Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s news conference to sum up the high-level meetings week at the 76th session of the UN General Assembly, New York, September 25, 2021

SEPTEMBER 27, 2021

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s news conference to sum up the high-level meetings week at the 76th session of the UN General Assembly, New York, September 25, 2021

https://www.mid.ru/en/foreign_policy/news/-/asset_publisher/cKNonkJE02Bw/content/id/4867149

Question: Which opportunities and risk factors does the new Taliban’s Islamic Emirate in Afghanistan present? Does Russia fear that the presence of Taliban could somehow feed Islamic extremism in the region? If so, what can be done?

Sergey Lavrov: Of course, Afghanistan is now on everyone’s mind. We believe, and we did believe from the outset, that what has happened there is a reality. Unfortunately, the hasty pull-out, let’s call it this way, by the United States and other NATO countries of their troops was carried out without any consideration of the consequences. As you are aware, many weapons were left behind in Afghanistan. We all need to see to it that these weapons do not serve any unconstructive purposes.

The reality on the ground is based on statements made by the Taliban who proclaimed their commitment to fighting extremism and terrorism, including ISIS and Al-Qaeda, not to project instability on their neighbours. They committed themselves to respecting women’s rights and to creating an inclusive government. You know all this. What matters the most at the moment is that they fulfil their promises.

The first step to form a transitory government structure fails to reflect the whole gamut of the Afghan society in its ethnic, religious and political diversity. We remain engaged with the Taliban, and these contacts have been continuing for several years now. We are doing this, inter alia, within the expanded troika of Russia, the United States, China and Pakistan. Only recently, Russian, Chinese and Pakistani representatives travelled to Doha, and after that they visited Kabul where they engaged with the Taliban, as well as with representatives of the secular authorities. I am referring to former President Hamid Karzai and former Head of the High Council for National Reconciliation Abdullah Abdullah. These contacts primarily focused on the need to form a genuinely representative government structure. The Taliban claim to be moving in this direction, and the current architecture is only temporary. What matters the most is to make sure that they keep the promises that they made in public. For us, the top priority is precisely what you just mentioned: it is unacceptable that extremism spills over into neighbouring countries, and the terrorist threat must not persist on Afghan soil. We will do everything we can to support the Taliban in their determination, as you have said, to fight ISIS and other terrorist groups, and to try to make sure that this determination paves the way to some practical progress.

Question: Does Russia consider easing or lifting its national sanctions against the Taliban members who become part of the new Afghan government in order to facilitate contacts with them? What position will Russia take during UN talks on easing or lifting sanctions against the Taliban?

Sergey Lavrov: As things stand at the moment, nothing is restraining or hindering our contacts with the Taliban. Moreover, the UN Security Council sanctions, as set forth in the corresponding resolutions, are not preventing us from engaging in such contacts. On the contrary, UN Security Council resolutions stipulate the need to advance a political process, and without working together with the Taliban this is impossible.

We have been engaged in contacts with this movement for some years now, and these contacts have been primarily geared towards ensuring the safety ofr Russian nationals, facilitating intra-Afghan reconciliation and political process. I have not heard any suggestions within the UN Security Council about the need to ease or lift international sanctions at one of the forthcoming meetings. There is no need for this for us to be able to engage with the Taliban movement at this stage.

We all expect the Taliban to honour all the good-minded promises they made. For this reason, we will see whether the terrorist and drug trafficking threats are actually eliminated.

Question: The UN Secretary-General has warned of disastrous consequences of a putative economic collapse in Afghanistan. What do you think about the idea to unfreeze Afghan assets held by international organisations?

It appears from your remarks that your policy is to judge the Taliban by their deeds. In what way does the Taliban ideology differ from that of other Islamic groups in other parts of the world, such as the groups in Syria, which you are opposing and showering with bombs?

Sergey Lavrov: Syria, as you may know, is where the seat of terrorism is located. Practically the entire Syrian territory has been liberated, but the so-called de-escalation zone in Idlib province is under the sway of Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, an offspring of Jabhat al-Nusra. All the UN Security Council resolutions point out the nature of these terrorist organisations. I see no problem here from the point of view of destroying the terrorists in Syria.

We are holding talks with our Turkish partners, who signed with us, a couple of years ago now, a special agreement whereby they undertook to fight terrorists in the Idlib de-escalation zone and to separate them from armed groups that are not terrorist ones and to cooperate with the Turkish military. In just a few days from now, President of Russia Vladimir Putin will have yet another meeting with President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The presidents will thoroughly analyse how this commitment is being implemented. It is being implemented at a rather slow pace. This is obvious.

As for the Taliban and comparisons between them and other groups, we cannot divide the terrorists into good guys and bad guys. There is a sufficient number of exemptions from sanctions imposed on the Taliban. This has been made on purpose to enable [the international community] to have a dialogue with them. It means that the UN Security Council recognises the Taliban as an inalienable part of Afghan society, which, for Syria, Jabhat al-Nusra and Hayat Tahrir al-Sham are not. This is what makes the difference.

We will induce those who have seized power in Kabul following the flight of the foreign contingents to behave in a civilised way.

We have mentioned the unfreezing of the assets. We think that this matter should be given a practical consideration from the positions you have mentioned in quoting the UN Secretary-General.

Question: The Taliban Government have decided on the candidacies for their ambassador to Russia. Will Russia be prepared to issue an agreement to people proposed by the Taliban?

Sergey Lavrov: We have no information of anyone applying to us for an agrement. Serving in Moscow today is the ambassador appointed by the previous government. No one is urging an international recognition of the Taliban. We will proceed precisely from this principle if and when we receive a request regarding the appointment of a new ambassador.

Question: We have heard US President Joe Biden’s statement. He said that the period of relentless war has ended, and that the era of relentless diplomacy has been ushered in. Do you believe this?

What about Russia’s diplomatic property? Has there been any progress?

Even some of the members of the delegation had problems with their visas, let alone the fact that there was a danger that the Russian delegation would not be allowed into the UN General Assembly because of the vaccination requirements, with vaccines that were approved in the United States. Are they just trying to annoy us whenever they can?

Sergey Lavrov: I do not think that this is an attempt to annoy us in any way. Most likely they are just a bit at a loss over the resumption of in-person UN General Assembly meetings. I cannot blame the New York authorities for being overly cautious. This is a serious event, and a lot of people come here from all around the world. There are quite a few different variants of the virus already, so safety measures do not hurt.

It is another question, as you have so rightly put it, that we do not accept any attempts to discriminate against vaccines that are not registered in the United States but have proven time and again to be effective. Sputnik V is a case in point. Several EU countries, for example, Hungary and Slovakia, have approved our vaccines, and this should serve as an example for other EU and NATO members.

As for visas for our delegation, apart from the epidemiological situation, the delay in the granting of visas was obviously caused by political considerations. We have seen through this. A number of our employees have yet to obtain their visas, including State Duma members who are part of the delegation. We will see to it that the UN Secretariat leadership fulfils its duties as to ensuring compliance with all the provisions of the agreement between the UN and the United States, the headquarters host country. Instances of flagrant violation of this agreement and repeated failures to comply with the UN headquarters host country commitments have been piling up, including the confiscation of diplomatic property, as you have just mentioned. The UN Committee on Relations with the Host Country has said that this is unacceptable and wrong. The Secretary-General should have launched arbitration proceedings against the actions by the United States several years ago. We had a meeting yesterday, and I reminded him of this fact. I was glad that his Legal Counsel, Miguel de Serpa Soares, was present at this meeting, since it is his duty to initiate these steps. They have been long overdue.

United States President Joe Biden said that the United States will no longer use force to change regimes abroad. “Never say never,” as the saying goes. We have seen how the Donald Trump administration pulled out of the Iranian nuclear deal that was concluded by the Barack Obama administration. Now that talks on fully restoring the JCPOA to settle the situation around the Iranian nuclear programme are underway, one of the questions the Iranians are asking the Americans is whether the agreement to restore this plan can include a clause binding future administrations to respect it? The Americans say that they cannot do this, since this is how their system works. International law is one thing, but their law is a nose of wax, and can be twisted about any way they so desire.

United States President Joe Biden said that an era of “relentless diplomacy” has been ushered in. This means that the Americans will seek to impose on other countries what they deem right for them by other means. This could include colour revolutions. They do not require any use of force, but are equally destructive. Just look at Libya, Iraq, Syria, and Ukraine, our neighbour.

We want the United States to make the next step and move beyond the commitment not to use force for reshaping other countries by actually refraining from doing this altogether. They must recognise that we are all different. We have different cultural, civilisational roots, but we share the same planet and must respect each other.

Question: According to our information, preparations for Under Secretary for Political Affairs Victoria’s Nuland’s visit to Moscow are underway. Where do these talks stand at this point? Can you give us a timeline for the visit? What does Moscow expect to receive in response to the temporary lifting of restrictions from someone who is on Russia’s black list?

Sergey Lavrov: If you have sources of information that let you know about this, I encourage you to ask them this question. The Foreign Ministry and the US State Department are working on a number of contacts. This is not the only matter under discussion.

When both parties decide on a date for contact to take place in order to discuss a specific issue, we will make a corresponding announcement.

Question: I have a question about the JCPOA. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has said that swift action is needed, because we are running out of time. Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian said yesterday that they were ready for that. They appear to be receiving mixed signals from the United States, but they should come up with an agreement soon. You were involved in making this deal happen. As a negotiator, have you any idea what will happen if the United States does not return to the agreement and Iran continues its nuclear programme? What is the worst-case scenario?

Sergey Lavrov: Iran is not doing anything illegal, because it is complying with the Non-Proliferation Treaty and an additional protocol to a comprehensive safeguards agreement. Iran is not complying with most of its obligations included in the JCPOA which are now not binding, because the Americans have destroyed the agreement.

The issue is about restoring it in full so that Iran has no reason to make exceptions to its commitments. The IAEA, including in the person of its Director General, is in contact with the Iranians. They have a complete picture of what is happening there. They are not being denied access to the work that Iran is doing as part of its nuclear programme. The IAEA has no reason to believe that the 2015 findings to the effect that there were no signs of the nuclear programme being re-oriented towards military needs have become outdated. They have no reason to revise these findings. They speak about this explicitly.

Of course, we want the talks on the full restoration of the JCPOA to resume as soon as possible. But, first, the government in Iran has just been formed. They say they will need a week or two (hopefully not more) to put together their negotiating team. There have been personnel changes. Second, when the United States withdrew from the JCPOA, Iran, for over a year, had been conscientiously complying  with its commitments under this document in hope that the United States would come to its senses and return to the deal. Of all people, our counterparts in Washington are not in a position to say that time is up. Indeed, it was carried out by the administration which is now gone, but this is the legacy of the current administration, especially since the JCPOA is its brainchild. It is only fair that it deliver bold action in addressing all related issues.

There are also sanctions that the US has illegally imposed on Iran, allegedly for violating the JCPOA. But the sanctions concern not just Iran. They have also imposed sanctions on everyone who carry out legal trade with Iran, including the supply of military products, which are no longer subject to a ban. These sanctions must be lifted as part of the reinstatement of the JCPOA. And Iran’s trading partners across all areas of commercial exchange must not be affected by America’s unilateral move.

Question: Will Iran’s economy collapse if the JCPOA is not restored?

Sergey Lavrov: We are not even considering scenarios like that. There is serious hope and cautious optimism that we will be able to achieve a result. At least everyone wants it, including the United States and Iran.

Question: The calm in the northwest of Syria has changed with Russia’s intense airstrikes in recent weeks, particularly ahead of the summit between President Erdogan and President Putin. Why is Russia stepping up its attacks just ahead of this summit?

And another question on Syria as well. Is there an agreement or consensus between Russia and the US following the meeting between the Russian Deputy Foreign Minister and US National Security Council Coordinator Brett McGurk, which took place in Geneva? Thank you.

Sergey Lavrov: We are using force in northwestern Syria in conformity with the requirements contained in UN Security Council Resolution 2254, which provides for an uncompromising struggle against terrorism in Syria.

I have mentioned that there was a special agreement on Idlib between President of Russia Vladimir Putin and President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Our Turkish colleagues have committed themselves to separating the normal and sensible opposition forces from the terrorists. This should have been done long ago. So far, this has not happened. There is slow progress, but the threats of terrorism from the militants in the Idlib de-escalation zone are constantly renewed. These people are attacking the positions of the Syrian army and have repeatedly tried to launch strike drones to attack the Russian Khmeimim Air Base.

Our Turkish friends are well aware that we will not put up with this behaviour and with these militants’ attitude to the role performed by the Turkish military in the Idlib de-escalation zone. We will have detailed discussions as part of preparations for the presidential meeting. The September 29 summit will focus on ways to achieve what we have agreed upon and prevent the terrorists from ruling the roost.

As for contacts with the US regarding the right bank of the Euphrates, they are held periodically. We draw their attention to the fact that the US presence in Syria is illegitimate, to the outrageous situation in the 55-kilometre zone called Al-Tanf, which they have occupied, and to the situation at the Rukban camp located in the US-controlled territory. This is a long story.

The contacts taking place between the foreign ministries and the security councils are mostly about the fact that the Americans are present [in Syria] illegally, illegitimately, but they are there.  This is the reality. Given their tendency to fire all their guns with or without reason, we are negotiating the so-called deconflicting mechanism with them.   It is working. Let me draw your attention to the fact that it is functioning despite the legal bans on contacts between the militaries imposed by the US Congress. Not so long ago, the heads of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff officially announced that this was unreasonable and that the bans on military contacts should be lifted. I think this will do good both to the deconflicting process in Syria and our further arms dialogue as a whole.

Question: Turkey has expressed concerns about the voting in Crimea in the recent State Duma elections. This is despite the fact that Russia has provided humanitarian assistance for COVID-19 to Turkey, as well as military cooperation. My question is: could you address the imbalance, what is your analysis of the imbalance in relations?

Sergey Lavrov: Turkey was not the only one to voice “concerns” or “denounce” the vote in Crimea. I can give you two explanations for this “commotion.” First, five years ago, when the previous State Duma elections were held, no one made any statements of this kind, at least not that strong. Had this been the case, I would have remembered it, but no such thing occurred.

However, now they are pouncing on this issue, including the hectic efforts to convene the so-called Crimea Platform in Kiev, and all the commotion around the election. I think that this is an attempt to divert attention from the fact that Kiev, under President Vladimir Zelensky’s leadership, has shamefully failed to honour its commitments under the Minsk Agreements on overcoming the intra-Ukrainian conflict in the east of the country. It is obvious. The adopted laws have been a de-facto obstacle to granting southeastern Ukraine the status required under the Minsk Agreements.

We drew the attention of our German and French colleagues, as well as the European Union to the fact that their “clients” are negating UN Security Council resolutions, because it was the Security Council that approved the Minsk Agreements. Unfortunately, they are all bashfully looking the other way, while President Vladimir Zelensky understood that all he needed to do was divert attention from his own failures and the fact that the Minsk Agreements were sabotaged. Therefore, they are now playing the Crimean card.

A lack of professionalism in foreign policy is the second reason why they are doing this. Professionals know all too well that the Crimea question is closed once and for all.

Question: My second question is regarding Mali. France has expressed concern about the presence of military contractors from Russia in Mali. They are now being joined by their European allies speaking about this concern. My question is: what is Russia’s position on this?

Sergey Lavrov: I have heard these questions. Foreign Minister of France Jean-Yves Le Drian, and EU’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Josep Borrell, have raised them with me.

Mali currently has a transitional government. Those authorities are undertaking efforts to restore the constitutional order, prepare elections and return to civilian rule. The elections are scheduled to take place in February under the auspices of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the African Union.

Mali’s transitional government has emphasised its commitment to international obligations and is combatting terrorism. It has called upon a private Russian military company because, to my understanding, France intends to substantially reduce its military presence there, and these troops were tasked with fighting terrorists entrenched in the north, in an area called Kidal. But they did not succeed, and terrorist are still in control there.

The Malian authorities considered their own capabilities insufficient without support from abroad, but those who had promised to eliminate terrorism in this country decided to draw down their presence. So they went to a Russian private military company. We have nothing to do with this. This activity is legal and consists of a relationship between the host country, which is a legitimate government recognised by everyone as a legitimate transitional structure, on the one hand, and those offering their services as foreign experts.

Let me emphasise that apart from private military companies, the Russian state has been making its own contribution to ensuring Mali’s defence capability and combat readiness for eliminating the terrorist threat and other threats. We do this by supplying military equipment as part of our assistance. We also work within the UN Security Council to devise the best approaches to further peacebuilding efforts.

I do not see any reason to question this. Yesterday I had a meeting with Mali’s Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Minister, Abdoulaye Diop, who talked to the press on this matter. There are no questions here. In fact, the problem lies elsewhere. Our colleagues from the European Union, as Josep Borrell told me, are asking us to stop working in Africa altogether, because this is “their place.” It would be better for the EU and the Russian Federation to align their actions in fighting terrorism not only in Mali, but in the Sahara-Sahelian region in general. Claiming that “they were there first, so we must leave” is, first, an insult to the Bamako government that has invited its foreign partners, and second, it is not the way to treat anyone.

Question: Shortly before the Russian parliamentary elections, the European Parliament adopted a resolution calling on the European Commission to refuse to recognise the results of the vote. Did you discuss this with EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell? Will the EU recognise the results of the Russian State Duma elections?

Sergey Lavrov: We have not heard any assessments from the European Union proper because the European Parliament is not a body that determines EU policy. I spoke about this with Josep Borrell; I quoted some of the assessments made during his remarks in the European Parliament, including the absolutely unacceptable statements that the European Union distinguishes between “the regime” in Moscow and the Russian people.

He made some rather awkward and vague excuses. It was quite obvious that he realised the phrasing was lame at the very least. I hope that was just a phrase, not the idea. This happens. Sometimes we let something slip only to regret it later.

We have no information about anyone officially rejecting the results of our elections, which have just been announced.

Question: France calls for a review of the recent nuclear submarine deal between the United States, Australia and the United Kingdom to verify its compliance with the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). What is your opinion on this matter? What do you generally think of this new triple alliance, which has created such a stir and runs counter to the partnership agreements in NATO and beyond?

Sergey Lavrov: This deal, signed immediately after the flight from Afghanistan, inevitably raises questions from the parties to these alliances. Probably, in addition to a commercial grievance, France is also thinking how reliable these alliances are and how this has increased the relevance of Europe’s strategic autonomy? These are big questions for the Western camp, and they have to address them.

We are not going to interfere in these matters. Yet, we might feel the consequences of what is happening there. This may affect our relations with the European Union, may spur the EU’s interest in cooperating with us, in using the obvious geopolitical and geostrategic advantages of being on one huge continent, especially since the global growth centre is shifting towards Asia.

I have discussed this with many participants here who represent the European Union and who do not like what is happening. Especially when the EU says they should “push back against, constrain, and engage” with Russia. I asked Josep Borrell how they were going to “engage with us,” exactly. Do you know what he answered? “Get out of Mali.” That is all there is to this policy, to this triad. That’s what it is worth. I am being honest. I do not think there is a violation of any ethical norms here because they are also talking about this publicly. I am just giving examples to illustrate their way of thinking.

As regards the Non-Proliferation Treaty, this matter is being discussed a lot on the sidelines in Vienna. The IAEA is responsible for the non-proliferation regime and for ensuring that nuclear research is not diverted to military needs. For a submarine, uranium must be enriched to 90 percent. This is weapons-grade uranium. We will probably have to ask for an IAEA expert review.

A similar attempt to develop such submarines by a non-nuclear country was made a few decades ago. The project was eventually scrapped then, and that settled the whole matter. But now, this deal has been signed. If the IAEA confirms it is in line with nuclear safety and non-diversion to military needs, there will be a queue for such submarines.

Question: In the lead up to the high-level week, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres issued a warning that the world might be drawn into a new vastly more dangerous cold war if the US and China fail to mend their completely collapsed relations. He called for the avoidance of a new confrontation at any cost, and also warned that it would be more dangerous than the cold war between the Soviet Union and the United States and dealing with its aftereffects would be much more difficult. What does Russia have to say to these statements?

Sergey Lavrov: Make no mistake, we had this issue on our radar screen even before UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres mentioned it. We see that tensions in China-US relations are escalating. We are aware of who is “playing the first violin” in this not too pleasant turn of events. This worries us. Confrontational schemes do not help the people of our planet to live a normal life: be it the recently announced Indo-Pacific Strategy, which explicitly proclaimed containing China, including in the South China Sea, one of its main goals, or QUAD that was formed as part of these strategies, or, by the same token, the purported AUKUS “triple alliance,” the purpose of which is to help Australia contain the “Chinese threat.”

Yesterday and today, I met with a number of ministers representing ASEAN member countries and asked them how things were going. Talks are underway between China and ASEAN to draft a legally binding code of conduct in the South China Sea. Things are not moving fast, but this is the most reliable way to ensure freedom of navigation and everything else that worries our Western partners to the extent that they keep holding provocative and non-provocative naval manoeuvres and creating anti-Chinese geopolitical schemes. We stand for mutually respectful relations between the great powers that never escalate into a nuclear war. The presidents of Russia and the United States, Vladimir Putin and Joseph Biden, confirmed the unacceptability of this at the Geneva summit. Any kind of war between nuclear powers is unacceptable, because the risks of it escalating into a nuclear conflict are enormous. Humanity has not come up with anything new in this regard. We must talk and strive to find a compromise and get along. As President Trump put it, we must “make a deal.” This is the right expression to use not only in business, but in politics as well. Politics is needed to create a proper environment for normal life, rather than for someone to promote their ambitions, so that everyone agrees that they are “the coolest guy on Earth.” This is obvious to normal people. Great powers must act responsibly with regard to their people and the rest of humanity.

President Putin proposed holding a UN Security Council permanent members’ summit. The pandemic has delayed this work. We have resumed it now. We aim to come to an agreement with our partners from China and the three Western permanent members of the UN Security Council on specific issues which will then be included in the agenda, and on the format of discussions (we may start out online). Talks are the only way to resolve the issues at hand. The five permanent members of the UN Security Council must set an example to other countries.

Question: In connection with the withdrawal of foreign contingents – official and informal mercenaries – from Libya, disputes arose about over whether it would be better to withdraw them only after the elections, upon receipt of an official request from a new government. Some say this should take place before December 24 to ensure fair and legitimate elections. The spokesman for the Presidential Council said today that you highlighted two points at a meeting with Mohammed al-Menfi: the need for a settlement between the Libyan parties and the withdrawal of foreign troops. Does Russia think it should be done before or after the elections?

