due to the harmful impact they have on the Iranian people.

“I call on the United States to abandon unilateral sanctions,” the UN special rapporteur told a press conference in Tehran.

Douhan went further, saying that the application of “extra-territorial sanctions on Iranian companies or companies working with Iran or paying Iran in dollars is illegal under international law.”

The UN official said she would address her concerns over the legality of US sanctions in her final report, to be published at a later date.

BIDEN’S BOYCOTT OF CUBA IS “A FAILURE AT REGIONAL DIPLOMACY”

MAY 17TH, 2022

MEDEA BENJAMIN

On May 16, the Biden administration announced new measures to “increase support for the Cuban people.” They included easing travel restrictions and helping Cuban-Americans support and connect with their families. They mark a step forward but a baby step, given that most U.S. sanctions on Cuba remain in place. Also in place is a ridiculous Biden administration policy of trying to isolate Cuba, as well as Nicaragua and Venezuela, from the rest of the hemisphere by excluding them from the upcoming Summit of the Americas that will take place in June in Los Angeles.

This is the first time since its inaugural gathering in 1994 that the event, which is held every three years, will take place on U.S. soil. But rather than bringing the Western Hemisphere together, the Biden administration seems intent on pulling it apart by threatening to exclude three nations that are certainly part of the Americas.

For months, the Biden administration has been hinting that these governments would be excluded. So far, they have not been invited to any of the preparatory meetings and the Summit itself is now less than a month away. While former White House press secretary Jen Psaki and State Department spokesman Ned Price have repeated that “no decisions” have been made, Assistant Secretary of State Brian Nichols said in an interview on Colombian TV that countries that “do not respect democracy are not going to receive invitations.”

Biden’s plan to pick and choose which countries can attend the Summit has set off regional fireworks. Unlike in the past, when the U.S. had an easier time imposing its will on Latin America, nowadays there is a fierce sense of independence, especially with a resurgence of progressive governments. Another factor is China. While the U.S. still has a major economic presence, China has surpassed the U.S. as the number one trading partner, giving Latin American countries more freedom to defy the United States or at least stake out a middle ground between the two superpowers.

The hemispheric reaction to the exclusion of three regional states is a reflection of that independence, even among small Caribbean nations. In fact, the first words of defiance came from members of the 15-nation Caribbean Community, or Caricom, which threatened to boycott the Summit. Then came regional heavyweight, Mexican President Manuel López Obrador, who stunned and delighted people around the continent when he announced that, if all countries were not invited, he would not attend. The presidents of Bolivia and Honduras soon followed with similar statements.

The Biden administration has put itself in a bind. Either it backs down and issues the invitations, tossing red meat to right-wing U.S. politicians like Senator Marco Rubio for being “soft on communism,” or it stands firm and risks sinking the Summit and U.S. influence in the region.

Biden’s failure at regional diplomacy is all the more inexplicable given the lesson he should have learned as vice president when Barack Obama faced a similar dilemma.

That was 2015, when, after two decades of excluding Cuba from these Summits, the countries of the region put down their collective feet and demanded that Cuba be invited. Obama had to decide whether to skip the meeting and lose influence in Latin America, or go and contend with the domestic fallout. He decided to go.

Oabam a visit to CUba

Cristobal Marquez, owner of “Cristobal’s,” the restaurant where Michelle and Barak Obama had lunch during their visit to Cuba in 2016, shows the book made by White House photographer Pete Souza, in Havana, Cuba. Ramon Espinosa | AP

I remember that Summit vividly because I was among the bevy of journalists jostling to get a front seat when President Barack Obama would be forced to greet Cuba’s President Raúl Castro, who came into power after his brother Fidel Castro stepped down. The momentous handshake, the first contact between leaders of the two countries in decades, was the high point of the summit.

Obama was not only obligated to shake Castro’s hand, he also had to listen to a long history lesson. Raúl Castro’s speech was a no-holds-barred recounting of past U.S. attacks on Cuba—including the 1901 Platt Amendment that made Cuba a virtual U.S. protectorate, U.S. support for Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista in the 1950s, the disastrous 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion and the scandalous U.S. prison in Guantanamo. But Castro was also gracious to President Obama, saying he was not to blame for this legacy and calling him an “honest man” of humble origins.

The meeting marked a new era between the U.S. and Cuba, as the two nations began to normalize relations. It was a win-win, with more trade, more cultural exchanges, more resources for the Cuban people, and fewer Cubans migrating to the United States. The handshake led to an actual visit by Obama to Havana, a trip so memorable that it still brings big smiles to the faces of Cubans on the island.

Then came Donald Trump, who skipped the next Summit of the Americas and imposed draconian new sanctions that left the Cuban economy in tatters, especially once COVID hit and dried up the tourist industry.

Until recently, Biden has been following Trump’s slash-and-burn policies that have led to tremendous shortages and a new migration crisis, instead of reverting to Obama’s win-win policy of engagement. The May 16 measures to expand flights to Cuba and resume family reunifications are helpful, but not enough to mark a real change in policy—especially if Biden insists on making the Summit a “limited-invite only.”

Biden needs to move quickly. He should invite all the nations of the Americas to the Summit. He should shake the hands of every head of state and, more importantly, engage in serious discussions on burning hemispheric issues such as the brutal economic recession caused by the pandemic, climate change that is affecting food supplies, and the terrifying gun violence–all of which are fueling the migration crisis. Otherwise, Biden’s #RoadtotheSummit, which is the Summit’s Twitter handle, will only lead to a dead end.

Feature photo | President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden wave to reporters before boarding Air Force One at Andrews Air Force Base, Md., May 17, 2022. Gemunu Amarasinghe | AP

Medea Benjamin is the co-founder of the peace group CODEPINK. She is the author of ten books, including three books on Cuba—No Free Lunch: Food and Revolution in Cuba, The Greening of the Revolution, and Talking About Revolution. She is a member of the Steering Committee of ACERE (Alliance for Cuba Engagement and Respect).

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect MintPress News editorial policy.

FM Sergey Lavrov’s remarks at the 30th Assembly of the Council on Foreign and Defence Policy

May 16, 2022

Moscow, May 14, 2022

Mr Lukyanov,

Mr Karaganov,

Colleagues,

I am glad to be here again, at this anniversary assembly. Last time, we met in this room on October 2, 2021. But I have an impression that this was in a totally different historical epoch.

I would like to congratulate you on the 30th anniversary of the Council on Foreign and Defence Policy. Its activities are a fine example of Russian expert involvement in the foreign policy process. From the very start, the Council has brought together professionals, including politicians, state officials, journalists, academics, and entrepreneurs.  Throughout these years, this has ensured an effective and rewarding combination of practical experience and impeccable knowledge of the subject matter. Therein lies the key to comprehending the most complex international processes, particularly at stages like the present one. Advice, analytical materials, and debates (occasionally heated debates involving a clash of opinions) are of much help to us. We invariably take them into consideration in our foreign policy activities.

It is a cliche to say that this meeting is taking place at a historical turning point. I agree with the experts (Mr Karaganov and Mr Lukyanov have written a lot about this), who say that we again have to choose a historical path, like we did in 1917 and 1991.

The external circumstances have not just changed radically; they are changing ever more profoundly and extensively (though not becoming more elevated, unfortunately) with each passing day. And our country is changing along with them. It is drawing its conclusions. The choice we have taken is made easier by the fact that the “collective West” has declared a total hybrid war against us. It is hard to forecast how long this will last. But it is clear that its consequences will be felt by everyone without exception.

We did everything in our power to avoid a direct conflict. But they issued a challenge and we have accepted it. We are used to sanctions. We have been living under one or another form of sanctions for a long time now. The surprising thing is a surge of rabid Russophobia in almost all “civilised” countries. They have thrown to the wind their political correctness, propriety, rules, and legal norms. They are using the cancel culture against all things Russian. All hostile actions against our country are allowed, including robbery. Russian cultural figures, artists, athletes, academics, businesspeople and just ordinary citizens are exposed to harassment.

This campaign has not bypassed Russian diplomats. They often have to work under extreme conditions, occasionally with a risk to their health or life. We do not remember anything like the current massive and synchronised expulsion of diplomats happening even in the grimmest Cold War years. This is destroying the general atmosphere of relations with the West. On the other hand, this is freeing up energy and human resources for work in the areas with which our country’s future development should be associated.

In accordance with the demands of the times, we are carrying out our professional duties conscientiously and to the fullest extent. There are no traitors among our diplomats, although such attempts have been made from abroad and within the country. We do our best to defend the rights and interests of Russian citizens abroad. When the West hysterically reacted to the beginning of our special military operation and all flights were cancelled, we immediately helped Russians who were abroad at the time to return home. The routine consular services to Russians (of which there have always been many) are provided as always. It is clear that the situation demands that the diplomatic service works in a special regime. This is required by the new tasks set by the country’s leadership to protect national interests.

This is not only and not so much about Ukraine, which is being used as an instrument to contain the peaceful development of the Russian Federation in the context of their course to perpetuate a unipolar world order.

The Americans started preparing the current crisis long ago, right after the end of the Cold War, having decided that the way to global hegemony was then open. NATO’s eastward expansion has been one of the key components of such a course. We tried hard to convince them not to do this. We showed where and why our red lines are drawn. We were flexible, ready to make concessions and look for compromises. All this proved futile. President Vladimir Putin reminded us of this once again in his speech on May 9 on Red Square.

Today Western countries are ready to oppose Russia, as they now say, “to the last Ukrainian”. At first glance, this is a very convenient position, especially for the United States, which is managing these processes from across the ocean. At the same time, they are weakening Europe by clearing its markets for its goods, technologies and military-technical products.

In fact, the situation has many layers. Russia, the United States, China and all others realise that it is being decided today whether the world order will become fair, democratic and polycentric, or whether this small group of countries will be able to impose on the international community a neo-colonial division of the world into those who consider themselves “exceptional” and the rest – those who are destined to do the bidding of the chosen few.

This is the aim of the “rules-based order” concept that they have sought to introduce into general circulation for years. No one has seen, or discussed, or approved these “rules”, but they are being imposed on the international community. As an example, let me quote a recent statement by US Secretary of the Treasury Janet Yellen, who called for a new Bretton Woods framework and said that the United States would practice “the friend-shoring of supply chains to a large number of trusted countries” that shared “a set of [liberal] norms and values about how to operate in the global economy.” The hint is absolutely clear: the US dollars and the “benefits” of the international financial system are only for those who follow these American “rules.” Dissenters will be punished. Clearly, Russia is not the sole target, all the more so as we will fight back. The attack is aimed at all those capable of conducting an independent policy.  Take, for example, Washington’s pet Indo-Pacific strategy, which is directed against China. In parallel, it seeks to firmly and reliably harness India to the US and NATO. In the spirit of the Monroe doctrine, the United States wants to dictate standards to Latin America. The inevitable question is whether the Americans are really able to follow the key principle of the UN Charter, which states: “The Organisation is based on the principle of the sovereign equality of all its Members.”

The “rules-based order” envisions neither democracy, nor pluralism even within the “collective West.” The case in point is the revival of tough bloc discipline and an unconditional submission of the “allies” to Washington’s diktat. The Americans will not stand on ceremony with their “junior partners.” The EU will finally lose all attributes of independence and obediently join the Anglo-Saxon plans to assert the unipolar world order, while sacrificing the Europeans’ quality of life and key interests in order to please the United States. Just recall how Victoria Nuland defined the EU’s place in Washington’s plans to reformat Ukraine in her conversation with the US Ambassador in Kiev in December 2013, at the height of the Maidan riots. Her prediction came true in its entirety. In security matters, the EU is also blending in with NATO, which, in turn, is making increasingly louder claims about its global ambitions. What defensive alliance? We are being told and assured to this day that NATO’s expansion is a defensive process and threatens no one. The Cold War defence line ran along the Berlin Wall – concrete and imagined – between the two military blocs. Since then, it has been moved east five times. Today, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, and others are telling us that NATO has a global responsibility to solve security problems, primarily in the Indo-Pacific region. As I understand it, the next defence line will be moved to the South China Sea.

It is being insinuated that NATO as the vanguard of the community of democracies should replace the UN in matters of international politics, or at least bring global affairs under its sway. The G7 should step in to run the global economy and from time to time invite benevolently the extras the West needs at this or that moment.

Western politicians should accept the fact that their efforts to isolate our country are doomed. Many experts have already recognised this, even if quietly and off the record, because saying this openly is “politically incorrect.” But this is happening right now. The non-Western world is coming to see that the world is becoming increasingly more diverse. There is no escaping this fact. More and more countries want to have a real freedom to choose their development ways and integration projects to join. An increasing number of countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America are refusing to abandon their national interests and to pull chestnuts out of the fire for the former parent countries. An overwhelming majority of our partners, who have felt the effects of Western colonialism and racism, have not joined the anti-Russia sanctions. The West, which President Putin described as the “empire of lies,” has not been considered an ideal of democracy, freedom and well-being for a long time. By plundering other countries’ material assets, the Western countries have destroyed their reputation of predictable partners who honour their commitments. Nobody is safe from expropriation and “state piracy” now. Therefore, not just Russia but also many other countries are reducing their reliance on the US dollar and on Western technologies and markets. I am sure that a gradual de-monopolisation of the global economy is not a distant future.

We have taken note of Fyodor Lukyanov’s article published in the newspaper Kommersant (on April 29, 2022), in which he writes, with good reason, that the West will not listen to us or hear what we have to say. This was a fact of life long ago, before the special military operation, and a “a radical reorientation of assets from the west to other flanks is a natural necessity.” I would like to remind you that Sergey Karaganov has been systematically promoting this philosophy by for many years. It is perfectly clear to everyone that the process has begun and not on our whim – we have always been open to an equal dialogue – but because of an unacceptable and arrogant behaviour of our Western neighbours, who have followed Washington’s prompting to “cancel Russia” in international affairs.

Forging closer ties with the like-minded forces outside of what used to be referred to as the Golden Billion is an absolutely inevitable and mutually driven process. The Russia-China relations are at their all-time high. We are also strengthening our privileged strategic partnerships with India, Algeria, and Egypt. We have taken our relations with the Persian Gulf countries to a whole new level. The same applies to our relations with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, as well as other countries in Asia-Pacific, in the Middle East, Asia, Africa, and Latin America.

We are fully aware of the fact it is at this juncture, which perfectly lends itself to be called a turning point, that the place for Russia and all other countries and forces in the future international architecture will be determined.

We believe the aim of Russia’s diplomacy is, on the one hand, to act with great resolve to fend off all adversarial attacks against us, while, on the other hand, to consistently, calmly and patiently reinforce our positions in order to facilitate Russia’s sustained development from within and improve the quality of life for its people. There is much to be done, as usual. We always have a packed agenda, but in the current environment we are witnessing a serious shift in the mindsets of many of our comrades in all spheres of Russia’s life. This makes meetings held by the Council on Foreign and Defence Policy especially useful because they help nurture ideas which make their way into Russia’s foreign policy.

The Third Patriotic War

May 07, 2022

Source

A St George’s Day Contribution by Batiushka

Introduction: War

I am not a technical-military man, but I have very strong military connections and a keen interest in military history, both Russian and Western, and also in geopolitics, having lectured on it. I lived in Soviet Russia in the 1970s, experienced its weaknesses, its strengths and also its hollowness, understanding that it would eventually fall, for even then nobody believed in Communism any more. All continued by inertia. Collapse was inevitable. I also know contemporary Russia, the Ukraine, Belarus, the Baltics and Moldova very well. In fact, I was in Kiev only last October, being shown the SBU/CIA Secret Police building in the centre and being told to hush my voice as we walked past. No-one wanted to visit the torture-chambers in the basement.

The special operation to free the Russian Donbass from Fascist oppression which began on 24 February 2022 meant a war between the Russian Federation and the Kiev regime, which under Western pressure would refuse to back down. This would inevitably mean a war between Russia and NATO, even if the actual battleground would still be limited to the Ukraine. I firmly believe that the Russian government knew all this and foresaw the consequences, that the West would intervene with all the economic, political, military and technological might of the US/NATO military complex. This knowledge was why the Donbass had had to wait for liberation for eight long and grim years. Russia had had to get ready for the inevitable very carefully.

The Preparation

Let us recall how Soviet Russia fell through treason, ending up dissolving itself on 25 December 1991. In October 1993, 4,000 US Marines (I know one of them) were flown to a base outside Moscow. This was just in case the popular rising against ‘democracy’ and the drunkard Western puppet and traitor Yeltsin went Russia’s way and against the neocons and their privatisers’ ‘shock therapy’. The repression of the October bid for freedom left 5,000 Russian dead. The US support had been there, though it did not have to be used, as there were enough Russian traitors to do the dirty deed themselves.

Russian weakness and internal treachery was why the Russian government betrayed Serbia in the 1990s and Libya in 2011 – it was far too weak to stand up to the West. After the Crimea democratically returned to Russia after 60 years (1954-2014) with the internationally-observed referendum in 2014, the West still applied illegal sanctions to Russia. Then Moscow knew that any action to free the Ukraine from the Western junta in Kiev would have to be prepared very carefully, for the sanctions would only be multiplied. What preparations had to be made?

Firstly, there was the diplomatic and trade front. Allies had to be brought onside, in Eurasia with China, Iran, India, Turkey (Russia rescuing Erdogan from the US assassination attempt at the last moment in July 2016), Hungary, then, from Venezuela to Brazil, Latin America and then, from Egypt to South Africa, Africa. As regards the Western world, especially the EU, there was a chance to present the Russian point of view through RT, as at that time Western censorship was not yet total.

Secondly, there was the modernisation of the Russian Armed Forces to be undertaken, with new, non-nuclear weapons, hypersonic missiles, drones, electronic technology, some of which would be tested out in Syria.

Thirdly, there was the policy of import substitution to be implemented in order to make Russia independent in case of further illegal Western sanctions.

Why Did It Start on 24 February 2022?

There were four triggers which sparked off the special operation on 24 February.

Firstly, the Zelensky regime wanted the Ukraine to become a NATO member. The weak post-Communist Russian Federation had already made that mistake many times, allowing Eastern Europe, notably the Baltics, Poland and Romania, to join that aggressive protection racket. In that way the post-War buffer states of Eastern Europe, providing a demilitarised zone for Russia, ended. After all, if you have been invaded from the West very regularly for 800 years, leaving 27 million of your citizens dead in the most recent invasion, would you not also want a demilitarised buffer zone to protect you? Post-War offensive NATO was the only reason why the defensive Warsaw Pact had to be set up.

Secondly, with missiles on American bases in Poland and Romania and NATO troops smugly parading at the Estonian border with Russia, the Ukraine then threatened to obtain nuclear arms. Did Zelensky, reading his American script as a true actor, really expect Russia not to react to this?

Thirdly, the US, not without the help of its local pronconsul, the cocaine-addled Hunter Biden, had set up some thirty biolabs in the Ukraine. Their target? To find genetically-concocted viruses to infect Russians. Would Russia not defend itself?

Fourthly, though possibly this may not have been discovered by Russia until a day or two after the special operation began, though possibly they knew perfectly well beforehand, the NATO-manipulated, instructed and armed Kiev Army had a plan to invade the Russian Donbass and genocide its people. Had they succeeded, it is doubtful they would have stopped at the Russian border. Truss, the supremely stupid British Foreign Secretary, let slip that NATO already had Russian Rostov and Voronezh in its sights.

After eight years of attempts to negotiate, which Russia used to buy time to prepare for the War in case of Western idiocy, it was only because there was no alternative that it sent in some troops in an initially limited military operation.

A Fight for Survival

This is now a war of attrition. Russia has to destroy all Western/NATO arms and troops that get into the Ukraine from Poland or elsewhere as soon as possible, quicker than they can be sent. And this must go on until the West caves in, because so much Western war material will have been destroyed at huge financial loss to itself.

Russia is also relying on the self-imposed economic problems that the West faces. The West, and not just the EU, is already suffering economically. There could easily be popular uprisings as a result of inflation and the incredible cost of energy. This will hit very hard next autumn and winter. And the embargos on Russian grain and fertilisers have not hit yet. Wait till food costs go up by 100% in Western countries, instead of just going up by 10% as now: then you will have rioting in the streets and looting of supermarkets. As for the Ukrainian currency, it is worthless, propped up by the IMF run by the US, which in 2014 stole the $15 billion of Ukrainian gold reserves in expectation. Otherwise, the Ukraine would long ago have defaulted.

The stakes are huge for all. China stands behind Russia because Russia is like a shield for it. If Russia falls, then China is next and it knows that, which is why it supports Russia. The White Peril will next head towards China, making the British-imposed mass suicide of the so-called ‘Opium Wars’ look like a picnic. There will be no taking back of Taiwan in the near future, instead there will be Harvard economists and merchant bankers taking power and grasping billions in Beijing, as in Russia after 1991. And then, amid civil wars, millions and millions of Chinese will take the path of suicide, exactly as happened in 1990s Russia. Make no mistake, this is a battle for survival of the world’s seven billion against the one billion.

This is why today Russia remains firm, with 80% of the population behind President Putin, unlike in the Western world where it is rare to find a leader who has more than 30% of support. Why? It is simple: President Putin loves his country, he is a patriot: Western leaders are not patriots, they are venal mercenaries, no more so than the US puppet governments in Eastern Europe. The only Russians against President Putin are the traitors, recruited by the CIA, and there are still quite a few in Moscow and elsewhere, but we will not here name names.

True, many of the fifth column of traitors in Moscow have already left or are leaving, Tel Aviv being a popular destination for them. For Russia this is not some localised conflict on its borders, as it still appears to most Western people, lulled into delusions by their Goebbels propaganda ministries (‘media’). For Russia this is just as much a fight for survival as World War Two. This is the Third Great Patriotic War. Let me explain.

For those who do not know, the 1812 invasion of Russia by Napoleon and his multinational barbarian hordes is known as the First Patriotic War. The 1941 invasion by Hitler and his multinational barbarian hordes is known as the Second Patriotic War. It is our view that just as the 1941-1945 defensive War was called the Second Patriotic War, the 2022- ? defensive War will be known as the Third Patriotic War. Warsaw and Bucharest, Berlin and Paris, pay attention.

When Did It All Begin?

When did it all begin? Actually, it was not on 24 February 2022. Some, grudgingly, will admit that it was the US-run regime change of 2014 with its $5 billion price-tag for the hapless US taxpayer. Grudgingly, some might admit that it goes back even further to November 1989, the Fall of the Wall. Some might suggest two generations before that, in September 1939, when Stalin took the poison-chalice of the western Ukraine, Galicia, from Poland and had to fight a CIA-supplied war there against Fascist partisans until 1958.

Some might suggest exactly 100 years ago in 1922, when the brain-syphilitic Lenin transferred from Russia the southern and eastern half of the present Ukraine to the Ukraine, as he wanted the pro-Communist industrial proletariat of the south and east to counterbalance the real Ukrainian agricultural north and west. But we could also go back to 1914, the invasion of the Russian Empire by Germany, Austria-Hungary and Turkey. This is exactly 100 years before the 2014 US-orchestrated colour-revolution in Kiev, with its Lithuanian snipers on the roof of the American Embassy in Kiev murdering Ukrainian policemen and then the US blaming ‘repression’ on the democratically-elected pro-Russian government.

Conclusion: A Fight to the End

Russia must win this War against NATO. However, the last thing Russia wants is a nuclear war, however much some fools in the West talk that up. And however tempting as targets the 1,000 or so US bases around the world may be, Russia certainly does not want the war to spread outside the current Ukrainian territory. If Russia does not win, the Russian Federation will be humiliated and dismantled and become just another group of colonies for Western asset-strippers and slavers. Then the British dream for its 1917 coup d’etat, turned into a nightmare because the stupid dream permitted Bolshevism to come to power, will become real.

After that, China will fall next and then the rest of the still free, if for the moment impoverished and exploited, world will fall just like dominos into neo-colonial Western hands. And that will be the end of the world under a US Global Dictatorship, euphemistically known as ‘the Unipolar World’. We are not ready for that. We prefer to fight. As President Putin has said, a world without Russia is not one we wish to live in. As we have said before, this is our ONLY chance to work towards a Union of Sovereign (NOT Soviet) Social (NOT Socialist) Republics and an Alliance of countries which favour Prosperity and Justice, not Poverty and Injustice.

Russian Orthodox St George’s Day 2022

Michael Hudson, Katie Halper and Aaron Maté

April 30, 2022

Michael starts at 23:40 and the transcript will be added to this thread when available.