Sergey Lavrov: Before or after the elections is not a critical matter. Most importantly, the final document of the second International Conference on Libya held in Berlin in June reads as follows: all foreign armed people must leave Libya. Our Turkish colleagues made a reservation saying they had been invited there by the legitimate leadership in the person of the Prime Minister of the Government of National Accord, Fayez al-Sarraj. However, the other part of Libyan society – the Tobruk Parliament – is no less legitimate. Both of these bodies were created under the Skhirat Agreement. The legitimate parliament along with the legitimate Libyan national army invited armed personnel, whom they have on their payroll, to come and join them from abroad. Concurrently, there were people who can be referred to as mercenaries. People are being transferred from Syria (to both sides), Chad and other African countries.

From the outset, the moment it came up in our discussions, we said that we were in favour of doing this. Considering that foreign military forces are on both sides of the Libyan confrontation, we must make sure that they move out in small groups and simultaneously, so as not to create a military advantage on one side at any point in time. A ceasefire has been observed in Libya for over a year now. No one should be tempted to think that they can return to military methods and try to use force to resolve that country’s problems.

Question: Is Russia facilitating the withdrawal of troops from Libya?

Sergey Lavrov: They should deal with this in their 5+5 commission. We are ready to help, but if they continue to address non-priority matters, there will be no elections on December 24, 2021. They have just adopted the legislative framework for the elections. Then the Parliament voted on the legitimacy of Abdul Hamid Dbeibeh’s Government of National Unity. They need to be pushed towards an earnest discussion about how to live on. There are already speculations about whether the current leaders can run for office (reportedly, there was an agreement that they would not participate, but they want to). Our colleagues in the Secretariat are trying to create artificial difficulties when it comes to the format of the UN presence in Libya. They had better concentrate on fulfilling what we agreed on a year ago now. Nobody expected this. They should not be trying to change this to promote someone’s interests or advance hidden agendas.

Question: At what stage are the US-Russia strategic stability talks at the moment? As for nuclear weapons, what is Russia’s reaction to the recent missile launches in North and South Korea? What could work as an incentive for Kim Jong-un to return back to the negotiating table?

Sergey Lavrov: I heard that Pyongyang is sending signals about North Korea’s interest in normalising relations with South Korea. We have always stood for a direct dialogue between the North and the South. However, it was not always supported by the previous US administration, which wanted to control the process. I hope that in the new situation, the Biden administration will be ready to make more constructive steps to encourage the resumption of normal contacts between North and South Korea.

Missile launches don’t help. We noticed that this time, Seoul tried not to over-dramatise. I think this is the right thing to do. Once we begin to resort to public condemnation and strong rhetoric, this significantly reduces our incentives for diplomatic, professional, and calm dialogue. The final agreement can only be reached through confidential and quiet negotiations, rather than mutual recriminations through loudspeakers.

As regards the strategic stability talks with the United States, the first round took place in July. The second is due next week.

Question: As the UN General Assembly is meeting in New York, the Southern District Court in New York has again denied Russian citizen Konstantin Yaroshenko’s appeal. He continues to be held in American dungeons, as does Viktor Bout. There have been occasional reports in the media about their possible exchange for Americans. Whose court is the ball in? How realistic is the exchange scenario?

Sergey Lavrov: It is difficult to make any predictions or promises on behalf of the United States. We have tried many times to change our citizens’ situation by invoking the Council of Europe Convention on Transfer of Sentenced Persons. The United States is a party to this Convention, just as we are. They categorically refuse to hear anything, including our arguments that both Yaroshenko and Bout (as well as a number of others) have been actually lured into a trap by provocations. They have been literally kidnapped, which is against the law. In Bout’s case, the Thai laws were violated – not all procedures were followed; with Yaroshenko, it was Liberia’s. There was also a case where they took Roman Seleznev in the Maldives in a gangster manner – they just put him on an aircraft and he was flown away. Nobody knew anything. Such methods of provoked attacks on our people are being used to achieve something. Either to persuade them to cooperate, or for some other reason. This is unacceptable.

About prisoner exchanges – Presidents Vladimir Putin and Joe Biden touched upon this matter in Geneva, among other things. They agreed that the respective Russian and US security services in charge of this matter will try to negotiate some mutually acceptable options. So far, we haven’t come to any agreement. The United States is only interested in getting its citizens back and does not seem to take our interests very seriously. They are interested in Paul Whelan, who is convicted of espionage. He was caught red-handed. This crime cannot be even compared with the reasons Yaroshenko and Bout got their sentences in excess of 20 years in prison. We are ready to talk. There are other American citizens as well. For some reason, they are not of interest to the administration in Washington. But talking is always better than not talking.

Question: On the JCPOA, the United States wants to discuss [inaudible] the Middle East. Will this be included into the JCPOA?  And on Syria, why doesn’t Damascus allow the UN to have humanitarian trips there? I know that there is a compromise made in the UN Security Council, but it does not seem to make sense. Does Syria or Damascus think that UN workers are Trojan horses?

Sergey Lavrov: Regarding the JCPOA, all we want is for it to resume without any preconditions. Attempts to add them as a requirement to expand the talks to include the Iranian missile programme or to discuss Iran’s “behaviour” in the region, as our Western colleagues say, have no future. This is like comparing apples and oranges. The agreement on the nuclear programme is a separate subject. If there are any concerns as to someone’s behaviour, Iran’s regional partners are not the only ones to have such concerns. Teheran has its own misgivings regarding them, which is totally normal for any region of the world.

The Persian Gulf countries engage in far-reaching foreign policy activities far beyond their regions. This must be taken into consideration. In this connection, we noted that many years ago Russia drafted a Collective Security Concept for the Persian Gulf region suggesting a dialogue inspired to some degree by the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe. This included discussing confidence-building measures, military transparency and attending each other’s exercises, as well as engaging in positive joint projects. Political scientists from the region and other countries have already discussed this topic. In August 2021, we updated our collective security approach for the Persian Gulf region and released it as an official UN General Assembly and Security Council document. We believe that it is at a forum of this kind, and we hope that we will succeed in convening it, that we need to discuss concerns over the presence of missiles in this region, since Iran is not alone in this regard, and what kind of policies various parties follow. The conflict in Yemen is a case in point in terms of exposing the interests of Arab countries and Iran. There is a need to reach agreements. We believe that this forum should reach beyond the Gulf region. You cannot separate Iraq, Egypt and Jordan in terms of their engagement in shaping a new common platform for constructive dialogue. The Arab League, and the five permanent members of the UN Security must all be involved. Probably, the European Union will also be interested. We believe this approach to be concrete and realistic, at least I had the impression that our colleagues were interested in it. Yesterday, I met with the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), and they are interested in this topic. We agreed to make it a priority as we resume our ministerial contacts.

As for humanitarian aid to Syria, yesterday I had a lengthy conversation on this topic with Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. We cannot be satisfied with a situation where double standards are being used in the most flagrant and blatant manner. There are six million refugees in Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey, or maybe even more. In November 2020, Russia and 20 other countries helped Damascus hold a conference on refugees. It focused on creating conditions that would enable refugees to return home, which is what most of them want. The fact that the United States did everything to intimidate those who were expected to attend this conference in Damascus, and the fact that the UN did not take part in the conference was a real shock for us. In fact, the UN representative in Damascus was the only person representing the UN as an observer. At the time, I wrote a letter to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres saying that this amounted to a failure to comply with UN Security Council Resolution 2254 that provides a framework for the UN’s activity on the Syrian track. It clearly stipulates efforts to facilitate humanitarian deliveries and creating conditions that would enable refugees to return to Syria.

Early in 2021, the European Union held an annual conference on Syrian refugees in Brussels, without the Syrian Arab Republic, but co-chaired by the EU and the UN Secretary-General. How perplexing. Not only was Syria not present, which is already a flagrant violation of international humanitarian law, but the funds collected at the conference went towards paying for the accommodation of refugees in Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey, instead of being used to restore infrastructure in Syria. For this reason, I ask those of our friends from the media who worry about ordinary people in conflict zones, to note that initiatives of this kind make a mockery of international humanitarian law.

We adopted the compromise resolution in July. It is true that it extends the so-called cross-border humanitarian aid mechanism for another six months, with deliveries primarily coming from Turkey to the Idlib de-escalation zone. However, considering that the West clings to this mechanism that has not been agreed with Damascus and runs counter to the international humanitarian law, we have every reason to believe that there is some kind of hidden agenda there. We do not get any information on what is in the lorries heading to the Idlib de-escalation zone. The UN swears that they inspect every lorry, but there is no way this can be verified. Even more so, no one knows how this aid or whatever these boxes contain is distributed in the Idlib de-escalation zone, or whether terrorists from Hayat Tahrir al-Sham and other unacceptable structures benefit from this aid.

Unless specific measures are taken to unblock humanitarian aid deliveries through Damascus, as required under international humanitarian law, we will put an end to this untransparent cross-border activity. Moreover, since the adoption of the resolution requiring that aid be sent into Syria through Damascus as well, there was only one convoy, and even it was far from complete. About half of the supplies that had been waiting to be delivered for almost a year could not reach their destination. The convoy organised by the International Committee of the Red Cross together with the Syrian Arab Red Crescent back in April 2020 remained where it was. Those who care about the starving population must, first, appeal to the Western countries that can influence this situation, and second, reach out to the UN leadership so that it complies with the relevant resolution. Apart from purely the humanitarian aspects, on assisting Syria and humanitarian deliveries, this resolution calls for the so-called early recovery projects, including water supply, electricity, housing, schools and healthcare. This must be done, and the UN Secretariat knows this. Syrians currently face so much hardship. Throughout the Syrian crisis the UN Secretariat did little to create conditions facilitating the return of refugees. However, the UN Security Council Resolution is there. It has been adopted unanimously, and has to be carried out.

Question: Yesterday, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas declared that the Palestinians would withdraw their recognition of the State of Israel, if Israel did not cease its occupation within one year.  This will lead to chaos in the Middle East. What can the Russian Federation as a friend of the Palestinians and a country maintaining good relations with Israel do to avoid this scenario? After the Palestinians lost faith in the efficacy of the peace process, do they have the right to defend themselves and resist the occupation?

Sergey Lavrov: All right, let’s talk about the Palestinian-Israeli problems. These problems are certainly grave ones. They were not helped by the “casting about” we observed during the previous US administration. I am referring to both their recognition of the Golan Heights and the attempts to promote what was actually an annexation inscribed in the context of the efforts to create a quasi Palestinian state. What is important here is that the Biden administration has confirmed its commitment to the two-state approach. But the Israeli prime minister is not confirming this commitment, although there are politicians in Israel and in the Israeli parliament, who have different views on how to ensure security of the Jewish State without living under constant strain and hitting targets threatening Israel. [According to them], the alternative is to come to an agreement and build a stable and peaceful life through a two-state safe and prosperous coexistence in keeping with the principles of a settlement endorsed by the UN Security Council and the UN General Assembly. The current Israeli leaders are maintaining contacts that mostly boil down to keeping security in the Palestinian territories.

We believe that it would be a major mistake if the processes in the region – Libya, Syria, Iraq, Yemen, etc. – make us forget about the Palestinian question. After all, it is the outgrowth of this planet’s longest-lasting modern conflict, a conflict that other powers sought to settle through the creation of two states. One state was established in no time, but the other state is still to be created.

I believe that the decision approved by the Arab League at the initiative of the King of Saudi Arabia almost 20 years ago now was a wise decision. I am referring to the Arab Peace Initiative, which said that the Arab countries would normalise their relations with Israel immediately after the creation of a viable Palestinian state conforming to all the UN-defined criteria. That was quite a specimen of statecraft. But the Trump administration attempted to turn everything upside down. The Abraham Accords promoted by a number of Arab countries were based on the logic that the first thing to do was to normalise relations between the Arabs and Israel, with the Palestinian problem to be considered afterwards. We welcome any kind of normalisation between any states. Not at the expense of Palestine in this case. It is gratifying that all the signatories of the Abraham Accords, including Bahrain, the UAE, the Sudan, and Morocco stressed that they were fully committed to the UN decisions on the Palestinian problem. This is where we should stand.

You asked whether they have the right to fight. They will not ask [for anyone’s permission]. The unregulated state of the Palestinian problem is the gravest factor feeding radical sentiments on the Arab “street.”  The extremist preachers are saying that their people have been wronged, that they were promised a state of their own 80 years ago but it was a deception. Young people, particularly uneducated ones, are highly sensitive to this sort of propaganda. But my Israeli colleagues get offended when I explain to them this aspect of the Middle East situation and the impact of the lack of a settlement of the Palestinian problem is exerting on stability in the whole of the region. They say I am wrong and that the problem is not very serious. But this is a shortsighted approach.

This is the reason why we are supporting Palestine President Mahmoud Abbas’ proposal to convene an international conference. But we are confident that it must be thoroughly prepared, for which purpose we would like to resume the activities of the Quartet of international intermediaries consisting of Russia, the United States, the European Union and the United Nations and to recruit for joint work, for example, the foursome of Arab countries – Egypt, Jordan, the UAE, and Bahrain – that have relations with Israel.   Probably Saudi Arabia, the author of the Arab Peace Initiative, should be invited as well. This makes 4+4+1+2 (Israel and Palestine). If some parties believe that it is still too early to meet in this format, we are ready to offer our territory as a venue and support any other invitation for Israel and Palestine to meet for direct talks. The important thing is to avoid procrastination. We will seek to support this approach in every way we can.

Most importantly, while what we have just discussed depends on many factors (some depend on Israel, some on other members of regional organisations), there is one matter that depends on no one but the Palestinians themselves. I am referring to Palestinian unity. Attempts were being made to restore it a couple of years ago now. Certain agreements seemed to be reached and a circle of elections was announced. But eventually nothing came of it.  The lack of rapport between Ramallah and Gaza carries a negative charge. If the Palestinians restored their unity, it would be easier and more effective for them to talk to Israel at future negotiations.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu once said that he did not know who to hold talks with, when it was unclear whom Mr Abbas was representing.  It looked like he had Ramallah alone, while Gaza was controlled by other people. These matters have a strong influence on any attempts to achieve major political results. The Palestinians are unwilling to restore unity. But we are actively working with all the Palestinian factions. I repeatedly invited them to Moscow. During the discussions they agree they should reunite, but later it all somehow goes amiss.

Question (retranslated from English): This week, the European Commission accused Russia of engaging in hacker attacks against European politicians and media representatives, in particular, German politicians and officials, in the run-up to tomorrow’s election in which they are participating. What is your response to these accusations? Do you have any expectations regarding the outcome of elections in Germany?

Trevor Reed’s family believes he was unjustly indicted and sentenced to an unreasonably long term. Could you comment on these statements as well?

Sergey Lavrov: I have already covered Trevor Reed and Paul Whelan, for that matter. Paul Whelan was arrested on espionage charges. He was caught red-handed. Trevor Reed was arrested for attacking and hitting a police officer several times. I am not sure how many years in prison people in the United States would get for violent attacks against a police officer. I think, many. Konstantin Yaroshenko and Viktor Bout were simply lured by deception into a deal where they used an aircraft for some purpose, which got them implicated into a case of arms and drug smuggling. They were sentenced to over 20 years in prison without having hurt anyone or having any intention to violate international rules for trading in particular types of goods. So, our US colleagues need to be consistent, if they are offended over someone being arrested here. The same standards should be applied to all situations. In the case of an attack on police officers, see what is happening at the trial on the “Capitol attack.”

With regard to the accusations advanced by the European Commission, we are willing to review the facts, but they simply will not give us any. We are being unfoundedly charged with the alleged poisoning of Alexander Litvinenko with polonium in London in 2007. They have not yet provided a single piece of evidence, but closed the process to the public and made it “official,” meaning that the judges can now consider secret materials behind closed doors. Now, they want to do the same with the process regarding the woman who died in Salisbury in the context of the Skripal case. They also want closed hearings on the causes of her death in order to avoid disclosing some secret documents. Nobody is making them available to us, but they blame us for everything. As with the Skripal case, they are also blaming us for the Malaysian Boeing case. The court in The Hague ruled that they had reason to believe the United States, which stated it had satellite images to prove that Russia had done it. But they did not show these images to anyone. The Dutch court considers this normal. They believe whatever the Americans say. Arnold Schwarzenegger famously said “trust me” in one of his films, and Ronald Reagan added “but verify.” So, we want to conduct verification. In the case of the MH17 flight, we provided the data from the radars and much more. The Ukrainians refused to share the data from their radars. Allegedly, they “went dead” during the crash. They refuse to provide the exchange between the air traffic controller and the pilots. This speaks volumes. And much more.

We’re being accused of interfering  in the US elections. I discussed this matter with my colleagues on many occasions, in particular, with former US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. He once said they had irrefutable evidence of Russia’s interference in the 2016 US elections, and I asked him to show it to me. He said they would not let us see it and that we should contact our special services for they would know what it was all about. That was all that was said. Is that okay?

The same goes for cyber attacks. The US authorities accused us (President Biden brought this issue up at a meeting with President Putin) or, rather our ransomware hackers, of attacking a meat processor and a fuel pipeline in the United States demanding them to pay ransom. Nobody showed us any evidence. President Biden, however, said their data show it is not the Russian Government that is doing this, but some people who are based in  Russia.

We let them know that most (about half) of the hacker attacks on our resources over the past year were carried out from the United States. Some originated in Germany and other countries. We have sent 45 official inquiries to our US colleagues indicating concrete facts that needed investigation. We received nine replies. We have received about 10 official inquiries and answered every one of them. I am heartened to know that the Americans agreed to move away from sporadic accusations and complaints and to begin systematic work on this matter after President Putin discussed this issue with President Biden in Geneva. The services that deal with cyber security have established dedicated communication channels. We hope that things will get going now.

With regard to the election in Germany, we wish every success to all its participants.

Question: Last week, the preliminary results of an investigation conducted by Justice Department special counsel John Durham into “Russiagate” were made public in the United States. The indictment mentioned one of the probe’s initiators. It is not the first paradoxical situation reported in the United States. American officials are overturning the US accusations against Russia.

The paradox is that the sanctions adopted against Russia have not been lifted despite the refutation. What is Moscow’s position on this score and what are its American partners saying?

Sergey Lavrov: You have answered your own question. It was unreasonable to do this before pondering the matter or investigating the situation. And it is a pity that after the situation was clarified they have not retraced their steps so as not to harm our bilateral relations. This is what American manners are all about. We have become accustomed to this. We will never ask for the sanctions to be lifted. The “limit” has been exhausted by neighbouring Ukraine, which continues making requests, unable to get its bearings of what is happening.  We are not going to act in this manner.

We do not have any other partners [in the US]. However, dialogue is gradually taking shape in some spheres, such as strategic stability and cybersecurity, which gives hope that we will bit by bit develop dialogue based on mutual respect at least in some spheres of international relations.

Question (retranslated from English): My question concerns Palestine. Many people say that Palestinian settlements are occupying too much land, that there are already half a million settlers. Do you think it’s time for the international community to settle the problem by creating one state for two peoples? Could you comment on this please?

As you are aware, WFP Executive Director David Beasley said just two days ago now that at least 50,000 Yemenis are starving and millions need humanitarian aid and food. Do you think that the international community, which includes Russia, has let the Yemeni people down by failing to put sufficient pressure on all the conflicting parties, including Saudi Arabia?

Sergey Lavrov: I would not say that the international community is not doing enough to convince the conflicting parties to sit down at the negotiating table not only to exchange accusations but also to come to some agreements.  There are a number of factors involved here, which are, regrettably, absolutely subjective and have to do with the desire of certain individuals to remain in power as long as possible, which is having a negative effect on the negotiating process and the possibility of compromise. I will not go into any details right now, but Yemen is indeed a country with the world’s largest humanitarian disaster, which was pointed out long ago, when the conflict had only just started and was in the hot phase.

We are involved through our Embassy. Our ambassador to Yemen is currently working from Riyadh, where a group of ambassadors are acting together to support the process and the UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Yemen. I hope that everyone will gradually come to see the futility of trying to put off the necessary agreements.

As for the [Palestinian] settlements, we have always condemned the settlement policy, saying, just as you have so rightly pointed out, that this would create facts on the ground that will prevent the establishment of a Palestinian state. I have heard about the one state solution where all people would have equal rights. I believe that this is unrealistic. Many academics say that this, if this should happen, will undermine the Jewish nature of the State of Israel. But if equal rights are not granted to everyone in Israel, it might become an apartheid state.

I am quite sure that the two-state solution is the only option. I would just like to point out that many people in the Israeli political elite share this same view and believe that this option must be promoted more actively.

Syrian Arab Army is Ending the Terrorists Presence in Daraa Countryside

ARABI SOURI 

Syrian Army Units Enter Tal Shihab, Zaizoun and Yadudah in Daraa Countryside

Syrian Arab Army units continue to take positions in the countryside of Daraa after eliminating the presence of the US-sponsored Al Qaeda, ISIS, and their other affiliated terrorist groups as part of the larger task in securing the entire southern region of Syria.

SAA units entered this morning the towns of Yadudah, Muzayrib, Tal Shihab, and Zaizoun in the western Daraa countryside, in addition to marching toward the border with Jordan in the south, the collapse of the remnants of ISIS terrorists in Daraa Balad earlier in the month where up to 50,000 residents started returning to their homes after 8 years of being internally displaced in other Syrian cities.

The following report from the Syrian Al-Ikhbaria news channel (in Arabic) shows units of the Syrian Arab Army entering Al-Yadudah in Daraa western countryside:

Hundreds of armed men joined the reconciliation efforts and are returning to their normal lives after settling their legal records, this includes former members of the terrorist organizations most of who were forced to join these groups under threats against their families but have not committed any crimes against other Syrians or the Syrian armed forces. Criminals who have killed or committed other crimes against their fellow citizens will be prosecuted, the state offered amnesty for the public rights, however, the personal rights of the victims will be settled at the respective courts of law.

Many ISIS terrorists who have innocent blood on their hands and the non-Syrian terrorists who are not yet eliminated by the Syrian Army and the Syrian security but have agreed to surrender have been shipped to northern Syria where the regime of the Turkish madman Erdogan will have to handle them, few have fled the liberated areas and sought refuge in the Al-Tanf area where Biden forces of the US army maintain an illegal presence for the time being.

Armed young men who have not served in the Syrian Arab Army as conscripts yet and are due for the service will be given up to 6 months before joining the army for the mandatory service every Syrian male serves, this excludes supporters of their parents if they don’t have other brothers and those with permanent disabilities.

This latest achievement of the Syrian armed forces in continuing to liberate the rest of Daraa is a great victory for the Syrian people, a massive loss for the US-led camp of NATO evil alliance and their regional stooges, it’s the main loss for Israel who have invested greatly in ISIS and other terrorist groups using the huge sums of the billions of US dollars from the US taxpayers’ money it receives every year.

As the Syrian army continues securing the southern region, there are two main fronts coming up next to clean from NATO armies and NATO proxy terrorist groups in the northern region, especially the Al-Qaeda last stronghold in Idlib in the northwest of Syria where the Syrian and Russian air forces have started wiping-out posts, command centers, and weapons depots of the terrorists, which is leading to the hysterical media campaign against the Syrian and Russian armies accusing them of only killing children and women, the accusations coming by Al-Qaeda propagandists, as usual, and there are the areas occupied by the US-sponsored Kurdish SDF separatist terrorists who some reports say they have been warned to welcome the new year without the US army protection.

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Strategic Stupidity… Biden Torpedoes French & NATO Relations With Aussie Sub Deal to Target China

September 21, 2021

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Finian Cunningham

It’s not only France that is stunned by the Anglo-American skullduggery. The other European NATO allies were also left in the dark, Finian Cunningham writes.

The Gallic gall erupting between France and the United States, Britain and Australia has overshadowed the new military alliance that U.S. President Joe Biden announced last week for the Indo-Pacific region.

That alliance was supposed to signal a U.S.-led initiative to challenge China. But the strategic move is turning out rather stupid and shortsighted as it has backfired to slam a hole in Washington’s alliance with France and wider NATO partnerships.

French President Emmanuel Macron has ordered the recall of ambassadors from the U.S. and Australia in a sign of the intense anger in Paris over the newly unveiled alliance known as AUKUS – standing for Australia, United Kingdom and the United States. The return of French envoys from these allied nations has never happened before.

What’s at stake is a €56 billion contract to build a fleet of 12 submarines for Australia by France that was first signed in 2016. That deal has been scrapped and replaced by a contract with the U.S. and Britain to supply Australia with eight nuclear-powered submarines. The French subs that were on order were diesel-electric powered.

That’s a huge loss in financial revenue for France as well as a hammer blow to French naval jobs and ancillary industries. But what’s more damaging is the stealth and a palpable sense of betrayal. The French were evidently hoodwinked by the Americans, British and Australians over the whole backroom deal.

France’s foreign minister Jean-Yves Le Drian did not beat around the bush to express the rage being felt in Paris at the highest level. “I am outraged… this is a stab in the back,” he fumed to French media on news of the new Anglo-American military alliance in the Indo-Pacific and the consequent cancellation of the French sub contract.

“There has been duplicity, contempt and lies – you cannot play that way in an alliance,” he added referring to the NATO military organization of which France is a prominent member.

Apart from the recall of its ambassadors, France has also cancelled a scheduled summit in London this week between French and British defense ministers.

Sir Peter Ricketts, a former British national security advisor and past ambassador to France, said the growing row was “just the tip of the iceberg”. He said it was much worse than when France fell foul of the United States and Britain back in 2003 over the Iraq War.

Ricketts told the BBC as quoted by The Guardian: “This is far more than just a diplomatic spat… this puts a big rift down the middle of the NATO alliance.”

What is particularly galling for the French is that the new U.S. alliance with Britain and Australia was obviously under private discussion for several months to the exclusion of Paris and other NATO members. The French only found out about the pact when it was announced on September 15 in a joint virtual press conference between Biden and his British and Australian counterparts, Boris Johnson and Scott Morrison.

When Biden made his first overseas trip as president in June this year to attend the G7 summit in Cornwall, England, and later to meet other NATO leaders in Belgium, there was no mention of the AUKUS plan. Biden even held a bilateral and apparently cordial meeting with Macron in Cornwall without any hint of the new alliance under formation nor the impending impact on the French submarine contract. More bitterly in hindsight, Biden also held a closed meeting with Johnson and Morrison during the G7 summit even though Australia is not a member of the forum. They must have discussed AUKUS in secret. No wonder the French are aggrieved by the contempt shown.

But it’s not only France that is stunned by the Anglo-American skullduggery. The other European NATO allies were also left in the dark.

Last week, European foreign policy chief Josep Borrell presented a new EU strategic vision for the Indo-Pacific region the day after the AUKUS alliance was announced. Borrell had metaphorical egg dripping off his face when he answered media questions about the U.S., UK, Australia initiative. “We were not informed, we were not aware… we regret not having been informed.”

The brutal irony is that Biden came to the White House promising that he would repair transatlantic partnerships with Europe and NATO which had been ravaged by Donald Trump and his browbeating over alleged lack of military spending by allies. When Biden visited England and Belgium in June it was something of a love-in with European leaders who swooned over his vows of “America is back”.

After Biden’s unilateral withdrawal from Afghanistan last month when European NATO partners were not consulted and their apprehensions were brushed aside, now we see Biden poking France in the eye and kicking it in the coffers with €56 billion pain.

“Political trust has been shattered,” said Frederic Grare of the European Council for Foreign Affairs as quoted by the Euronews outlet.

But the whole sordid betrayal and bickering have more than money and loss of trust involved – far-reaching though that those issues are.

Washington’s willingness to supply nuclear-powered submarines to Australia with British collaboration shows that the United States is moving ahead with a more reckless offensive policy towards China. Biden is explicitly declaring a strategic move to confront China more openly and provocatively, ramping up the hostility of previous administrations under Trump and Obama.

Beijing condemned the new AUKUS alliance as a harbinger of more “Cold War”, saying that it would bring insecurity to the region and lead to a new arms race. That may be an understatement as the Anglo-American alliance spells move to a war footing.

China warned that despite Australia’s insipid assurances to the contrary, the nuclear-powered submarines could be armed with nuclear missiles in the future. Beijing said Australia would be targeted for a nuclear strike in the event of any future war with the United States.

Biden’s strategic move to engage with Britain and Australia in order to threaten China is proving to be a loose cannon in relations with France and other European NATO allies. That speaks of Washington’s desperation to confront China. 

Syria Puts UNSG and UNSC on Notice: Erdogan’s War Crimes to Be Halted

 MIRI WOOD 

Syrian Ministry of Foreign Affairs - Damascus, Syria

Syria’s Foreign and Expatriates Ministry has put both UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and the UNSC on notice that it is well past time for the bastion of peace and security to enforce its Charter against member states which breach it, in this case, the Turkish invader and occupation forces. If Guterres and the Security Council continue to refuse to enforce the Charter which prohibits member states from war criminal attacks on other countries, Syria will finally take the matter into its own military hands, which is its legal right, per the Geneva Agreements of 1949 and per the UN Charter.

The polite and overly diplomatic version of this report has been published in SANA, 20 September.

Since the beginning of the heinous NATO Spring dumped on Syria in March 2011, NATO Turkey has led the way in war crimes against the Syrian Arab Republic.

In November 2012, al Qaeda terrorists occupying part of Aleppo, under the commands of NATO Erdogan and the dirty Gulfie gas station — two-thirds of which are US military bases, dismantled Syrian factories and oil machinery parts, and transported them by trucks — in broad daylight — into Turkey.

On 5 December 2012, al Qaeda FSA terrorists in an alleged ‘make shift’ laboratory in Gaziantep, Turkey, announced they had chemical weapons and were prepared to use them against Syrian patriots. They demonstrated that they did — the chemical weapon appeared to be VX — in a fatal experiment with two rabbits. The UNSC refused to investigate the threat.

On 21 December 2012, the al Qaeda FSA terrorists in the same ‘make shift’ lab announced they had developed a quick acting poison that could massacre Syrian patriots via dumping it into the Alsinn Spring water supply to Lattakia. This time one rabbit was used in the fatal demonstration. Again, the UNSC refused to investigate.

Instead of poisoning the spring, the savages used this chemical substance to murder dozens of kidnapped Syrian children, on 4 April 2017, in Khan Sheikhoun.

Prior to Madman Erdogan’s official military invasions of the Syrian Arab Republic — to which it gave Orwellian names of Olive Branch (2018) and Peace Spring (2019), the war criminals had occupied Jarabulus, Syria, and created a Turkish police force.

Syria has previously called on the civilized world to halt Turkey’s cultural aggression against the state.

In September 2019, Erdogan presented his planned annexation of Syria map to the UN General Assembly. He should have had rotten eggs and tomatoes thrown at him; instead, the NATO klansmen and house servants in attendance, bobbed their heads in approval.

Erdogan annexation map of Syria shown at UNGA meeting.
Madman Erdogan’s annexation map received tacit approval by the UN NATO klan at General Assembly meeting September 2019.

Imagine the supremacists at UNGA having tolerated a similar map of annexation plots by countries surrounding France:

Annexation normalized against Syria would not be tolerated against France.

Madman Erdogan simultaneously announced and launched his war criminal Operation Peace Spring aerial bombing and ground invasion bombing of the Allouk electrical grid on 9 October 2019 (supported by American illegal John McCain’s FSA/Jabhat al Nusra pal, Salim Idriss), which was immediately repaired by the Syrian Electricity Army, to be re-bombed and re-repaired. At the 24 October anti-Syria UN meeting, the Security Council P3 and their Ursula Mueller were complicit in ignoring the advent of Turkey’s water war crimes against the Levantine republic.

The reality of Turkey’s water war crimes against Syria was completely ignored by the unindicted war criminals of the UN, at the NATO junta’s anti-Syria monthly meeting, on 24 October 2019. Instead of condemning NATO Turkey’s water war crime against the Syrian people, the urchin honcho disgracefully described Erdogan’s atrocity as perpetrated by “allied non-State armed groups” and inferred that intricate repairs were made by a simple wave of a fairy godmother’s wand.

Mere months later, the same Emergency Relief Coordinator who showed little concern for Erdogan’s water war crimes was nearly frothing at the mouth at the UN anti-Syria klan fest, demanding Tal Abyad have a border crossing opened to ‘help’ the suffering Syrians, though she appeared sedate in the pre-meeting UNSCR meeting of the NATO klan.

On 28 April 2021, the OCHA humanitarian bastards published a report on Alouk, via Reliefweb, wailing its crocodile tears that the water had been “disrupted” twenty-three times since November 2019.

NATO klansman Mueller ignored the water war crimes of terrorists led by Erdogan, in Allouk
Golpista Ursula Mueller, Ass. SG for Humanitarian Affairs & Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator, 24 October 2019. She brushed off Erdogan’s water war crimes against Syria
Months later, Mueller nearly frothing at the mouth, but not over water war crimes.
War crimes of bombing power plants & depriving civilians of drinking water have no relevance in the UN NATO klan hysteria to save al Qaeda in Syria. Mueller’s fixation on Tal Abyad for ‘cross-border’ deliveries — supported by the NATO gang — is likely because the Erdogan regime has occupied this area of Syria since October.
NATO UN klan seem to view water war crimes as facilitating Syria's destruction, on board with terrorists atrocities.

Turkey’s war crimes against Syria must obviously include ethnic cleansing of indigenous Syrians from their homeland, resulting in countless civilians being slaughtered in countless fratricidal terrorist attacks, as vicious ‘collateral damage,’ through crime of forced displacement, and simply to massacre them.

Ethnic cleansing is a war crime. Forced displacement is a war crime. Depriving civilians of potable water is a war crime.

The NATO mobsters ruling the UNSC — and the mob gang includes consummate imperialist SG Guterres — have plotted a new Sykes-Picot against Syria. This is why they avert their collective gaze to the Erdogan regime’s constant war crimes against Syria.

Dr. Faisal Mekdad, Syria’s Foreign and Expatriates Minister will speak at the upcoming UNGA meeting. He will arrive in NYC with his delegation that includes former Syrian Permanent Representative to the UN, and current Deputy Foreign and Expatriates Minister, Dr. Bashar al Jaafari, Dr. Abdhullah Hallaq, and Ehab Hamed.

Syria has put the UNSC and UNSG on notice that one way or another, Erdogan’s war crimes against the Levantine republic will be halted.

ISIS will be crushed and NATO will be ejected
Syria President Dr. Bashar al-Assad: “Every inch of Syria will be liberated”

— Miri Wood

Postscript:

The non-physician NYC Mayor de Blasio, who resurrected the ‘mistook’ racist Bloomberg Stop & Frisk in having his NYPD he was threatening to defund arrest a lot more black folk for breaching his arbitrary lockdown, who recently lied that an UNGA member said everybody had to get shot per de Blasio’s dictate, and who threatened to invade the international territory of the UN, against all border laws between that establishment and its host country, continues to threaten diplomats and heads of state arriving for the UNGA meeting. He still plans to invade the UN, according to recent news reports (not included in the above hyperlink report on his plan to expand his fiefdom.

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Erdogan Water War Crimes in Hasakah Continue; UN, ICRC Silent

https://syrianews.cc/erdogan-water-war-crimes-in-hasakah-continue-un-icrc-silent/embed/#?secret=VyC5IoHb0f

Erdogan Forces Kill a Woman in Indiscriminate Shelling of Houses in Hasakah Province

https://syrianews.cc/erdogan-forces-kill-a-woman-in-indiscriminate-shelling-of-houses-in-hasakah-province/embed/#?secret=OLFys6lhuW

Erdogan Terrorist Groups Infighting in Afrin Results in Civilian Casualties

التذاكي التركي والكلفة الباهظة

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البناء
سبتمبر 19, 2021 

قدمت القيادة التركية خلال السنوات الست التي أعقبت التموضع الروسي في سورية نموذجاً عن أسلوب التذاكي والمماطلة والخداع الذي تعتمده في التعامل مع المتغيرات، التي فرضت حضورها بإسقاط المشروع الأصلي الذي شكلت تركيا بقيادة رجب أردوغان ركيزته الرئيسية بهدف إسقاط سورية، ضمن إطار تخديم تركيا للمشروع الأميركي في المنطقة لقاء عائدات اعتماد تنظيم الإخوان المسلمين كوكيل للمصالح الأميركية في المنطقة.

عندما اصطدمت تركيا بالتموضع الروسي كان في حسابها جر الغرب لمعركة مع روسيا، وعندما خذلها الغرب لجأت إلى التذاكي للتملص من دفع فواتير دورها المحوري في خطة الحرب على سورية، وصارت تشتغل مياومة وشراء الوقت وتقديم التنازل تفادياً للمواجهة لحفظ ما تبقى، لكنها لم تنخرط إطلاقاً بخيار صناعة السلم والحل السياسي، بل تصرفت باعتبار كل عناوين آستانة مجرد إطار لشراء الوقت ريثما تأتي ظروف تتيح تحقيق مكاسب لمشروع أردوغان الذي تطلع دائماً لامتلاك أوراق تأثير وعبث في المعادلة السورية تحت عناوين مختلفة.

حاولت القيادة التركية تحويل مجالات التعاون خارج سورية مع روسيا وإيران إلى مصادر توسيع لهامش مناورتها في شراء الوقت، وحققت بعض النجاحات، لكنها كانت دائماً تكشف منهج التذاكي الذي ما كان يتأخر ليعبر عن ذاته ويكتشف الروس والإيرانيون، خصوصا ًعندما تلوح في الأفق بوادر عودة غربية للتصعيد، فيترسمل بها الأتراك للتكشير عن أنيابهم.

تحملت سورية الكثير بانتظار أن تبقي خطواتها  محسوبة ومدروسة بصورة لا تفكك الحلف الذي صنع النصر، فتفهمت الاعتبارات التي تحكمت بمواقف حليفيها الروسي والإيراني، والروسي على وجه الخصوص، سواء أثناء الحركة التركية نحو ليبيا التي بدت مصلحة روسية بتعطيل أنبوب الغاز الإسرائيلي- المصري نحو أوروبا برعاية أميركية كمنافس لخط الأنابيب الروسي- التركي، أو خلال حرب أرمينيا وأذربيجان حيث شكل التدخل التركي عنصر توازن برر لموسكو الدخول كوسيط مقبول لوقف النار.

خلال الشهور الأخيرة ومع الانسحاب الأميركي من أفغانستان والاستعداد الروسي مع الحلفاء لبدء مرحلة جديدة لملء الفراغ الناجم عن التراجع الأميركي والدفع بالأميركي لمزيد من التراجع ظهرت تركيا صاحبة مشروع خاص، فقدمت استعدادها لتخديم حلف الناتو في أفغانستان وأذربيجان، بصورة موجهة مباشرة ضد روسيا، والبلدان يقعان على الحدود الروسية، بينما ذهبت تركيا في ليبيا لتحويل عائدات وجودها لفرض مشروع شراكة خاص يعطل فرص روسيا كشريك دولي في صناعة الحل السياسي.

تبلورت في موسكو معادلة حاسمة بوجه الدور التركي، تمهد لخطوات تعيد تذكير أردوغان بلحظات ما بعد إسقاط الطائرة الروسية التي جلبته إلى آستانة، وتبدو سورية مقبلة على تطورات انتظرتها طويلاً في منطقة إدلب بوحي هذه المتغيرات.

التذاكي وشراء الوقت يصلان إلى المسافة صفر من لحظة الحقيقة.

عالم ينهار عالم ينهض ومركز ثقل العالم ينتقل إلى الشرق

 محمد صادق الحسيني

«‏العالم ليس سوى غابة… هذه مقولة كنا قد نسيناها

‏لكن الخنجر الذي طعنتنا به أميركا في الظهر

‏يعيد تذكيرنا بها اليوم مجدداً».

‏هذا الكلام لسفير فرنسا السابق في واشنطن ‏(في إشارة إلى إلغاء صفقة الغواصات الأسترالية لفرنسا بضغط من الولايات المتحدة الأميركية).‏

لا يزال العالم يعيش تحت صدمة فسخ صفقة الغواصات التي تعمل بالوقود التقليدي بين أستراليا وفرنسا واستبدالها بأخرى مع أميركا تعمل بالوقود النووي.

وهو ما اعتبره القادة الفرنسيون خيانة أميركية للشراكة الأطلسية وتواطؤاً بريطانياً ذميماً وانقياداً أسترالياً بغيضاً، سيرمي بظلاله على كل العمل المشترك في حلف الناتو.

وهو ما أثار بالفعل تساؤلات عميقة لدى المتابعين والخبراء والمراقبين على حدّ سواء.

ويعتقد مطلعون أنّ العاصفة الهوجاء من النقد اللاذع التي انطلقت مع هذه الواقعة لدى الفرنسيين لها ما يبرّرها بسبب سوابق أميركية تعود لأيام حكم ترامب.

فقد سبق للأميركيين أن وجهوا انتقادات لاذعة للفرنسيين كما للألمان، متهمين إياهم بأنهم لم يقوموا بواجباتهم كما ينبغي تجاه حلف الأطلسي فيما يدفع الأميركيون من خزانتهم لحماية أوروبا والدفاع عنها، وهو خلاصة الكلام الذي أسمعه ترامب للأوروبيين في اجتماعه الشهير بقادتهم في الأشهر الأخيرة من عهده على هامش اجتماع عالي المستوى في فرنسا.

ومن يومها تحسّس قادة أوروبا رؤوسهم وبدأوا يتحدثون عن ضرورة تشكيل قوة دفاعية خاصة بهم.

واليوم مع القرار المفاجئ لأستراليا بإلغاء ما عُرف بصفقة القرن (ما قيمته 56 مليار دولار) مع فرنسا واستبدالها بأخرى أميركية مع إعلان مفاجئ لجو بايدن عن تحالف ثلاثي يضمّ بلاده وبريطانيا وأستراليا، تكون الرواية الفرنسية عن الخيانة الأميركية تجاه باريس والطعن في الظهر قد اكتملت.

لعلّ من المفيد هنا الإشارة إلى أنّ حلف شمال الأطلسي وهو الحلف القائم بين أميركا وأوروبا إنما تشكل بعد الحرب العالمية الثانية من أجل حماية أوروبا من الاتحاد السوفياتي سابقاً.

الأوروبيون يشعرون بقوة منذ زمن ليس بالقليل بأن واشنطن تعيش موسم الهجرة إلى الصين، وأنها لم تعد ترى في موسكو عدوها الأساس بقدر ما ترى ذلك في الصين، خصوصاً بعد أن انتقل الصراع برأيهم من الميدان والحروب العسكرية إلى الاقتصاد، وهو المجال الذي سبقتهم فيه الصين مسافات طويلة.

بالتالي فإنّ ما بات مطلوباً بالنسبة لواشنطن إنما هو تحالفات جديدة تقوم على ضرورة الانتقال من ضفتي الأطلسي إلى ضفتي الهادئ وبحر الصين.

في هذه الأثناء فإنّ تحوّلاً مهماً آخر أيضاً قد طرأ في موازين القوى العسكرية أيضاً في النطاق الأوروبي.

حيث يجمع المتخصصون والعالمون بتقنيات القوة العسكرية الروسية الراهنة، وهو ما يعرفه جنرالات الناتو وكذلك جنرالات البنتاغون جيداً بأنّ قدرات العسكر الروسي المتطورة جداً باتت قادرة على سحق القوة العسكرية الغربية والسيطرة على الميدان فيها من لينينغراد إلى النورماندي (أقصى غرب فرنسا) خلال 24 ساعة.

وهذا التحول المهم في الموازين هو الذي دفع ألمانيا مبكراً للتوجه شرقاً باتجاه موسكو والتفاهم معها لإنجاز مشروع السيل الشمالي 2 للغاز، لتأمين ألمانيا من الطاقة، والتزام الحذر الشديد تجاه أيّ مخطط مقترح من واشنطن قبل أن يتطابق مع المصلحة القومية الألمانية العليا.‏

واليوم يأتي الدور على فرنسا للتفكير ملياً في ما إذا كان المطلوب منها التفكير جدياً بالتوجه شرقاً في إطار حماية أمنها القومي واستجرار الطاقة مثلاً من الروس أيضاً عبر ألمانيا.

تجدر الإشارة بالطبع هنا إلى أنّ باريس هي الأخرى قامت مع ذلك بترتيب أمورها مبكراً مع الجزائر (المحسوبة حليفاً قوياً لروسيا) لاستجرار خط الغاز من نيجيريا عبر ربط خطوطه بخطوط نقل الغاز الجزائري وهو المشروع الذي تعمل عليه الجزائر منذ مدة والذي يكلف نحو 13 مليار دولار.