Algeria: Dotting the I’s in France’s colonial history

April 22 2022

Source: Al Mayadeen Net

By Karim Sharara 

France’s colonial history is a barbaric one that extends from the 16th century until the liberation of Algeria in 1962. Millions of people have died, countries have had their wealth plundered, and France still refuses to recognize its dark past.

France’s 132 years of colonial presence in Algeria resulted in the deaths of millions of people and the plundering of the country’s riches

It wasn’t completely unlike Macron to deny that Algeria was ever a nation. It was surprising to hear such a statement uttered against a sovereign country in what is supposed to be a post-imperialist world order (evidently not so), but to say outright that a country that France had occupied for over a century and whose culture it helped destroy was truly flabbergasting.

You can take the colonial out of the colony but not colonialism out of the colonial, the mentality indeed persists.

It seems somewhat perplexing that France, whose Zemmours, Le Pens, and Macrons are all radically attempting to preserve what they consider to be essential to French identity by coercing Muslims into conforming, are also denying the identity of the very country they occupied, whose riches they stole, whose people they killed and posed next to their decapitated heads neatly arranged on spears, and whose culture and identity they transformed by force and coercion.

How did France’s colonial history begin and unfold, and what led it to its 100+ year occupation of Algeria?

France’s colonial empire

France’s earliest trials at colonialism happened during the 16th and 17th centuries and were part of the ongoing competition that was taking place at the time between European powers (France, Britain, the Netherlands, Spain, and Portugal), the main goal of all of whom was to find new routes to the East Indies in an effort to secure these routes for themselves in an attempt to monopolize the spice trade.

France first began its incursions into North America with the establishment of small colonies. The presence of French missionaries, coupled with colonization efforts, further exacerbated matters as they upset the sociological makeup by drawing Native American men into Christianity with promises of land, and then telling them they must cultivate crops, which to their societies was women’s work. These “redefinitions of manhood prompted many women to resist Christianity” and generated conflict within their communities.[1]

The Caribbean was also a region where competing European powers constantly clashed with one another. By 1697, France had colonized portions of North America stretching to the Caribbean and snatched Hispaniola (modern-day Haiti) from Spain in that same year. Most of the island’s indigenous population had died during Spain’s incursion for gold. France turned their colonies into plantations for sugar, coffee, and spice, and used slave labor on the islands, to such an extent that by the late 18th century, slaves outnumbered European colonists by 8 to 1, thus greatly transforming the demographic makeup of the region.

Amid the struggle for global empire-building between France and Britain, the Seven Years’ War (1756-1763) took place between the two powers and their allies in Europe. The war resulted in a decisive win for Britain and a loss for France and Spain, and the 1763 Treaty of Paris saw a number of land exchanges in order to appease Britain. France ceded all of Canada in order to retain the islands of Martinique and Guadeloupe and their valuable sources of sugar and remained somewhat inactive until after the French Revolution of 1789 and the rise of Napoleon Bonaparte who returned to the task of empire-building.

France’s imperial incursions into West Asia and North Africa date back in large part to the year 1798, as Napoleon was rising in power and conquered Egypt, and then continued on when the French Empire later colonized Algeria in 1830.

After his successes in Italy, which culminated in the Treaty of Campo Formio, Napoleon turned his attention to the British Empire, France’s perennial enemy, and tried to see whether a landing on the British isles was possible; after two months of planning, he found that it was not, as the British Navy was far superior to the French. However, one thing Napoleon could do to harm the British would be to threaten their trade with India.

Napoleon’s fascination with Egypt

Another end goal envisioned by Napoleon would follow the occupation of Egypt, whereupon he would send a force to the Kingdom of Mysore in South India in order to reinforce them, as they were also enemy of the British and were fighting against their presence in India[2].  

For Napoleon, this mission also held a personal dimension, as the 29-year-old general (in 1798) had been a longtime fan of the Orient, and he always referenced Alexander the Great and Egypt in his writings and conversations. “Thus, the idea of reconquering Egypt as a new Alexander proposed itself to him, allied with the additional benefit of acquiring a new Islamic colony at England’s expense.[3]

Although Napoleon’s ships were being pursued by the British Royal Navy, he successfully evaded them, managed to land on Egypt’s shores, and defeated the Mamluk army in the Battle of the Pyramids. However, Napoleon’s armies suffered a resounding defeat at the hands of the British Navy only days later, which resulted in the decimation of Napoleon’s ships, left him stranded in Egypt, and ended his dreams of conquering West Asia. After a three-year campaign and a series of defeats, Napoleon went back to France and launched his coup d’état, leaving him in power[4].

Algeria’s story begins

France’s aspirations of colonization in the MENA region would be left unachieved until after Napoleon’s fall, and during the reign of Charles X. Although Algeria had stood by France during its difficult times, when it was shunned by all of Europe in the 1790s, Algeria had lent it money and allowed it to receive supplies from its ports. Both countries’ relations were somewhat constrained during France’s three-year invasion of Egypt, as the Ottoman Sultan requested that Algeria declare war on Egypt, which it did, but relations returned to normal as soon as the invasion was over.

Despite Algeria’s good relations with France, Napoleon had (prior to his fall) been looking for a reason to invade it because of its strategic position, the superiority of France’s fleet, and his want of a colony on the Mediterranean to strengthen France’s position. He threatened Algeria repeatedly over the years on a number of different occasions, but the plans to invade it never materialized, as he was busy with campaigns in Europe. Nevertheless, some of his commanders did go to Algeria in the early 1800s to scout it and assess how best to capture it.

The main reason behind France’s invasion of Algeria is that France did not wish to repay its debts to the Algerian Dey and Algeria’s Jewish merchants (who had come to the Dey complaining that France is refusing payment). The debt had been accumulated by France during its invasion of Egypt in 1798. France only used an incident that took place between the Algerian ruler and France’s consul (who was implicated in the affair and had received payment from the merchants in exchange for helping secure a portion of their debt, none of which found its way back to the Algerian treasury), in order to launch the war against the country and occupy it in 1830, during the reign of Charles X[5]. The incident in question came to be known as the Fly Whisk incident.

The merchants had promised France’s Foreign Minister and its consul in Algeria a portion of the funds if they managed to secure payment of France’s debts to them, which in fact happened. However, the merchants were also indebted to the Algerian state, but by the time they were paid, France paid them directly, and not through the Algerian treasury. Moreover, one of the merchants had secured French citizenship, and another Italian citizenship, and so the Algerian state was unable to pursue them for payment. 

France’s consul, as French newspapers revealed at the time, was paid two million Francs by the merchants in return. When Algerian authorities caught wind of the news, they knew the consul, who is thought to have made up the incident, was in on it, and was refusing to cooperate with Algeria in order to avoid France having to repay its debt[6].

The occupation

During the course of Algeria’s 132-year struggle for independence, nearly 5 million people were killed, and hundreds of thousands were injured. It took France nearly 70 years to gain control of Algeria after it first occupied it on July 5th, 1830, and Algeria only gained its independence after fighting a fierce war in which nearly 1.5 million Algerians lost their lives.

As far as the looting of Algeria went, France made sure to profit off the land as best it could. Even though the Treaty of Surrender signed between Algeria’s last Dey, Hussein Dey, and France included a condition that Islamic endowments not be violated, France realized that these endowments may become a source of income and confiscated them and looted them in 1843.

France’s colonial administration went a step further in 1871, enacting the Indigenous People Law, which helped them plunder Algeria’s resources by granting European settlers ownership of the lands, while Algerians working them only received 20% of the production. The Algerians could also only travel after seeking permission from colonial authorities and had their movements restricted.

Another law issued by colonial authorities was the Cremieux Decree in 1870, which turned Muslim Arabs and Berbers effectively second-class citizens, while Algeria’s Jewish population was granted French citizenship.

In terms of precious metals, more than 110 tons of Algeria’s gold and silver were stolen by the French, which are estimated today to be worth over $180 billion in today’s money.

France only recognized Algeria’s war of independence as an actual war in 1999. Today’s France, however, is still dragging its legs in recognizing Algeria’s right to reparation. In 1961, before gaining their independence, Algerians took to the streets of Paris to protest a curfew imposed on them, but a French crackdown turned the protest into a massacre, with more than 200 people being killed and scores of bodies being dumped in the Seine River.

Today, France continues to treat its Muslim population as second-class citizens who must conform, by force, to a very restricted idea of French identity. Instead of accommodating them, France is trying its best to exclude its citizens, just as it tried to force Algerians to conform to its own norms. The reasoning before was that of the White Man’s Burden, backwardness, cultural inferiority, or any number of excuses. Today, these excuses have all been repackaged under a nifty new branding called French identity.

Sources:

  • [1] Benjamin, Thomas, and Macmillan Reference USA Staff. “Encyclopedia of Western colonialism since 1450.” (2007).
  • [2] Amini, Iradj, “Napoleon and Persia”, Iran, vol. 37 (1999), British Institute of Persian Studies, p. 109-110.
  • [3] Said, Edward. “Orientalism Penguin Books.” (1978), p. 80.
  • [4] Roberts, Andrew. Napoleon: A life. Penguin, 2014, p. 188-230.
  • [5] Abu al-Qasim Sa’d Allah, Muhadarat fi Tarikh al-Jaza’ir al-Hadith (Bidayat al-Ihtilal), Al-Jaza’ir: Al Sharikah al-Wataniyyah li-n-Nashr w-at-Tawzi’, p. 13-33
  • [6] Mubarak bin Muhammad al-Mili, Tarikh al-Jaza’ir bayn al-Qadim w-al-Hadith, vol. 3, n.d, Maktabat al-Nahdah al-Jaza’iriyyah, p. 271-276.

Hegemon USA’s History of War Crimes

April 7, 2022

Russia’s Sputnik News reported examples of US war crimes post-WW II.

My own examples follow below. First Sputnik’s:

The July 1950 No Gun Ri massacre occurred one month after Truman’s war of aggression on nonbelligerent, nonthreatening North Korea.

Covered up for nearly half a century, what happened took the lives of around 300 men, women and children.

From December 1968 – May 1969, US forces indiscriminately massacred thousands of North Vietnamese civilians in so-called “free-fire zones” during Operation Speedy Express — to cause maximum numbers of casualties.

In February 1991 near end of Operation Desert Storm in Iraq, civilians and fleeing combatants were massacred along the so-called Highway of Death.

In May 1999 near Korisa, Kosovo, US terror-bombing massacred civilian refugees — ones who unsuccessfully sought shelter out of harm’s way.

In the second battle of Fallujah in November 2004 — during the Second Persian Gulf War — US and UK forces terror-bombed Iraqis with banned weapons, including white phosphorous, incendiary bombs, and radiological weapons.

Thousands were massacred in cold blood, largely civilians.

In October 2015, US forces terror-bombed a Kunduz, Afghanistan hospital on the phony pretext of targeting Taliban fighters.

Dozens were killed, dozens more injured.

During the siege of Mosul, Iraq in 2017, an estimated 40,000 Iraqi civilians were massacred on the phony pretext of combating US created and supported ISIS jihadists. 

Similar mass slaughter occurred in the same year against Raqqa, Syria civilians.

US genocides began by mass-exterminating countless millions of Native America to expand the nation from sea-to-shinning sea — by stealing their land, livelihoods and lives.

In his book titled, “A Little Matter of Genocide: Holocaust and Denial in the Americas 1492 to the Present,” Ward Churchill explained that the nation’s indigenous population was reduced to at most 3% of its original numbers before it all began — by butchery and other forms of brutality.

During the infamous Middle Passage transatlantic slave trade — the African holocaust — millions perished en route in extreme discomfort.

Around 100 million human beings arriving in America were sold like cattle.

Describing the centuries-long horror, historian Howard Zinn said the following:

US slavery was “the most cruel form in history.”

It reflected a “frenzy for limitless profit that comes from capitalistic agriculture; the reduction of the slave to less than human status by the use of racial hatred, with that relentless clarity based on color, where white was master, black was slave.”

Post-WW II US genocides occurred against North Koreans, Southeast Asians, Central and Latin Americans, Africans, other Asians, Yugoslavs, Afghans, Yemenis, Iraqis, Libyans, Syrians and others.

With no end of it in prospect, unparalleled genocide has been ongoing by kill shots throughout the West and elsewhere since December 2020 — the human toll unknown because of coverup and denial.

If continues longterm, billions may perish out of sight and mind — unwanted people that US/Western dark forces want exterminated to more greatly empower and enrich the privileged few at their expense.

During America’s dirty 1898 – 1902 Spanish-American War against Spain to cede control of the Philippines, hundreds of thousands of Filipinos were brutally slaughtered.

US cutthroat killer general Jacob Smith ordered his troops to:

“Kill and burn.”

“This is no time to take prisoners.”

“The more you kill and burn, the better.” 

“Kill all above the age of ten.”

Then “turn (the country into) a howling wilderness.”

Few people anywhere suffered longer, more horrifically with anguish than Haitians for over 500 years and still counting.

They endured genocidal oppression, slavery, despotism, colonization, reparations, embargoes, sanctions, deep poverty, starvation, untreated diseases, unrepayable debt, and natural calamities unprotected.

Along with strategic bombing to destroy an adversary’s economic and military might, US terror bombings targeted civilians to break their morale, cause panic, weaken an invented enemy’s will to fight, along with inflicting mass casualties and punishment.

Geneva and other international laws prohibit it. 

The Laws of War: Laws and Customs of War on Land (1907 Hague IV Convention’s Article 25 states:

“The attack or bombardment, by whatever means, of towns, villages, dwellings, or building which are undefended is prohibited.”

Fourth Geneva protects civilians in time of war.

It prohibits violence of any kind against them and requires treatment for the sick and wounded. 

The 1945 Nuremberg Principles forbid “crimes against peace, war crimes and crimes against humanity.” 

These include “inhumane acts committed against any civilian population, before or during the war,” including indiscriminate killing and “wanton destruction of cities, towns, or villages, or devastation not justified by military necessity.”

In virtually all US wars of aggression against invented enemies, the above and similar war crimes occur with disturbing regularity.

During the firebombing of Dresden, Germany in February 1945 — when what Russia calls its Great Patriotic War was virtually won — the US and UK gratuitously incinerated around 100,000 city residents.

The morally indefensible high crime was repeated against Tokyo the same month in similar fashion after virtual surrender by imperial Japan was rejected by Franklin Roosevelt. surrendered and accepted defeat.

In August 1945, Harry Truman gratuitously destroyed Hiroshima and Nagasaki by nuclear immolation.

When WW II was virtually over, hundreds of thousands were killed.

To this day, future generations were scarred with birth defects and other serious health issues. 

During the post-WW II period, countless millions more were massacred during US imperial wars — accountability for the highest of high crimes never forthcoming.

Genocidal wars were waged against nonbelligerent North Korea, North Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, the former Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Yemen, Iraq, Libya, Syria, and worldwide against unwanted people.

US use of chemical, biological, radiological and other banned weapons is well-documented throughout US history.

From smallpox infected blankets against Native Americans to chlorine gas during the US Civil War to today’s chemical, biological, radiological and other banned weapons, anything goes has been official US policy throughout its history.

Deadly dioxin-containing Agent Orange and nerve gas were used by US forces in Southeast Asia.

So were other terror weapons in all US wars of aggression.

It’s not a pretty picture. 

The self-styled indispensable state’s history is pockmarked with virtually every type crime imaginable at home and worldwide.

They’ve gone on by endless wars of choice against Native Americans to the halls of Montezuma to the shores of Tripoli to the present day at home and abroad worldwide — with no end of them in prospect.

Is Europe Really More Civilized? Ukraine Conflict a Platform for Racism and Rewriting History

April 4, 2022

CBS correspondent Charlie D’Agata has prompted backlash after comparing violence in Afghanistan to the invasion of “relatively civilized” Ukraine. (Photo: video grab)

By Ramzy Baroud

When a gruesome six-minute video of Ukrainian soldiers shooting and torturing handcuffed and tied up Russian soldiers circulated online, outraged people on social media and elsewhere compared this barbaric behavior to that of Daesh.

In a rare admission of moral responsibility, Oleksiy Arestovych, an adviser to the Ukrainian President, quickly reminded Ukrainian fighters of their responsibility under international law. “I would like to remind all our military, civilian and defense forces, once again, that the abuse of prisoners is a war crime that has no amnesty under military law and has no statute of limitations,” he said, asserting that “We are a European army”, as if the latter is synonymous with civilized behavior.

Even that supposed claim of responsibility conveyed subtle racism, as if to suggest that non-westerners, non-Europeans, may carry out such grisly and cowardly violence, but certainly not the more rational, humane and intellectually superior Europeans.

The comment, though less obvious, reminds one of the racist remarks by CBS’ foreign correspondent, Charlie D’Agata, on February 26, when he shamelessly compared Middle Eastern cities with the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, stating that “Unlike Iraq or Afghanistan, (…) this is a relatively civilized, relatively European city”.

The Russia-Ukraine war has been a stage of racist comments and behavior, some explicit and obvious, others implicit and indirect. Far from being implicit, however, Bulgarian Prime Minister, Kiril Petkov, did not mince words when, last February, he addressed the issue of Ukrainian refugees. Europe can benefit from Ukrainian refugees, he said, because “these people are Europeans. (…) These people are intelligent, they are educated people. This is not the refugee wave we have been used to, people we were not sure about their identity, people with unclear pasts, who could have been even terrorists.”

One of many other telling episodes that highlight western racism, but also continued denial of its grim reality, was an interview conducted by the Italian newspaper, La Repubblica, with the Ukrainian Azov Battalion Commander, Dmytro Kuharchuck. The latter’s militia is known for its far-right politics, outright racism and horrific acts of violence. Yet, the newspaper described Kuharchuck as “the kind of fighter you don’t expect. He reads Kant and he doesn’t only use his bazooka.”If this is not the very definition of denial, what is?

That said, our proud European friends must be careful before supplanting the word ‘European’ with ‘civilization’ and respect for human rights. They ought not to forget their past or rewrite their history because, after all, racially-based slavery is a European and western brand. The slave trade, as a result of which millions of slaves were shipped from Africa during the course of four centuries, was very much European. According to Encyclopedia Virginia, 1.8 million people “died on the Middle Passage of the transatlantic slave trade”. Other estimations put the number much higher.

Colonialism is another European quality. Starting in the 15th century, and lasting for centuries afterward, colonialism ravaged the entire Global South. Unlike the slave trade, colonialism enslaved entirepeoples and divided whole continents, like Africa, among European spheres of influence.

The nation of Congo was literally owned by one person, Belgian King Leopold II. India was effectively controlled and colonized by the British East India Company and, later, by the British government. The fate of South America was largely determined by the US-imposed Monroe Doctrines of 1823. For nearly 200 years, this continent has paid – and continues to pay – an extremely heavy price of US colonialism and neocolonialism. No numbers or figures can possibly express the destruction and death toll inflicted by Western-European colonialism on the rest of the world, simply because the victims are still being counted. But for the sake of illustration, according to American historian, Adam Hochschild, ten million people have died in Congo alone from 1885 to 1908.

And how can we forget that World War I and II are also entirely European, leaving behind around 40 million and 75 million dead, respectively. (Other estimations are significantly higher). The gruesomeness of these European wars can only be compared to the atrocities committed, also by Europeans, throughout the South, for hundreds of years prior.

Mere months after The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) was formed in 1949, the eager western partners were quick to flex their muscles in Korea in 1950, instigating a war that lasted for three years, resulting in the death of nearly 5 million people. The Korean war, like many other NATO-instigated conflicts, remains an unhealed wound to this day.

The list goes on and on, from the disgraceful Opium Wars on China, starting in 1839, to the nuclear bombings of Japan in 1945, to the destruction of Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, in 1954, 1959 and 1970 respectively, to the political meddling, military interventions and regime change in numerous countries around the world. They are all the work of the West, of the US and its ever-willing ‘European partners’, all done in the name of spreading democracy, freedom and human rights.

If it were not for the Europeans, Palestine would have gained its independence decades ago, and its people, this writer included, would have not been made refugees, suffering under the yoke of Zionist Israel. If it were not for the US and the Europeans, Iraq would have remained a sovereign country and millions of lives would have been spared in one of the world’s oldest civilizations; and Afghanistan would have not endured this untold hardship. Even when the US and its European friends finally relented and left Afghanistan last year, they continue to hold the country hostage, by blocking the release of its funds, leading to actual starvation among the people of that war-torn country.

So before bragging about the virtues of Europe, and the demeaning of everyone else, the likes of Arestovych, D’Agata, and Petkov should take a look at themselves in the mirror and reconsider their unsubstantiated ethnocentric view of the world and of history. In fact, if anyone deserves bragging rights it is those colonized nations that resisted colonialism, the slaves that fought for their freedom, and the oppressed nations that resisted their European oppressors, despite the pain and suffering that such struggles entailed.

Sadly, for Europe, however, instead of using the Russia-Ukraine war as an opportunity to reflect on the future of the European project, whatever that is, it is being used as an opportunity to score cheap points against the very victims of Europe everywhere. Once more, valuable lessons remain unlearned.

– Ramzy Baroud is a journalist and the Editor of The Palestine Chronicle. He is the author of six books. His latest book, co-edited with Ilan Pappé, is “Our Vision for Liberation: Engaged Palestinian Leaders and Intellectuals Speak out”. Dr. Baroud is a Non-resident Senior Research Fellow at the Center for Islam and Global Affairs (CIGA). His website is www.ramzybaroud.net

نهاية «نهاية التاريخ»: الفوضى العالمية فُرصتنا الأنسب

السبت 2 نيسان 2022

(أ ف ب )

 وليد شرارة

موقف غالبية بلدان الجنوب، وبينهم حلفاء تاريخيون للولايات المتحدة، من النزاع الدائر في أوكرانيا، ورفضهم إدانة روسيا وفرض عقوبات عليها، مؤشّر قوي جديد إلى التراجع المستمرّ والمتسارع للهيمنة الأميركية. مَن كان يتصوّر، حتى بضع سنوات خلت، أن السعودية مثلاً، التي سارت خلف واشنطن طوال عقود الحرب الباردة وبعدها، واندرجت في استراتيجيتها العامّة ليس في الشرق الأوسط وحده، بل في أميركا اللاتينية وأفريقيا أيضاً، سترفض الانحياز إليها في مواجهتها الحيوية الراهنة مع موسكو؟ أمّا الهند، التي تحوّلت منذ مطلع الألفية الثانية إلى حليف رئيس، بنظر الاستراتيجيين الأميركيين، في مقابل الصين، وشريك بارز في «كواد»، فإن موقفها من النزاع في أوكرانيا، وقرارها مضاعفة وارداتها من النفط الروسي بأربع مرّات، والدفع بالروبل وليس بالدولار، ولّد صدمة جديدة لهؤلاء الخبراء الاستراتيجيين. المقاربة التركية للنزاع في أوكرانيا، وإن كانت مختلفة عن تلك المذكورة، تتمايز بوضوح عن نظيرتها الأميركية: هي أمدّت كييف بالسلاح، خاصة بمسيّرات «بيرقدار»، لكنها رفضت فرض عقوبات على موسكو، وتلعب دوراً نشيطاً في الوساطة بين الطرفَين.

هذا بالنسبة لحلفاء واشنطن، أمّا خصومها، فإن مواقفهم تتراوح بين الدعم العلني أو الضمني لروسيا. لكلّ دولة من دول الجنوب دوافع خاصة تفسّر تموضعها خارج المعسكر الذي تقوده الولايات المتحدة في مجابهتها المحتدمة مع منافِسيها الاستراتيجيين في روسيا والصين، وفي تنمية شراكات متعدّدة الأبعاد معهما، غير أن المحصّلة النهائية لمثل هذه التموضعات والشراكات، تشكّل منعطفاً حاسماً في مسار العلاقات الدولية منذ نهاية الحرب العالمية الثانية. فعجز الإمبراطورية المنحدرة عن ضبط الحلفاء، ناهيك عن التصدّي الناجح للأعداء، يشي بتفكّك منظومة السيطرة الغربية على المعمورة، وبداية مرحلة طويلة من الصراعات الدولية والإقليمية في بقاع مختلفة منها، ستحدّد مآلاتها شكل النظام الدولي الذي سيعاد بناؤه. ولا شك في أن للفوضى العالمية الآخذة في الاتّساع، تداعيات أكيدة ووازنة على صراعنا المديد مع المشروع الاستيطاني الصهيوني.