في هذه الأثناء جاءت واقعة فرار الأميركيين من أفغانستان وهروبهم المذلّ والمستعجل منها، وكذلك واقعة استكمال تشكل تجمع الشرق الجديد الرباعي في إطار منظمة شانغهاي للتعاون الدولي في العاصمة الطاجيكية قبل أيام (روسيا والصين وإيران وشبه القارة الهندية) بعد الإعلان عن انضمام إيران إليه كعضو كامل الصلاحية، بمثابة القشة التي قد تقصم ظهر البعير الأوروبي الآيل إلى الترهّل والتراجع في الوزن الدولي.

وهو يعني في ما قد يعني تلخيصاً وفي المجمل أنّ العالم بعد التضحية الأميركية بأفغانستان وإلغاء صفقة الغواصات الفرنسية مع أستراليا لصالح واشنطن وتغيير أميركا لعقيدتها العسكرية، يتحوّل عملياً في الموازين العامة نحو آسيا.

‏ وبهذا تكون أميركا قد جمّدت عملياً دور أوروبا في استراتيجيتها العامة ‏مستبدلة الدور الأوروبي الناتوي ضدّ روسيا لصالح ناتو جديد في مواجهة الصين.

‏في هذه الأثناء فإنّ ما سيتعزز في المقابل هو تحالف شانغهاي الآسيوي الجديد وإن لم يكتمل بعد كحلف عسكري رسمياً.

إنها موازين القوى الدولية الجديدة التي تشي بأنّ مركز ثقل العالم ينتقل من الغرب إلى الشرق.

بعدنا طيبين قولوا الله…

ISIS Claims Responsibility for Blowing Up the Gas Pipeline near Damascus

 ARABI SOURI 

Maintenance teams repairing the Arabian gas pipeline near Deir Ali station blown up by ISIS

US-sponsored ISIS terrorists claimed responsibility for blowing up the Arabian Gas Pipeline feeding the Deir Ali thermal power station in Damascus countryside the day before yesterday, as we anticipated in our report.

Syrian minister for oil confirmed that the maintenance teams have concluded the repairs to the sabotaged gas pipeline and resumed the supplies through it as per SANA.

The ISIS statement circulated by its media and the media of its sponsors referred to the attack on the electric power generating facilities as part of its ‘economic warfare’ against the Syrian people:

‘Within the economic warfare, ISIS ‘soldiers’ managed to booby trap and blow up the gas pipeline between Tishreen and Deir Ali thermal stations and two electric towers of the Deir Ali station yesterday, this resulted in the disconnection of the electric power supplies to the entire southern region…’ the ISIS statement read.

ISIS claiming responsibility for blowing up gas pipeline feeding Deir Ali thermal power station near Damascus
ISIS Statement
Maintenance teams repairing the Arabian gas pipeline near Deir Ali station blown up by ISIS
Maintenance teams repairing the gas pipeline
Maintenance teams repairing the Arabian gas pipeline near Deir Ali station blown up by ISIS

In our post reporting on the terrorist attack when it happened we pointed the fingers at ISIS remnants operating from the At-Tanf area in southeastern Syria, the only area in the southern region with US illegal military presence where these terrorists benefit from the protection provided to them by their sponsors, and they also enjoy the generosity of the US taxpayers who provide them with the 4×4 machinegun-mounted brand new Toyota pickups, and the other weapons and munition.

In the Al-Tanf area where the infamous Rukban concentration camp for Syrian families held hostage and human shields, the ISIS terrorists are called ‘Maghawir Thawra’, or ‘Commandos of the Revolution,’ the US-led regime change ‘revolution’, that is.

US Army carrying out a military drill with ISIS terrorists in Al Tanf area in southeast Syria!
an ISIS terrorist of the Maghawir Thawra thanking the USA for its generosity for providing them with the Toyota pickups

Syria can eliminate ISIS in less than a week as per top Syrian officials if it wasn’t for the direct support these terrorists receive from NATO countries and the direct protection the US military provides them, many among the US military do not distinguish between ISIS terrorists and real rebels, it’s understandable when we know that the US military is incapable of distinguishing between an ISIS terrorist commander in a car and 7 children and 3 adults when it drone-bombs them into non-existence.

‘The Syrian Arab Army can eliminate ISIS in 3 Days – Dr. Bashar Jaafari

The Syrian Army had already defeated ISIS in Syria before July 2014 and the terrorist remnants were regrouped and shipped to Iraq, beefed up, and then sent back to Syria by the US, Jordan, Turkey, Saudi, Qatar, and the rest of the alliance against the Syrian people as per this top Al Qaeda commander, founder of ‘Jihad’ in Egypt and close friend to Zawahiri, Al Qaeda commander in a July 3, 2014 interview:

The same was confirmed by John Kerry, among other top US officials 5 years later:

The Pentagon Threatening to Revive ISIS

For the past 10.5 years, the United States of America has led a number of its stooges in NATO, Western European countries, some new Eastern European countries seeking to join NATO, the Gulfies, among others, and a host of numerous terrorist groups to destabilize Syria, destroy Syria, slaughter as many Syrian people as they could, displace millions of other Syrians from their homes, and suck dry Syrian oil, gas, and food resources, not because the US needs any of these resources or they need the Syrian land described once by Trump as the land of sand and blood, nor because the Syrians have invaded, attacked, or harmed US citizens, not at all, in the matter of fact, whenever the US regimes since Reagan and maybe before needed help to rescue their ‘innocent’ citizens who always find themselves caught up in the middle of conflicts, they would ask Syria for help and Syria was helping within its capabilities, experience in combatting terrorists groups, and by exchanging favors with its allies who can help, it was rewarded by the US regimes with only the bloodshed we’re living in, all of this just that the US serves Israel’s interests in the region and tries desperately to materialize the so-called Greater Israel Project.

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بعد التضحية بأفغانستان… أميركا تلفظ أوروبا تأهّباً لمقارعة التنين الصيني

سبتمبر 17, 2021 

 محمد صادق الحسيني

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

بعدنا طيبين قولوا الله…

عالم متحوّل… «إسرائيل» مجرد حاجز طيار وكيانات البترودولار ستختفي قريباً

 محمد صادق الحسيني

الخبر الآن هو سحب واشنطن لبطاريات پاتريوت من السعودية على رغم تزايد هجومات أنصار الله عليها.

‏ وأنّ الأميركيين يغادرون المنطقة نهائياً وإن بالتدريج على رغم خطورة التحولات.

ويقولون للعرب كما لليهود:

‏دبّروا حالكم بأنفسكم وكل واحد يقلع شوكه بأظافره…

البداية من أفغانستان والأمر سارٍ على سائر البلدان، وكذلك لبنان.

‏هذا هو لسان حال الدوائر الأميركية لمن يقرأ جيداً، الموازين في الميدان والتقارير في الكواليس.

والتي تقول :لن يطول الزمان الذي ستصبح فيه حتى القاعدة الأميركية المتقدمة المقامة على اليابسة الفلسطينية والتي اسمها «إسرائيل»، إلا وتكون على جدول الإغلاق مثلها مثل مئات القواعد الأميركية المنتشرة في العالم، وذلك في إطار تطبيق برنامج أو خطة أميركا أولاً..!

‏الكيان إلى زوال إذن ولو بعد لأي.

 وإمارات النفط والغاز والبنزين تختفي قريباً من خريطة الوطن العربي، بخاصة بعد تقرير اقتصادي للأمم المتحدة يتوقع إفلاسها في عام 2024.

وما سيسرع في ذلك انتهاء وظيفتها الكيانية التي استحدثت من أجلها.

باختصار مكثف: أميركا إذن تقرر تغيير عقيدتها العسكرية للمرة الأولى منذ الحرب العالمية الثانية. وتأخذ قرارها النهائي بسحب عديدها وعتادها من مراكز الانتشار العالمي لإعادة الحياة إلى دورة الاقتصاد الأميركي الداخلية الكاسدة.

والصين في المقابل تتقدّم بخطى حثيثة بناء على رؤية استراتيجية ثاقبة لوصل شرق الصين بشرق المتوسط بطريق سريع يمرّ عبر أفغانستان وإيران من دون وجود عسكري غربي.

في هذه الأثناء نشرت وكالة «أسوشيتد برس»: صوراً فضائية قبل أيام تظهر سحب واشنطن منظومات «باتريوت» من السعودية على رغم تواصل الهجمات من اليمن كما أشرنا.

من جهة أخرى فقد علم من مصادر أوروبية استخبارية رفيعة، بأن واشنطن أبلغت الدوحة قبل أيام عبر وزير خارجيتها بلينكن، بأنّ ملف أفغانستان سيتمّ نقله بالكامل إلى ألمانيا، وأنّ دور الدوحة سيتحول إلى دور لوجيستي محض.

واشنطن هذه كانت قد أبلغت تل أبيب عبر وزير خارجيتها بينيت وغيره بأنها لم تعد مهتمة في أي خطط قد تفكر بها تل أبيب ضد طهران أو سورية أو حتى لبنان، فهي لديها ما يكفيها من مشاكل داخلية ودولية، وتتجه بقوة نحو مضيق «مالاقا» وبحر الصين.

إن أسباب ما ذكر أعلاه يمكن وضعه في تقدير الموقف الذي يستنتجه كل من يطالع بدقة التقارير التي يتم تداولها في الكواليس والأروقة الخلفية على المستوى الدولي والتي تؤكد ما يلي:

1 ـ كان قرار القوى الخفية، التي قررت أن ترشح ترامب إلى الرئاسه يتلخص في استخدامه لإنهاء الوجود العسكري الأميركي في أفغانستان و»الشرق الأوسط» أولاً ومن مناطق أخرى في العالم لاحقاً بعد هزيمتها في كل الحروب التي شنتها منذ ما بعد الحرب العالمية الثانية.

2 ـ فشل ترامب في ذلك بسبب ضغوط مجموعات الضغط اليهوديه في أميركا، ومنعه من ذلك بحجة الخوف على أمن «اسرائيل».

3 ـ لكنه بقي مصراً على تنفيذ الانسحابات وهو يسألهم عما تريده «إسرائيل» لضمان أمنها ؟ فجاء الجواب: تطبيع مع الدول العربية/ اعتراف أميركا بيهودية الدولة/ نقل السفارة الأميركية إلى القدس/ الاعتراف بضم الجولان.

4 ـ تمّ ذلك ولكن القوى الخفية لم تتراجع عن قرار تصفية الوجود العسكري الأميركي تدريجياً في «الشرق الأوسط»/ غرب آسيا.

من هنا جاء تنفيذ قرار الانسحاب من أفغانستان على يد بايدن، الذي وصل إلى الحكم بموافقة نفس القوى الخفية التي جاءت بترامب.

5 ـ لا تراجع عن هذا القرار لأسباب استراتيجية تتعلق بالأمن القومي الأميركي على صعيد الصراع الدولي بين القوى العظمى.

6 ـ إذ إنّ الصراع لم يعد يقتصر على النواحي العسكرية وإنما اتخذ شكلاً اقتصادياً أكثر أهمية من الفترات السابقة.

فالصراع أصلاً اقتصادياً ينتج منه الصراع السياسي الذي يتحول، عند استحالة حسمه سياسياً إلى صراع عسكري…

هذا ما عرفه الجنرال الألماني كارل فون كلاوسيڤيتس بالقول «إنّ الحرب هي استمرار للسياسة بأدوات أخرى».

7 ـ إذن الصراع الاقتصادي الدائر بين روسيا والصين هو صراع وجودي بالنسبة لواشنطن. إذ لا يمكن لأميركا منافسة الصين اقتصادياً، على الصعيد الدولي بسبب شحّ الأموال الأميركية (النقدية) وتوفرها مع الذهب لدى الصين وروسيا والجزائر وإيران.

أي أن القوة العسكرية الأميركية لم تعد قادرة على تأمين المصالح الأميركيه من دون استثمارات أميركية ضخمة، كتلك التي قامت بها واشنطن بعد الحرب العالمية الثانية، أي خطة مارشال لإعادة إعمار أوروبا، والتي أدّت إلى استحواذ رأس المال الأميركي على ما يقارب 40 في المئة من الاقتصاد الأوروبي. وهذا هو سر سيطرة واشنطن على قرار أوروبا/ بواجهة حلف شمال الأطلسي.

8 ـ إذن لا بدّ لأميركا من إعادة بناء البنى التحتية الأميركية، بما في ذلك البنى التحتية العلمية والتكنولوجية، حتى تتمكن من الصمود، إلى حد ما، أمام التحدي الروسي الصيني الذي بات يفوقها بمراتب، والذي ستنضمّ إليه الهند، مضطرةً، في القريب من السنوات. وهذا يتطلب تقليص الوجود العسكري الأميركي في العالم.

 إنّ مجموع هذه التحولات الكبرى هي من سيسرّع في ضمور دور الحاجز الإسرائيلي الطيار، المقام على أرض فلسطين أولاً ومن ثم زواله في أقرب الآجال.

بعدنا طيبين قولوا الله…

Interview with A.B. Abrams about his latest book and the war in Syria

September 12, 2021

Interview with A.B. Abrams about his latest book and the war in Syria

by Andrei for the Saker blog

A.B. Abrams has just released a new book entitled World War in Syria – Global Conflict on the Middle Eastern Battlefields.  Here are two locations were you can order this most interesting volume:

For those who don’t remember who Abrams is, here are two of his previous contributions to the Saker blog:

The book got A LOT of praise already, so I posted a few endorsements at the end of this interview (see at the bottom)

Rather than offer my own endorsement or write a full review, I decided to interview Abrams about both his book and his views on the international aggression against Syria.  I hope you enjoy it and, yes, get the book!

Andrei


1)–Please introduce us to your new book!  Tell us what was your main purpose in writing it and whom, what audience, did you want to reach?

I wrote this book to provide one of the first comprehensive histories of the Syrian War published to mark ten years after it began in 2011. The book places the war in the context of both the history of Syria’s decades long conflict with Western interests which began in the late 1940s, as well as broader Western geopolitical goals in the region and beyond. The title ‘World War in Syria’ reflects an assessment of the conflict primarily not through the paradigm of a civil war, as is more common in the West, but rather as a global conflict which has pitted the Western Bloc and its regional partners against Damascus and its allies – namely Russia, Iran, North Korea and Hezbollah. The war has seen special forces and other assets from all these parties deployed to Syrian soil, with the West, Turkey, the Gulf States and Israel undertaking considerable military, economic and information warfare efforts to bring about the Syrian government’s overthrow.

The book shows the Syrian War as part of a broader trend towards countries outside the Western sphere of influence, namely the minority of countries without Western military presences on their soil, being targeted for destabilisation and overthrow. For targeting countries with significant Muslim populations, Western cooperation with radical Islamist elements to support such objectives has been common, as seen in Indonesia (1950s and early 60s), Chechnya, Afghanistan (1979-92), and Yugoslavia among others. These precedents are explored at the beginning of the book to provide context to Western efforts to employ similar means against Syria.

The book is not aimed at any specific audience, but at anyone with a general interest in the Syrian War, Western, Russian, Iranian or Turkish foreign policy, Middle Eastern politics, contemporary military affairs, insurgency or terrorism. It follows a previous book published in 2020 on the history of North Korea’s 70 year war with the United States, which similarly sought to provide a comprehensive analysis of a major conflict between the U.S.-led Western Bloc and a targeted country including the Western way of war and the use of both economic and information warfare.

2)–Do you believe that Putin is “allowing” (or even helping!) Israel to bomb Syria? Or maybe the Russian and Syrian air defenses are totally ineffective?  How do you explain all the Israeli strikes?

Russia’s position on Israeli strikes has been interesting and caused a great deal of debate and in some cases controversy. I assess that Russian military intervention in Syria in 2015 had the limited goals of supporting counterinsurgency efforts and limiting Western and Turkish efforts to illegally occupy Syrian territory through the imposition of safe zones and no fly. The Russian presence has also served to deter Western and Turkish attacks, as evidenced by the vast discrepancy between the massive strikes planned under Obama to topple the government in 2013, and the very limited attacks carried out under Trump in 2017 and 2018. A longer term goal has more recently materialised with the entrenching of the Russian military presence in Latakia on Syria’s western coast, with Russia’s sole airbase in the region expanded and increasingly oriented away from counterinsurgency operations and towards providing a strategically located asset against NATO.

The expectation among many that Russia ought to prevent Israeli strikes on Syria may well be a result of the Soviet position in the 1980s, when the USSR threatened to intervene if Israel attacked Syria. This resulted in the confinement of Israeli-Syrian clashes that decade to within neighbouring Lebanon’s borders. A number of factors, however, mean that this is no longer feasible. Unlike in the 1980s, Israel is today far from the most pressing threat to Syrian security, while the discrepancy in military capabilities favours Israel much more strongly. Under the Netanyahu government, Russia also cultivated close ties with Israel as a valuable partner with a degree of policy independence from the Western world which could, for example, sell on sensitive Western technologies as it did with the Forpost drone to Russia or with American air defence technologies to China. Israel’s ability to act independently of Western hegemonic interests to some degree has been an asset to Moscow as well as Beijing to strengthen themselves against the West through cooperation. Thus the relationship between Moscow and Tel Aviv is very different from what it was in the 1980s, as is Moscow’s relationship with Damascus, meaning that Russia will be less inclined to take a hard line against Israeli strikes.

Perhaps most importantly, the fact that Russia has not taken a harder line in protecting Syria from Israeli attacks reflects Russia’s much diminished power to influence events beyond its borders compared to the Soviet era. The Russian military intervention in Syria was its first major military action outside the former USSR since the 1980s, and was a major feat considering the poor state of the military just seven years prior in its war with Georgia. The Russian military is nevertheless already stretched protecting its own forces in Syria and deterring Western or Turkish escalation, which is far from easy considering how far these operations are from Russian soil. Unlike in the late Soviet era, Russia no longer has the world’s second largest economy, a large sphere of influence of developed allied economies for support, a blue water navy, 55,000 tanks or 7000 fighters/interceptors. Its military is capable, but if it took on Israel directly as well as Turkey, the West, and the jihadist insurgency at the same time for all attacking Syria, the risk of escalation would be significant and would force it to divert considerable resources away from its own defence – resources which are far more scarce than those the USSR had 40 years ago.

Russia has nevertheless deployed its top fighters the Su-35s, and on at least one occasion Su-34s, to intercept Israeli F-16s before they could attack Syria, which alongside the strengthening of Syrian air defences has made it more difficult for Israel to strike. Russia does not condone Israeli strikes, but they have not been an immediate priority. Although they are damaging particularly to Iranian interests, such strikes do not seriously threaten Syria’s stability and have generally pursued limited goals. While Israel has called for greater Western intervention against Syria in the past, Tel Aviv’s own limitations mean it is not looking to overthrow the Syrian government singlehandedly. This contrasts to Turkey, whose president has stated multiple times and recently in 2020 that the intention is to maintain an occupation and hostile relations until the Damascus government is overthrown. This also remains a long term objective for the West currently through economic warfare, theft of Syrian oil and targeting of crops.

Israeli aircraft have since February 2018 relied in the large majority of attacks on launching standoff weapons from a safe distance outside Syrian airspace, meaning for Syrian ground based air defences to engage them and they must instead intercept the missiles as they approach and cannot target the aircraft themselves. Syria is itself aware of its limitations, and against both Israeli and Turkish strikes it has refrained from escalating by deploying its own fighters/interceptors to attack the enemy aircraft. Syrian aircraft optimised for air to air combat have instead been held in reserve to respond to more serious full scale attacks like the kind the U.S. and is allies were planning in September 2013. As Syrian defences improve with the delivery of the first new fighters as aid from Russia in 2020, the refocusing of resources away from counterinsurgency, and the possible placing of new S-300 systems under Syrian control, the country’s airspace may again begin to be respected as it largely was before the war began. If Syria does begin to deploy fighter units for air defence duties it will reflect a renewed sense of faith in the country’s security, although Turkey rather than Israel is likely to be the first target due to the heated nature of conflict over the Turkish occupation of Idlib and the much weaker state of Turkey’s air force.

3)–I have always suspected that the former Syrian regime (of Assad Sr.) was full of Israeli agents.  My evidence?  The impossible to organize without top complicity murder of Imad Mughniyeh (his widows also believes that, by the way, she is in Iran now) or the huge list of defectors/traitors and other officials/officers who quickly took their money and joined the international war in Syria.  Has that now changed, do you feel that the government is stable and in control?

Based on my knowledge of Syria and Arab nationalist republics more generally, while strong fifth columns have almost certainly been prevalent they are unlikely to be predominantly pro-Israeli and much more likely pro-Western. Although Syria’s Ba’athist government aligned itself very closely with the USSR particularly from 1982, much of the elite and the population maintained strongly pro-Western sentiments. This included the current president in his initial years who, according to Western sources cited in the book, was looking to pivot the country towards closer alignment with the West while sidelining Russia, Iran and the Ba’ath Party. Many in the Arab world even in states which are formally aligned against Western interests aspire to integration and a degree of Westernisation, which has long been a leading weakness in Arab nationalist states’ efforts to establish themselves as independent powers.

The West’s colonial legacy provided a strong basis since the middle of the last century to cultivate considerable soft power in the Arab World. This was perhaps most clearly alluded to by Mohamed Heikal, a leading intellectual of the non-aligned movement and Minister of Information for the United Arab Republic, who noted regarding the political and military elites of Arab republics in the 1950s, 60s and 70s: “All the formative influences in the new leaders’ lives- the books they had read, the history they had learned, the films they had seen- had come from the West. The languages they knew in addition to their own were English or French – Russian was, and remained, a mystery to them. It was impossible for them to remain unaffected by all that they had heard about the communist world- the closed society, the suppression of thought, the ‘Stalinist terror’… they wanted to keep their distance.” Heikal stressed that many of these leaders would turn to the West for assistance “almost automatically,” as the psychology of colonialism persisted. Many of those who turned to a partnership with the Soviets did so only because they were given no other choice, having been refused by the West.

This remains largely true until today at many levels of Syrian society. Perhaps one of the most striking examples was documented by a journalist accompanying the Syrian Arab Army to the frontlines engaging Western-backed insurgents. While the West made war on Syria, it was clear that strongly Western supremacist sentiments persisted throughout the population as a result of Western soft power, with Syrian soldiers on the frontlines reported to exclaim regarding their country: “Look how beautiful this land is! It is almost as beautiful as Europe!” Such sentiments were common even in wartime. The idea of Western primacy and supremacy, long engrained across much of the world through colonial rule, remained a key weakness which made it far from difficult for the Western world to cultivate westphilian fifth columns. According to multiple sources, including British journalist Patrick Seale, this included the President Hafez Al Assad’s brother who had a love for all things American and for parties with Western belly dancers. In this way Syria and Arab nationalist states bear a strong contrast to Western adversaries such as North Korea, which placed a strong emphasis on political education and on ensuring new generations did not grow up seeing the world through paradigms that promote Western supremacy (see Chapters 18 and 19 of my prior book that cover that topic.)

Regarding Israel, while there are strongly pro-Western sentiments within Syria and the Arab world, there are also strong anti-Israeli sentiments which, combined with Israel’s lack of any comparable soft power, makes pro-Israeli fifth columns much more difficult to cultivate. It is highly possible, however, that pro-Western elements in Syria could be led to pursue actions which, while furthering Western interests, also benefit Israel as you mentioned.

4)— How did the war in Syria really start?  Can you give us a summary of the true story (the full story is in your book) of how what began with some local protests (almost) ended with the Takfiris in control of Damascus?

It is difficult to do this question justice with a summary answer as there are so many factors at play. One could trace the origin back to 2007, when following Hezbollah’s unexpected military successes against Israel the previous year the Bush administration began to perceive Iran, Syria and Hezbollah, rather than Al Qaeda, as its primary adversaries. This also led to the first mentions of the possibility of manipulating Al Qaeda-type jihadist groups with the help of regional allies (Turkey, Qatar and Saudi Arabia in particular) to focus on attacking Syria and other Iranian partners. By 2009 militants were receiving Western training for operations in Syria. Pro-Western activists in Syria and other Arab countries were also receiving training in the U.S. supported by the State Department, Google, Facebook and others on how to stir unrest using tools such as social media. Media networks and most notably Al Jazeera, which had a long history of being heavily influenced by Western intelligence, began in 2011 to be put to use to vilify the Syrian government, and the Qatari monarchy soon after would lead calls for a Libya-style Western assault.

On the ground in the war’s initial weeks the Syrian government faced large scale incursions by well armed and trained militants from across the Turkish and Jordanian borders, and simultaneously a number of largely peaceful protests against living conditions in some cities. Confusion was sown and the situation quickly escalated out of control. Mass privatisation of public property, years of crop failures, and disparity between the conservative Muslim rural population and the much more liberal lifestyle in major cities, were among a multitude of factors detailed which fuelled unrest and provided foreign powers with an opening to destabilise the country. These details are all fully referenced in the book itself as well as a much more elaborate explanation of the multitude of preparations and incidents which paved the way to war.

5)–Could you please compare and contrast, HOW the Russian and Iranian interventions happened, WHAT these forces did to turn the tide and then tell us WHAT the Russian and Iranian PLANS were and are for Syria – do these two actors more or less agree, or do they have different visions for the future of Syria?

The Russian and Iranian stances towards Syria have contrasted from the war’s outset, with Russia’s Dmitry Medvedev administration in particular being openly resigned to seeing the Syrian state toppled and offering Damascus little in the way of support in the conflict’s critical early stages. Although Russian support increased from 2012 almost as soon as a new administration came to power, namely with arms sales and a blocking of Western efforts to target Syria through the United Nations, it would be three more years before Russia felt the need to deploy its forces. Iranian efforts to make a case for Russian intervention to Moscow, namely through Quds Force Commander Qasem Soleimani who met with President Putin in 2015, was an important factor.

Iran by contrast, alongside Hezbollah and North Korea, had boots on the ground from 2012-13 and were all committed to supporting counterinsurgency efforts and preserving the Syrian state. For Iran the fall of Syria to Western-backed jihadists as Afghanistan had fallen in 1992 was seen as unacceptable. As senior Iranian cleric Mehdi Taeb famously said: “If the enemy attacks us and wants to take either Syria or [the outlying Iranian province of] Khuzestan, the priority is to keep Syria… If we keep Syria, we can get Khuzestan back too, but if we lose Syria, we cannot keep Tehran.” Iran has thus been much more heavily invested in supporting Damascus throughout the war than Russia has.

There have been similarities between Russian and Iranian support for Syria. Both have sought to support the Syrian economy with Iran emerging as the country’s largest trading partner shortly after the war began, although it has since been displaced by China, while Russia has shown a strong interest in post war investment. Both sought to avoid relying too heavily on deployment of their own manpower on the frontlines as the Soviets had in Afghanistan, and instead focused on arming and training auxiliary forces. Russia, for example, oversaw the creation and arming of the Syrian 5th Corps and provided T-62M and T-72B3 tanks from its own reserves, while Iran facilitated the deployment of allied paramilitaries such as the Afghan Hazara Fatemiyoun. Russia’s military intervention was aimed largely at demonstrating new capabilities to NATO, with many of its strikes meant more than anything as shows of force. An example was in November 2015 when its air force flew Tu-160 supersonic bombers from the Arctic around Ireland and through the Straits of Gibraltar to fire cruise missiles over the Mediterranean at insurgents in Syria before returning to Russia – which was initially widely dismissed by Western officials as phantastic before being confirmed several hours later. Iran’s intervention was significantly quieter and received less fanfare in local media, but was more persistent and tenacious due to the much higher stakes the conflict represented for Tehran. The Iranian and Hezbollah campaigns have also involved much more significant clashes with Israel, as well as with Turkey in Hezbollah’s case, while Russian units have seldom fired on or been fired on by forces from state actors. A significant number of other major contrasts between Iranian and Russian interventions exist, but for the sake of brevity I will restrict the examples to those above.

Although both share the goal of restoring Syrian territorial integrity and bolstering Damascus, Russia and Iran certainly have different visions in accordance with their very different ideological positions, which themselves contrast with Syria’s Ba’athist socialist party-state that is much closer to the USSR, China or North Korea than to either of them. Iran’s influence has led to the growth of Shiite paramilitary groups in Syria which have been major supporters of the Syrian Arab Army on the ground, but their presence contrasts with Syria’s long history of secularism and separation of religion from the state and the security apparatus. This influence may well have an impact on Syrian political culture and policies as it did in neighbouring Iraq. Russia under the current liberal democratic capitalist system, or ‘Western liberalism with Russian characteristics’ as some have referred to it, also has a much greater ideological gap with Damascus than it did in the Soviet era. Russia has been known to try to influence states to move in this direction with reform, most notably Belarus, and could well seek to have a similar influence in Syria. Syria’s ruling party, for its part, is likely to resist both influences but accommodate Russian and Iranian interests on its soil in exchange for their continued economic and military support.

6)–How do you see the future of Syria, Israel and the future of the Middle East?  What has that war changed?

The Syrian War, and the NATO assault on Libya which began almost simultaneously in March 2011, have reshaped the Arab world and Middle East profoundly by in one case removing, and in the other seriously weakening the two Arab states which had longest and most persistently opposed Western hegemony. From the late 1970s and early 1980s, as Iraq and Egypt pivoted to align themselves with the West, Syria and Libya alongside South Yemen and Algeria remained the only countries which had not been absorbed into the Western sphere of influence.

The Syrian conflict marked a turning point in several trends in regional affairs. The U.S.’ refusal to invest heavily in the conflict, particularly in 2013 when a full scale assault had been expected, marked an important step in the Obama administration’s Pivot to Asia initiative. This has since been carried forward by Trump and Biden to focus resources on countering China and North Korea specifically and reduce commitments in the Middle East. The Syrian War set an important precedent for how the Western Bloc could seriously erode an adversary at a very low cost. The campaign avoided the need for tens of thousands of Western boots on the ground as in Iraq and instead relied on jihadist militant groups, with much of the funding to support them coming from the Gulf States and Turkey. While the CIA was responsible for organisation and logistics and for coordinating between the insurgency’s Western-aligned sponsors, the Pentagon budget was not seriously affected by the war. A similar mode of attack was seen in Libya, although jihadists there were less effective and had a much smaller support base and Western air power was applied much more to compensate. Attempts to replicate this low cost means of neutralising Western adversaries are likely.

Other major turning points were seen in Turkey, where its attempt to play a leading role in forcing the overthrow of the Syrian government marked the beginning of a more assertive and interventionist foreign policy stance which recently materialised in its intervention against Armenia in 2020. In Egypt Western support for jihadists in Libya and Syria, and ties between these jihadists and the Muslim Brotherhood domestically, contributed to alienating the Egyptian Military from the West after it took power in 2013. The region also saw Russia remerge as a major player with its first significant combat operations since the early 1970s. Moscow sought to use the strong impression its intervention had made to capitalise on discontent among traditional Western clients such as the Gulf States and Egypt and form new partnerships of its own.

For Syria itself, as the war largely comes to an end, the world in the 2020s is one very different from when the war begun with China having since emerged as the world’s leading economy and Russia having seemingly abandoned its hopes for integration into the West to pursue a more independent foreign policy. This shift has seriously dampened the impacts of Western sanctions on Damascus, with Huawei rebuilding its telecoms networks and China providing everything from busses to power generators as aid which make it far easier Syria and other Western targets in similar positions to survive. Nevertheless, the continued occupation in the north by Western powers led by the U.S., and in Idlib by Turkey, will continue to pose a serious threat until restored to Syrian government control. Occupied areas reportedly hold 90% of Syria’s oil output, which will continue to be illegally expropriated to undermine Damascus’ reconstruction efforts. Idlib meanwhile, as the largest Al Qaeda safe haven the world has seen since September 2001, continues to be a launching pad for jihadist attacks into Syria. Both Idlib and the northern regions could form the bases for Kosovo-style partitioning of Syria enforced by NATO, and for Damascus it will thus be a leading priority to prevent this and impose continued costs on Western and Turkish forces. An example of how this could be done was the Syrian government ballistic missile strike on an oil facility run by militants under Turkish protection in March 2021.

7)– Last, but not least, what is, in your opinion, the US end goal for Syria (and Lebanon)?

The primary goal is the removal of the Ba’ath Party and Syrian military establishment as organisations which can arrange their domestic and foreign policies and their security with a great deal of independence from the West, and are thus able to oppose Western hegemony in the region. Their continued existence has for decades been a thorn in the side of Western efforts to shape the Middle East in line with its interests. In Lebanon the same applies for Hezbollah. This is hardly a U.S. goal exclusively, but is shared by the major NATO members such as Britain, Germany, France and Turkey and is in the common interests of furthering Western global hegemony.

Should the West achieve its objective, what follows could be a civil war as seen in Libya after Gaddafi’s death, in which NATO powers support both sides to ensure any outcome is favourable to Western interests, or the establishment of a client government as the West recently achieved in Sudan with a coup April 2019. While five major motivations for making war on Syria are explored in detail in the book, at the heart of all of them is that the Syrian government was not part of the Western-led order, did not align itself with Western policy objectives against Iran, China and others, and did not house Western soldiers on its soil. This made the state’s existence unacceptable to the West, as did its close security cooperation with Iran, North Korea and Hezbollah. Whether the outcome of Western intervention is a partitioning, a unified Syria remade as a client state, or an indefinite civil war, the primary goal of neutralising Syria as an independent actor would be achieved. Once the goal of destroying the party, state and military was thwarted, and it became clear from 2016 that the Syrian government would retain power, the Western and Turkish goal changed to prolonging the conflict, creating Kosovo-type enclaves under NATO control, and placing downward pressure on Syrian living standards and the economy. They could thereby impede post-war recovery and a return to normality and ensure that Syria would remain weakened and a burden to its allies.

–Thank you!!

PRAISE FOR WORLD WAR IN SYRIA

“Impressive in its scholarship, pondered in its judgements, above all
searing in its dissection of Western powers’ war on Syria waged over

many decades, the book is a must-have on the bookshelves of any seri-
ous fair-minded student of Syria.”

– Peter Ford, British Ambassador to Syria from 2003–2006.
“The most detailed history of the war in Syria so far, providing a richness

of highly interesting details, as well as a critical analysis of its com-
plex international and domestic dimensions, rarely encountered in other

Western publications.”
– Nikolaos van Dam, former Special Envoy for Syria, 2015–16.
Ambassador of the Netherlands to Iraq, Egypt, Turkey, Germany and
Indonesia, 1988–2010. Author of Destroying a Nation: The Civil War
in Syria.
“A. B. Abrams explores the widening scope of the Syrian conflict in his
important book. Solving Syria’s civil war will require a regional approach
engaging stakeholders whose interests are fundamentally opposed.”
– David L. Phillips, Senior Adviser in the Clinton, Bush, and Obama State
Departments. Former Senior Fellow at the Atlantic Council. Director of
the Program on Peace-Building and Human Rights, Columbia University
ISHR.

“Abrams is a meticulous guide to the labyrinth of Syria’s modern polit-
ical history.”

– Richard W. Murphy. U.S. Ambassador to Syria, 1974 to 1978. Consul in
Aleppo, Syria, 1960–63.
“A. B. Abrams has written an extremely informative and illuminating

account on the international dimension of the origins, outbreak and evo-
lution of the Syrian conflict. His empirically rich analysis in this nuanced

and comprehensive study make it one of the best books, if not the best
book, written about the Syrian crisis. This book is a MUST read for
anyone who wants to understand the Syrian conflict, the Middle East,
and the role of the great powers in the region.”
– Jubin Goodarzi, Professor and Deputy Head of International Relations,
Webster University, Geneva. Former consultant and political adviser
on Middle Eastern affairs for the UNHCR. He formerly held posts at
Chatham House, CSIS and the Ford Foundation.
PRAISE FOR WORLD WAR IN SYRIA

“An insightful and dispassionate record of the Syrian Maelstrom and the
West’s role as the Sorcerer’s Apprentice.”
– John Holmes, Major General and Director Special Forces (ret.), British
Army.
“This is a sad tale of betrayal and conspiracy. Not just theory but facts
meticulously uncovered by Abrams. The conspiracy was part of broader
trends in the United States and Europe towards the non-Western World.

Since its fight for independence from French rule in 1946, Syria’s strug-
gles to remain free of Western hegemonic ambitions have continued to

play out for decades culminating in the crisis which emerged in 2011 and
became a proxy war of international proportions.”
– Dawn Chatty, Emeritus Professor of Anthropology and Forced Migration
at the University of Oxford. Fellow at the British Academy. Author of
Syria: The Making and Unmaking of a Refuge State.
“Abrams’ book provides essential historical and geopolitical context to
Syria’s ten-year war, reflecting a particularly deep and comprehensive
understanding of the conflict and of the country’s strategic importance.”
– Military Watch Magazine.
“Supported by a weight of evidence, this book sets out the context and
details of the Syrian conflict and effectively helps the reader to chart a
course between the overwhelming complexity of the crisis and Western
efforts to tell a simplified story of events on the ground. It will be of
interest to researchers, students and those interested in the messy reality
of one of the past decade’s foremost crises.”
– Jack Holland, Associate Professor in International Security at the
University of Leeds. Author of Selling War and Peace: Syria and the
Anglosphere.

“A well-researched and well-written book. Abrams provides the his-
torical context of post-independence Syria within which one can find

the reasons why the war became such a nodal point for regional and
international intrigue. While doing so, he also hones in as no one else
previously has – on some critical turning points during the civil war that
determined the direction of the conflict.”
– David Lesch, Leader of the Harvard-NUPI-Trinity Syria Research
Project. Ewing Halsell Distinguished Professor of Middle East History
at Trinity University. Author of Syria: A Modern History and Syria: The
Fall of the House of Assad.

“The countries intervening in Syria without approval of the Security
Council under Chapter VII were consciously violating international
law. Abrams’ intensive, highly-documented work provides an excellent
resource for understanding the historical and present dimensions of the
conflict.”
– Alfred De Zayas, Professor, Geneva School of Diplomacy. Former UN
Independent Expert on the Promotion of a Democratic and Equitable
International Order.
“A. B. Abrams has written a timely, balanced and insightful account
of the Syrian war. The book is well-researched and provides both the

necessary historic context but reveals also present-day drivers that re-
sulted in Syria becoming a theater for regional and global competition

for influence.”
– Alex Vatanka, senior fellow in Middle East Studies at the U.S. Air Force

Special Operations School. Senior fellow and director of the Iran pro-
gram at the Middle East Institute, Washington D.C. Adjunct professor at

Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.
“An impressive and comprehensive feat of in-depth research, most
notably concerning developments in political and military strategy of
international actors in the Syrian war. The author provides a unique and
sophisticated chronological overview of pre-war socio-political and
economic realities in Syria, a detailed description of the conflict over its

entire duration, and an outline of possible post-war scenarios. An excep-
tional feature of the book lies in the author’s profound understanding of

how supplies of specific armaments on both sides influenced the course
of the war. World War in Syria is an excellent work, highly beneficial for

war and security studies professionals and students, as well as for histo-
rians, international relations scholars and the general public wishing to

better understand the effects of external involvement on the development
and outcome of the Syrian conflict.”
– Daria Vorobyeva, Centre for Syrian Studies, University of St. Andrews.
Co-Author of The War for Syria: Regional and International Dimensions
of the Syrian Uprising.

“A superb narrative dealing with tactical, operational and strategic mat-
ters of that war, in as fine military history writing as any by the first rate

military historian, and also shows a horrendous toll this war exerted on
the people of Syria. It is a superb book which makes a great contribution
to the field of study of the Middle East and of global politics and balance
of forces.”
– Andrei Martyanov, former naval officer. Frequent contributor to the U.S.
Naval Institute Blog. Author of The (Real) Revolution in Military Affairs.

UNSC Goebbels Gang Holds Monthly Syria Chemical Hoax Fetish Meeting

 MIRI WOOD 

UNSC Goebbels gang held its monthly anti-Syria chemical meeting on 2 September. Referred to as ‘the Syria files’ — though better described as the chemical hoax fetish –these painfully repetitive, filled with lies meetings are supposed to somehow fulfill the mandate of UNSCR 2118 (2013) which was fulfilled in June 2014.

As August’s anti-Syria fête fell two days before the anniversary of the US nuclear obliteration of Hiroshima, Japan, we used the occasion to remind the NATO clique of the UNSC of their countries many war crimes, uses of weapons of mass destruction, and point out the many domestic atrocities perpetrated by these liars, against their own population — Waco, MOVE, Edmund Pettis, DAPL — for which none has ever been held accountable (because a tenet of fascism is that might makes right).

The cloud from the atomic bomb dropped by the USA on Hiroshima, Japan 1945 - US Army Archive

Chemical hoax fetish is an accurate title, as the Syrian Arab Republic acceded to the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) in September 2013, and turned over its arsenal in such record time that a couple of diplomats hinted at the expectation of a Nobel. In one of his final statements to the UNSC, Dr. Jaafari called for the closure of the phony Syria files, during its 90th meeting.

Please note the extensive ADDENDUM which details evidence of murder by poisoning of kidnapped Syrian children in Khan Sheikhoun, which the NATO junta at the UNSC continues to lie was a chemical weapons attack by Syria, against Syria.

Geir O. Pedersen usually keeps track of the meeting number, but he is busy in Rome, Italy (despite the challenges of COVID), meeting with the Foreign Ministry, there, and with various NATO think tanks, some of which used to be called banksters, to discuss the situation in Syria.

We provide a short geopolitical checklist, which is consistently ignored by the Goebbels gang, aka the NATO junta, aka the unindicted axis of evil.

More

FM Sergey Lavrov answers media questions following a meeting of the Council of Ministers of the Union State, Minsk

September 11, 2021

FM Sergey Lavrov answers media questions following a meeting of the Council of Ministers of the Union State, Minsk

September 11, 2021

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s answers to media questions following a meeting of the Council of Ministers of the Union State, Minsk, September 10, 2021

Question: We pursue a common foreign policy. We seem to be already looking in the same direction. How much further do we need to go in this regard?

Sergey Lavrov: I think our prospects for further coordination of our foreign policies are good. Yesterday’s presidential meeting in Moscow and their principled agreement on union programmes and key spheres of activity was formalised today at a meeting of the Union Council of Ministers. The prime ministers signed the corresponding document. It will get finally approved at a meeting of the Supreme State Council, which the presidents plan to hold soon, most likely in October. This is critical for our joint actions if we want to pursue a coordinated foreign policy. We cooperate closely on almost all, without exception, items of the international agenda, be it at the UN, the OSCE or other organisations, including the CSTO, the EAEU and the CIS. We will thus have an additional foundation going forward.

In the overwhelming majority of cases, the economy drives effective policy on the international arena. The stronger the economies of Belarus, Russia and the Union State, the more confident our actions on the international arena will be.

We have agreed with Foreign Minister of Belarus Vladimir Makei to hold a joint collegium, which is a regular annual event, in November. In 2021, it will take place in Moscow. The first item on the agenda will include the goals arising from our foreign policy coordination stemming from the agreements on forming union programmes as part of the main guidelines for the implementation of the Union Treaty over the next three years.

Very shortly, we will come up with additional items for the agenda to be discussed during a meeting of our Foreign Ministry and the Belarusian Foreign Ministry’s collegium in the context of our actions at the UN and in promoting common approaches to disarmament and arms control.

We have ambitious plans, and we will put even more confidence in implementing them and will build on today’s developments and what will take place at the Supreme State Council as well.

Question: Both Russia and Belarus often say that sanctions are not an option for us. Is there a common counter-sanction policy?

Sergey Lavrov: Everything that has been done today on behalf of the presidents is the best response to the sanctions policy. Assuming that someone will just give up and give us a break is an exercise in futility. We are well aware of unreliability of our Western partners and their ability to grab the sanctions bludgeon at any given moment and for any reason. We should rely on ourselves, which is exactly what we will do following today’s meeting. However, we will leave the door open to anyone who is willing to cooperate based on equality and a balance of interests and is not striving to obtain unilateral advantages.

The Ukraine claims to be ready for an imminent war, today or tomorrow :-)

September 10, 2021

The Ukraine claims to be ready for an imminent war, today or tomorrow :-)

by Andrei for the Saker blog

Well, we heard that, what, 10’000 times already?  Probably.

But is this a reason to simply ignore yet another tsunami of hysterics coming out of Kiev?

I mean, I get it: North Stream 2 has been completed today, all that’s left is a bunch of paperwork (which the Poles and Ukies are still trying to sabotage by offering to “participate” in the bureaucratic processes). Barring any last-minute “creative solutions” by the 3B+PU gang, the gas itself should start flowing on October first.  And since the “Turkish stream” is already working, it is true that Russia has successfully bypassed all the crazies and is now offering its energy to Europe directly.

As for the “West” and its values, well, let’s just say that greed is far more sacred to the West than its own propaganda.  How do we know that? Nobody offered the Ukies any “compensation” or, even less so, “security guarantees”.