حالة الفوضى
الصراع بين الدول الكبرى ليس صنواً للفوضى بالضرورة. ففي مرحلة ما بعد الحرب العالمية الثانية، انقسم العالم إلى معسكرَين، ضمّ كلّ منهما مجموعة من الدول والأحزاب والتنظيمات ذات الخلفيات الأيديولوجية والسياسية المتعدّدة، ما أدى إلى نشوء نظام القطبية الثنائية. كانت للقطبَين الرئيسيَن، أي الولايات المتحدة والاتحاد السوفياتي، قدرة تأثير وضبط تختلف درجاتها مع أطراف معسكرَيهما، التي تمتّع بعضها بهامش استقلالية نسبية. غير أن مَن يستعرض الحروب والنزاعات التي دارت في تلك المرحلة، سيجد أن كلّاً من القطبين امتلك إمكانية التدخّل في مسارها، و»إقناع» حليفه المحلي أو الإقليمي بالتصعيد أو بتخفيض حدّة الصراع في فترات معينة، وبـ»اقتراح» حلول لهذه الصراعات، تنسجم مع الأجندة الدولية للقطب المعنيّ. فالاتحاد السوفياتي الذي دعم الدول العربية والمقاومة الفلسطينية في صراعها مع الكيان الصهيوني، ساهم في إقناعها بأن يكون هدفها النهائي هو التسوية السلمية على قاعدة القرارات الدولية، وإن لم تكن هذه المساهمة هي العامل الوحيد الذي يفسّر قبول الأطراف الرسمية العربية والفلسطينية بهذا السقف السياسي. الأمر نفسه ينسحب، وإن بأشكال ودرجات مختلفة، على حروب ونزاعات وقعت آنذاك، وسعى كلّ من القطبَين إلى توظيفها في إطار استراتيجيته العامة، أو ضبطها لمنع اتّساعها واستعارها.

الفراغ الناجم عن تراجع الهيمنة الأميركية، وعدم وجود قوى مرشّحة للحلول مكانها، ستعمل القوى الإقليمية على تعبئته


بعد انهيار الاتحاد السوفياتي، حاولت الولايات المتحدة فرض نظام الآحادية القطبية، وشنّت لهذه الغاية حروباً عدوانية مدمرة، غير أنه بات من الواضح أنها فشلت في ذلك تماماً. ما نشهده اليوم هو مجابهة بين معسكر أطلسي بقيادة الولايات المتحدة، ومحور روسي – صيني أصبحت أوكرانيا إحدى ساحاته. لكن بقيّة العالم، أي بلدان الجنوب، وبينها قوى إقليمية وازنة، اختارت «عدم الانحياز» إلى أيّ من الطرفين. أصبح «عدم الانحياز»، ولو الظرفي، بالنسبة لهذه البلدان، أسهل ممّا كان عليه في فترة تشكّل المنظّمة التي تحمل هذا الاسم، والتي تعرّض أعضاؤها لضغوط هائلة، من قِبَل الولايات المتحدة أساساً، لحملهم على الانحياز أو إسقاط أنظمتهم الوطنية. وعلى رغم احتفاظ عدد من بلدان الجنوب بتحالفاتها الدولية، فإن هامش استقلاليتها قد اتّسع، وأضحت تعطي الأولوية لأجندتها الخاصة، حتى ولو لم تتقاطع مع أجندة الحليف الدولي. يقول فرانسيس فوكوياما، في مقابلة مع «ذي نيو ستايتسمان»، بأننا «ربّما نرى نهاية نهاية التاريخ». الفراغ الناجم عن تراجع الهيمنة الأميركية، وعدم وجود قوى دولية مرشّحة حالياً للحلول في مكانها، في منطقتنا وفي مناطق أخرى، ستعمل القوى الإقليمية على تعبئته من خلال النزاع في ما بينها أو التوصّل إلى تفاهمات وترتيبات.

أولوية فلسطين

منذ أن أدرك الحلفاء الإقليميون للولايات المتحدة قرارها «التخفّف من أعباء الشرق الأوسط»، وهو توجّه سيتعزّز في سياستها الخارجية في سياق حربها بالوكالة مع روسيا في أوكرانيا، وهم يعملون على بناء تحالف «عربي» – صهيوني في مواجهة قوى المقاومة في الإقليم، وفي القلب منها إيران. هذه هي الغاية الحقيقية لـ»اتفاقية أبراهام»، ولقمم شرم الشيخ والنقب. غير أن الإمارات، وهي الطرف الرئيس الذي اشترك في صياغة هذا المشروع أيام إدارة دونالد ترامب، شرعت من جهة أخرى في السعي لتطبيع علاقاتها مع إيران، وتطوير المصالح المشتركة معها. السعودية لم تشارك حتى الآن رسمياً في التحالف المذكور، لكن وجود البحرين تمّ بعد ضوء أخضر منها. إلّا أن ولي عهدها دعا بدوره إلى إقامة علاقات حسن جوار مع إيران.
تعلم جميع أطراف هذا التحالف هشاشته، وفي مقدّمتها الكيان الصهيوني. وتعلم قوى المقاومة ذلك، وفي طليعتها الشعب الفلسطيني، تغيُّر أولويات القوى الغربية، وانشغالها بمواجهات استراتيجية كبرى مع روسيا والصين ستزداد حدّة في المدى المنظور، وتستتبع تراجع أولوية صراعات المنطقة على أجندتها. هذا ما يثير ذعر قادة الكيان، وما يفسّر التقاط أبناء الشعب الفلسطيني وتنظيماته المقاوِمة لهذه الفرصة وتصعيد العمل المقاوم. انفجار انتفاضة شعبية عارمة ضدّ الاحتلال مدعومة بالنار، نار البنادق والصواريخ، سيفرض التراجع على العدو، وسيقلب الطاولة على مشاريع التحالفات الخيانية. الفوضى العالمية الراهنة هي السياق الأنسب لفرض أولوية فلسطين على جدول أعمال الجميع، عبر جولة جديدة من المجابهة تبني على ما حقّقته معركة «سيف القدس» المجيدة.

من ملف : نهاية «نهاية التاريخ»

Michael Hudson: Interview with Margaret Flowers, WBAI, March 29, 2022

March 30, 2022

Michael Hudson interviewed by Margaret flowers, Clearing the Fog, March 29, 2022. https://popularresistance.org/michael-hudson-us-dollar-hegemony-ended-abruptly-last-wednesday/

Posted with Dr Hudson’s permission

Margaret Flowers: You’re listening to Clearing the FOG, speaking truth to expose the forces of greed, with Margaret Flowers. And now I turn to my guest, Michael Hudson. Michael is the president of the Institute for the Study of Long-term, Economic Trends, ISLET. He’s a Wall Street financial analyst and a distinguished research professor of Economics at the University of Missouri, in Kansas City. He’s also the author of numerous books and recently updated his book, “Super Imperialism: The economic strategy of American Empire.” Thank you for taking time to speak with me today, Michael.

Michael Hudson: Well, thanks for having me on Margaret.

MF: You’ve talked a lot and written a lot about dollar hegemony and what’s happening now with de-dollarization. Can you start out by explaining to my listeners what dollar hegemony is and how it has benefited the wealthy class in the United States?

MH: Dollar hegemony seems to be the position that has just ended as of this week very abruptly. Dollar hegemony was when America’s war in Vietnam and the military spending of the 1960s and 70s drove the United States off gold. The entire US balance of payments deficit was military spending, and it began to run down the gold supply. So, in 1971, President Nixon took the dollar off gold. Well, everybody thought America has been controlling the world economy since World War I by having most of the gold and by being the creditor to the world. And they thought what is going to happen now that the United States is running a deficit, instead of being a creditor.

Well, what happened was that, as I’ve described in Super Imperialism, when the United States went off gold, foreign central banks didn’t have anything to buy with their dollars that were flowing into their countries – again, mainly from the US military deficit but also from the investment takeovers. And they found that these dollars came in, the only thing they could do would be to recycle them to the United States. And what do central banks hold? They don’t buy property, usually, back then they didn’t. They buy Treasury bonds. And so, the United States would be spending dollars abroad and foreign central banks didn’t really have anything to do but send it right back to buy treasury bonds to finance not only the balance of payments deficit, but also the budget deficit that was largely military in character. So, dollar hegemony was the system where foreign central banks keep their monetary and international savings reserves in dollars and the dollars are used to finance the military bases around the world, almost eight hundred military bases surrounding them. So, basically central banks have to keep their savings by weaponizing them, by militarizing them, by lending them to the United States, to keep spending abroad.

This gave America a free ride. Imagine if you went to the grocery store and you just paid by giving them an IOU. And then the next week you want to buy more groceries and you give them another IOU. And they say, wait a minute, you have an IOU before and you say, well just use the IOU to pay the milk company that delivers, or the farmers that deliver. You can use this as your money and just you’ll as a customer, keep writing IOU’s and you never have to pay anything because your IOU is other people’s money. Well, that’s what dollar hegemony was, and it was a free ride. And it all ended last Wednesday when the United States grabbed Russia’s reserves having grabbed Afghanistan’s foreign reserves and Venezuela’s foreign reserves and those of other countries.

And all of a sudden, this means that other countries can no longer safely hold their reserves by sending their money back, depositing them in US banks or buying US Treasury Securities, or having other US investments because they could simply be grabbed as happened to Russia. So, all of a sudden this last week, you’re seeing the world economy fracture into two parts, a dollarized part and other countries that do not follow the neoliberal policies that the United States insists that its allies follow. We’re seeing the birth of a new dual World economy.

MF: Wow, there’s a lot to unpack there. So, are we seeing then other countries starting to disinvest in US dollars? You’ve written about how the treasury bonds that these central banks buy up have been basically funding our domestic economy. Are they starting to shed those bonds or what’s happening?

MH: No, they haven’t been funding our domestic economy because the Federal Reserve can create its own money to fund the domestic economy. We don’t need to borrow from foreign countries to fund our economy. We can print it ourselves. What the dollar hegemony does is fund the balance of payments deficit. It funds our spending in other economies, our spending abroad. It doesn’t help our economy, but it does help us get a free ride from other countries. The more dollars we spend in making a military base, all these military expenditures get turned over to the local Central Bank that turns and sends them back to the Federal Reserve or deposits them in US bank accounts. So, it’s the international free ride we get, not a domestic free ride.

MF: Okay. So are we seeing countries now, since this past week, starting to move their assets back to repatriate them because I know for Afghanistan, a big problem is that most of the government’s money was outside of the country and that has been used as a weapon against Afghanistan by seizing those assets and not allowing the Central Bank of Afghanistan to have them. Are we starting to see other countries repatriating their money and gold?

MH: Well, figures are only available at the end of each month, reported at the end of each month and then there’s a two-month delay, so we don’t have any idea what’s happening. But I’ve been talking to people all over the world in the last few days and the consensus is that everybody is now deciding the only place, certainly if you’re China or Russia or Kazakhstan or you’re in the Eurasian orbit, South Asia, East Asia, you realize, wait a minute, if all we have to do is something like Allende did in Chile or all we have to do is refuse to sell off our industry to American investors and they can treat us like they’ve treated Venezuela. So you can imagine that everybody’s watching this and there’s an expectation that as a result of the war in Ukraine, that’s really America’s NATO war, that this is going to create a balance-of-payments crisis throughout the whole Global South as their energy prices go up, oil prices soar, food prices are going to soar and this is going to make it impossible for them to pay their foreign debts unless they go without food and energy. Obviously, this is a political crisis. That is, the only result can be to split the world in two.

MF: You’ve been writing about this happening. You’ve written that the de-dollarization has been happening relatively quickly in recent years. So, are we now we’re now just seeing the end result of that? I mean, people said it could happen quickly. Is that exactly what we’re seeing right now?

MH: Yes, and nobody expected that it would happen this quickly. Nobody expected that it would be the United States itself that ends de-dollarization. People thought that, well, most of the sales of my book describing this super imperialism were bought by the Defense Department and they looked at it as a how -to-do-it book. And I was brought down to the White House and the Defense Department to explain to them how imperialism works.

I had expected that maybe China, Russia, and other countries would say, “We don’t want to give America free rides.” And yet it was the United States itself that broke all of this, by grabbing Russia’s reserves right after it grabbed Afghanistan’s and Venezuela’s reserves.

Nothing like this has happened in modern history, even in the 19th century wars. In the Crimean War in the mid-19th century, Russia, England and Germany, everybody kept paying the debts to the countries they were fighting against because the idea is that debts were sacrosanct. And now, all of a sudden, not only are debts are not sacrosanct, but countries can just grab foreign savings. I guess the problem began after the Shah of Iran fell and the United States grabbed Iran’s money and refused to let it pay its bond holders and started the whole war against Iran for trying to take control of its own oil resources. So, all of a sudden, the United States grabbing this has ended what everybody thought was an immutable morality.

MF: So that was in 1979 that the Shah fell in Iran and, and over the last number of decades, the United States has been increasingly using economic warfare against countries through what people call sanctions, but they’re actually, illegal unilateral coercive measures, has that been kind of driving and setting the stage for what is happening today?

MH: Yes, the International Monetary Fund has operated, basically, as an arm of the Defense Department. It’s been bailing out dictatorships, bailing out Ukraine, lending money to countries whose client oligarchies America wants to support, and not lending any money to countries that America doesn’t want to support, like Venezuela. So, its job is basically to promote neoliberal policies, and to insist that other countries balance their payments by undergoing a class war against labor.

The conditionality that the IMF insists upon for foreign borrowing is that countries devalue their currency and lower their wage rates and pass anti-labor legislation. Well, when you lower the currency’s exchange rate, what do you really lower? Food prices are set in dollars internationally, raw materials prices are, and prices for machinery and many goods. The only economic variable devalued is domestic labor (and domestic rents). The IMF has been using this kind of junk-economic free-trade policy as a means of keeping the wage rates in the Global South down. You could say it’s a financialization of an ultimately military conflict to promote neoliberal ideology.

MF: And you mentioned the lowering wages and things like that. And this is actually done because it’s favorable to US investors and US business, right? I mean, the World Bank actually has an index, the cost of doing business index, that helps inform large corporations about laws that countries pass that make them more favorable to businesses to come in.

MH: It’s even worse than that. The central aim of the World Bank is to prevent other countries from growing their own food. That is the prime directive. It will only make loans for countries to earn foreign currency and it has insisted ever since about 1950 that countries that borrow from it must shift their agriculture to plantation export crops to grow tropical crops that cannot be grown in the United States for environmental and weather reasons. And the countries must not grow their own food and must not undertake Land Reform or small family-based farming. So, it insisted on foreign-owned agribusiness in large plantation agriculture. And what that means is that countries that have borrowed for agricultural loans have not been loans to produce their own food. It’s been to compete with each other producing tropical export crops while being increasingly dependent on the United States for their food supplies, and for their grain. And that’s part of the corner they painted them into that is going to be creating such a world famine this summer.

MF: I definitely want to get into that as well as the energy situation and the climate crisis, but before we do that, I just want you to comment quickly on how this has also been driving countries to seek alternatives. The United States removed Russia from the SWIFT system, which is the international mechanism for doing trading and finance. It threatened China if they didn’t denounce what was happening with Russia and Ukraine to kick them out of the SWIFT system. So, this hubris of the United States is also kind of driving countries away to seek other alternatives, right?

MH: That’s the whole point. Well, fortunately they’ve been threatening to kick Russia out of SWIFT for the last two years. And so, Russia and China have been putting in place an alternative system. So, they almost pretty smoothly are shifting over to using their own currency with each other instead of using the dollar. And that’s part of what has ended the dollar standard and ended dollar hegemony.

If the way you have dollar hegemony is to have other countries deposit your money in your banks and handle their oil trade with each other by financing it in dollars, but all of a sudden you grab all their dollars and you don’t let them use US banks to pay for their oil and their trade with each other, then they’re going to shift to a different system. And that’s exactly what has ended the dollar hegemony, as you just pointed out.

MF: So, let’s get a little bit into where things are headed with this new situation, a rapidly changing situation. It may be hard to say what’s happening, but you talked about a food crisis this summer. Can you talk a little bit about more about that and does the conflict in Ukraine feed into that?

MH: Well, as President Putin and Lavrov have said, the fighting in Ukraine isn’t really over Ukraine at all. It’s a fight over what shape the world will take and whether the world will be unipolar or, as it now appears, multipolar. The US, for the last year before it began to escalate attacks on the Russian-speaking Ukraine, was trying to block Europe from, and especially Germany, from buying Russia gas and oil.

There are three pillars of American foreign policy that base American power. The first pillar is the oil industry. That’s the most powerful industry next to banking in the United States. And United States throughout the 20th century, along with Britain and France, have controlled the world oil trade.

That has benefited the United States in two ways. Number one, we are a major oil exporter because we have a big oil and gas industry. But, number two, our US companies control the foreign oil trade. So that if some country, say Chile or Venezuela, does something that the United States doesn’t like, like growing their own food or pursuing a socialist policy, the United States can simply cut off their oil and sanction them. Without oil, they don’t have energy to drive the cars or power their factories or drive their GDP.

So, the American war in Ukraine is really a war against Germany. Russia is not the enemy. Germany and Europe are the enemy and the United States made it very clear. This is a war to lock in our allies so they cannot trade with Russia. They cannot buy Russian oil. They must be dependent on American oil for which they will have to pay three or four times as much. They will have to be dependent on American liquefied natural gas for fertilizer. If they don’t buy American gas for fertilizer, and we don’t let them buy from Russia, then they cannot put fertilizer on the land and the crop yield will fall by about 50% without fertilizer.

So, the, the war in Ukraine was to make Russia look so bad by defending itself against the attacks by the Ukrainian right wing in the Russian-speaking areas that the US has said, look at how bad Russia is. You’ve got to forego buying oil and gas or grain or titanium or palladium or anything else from Russia.

And so, the effect of this war has been to lock the NATO countries into dependency on the United States because the great fear of the United States in the last few years is that as America is de-industrializing, these countries are looking to the part of the world that’s growing, China, Central Asia, Russia, South Asia. And the United States feared losing control of its satellites mainly in NATO, but also in South America. So, it sanctioned and blocked their ability to buy non-US energy. They’re blocking their ability to buy non-US food, blocking their ability to invest in or use their surplus to get prosperous by investing in China, Russia, or Eurasia.

So, this is basically a war of America to lock in its allies. Well, the result is that oil prices, now that you can’t get Russian oil, are going to go way, way up, and that is going to create a crisis for many of the Global South countries that are oil deficit countries. The fertilizer companies in Germany have already been closing down because they say, without Russian gas, we make our fertilizer out of gas, and if we can’t get Russian gas, we can’t produce the fertilizer that. So, world fertilizer prices are going way up.

Russia is the largest grain exporter. And now that grain exports are being blocked by the sanctions, the question is, what are North Africa and the Near East going to do that have been depending very largely on Russian grain exports? Their food prices are going to go way up.

You can imagine just from seeing what’s happening in the United States when gas prices go up here, food prices go up here, not only does it put a squeeze on individual family budgets, but throughout the world, it puts the squeeze on the balance of payments of other countries. And so, they’re desperate. How are they going to pay the higher prices unless they borrow even more money from US banks? And of course, that’s another arm of US policy. The US banks hope to make a killing in making loans at rising interest rates to third world countries.

And of course, arms exports. NATO in the last few days has agreed to make American arms exports to increase their purchase of arms. So, the stock market has been soaring in the last few days. They say this, the world famine, the world crisis is a bonanza for Wall Street. The oil company stocks are going way up, the military, industrial stocks, Boeing Raytheon way up, the bank stocks. This is America’s great power grab, and it realizes, when it can create a crisis and tell the Global South or poor countries your money or your life. This is how most of the great property grabs and conquests have been made throughout history.

MF: And just this week at the NATO meetings, President Biden basically said food prices are going to go up in the United States and Europe as a result of what’s happening. And that’s just the price we have to pay.

MH: Well, what he should have said, this is the price they have to pay us. That’s how the stock market took it. When he said this is the price we have to pay, this is the price consumers have to pay to the American oil companies, to the American Agricultural food distribution companies. It’s the price other countries have to pay to the United States.

This is to say to the rest of the world, you know, we’ve got you completely, I don’t know how to put it, what phrase to use, but you don’t have any choice, your money or your life. We’ve got you trapped. And he’s crowing over the fact that this resulting inflation is exactly what was intended by the war in Ukraine that has led to the isolation of Russia and other countries following a non-US policy.

MF: But more and more countries in Latin America, in Africa, are turning to countries like China for partnerships, for investment. Do you see a point coming where there is just this real shunning of the United States and turning to these alternatives?

MH: That is exactly what’s going to happen. What’s going to happen is, China’s investment is very different from US investment. US and European investment will give financial investments to countries at interest that the whole country is liable for to repay. China’s investment is taking place by means of the Belt and Road Initiative and direct capital investment in developing ports, infrastructure and railways. And instead of having a general financial claim against these countries, China has an equity claim, a property claim backed by the physical means of production that it puts in place.

Well, this summer, when countries say they cannot afford to pay their foreign debts, the United States has as a backup plan, okay, let’s write down everybody’s debts, government debts, to each other so that governments can pay the private bond holders and the banks. And they’re going to try to, essentially the US will forgive its debts so that Latin America can pay Chase Manhattan Bank and Citibank and the bondholders. And China is going to say, wait a minute, we don’t have any financial claim against these countries. We didn’t lend them dollars. We didn’t lend them our foreign currency at all. We built assets there and the assets are still in place. There’s no problem there.

So, the question is, whose debts are going to be written down to whom? And all of this is going to lead to, as you can imagine, destabilization. The United States is probably going to try to push regime change on countries that try to trade with China as it’s already threatened China with. And the more sanctions the United States imposes on Latin America, Africa and the Near East and South Asia, they will be creating a crisis, but the crisis will lead the rest of the world to treat the United States in the same way that Russia and China are treating the United States as just the enemy threatening the entire world with their neoliberal power grab. So, the United States in a way is isolating itself from the rest of the world by declaring war on it.

MF: And I think that’s not going to be good for us here at home in the United States. You’ve talked about the way that the current economy has been structured. You’ve also raised a lot of concern about the climate crisis. And of course, we have the recent IPCC report basically saying that we’re way behind in taking action to even adapt to the climate crisis or the warming that we’re going to be experiencing. So now in this new situation, how do you see that impacting the climate crisis?

MH: Here’s what Biden said, in effect: “We’re way behind in the pace of global warming.” American policy is based on increasing and accelerating global warming. That has been a central point of US policy ever since I joined the Hudson Institute in the 1970s. The United States is opposing any attempt at trying to prevent global warming because you can imagine what would happen if other countries go to solar energy and renewable energy. That will reduce their dependency on the US oil industry. If you look at American policy, it is being run basically by the oil industry to establish dependence of other countries on oil. Then obviously the last thing the United States is ever going to do is prevent global warming. So, if we’re behind in global warming, it’s that the sea level is not rising fast enough. The world is not getting hot fast enough not to lock in foreign reliance on America’s oil.

And I think you’ve seen what in the last few weeks, what President Biden has said, the fuel of the future is coal and oil. Right now, he’s in Poland. I think he’s suggesting that Polish coal, which is one of its major products, should be used in Europe instead of Russian gas. So, American foreign policy is based on the accelerated use of coal and oil, not renewable energy.

Now, that’s why I think the environmental movement should become an anti-war movement and the movement against this neoliberal dollar hegemony. You’re not going to avoid global warming unless you stop the dominance of American foreign policy by the oil industry.

MF: I think we’ve been seeing that shift over the last few years where the climate movement is starting to understand we can’t address this crisis without addressing the US military. So just in the last minutes that I have with you, what do you have to say to the listeners about where this is going for us materially as people living in the United States, a country that has been showing itself to be a failing state? The Covid-19 pandemic, I think, has really exposed that in so many ways, the financial insecurity that people are facing, housing, education, health care, all of the failures of the government to meet the basic needs of the people. How do you think that’s going to change with this new situation?

MH: Well, the United States has been getting a free ride internationally. So, much of the prosperity here has been the result of our not having to pay for our own military spending, not having to pay for many of the foreign investments that we’ve got that supply the US with low priced foreign raw materials. All that is being ended by President Biden’s policy, which, of course, the Republicans support just as much as the Democrats.