The US/NATO/UK/EU have clearly shown that while they love to act like the infamous “civilized” “White Man” with his famous “burden”, they have no stomach for screwing around with Russia for real, not in the Black Sea, not in the Ukraine, not in the Baltic and not in the North or anywhere else.

In other words, the Ukronazis feel ditched and are watching the events in Afghanistan in utter horror.

Also, since the Ukronazis always said that Russia will attack the Ukraine as soon as NS2 is completed, so in a way, there is a logic here: since NS2 was completed today, therefore Russia must attack today.  Especially since the Zapad 2021 military maneuvers have started (and they are involving a bigger and much more capable military force than the entire military power of the 3B+PU countries).

In the Ukie logic, this all means that Russia will attack today or tomorrow at the latest, from both Belarus and Russia.  BTW – Lukashenko was in Moscow yesterday and the two countries signed 28 documents further integrating Russia and Belarus economically and militarily.  As for political integration, Putin and Lukashenko both said that first, the two countries must align their economies before going into stuff like a single currency or even a single Parliament.  So that is for the (not too far away) future.

Then there are the various statements from top Ukro officials.

Zelenskii declared that a war is now inevitable.  He also stated that the Ukronazi armed forces were now amongst the most formidable on the planet and that NATO would “lose” without the Ukraine and the EU would become very weak (he was not joking).

The head of the Ukronazi Security Council, Danilov, not only agreed, but he said that if the Ukies see an impending Russian attack, the Ukies would attack first and “liberate” the Donbass.  He got a standing ovation from the Ukronazi corner.

The head of the Ukrainian military admitted that he daydreamed about, listen to this, a Ukrainian military parade on the Red Square in Moscow, with Ukie flags and all (that old Polish wet dream again…).

Remember the other “NATO candidate” Saakashvili who lost a war against a small Russian military force in 3 days only?  He now declared that if Russia attacks the Ukraine, all the US would send, at best, is warm blankets and inflatable boats.  He is right.  Welcome to reality Ukies!

As for the official Ukie media (all non-regime-run TV channels have now been banned), let’s just say that they “further amplified” the feelings of Ukie politicians and leave it at that.

Foreign Minister Lavrov reacted to all that by saying that the folks in Kiev were “schizophrenics”.  Peskov also spoke of mental problems.

So, will we have a full-scale war in Europe today or tomorrow?

Probably not.  HOWEVER

First, never say never, especially when dealing with schizophrenics.  Normal deterrence theory assumes what is called “a rational actor” on all sides.  The one thing which the Ukronazis sure ain’t is “rational”!

Second, you have to stop thinking like you normally do and imagine yourself in, say, Ze’s skin.  Objectively, for them, a continuation of, well, maybe not “peace”, that has not happened since the Ukronazi coup, but at least “low simmering” war might well be WORSE than a full-scale war with Russia.  The kind of “non-full-war” which the Nazi-occupied Ukraine has been (barely) surviving is a surefire way to a final, total, collapse.  Not only that, but Ze & Co. probably do realize that even if Russia does openly intervene, it would at most be to liberate the rest of the Donbass and probably move towards the Mariupol direction.  Sure, the Russians would probably do to the Ukies something similar to what they did to Saakashvili and basically defang the Ukraine, but remember that in 08.08.08 the Russians were already advancing on Tbilissi and stopped not because the “invincible Georgian army” stopped the invader, but because the Russians have ZERO need for anything Georgian once their fangs have been removed, least of all any need to enter their capital.  In fact, the Russians quickly packed and left, leaving just enough forces in South Ossetia and Abkhazia to make darn sure that they would never be attacked again.  This is most likely what the Russians would do in case of a war with the Ukraine, only at a larger scale.  But now think like Ze: Saakashvili himself is not in power, but he is alive, got plenty of money and basically is living a good life (in their minds, at least).  He did not get lynched by angry Georgians (who did put him on an international wanted list for many of his crimes).  Ze would much rather be the future Saakashvili than the future Mussolini, and that goes for a lot of them.  Sure, the Ukronazi true believers will all be killed by Russians, but the top folks will do what ex-President Ashraf Ghani did and pack their money and run.

Third, dumb and desperate (D&D) rulers always see war as a solution to get the flag-waving kind to blindly support them.  I vividly remember how Argentinian General and dictator Galtieri pulled off exactly that with his ill-fated liberation of the Malvinas/Falklands from the Brits (which, of course, I support 110% on principle, but the execution was nothing short of terrible, by the fault of Argentinian politicians and Galtieri himself (and the local commander too, Mario Menendez).  And that is a trick which every President except Trump pulled at least once while in office (and he basically also did that with the murder of Soleimani which was an act of war).

The Neocons still seem to be dreaming of attacking somebody, anybody, but following the monumental faceplant in Afghanistan, there are very few nations out there that the US can seriously take on (Monaco?  Lichtenstein?  Costa Rica (which has no military to begin with)?  Grenada (no military either, but lots of very bad and even traumatic memories for the US)?  Not the Vatican, the ceremonial Swiss guard might do what it did during the insurrection of 1792 and declare “We are Swiss, the Swiss do not part with their arms but with their lives. We think that we do not merit such an insult. If the regiment is no longer wanted, let it be legally discharged. But we will not leave our post, nor will we let our arms be taken from us” (yes, tiny Switzerland had a proud and very interesting history, and she only became the Empire’s cheap prostitute in 1990).  And today’s Swiss guards at the Vatican could change their (rather silly) ceremonial uniforms, but on real fatigues and fight to the end.  I don’t see these genius super-warriors taking them on 🙂

So – war later today or tomorrow?

No, probably not.

But the fact is that the Ukies simply have no other choice than to try all they can to trigger a war sooner or later (but preferably sooner).  For these Nazi schizophrenics war is, REALLY, preferable to peace.  Remember for all the butthurt crazies on other websites who were going into hysterics every time I spoke of “Nazis” in the Ukie context, the fact remains that while Ze initially came to power as a total NON-Nazi (while Poroshenko’s gang was “the real deal”), the fact that Ze is, literally, a clown and has no real power base other than the pro-peace Ukrainians whom he totally betrayed, resulted into the Ukie Nazis taking de facto control of the Ze regime.

Just like the Neocons are a minority in the USA, but one which sets the agenda no matter who is in power in the White House, so are the Ukronazis: a minority, but one which sets the agenda.  And “their” Ukraine is, truly, an anti-Russia, something which Putin publicly declared a “red line” which Russia will never allow.

See any venues for compromise here?

Me neither.

Finally, a war would allow the Ukronazis to “consolidate” their power in the western regions of the (historically real) “Ukraine” which Russians will certainly stay away from (Lvov, Ivano-Frankovsk, etc.).  Most of the locals *truly* are non-Russians and have never been Russians in the past.  The Ukronazi ideology is still popular there, so the Ukronazis can create their little and landlocked “Nazi Taiwan” and give up a country they cannot control, if only because it is entirely artificial, and accept a smaller country, but once which makes more sense and which they can control.

So “something” is definitely coming.  It might be a stupid stunt like trying to pass under the bridge to Crimea or some major terrorist attack (that is the one thing which the SBU is actually pretty darn good at, we should not dismiss them too quickly!).  Or this, the Ukies are regularly flying all types of drones over the Donbass and even over Crimea.  What if they sent a manned aircraft of some kind?  It will be shot down for sure (even over the LDNR).  They can also set off a false flag very very easily (just like the Czechs recently did): blow up some major civilian infrastructure object which the cannot be maintained (no money, all the specialists gone) anyway and blame it on Putin and, of course, “Petrov and Boshirov”.

I think of that as a “home made MH-17” (the initial one was clearly a US operation like KAL007 many years ago).

We cannot predict what “it” will be, but we can be sure that will be 1) very visible 2) very ugly 3) very bloody.

Yes, the Russians are as ready as can one can be.  But the Ukies will have the advantage of choosing the time and place.  This means that the SVR/GRU must now carry the burden of making darn sure that the Ukronazis authorities are chock full with SVR/GRU agents and even officers: it is vital for Russia to make sure that the Kremlin gets any such Ukie plans even before they are finalized in Kiev.  Удачи вам, ребята! (good luck guys!).

Andrei

News conference following Russian-Belarusian talks (important development of ‘Union State’)

September 10, 2021

News conference following Russian-Belarusian talks (important development of ‘Union State’)

Vladimir Putin and President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko held a joint news conference at the Kremlin following Russian-Belarusian talks

President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr Lukashenko, ladies and gentlemen,

We will briefly inform you about the results of our today’s work.

Our talks with the President of Belarus were intensive and constructive, as they have always been, which is fully in line with the nature of relations between our countries.

I have said this before but would like to repeat it today: Belarus, for us, is a good neighbour and our closest ally. Russian-Belarusian cooperation rests on the principles of mutual respect, support and consideration for each other’s interests. Close friendly ties between Russia and Belarus are buttressed by a common history and spiritual values and often by family relations.

The Republic is our main trade and economic partner in the CIS and was our third largest partner in the world in 2020, in this respect. This year, trade is once again on the rise and has already surpassed the pre-pandemic level. In January-June it amounted to $17.8 billion, recording growth of 34.9 percent, almost 35 percent.

Russia accounts for almost half of all of Belarus’ foreign trade. Russia has also made the biggest investment in the Belarusian economy.

So, it is no accident that during today’s talks we focused on trade and investment in our bilateral relations and on the issues linked with integration within the Union State framework.

As you know, over several years – we said today that we stepped up this work three or four years ago – our governments have been intensively working on a package of documents to further deepen integration between Russia and Belarus.

These are 28 so-called “union programmes” that are aimed at the unification of laws in Russia and Belarus in various economic areas, the levelling of conditions for the operation of the two countries’ economic entities, the formation of uniform financial and energy markets, transport infrastructure, the development and implementation of a common industrial and agricultural policy.

Today, I would like to say with satisfaction, that all 28 programmes have been agreed upon. Tomorrow, they are to be approved at a meeting of the Council of Ministers of the Union State in Minsk, after which they will be submitted for approval by the Supreme State Council of the Union State, which will convene before the end of this year. Mr Lukashenko and I have agreed on that, and we will now check our schedules and determine a more or less exact timeline.

Let me briefly go over the contents of these programmes.

Some of them seek to harmonise the taxation and customs legislation of our two countries. In particular, an agreement will be signed covering the general principles of levying indirect taxes. An integrated system for administering indirect taxes within the Union State will be put in place. The goal is to make the price structure of products clear.

Also, the general guidelines for forming a single monetary policy in the future, and implementing currency regulation, integrating national payment systems and creating a common payment space within the Union State have been outlined. All this will help ensure fair competition and boost business activity on the financial market, as well as effectively mitigate the risks of money laundering and the financing of criminal activities, including terrorism.

We have reached agreements on matters that are highly sensitive for the Belarusian side, which are related to prices for Russian energy. After lengthy discussions, we managed to come up with mutually acceptable approaches to gas supplies. The price for Russian natural gas for Belarus will remain at the current level in 2022.

A document to create a unified gas market within the Union State will be signed before December 1, 2023. In addition, we will conclude an agreement on merging the petroleum and petroleum product markets, as well as an agreement on a single electricity market.

I would like to emphasise the fact that common approaches to legislation covering labour relations, occupational safety and health, employment, social insurance and pensions, as well as support for families with children, will be developed within the framework of these union programmes as well.

Implementing the Union State programmes will be an important step towards creating a single economic space for our two countries, as provided for in the 1999 Treaty on the Establishment of the Union State.

Eventually, this will provide a strong impetus to the further growth of the two countries’ economies, will facilitate an increase in labour efficiency, serve the interests of large, mid-sized and small businesses and help create more jobs.

Russian and Belarusian businesses will be given the opportunity to expand their activities across the Union State, including by establishing new joint ventures and boosting their export potential.

Most importantly, the average person in the two countries will, hopefully, benefit from the integration. Russians and Belarusians will be given equal rights and equal opportunities in the economic and social spheres and, the most important thing, the necessary conditions will be put in place to ensure a real improvement in living standards and the wellbeing of the people.

Today, we also discussed matters related to building a single defence space and ensuring the security of the Union Sate along its borders.

In this context, we gave much attention, as we attach great importance to this, to upcoming joint military exercises, Zapad 2021, to be held in Russia and Belarus. These exercises are not targeting anyone. However, conducting these exercises is logical, given that other alliances, for example, NATO, are moving fast to build their military presence close to the borders of the Union State and the Collective Security Treaty Organisation countries.

Mr Lukashenko talked about the political situation in the Republic of Belarus, which has stabilised.

In conclusion, returning to the main topic of today’s talks, I want to note that the development of equitable and mutually beneficial cooperation in the Union State has remained an explicit strategic priority for our two countries.

I want to thank the governments, ministries and teams of experts of the two countries who took part in developing and coordinating the Union State programmes. Thanks to you – I am now addressing our colleagues – and your well-coordinated and painstaking work, we have managed to achieve very impressive results on the path to integration. We believe – I am again addressing my colleagues in the government – that you will continue to proceed like this in the future.

Thank you for your attention.

President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko: Mr Putin, media representatives,

According to traditions and protocol, first of all, I would like to thank my colleague, the President of Russia, for the warm welcome that our delegation has been given today, as well as the extremely honest, open and constructive nature of today’s meeting.

Among other things, all of you, journalists, finally have an opportunity to hear firsthand about the results of our meeting today. We must frankly admit that we have not often indulged you with such meetings after our long negotiations.

I would like to start with the biggest and perhaps the most popular topic of today’s conversation. Everyone is interested in the future of the union programmes. Taking into account what the President of Russia has just said, I will just try to add a few things. But I must apologise because I have to start with the history of this matter.

The President has just mentioned that this work begun more than three years ago now, and we have been duly reacting to all the feedback, concerns and criticism voiced in both Russia and Belarus, about the Union State having lost some of its dynamics.

As I said, substantive work on the so-called roadmaps, as you remember, began more than three years ago. Those roadmaps, in fact, provided integration frameworks for specific areas, that is, the roadmaps indicated in broad strokes the path that we were ready to take with regard to a specific topic of interstate relations. That is, we outlined our plans.

Each of today’s programmes – they actually evolved into programmes about 18 months ago, when we approached specific agreements because we thought that we had enough framework plans and needed more specific ones to respond to our people’s requests, and so – each of the programmes is a specific plan of actions we are going to implement. The governments have done a tremendous job. Mr Putin and I have made all the fundamental decisions today that concerned us.

I do not want to go into the contents of the documents we have reviewed. They are not classified and will be made public. But I will just mention a few of the main points. They include equal rights for businesses of both countries, Belarus and Russia, the importance of which various representatives of Belarus, including me as the president, have been stressing for many years now. That is the basics. We are equal partners. The competition must be honest for all companies on the Belarusian and Russian markets. It was the equality, beneficial and fruitful cooperation that the Belarusian‒Russian integration was started for in the first place.

The union programmes clearly describe development mechanisms for our shared economic space, for building integrated sector-specific markets and for implementing harmonised policies in finances, taxes, lending, pricing and trade.

I would like to specifically point out such matters as solving the problem of energy supply to Belarus, the increase in transportation services, funding for new investment projects, adopting common approaches to implementing our agricultural and industrial policies, and raising the level of mutual social guarantees for our citizens. President Putin has just covered these topics extensively.

Yet, it is high time we asked our critics in Belarus – specifically, in Belarus – the so-called opposition, both fugitives and those living in Belarus, who criticised me and the government and shouted so loud. I would like to ask the critics of our integration in Russia as well: where do you see a ball chained to Russia’s legs? There are no downsides for either Belarusians or Russians in these programmes – and there could not be. As President Putin mentioned, the aim of all these measures is to improve the welfare of our peoples. And it is probably time to put a lid on this matter. Our integration was coined to be mutually beneficial and nothing else.

It is fundamentally important that we have managed to achieve mutual understanding on all major aspects. Our governments will immediately start polishing certain points – tomorrow, during a meeting of the Union State’s Council of Ministers in Minsk. If the final touches are approved and agreed upon (and we are certain they will be), we will be ready to approve the package of union programmes, as President Putin said, during a meeting of the Supreme State Council. We will try to set a date for this meeting today.

We often hear accusations that the Union State is a purely political project. No, it is a unique integration framework that is advanced in many spheres, including politics. Take our military and political union. It is not a secret. We have advanced quite substantially in many fields, such as foreign policy, defence and security.

I would like to stress: life is convincingly proving that everything we do is for the benefit of our people and is aimed to meet their concrete needs. The Belarusians and the Russians do not feel they are aliens in either country: they have freedom of movement and they can get an education and [easily] find a job. This stands high. Moreover, people are confident that it is a matter of course, that it has always been this way. And this is the best proof of the viability of our union. I am absolutely certain that broadening integration and building up multi-faceted collaboration is the most indicative and effective reply to all our ill-wishers. Together we can only get stronger.

At the start of our talks, the President of Russia mentioned a very important and interesting phrase: We are emerging from the situation of a pandemic-crazy world, where production volumes and many other processes have sunk to nought over this period of time. We have to look for additional stimuli to promote the socioeconomic development of our countries. He said this and it is bang on to the point. We are looking for these advantages in the union of our two countries in order to overcome the negative consequences of the pandemic.

Today, we have also discussed in detail some current international problems and our relations with neighbouring countries and assiciations. We have dwelled on the situation in zones of instability, primarily in Afghanistan, from the point of view of threats to security of the Union State of Russia and Belarus. The priority in this context is to ensure comprehensive security of our countries and the CSTO as a whole. We will jointly approve a common position on this matter during the upcoming events in Dushanbe.

Even we, though located in the centre of Europe far from the so-called theatre of operations, felt the impacts of the Afghan crisis. Look at the refugee crisis on our borders, at how the progressive West is behaving: they are rattling the saber all the time. As is only natural, we have broached the subject of our allied military exercise, Zapad-2021. We will continue to build up our joint counteraction to common challenges and threats. There is no need to scream out loud that we are holding this exercise. We have an army, we have a joint force deployed in the Western sector, and it needs to be trained and instructed in military tactics. We are doing nothing that wouldn’t be done by our rivals and adversaries.

We have also focused on further normalisation of transport communications and cooperation in the field of microelectronics and building industry. Yes, we are confident that the Union State should expand the use of its scientific and technological potential.

It is clear that far from all the knots in our relations have been untied. But it is normal, given the existing scale of collaboration, and a platform for further progress has been created. Based on this platform, we will continue to ensure social guarantees and consistently enhance the wellbeing of Belarusians and Russians.

Many people will get the impression that our talks on these subjects and Union programmes are going on forever, and that we are handling these matters with kid gloves, to put it mildly. There can be no alternative because somewhere in the mid-1990s and by the late 1990s when you and I were exchanging ratification instruments of the Union State Treaty, we agreed to conduct integration at various speeds and various levels. At that time, the Belarus-Russia Union and the Eurasian Economic Union, called the Customs Union at the time, was established on your insistent initiative, and the CIS.

We maintain different speeds at these three levels on post-Soviet territory, but we were always ahead. During the era of President Yeltsin, we discussed the possibility of renouncing the Union State and the Belarus-Russia Union and making this format part of the Eurasian Economic Union. At that period of time, we had enough intelligence and wisdom not to go ahead with this. The new President of Russia supported this, and we were not mistaken. We are setting an example of how to move ahead within the EAEU and all the more so within the CIS. In effect, we are pushing ahead like a bulldozer, and we are paving the way for, as we really hope, future associations and unions in the post-Soviet region. The Union is an example and a road that all states counting on a more close-knit union will have to take.

The President of Russia tactfully avoided mentioning all kinds of assertions that someone would take over someone, and so on and so forth. I would just like to point out that the President of Russia and I never suffered from this disorder. We can treat anyone who has had this disorder. I have recently said that we are sufficiently smart people, and if we find it necessary to make our already thoroughly close relations even more powerful, he and I will accomplish this in no time at all. Therefore one should not rattle and juggle old phrases and terminology about us trying to take over someone or to merge together contrary to the desires of our peoples. We simply wanted to accomplish something, and we singled out 28 areas and implemented the task in three years. Quite possibly, three years is a long time, but this is a mere instant in terms of history. Therefore one should not worry in this respect, and we will do everything possible in the interests of the people. And if we need even more close political and military integration, we will do this without delay, as soon as we feel this is required by our people in Belarus and Russia.

Most importantly, and the President of Russia and I have discussed this, 28 programmes have been inked, and this is a conceptual view of any specific problem. Today, it is necessary to sift through volumes of domestic legislation and our joint agreements, to adapt them or to channel them via a direction that has been determined by the President of Russia and me. As has been said, we will finally approve this direction at a meeting of our Supreme State Council.

Thank you.

Question: Good afternoon,

I have a question for you, President Putin.

Indeed, the list of subjects included in the union programmes brings union integration between our two countries to the highest and broadest level.

We must give credit to the governments that were able to agree upon a number of highly sensitive and principled matters such as monetary and foreign exchange policy, customs and taxation systems, a number of sector-specific problems, and social guarantee convergence. However, we must also admit the fact that for a number of years now, year in and year out, the development of the Union State was held back by a number of trade and economic hurdles. Frankly speaking, it is not easy for the Belarusian people to understand some of them. For example, the working conditions for Belarusian carriers in Russia are worse than for the Lithuanian or Polish carriers, and this despite the fact that our countries agreed on creating a common economic space more than 20 years ago.

In this regard, my question is: do you think that once adopted and implemented, these union programmes will make it possible to resolve that pile of long-standing mutual problems and to leave them behind as we push ahead into the future?

Vladimir Putin: You have taken a bird’s eye view of the matters finding a solution to which was a challenge for us. But if we start to dig deeper, it will become quite clear why it was so difficult for us to agree on things. It is because one side believed that it was enough to make some operational decisions at the governmental level and things would be settled, while the other side believed that certain decisions on certain matters could not be made until more fundamental decisions had been made.

I just mentioned what we agreed on, and I will say it again, since this is an absolutely critical matter. So, we have agreed on conducting common macroeconomic policy. I will not go into details now, and you are probably aware of what this is about. We have also agreed on harmonising monetary policy, payment system integration, ensuring information security, and deepening cooperation in customs regulations and taxation. That is, we are talking about transparency of the customs value of goods and definition of the transparent structure of the value of goods in the economy in general.

Our experts believed that without resolving these matters we cannot move on to other matters concerning individual commodity groups, including energy. We agreed to create a single methodology, which is important, for harmonising indirect taxes and a department which would control these processes.