So, there’s really a political movement that is ending up impoverishing, I’d say, 99% of Americans. While the Federal Reserve saves the stock and bond market for the 1%, there’s going to be a huge squeeze that’s going to force, I think, most American families into debt leading to probably a close down of a lot of businesses just as you had the Covid crisis closing down a lot of businesses. You’re going to have the rising fuel prices, the rising food prices utterly force families into default and an inability to be self-supporting without either running into debt or selling their homes and becoming renters.

MF: And that’s a whole other problem with the buying up of the housing in the United States by these investment corporations so that they can then control those rent prices. It sounds like difficult days are ahead.

MH: Yes. Well, and nobody can really ,it’s really Uncharted Territory because nobody thought there was an alternative. The economic view was as Margaret Thatcher said, “There is no alternative.” Well, now, America’s forced the world to find its own alternative.

MF: Well, thank you for sharing that wisdom with me. I encourage people to continue to follow you and read your books and follow your writing. Where’s the best place to find you?

MH: I have a website: Michael-Hudson.com. And I’m on Patreon. I post my articles on the website and on Patreon.

MF: Well, thank you so much for taking time to speak with me today, and for the important work that you’re doing.

MH: Well, I’m awfully glad we had to talk about this, Margaret.

“Israel” or the wolf disguised as a sheep

29 Mar 2022

Source: Al Mayadeen

Mikhael Marzuqa 

“Israel” tried to disguise itself as an honest mediator between Russia and Ukraine, but honesty is a trait that is hard to come by once the occupation’s history is full of atrocities and war crimes.

Chile and other Latin-American countries that subscribe to the UN Charter and its resolutions, as well as international law organizations, including the ICJ, must commit themselves to their own actions

The Russian-Ukrainian conflict comes to revalue the need for the rule of International Law and a renewal of the commitment of the entire international community to subscribe to it.

The defense of the sovereignty of Ukraine revives the neglected relevance of promoting the sovereignty of Palestine based mainly on:

– The withdrawal of the Israeli army from the Palestinian territories declared in resolution 181 of the UN General Assembly of November 29, 1947, that “recommended” the partition of Palestine into two States, but without “Israel” allowing the consolidation of the Palestinian State.

– Allow the return of Palestinian refugees expelled from their homes by “Israel”, according to resolutions 194 of December 11, 1948, and 3236 of November 22, 1974, recognizing the right of self-determination of the Palestinian people.

– Israeli withdrawal from Occupied Palestine, including the Eastern part of occupied al-Quds, is based on Resolution 2334 of December 23, 2016, of the UN Security Council, which emanates from this body and is binding.

– End of colonialism and Israeli apartheid considered a form of racial discrimination according to Resolution 3379 of the UN General Assembly in 1975.

– End of the colonial expansion based on settlements of settlers brought from other nations to Palestine, based on Resolutions 446 of March 22, 1979 and 2334 of December 23, 2016 of the UN Security Council (both binding resolutions).

– Demolition of the Separation Wall or “Shame” that penetrates into Palestinian territory expropriating more territories, declared illegal by the International Court of Justice on July 9, 2004

Since 1948, and even before, with the action of the Zionist terrorist organizations, which later became the Israeli army, “Israel” has systematically invaded Palestine, expelling its original population, periodically bombing and committing crimes against the civilian population, selectively assassinating the political leaders of the Palestinian people including their former president Yasser Arafat, demolished their homes and farm fields, seized water sources, turned the West Bank into a huge concentration camp, violently expelled the residents of al-Quds and other Palestinian cities, changed the names and in general the legal status of the territory, prohibited free expression and the operation of NGOs for the defense of Human Rights, converted Gaza into the largest extermination camp and, ultimately, undermined the possibilities of installing a Free and democratic Palestinian state as declared by the national charter of the Organization for the Liberation of Palestine.

It is ironic to see how “Israel” first offered itself as the venue for negotiations between Russia and Ukraine and currently offers itself as a mediator since it is the state most condemned by the UN and international human rights organizations and one of the key suppliers of weapons to Ukraine. Therefore, ending this international hypocrisy is imperative today, since we run the risk of widening the lock gates of more flagrant inconsistencies and violations of the norms that regulate coexistence among peoples.

Chile and other Latin-American countries that subscribe to the UN Charter and its resolutions, as well as international law organizations, including the ICJ, must commit themselves to their own actions, as well as promote in the regional economic and political organizations of Latin America and The Caribbean, initiatives that lead to oblige “Israel” to cease its violations, respect international laws and adopt UN resolutions without conditions.

It is appropriate that those who have an international tradition to respect and promote international human rights. Along these lines, they are compelled to adhere to the reports of Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International and promote the existence of all the facilities for the investigation of the International Criminal Court on war crimes committed by “Israel”.
 
It is important that the Latin American countries deploy a diplomatic crusade at the international level so that the United States, Great Britain and the European Union, mainly, are consistent between their speech and their international action so that, just as they have deployed innumerable and forceful sanctions against Russia, similarly condemn and promote condemnation and similar sanctions against the Israeli regime so that it respects international law. It is pertinent that governments that set themselves up as defenders of democracy, do not jeopardize their declared values ​​of respect for peace, justice, sovereignty, and self-determination, that they assume the moral obligation of consequence between their words and actions and honor the reputation of the states those they represent so as not to be condemned by history as only defenders of interests of power and hegemony.

Promoting the peaceful and respectful coexistence of the legality that the international community has imposed on itself is today transcendent for the world that we are bequeathing to future generations.

The opinions mentioned in this article do not necessarily reflect the opinion of Al mayadeen, but rather express the opinion of its writer exclusively.

Colombia’s Left may win presidency in a historic first

March 14, 2022

Source: Agencies + Al Mayadeen Net

By Al Mayadeen Net 

Colombia’s Leftist candidate Gustavo Petro, the front-runner for Colombia’s May Presidential elections, has secured the nomination of the left-wing coalition

Colombian presidential candidate Gustavo Petro

The front-runner for Colombia’s presidential election has secured his nomination by the left-wing Historic Pact coalition, putting the country on a track that may mark a historic first.

Gustavo Petro, a former guerrilla in the M-19 rebel group, may become Colombia’s first leftist president.

Petro won more than 80% in the Historic Pact primary, while his main contenders for the presidency, right-winger Federico Gutierrez and Centrist Sergio Fajardo, won 54% and just under 33% of the votes of their respective groupings.

As Colombia’s Congress is split among a number of parties, presidents are forced to build big-tent coalitions if they want to pass legislation.

In the last elections in 2018, Petro lost to incumbent President Ivan Duque, in the second round.

The Left’s first president?

Colombia has always been ruled by the political right, yet polls show that Petro stands a real chance of winning.

Bogota’s distrust of the left is associated with its experience with FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia), which the US removed from its list of foreign terrorist groups a few months ago, and other rebel groups that fought the government in a six-decade-long civil conflict.

Since Petro’s first run for president in 2010, two controversies took place that won him additional fans and enemies:

The first is his relationship with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, and his successor Nicolas Maduro. Petro was captivated by Venezuela’s ideals, but later distanced himself from Chavez. However, when Petro attended his funeral in 2013, he wondered aloud “Why did I distance myself from him?”

The second is his time as mayor of Bogota, when he challenged the establishment during his administration and was bent on standing up against the ruling class, despite many issues and lawsuits, through which he made a number of enemies.

Colombia already enjoys a stressed relationship with its anti-imperialist neighbor Venezuela due to the US using the country to exercise further pressure on Caracas. A shift in Colombia’s ruling coalition may bring about a geopolitical shift in Latin America.

Russian Judo Tears the West Apart

Washington’s sanctions on Moscow will destroy Europe, not Russia

MARCH 8, 2022

Washington’s ‘replacement strategy’ for sanctioned Russian oil and gas imports appears to be to cozy up to its oil-producing arch-enemies Iran and Venezuela. Photo Credit: The Cradle

PEPE ESCOBAR  

The official Russian blacklist of hostile sanctioning nations includes the US, the EU, Canada and, in Asia, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, and Singapore (the only one from Southeast Asia). Notice how that ‘international community’ keeps shrinking.

The Global South should be aware that no nations from West Asia, Latin America and Africa have joined Washington’s sanctions bandwagon.

Moscow has not even announced its own package of counter-sanctions. Yet an official decree “On Temporary Order of Obligations to Certain Foreign Creditors,” which allows Russian companies to settle their debts in rubles, provides a hint of what’s to come.

Russian counter-measures all revolve around this new presidential decree, signed last Saturday, which economist Yevgeny Yushchuk defines as a “nuclear retaliatory landmine.” .

It works like this: to pay for loans obtained from a sanctioning country exceeding 10 million rubles a month, a Russian company does not have to make a transfer. They ask for a Russian bank to open a correspondent account in rubles under the creditor’s name. Then the company transfers rubles to this account at the current exchange rate, and it’s all perfectly legal.

Payments in foreign currency only go through the Central Bank on a case-by-case basis. They must receive special permission from the Government Commission for the Control of Foreign Investment.

What this mean in practice is that the bulk of the $478 billion or so in Russian foreign debt may “disappear” from the balance sheets of western banks. The equivalent in rubles will be deposited somewhere, in Russian banks, but western banks, as things stand, can’t access it.

It is debatable whether this straightforward strategy was the product of those non-sovereignist brains gathered at the Russian Central Bank. More likely, there has been input from influential economist Sergei Glazyev, also a top former advisor to Russian President Vladimir Putin on regional integration: here is a revised edition, in English, of his groundbreaking essay Sanctions and Sovereignty, which I have previously summarized.

Meanwhile, Sberbank confirmed it will issue Russia’s Mir debit/credit cards co-badged with China’s UnionPay. Alfa-Bank – the largest private bank in Russia – will also issue UnionPay credit and debit cards. Although only introduced five years ago, 40 percent of Russians already have a Mir card for domestic use. Now they will also be able to use it internationally, via UnionPay’s enormous network. And without Visa and Mastercard, commissions on all transactions will remain in the Russia-China sphere. De-dollarization in effect.

Mr. Maduro, gimme some oil

The Iran sanctions negotiations in Vienna may be reaching the last stage – as acknowledged even by Chinese diplomat Wang Qun. But it was Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov who introduced a new, crucial variable into Vienna’s final discussions.

Lavrov made his eleventh-hour demand quite explicit: “We have asked for a written guarantee…that the current [Russian sanctions] process triggered by the United States does not in any way damage our right to free and full trade, economic and investment cooperation and military-technical cooperation with the Islamic Republic.”

As per the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) agreement of 2015, Russia receives enriched uranium from Iran and exchanges it for yellowcake, and in parallel, is reconverting Iran’s Fordow nuclear plant into a research center. Without Iranian enriched uranium exports there’s simply no JCPOA deal. It boggles the mind that US Secretary of State Blinken does not seem to understand that.

Everyone in Vienna, sidelines included, knows that for all actors to sign on the JCPOA revival, no nation must be individually targeted in terms of trading with Iran. Tehran also knows it.

So what’s happening now is an elaborate game of Persian mirrors, coordinated between Russian and Iranian diplomacy. Moscow’s Ambassador to Tehran, Levan Jagaryan, attributed the fierce reaction to Lavrov in some Iranian quarters to a “misunderstanding.” This will all be played out in the shade.

An extra element is that according to a Persian Gulf intel source with privileged Iranian access, Tehran may be selling as many as three million barrels of oil a day already, “so if they do sign a deal it will not affect supply at all, only they will be paid more.”

The US administration of President Joe Biden is now absolutely desperate: today it banned all imports of oil and gas from Russia, which happens to be the second-largest exporter of oil to the US, behind Canada and ahead of Mexico. The US’ big Russian-energy ‘replacement strategy’ is to beg for oil from Iran and Venezuela.

So, the White House sent a delegation to talk to Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro, led by Juan Gonzalez, the White House’s top Latin America adviser. The US offer is to “alleviate” sanctions on Caracas in exchange for oil.

The United States government has spent years – if not decades – burning all bridges with Venezuela and Iran. The USG destroyed Iraq and Libya, and isolated Venezuela and Iran, in its attempt to take over global oil markets – just to end up miserably trying to buy out both and escape from being crushed by the economic forces it has unleashed. That proves, once again, that imperial ‘policy makers’ are utterly clueless.

Caracas will request the elimination of all sanctions on Venezuela and the return of all its confiscated gold. And it seems like none of this was cleared with ‘President’ Juan Guaido, who since 2019, was the only Venezuelan leader “recognized” by Washington.

Social cohesion torn apart

Oil and gas markets, meanwhile, are in total panic. No western trader wants to buy Russian gas; and that has nothing to do with Russia’s state-owned energy behemoth Gazprom, which continues to duly supply customers that signed contracts with fixed tariffs, from $100 to $300 (others are paying over $3,000 in the spot market).

European banks are less and less willing to grant loans for energy trade with Russia because of the sanctions hysteria. A strong hint that the Russia-to-Germany gas pipeline Nord Stream 2 may be literally six feet under is that importer Wintershall-Dea wrote off its share of the financing, de facto assuming that the pipeline will not be launched.

Everyone with a brain in Germany knows that two extra Liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminals – still to be constructed – will not be enough for Berlin’s needs. There is simply not enough LNG to supply them. Europe will have to fight with Asia over who can pay more. Asia wins.

Europe imports roughly 400 billion cubic meters of gas a year, with Russia responsible for 200 billion of this. There’s no way Europe can find $200 billion anywhere else to replace Russia – be it in Algeria, Qatar or Turkmenistan. Not to mention its lack of necessary LNG terminals.

So obviously the top beneficiary of all the mess will be the US – which will be able to impose not only their terminals and control systems, but also profit from loans to the EU, sales of equipment, and full access to the whole EU energy infrastructure. All LNG installations, pipelines and warehouses will be connected to a sole network with a single control room: an American business dream.

Europe will be left with reduced gas production for its – dwindling – industry; job losses; decreasing quality of life standards; increased pressure over the social security system; and, last but not least, the necessity to apply for extra American loans. Some nations will go back to coal for heating. The Green Parade will be livid.

What about Russia? As a hypothesis, even if all its energy exports were curtailed – and they won’t be, their top clients are in Asia – Russia would not have to use its foreign reserves.

The Russophobic all-out attack on Russian exports also targets palladium metals – vital for electronics, from laptops to aircraft systems. Prices are skyrocketing. Russia controls 50% of the global market. Then there are noble gases – neon, helium, argon, xenon – essential for production of microchips. Titanium has risen by a quarter, and both Boeing – by a third – and Airbus – by two thirds – rely on titanium from Russia.

Oil, food, fertilizers, strategic metals, neon gas for semiconductors: all burning at the stake, at the feet of Witch Russia.

Some Westerners who still treasure Bismarckian realpolitik have started wondering whether shielding energy (in the case of Europe) and selected commodity flows from sanctions may have everything to do with protecting an immense racket: the commodity derivatives system.

After all, if that implodes, because of a shortage of commodities, the whole western financial system blows up. Now that’s a real system failure.

The key issue for the Global South to digest is that the “west” is not committing suicide. What we have here, essentially, is the United States willfully destroying German industry and the European economy – bizarrely, with their connivance.

To destroy the European economy means not allowing extra market space for China, and blocking the inevitable extra trade which will be a direct consequence of closer exchanges between the EU and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), the world’s biggest trade deal.

The end result will be the US eating European savings for lunch while China expands its middle class to over 500 million people. Russia will do just fine, as Glazyev outlines: sovereign – and self-sufficient.

American economist Michael Hudson has concisely sketched the lineaments of imperial self-implosion. Yet way more dramatic, as a strategic disaster, is how the deaf, dumb and blind parade toward deep recession and near-hyperinflation will rip what’s left of the west’s social cohesion apart. Mission Accomplished.

(Republished from The Cradle by permission of author or representative)

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War in Ukraine: “The whole world is with us” – and, with whom is “us”, with Kiev or with Moscow?

March 03, 2022

by Yuri Podolyaka for this YT channel

Source

translated by N.

Hello, my dear listeners.

Today is March 2 and today’s first material will not be a review of the war front situation, because in the last few hours I just have not had a chance to get a whole lot of information. There is some information, but I will cover it in the next review.

Today, and also in the future, in the morning reviews, I want to look at what is happening around the conflict in Ukraine.

And, one of the most important issues is – which countries of the world have supported Russia on this issue and which have not, because this question is actually critical for Ukraine. And not only for Ukraine, for it is unquestionably very important for Russia too, because the prevailing opinion in Ukraine is that “the whole world is with us”.

So, let’s take a look – who is this “whole world” and to what extent is it with them?

Well, it is obvious that the USA, Canada and most of the European countries are really with them, at least so they say, but then there are other countries, like Hungary, for example, which express ambivalence. On one hand, they support sanctions, but then on the other hand, regarding military assistance to Ukraine, Hungary said a firm “No”. Furthermore, it will not even allow any transportation of any goods across its territory and borders.

Serbia and Bosnia-Herzegovina have taken a special position as well, certainly, because the position of the Serbs is very clear and resolute – they are totally behind Russia.

Then, there is the USA and Europe – with them it is all quite clear, as with Japan, Australia and all the closest political partners of the USA. After that – silence.

All other significant countries, in one form or another, have expressed support for Russia. Firstly, it is very visible in Latin America, where Brazil, Argentina, and yesterday Mexico – everyone, the main countries, all stated in unison that they will not support sanctions against Russia. Understandably, besides Columbia and several other countries, the more economically developed countries of that region, however, have stated that they will not support sanctions against Russia.

South Africa, the only country of the African continent that has some political weight, also took the same position. And, almost forgot – also Egypt. It is also against the sanctions. Well, it’s understandable why – because if Egypt says “yes” to the sanctions, it would stand to lose all the Russian tourists. Also, Turkey said it was against the sanctions against Russia. And, so it follows, all the countries that orient themselves around Turkey, also are against the sanctions. Even Israel’s position in this question looks very, very ambivalent.

Israel really, really does not want to quarrel with Russia. And it’s clear that Israel will continue to maneuver till the very last moment. For the leadership of Israel, the final knife in the back was the killing of an Israeli citizen by the nationalist Ukrainian soldiers, during the attempt to evacuate him, when he was mistaken for a Kadyrov Chechen mercenary associated with the pro-Russian separatists.

Also, none of the Middle Eastern countries, at least none of the significant ones, have expressed support for the sanctions against Russia. The United Arab Emirates were against, Saudi Arabia was against – moreover, it stated that it would strictly adhere to the policies of OPEC-Plus. The Americans had implored them to increase production.

It is also clear that Iran is behind Russia. So, the axis that Russia has developed in the Middle East is working and, in fact, working strictly like clockwork.

India also did not support the sanctions, although yesterday there was communication that the Bank of India was looking into the matter of halting some transactions with Russian banks but so far the matter is unresolved.

At the national level, India is saying that it is against the sanctions.

Understandably, China’s position is clear and unequivocal – China is Russia’s ally.

But, an even more interesting situation has emerged in the post-Soviet space. It is obvious and predictable that the Baltic states are supportive of the sanctions, but with the others it is not nearly as obvious. It could have been expected with the participant countries of the Eurasian Economic Union, that are part of the CSTO. Naturally, all of them have supported Russia. However, two countries which Ukraine depended on heavily, Moldova and Georgia, did not support the sanctions. Even Georgia, did not support Ukraine in the sanctions against Russia. Also, Moldova – I remind you that today Moldova has a pro-Europe government. So, it appears that in the post-Soviet space, none of the countries, except the three little Baltic limitrophe states, supported the sanctions against Russia. Even the ones that Ukraine really counted on – Moldova and Georgia.

This raises a very legitimate question – so, “who is the whole world with”?

Is the “whole world” – the USA plus the better part of Europe, the sum total population of which comprises less than 20% of the world’s population, and represents less than about 50% of the world GDP? Again, this figure includes and is based on fake, digital GDP numbers, which exist only on paper.

Therefore, we can see that on a diplomatic level, Russia prepared for this war very well.

Russia’s alliances and her allies work. It also means that all the countries of the world understand perfectly well what the battle that has unfurled in Ukraine is all about.

It is not a battle between Ukraine and Russia. Of course, not.

It is a battle of the USA against Russia and China – the destruction of that world where the Anglo-Saxon dominated countries are the leaders. It is perfectly understandable, why most of the countries that are not part of this European and North American bloc, wish to see the victory of China and Russia.

So, unfortunately I have to disappoint President Zelensky and the Ukrainian nationalists, who believe “the whole world is with us”. No, far from it.

In fact, the greater part of the world is not with you. Even Moldova and Georgia are not with you. That is what I wanted to say in this release. So, that is all for now on this subject matter. Please wait for the review on all fronts. I think it will come out somewhere around noon to 1:00pm.

See you soon.

Russia Ministry of Foreign Affairs: Western countries’ false accusations against Russia in the context of numerous historical examples of the West-fabricated pretexts for aggression

February 21, 2022

I would very much encourage you to read and listen to Andrei Martyanov’s article and youtube from yesterday.  Here it is, titled Why Would Putin Say This.  His talk and writing are about Mr. Putin’s statement of genocide in the Donbass.  Martyanov reckons that a world reckoning may be incoming.


https://mid.ru/en/press_service/articles_and_rebuttals/rebuttals/nedostovernie-publikacii/1799521/

Below, we have presented false statements by Western officials concerning Russia’s alleged fabrication of pretexts to invade Ukraine as well as numerous examples from the past demonstrating who in fact has been consistently creating false excuses to act aggressively against a foreign country.

Thus, London and Washington are the historical champions in fabricating pretexts for destructive actions, including the invasion of other states.

Clearly, the current long-term marathon of information terror is in the vein of the West’s traditional policy. With the prompting from the US and UK ruling circles, the world’s leading media are whipping up hysteria to brainwash their audiences and create a new reality by convincing everyone of Russia’s “imminent invasion of Ukraine”.

The volume of fake news fabricated and disseminated by US and European media outlets has grown by many times over the past few months. The collective West is planting more and more reports on the dates of Russia’s alleged invasion of Ukraine and non-existent attack plans while hypocritically denying the fact that Donbass residents are suffering from the crimes of the Kiev regime.

For our part, we are taking regular steps to disavow these allegations. Below, we have presented false statements by Western officials concerning Russia’s alleged fabrication of pretexts to invade Ukraine as well as numerous examples from the past demonstrating who in fact has been consistently creating false excuses to act aggressively against a foreign country.

Statements by US, NATO and UK officials on Russia’s alleged fabrications of pretexts to invade Ukraine

Pentagon Press Secretary John F. Kirby on January 14:

“Without getting into too much detail, we do have information that indicates that Russia is already working actively to create a pretext for a potential invasion, a move on Ukraine.”

US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan on January 14:

“Our intelligence community has developed information that Russia is laying the groundwork to have the option of fabricating a pretext for an invasion, including through sabotage activities and information operations, by accusing Ukraine of preparing an imminent attack against Russian forces in Eastern Ukraine.”

UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss on February 17:

“Reports of alleged abnormal military activity by Ukraine in Donbass are a blatant attempt by the Russian government to fabricate pretexts for invasion.”

US Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken on February 17:

“In response to this manufactured provocation, the highest levels of the Russian Government may theatrically convene emergency meetings to address the so-called crisis. The government will issue proclamations declaring that Russia must respond to defend Russian citizens or ethnic Russians in Ukraine.”

According to the secretary of state, first Russia will manufacture a pretext to start a war. Blinken suggests that it could be, for example, a terrorist attack in Russia itself, a staged drone strike against civilians, or a staged – or even actual – sabotage using chemical weapons. Blinken says Russian media outlets have already started pushing the provocation story.

US President Joe Biden on February 17:

“They have not moved any of their troops out. They’ve moved more troops in, number one. Number two, we have reason to believe that they are engaged in a false-flag operation to have an excuse to go in. Every indication we have is they’re prepared to go into Ukraine, attack Ukraine.”

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson on February 17:

“I wish I could give everybody better news about this [Ukraine] but I have to tell you that the picture is continuing to be very grim. Today, as I am sure you have already picked up, a kindergarten was shelled in what we are taking to be a false-flag operation designed to discredit the Ukrainians, designed to create a pretext, a spurious provocation for Russian action.”

US Department of State spokesperson on February 18:

The United States is considering reports of evacuation and explosions in Donbass as an excuse for a false-flag operation against Ukraine, the official spokesperson for the US Department of State told RIA Novosti.

“Announcements like these are further attempts to obscure through lies and disinformation that Russia is the aggressor in this conflict. This type of false flag operation is exactly what Secretary Blinken highlighted in his remarks to the UN Security Council.”

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on February 20:

“We are concerned that Russia is trying to stage a pretext for an armed attack against Ukraine, there is still no clarity, no certainty about the Russian intentions.”