When the economy becomes transparent, when it becomes clear how much the goods cost when they are imported into any of the two states, Russia or Belarus, and then enter our customs territories, then we can talk about those goods’ real value. And this allowed us to agree on something else – we are now moving towards a unified industrial policy and access to government procurement and government contracts. This amounts to a transition to very specific work in these areas.

But we disagreed for quite a long time. I have to say that our Belarusian partners are hard negotiators, but still, gradually, breaking the ideas down to elemental parts, we have practically – well, not practically, but fully agreed on all these matters. The President of Belarus and I have reaffirmed this today. We have agreed on all the details, you know, all the problems. When we got down to the details and spelled it all out, this puzzle just came together, and I hope it all really works.

Question: Thank you very much.

Please, if it’s possible one more short question, since I have such an opportunity. Did you discuss full resumption of air services today after COVID-19, and further developments in general? Were some decisions made maybe?

Vladimir Putin: No, we discussed this at our previous meeting. This time, the President of Belarus did not bring up this matter, but the President of Belarus does not yet know about the decision just made at the government commission, which met not far from here, at Government House. They decided to lift all COVID-related restrictions on air services.

Alexander Lukashenko: You have not told me about this.

Vladimir Putin: No I did not, but now I am informing you.

Alexander Lukashenko: Well, thank you.

Vladimir Putin: Before these so-called COVID restrictions were introduced, we had over 200 flights a week. To be precise, 201 in fact, and at the moment just 36.

I do not expect the pre-COVID level to get back to normal in just a couple of two days – to over 200 flights – because it all depends on the market and the carriers. But I believe the process will unfold speedily, also because, I hope, the agreements and the programmes we have informed you about will be quickly and efficiently implemented.

Question: A question for both presidents. You touched upon the topic of economic integration. What are the prospects for political integration, or are there any?

And, back to the Union State programmes, will Belarus enjoy special prices for energy resources? Is there a plan to create a single energy market regulator in the Union State? I am also interested if a decision is planned on a common Union State currency. Have you discussed additional credit support for Minsk?

Vladimir Putin: With regard to political integration, this is what the Union Treaty was tasked to accomplish from the outset, when the Union Treaty was being formed in 1997 and a treaty signed a little later, I think, in 1999.

We believe – just as your colleague asked a question about individual commodity groups, and what they succeeded in agreeing upon and what remains to be agreed – we decided that we need not to focus on separate items that are beneficial or not to a particular side, but instead should make comprehensive decisions thus creating a solid economic foundation for making progress in sensitive, but still peripheral matters.

It works the same way here. We operate on the premise that, in spite of this being a noble cause, we must first create political integration and an economic basis, a foundation, in order to be able to move forward, on the political track as well. We have not taken up these issues yet. To reiterate, we believe that we should first focus on the economy, and everything else will then need additional regulation, including, perhaps, at the level of the Union parliament. I do not rule out the possibility of this being created. But before we do that we need, as they say, to grow up. We did not discuss this, and these items were not on our agenda.

With regard to the second part of your question, I have already said that we will be addressing issues related to individual product groups in a comprehensive manner, even though we understand that the energy issue is highly sensitive. Therefore, as I said, we will leave the same price for Belarus for the next year, 2022. The price for Belarus will be $128.5 per 1,000 cubic metres. For your information, in case you are not aware of it, the price on the European market is $650 per 1,000 cubic metres. So, I think, the difference is clear.

We will not even adjust the price for Belarus to take account of the dollar inflation, which is quite high. They planned 2 percent, but it will be over 5 percent actually. Now, they are saying it will be a little lower, but still two to three times higher than the target. But we are not going to adjust either for the inflation in Russia or for the dollar inflation. We will keep the price as it is this year. However, later on, as I said, we will nevertheless work out common approaches both on the gas market and on the petroleum and petroleum product market.

What was the third matter?

Question: Are you planning to provide additional support to Minsk in terms of lending?

Vladimir Putin: Yes, the governments are discussing this. The President of Belarus and I also discussed this. The total volume of loans from September through late 2022 will amount to about $630 million, approximately $630–640 million. Anyway, it is going to be over $600 million.

Alexander Lukashenko: As concerns political integration, I fully support President Putin although he was too modest and did not mention his own role in resolving this matter.

We hit a brick wall at the time with certain issues in the Union, including political issues. It was then that the Russian President said words that became proverbial. We were having similar talks, in this very office where we had a one-to-one meeting today. That meeting was in an extended format. He reproached both Belarusian and Russian experts and said: “If we hit a wall and obviously have no way of solving this problem today, let’s put it aside until a moment comes when we can deal with it, when the time is ripe.” We have managed to not politicise our talks too much ever since.

I have just said openly and honestly: we can go back to any problem, including a political one, if we need to, and we will develop our relations based on that premise. This issue will not get rusty, as we like to say in Russia and Belarus. This is why I support President Putin’s idea that the time will come and we will not keep anybody waiting.

As for special prices, you must know that in fact, all our products are priced based on special terms due to free trade agreements in the Union State and the EAEU. We pay no duties, with the exception of energy. President Putin spoke about gas. Because it is an exception, we review the prices, including gas prices, almost every year. At this point, the oil exported outside Belarus sells at global prices if we exclude the duty.

Regarding loans, President Putin did not say anything but I must admit that I told him that we do not need more loans. If we can save money thanks to the nuclear power plant for which we received a loan (according to Russia’s practice everywhere in the world), I asked him to give us this saved money as a loan. He agreed to consider it if there were good promising projects for Belarus and Russia. We are happy with this. There is also the loan that my colleague has just mentioned.

Speaking about common currency, I would like you, as journalists, to understand: the question is not whether Putin or Lukashenko are stalling on this process. Remember, we have researched this issue. The Central Bank of Russia and the National Bank of Belarus unanimously asked us not to consider this issue yet. They said that neither they nor our countries were ready. President Putin and I listened and put this issue aside. It does not mean we will never get back to it. Currency is not the problem per se. It does not matter if the value of the dollar, euro or ruble increases, what matters and has always mattered is a common issuing institution. There is a definite problem with this. I think we may be able to solve it even while we are both presidents.

This is the background I wanted to explain.

Vladimir Putin: Regarding a common currency unit, we agree with this, and the President of Belarus has also agreed that it is very important to implement a unified macroeconomic policy. We have taken the first steps in this field. I have already said that the Central Bank of Russia and the National Bank of Belarus should harmonise monetary policy, ensure the integration of payment systems and facilitate information security in the financial sphere. This means that we are moving to address a more difficult and complicated problem.

Alexander Lukashenko: Yes, this is correct.

Vladimir Putin: We need to work gradually. The road maps and these programmes stipulate all this. Consequently, everything will be obvious there. We can see that countries with weaker economies are suffering in the European Union. They could devalue something in a well-known situation, but they are unable to do this because they have no national currency. The euro is a strong currency, and what are they to do? All-out price hikes is the only option fraught with dire social consequences. Therefore we must act very cautiously, analyse the pluses and minuses, the positive aspects of our neighbours and negative examples. We are trying to do this.

You are talking about energy prices. I have said that 1,000 cubic metres cost $650 on the free European market. But the wise-guy members of the European Commission’s previous line-up invented market gas pricing, and the results are here for everyone to see.

And we prefer a different approach. We also stipulate market pricing, and this price is pegged to the crude oil price. No one but market regulates it. But the fluctuations are much less pronounced. But here, someone has failed to pump the required 27 billion cubic metres into underground gas reservoirs, causing a shortage in gas supplies, business activity increased or something else happened, and there you are – gas prices start to exceed the prices of crude oil and petroleum derivatives. So you can see a substantial price hike.

Gazprom does not charge such selling prices under long-term contracts and our pricing principles. Those Europeans who have agreed to sign long-term contracts with us can rub their hands with joy and feel happy because they would otherwise have to pay $650. Gazprom sells gas to Germany for $220; at any rate, this was the case only recently.

Considering rising oil prices considered, this price will still go up, but the process will be more gradual. In reality, Gazprom is interested in this because it also creates a certain safety cushion. There will be no abrupt slump and drop in prices. This is the gist of the matter. Everyone stands to gain from this. Those members of the European Commission who came up with their own ideas have got the desired result.

Question: Mr Lukashenko, Mr Putin,

I have a question about migrants. It is a consequence of the current developments in Afghanistan, which actually concern Belarus as well. The humanitarian crisis in the nearby European region is gaining momentum and growing stronger, but the EU has turned a blind eye to the Polish authorities’ actions towards refugees from Afghanistan and other countries. Instead of helping, they are ousting them, throwing them out of their territory quite harshly, with the use of special equipment. This has little to do with respect for human rights and democratic principles, which the West loves to talk about so much.

The question is whether we can expect Minsk and Moscow to take joint efforts soon to settle this problem.

Alexander Lukashenko: You are providing interesting facts.

Vladimir Putin: My Western colleagues and the leaders of some European countries have called on me to take joint actions, saying that there is a crisis on the Belarusian border with Lithuania and Poland. They are asking me to influence the situation. My answer is very simple: this is no concern of ours; this is not our border. It is the state border of the Republic of Belarus with Lithuania and Poland.

This leads to my first question. In principle, all sides would like to talk directly with the Taliban, even though the movement is on the UN list of designated terrorist groups. Nevertheless, they say that the Taliban is controlling the territory and so we need to talk with them. But President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko did not come to power as a result of a war but by means of a public vote. Whether some people do not like the results of the vote is another matter. So my answer is why talk with us? Talk with the Belarusian authorities instead. Russia has nothing to do with this. This is the first thing that I wanted to say.

Second, many people are indeed asking us to help evacuate the citizens of other countries and even some Afghans from Afghanistan. We are doing this. We are not doing this secretly; we are doing this after coordinating the matter regarding certain groups of citizens with the Taliban. European countries are also talking about the catastrophe underway there, beating their breasts and blaming themselves for leaving their people in the lurch. If this is so, and if some Afghans (or not only Afghans, because all refugees, including Afghans, are being pushed out of European countries) have approached the Belarusian border with Lithuania or Poland, I do not understand the logic. You can accuse Belarus of all kinds of things, but at least screen the refugees and allow the Afghans to stay. Should they be pushed back to Afghanistan? And then they will ask us to help evacuate them from the country, won’t they? There is no logic in that.

I will not provide any political assessment now, but I would like to point out once again that Russia has nothing to do with this, that this is a sovereign concern of Belarus and its neighbours.

Question: May I ask an additional question? What is your personal view on the situation? Do you believe that Belarus has, as the West claims, launched a hybrid war against the EU?

Vladimir Putin: You see, very many sharp statements have been made to this effect. My Belarusian colleague himself is a professional when it comes to sharp statements. You can ask him, and he will tell you.

Alexander Lukashenko: No, I cannot do this in your presence…

Vladimir Putin: No, do not do this, please.

Well, has anyone started a war there? I am not aware of this. The answer is very simple: if you want to clear up a question or a problem, if you really do want this, talk with the Belarusian authorities at any level, I do not know which level it should be, and do settle the problem with the neighbouring state. Where do we come in on this?

Alexander Lukashenko: You know, the President of Russia is being delicate again. We are perfectly aware of the problem, and I have updated him; we discussed it. The EU and others are trying to settle this problem, in part, by making some complaints to the Russian leadership, in particular, my colleague, asking him to influence or pressure Lukashenko, and so on. I am grateful to him for his position, which he puts forth everywhere, that the Belarusian leadership and authorities are there and, as President Putin has said, the problem should be taken up with them. However, they claim that they cannot talk with us because the President [of Belarus] is not legitimate or the authorities are not what they should be. But the Taliban are a different matter, as we say, this is a different story, and so they can talk and communicate with them. Therefore, I am grateful to the President and leadership of Russia for their position. I personally and the authorities of Belarus appreciate this position.

Second, we have overlooked one point. In fact, we have not overlooked it, as journalists in Russia and Belarus know very well. What did Washington say as soon as the acute phase of the US presence in Afghanistan ended? They called on everyone, including Russia and the Central Asian republics, and ordered – yes, ordered – the EU to take in all those who will flee (I am speaking plainly) from Afghanistan. We have recently discussed this issue during an online conference, a videoconference, and we have coordinated a nearly unanimous view on what we should do. Europeans have just rolled over and invited the Afghans in. Take a look at this information; it has happened only recently.

But if you invited them, do take them along no matter where they came from: after all, they have worked for you all this time. There are hundreds of thousand Afghans, who spent 20 years working for those who have fled to their holes. What complaints can there be here against me, or Belarusians, let alone Russia?

But it must be understood that some Afghans and Iraqis – they have also ruined Iraq, as you know, it was not us or Russia, – they are fleeing from Lebanon and Syria and other countries they invaded. These people are fleeing via Russia, via Belarus, or directly to Belarus. This concerns Russia and Belarus most directly. We have not invited them and they are not heading for Belarus: they are crossing via Belarus to countries that have invited them. So, take them, they are your problem. This is our position.

And then, what are you urging us to do? Every day, you introduce new sanctions against us. In terms of sanctions, we are ahead of the Russian Federation by an order of magnitude. Over the past six months they have imposed a lot of sanctions on us. So, is it my duty or that of the Belarusian people to defend them on the border? No! They have wound down all programmes, leaving just a readmission agreement. You know about this. Well now, enjoy the fruit of your policies.

Look at the face they present. I won’t speak straight from the shoulder, although I could. Look at the democratic face they present: they fire at people, they set the dogs on them, they catch migrants in Poland and Lithuania, marshal them into groups and march them across the border to Belarus, shooting above their heads. Thank God, so far they are firing into the air, although there are victims. There are dead bodies that they chuck across the border for us to pick up. This is their democratic face.

This is why I don’t see any reasons for grievances against us. We honestly carried out our mission until they started turning the situation upside down by force and toppling the government. It is up to the Belarusian people to decide whether the government is legitimate or not. We did not meddle in the US elections, when they were shooting people point-blank during the ballot and afterwards. Therefore, they better sort out things at home.

What we have to do as a reliable partner, we will do under all circumstances. If Europe wants to have normal relations with us, we are ready to talk at their earliest opportunity. And we will ask Russia to support us, if necessary, and we will operate jointly. But so far, there is no such need – thank God. If need be, we will join hands in no time and will counteract all the negative trends in the interests of Russians and Belarusians.

Question: Good afternoon. My question is for both leaders.

Today you said a lot about important allied programmes, but the Treaty on the Creation of the Union State was signed over 20 years ago, and as we know, most of those decisions have not been implemented yet. Proceeding from today’s decisions, in your opinion, at what integration stage are Russia and Belarus? And how much closer – if at all – have they come to the implementation of these agreements reached 20 years ago?

Thank you.

Vladimir Putin: I believe that we should have started with what we agreed upon today. We need to create an economic base, as I said, the foundation of our relations, and everything else is a political superstructure, as it was said back in the old days.

So we are doing what we have agreed upon today, and then we will be ready to take the next steps. But it is work for the future; we need to monitor the rapidly changing situation. We will see what will happen after the implementation of the programme I have just mentioned. I am sure that we are on the right track.

Alexander Lukashenko: I totally agree with the President of Russia, nothing to add here. That was a short and clear answer to the question.

If you want to dig into the previous agreements, and I am not sure which agreements you mean, we can return to this matter in some other format and see what those agreements were and which of them we did not implement.

The President is right, we have created a base for further progress, and we cannot fail. It could take two hours for both of us to tell you about the mistakes the European Union has made, and we used to model ourselves on it. And look at it now, there are numerous trends leading to destruction. They are openly ctiticising each other already. We do not want to make the same mistakes and the mistakes that were made in our union state, the Soviet Union. We draw conclusions. Time has passed and we could have missed something, and we can dwell on that, but we have returned to the creation of a base. As the President said, without the foundation, it is impossible to build the integration house. We have long abandoned the idea of starting building the house from the roof.

Vladimir Putin: Thank you very much.

Alexander Lukashenko: Thank you.

—-


Ed Note:  This is currently a machine translation of the 28 points of ‘Union State’ Development and it is here for people to understand the scope of this development.  We have to wait for a formal transcript from Russian to English to avoid miscommunication.  I beg your understanding on this issue.

1. Convergence of macroeconomic policies

An agreement was reached on the synchronization of strategic management in the Russian Federation and the Republic of Belarus in terms of macroeconomic policy and the formation of official statistical information. Harmonization of the legislation of the Russian Federation and the Republic of Belarus in this area will create a basis for joint support of small and medium-sized businesses, streamline the consideration of situations in the field of insolvency and bankruptcy.

2. Harmonization of monetary policy and macroprudential regulation

An agreement was reached to conclude an agreement between the Central Bank of the Russian Federation and the National Bank of the Republic of Belarus on the principles and mechanisms of monetary policy harmonization by December 2022.

The implementation of the agreement will be aimed at achieving a comparable and consistently low level of inflation, creating similar financial conditions for business entities in both countries.

3. Harmonization of foreign exchange regulation and control

The parties agreed to harmonize the rules for opening bank accounts for residents in non-resident banks, conducting currency transactions, and requirements for the repatriation of foreign currency earnings.

4. Harmonization of information security requirements in the financial sector

The parties agreed to harmonize approaches to ensuring information security, create a mechanism for mutual recognition of audit results in the field of information security, and apply cross-border integrity control and authentication tools in the exchange of electronic information.

5. Harmonization of regulatory norms for credit and non-credit financial institutions, as well as the financial market as a whole, including ensuring the creation of common principles of deposit insurance

The parties agreed to harmonize the regulation of the financial market, in particular leasing organizations and microfinance institutions, as well as mutual access of banking and insurance organizations to the financial markets of the Union State.

6. Harmonization of anti-money laundering and financial terrorism (AML/CFT) requirements for the financial sector

An agreement was reached between the Central Bank of the Russian Federation and the National Bank of the Republic of Belarus on the harmonization of the AML/CFT legislation of the Russian Federation and the Republic of Belarus for the financial sector and the implementation of joint activities in this area.

7. Integration of payment systems in the field of national payment card systems, financial message transmission and settlement systems, implementation of the international financial message standard ISO 20022, fast payment systems, development of financial technologies, harmonized approaches in the field of supervision and monitoring of payment systems

The parties agreed to improve the mechanisms of cross-border exchange of financial information between Russian and Belarusian credit institutions and legal entities, as well as to develop cooperation on fast payments, transfer of financial messages and settlements, supervision of payment service market participants, and development of financial technologies.

8. Harmonization of requirements in the field of protection of the rights of consumers of financial services and investors, as well as prevention of unfair practices in the financial market

The parties agreed to develop proposals for the harmonization of the legislation of the Russian Federation and the Republic of Belarus in order to ensure the provision of an equal amount of protection of rights to consumers of financial services using the same financial services.

9. Integration of information systems of state regulatory bodies on traceability of goods

The parties agreed to synchronize approaches to the functioning of the traceability mechanism, integrate information systems to automate data exchange, which will ensure control over the turnover of goods subject to traceability.

10. Integration of product labeling information systems

The parties agreed to unify approaches to the legal regulation and technical support of mandatory labeling of goods by means of identification, to synchronize the work necessary for mutual recognition of identification tools, in order to ensure unhindered access to the market of labeled goods.

11. Harmonization of tax and customs legislation and cooperation in the customs sphere

In the tax and customs spheres, the parties agreed to conclude international agreements on general principles of taxation for indirect taxes and on deepening cooperation between customs authorities, introduce an integrated system of indirect tax administration of the Russian Federation and the Republic of Belarus, and establish a joint advisory body – the Union State Committee on Tax Issues.

Approaches to maintaining statistics on mutual trade, systems for categorizing participants in foreign economic activity, and the institution of authorized economic operators will be harmonized.

12. Integration of information systems of state regulatory authorities in terms of veterinary and quarantine phytosanitary control

The parties agreed to integrate information systems in order to automate the process of data exchange on issued certificates of quarantine phytosanitary control (supervision). Traceability of controlled goods and quarantined products will be ensured, which will increase the effectiveness of quarantine phytosanitary and veterinary control (supervision) and speed up the movement of goods and vehicles across the state border. The Parties will ensure traceability of all livestock and plant-based products.

13. Integration of transport control information systems of state regulatory bodies

The parties agreed to develop software that will allow the exchange of data on the results of transport control on the territory of the two states, which will increase the transparency and safety of road transport.

14. Unification of transport market regulation

In the field of air transport, equal tariff conditions will be implemented for the provision of airport and air navigation services, as well as restrictions on frequency and unification of airworthiness regulation will be lifted.

In the field of railway transport, it is planned to work out the unification of legislation, including tariff regulation, licensing, organization of passenger and cargo transportation, security, and requirements in the field of labor relations.

In the sphere of water transport, vessels flying the Russian and Belarusian flags are supposed to sail along the internal waterways of the parties according to unified rules.  In the field of road transport, an agreement on transportation on a non- permissive basis will be concluded.

In the field of road management, general norms of legislation will be prepared in terms of classification of roads, requirements for the implementation of road activities, ensuring road safety, placing road service facilities, and carrying out control and supervisory activities.

15. Formation of a unified gas market

The parties agreed to coordinate actions regarding the formation of prices for Russian gas for the Belarusian Side in 2022, as well as to develop principles for the functioning and regulation of the unified gas market of the Union State (by July 2022).

Until December 1, 2023, it is planned to sign an addendum to the Union Program that defines the basic principles of functioning and regulation of the unified gas market, as well as the timing of their implementation, based on the movement towards convergence of business conditions in the gas sector relative to the current level.

16. Formation of unified oil and petroleum products markets

The parties agreed to adopt an international agreement on the unification of the oil and petroleum products markets of the Russian Federation and the Republic of Belarus and the harmonization of national legislation.

17. Formation of the unified electric energy market

The parties agreed to sign an interstate agreement on the formation of a unified electricity market and rules for the functioning of this market, providing for the harmonization of the legislation of the Russian Federation and the Republic of Belarus, and also outlined a trajectory for implementing the principles of deeper integration of the electricity markets of the Russian Federation and the Republic of Belarus.

18. Development of nuclear energy

The parties agreed to ensure the unification of legislation in the areas of operation of nuclear power facilities, regulation of radiation safety, emergency preparedness and response, and management of nuclear fuel and radioactive waste by the end of 2023.

19. Formation of a unified agricultural policy

The parties agreed to implement the convergence of legislation in the field of agriculture in order to increase the volume of mutual trade in agricultural products, remove administrative barriers, ensure food security and joint scientific and technological development of agriculture.