Examples of Western countries fabricating pretexts for aggression against other states

Below is a brief review (the list is far from complete) of provocations prepared by the US and Great Britain, in particular, which show clearly the kinds of tools that have long been an integral part of the foreign policy of the Anglo-Saxons and their allies. We would also like to note our detailed report, Political Crimes Committed by the UK, dated April 19, 2018.

Latin America has been the main region of concentration for the US’s constant control and interference ever since the Monroe Doctrine was announced on December 2, 1823. For almost 200 years now, the US has been trying to dictate how and by what standards Latin Americans should live. The region became a testing ground for Washington’s intervention technology, later to be used all over the world. The most common (and cynical) excuses for incursions south of the US border have been:

  1. The protection of American citizens like in Haiti in 1922: “The crisis… called for immediate and vigorous action by the Navy to protect the lives and property of Americans and foreigners, and to restore order throughout this distressed country.” (From a report by Secretary of State Robert Lansing to Congress.)
  2. The delegitimization of official authorities, which is most often related to Washington’s dissatisfaction with sovereign electoral processes in Latin American countries. As US President Woodrow Wilson said after his inauguration in March 1913: “I am going to teach the Latin American republics to elect good men!”

In June 1835, an armed rebellion was organised by the American colonists living in Texas, which belong to Mexico at the time, against the Mexican authorities. A close friend of President Andrew Jackson, Colonel Samuel Houston, was sent there to seize the territory. At the same time, the US provided massive support (sending volunteers, weapons, and ammunition) to the rebels, who soon declared “independence” in Texas, and in March 1837 recognised it as an “independent state.”

The Mexican-American War of 1846-1848. The border between Mexico and Texas, previously annexed with the direct involvement of the US authorities, served as a pretext to start hostilities. American troops occupied the disputed area between the Nueces and Rio Grande rivers and blocked Mexican ports, which forced Mexico to declare war. Soon after the first skirmishes, US President James K. Polk, who had previously intended to justify the war with financial claims, turned to Congress, declaring that the Mexicans “invaded our territory and shed American blood on American soil.” Mexico lost the war and had to recognise Texas as part of the US. It lost more than half its territory, including today’s California, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, and Utah.

The Anglo-French-Spanish intervention in Mexico in 1861-1867. The Government of Benito Juarez, who came to power after the Mexican Civil War 1858-1861, refused to recognise the debts of the previous allegedly unconstitutional authorities to foreign powers, which triggered its largest creditors – Great Britain, France and Spain – to intervene.

It is noteworthy that part of the British “media” preparation for the intervention took the form of a campaign in The Times with news of “terrible riots in Mexico where foreigners are suffering.” In turn, Paris quickly granted French citizenship to a Swiss banker whose debt Mexico City also refused to pay off, which served as yet another reason to legitimise the intervention.

London and Madrid soon withdrew from the war while French troops captured most of the Mexican territory. A referendum was held during the military occupation, where a majority of the population voted for the establishment of a monarchy. Archduke Maximilian, brother of the Austrian emperor Franz Joseph, then ascended to the imperial throne. After the invaders lost in 1867, the republic, led by President Benito Juarez, was restored in Mexico.

1854, Nicaragua. The Americans razed San Juan del Sur to the ground, a purely civilian town in Nicaragua, after the US Ambassador was slapped in the face for obstructing the prosecution of an American citizen suspected of murder.

In 1856-1857, American mercenaries led by Willian Walker staged a coup to seize power in Nicaragua. The United States recognised Walker as the legitimate president. He surrendered and was repatriated through the combined efforts of Central American states.

In the 1890s, the Americans occupied Nicaraguan ports several times. In 1909, relations with Washington soured again, the legitimate government of Nicaragua was overthrown, and American troops invaded the country. The United States occupied Nicaragua from 1912 to 1933, leaving the country only after the victory of the guerrillas led by Augusto Sandino.

February 15, 1898. The USS Maine, anchored off Havana, Cuba (then a Spanish colony), exploded and sank. A US commission investigating the incident came to the unsubstantiated conclusion that the ship had been sunk by an external explosion. The United States put the blame on Spain, using the incident to launch a war the result of which was taking over Puerto Rico, the Philippines and Guam. Cuba was declared an independent state but remained under strong US influence. Under the Cuban constitution, the United States could station troops on the island until 1934. After the USS Maine was lifted in 1912, and after new investigations by several US commissions, it was established that the explosion had been caused by spontaneous combustion in the coal bunkers.

During the 1910-1917 revolution in Mexico, the United States occupied the port of Veracruz after eight American sailors were arrested by the Mexican military patrol for entering off-limit areas in Tampico in April 1914. Although the sailors were released as soon as the circumstances were clarified and the Mexicans offered an oral apology, Washington sent an ultimatum demanding a written apology within 24 hours and a 21-gun salute to show respect for the American flag. When Mexico refused to honour that humiliating demand, US Marines landed in Veracruz and held it until November 1914.

In 1937, a military coup was staged in Nicaragua with US military assistance, as a result of which the Somoza dynasty held power in the country until 1979, when the people, led by the Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN), replaced the Anastasio Somoza regime with the government of FSLN leader Daniel Ortega. This provoked the opposition of the anti-government fighters (contras), supported by the United States, to engage in a civil war, which lasted from 1981 and until 1990. When the US Congress officially prohibited the financing of the contras, the CIA provided the money covertly. The fact of direct US interference in Nicaragua was reaffirmed in the verdict handed down on July 27, 1986, by the International Court of Justice in The Hague within the framework of the Iran-Contra affair.

Several attempts have been made over the years since then to overthrow the Sandinista government under the pretext of protecting democracy and human rights. The last attempt was in April 2018, when a state coup was provoked against the backdrop of public unrest incited by external forces.

April 1961, Cuba. The Bay of Pigs Invasion is a failed attempt by American mercenaries to invade Cuba and a textbook example of US interventionist policy. The 1962 blockade of Cuba (John F. Kennedy’s Embargo on All Trade with Cuba) and the subsequent numerous measures to increase the sanctions against Havana, such as the 1992 Torricelli Act and the 1996 Helms-Burton Act, add up to an open economic aggression, which the United States has conducted despite international condemnation, including at the UN General Assembly.

After a short-lived thaw during the Obama administration, President Donald Trump resumed the policy of restrictions and added several new sanctions against Cuba. The Biden administration is pursuing the same policy. In May 2021, Cuba was again put on the State Sponsors of Terrorism list. In July 2021, it was listed as a country that does not satisfy US standards for combatting trafficking in persons.

On September 7, 2021, President Biden extended trade restrictions with Cuba for another year. On December 21, 2021, the US Department of State reaffirmed Cuba’s position on the Trafficking in Persons list. In November 2021 and in January 2022, Washington adopted two packages of visa restrictions against Cuban officials over their alleged connection to suppressing protests in July and November 2021.

August 1953, Iran. The CIA and the UK Secret Intelligence Service orchestrated the joint Operation Ajax to topple Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh and his government who had nationalised the Iranian oil industry. The goal was to restore Western control over the country’s oil revenues and to create favourable conditions for pro-Western Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi to return from exile.

London and Washington started their seditious activity against Mohammad Mossadegh with an international boycott of Iranian oil products. Then a full-scale information campaign was launched against the prime minister and his associates based on fabricated news about cooperation with Communists. That Anglo-American manipulation of public opinion, coupled with the palm greasing of Iran’s military and political elite, put General Fazlollah Zahedi’s puppet leadership in power. At the demand of his foreign bosses, he signed fettering oil contracts.

August 2 and 4, 1964, Vietnam —the Gulf of Tonkin incident. On August 7, 1964, US President Lyndon B. Johnson pushed Congress to adopt a resolution that granted him the right “to take all necessary measures to repel any armed attack against the forces of the United States” in Southeast Asia. The alleged bombing of US destroyers by torpedo boats of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam in the Gulf of Tonkin the day before served as the formal pretext. Later, the Senate commission admitted that the reports of the incident had been intentionally distorted in order to launch military operations in Vietnam.

On April 28, 1965, the US Marine Corps started an intervention in Barahona and Haina, Dominican Republic. US President Lyndon B. Johnson claimed that the military intervention was necessary to protect US citizens in the civil war in the country after Francisco Caamano’s leftist government came to power. The country was occupied until July 28, 1966.

On September 11, 1973, with direct support from the United States, a military coup took place in Chile, deposing democratically elected president Salvador Allende and establishing the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet that lasted for a long 17 years, and that included executions, harsh repressions and deep discord in Chilean society.

In 1982 in Guatemala, extensive efforts by US intelligence to create certain newsworthy events put a military government in power. In the 1990s, the United States provided military aid to Guatemala’s pro-American government allegedly to fight Communism, a fight that was in reality manifested in mass murders. By 1998, 200,000 people had fallen victim to this “fighting,” tens of thousands had fled to Mexico and over a million had become internally displaced persons.

On October 25, 1983 United States military units and a coalition of six Caribbean countries invaded Grenada to topple the government of Maurice Bishop, who was unwanted by Washington. An official appeal for help from the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States following conflicts inside the People’s Revolutionary Government of Grenada served as a pretext for the operation. Maurice Bishop was killed as a result. The US administration claimed that the military intervention was necessary due to “concerns over the 600 US medical students on the island.” The invasion was criticised by a number of countries, including Canada. On November 2, 1983, the UN General Assembly also condemned the military operation as a “flagrant violation of international law” (108 countries voted for the resolution and nine against).

Since 1986 in Colombia, so-called social cleansing was conducted as part of the US policy to support favoured regimes, allegedly to counter drug trafficking. Trade union leaders and members of any movement or organisation with at least some influence, as well as farmers and unwanted politicians were eliminated. Tens of thousands of people were killed as a result.

1989, Panama —The United States invades Panama. Formally George H. W. Bush announced Operation Just Cause on December 21, 1989 to protect American citizens and ensure the security of the Panama Canal in accordance with the Torrijos-Carter Treaties, as well as to restore democracy and bring the informal leader of Panama, Manuel Noriega, to trial after accusing him of supporting drug trafficking. At the same time, Panamanian analysts noted that the real goal of the Americans was to install a government loyal to Washington, since the Manuel Noriega regime had begun distancing itself from Washington, something that did not fit into the US’s strategy to ensure reliable control over the Panama Canal.

The immediate reason for the American aggression was the alleged killing by Panamanian defence forces of an American Marine who was “lost” on Panamanian territory. In fact, a later investigation showed that this Marine and others in his unit were part of a special group acting under US Naval Intelligence, whose task was to provoke an open conflict with the Panamanian military. This armed group ignored Panamanian Defence Forces’ roadblocks, despite the warning signs, as well as orders to stop, and shot several local residents, including a child. In this situation, the Panamanian military simply had to use weapons; as a result, one of the attackers was killed.

American media reports that several bags of cocaine were allegedly found in a house frequented by Manuel Noriega was another fabrication that the US used to intervene. These bags allegedly confirmed the link between the Panamanian leader and drug traffickers, but during the search, ordinary flour was found instead of drugs, something that was later acknowledged by the US military.

During the invasion of Panama on December 20, 1989, the lawful Panamanian authorities were brought down, and the country found itself occupied by American troops for some time. According to the local association for victims’ relatives, the Americans committed numerous war crimes, including massacres of civilians (about 4,000).

March 24 – June 10, 1999 —Operation Allied Force against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. American citizen William Walker, head of the OSCE Kosovo Verification Mission, made big news with a completely false allegation of a civilian massacre in the village of Racak (January 1999). It was proven later that these civilians were armed militants killed in action. The European Union later established this beyond a doubt. Back then, William Walker announced publicly that it was an act of genocide. He took it upon himself to announce the withdrawal of the OSCE mission from Kosovo. In fact, this was used as a trigger for NATO’s aggression against the former state of Yugoslavia.

March 20 – April 9, 2003, Iraq —The US and its allies invade Iraq to overthrow Saddam Hussein. For 12 years, the UN Special Commission (UNSCOM) and then the UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC) had been searching Iraq for hidden stocks of biological, chemical and other weapons of mass destruction (WMD), the existence of which Baghdad denied. Nevertheless, during a UN Security Council meeting on February 5, 2003, US Secretary of State Colin Powell accused Iraqi leaders of manufacturing WMDs and showed a vial of white powder, which allegedly contained anthrax found in Iraq: “The facts and Iraq’s behaviour show that Saddam Hussein and his regime are concealing their efforts to produce more weapons of mass destruction. There can be no doubt that Saddam Hussein has biological weapons and the capability to rapidly produce more, many more. My colleagues, every statement I make today is backed up by sources, solid sources. These are not assertions…”

The powder did not convince the UN Security Council members, and they refused to sanction the invasion of Iraq. But that did not stop the Americans. In March-April 2003, under the pretext that these notorious WMDs must be destroyed, the United States, with support from its allies, launched an armed invasion of Iraq in violation of international law, which led to an occupation of the country. The legitimate president, Saddam Hussein, was overthrown and executed, and the country was plunged into many years of chaos, from which it has not fully recovered to this day.

No biological, chemical or nuclear weapons were ever found after the destruction of Iraq, and Powell apologised publicly. In July 2016, a British independent commission led by John Chilcot, which had been investigating Britain’s participation in the military campaign in Iraq for seven years, announced the results of its inquiry. Conclusion: the invasion in Iraq was a “terrible mistake,” and the Tony Blair government’s decision to become involved was “hasty” and “based on inadequate evidence.” Even Tony Blair himself admitted that the invasion of Iraq had been carried out on the basis of false intelligence and that the actions by the Western coalition, in effect, facilitated the rise of ISIS. Тhe former prime minister apologised to the families of the British soldiers who died in Iraq but somehow, in a typical British manner, forgot to apologise to the families of the murdered Iraqis.

the London played a particularly important role in this respect. It initiated a series of provocations starting with the Litvinenko case in 2006. Under the far-fetched excuse that Moscow refused to contribute to the investigation into his being poisoned, the United Kingdom imposed a number of sanctions on Russia in July 2007. Thus, it expelled four Russian diplomats from the country, suspended all contact with the Russian Federal Security Service and any work on military-technical agreements or a bilateral agreement on easing visa requirements. In addition, Britain insisted on the extradition of Russian citizen Andrey Lugovoy, which would be a crude violation of our constitution.

Russia was cooperating with its British colleagues in good faith, but London did not reciprocate. The Russian Prosecutor General’s Office informed its British colleagues that if they provided the relevant materials, it would be willing to conduct legal proceedings in Russia.

In August 2014, the Investigative Committee of Russia had to refuse to take part in Britain’s public inquiry into this case. The problem was that, contrary to its name, it was not transparent for Russia. Hence, there were serious apprehensions about its potential for politicisation. Our apprehensions were eventually justified. Hearings on the open part of the “public inquiry” abounded in references to “secrecy,” various kinds of insinuations and undisguised bias, in part, as regards witness testimony that did not fit into the prosecution’s “general line.”

In September 2014, a US-led international anti-terrorist coalition was established in Iraq and Syria to counter ISIS. Indicatively, the SAR government was never asked for an agreement on the deployment of the coalition’s forces in this sovereign country. All coalition operations have been conducted without coordination with the lawful Syrian authorities under the pretext of implementing the right to self-defence as envisaged by Article 51 of the UN Charter.

The Syrian leaders have repeatedly called on the UN Security Council to hold the United States and its allies responsible for their actions. The coalition’s air forces have regularly subjected Syrian infrastructure, including oil facilities in ISIS-controlled areas, to massive attacks. According to the Syrian Ministry of Oil and Mineral Resources, during the crisis, the oil-and-gas sector alone has sustained damaged of over $100 billion from these illegal actions and the continuing foreign occupation of parts of Syrian territory. Attacks have frequently targeted government troop units, after which the militants launch an offensive. Thus, airstrikes at Syrian Army positions in Deir ez-Zor killed 62 Syrian army personnel and wounded over 100 people. ISIS militants used this opportunity to seize the front lines of the besieged garrison’s defence in Deir ez-Zor that was surrounded by terrorists.

In April 2017 and April 2018, cases of fabricated uses of chemical weapons by Damascus, actually staged by Western secret services with the help of the notorious pseudo-humanitarian White Helmets (*) were used by NATO allies as a pretext for massive missile strikes at Syrian military and civilian facilities.

Accusations based on the fabricated use of “chemical weapons” and other false reports on Damascus’ alleged crimes (for instance, in Douma on April 7, 2018) became a dominant trend in the Western information war against the SAR. The persistent brainwashing of public opinion allowed the West to adopt the toughest, repressive measures and sanctions at the legal level, like the Caesar Act, which is pushing Syria towards a humanitarian disaster and is preventing post-crisis recovery and the return of millions of refugees.

(*) White Helmets (WH) NGO as a tool for staging fake chemical incidents in Syria.

The United State and Great Britain have actively relied on information from the WH for levelling accusations against the Syrian government by claiming that Damascus used chemical weapons. The UK later used these would-be accusations to buttress their line within the OPCW when they pushed for the introduction of an attributive mechanism to investigate and “punish” states for using chemical weapons.

The White Helmets is an informal designation of Syria Civil Defence, a non-governmental organisation that was formed in 2014 in Idlib as an umbrella structure for various rescue teams operating on Syrian territory not controlled by official Damascus.

The WH have been exposed multiple times for fabricating and planting fake news in the information space, including the following instances:

  • Even before Russia’s Aerospace Forces launched their counterterrorism operation in Syria in October 2015, the WH arranged for new stories to emerge from the West Bank, Palestinian territory, on the “victims from airstrikes by the Russian military.”
  • In September 2016, humanitarian organisations offered to evacuate a girl from Aleppo, who reported on Twitter about the “regime’s atrocities.” It turned out that it was an English-speaking WH activist who had written these Twitter posts in the girl’s name.
  • In December 2016, the Egyptian police in Port Said detained a group of WH activists who were filming what they presented as true reports about a “girl in Aleppo covered in blood.”
  • In late April and early May 2017, WH members and Al Jazeera worked on a report on what they claimed was a “chemical weapons attack by the Syrian regime” in Saraqib, Idlib, but this incident never happened.

In some cases, the organisation recognised the fact that it was spreading “posed news stories” and justified its actions by the need to “to raise awareness of the suffering of the Syrian people.”

Some of the stories planted by the WH resulted from their ties to terrorist groups, as Stephen Kinzer, a reporter with The Boston Globe, a US newspaper, pointed out. He wrote that on March 16, 2015, the Sarmin Coordination Committee provided to the WH what it presented as video materials exposing the Syrian government, and the CNN, an American television network, then gave these materials a lot of publicity. However, it turned out later that this “committee” was affiliated with al-Qaeda. This led Stephen Kinzer to the conclusion that the American TV network relayed al-Qaeda propaganda to the international public opinion.

Experts from the World Health Organisation’s office in Damascus were also critical of the White Helmets, saying that the WH, together with Doctors Without Borders and the so-called Syrian American Medical Society, were spreading misinformation and planting fake news on Syrian territories controlled by illegal armed groups, including by releasing fake reports on “destroyed hospitals in Aleppo,” and “mass starvation” in the besieged areas. In their undertakings the WH officials use as their cover the so-called UN cross-border humanitarian mechanism in Gaziantep, Turkey, whose financing bypasses the UN’s official call for humanitarian assistance.

Respected politicians and civil society figures from Australia, Bulgaria, Canada, France, Slovakia, and the United States, acting independently from one another, have been exposing planted fake news, misinformation, and fabrications.

March 2018, the Skripal case. London used the incident in Salisbury linked with the suspected poisoning of former GRU employee Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia as a provocation against Russia. Without waiting for the results of its own investigation and ignoring an opportunity of using legal mechanisms and formats, including the OPCW and the European Convention on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters, the British government announced a number of unfriendly acts as regards the Russian Federation.

London expelled 23 Russian diplomats; drafted “new legislative powers to harden defences against all forms of hostile state activity”; adopted amendments to the draft law on sanctions so as to “strengthen powers to impose sanctions in response to the violation of human rights”; strengthened border control; threatened to “freeze Russian state assets where there is evidence that they may be used to threaten the life or property of UK nationals”; promised to take all the “necessary steps against organised crime and corrupt elites”; suspended all high-level bilateral contacts, in part, rescinded the invitation to Sergey Lavrov to visit the UK; cancelled the visit to the 2019 World Cup by members of the royal family and the government; and adopted other measures that “cannot be made public for reasons of national security.”

In addition, the British government initiated the further exacerbation of tensions by engineering the expulsion of Russian diplomats by some other countries, mostly from the EU and NATO.

Speaking in parliament in September 2018, the then British Prime Minister Theresa May said the Crown Prosecution Service was ready to bring charges for the attempted murder of the Skripals against two Russian nationals – Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Bashirov. She said they are “officers from the Russian military intelligence also known as the GRU.” According to Theresa May, Petrov and Bashirov were “names believed to be aliases” used to penetrate the UK for the attempted murder of the Skipal family in Salisbury.

In her address to the MPs, Theresa May emphasised that only Russia had the technical means and operational experience of using the toxic agent – the so-called Novichok. She referred to a report of the OPCW Secretariat on the results of the inquiry into the Amesbury incident. However, this report does not contain any references to the origin of the toxic agent and does not use the term “Novichok.”

On September 21, 2021, the British law enforcement bodies announced their decision to bring charges against a third Russian citizen “involved in the Skripal case” – a certain Sergey Fedotov. Commenting on a new turn in this case in her speech to the British Parliament, Britain’s Home Secretary Priti Patel emphasised London’s intention to continue the toughest possible response to the persisting considerable threat from Russia until relations with its Government improve.

Speaking on November 18, 2021, Secretary Patel said: “We are establishing an inquiry to ensure that all relevant evidence can be considered, with the hope that the family of Dawn Sturgess will get the answers they need and deserve.” According to British officials, Dawn Sturgess, a British national, was poisoned by the nerve gas “Novichok” in Amesbury in 2018. The planned political process has nothing to do with justice. Its only goal is to lay the blame for these events on Moscow without any proof and at the same time put it into a kind of a “legal framework.”

That said, British officials have not yet replied to our numerous requests for clear answers to our questions regarding many incongruities in the “Skripal case.”

During contact with our British colleagues, we have consistently insisted on a professional and unbiased approach to investigating all the circumstances of the incident. We have repeatedly told London about our readiness to cooperate via law enforcement bodies and experts, if our British partners are truly interested in investigating the crime.

Venezuela held presidential elections on May 20, 2018. For political reasons the US has failed to recognize the legitimacy of winning candidate Nicolas Maduro, while it has also failed to provide any evidence of election fraud. In January 2019 Washington recognized Juan Guaido, a Venezuelan MP, as “interim president of Venezuela” in violation of the country’s constitution, after which the US Department of the Treasury sought to “support the people of Venezuela in their efforts to restore democracy” by sanctioning the country’s central bank and key sectors of the economy, mainly the petroleum industry, which generates most of the country’s revenues. There is a de-facto petroleum embargo and an embargo on petroleum products exports to Venezuela, the assets and accounts of Venezuela in Western banks have been frozen, and the country cannot borrow on foreign markets. As of now, the cumulative cost of US sanctions against Venezuela ranges from between $130 billion and $258 billion. The sanctions pressure is sapping Venezuela’s economy, and undermining the government’s ability to purchase necessities, including vaccines, medical equipment and drugs to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. According to estimates by the leading economist at Columbia University, Jeffrey Sachs, US sector-wide sanctions have led to the death of 40,000 Venezuelans.
According to UNHRC Special Rapporteur, Alena Douhan, “sanctions have exacerbated the pre-existing economic and social crisis,” and crisis in development, “with a devastating effect on the entire population.” Today, Venezuela faces “a lack of necessary machinery, spare parts, electricity, water, fuel, gas, food and medicine,” as well as qualified personnel, namely, “doctors, nurses, engineers, teachers, professors, judges, police officers.” This situation has had “a great impact on all categories of human rights including the right to life, food, health and development.”
Bolivia has faced many coups orchestrated by the US and its allies. The coup of 2019 is the more salient example. President Evo Morales was illegally removed from office following a colour revolution-style campaign in domestic and international media about alleged election fraud, which was encouraged by the leaders of the Organisation of American States (OAS). Meanwhile, Western ambassadors took a direct role in promoting Jeanine Anez to the presidency, in clear violation of constitutional procedures, in particular, discussing domestic Bolivian policy at unofficial meetings at Catholic University of Bolivia on November 11 and 12, 2019. The ensuing clashes in the cities of Sacaba and Senkata between demonstrators and the police that sought to forcefully disperse them claimed the lives of almost 40 people.

Another instance of US interference in Bolivia’s domestic affairs was the events of 2008 that forced President Evo Morales to expel US Ambassador Philip Goldberg, who, per Bolivian government sources, met with the leaders of the city of Santa Cruz to discuss the secession of eastern departments from Bolivia. This discussion took place amid separatist demonstrations that damaged a Bolivian-Brazilian gas pipeline and killed 30 locals.

Moreover, the West put on an egregious display of disregard for international law and of engineering a pretext to breach the inviolability of a top Bolivian official when Evo Morales’ presidential plane was forced to land in Vienna on July 2, 2013 following his visit to Moscow. Spain, France, Portugal and Italy closed their airspace on suspicions that Edward Snowden was aboard the presidential plane. The then Spain’s Foreign Minister Jose Garcia-Margallo made public the receipt of this intelligence without naming its source. This provocation resulted in the humiliating inspection of the Bolivian President’s aircraft to confirm Edward Snowden’s absence. A day later, Department of State Spokesperson Jen Psaki acknowledged during a press briefing that the US had been “in contact with a range of countries across the world who had any chance of having Mr Snowden land or even transit through their countries.”

January 3, 2020. Major General Qasem Soleimani, commander of the Quds Force, a unit of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), was killed by a US drone strike at Baghdad Airport, Iraq. The Iranian military leader was on the US sanctions lists for the alleged “activities to disseminate disinformation” and assistance to the lawful Syrian government. The elimination of an official of one country on the territory of a third country is an unprecedented move. Many experts qualify this US crime as an act of state terrorism.

August 2020, the “poisoning” of Alexey Navalny. The EU, the UK and the United States imposed sanctions against a number of Russian citizens and GosNIIOKhT (State Research Institute of Organic Chemistry and Technology) for the alleged involvement in Navalny’s poisoning with “Novichok.” They did not cite any facts or evidence of their involvement.

In August 2021, the British Government announced the imposition of sanctions as part of its national sanction regime under far-fetched and absurd pretexts. These were personal restrictions as regards “the individuals directly responsible for carrying out the poisoning of Mr Navalny.”

It was claimed that the imposed sanctions seriously curtailed Russia’s ostensibly irresponsible and harmful behaviour and were a logical extension of the October 6, 2020 OPCW statement, which “confirmed” the conclusions of three independent international laboratories on Navalny’s poisoning by a nerve agent from the “Novichok” group.

***

Thus, London and Washington are the historical champions in fabricating pretexts for destructive actions, including the invasion of other states, their occupation, inflicting damage with destructive strikes and use of illegal sanctions, to name a few.

Clearly, the current long-term marathon of information terror is in the vein of the West’s traditional policy. With the prompting from the US and UK ruling circles, the world’s leading media are whipping up hysteria to brainwash their audiences and create a new reality by convincing everyone of Russia’s “imminent invasion of Ukraine” with endless repetitions of Russophobic reports.

Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua: The US-Russia Conflict Enters a New Phase

February 7, 2022

By Ramzy Baroud

As soon as Moscow received an American response to its security demands in Ukraine, it answered indirectly by announcing greater military integration between it and three South American countries, Nicaragua, Venezuela and Cuba.

Washington’s response, on January 26, to Russia’s demands of withdrawing NATO forces from Eastern Europe and ending talks about a possible Kyiv membership in the US-led alliance, was noncommittal.

For its part, the US spoke of ‘a diplomatic path’, which will address Russian demands through ‘confidence-building measures’. For Russia, such elusive language is clearly a non-starter.

On that same day, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov announced, in front of the Duma, Russia’s parliament, that his country “has agreed with the leaders of Cuba, Venezuela, and Nicaragua to develop partnerships in a range of areas, including stepping up military collaboration,” Russia Today reported.

The timing of this agreement was hardly coincidental, of course. The country’s Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov did not hesitate to link the move to the brewing Russia- NATO conflict. Russia’s strategy in South America could potentially be “involving the Russian Navy,” if the US continues to ‘provoke’ Russia. According to Ryabkov, this is Russia’s version of the “American style (of having) several options for its foreign and military policy”.

Now that the Russians are not hiding the motives behind their military engagement in South America, going as far as considering the option of sending troops to the region, Washington is being forced to seriously consider the new variable.

Though US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan denied that Russian military presence in South America was considered in recent security talks between both countries, he described the agreement between Russia and the three South American countries as unacceptable, vowing that the US would react “decisively” to such a scenario.

The truth is, that scenario has already played out in the past. When, in January 2019, the US increased its pressure on Venezuela’s President Nicolás Maduro to concede power to the US-backed Juan Guaido, a coup seemed imminent. Chaos in the streets of Caracas, and other Venezuelan cities, mass electric outages, lack of basic food and supplies, all seemed part of an orchestrated attempt at subduing Venezuela, which has for years championed a political discourse that is based on independent and well-integrated South American countries.

For weeks, Washington continued to tighten the pressure valves imposing hundreds of sanction orders against Venezuelan entities, state-run companies and individuals. This led to Caracas’ decision to sever diplomatic ties with Washington. Ultimately, Moscow stepped in, sending in March 2019 two military planes full of troops and equipment to prevent any possible attempt at overthrowing Maduro. In the following months, Russian companies poured in to help Venezuela out of its devastating crisis, instigating another US-Russia conflict, where Washington resorted to its favorite weapon, sanctions, this time against Russian oil companies.

The reason that Russia is keen on maintaining a geostrategic presence in South America is due to the fact that a stronger Russian role in that region is coveted by several countries who are desperate to loosen Washington’s grip on their economies and political institutions.

Countries like Cuba, for example, have very little trust in the US. After having some of the decades-long sanctions lifted on Havana during the Obama administration in 2016, new sanctions were imposed during the Trump administration in 2021. That lack of trust in Washington’s political mood swings makes Cuba the perfect ally for Russia. The same logic applies to other South American countries.

It is still too early to speak with certainty about the future of Russia’s military presence in South America. What is clear, though, is the fact that Russia will continue to build on its geostrategic presence in South America, which is also strengthened by the greater economic integration between China and most South American countries. Thanks to the dual US political and economic war on Moscow and Beijing, both countries have fortified their alliance like never before.

What options does this new reality leave Washington with? Not many, especially as Washington has, for years, failed to defeat Maduro in Venezuela or to sway Cuba and others to join the pro-American camp.

Much of the outcome, however, is also dependent on whether Moscow sees itself as part of a protracted geostrategic game in South America. So far, there is little evidence to suggest that Moscow is using South America as a temporary card to be exchanged, when the time comes, for US and NATO concessions in Eastern Europe. Russia is clearly digging its heels, readying itself for the long haul.

For now, Moscow’s message to Washington is that Russia has plenty of options and that it is capable of responding to US pressure with equal or greater pressure. Indeed, if Ukraine is Russia’s redline, then South America – which has fallen under US influence since the Monroe Doctrine of 1823 – is the US’s own hemispheric redline.

As the plot thickens in Eastern Europe, Russia’s move in South America promises to add a new component that would make a win-lose scenario in favor of the US and NATO nearly impossible. An alternative outcome is for the US-led alliance to recognize the momentous changes on the world’s geopolitical map, and to simply learn to live with it.

– Ramzy Baroud is a journalist and the Editor of The Palestine Chronicle. He is the author of six books. His latest book, co-edited with Ilan Pappé, is “Our Vision for Liberation: Engaged Palestinian Leaders and Intellectuals Speak out”. Dr. Baroud is a Non-resident Senior Research Fellow at the Center for Islam and Global Affairs (CIGA). His website is www.ramzybaroud.net

Sitrep Argentina: Odious debt and Belt and Road

February 07, 2022

The president of Argentina as a matter of urgency approached President Putin in the day before President Putin left for Beijing.  They needed help with odious debt that the country entered into with the IMF.  This is the sequence of events in the last few days:

And then, one of the most interesting points in the second tweet: China reaffirmed its support for Argentina’s demand to fully exercise sovereignty over the Malvinas.

This is then how Zone B grows, with countries saying they have had enough of hegemony and taking clear steps to help themselves.


Short report by Amarynth

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s interview with radio stations, January 28, 2022

January 29, 2022

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s interview with Sputnik, Echo of Moscow, Govorit Moskva and Komsomolskaya Pravda radio stations, Moscow, January 28, 2022

Question: Will there be a war? We sent them our proposals, we waited for their response, and we got their response. Their answer did not suit us, which was to be expected. Before that, we said and made clear through different representatives that if their response does not suit us, we reserve the right to respond and protect our interests forcefully. Can you explain what that means and what are we going to do? We aren’t going to make McDonald’s illegal after all, are we? If I may quote my subscribers, they frame this question as follows: “When are we going to hit Washington?”, “Will there be a war?”, “How long are we going to procrastinate?”, “Will there be a war?”

Sergey Lavrov: If it depends on the Russian Federation, there will be no war. We don’t want wars, but we won’t allow anyone to trample on our interests or ignore them, either. I cannot say that the talks are over. As you are aware, it took the Americans and their NATO allies more than a month to study our extremely straightforward proposals that are part of the draft treaty with Washington and the agreement with NATO. We received their response only the day before yesterday. It is written in that typically Western style. In many ways, they are confusing the issue, but also providing kernels of rationality on secondary issues such as intermediate- and shorter-range missiles which were quite important for us at some point. When the Americans destroyed the INF Treaty, we urged them to listen to reason. President Vladimir Putin sent a message to all OSCE members suggesting that they join our unilateral moratorium when agreeing on verification measures. It was ignored. Now, it has become part of their proposals. Similarly, our initiatives that were introduced by the General Staff of the Russian Federation to conduct military exercises further away from the borders on both sides, to agree on a critical safe distance between approaching combat aircraft and ships, as well as a number of other confidence-building, deconflicting and de-escalation measures, were ignored. All of that has been rejected during the past two to three years. Now, they propose discussing this. That is, the constructive approach in these proposals has, in fact, been borrowed from Russia’s recent initiatives. I think that now, as we say in Russia, “we are getting somewhere.” To reiterate, most importantly, we should figure out the conceptual pillars that underlie European security.

In 2010 in Astana, and before that in 1999 in Istanbul, all presidents and prime ministers from the OSCE countries signed a package that contained interrelated principles to ensure the indivisibility of security. The West “ripped out” just one slogan from this package: each country has the right to choose its allies and military alliances. But in that package this right comes with a condition and an obligation on each country, to which the Westerners subscribed: not to strengthen their security at the expense of the security of others. With its mantra that the NATO open door policy is sacred and no one can say “no” to Ukraine joining the Alliance and that it’s up to Ukraine to decide, the West is, deliberately and openly, refusing even to acknowledge the second part of the commitments. Moreover, when Josep Borrell, Antony Blinken and many other colleagues of ours talk about the importance of sticking to agreed-upon principles in the context of the Euro-Atlantic security architecture, none of them ever mentions the Istanbul Declaration or the Astana Declaration. They mention the Helsinki Final Act and the 1990 Charter of Paris for a New Europe, in which there is no obligation not to strengthen one’s own security at the expense of others. Russia insisted on including this commitment in subsequent OSCE documents.

Today, as I made clear earlier, I am sending official requests to all my colleagues asking them directly to clarify how they are going to fulfill, in the current historical circumstances, the obligations that their countries have signed onto at the highest level. These are the matters of principle. Before we proceed to discussing individual practical aspects of European security, we want to see the West wriggle out of it this time.

I hope they will give an honest answer about what they have in mind when they implement these agreements in an exclusively unilateral manner that benefits them – again, completely ignoring that fact that the right to join alliances directly hinges on recognising that it is unacceptable to strengthen the security of some states at the expense of the security of others. Let’s see how they respond.

Question: If they give us the answer many experts are discussing, it will most certainly not suit us. Can it lead to a breakdown in relations? Everything we have been hearing recently from the Americans, and they are going to introduce sanctions against the leadership of our entire country, even against you…

Sergey Lavrov: What do you mean “even”? Are you saying I am not worthy of them?

Question: It has never happened in history. There has never been talk of sanctions against the Foreign Minister and the President. This is beyond the pale. Look at what is happening with our diplomats against this backdrop. Yesterday our Ambassador to the United States said that ultimately this might lead to something close to severing relations. As Anatoly Antonov said, our diplomats are simply being expelled although this is presented in a somewhat different way. What should we do? How will it look?

Sergey Lavrov: This is a multilayered question. I will start with the main point: What will we do if the West does not listen to reason? The President of Russia has already said what. If our attempts to come to terms on mutually acceptable principles of ensuring security in Europe fail to produce the desired result, we will take response measures. Asked directly what these measures might be, he said: they could come in all shapes and sizes. He will make decisions based on the proposals submitted by our military. Naturally, other departments will also take part in drafting these proposals.

Now the interdepartmental analysis of the responses received from the US and NATO is underway. Practically everyone knows what these responses are. I have made some remarks. I will note in passing that the American response is all but a model of diplomatic manners compared to NATO’s document. NATO sent us such an ideologically motivated answer, it is so permeated with its exceptional role and special mission that I even felt a bit embarrassed for whoever wrote these texts.

Our reply will be prepared. The proposals contained in our reply will be reported to the President of Russia and he will make a decision. We are developing our line at this point, including the steps that I mentioned.

As for the threats of imposing sanctions, the Americans were told, including during the presidential meeting, that the package you have just mentioned, the one that includes completely cutting off Russia from the West-controlled financial and economic systems, will be equivalent to severing relations. This was said directly. I believe they understand this. I don’t think this is in anyone’s interests.

Now a few words about their treatment of our diplomats. When I was in Washington several years ago, or, to be more precise, in December 2019, a deputy US Secretary of State under Michael Pompeo told my deputy in passing, before saying goodbye, that they were thinking of ways to streamline the functioning of our diplomatic missions on a reciprocal basis. He said American diplomats work abroad for three years. Then they are replaced, sent to a different country or returned to the central office in Washington. So they decided that our diplomats should also observe this term of three years and that’s it. We asked why we were told this on the sly and whether we were the only ones to hear it. We asked whether they had similar thoughts as regards other states, the answer was “no.”  No other country was supposed to be subjected to this experiment, just the Russian Federation. This is when we started yet another round of our diplomatic tit-for-tat. We said okay, you have a practice of sending diplomats to serve abroad for three years, and we have a practice of not hiring local personnel to work in our embassies. The Americans hired over 400 people (nationals of Russia and other countries, mostly CIS).

You probably followed this discussion. They started moaning and groaning “How come? Are you ‘unplugging’ us?” You wanted to be guided by the principle that you can do everything and impose on us what you think is right. We will do the same. This is yet another escalation of the crisis that was triggered by Barack Obama who revealed his genuine character. Three weeks before his departure from the White House, he decided to bind Donald Trump’s hands before slamming the door on the way out. He deprived us of five diplomatic properties and expelled dozens of diplomats who had to pack up all their staff with their families in three days. This was the beginning of it all.

We spoke about this again with Antony Blinken in Geneva, completing our conversation on European security. It is necessary to get back to normal in some way. We suggested starting from scratch and resetting everything to zero, beginning with this disgraceful, piddling move by Nobel Prize winner Barack Obama and everything that followed after it. Let’s wait and see. Another meeting is supposed to take place in the next couple of weeks. The Americans are now in a bargaining mood. They are telling us that they need 12 people serving the ambassador alone.  They argue that we must therefore exempt them from the quota that we establish on a reciprocal basis. We have explained to them that the agreed-upon quota is 455 people, both for them and for us. On our part, this is a gesture of enormous goodwill. The figure of 455 includes not only the employees of the bilateral diplomatic missions: the Embassy and two general consulates but also 150 people who work at our mission at the UN, which has nothing to do with our bilateral ties or any sense of balance. This was a goodwill gesture. However, we warned them that if they continue their obnoxious behaviour (I don’t know how else to describe their statements that if we don’t accept the guards for their ambassador immediately, they will ask Mr Antonov to leave the US), we still have the option of truly equalising our diplomatic presence.

Question: You know perfectly well that my questions are largely based on our radio listeners’ questions. Since we are talking about Russia-US relations, our listener Michael McFaul of California, a Stanford University professor, has sent a question for you. Why didn’t Russia try at least to get UN Security Council authorisation for the use of force if needed in Ukraine? Doesn’t Russia believe in the UN Security Council any longer? Why hasn’t Russia recognised the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Lugansk republics if they are facing the same risk as South Ossetia and Abkhazia in 2008?

Sergey Lavrov: To be honest, the questions are absolutely ignorant. Take the question about the UN Security Council. Did I get it right?  Why didn’t (past tense) Russia go to the UN Security Council for authorisation to use force if necessary? I will not even try to explain the futility of the phrase. The word “if” does not belong in the diplomatic practice in any country.

Regarding recognition, I think Mr McFaul, who had made a tremendous contribution to destroying anything constructive in Russian-American relations, just did not have time to read the Minsk agreements approved in February 2015. They are about preserving the unity and territorial integrity of Ukraine. The Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics had already declared independence several months prior to the Minsk meeting. Germany and France, who endorsed the text of the Minsk agreements with us and the Ukrainians, begged us, with Pyotr Poroshenko joining those requests, to persuade the leaders of the two republics to sign the Minsk agreements thus, in essence, changing the results of the spring 2014 referendum in Donbass. Mr McFaul should probably learn the contemporary history of the region. The issue of recognition must be considered in the context of our firm line to get the West to compel Kiev to abide by the Minsk agreements. Then everything will be all right, just as envisaged by this document endorsed by the UN Security Council.

Question: I think that the document we delivered to the United States surprised many of those who read it. It left many, myself included, feeling that Russia won in some kind of a war, while America lost. What I mean is the radical proposals contained in it like returning to NATO’s 1997 borders, etc. My question is, what was all that? It is obvious that the arguments must be really strong for the Americans to return to the 1997 terms or withdraw from countries where they feel so good, confident and comfortable? By all means, you clearly had something in mind. What was that, and what kind of a response did you expect to this letter? After all, the withdrawal must be swift. They were required to respond quickly.

We did our math. You are now working with your fourth US administration, since you became Foreign Minister during George W. Bush’s presidency. Are there any major differences between these teams? Can specific individuals actually make a difference in history as we were once taught, or not? Which of your counterparts did you work better with, and how are you getting along with the current “guys” compared to the previous administrations?

Sergey Lavrov: The proposals we delivered to the United States and NATO on December 15, 2021, may seem excessive only if the expert assessing them proceeds from the premise that “the Americans have already taken away everything there was all around you, so it is too late to make a fuss about it. Just accept it and try to keep the bare minimum they left you.”

What we want is fair treatment. I cited the commitments we all accepted at the highest level within the OSCE. Let me emphasise that presidents, including the US President, signed under these commitments promising that no one would seek to bolster one’s security at someone else’s expense. The United States claims that the right to choose alliances is sacrosanct. But we say, provided it doesn’t worsen the security situation for any other country. This is what you signed, my dear sirs.

They are now trying to present our proposals as an ultimatum, but we are there to refresh their memories and make sure that instead of equivocating they set forth in all honesty their interpretation of what their president signed up for. If he signed these documents while being confident that Russia would never be able to get what they promised, they must acknowledge that. This will be yet another confession on their part. We already reminded them about the promises they made verbally in the 1990s not to expand NATO, but in response they claimed that we got them wrong, that they did not want to mislead us and had little time to think because there were more urgent issues to deal with at the time. This is how they explained it, literally.

We are on our own territory. Michael McFaul has referred to the UN Security Council where the United States intends to discuss what we are doing regarding Ukraine and why we are not working to de-escalate the situation. This is what we hear from a person representing a country with military bases spread around the world, encircling the Russian Federation and the CIS, a country doing who knows what in Iraq (who invited them there?) and so forth. If the Americans want to discuss troop deployments, there are things to talk about. Everywhere we deploy our military forces, we do so based on a request from the host country. We fulfil the agreements we reach with host countries strictly in keeping with international law. Both Josep Borrell and Antony Blinken have been whipping up hysteria on the topic of escalation in Ukraine, demanding that we de-escalate, which has become a mantra of sorts for them, saying that they do hope that Russia chooses the “path of diplomacy.” I take them at their word. For many years after the end of the Soviet Union, we opted for the path of diplomacy. The Istanbul and Astana arrangements I had mentioned are the major outcomes of these diplomatic efforts: everyone undertook not to reinforce one’s security at the expense of others. After all, this was a commitment, a declaration, the supreme act of diplomacy. Use any word you like: compromise, consensus, agreement – anything. If diplomacy is what you stand for, start by delivering on what we already agreed upon.

It is not my intention to discuss our partners on a personal level, though there is much that could be said. Our motto is that we have to work with everyone, and work we do. I can say that I had smooth relationships with all my colleagues. We could always speak candidly with each other at all times even on increasingly divisive matters and on the differences our countries have in their relations with one another.

Question: You are a diplomat. You will never put it the way I’m going to put it right now. But I am a journalist and I can afford to.

Sergey Lavrov: I have said a few undiplomatic things before.

Question: True. But you didn’t say those things into a microphone during an interview. It’s just that we keep an eye on you and print your brilliant sayings on T-shirts.

We recently saved Kazakhstan. We may have to salvage things between Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. We have also preserved the peace in Karabakh and, generally speaking, in Armenia, too. We are endlessly saving our “exes.” What do we get in return?

Reporters from Komsomolskaya Pravda – colleagues of editor-in-chief Vladimir Sungorkin who is joining us from their studio – have unearthed a great story. They have investigated school textbooks used in former Soviet republics, including those we continue saving, to find out what they say about Russia, about the Soviet Union and about the Russian Empire. Quite a fascinating story. If you haven’t read it, you’ll be amazed. Kassym-Jomart Tokayev reports to our President that Russian is widespread in Kazakh schools, and not only in schools. According to our information, this is not entirely true, or rather it is not at all true. Regarding Russians living in those countries, we have many, many harassment complaints. I’m not talking specifically about Kazakhstan, but about the former Soviet republics in general. We have heard many times that the Foreign Ministry is opposed to simplifying the procedure for obtaining Russian citizenship by Russians living in those countries. I know for sure that it is not. I discussed this with you, and I know your position. Moreover, you have recently played an active role in simplifying current laws. Can you tell us how long we will tolerate this kind of attitude towards our people? When will we start returning our people – the way the Greeks, Germans, Jews and many others are taking people back based on their ethnic identity? How will we defend the rights of our people who have found themselves stranded there after their country’s collapse, which was not something they wanted?

Sergey Lavrov: This is several questions in one. As for relations with our neighbours, CSTO allies, CIS partners – we have a problem. Nobody is hiding this. It largely stems from the fact that the newly independent states, which left the Soviet Union and which had been part of the Russian Empire before that, have been given the first chance in a long historical period, the first opportunity to build their own national (the key word) states. They sometimes overdo it because they want to assert their national identity as soon as possible. Nobody would deny this. This always happens when great empires fall apart.

The Soviet Union was heir to the Russian Empire. In fact, it was an imperial entity, although softer and more humane than the British, French or other empires.

Some of the imbalances you are talking about would be inevitable in the current historical period. We certainly wish to avoid them and curtail them. This must be done by all means, including so-called soft power, and we need to allocate significantly more resources for it than now. Our ministry is active in lobbying for appropriate Government decisions and streamlining the state’s activities on this track. But we are still far below the level that Western countries have reached in this respect. In addition to soft power, apart from diplomacy, bringing these problems up during meetings with our allies and partners – there is also reciprocity, which refers to considering our partners’ approaches to matters that are relevant to us when making decisions that affect them. This concerns labour migrants, economic assistance, and much more. Our economic systems are interconnected. The Eurasian Economic Union creates conditions, but it is up to the Russian Federation to make most of them a reality, and much more.

I do not see why this should rule out the development of friendly, allied, and very close – including personal – relationships with the elites of our neighbours. This whole situation is the result of a geopolitical catastrophe, the collapse of the Soviet Union. As Russian President Vladimir Putin said, 25 million people (maybe more) then found themselves abroad, outside their country overnight. We had no borders and no idea how to build ties. It took a titanic effort. Now the situation is more or less back to normal; it is clear who should be responsible for what. This is already a great achievement. But the problems you mentioned – our compatriots’ situation – should be addressed on a mutual basis.

I’ll make a couple of points now. The first point is we should be more active and open in discussing human rights within the CIS, including the rights of non-titular ethnic groups – Russians in Kazakhstan, Kazakhs in Russia, Azerbaijanis in Armenia and vice versa (although there are very few of them left there). We have reached the following agreement with our CIS partners. Back when the Commonwealth was being created, its Charter included a provision on the CIS Commission on Human Rights as one of its bodies. However, we never got around to actually setting it up. At first, the idea was simple – the West should see that we also address human rights. But over the past few years, we have proposed materialising this statutory provision. There is a general agreement to launch the commission and an understanding that we will primarily deal with human rights issues in the CIS. It should be up to us, to all CIS countries, to make judgments about the human rights situation in our countries, not to Western agencies or bodies like the European Court of Human Rights, which has long lost the ability to rely on the principles of justice and which increasingly politicises its decisions every year.

Last year, the number of regional programmes exceeded 80, that is, apart from the federal programme, including in the regions of the Far East and Trans-Baikal Territory which we see as priority areas for those willing to move to the Russian Federation. I listed the major benefits that have been approved. I will say straight away that we wanted more. I believe that one’s family, parents and relatives having roots not only in the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic but also in other republics of the Soviet Union must have relevance for being entitled to preferential access to citizenship.

We have to consider a number of issues that we would like to settle as soon as possible. The work has not been finished yet. We have now “capitalised” what we have agreed on at the current stage. The President approved the consensus that was reached. We will continue to work to further improve the process and ease conditions for acquiring citizenship. The more so that at President Putin’s direction, the United Russia party, our leading political force, formed a commission on international cooperation and assistance to compatriots abroad. It involves not only helping compatriots come to Russia but also in the sense in which we discussed your first question – so as to make them feel as comfortable as possible upon arrival.

A couple of days ago the Komsomolskaya Pravda newspaper ran an article about history textbooks published currently in the former Soviet republics. I will not comment on what Estonians, Ukrainians, Lithuanians and Latvians are writing in them. However, regarding the CIS countries, we have repeatedly told them that nationalists should not be given pretexts by exploiting difficult moments in our common history. It ultimately helped all the peoples inhabiting this huge geopolitical space to lay the foundation for building their statehood. While we acknowledge the newly independent states’ aspiration to self-determination which I mentioned, overheated assessments should be avoided as they obviously, and maybe intentionally, play into the hands of extremists and nationalists.

Last year, a decision was signed within the Commonwealth of Independent States on establishing an international association (commission) of historians and archivists from CIS member states. It will focus, among other things, on discussing the issues of our common history with an eye toward a constructive consideration of all matters. I don’t think there will be unified history textbooks, but guidelines will be produced to reflect a consolidated point of view and a variety of perspectives. We have a commission of historians with Germany, Poland and Lithuania. They release joint documents. I believe that a similar mechanism within the Commonwealth will operate much more constructively in view of our closeness in many organisations – CSTO, EAEU, CIS and SCO.

Question: To follow up on our relations with the United States, you just said that we will continue to work with them. A meeting with Antony Blinken will take place soon. However, now that we have their answer, many analysts, in fact, almost all of them, are saying that the United States and the Alliance members are unlikely to change their position on the main issues. They are saying that “the ball is in Russia’s court now, and we are ready for any scenario.” You are saying our President said that we would respond, and that the response is in the works. The Foreign Ministry is involved in this. Can we have a sneak peek at the direction in which our Foreign Ministry is going to move in order to shoot the “ball” back at them? Is it Latin America? Cuba, Venezuela, Nicaragua? Could it be Europe? Serbia? Maybe we can do something with Iran? Can you give us a hint about what our response should be like for these guys to sit down, use their heads and try to give us different answers to our main questions, rather than secondary ones?

Sergey Lavrov: If they insist on not changing their position, we will not change ours, either. It’s just that their position is based on false premises and a flat-out misrepresentation of the facts. Our position is based on things that everyone has signed onto. I don’t see any room for a compromise here. Otherwise, what are we supposed to talk about if they openly sabotage and misrepresent previous decisions? This will be a key test for us.

As for the “ball,” we are playing different games. They may be playing baseball, while we may be playing tipcat. What matters is not to try to shirk responsibility, which is exactly what our American and other NATO partners are doing now.

They will not succeed in dodging the question of why they are not complying with what their presidents have signed onto, namely, that it is unacceptable to strengthen one’s security at the expense of the security of others.

Regarding our relations with Latin America, Serbia, Iran, China and many other states that act decently in the international arena, are not trying to unilaterally impose anything on anyone and are always willing to seek mutually acceptable solutions to any issues. Our relations are not subject to the vagaries of life. They are quite comprehensive and cover economic, cultural, educational, and sports contacts. They also include military and defence cooperation in full compliance with international law. I assure you that no matter how developments unfold with regard to European security, we will continue to consistently expand these relations.

I would like to underscore that we are studying their response and we have already provided our initial assessments. It is not satisfactory with regard to the main issue: the West fails to honour its obligations in terms of indivisibility of security and ignores our interests, although we laid them out in an extremely straightforward and clear way

With regard to issues of secondary importance, they were shocked by us presenting these documents publicly. This helped change their negative attitude towards our previous proposals, including medium- and short- range missiles and working out de-escalation measures during the exercises. This means that the West understands only this kind of language, and we should continue in the same vein that we did when we put forward our initiatives. We are now focused on getting explanations. We cannot accept evasive answers when it comes to the indivisibility of security. The West is shirking its commitments just as it failed to deliver on its commitment not to expand NATO. But then (as it is now telling us) it was a verbal commitment. Now, written commitments are available. Respond to us in writing to our written demands. Explain how you fulfill the written commitments signed by your presidents.

Question: When it is necessary to come to the defence of Russian journalists that are subjected to certain restrictions in the US or Germany, and we know the story with RT, the Foreign Ministry is forcefully intervening and defending them both on and off the record, and not only Maria Zakharova but also at the level of ambassador, deputy minister and at your level. When it comes to the countries with which we have closer relations, your department is quite modest. It is enough to recall the case of the Komsomolskaya Pravda journalists and the end of their news office that is practically closed. Its chief is behind bars.

I would like to remind you of the murders of journalists. When our journalists were killed in Ukraine, the Foreign Ministry took a very tough, assertive position that was hard to ignore, but it was silent when our journalists were murdered in the Central African Republic (CAR).

Here’s a question from our listener Dmitry Muratov from Moscow, a Nobel Prize winner and editor-in-chief of Novaya Gazeta. Without any additional investigation or operational measures, the new ambassador of Russia to the CAR named the murderers of the Russian journalists – the 3R group. The Foreign Ministry is aware of this but their families are not. The clothes of the journalists were burned as evidence, no investigation was conducted and the Foreign Ministry does not make any statements as regards the CAR leaders. Maybe, the Foreign Ministry should become more active in these cases with respect to both the Belarusian government and the CAR leaders?

Sergey Lavrov: You are right in saying that we must always defend the rights of Russian citizens, and not only journalists but every citizen, and the Americans have simply abducted dozens of them. We must also protect our journalists when there are obvious reasons for doing so.

We expressed our concern over what was happening with the Komsomolskaya Pravda news office. We talked with Mr Sungorkin about this. As I understand, the matter concerns Belarusian citizens and a specific Belarusian citizen. This is a somewhat different story. Any country that allows dual citizenship follows its own laws if something happens on its territory. I don’t want to go into details but there are issues that require silence. We did quite a bit to persuade the Belarusian authorities to be understanding. Now their position is what it is, and I cannot argue against it. They are ready to open any news office but its employees have to be citizens of the Russian Federation.

We could also look at how Russian journalists are treated in the West and how their working conditions are dictated there. I think a request to employ Russian citizens in Russian media is not beyond the pale. We believe the rights of journalists must be respected without exception everywhere, including Belarus or any other CIS country. If these rights are openly violated, we will continue to raise questions about this.

As for the CAR, we are willing to convey any information we have to the families of the dead journalists. As for the culprits, as you know, the CAR authorities are conducting an investigation. I don’t want to excuse the acts of these murderers. I can only say that journalists should take precautions. If they had at least notified the Foreign Ministry and our Embassy that they were bound for a country with a domestic armed conflict and a terrorist threat, the chances of avoiding this tragedy would have been a bit higher. This was all the more important since they went there as tourists, without declaring the purpose of their visit. Let me repeat again that this is not an excuse but this creates additional security risks in such cases.

Therefore, I’d like everyone to know that we do want journalists to work all over the world, including hot spots. I remove my hat and bow to all those who do such reporting in flak jackets and helmets, and let me say something, in passing, to your colleagues in eastern Ukraine. Once again I am addressing, through you, those who may have some influence on Western journalism and the media. Why do journalists appear sporadically, once every six months, at best, on the Kiev-controlled side of the contact line in Donbass? Why is their reporting so spotty? It would be very interesting to see them there. On the other side of the contact line, our journalists show the results of the atrocities committed by the Armed Forces of Ukraine that are bombing kindergartens, outpatient clinics and residential areas and killing people. According to the OSCE, civilian casualties on the side controlled by Donbass defenders are five times higher than on the opposite side. This speaks for itself.

Let’s return to the Central African Republic. We again sent an inquiry to the CAR government when the information about this 3R group emerged. We will do all we can to bring this investigation to completion. As you know, their government is dealing with this. Let me emphasise once again that we want to know the truth. I would like to impress upon our journalist colleagues and friends the importance of notifying us about trips to hot spots (if you don’t trust the Ministry, I cannot force you to do this). Please do it for the sake of your own safety. It will help.

Question: Thank you very much for your support to our service in connection with what happened to Gennady Mozheiko. Our thanks go to Alexei Venediktov for bringing up this issue. Gennady Mozheiko has been in police custody for four months now and not even once has he been questioned. He’s just sitting there. I appealed to Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko [for assistance] but, so far, there has been no response.

You were right in saying that it is not only a matter of journalists. Today, according to the Russian Embassy in Belarus, 457 Russian nationals are behind bars in Belarus. This is only what the embassy says, and I suspect the real figure is even bigger. Yesterday, another person – Russian national Vera Tsvikevich – was added to this list. She was detained only for taking, during the protests, a photograph of herself, a selfie, in a beautiful red dress with a patrol in the background. She was taken to prison for that. Judging by the precedents, she will be sentenced to two years in prison. Something needs to be done about this.

As for Belarus, we should have a very different relationship with them, as this is the Union State. Today, our journalists believe their work to be the most difficult in Belarus and not in Georgia or America, or Israel, and so on. We are constantly talking about the Union State, saying that we need to synchronise our legislation. What is in store for us, with regard to what I just said? Do we stand any chance of becoming a true Union State?

Sergey Lavrov: As for the Union State, you know, there are 28 union programmes that were approved last autumn…

Question: They have not been published, which is an interesting fact.

Sergey Lavrov: These are framework documents. They contain no secrets. They provide for work that has already started to flesh out each of the 28 programmes with specific and direct legal decisions in the economy, financial activities, transport, communications and so on. It is an important step towards consolidating economic assets. According to the two presidents, this work has to be completed in the next two to three years. This means embarking on the path to the Union State with much broader powers.

Yesterday, we saw off the newly-appointed Ambassador, Boris Gryzlov who was leaving for Belarus. I handed him letters of credence signed by the Russian President. This ceremony was attended by Belarusian Ambassador to Russia Vladimir Semashko. I recalled that our joint work also includes efforts to align the rights of the people of the two countries. Much has already been done. I believe 95 percent of rights have been aligned; however, the remaining outstanding issues in some areas need to be addressed as soon as possible. In particular, this includes the terms on which healthcare services or hotel accommodation are to be provided to people travelling privately. This is all very important for the daily life of people.

But the question you asked is not about what the Union State will look like in the end. Even if the criminal legislation of the two countries has been unified in full, there will still be Russians detained in Belarus and Belarusians detained in Russia. Our embassy keeps a close eye on the course of legal proceedings involving detained Russian nationals. The law enforcement agencies and prosecutor general’s offices of the two countries stay in contact. I haven’t heard anything about Vera Tsvikevich. Is this today’s newspaper?

Remark: No. It was issued in 2020.

Sergey Lavrov: Why then did you say that she was added to this list yesterday?

Remark: She was detained yesterday. The newspaper is old but she was detained yesterday.

Sergey Lavrov: Is she on the staff of Komsomolskaya Pravda?

Remark: No, she is just a Russian national. I said that about 500 Russian nationals were serving sentence in Belarus.

Sergey Lavrov: Four hundred fifty-seven. So, she will be the 458th . We will be watching what happens to her, the way we do it in any other country. There are questions that require close cooperation between the law enforcement agencies. I would rather not talk about them now in public but such questions do exist. It is important that they are resolved in a manner characteristic of two allies or brotherly nations. We will invariably adhere to this line.

Question: Mine is not a question but an urgent request concerning the fate of the German RT channel. We have not faced such unprecedented and uncompromising pressure, actually not even pressure but a real ban on work, in any other country, not the US or the UK, as in the Federal Republic of Germany. It is all disguised with hypocritical statements by German leaders at different levels. Supposedly, they have nothing to do with the closure of the German YouTube channel. Even when we gained the largest audience in the history of the English-language YouTube among the world’s TV channels, we were not shut down. They didn’t dare. But the Germans did.  They pressured Luxembourg so as to have our licence denied even though practically everything had been agreed and done there. Ultimately, we were given the licence in Serbia. They pressured the European regulators – so we can’t broadcast with that licence either. Titanic efforts of hundreds of people who had been building the channel amid the pandemic, produced shows, won the audience – all that was in vain. The audience was sacrificed to interests. Nobody shows the German people what we show.

The only thing that can affect them (as was the case with the UK) is reciprocity, which you are more familiar with than we are. Deutsche Welle has not even been designated as a foreign agent, even though this status does not entail what it does in the US (criminal charges). In our country it is just a piece of paper and an occasion to shout about it. In fact, it does not entail anything. Foreign agents take interviews, they are invited to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s press conferences. To say nothing about shutting down Deutsche Welle here the way they shut us down in Germany. This also concerns other German media outlets. Please, help us.

Sergey Lavrov: You don’t need to persuade me. Just yesterday the Russian Embassy in Berlin demanded an explanation. Procedures are underway. This is not within the competence of the federal agency but of the regulator of the German states Berlin and Brandenburg. The embassy’s lawyers looked into precedents. The Axel Springer concern had faced a similar situation but they quickly got a licence.

The key here is that the Germans are trying to place their internal regulations, which allegedly prohibit the registration of state-run channels, above their commitments under the European Convention on Transfrontier Television. According to our information, their regulators are using various pretexts to justify the primacy of their national law. This won’t do. The result will be the same as the NATO enlargement – this is what they want so they won’t do the things they had promised somewhere else. The Germans know that reciprocal measures will follow. I raised this issue when German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock was here on a visit. I think she and her delegation heard it. I am going to have a telephone conversation with her today. I will definitely remind her.

Question: A scandal is unfolding in the United States. CNN published a report citing its own sources. In it, they alleged that the United States and Ukrainian presidents talked on the phone, with Joe Biden supposedly yelling at Vladimir Zelensky in an attempt to explain to him in a raised voice that unless he changes his position on Donbass, Kiev will fall and be pillaged, etc. CNN published this report on its website, but later removed it. Still, the scandal lives on. Both Joe Biden and Vladimir Zelensky are getting questions about this. In this telephone conversation, the President of the United States allegedly requested that the President of Ukraine urgently resolve the special status issue for Donbass.

If Kiev does decide to amend its constitution and grant Donbass a special status, will this affect Russia’s policy on Ukraine in any way? To be honest, you cannot trust these people. There are 720,000 Russian nationals there today, and in the future there could be even more of them. We do understand the threats they may face after obtaining a Russian passport. Are we ready for these eventualities? What will be Russia’s policy on the people’s republics?

Sergey Lavrov: We have always stressed the need to fully implement the Minsk agreements in good faith and following the sequence it sets forth. As my colleagues and I have been saying in our public statements, during the Geneva summit meeting in June 2021 between the Russian and United States presidents, Joe Biden said at his own initiative that he wanted to facilitate the implementation of the Minsk agreements, including in terms of granting an autonomous (this was the word he used) status to Donbass. He understands everything.

This is consistent with what the Minsk agreements say. The special status provisions they set forth cannot be subject to any equivocal interpretations. What needs to be done is clear. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken reassured me that they want to help implement the Minsk agreements. His under-secretaries said that the US would not join the Normandy format but still wants to help. If they do force Kiev (nobody else can do it), this outcome would suit us. So far, I find this hard to believe. They are playing a game by continuing to supply weapons. Some tend to interpret these deliveries as a support for those ready to engage in a senseless armed conflict. This is something many have to factor into their projections. In fact, hardly anyone wants this, but there is still a small group of people who stand to benefit from it, in one way or another.

Why are the Americans the only ones that can force Kiev into compliance? The Normandy format met in Paris at the level of political advisors to the four leaders. Deputy Chief of Staff of the Presidential Executive Office Dmitry Kozak travelled there. They agreed to take two more weeks to understand how they can move forward in carrying out the Minsk agreements.

France, Germany and the European Union name Russia as a party to the conflict. What kind of agreement can we reach in these circumstances? They are saying we must comply with the Minsk agreements. President Vladimir Putin and Dmitry Kozak have repeatedly stated that no one has ever given us an answer to the question of which specific provision we must comply with. The implication is that everything depends on Russia. It’s like we snap our fingers and everything will come to pass.

Kiev realised that Berlin and Paris would not insist on it complying with the Minsk agreements. President Zelensky said he didn’t like the Package of Measures, but it was nonetheless important, because it keeps Western sanctions on Russia in place. That’s all there is to it: nothing but crude cynicism. Ukraine realises that it can do anything now. Vladimir Zelensky and his regime are being used (primarily by the Americans) to escalate tensions and to engage their underlings in Europe, who are playing along with the Americans as they pursue their Russophobic undertakings. The future of Ukraine is not Washington’s main goal in this particular case. It is important for the United States to escalate tensions around the Russian Federation in order to “close” this issue and then “deal with” China, as US political scientists are saying. How do they plan to “close” it? I have no idea. If there are any reasonable political strategists still out there, they must realise that this road leads nowhere.

The Americans are using Ukraine against Russia so openly and cynically that the Kiev regime itself is now scared. They are now saying there is no need to aggravate the discussion and are suggesting that the Americans keep down the rhetoric, and are also wondering why evacuate diplomats. Who is evacuating diplomats? The Americans and other Anglo-Saxons (Canada and the UK), meaning they know something others don’t. Perhaps, pending a provocation on their part, we should take precautionary measures with regard to our diplomats as well. We’ll see about that.

I have already answered the question about how we feel about the recently vocalised idea of recognising the Lugansk and Donetsk people’s republics. My answer is straightforward: we must push for the implementation of the Minsk agreements. There’s a host of people out there who are ready to grab any excuse to remove blame from Kiev for the sabotage which it has been involved in for eight years now with regard to the document approved by the UN Security Council.

Question: You said that NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has lost touch with reality. Maybe you live in different realities? Today, he will give a live interview to Ekho Moskvy. Do you want to say hi to him or ask a question?

Sergey Lavrov: Serves him right.

Question: I looked through the list of the sanctions approved by the US Congress and Treasury last year. The absolute majority of them are associated with the name of Alexey Navalny, not Ukraine. The OPCW (independent German, French and Swedish labs) found traces of a poisonous substance in his blood, which clearly means that he was poisoned. The Foreign Ministry requested assistance. But Russia did not open a criminal investigation. Germany said in that case there would be no help. We are members of the OPCW. You have seen the report on Navalny. Do you continue to cooperate on this matter? We are in the minority in every single international European organisation. We are saying that the ECHR, PACE, the OSCE and the OPCW are Russophobes. Could it be that Russia is the one that is out of step?

Sergey Lavrov: I’ll start off by saying that I watched Euronews yesterday. There was a story about the village of Dvani in Georgia, near the South Ossetian border. It is located in an area that Georgia considers its territory. The reporter said he was in the village of Dvani at the separation line, with the administrative border that Russia keeps fortifying behind him. A house owned by a Georgian “was burned down during the war.” The new one “came into the Russian military’s surveillance zone.” A local resident said that we were “abducting people in unfathomable ways.” A Georgian journalist said that he has been “working in the villages near the conflict zone for several years now” and that “14 years have passed since the war that forced the people to live in difficult circumstances ended. They are losing their lands and forest allotments almost daily. People are being kidnapped. Russian troops are detaining them,” etc. Then the reporter continued to say that “after the collapse of the Soviet Union, Georgia was the first among the former Soviet republics to experience an escalation of separatism and armed confrontation, and thousands of refugees are still unable to return home.”

He didn’t say, though, anything about what kind of separatism took root in Georgia even before the breakup of the Soviet Union. Zviad Gamsakhurdia was quite chauvinistic in his demands for Abkhazians to get out or to “georgify.” He believed South Ossetia residents did not deserve humane treatment. Nobody is saying anything about it. Then comes a brilliant phrase: “In 2008, when the conflict entered the hot phase, Russia took South Ossetia’s side.” This is Euronews, which touts itself as a channel of fair news and an epitome of diversity when it comes to presenting diverse viewpoints. They did not even mention how the fratricidal conflict began.

I’m saying this because you asked a question about the OPCW without mentioning the reference points that require clarification. If we state it the way you framed your question, then Michael McFaul and other unsophisticated listeners may get the impression that all of that is true. You are saying we asked the Germans to provide clarifications, and they wanted us to open a criminal investigation before they give us anything. What is that all about? Germany’s obligations under the European Convention on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters are not dependent on whether a particular country opens a criminal investigation or not. Under our laws, a criminal case can be opened if there is corroborating evidence. This is in no way inconsistent with multiple instances of using this procedure in relations with many other countries. We have a lot of material which we circulate around the world. I’m sure reporters from Ekho Moskvy and other media outlets have access to it.

We are still waiting for an answer to our question about who flew in to pick up Alexey Navalny. Why the plane that flew to Omsk to pick him up was chartered the day before he fell ill. Why are there no answers to the purely specific and factual questions asked in the German Parliament: how come the pilot, who did not want Maria Pevchikh to take the bottle onboard, eventually let her do so? There was also a sixth passenger. These questions were asked at the Bundestag. Why is it impossible to question Ms Pevchikh? The Germans say she did not communicate with the blogger and did not visit him at the hospital. She wrote that she did. The bottle she brought along has not been shown to anyone. Our requests to run a joint examination of it are rejected. Allegations that illegal poisonous substances were found in Mr Navalny’s body began after no CWC-prohibited substances had been found by the Charité clinic, which is a civilian hospital. All of that was “discovered” at a clinic operated by the Bundeswehr in a matter of just three days. Before that, a similar scenario unfolded with the Skripal family. We insisted that the investigation must be grounded in hard facts, not “highly likely” assumptions. We cited facts that there are almost 150 patents for the infamous Novichok in the West, in particular, the United States. It was developed in Europe as well. Then Germany, France, Sweden and many other countries swore that they did not have this technology. Without the technology, it is impossible to detect this substance in the human body in three days. Any more or less experienced chemist is aware of that.

At first, the Germans told us that they would not give us the materials, because they constituted “classified military information.” How’s that? We are being accused of murder or attempted murder, and the information is classified. By definition, they should not have access to this technology if they are bona fide participants in the CWC. Then they began to say that they could give it to us, but Navalny says no. What’s next? At the same time, his lawyer criticised Dmitry Peskov for accusing the blogger of collaborating with the CIA and demanded proof. What kind of proof? US intelligence officers came to see him at the hospital, which Dmitry Peskov mentioned. We are demanding proof behind the accusation of attempted murder, but we are then told that he does not want to.

We asked the OPCW to provide the results but were told that they could do so only with the permission of the Germans. The circle closed. Read carefully the paper released by the OPCW. It says that some substances were discovered that are similar in composition to other substances that are on the OPCW’s banned chemicals list. Not a word about Novichok. Neither the Germans, nor the French, nor the Swedes gave us the formula. It’s classified. The formula is the proof of whether this is true or pure deception and lies.

I am inclined to believe that so far the West has no grounds to accuse us. This is done for the purpose of instigating a provocation. I mentioned the day when a special flight was chartered to fly to Omsk to pick up Mr Navalny. The day before the poisoning, the Germans (according to the OPCW report) asked The Hague for assistance in conducting the investigation of this case. Then they said it was a typo, and everything actually happened later. There are many interesting things there. In early September 2020, the Germans contacted the OPCW. The OPCW Secretariat concealed this from us for several days. In hindsight, they confessed that the Germans allegedly asked them not to tell anyone. Doesn’t it all look suspicious? It does to me, and suspicions run deep. I encourage Ekho Moskvy and other radio stations’ listeners to go the Foreign Ministry’s website and read the material containing a vast number of legitimate questions that remain unanswered by the West to this day.

Question: The most popular question: will there be a war with Ukraine?

Sergey Lavrov: This is what we started off with. If it’s up to the Russian Federation, there will be no war. I do not rule out the possibility that someone out there would like to provoke hostilities.

According to the West, there are about 100,000 troops on the line of contact. The Kiev regime does not control most of these armed men. A significant portion of the units that are stationed there include the former volunteer battalions, current territorial defence units, and militia. MANPADS are already being handed out to them. The media are reporting this information. They are encouraged to bring along hunting rifles with them, because there aren’t enough MANPADS for everyone. This is a militaristic frenzy. I cannot rule out the possibility of someone losing it, just like that soldier who shot and killed five of his fellow servicemen.

Question: Why aren’t we talking with Vladimir Zelensky? He is one of us, a former Komsomol member with a background in Channel One.

Sergey Lavrov: He is also a “piano player.” President Vladimir Putin answered this question. If President Zelensky wants to talk about normalising bilateral relations that were damaged by the unilateral actions of his regime, actions to which we responded, Russia stands ready to do so. Let him come to Moscow, Sochi, or St Petersburg, wherever they may agree. But if he wants to discuss Donbass – please go to the Contact Group, which, according to the Normandy format’s decision, is in charge of all settlement issues directly between Kiev, Donetsk and Lugansk. When he says he won’t talk to us, this bodes ill for the domestic Ukrainian crisis. If he has something to offer in order to restore bilateral relations, the destruction of which Kiev, Vladimir Zelensky and his predecessor initiated, we are ready to consider his proposals. President Vladimir Putin has stated this in no uncertain terms.

Question: Another meme for a T-shirt from Minister Lavrov: “Please go to the Contact Group.”

Question: Are we going to evacuate our staff from Kiev as well?

Sergey Lavrov: We discussed this bout of insanity that is being fomented in Ukraine, primarily by the Anglo-Saxons and some Europeans. Dramatic claims that everyone must leave the place are part of this insanity. People who came there to tend to their business are urged to leave. Diplomats and their families are being taken home and non-core staff is being cut.

We cannot let it go unnoticed or turn a blind eye to it. If they are doing this (even though the Ukrainians haven’t asked them to), could it be that the Anglo-Saxons are up to something? The British particularly have a long track record in this area.

Question: This happened after you said something during a meeting with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken. What did you say or show to him? Immediately after the Geneva meeting, he started saying that diplomats should be evacuated. You must have done something.

Sergey Lavrov: You are mistaken if you think that I have lost the ability to understand what is happening around me. I didn’t say anything to him. In a one-on-one conversation (I hope this will not offend him) he told me that if something happens, their people would be there… It sounded rather strange to me. That’s what I told him.

Take my word for it, we discussed nothing but security guarantees. Then I raised the issue of the unacceptable state of affairs with our diplomatic missions. I made a proposal which we eventually agreed upon. In a couple of weeks, another meeting between experts will take place. I can assure you that no threats were uttered. However, we cannot leave things without analysis. We are analysing them to see what stands behind the Anglo-Saxons’ actions.

Biden says Latin America is US ‘front yard’, Trump says ‘backyard’ – Pick your flavor of neocolonialism

22 Jan 2022

Ben Norton 

Source: Al Mayadeen Net

When we look past all of the superficial Culture War battles they wage to distract the US public, we can clearly see that the two ruling-class parties share 95% of the same policies.

Pick your flavor of neocolonialism

What is the difference between Republicans and Democrats? Trump says backyard and Biden says front yard. Otherwise, they share 95% of the same warmongering, capitalist, imperialist policies.

People in Latin America often ask me, “What is the difference between Republicans and Democrats?” For those outside of the United States, the two hegemonic parties seem so similar that they’re difficult to tell apart.

The reality, of course, is that the Republican and Democratic Parties are indeed nearly identical. When we look past all of the superficial Culture War battles they wage to distract the US public, we can clearly see that the two ruling-class parties share 95% of the same policies — and are funded by the same billionaire capitalist oligarchs and exploitative mega-corporations to obediently serve their economic interests.

The Joe Biden administration has made this undeniable. The Democratic President campaigned on promises to reverse the Republican Trump’s disastrous policies, only to continue the vast majority of them.

At a press conference on January 19, the current President accidentally revealed what the real difference between him and the former head-of-state is: Trump thinks that Latin America is the US empire’s “backyard”, while Biden insists it is Washington’s “front yard”.

You can see Biden’s comments in the official transcript published at the White House: “We used to talk about, when I was a kid in college, about ‘America’s backyard,’” he said in the presser. “It’s not America’s backyard. Everything south of the Mexican border is America’s front yard.”

I repeat:  “Everything south of the Mexican border is America’s front yard.”

So now, when people in Latin America ask me to describe the differences between Republicans and Democrats, I have the perfect answer: Republicans think you are their ‘backyard’, whereas Democrats think you are their ‘front yard’.

Pick your favorite flavor of neocolonialism.

Biden has been in power for exactly one year as of this January 20, and he has failed to accomplish anything significant. (His long-overdue withdrawal from Afghanistan does deserve an honorable mention, but it is greatly overshadowed by Biden’s hawkish policies against the rest of the world — not to mention the devastating sanctions his administration has imposed on Afghanistan, which are starving millions of civilians.)

Far from breaking with Trump, Biden has doubled down on the far-right former President’s worst policies:

  • Biden still recognizes coup puppet Juan Guaidó as fake “President” of Venezuela, and has maintained Trump’s murderous sanctions.
  • Not only has Biden not removed any of the hundreds of crippling sanctions that Trump imposed on Cuba; he has in fact further expanded the US economic warfare against the Caribbean nation, to such a degree that the New York Times wrote that “Biden is taking an even harder line on Cuba” than Trump.
  • Biden has continued the borderline genocidal, scorched-earth war on Yemen, which was expanded by Trump and started by Joe’s running mate Obama.
  • After Trump unilaterally tore up the Iran nuclear deal, the Biden administration has refused to return to it, demanding Tehran’s agreement to a series of unreasonable new demands.
  • Biden has kept US troops illegally occupying Iraq (where the democratically elected Parliament voted overwhelmingly to expel them) and Syria (where they are preventing the central government from accessing its own oil and wheat reserves as it suffers under a suffocating Western sanctions regime).
  • Biden has maintained the witch hunt that Trump’s Justice Department launched against WikiLeaks journalist and political prisoner Julian Assange, who is being tortured in a maximum-security British prison as he awaits extradition to the Land of the Free for a show trial.
  • Biden fulfilled the Trump administration’s plans to extradite — that is, kidnap — Venezuelan diplomat Alex Saab, who was detained and held in horrific conditions for the supposed “crime” of circumventing illegal US sanctions to buy food for the Venezuelan people.
  • As more than 850,000 North Americans have died, Biden’s Covid-19 policies (or lack thereof) have for the most part been identical to those of Trump. The bipartisan strategy is to put profits over people’s lives and let corporations quite literally dictate “public health” policies.
  • Biden has accelerated the new cold war on both China and Russia while imposing more and more sanctions around the globe.
  • Heck, Biden has even managed to deport more migrant children than the inveterate racist Trump.

Meanwhile, inside the United States, Biden’s own party has blocked all attempts at passing significant legislation.

The US government is so thoroughly undemocratic, so entirely beholden to capital, it has become a dysfunctional basket case. Its “democratic” window dressing has melted away, and all that is left is a stone-cold authoritarian regime controlled by billionaire oligarchs, a textbook dictatorship of the capitalist class.

The only thing the US empire can do is do what it has always done: escalate its imperial aggression abroad, endlessly pour money into the gaping maw of the Military-Industrial Complex, try to tame the voracious appetite of the death cult of capitalism — use war abroad to distract from the mass death, skyrocketing inequality, growing poverty, dire homelessness, police brutality, and mass incarceration inside the United States.The opinions mentioned in this article do not necessarily reflect the opinion of Al mayadeen, but rather express the opinion of its writer exclusively.

استماتة أميركيّة لمنْع التغيير: برازيليا… ظِلّ دا سيلفا يقترب

الجمعة 24 كانون الأول2021

يُدرك الأميركيون أن حَجر الرحى في المعادلات اللاتينية يتمثّل في البرازيل (أ ف ب )

علي فرحات

قد يكون كلّ ما واجهته الولايات المتحدة من انتكاسات في دول أميركا الجنوبية أخيراً، في كَفّة، وما يَنتظرها في عاصمة القرار اللاتيني، برازيليا، في كَفّة أخرى. ذلك أن كلّ المؤشّرات تتعاضد وتتكاثف في اتّجاه ترجيح عودة الزعيم العمّالي، لويس إيناسيو لولا دا سيلفا، إلى رئاسة البلاد، بعد حرب أميركية شعواء ضدّه، لم تستثنِ أيّ وسيلة من وسائل الإقصاء والترهيب. وإذ تُدرك واشنطن أن عودة دا سيلفا تعني انبعاث النموذج المُلهِم، الذي سيَدفع بمشروع التحرُّر في جنوب القارّة قُدُماً، فهي بدأت من الآن العمل على استراتيجية سياسية وإعلامية – وأمنية ربّما إذا ما اضطرّها الأمر -، من أجل إضعاف حظوظ «حزب العمّال»، والحيلولة دون إمساكه بالسلطة. لكنّ الأخير، الذي يَعرف أن المعركة لن تكون سهلة، يبدو متمسّكاً بتحقيق الفوز، الذي يَعتقد أنه سيفتح له الباب على رسْم خريطة حُكم جديدة، لا مكان فيها لعصابات واشنطنلم تكن تجربة اليسار في أميركا اللاتينية مثالية، كما لم تَنْجُ من الوقوع في بعض المحظورات السياسية، لكنّ تيّار الفقراء بَقِي ابن بيئته، ومُحافِظاً على القِيَم السيادية وإرثٍ طويل من التضحية والنضال. هكذا يقول سكّان أميركا الجنوبية كلّما أخذتهم الخيارات نحو انتخاب شركاء الاستعمار وأحفاد الإقطاعيين، الذين رهنوا البلاد والعباد لمصالح الشركات الأجنبية، ومكّنوا السفارات الغربية من رسْم السياسات الداخلية والخارجية، مثلما فعَل ماوريسيو ماكري الذي دمّر اقتصاد الأرجنتين برهْنها لوصاية «البنك الدولي»، وسباستيان بنييرا الذي عاث في أرْصن الاقتصادات اللاتينية فساداً، وحَوّل ساحات سانتياغو إلى تجمّعات مليونية تَستذكر زمن ميشال بشلين، الجميل، وخروجَها من قصر الرئاسة على وقْع الدموع في وداع أمّ التشيليين، وأيضاً جانايينا أنيز التي صعدت على جُثث البوليفيين المرميّة في الأزقّة، بعد انقلاب عسكري وحشي دبّرته سفارة واشنطن في لاباز، وألغت على إثره أكثر الانتخابات مصداقية وشفافية، فضلاً عن خوان غوايدو الذي تَقلّد رئاسة مزوّرة مقابل شدّ الخناق على شعبه كي يعلِن الاستسلام. لكنّ إرادة اللاتينيين لفظت كلّ هذه اللائحة في سنوات حُكمها الأولى، لتَسقط معادلات واشنطن واحدةً تلو أخرى، في انتظار لحظة الحسم في عاصمة القرار اللاتيني، برازيليا.

يُدرك الأميركيون أن حَجر الرحى في المعادلات اللاتينية، يتمثّل في البرازيل. وعليه، فإن التَّحوّلات السياسية المعادية لوصاية واشنطن قد يتمّ احتواء تداعياتها ما لم تصل إلى الرأس، ومصمّم السياسات في القارّة اللاتينية. ذلك أن تجربة الزعيم العمّالي، لويس إيناسيو لولا دا سيلفا، في الحُكم ما بين عامَي 2002 و2010، سَجّلت أكبر التحدّيات للسياسات الأميركية واستثمارات شركاتها في البرازيل ومحيطها. تجربةٌ ما زالت عالقة في الذاكرة الأميركية، خصوصاً لناحية ما تَخلّلها من ثورة في العلاقات الخارجية، وانضمام إلى تكتّلات الشرق، وانفتاح على الدول المُسجَّلة خطراً على لائحة الولايات المتحدة. حينها، فهمت واشنطن أن ضرْب الرأس سيشكّل إعاقة استراتيجية لمشروع التحرّر في محيطها الإقليمي.

وعلى الرغم من المواجهة الأميركية الصريحة في فنزويلا وكوبا على سبيل المثال، إلّا أن الحرب الحقيقية كانت في برازيليا، حيث هيّأت وكالة الاستخبارات الأميركية العدّة والعتاد لإدارة أضخم صراع داخلي، يتمثّل في تجنيد نُخب سياسية وقضائية وأمنية، ما أعطاها اليد الطولى في العبث بالمسرح السياسي البرازيلي، وتجيير منظومة متكاملة لِشَلّ حركة التغيير، عبر تنظيم الانقلابات الدستورية، وفبركة ملفّات قضائية تطاول السياسيين المناهضين للتدخُّل الأميركي، بالإضافة إلى كبرى عمليات التسويق الإعلامي التي تتولّاها المؤسّسات النافذة. ولعلّ التسريبات الأميركية التي نُشرت أخيراً عن التدخّلات في عدد من انقلابات أميركا الجنوبية، ودعم ميليشيات الانفصال في العقود الماضية، ستتْبعها تسريبات مستقبلية ستكشف حجم المؤامرات التي تحيكها السفارة الأميركية في برازيليا، والتي جُهّزت منذ عام 2007 بطاقم من الخبراء والمستشارين المتخصّصين في إدارة الانقلابات وإشعال الصراعات الداخلية.

بناءً على ما تَقدّم، يبدو أن المشهد السياسي البرازيلي مُقبِل على اشتعال هذه المواجهة، بعد فشل ذريع لـ«البولسنارية» السياسية، وسقوط مشروع المحافظين الجُدد المتمثّل في «أدلجة البرازيل» وتحويلها إلى بيئة مناهضة لمشروع التغيير اللاتيني، والأهمّ عودة قائد الثورة اللاتينية الجديدة، لويس إيناسي لولا دا سيلفا، ليتصدّر المشهد الانتخابي، ويَتقدّم استطلاعات الرأي على تنوّعها، وآخرها استطلاع «داتا فوليا» الذي كَشف اعتبار غالبية البرازيليين، دا سيلفا، الرئيسَ الأنجح في تاريخ الدولة اللاتينية، ومفتاحَ الإنقاذ الوحيد بعد التداعيات الخطيرة، الاقتصادية والسياسية والاجتماعية، لحُكم بولسنارو، الذي أعاد البرازيل عقوداً إلى الوراء، من خلال تفشّي البطالة وعودة الجوع الذي طاول أكثر من عشرين مليون برازيلي، وارتفاع نسب التضخّم وفقدان العملة الوطنية لقدرتها الشرائية، والسياسات الكارثية في مكافحة فيروس «كورونا» الذي حصد أكثر من نصف مليون ضحية خلال عامَين. أمّا في الأرقام النهائية، فقد حَلّت البرازيل في المرتبة الـ26 للأداء الاقتصادي هذا العام، بينما كانت تحتلّ المرتبة السادسة عالمياً – مُتفوّقةً على بريطانيا -، إبّان حُكم الرئيس الأسبق دا سيلفا، قبل عقد من الزمن.

سيرجيو مورو… مُجدّداً

في دراسة شاملة للمشهد السياسي البرازيلي، باتت واشنطن مقتنعة بأن الرأي العام في هذا البلد قد حسم خياراته السياسية في اتّجاه إعادة انتخاب دا سيلفا. وعليه، بدأت ماكينة السفارة الأميركية بدرْس الخيارات المطلوبة لهَزْم اليسار مجدّداً بأيّ ثمن. لكنّ الأميركيين يعرفون أيضاً أن حليفهم جايير بولسنارو، غير قادر على مواجهة دا سيلفا، وأن المرحلة القادمة تحتاج إلى شخصية مختلفة موثوق في ولائها السياسي، ليستقرّ الأمر على اختيار وزير العدل السابق، القاضي سيرجيو مورو، ليكون مرشّح البيت الأبيض في البرازيل. ذاع صيت مورو، القاضي في المحكمة الفيدرالية في مدينة كوريتيبا – ولاية بارانا -، عام 2014، حين تولّى «عملية لافا جاتو» (غسيل السيارات) المُختصّة بملاحقة ملفّات الفساد. لكنّ النقطة الفارقة في مسيرته، والتي جعلته يتصدّر المشهدَين السياسي والإعلامي، كانت عام 2017، حين حُوّلت إليه قضية الزعيم العمالي، دا سيلفا، بتهمة حيازة الأخير شقّة فارهة شمال ساوباولو، لتتمّ إدانة الرئيس السابق بحُكم مُشدَّد وصل إلى السجن مدّة تسع سنوات ونصف سنة، في واحد مِن أغرب الأحكام في تاريخ القضاء البرازيلي.

كشفت الوثائق والتسجيلات المُسرَّبة التي نشرها موقع «ذا إنترسبت» الأميركي، لاحقاً، أن القاضي مورو، وصديقه المدّعي العام دلتان دالاغنول، فتحا خطّاً ساخناً مع جهاز المخابرات الأميركي (FBI)، الذي كان يشرف على التحقيق وإدارة الملفّ الاتّهامي، الأمر الذي وصفته صحيفة «لوموند» الفرنسية بأنه «أكبر فضيحة قضائية في التاريخ». وبحسب التقرير الصادر في نيسان الماضي، فقد تمّت دعوة مورو للمشاركة في اجتماع تُموّله وزارة الخارجية الأميركية عام 2007، بمشاركة عدد من مُمثّلي مكتب التحقيقات الفيدرالي ووزارتَي العدل والخارجية، حيث اتُّفق على إنشاء لجنة قضائية متخصّصة برئاسة كارين مورينو تاكسمان، المُتخصّص في مكافحة غسل الأموال والإرهاب، تعمل داخل السفارة الأميركية، لمتابعة الملفّات الداخلية بالتعاون مع عدد من القضاة البرازيليين.

بعد إدانة لولا، وإبعاده عن السباق الرئاسي عام 2018، حصد مورو ثَمن جُهده، بتولّيه وزارة العدل، ومن خلاله شرَع الأميركيون في فتح الملفّات القضائية الخاصّة بشركة النفط البرازيلية الرسمية «بتروبراس»، لإضعافها، بُغية الشروع في تخصيصها، بعد ضمانات من الرئيس الجديد، جايير بولسنارو، بإعطاء الشركات الأميركية الأولوية في هذا الاستثمار. حَقّق مورو الطموح الأميركي إلى نفوذ يطاول وزارة العدل – وبُنيتها الإدارية -، التي شهدت اجتماعات حضرها رئيس مكتب التحقيقات الفيدرالي الأميركي، وعُقدت خلالها اتفاقات ثنائية أخطرها اتفاقيةٌ تتيح للأميركيين الحصول على بيانات وبصمات مواطنين برازيليين «مشبوهين». بعد افتضاح أمر مورو، ونشْر موقع «إنترسبت» الوثائق والتسجيلات التي تُثبت الاتصالات الثنائية بينه وبين جهات أمنية أميركية، وعملية التلفيق التي قادها فريق التحقيق ومكتب المدّعي العام، قَدّم وزير العدل استقالته من منصبه بذريعة تدخّل بولسنارو في تعيينات الشرطة الفيدرالية. لكنّ مصدراً مقرّباً من الرئيس اعتَبر أن قاضي التحقيق قد فقد مصداقيّته القضائية تماماً، وبالتالي سيتوجّه إلى العمل السياسي مدعوماً من رؤسائه في السفارة الأميركية.

استراتيجية التعويم

بدأت خلية العمل التابعة للسفارة الأميركية في برازيليا، مِروحة من الاتصالات السياسية مع عدد من الأحزاب والمؤسّسات الأمنية لتغطية ترشيح سيرجيو مورو. واعتَمدت خريطة الطريق، بدايةً، على إضعاف جايير بولسنارو من خلال رعاية حملات مضادّة له، قادها حليفه السابق، قائد الجيش البرازيلي إدسون بوجول، الذي اتّهمه بالتسبُّب بسقوط عدد كبير من الضحايا جرّاء سياساته المتهوّرة. وذكّر بوجول بعشرات الآلاف من الجنود البرازيليين الذين وقفوا في الخطوط الأمامية، وخاطروا بحياتهم لمكافحة الوباء، بينما كان الرئيس يسخر من المرض واللقاح بإصرار. لم تقتصر حركة واشنطن على محاولة التصفية السياسية لبولسنارو وتجييرها لمصلحة «الابن المدلّل» سيرجيو مورو، بل عمدت إلى مدّ خطوط سياسية مع معارضي بولسنارو، وأهمّهم حاكم ولاية ساوباولو جواو دوريا، الذي استُدعي إلى واشنطن في محاولة أميركية لمنْعه من الترشّح للرئاسة وتجيير قُوّته الانتخابية إلى مورو.

بدأت خلية العمل التابعة للسفارة الأميركية في برازيليا مِروحة من الاتصالات مع الأحزاب والمؤسّسات الأمنية


كذلك، يتخوّف قياديون في «حزب العمال» من محاولة خلْط الأوراق الانتخابية في الأيام الأخيرة قبل التصويت، عبر إعادة فتح الملفّات القضائية التي سقطت بعد تكشُّف عمليات التلاعب والتزوير فيها؛ إذ إن سلوك واشنطن وتاريخها في التدخّلات عبر ملفّات مختلَقة، يُبقيان المحاذير قائمة من إعادة الكَرّة من خلال قضاة مرتبطين بالسفارة الأميركية في برازيليا. إلّا أن خبراء قانونيين يستبعدون تمكُّن الولايات المتحدة وحلفائها من إقناع الرأي العام البرازيلي بالسيناريو السابق نفسه، ما قد يفتح الباب أمام سيناريو أسوأ، يتمثّل في استهداف أمني قد يطاول دا سيلفا، ويُوضع في خانة الانتقام الشخصي، مع تنامي التيّارات الدينية المتطرّفة التي تكنّ العداء الشديد لـ«حزب العمال» والتيار اليساري يشكل عام. وفي هذا الإطار، ينبّه أمنيون إلى خطورة مشاركة دا سيلفا في الحملات الانتخابية، من دون اتّخاذ أعلى درجات الحماية، بالنظر إلى أن احتمالات تَعرُّضه لاعتداء مباشر عالية جدّاً. ومن بين الأوراق التي تحتفظ بها واشنطن أيضاً، هي رفض المؤسّسة العسكرية ترشيح دا سيلفا، وهو ما قد يدفعها إلى اتّخاذ الإجراء نفسه الذي فعّلته عام 2018، عندما قرّر القاضي روجيريو فافريتو إطلاق سراح دا سيلفا وقانونيّةَ عودته إلى المنافسة الانتخابية، حيث عَقدت قيادة الجيش اجتماعاً مفتوحاً، وهدّدت بإجراءات صارمة، ما استدعى تدخُّل القاضي جبران نيتو ليُلغي قرار زميله، ويفتح المجال واسعاً أمام فوز بولسنارو.

أمام هذا المشهد، يبدو أن الحرب الأميركية ستستعر في الأشهر المقبلة، بالاعتماد على سلسلة من الإجراءات والخطط، ومَدّ إعلامي غير مسبوق لإعادة احتلال البرازيل سياسياً، ومَنْعها من قيادة المنطقة المحيطة بالولايات المتحدة الأميركية. أمّا «حزب العمال»، الذي يتّجه إلى تشكيل أكبر تكتّل سياسي يَجْمعه مع حلفائه اليساريين ويمين الوسط، عبر إمكانية ترشيح جيرالدو ألكمين كنائب لدا سيلفا، فيدرك شراسة المعركة القادمة وأهمّيتها. فهذه المرّة، سيكون الانتصار بطَعم آخر، ومدخلاً لسياسات مختلفة، أبرزها إغلاق منافذ التسلّط الأميركي في الداخل، ورسْم خريطة حُكم جديدة تُقتلع بموجبها عصابات واشنطن من مؤسّسات القضاء والأمن والإدارات العامة.

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