20. Formation of a unified industrial policy

The parties agreed to encourage the development of joint ventures, as well as to implement a unified policy to support production and sales. It provides for the elimination of economic and technical barriers to the production of industrial products in order to increase the transparency of bilateral trade and increase trade turnover.

21. Introduction of uniform rules for access to state orders and public procurements

The parties agreed to harmonize legislation in the field of ensuring equal access to public procurement and public procurement, as well as in the field of regulating state (municipal) procurement. An agreement was reached to use bank guarantees issued by Belarusian banks for public procurement in Russia and eliminate restrictions on access to state (municipal) procurement.

22. Uniform rules for consumer protection

The parties agreed to conclude an intergovernmental agreement on common Rules for consumer protection in the Union State by December 31, 2022.

23. Unified competition rules

The parties agreed to approve common approaches to the formation and implementation of competition rules on the basis of an intergovernmental agreement that will define common competition rules, including the powers of the antimonopoly authority in terms of the possibility of appointing unscheduled inspections and examinations.

24. Unification of requirements for the organization and implementation of trading activities

The parties agreed on the adoption of regulatory legal acts that provide common requirements in the field of trade and public catering regulation, as well as on the harmonization of legislation in this area.

25. Formation of common principles of functioning of the single communications and informatization market

The parties agreed to develop new and update existing intergovernmental, interdepartmental and other agreements in the field of communications and informatization, to unify legislation in the field of postal communications, to build the infrastructure of communication networks, as well as to abolish roaming on the territory of the Union State. It provides for the harmonization of the use of electronic documents and electronic signatures, as well as the provision of public services in electronic form.

26. Unification of accounting regulations and preparation of accounting (financial) statements

The parties agreed to create conditions for the circulation of comparable consolidated financial statements of business entities, to form an information base for expanding foreign economic, investment and business ties, to allow business entities to enter international capital markets, and to provide interested parties with access to the financial statements of business entities.

27. Unification of legislation in the field of tourism activities

The parties agreed on the harmonization of tourism development strategies, norms for the activities of guides and interpreters, and the creation of common rules for informing about the standardization of the quality of hotel services.

Guarantees provided to tourists in the provision of tourist services, requirements for conducting tourist activities in terms of financial responsibility of the tour operator will be unified, and the rights of tourists will be protected if the tour operator cannot fulfill its obligations to provide tourist services.

28. Implementation of a coordinated social and labor policy

The parties agreed to develop common approaches to the harmonization of legislation in terms of labor relations and labor protection, employment, social insurance and pension provision, support for families with children, social services and social support for certain categories of citizens.

At the meeting of the Council of Ministers, the draft Decree of the Supreme State Council of the Union State on approval of the Main directions for implementing the provisions of the Treaty on the Establishment of the Union State for 2021-2023 and Union Programs was approved.

The Heads of Government note that the positive development of the Union State, the strengthening of national economies, and the solution of social tasks vital for the citizens of the Russian Federation and the Republic of Belarus are hindered by the destructive actions of a number of Western states and structures that contradict international law. In this regard, joint actions were agreed in the context of applying illegitimate economic sanctions against the Russian Federation and the Republic of Belarus.

The Russian and Belarusian sides also note their firm intention not to stop there, but to step up joint efforts to deepen integration processes within the framework of the Union Building process. We will continue to implement all the fundamental provisions of the Treaty on the Establishment of the Union State.

What to expect from Taliban 2.0

September 08, 2021

What to expect from Taliban 2.0

A wiser, better-traveled and social media-savvy Taliban will strive to avoid the many dire mistakes of its 1996-2001 rule

By Pepe Escobar posted with permission and first posted at Asia Times

The announcement by Taliban spokesman Zahibullah Mujahid in Kabul of the acting cabinet ministers in the new caretaker government of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan already produced a big bang: it managed to enrage both woke NATOstan and the US Deep State.

This is an all-male, overwhelmingly Pashtun (there’s one Uzbek and one Tajik) cabinet essentially rewarding the Taliban old guard. All 33 appointees are Taliban members.

Mohammad Hasan Akhund – the head of the Taliban Rehbari Shura, or leadership council, for 20 years – will be the Acting Prime Minister. For all practical purposes, Akhund is branded a terrorist by the UN and the EU, and under sanctions by the UN Security Council. It’s no secret Washington brands some Taliban factions as Foreign Terrorist Organizations, and sanctions the whole of the Taliban as a “Specially Designated Global Terrorist” organization.

It’s crucial to stress Himatullah Akhundzada, the Taliban Supreme Leader since 2016, is Amir al-Momineen (“Commander of the Faithful”). He can’t be a Prime Minister; his role is that of a supreme spiritual leader, setting the guidelines for the Islamic Emirate and mediating disputes – politics included.

Akhunzada has released a statement, noting that the new government “will work hard towards upholding Islamic rules and sharia law in the country” and will ensure “lasting peace, prosperity and development”. He added, “people should not try to leave the country”.

Spokesman Mujahid took pains to stress this new cabinet is just an “acting” government. This implies one of the next big steps will be to set up a new constitution. The Taliban will “try to take people from other parts of the country” – implying positions for women and Shi’ites may still be open, but not at top level.

Taliban co-founder Abdul Ghani Baradar, who so far had been very busy diplomatically as the head of the political office in Doha, will be deputy Prime Minister. He was a Taliban co-founder in 1994 and close friend of Mullah Omar, who called him “Baradar” (“brother”) in the first place.

A predictable torrent of hysteria greeted the appointment of Sirajuddin Haqqani as Acting Minister of Interior. After all the son of Haqqani founder Jalaluddin, one of three deputy emirs and the Taliban military commander, with a fierce reputation, has a $5 million FBI bounty on his head. His FBI “wanted” page is not exactly a prodigy of intel: they don’t know when he was born, and where, and that he speaks Pashto and Arabic.

This may be the new government’s top challenge: to prevent Sirajuddin and his wild boys from acting medieval in non-Pashtun areas of Afghanistan, and most of all to make sure the Haqqanis cut off any connections with jihadi outfits. That’s a sine qua non condition established by the China-Russia strategic partnership for political, diplomatic and economic development support.

Foreign policy will be much more accommodating. Amir Khan Muttaqi, also a member of the political office in Doha, will be the Acting Foreign Minister, and his deputy will be Abas Stanikzai, who’s in favor of cordial relations with Washington and the rights of Afghan religious minorities.

Mullah Mohammad Yaqoob, the son of Mullah Omar, will be the Acting Defense Minister.

So far, the only non-Pashtuns are Abdul Salam Hanafi, an Uzbek, appointed as second deputy to the Prime Minister, and Qari Muhammad Hanif, a Tajik, the acting Minister of Economic Affairs, a very important post.

The Tao of staying patient

The Taliban Revolution has already hit the Walls of Kabul – who are fast being painted white with Kufic letter inscriptions. One of these reads, “For an Islamic system and independence, you have to go through tests and stay patient.”

That’s quite a Taoist statement: striving for balance towards a real “Islamic system”. It offers a crucial glimpse of what the Taliban leadership may be after: as Islamic theory allows for evolution, the new Afghanistan system will be necessarily unique, quite different from Qatar’s or Iran’s, for instance.

In the Islamic legal tradition, followed directly or indirectly by rulers of Turko-Persian states for centuries, to rebel against a Muslim ruler is illegitimate because it creates fitna (sedition, conflict). That was already the rationale behind the crushing of the fake “resistance” in the Panjshir – led by former Vice-President and CIA asset Amrullah Saleh. The Taliban even tried serious negotiations, sending a delegation of 40 Islamic scholars to the Panjshir.

But then Taliban intel established that Ahmad Masoud – son of the legendary Lion of the Panjshir, assassinated two days before 9/11 – was operating under orders of French and Israeli intel. And that sealed his fate: not only he was creating fitna, he was a foreign agent. His partner Saleh, the “resistance” de facto leader, fled by helicopter to Tajikistan.

It’s fascinating to note a parallel between Islamic legal tradition and Hobbes’s Leviathan, which justifies absolute rulers. The Hobbesian Taliban: here’s a hefty research topic for US Think Tankland.

The Taliban also follow the rule that a war victory – and nothing more spectacular than defeating combined NATO power – allows for undisputed political power, although that does not discard strategic alliances. We’ve already seen it in terms of how the moderate, Doha-based political Taliban are accommodating the Haqqanis – an extremely sensitive business.

Abdul Haqqani will be the Acting Minister for Higher Education; Najibullah Haqqani will be Minister of Communications; and Khalil Haqqani, so far ultra-active as interim head of security in Kabul, will be Minister for Refugees.

The next step will be much harder: to convince the urban, educated populations in the big cities – Kabul, Herat, Mazar-i-Sharif – not only of their legitimacy, acquired in the frontlines, but that they will crush the corrupt urban elite that plundered the nation for the past 20 years. All that while engaging in a credible, national interest process of improving the lives of average Afghans under a new Islamic system. It will be crucial to watch what kind of practical and financial help the emir of Qatar will offer.

The new cabinet has elements of a Pashtun jirga (tribal assembly). I’ve been to a few, and it’s fascinating to see how it works. Everyone sits on a circle to avoid a hierarchy – even if symbolic. Everyone is entitled to express their opinion. This leads to alliances necessarily being forged.

The negotiations to form a government were being conducted in Kabul by former President Hamid Karzai – crucially, a Pashtun from a minor Durrani clan, the Popalzai – and Abdullah Abdullah, a Tajik, and former head of the Council for National Reconciliation. The Taliban did listen to them, but in the end they de facto chose what their own jirga had decided.

Pashtuns are extremely fierce when it comes to defending their Islamic credentials. They believe their legendary founding ancestor, Qais Abdul Rasheed, converted to Islam in the lifetime of Prophet Muhammad, and then Pashtuns became the strongest defender of the faith anywhere.

Yet that’s not exactly how it played out in history. From the 7th century onwards, Islam was predominant only from Herat in the west to legendary Balkh in the north all the way to Central Asia, and south between Sistan and Kandahar. The mountains of the Hindu Kush and the corridor from Kabul to Peshawar resisted Islam for centuries. Kabul in fact was a Hindu kingdom as late as the 11th century. It took as many as five centuries for the core Pashtun lands to convert to Islam.

Islam with Afghan characteristics

To cut an immensely complex story short, the Taliban was born in 1994 across the – artificial – border of Afghanistan and Pakistani Balochistan as a movement by Pashtuns who studied in Deobandi madrassas in Pakistan.

All the Afghan Taliban leaders had very close connections with Pakistani religious parties. During the 1980s anti-USSR jihad, many of these Taliban (“students”) in several madrassas worked side by side with the mujahideen to defend Islam in Afghanistan against the infidel. The whole process was channeled through the Peshawar political establishment: -overseen by the Pakistani ISI, with enormous CIA input, and a tsunami of cash and would-be jihadis flowing from Saudi Arabia and the wider Arab world.

When they finally seized power in 1994 in Kandahar and 1996 in Kabul, the Taliban emerged as a motley crew of minor clerics and refugees invested in a sort of wacky Afghan reformation – religious and cultural – as they set up what they saw as a pure Salafist Islamic Emirate.

I saw how it worked on the spot, and as demented as it was, it amounted to a new political force in Afghanistan. The Taliban were very popular in the south because they promised security after the bloody 1992-1995 civil war. The totally radical Islamist ideology came later – with disastrous results, especially in the big cities. But not in the subsistence agriculture countryside, because the Taliban social outlook merely reflected rural Afghan practice.

The Taliban installed a 7th century-style Salafi Islam crisscrossed with the Pashtunwali code. A huge mistake was their aversion to Sufism and the veneration of shrines – something extremely popular in Islamic Afghanistan for centuries.

It’s too early to tell how Taliban 2.0 will play out in the dizzyingly complex, emerging Eurasian integration chessboard. But internally, a wiser, more traveled, social media-savvy Taliban seem aware they cannot allow themselves to repeat the dire 1996-2001 mistakes.

Deng Xiaoping set the framework for socialism with Chinese characteristics . One of the greatest geopolitical challenges ahead will be whether Taliban 2.0 are able to shape a sustainable development Islam with Afghan characteristics.

The Secret Withdrawal Of The US From Syria

4 SEPTEMBER 2021

By Sonja van den Ende

Source

The Secret Withdrawal Of The US From Syria

Rumors have been going for the last week since the chaotic withdrawal from the US and NATO from Afghanistan, but now it’s confirmed by the Arabic TV station Al-Alam TV. The US and its allies are losing on all fronts and withdrawing from three US bases in Syria, including the oil fields.

Rumors have been circulating since last week, after the not so glorious retreat of the US and its allies NATO, who have been waging a “dirty war” in Afghanistan for twenty years and destroyed the country, bombing them back to middle-ages. On 22 August I wrote an article: “As The US & NATO Flee Afghanistanwhen will they flee from Syria” and this is what is happening now, in secret, because another defeat is the last blow for the US and NATO empire and difficult to communicate to the Western audience.

According to Al-Alam TV, Syrian military sources tolled them that they have observed the withdrawal of US forces from three US military sites: two of the sites are in Al-Hasakah governorate (province), namely Tell Baider and Quasrak, situated close to Quamishli and one in Deir-ez-Zor. The Al-Amr oil field area close to the oil wells was evacuated as well. This is the most important oil field in Deir-ez-Zor. In june 2021, the Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) reported:A missile attack was carried out (june 2021) on the US-controlled Al-Amr oil field from Mayadin district in Syria’s Deir-ez-Zor province, which is under the control of the Syrian government and defended by Hezbollah. Al-Amr, Syria’s largest oil field, occupied by the US and the Kurdish YPG/PKK, was attacked with Grad missiles, according to local sources. Also, during that same time the US carried out an airstrike on Hezbollah and the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) in Syria’s al-Bukamal district bordering Iraq.

Parts of Deir ez-Zor to the east of the Euphrates River are under the occupation of the US-backed YPG/PKK terrorist organization, while the city center and east and west of Deir-ez-Zor are under the control of the Syrian government. This also explains the increasing bombing of the Israeli air force last month and yesterday. They randomly attacked Damascus and also al-Qusayr. Al-Qusayr is a strategic town, not far from the Deir Mar-Jacub Monastery situated in Qara, close to the Lebanese border. Hezbollah is present in the region and has many relief projects for the Syrian population, which the US and NATO deny and their excuse for bombing is the aggressive stance of Hezbollah towards the Syrian population. But Hezbollah is seen as liberators, by all religions, especially the Christians, and they are happy they liberated them, especially in al-Quasayr, which is a Christian town.

Furthermore, the military source revealed to Al-Alam TV that the US has or had by now thirteen military bases in Syria and is facing a lot of opposition from the Syrian population, as I wrote before. It’s not about military strength but about the attitude of the people, the resistance and their hatred against the crumbling empire. As I wrote before, US servicemen and women are actually afraid of the resistance and if they don’t withdraw now, they will face attacks like what happened in Iraq or Afghanistan the last twenty years. According to the Syrian military sources, the US is preparing for a total exit from Syria.

President Joe Biden said the following on July 21, 2021, again a lie, it was all planned to exit Syria. The Trump Administration had said so, like they did with Afghanistan, and if the world would have taken notice of this, it would have come to no surprise that they are leaving Afghanistan, Syria and perhaps Iraq:

Roughly 900 U.S. troops, including a number of Green Berets, will remain in Syria to continue supporting and advising the Syrian Democratic Forces fighting the Islamic State. … “In Syria, we’re supporting Syrian Democratic Forces in their fight against ISIS,” the senior administration official said to Joe Biden on July 21, 2021”.

This is what President Trump said in 2018. Trump has been clear about his intentions in Syria:

As he told the world in April 2018, after years of fighting foreign wars, in his view it was time for the United States to withdraw from Syria, passing responsibility for the mission to hold territory taken from the Islamic State to regional states. We will have, as of three months ago, spent $7 trillion in the Middle East the last seven years,” he also said. “We get nothing out of it, nothing.— nothing except death and destruction. It’s a horrible thing.”

Did Joe Biden or his Administration listen to this and saw that waging war on Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq and Libya is useless? They don’t know the mentality of the Middle East. Or was it to please Israel, who still dreams of a ‘greater’ Israel, as has been mentioned in the Yinon plan, or is it their new plans and strategy, the great reset, which means the oil is not very useful anymore, so why bother to occupy the Middle East? Maybe only a few bases to control the people, but that’s a grave mistake. The people of the Middle East have suffered too much to be occupied again. I go for the last option, although Trump spoke wise words in 2018, but I doubt if he was pleased with the “great reset”plans, which was laid out already in 2018 and then practiced in 2019 with Event 201, ofwhich Trump thought in 2020, that is was still an exercise during a conversation with Fauci. Accidentally (or not) the microphone was still on and Fauci replied yes it is and Trump was very annoyed about that. To summarize it all, the world has entered a new PSYOP in 2019, and closed the era of the War on Terror, which was aimed at the destruction of much at the Middle East and to fuel hatred against Muslims. Now we entered the so-called COVID world and a new totalitarian order, which aims to enslave the whole world on Big Pharma and enter the digital information era in a new technocratic totalitarian world order, but I doubt if it will be in the whole world, that will be difficult.

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s remarks and answers to questions from MGIMO students and faculty

September 02, 2021

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s remarks and answers to questions from MGIMO students and faculty

Ed: This is a wide ranging discussion of international affairs

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s remarks and answers to questions from MGIMO students and faculty on the occasion of the beginning of a new academic year, Moscow, September 1, 2021

Friends,

As always, I am delighted to be here on September 1, and not only on this day, of course, since we hold events here at other times of the year as well. But September 1 has special importance, since this is Knowledge Day. First-year students get to feel the university spirit, and meetings like this help us streamline this experience and are sure to benefit students in their studies.

I am certain that you will not regret choosing this university. MGIMO graduates find work in a wide variety of spheres, from public service and research to business and journalism. We are proud that our alma mater has such a great reputation. MGIMO Rector, Anatoly Torkunov, has just shared some enrolment statistics. They are impressive. He said that the minister keeps a close eye on everything going on in this school. But you cannot keep track of everything, and I mean this in a good way. MGIMO University constantly improves its programmes and activity and expands its partnership networks. Today, MGIMO University will sign yet another cooperation agreement, this time with Ivannikov Institute for System Programming. This shows that we always need to be in step with the times. This is the right way to go. The quality of the education that graduates receive at this university is recognised both in Russia and around the world.

I am glad MGIMO University continues to attract international students. This is an important channel for maintaining humanitarian, educational and people-to-people ties. In today’s world these ties have special importance, since at the intergovernmental level our Western colleagues have little appetite for talking to us on equal terms. As you probably know, and I am certain that you have a keen interest in foreign policy, they persist with their demands that we change the way we behave and act the way they view as being correct. This is a dead end. We are open to a frank, constructive, mutually beneficial dialogue, taking into account each other’s interests. It is along these lines that we maintain dialogue and promote cooperation and partnerships with the overwhelming majority of countries around the world. This includes our closest allies and strategic partners – members of the CSTO, CIS, EAEU, SCO and BRICS. We have many reliable friends, almost in all continents interested in promoting mutually beneficial projects that benefit all the participants.

To counter this trend toward a multipolar world, which reflects the cultural and civilisational diversity on this planet, our Western partners seek to maintain their dominant standing in international affairs. They are acting in quite a brash manner making no secret out of the fact that their main objective is to contain their competitors, primarily Russia and China. The documents adopted at the NATO, EU, and US-EU summits over the past months are designed to consolidate the “collective West” in their efforts to counter the Russian Federation and the People’s Republic of China.

The Indo-Pacific strategies that are openly pursuing the goal (as it has been proclaimed) of containing China have gained currency in the Asia-Pacific region. They are trying to implicate another of our strategic partners, India, in these games. Everyone can see it and everyone understands what it is all about. But those who gave up their sovereignty and joined the ranks of the countries led by the United States and other Western countries are not in a position to utter a word of disagreement.

Truth be told, following the tragic events in Afghanistan and after the United States and its NATO allies had hurriedly left that country, a chorus of voices began to be heard in Europe advocating self-reliance in foreign affairs, especially in matters involving the deployment of armed forces, rather than reliance on directives issued by Washington that it can change in an instant. These are glimpses of something new in the position of the West, in this case, the Europeans.

The second notable aspect highlighted by US President Joe Biden and President of France Emmanuel Macron is as follows: both announced within one or two days of one another that it was time to give up on interfering in other countries’ internal affairs in order to impose Western-style democracy on them.

We welcome such statements. We have long been urging our Western colleagues to learn from the reckless ventures that they have got themselves into in recent decades in Iraq and Libya, and they tried to do the same in Syria. I hope (if the above statements are a true reflection of their hard-won understanding of the matter) that our planet will be a safer place in the future. But all the same, we have to “clear out the rubble” of the past policies. Hundreds of thousands of people, civilians, were impacted or killed during the invasion of Iraq and the attack on Libya. There are lots of problems stemming from the revived international terrorism in the Middle East and North Africa and huge numbers of illegal migrants. The illegal arms trade, drug smuggling and much more are on the rise. All this needs to be “cleared up” by the international community, because it affects almost everyone.

Now that the NATO troops have pulled out from Afghanistan, the most important thing for us is to ensure the security of our allies in Central Asia. First, they are our comrades, including comrades-in-arms, and second, the security of Russia’s southern borders directly depends on this.

I hope that if we act together, we will be able to agree on these external steps that will help create an environment within Afghanistan for forming a truly national leadership. We are working energetically to this end.

We are witnessing two trends in the international arena. On the one hand, it is about the formation of a multipolar and polycentric world. This trend reflects the position of most states around the world. On the other hand, efforts are being made to hold back this objective historical process and to artificially preserve control over everything that is happening in the international arena, including with the use of unscrupulous methods such as unilateral illegal sanctions, competition that is occasionally reminiscent of ultimatums, or changing the rules in the midst of an ongoing project.

The West tends to mention less often (if at all) the term “international law” and calls on everyone to maintain a “rules-based world order.” We have nothing against the rules. After all, the UN Charter is also a set of rules, but they were agreed with all states without exception. They are supported by every country that is a member of this one-of-a-kind organisation with incredible and unmatched legitimacy. The West has different rules in mind. They are creating formats of their own. For example, the US has announced that it will convene a Democracy Summit to create an Alliance of Democracies. Clearly, Washington will be the one to determine who will be invited and who is considered a democracy. By the same token, France and Germany announced an initiative to create an Alliance for Multilateralism, i.e. “multilateralists.” When asked why these issues cannot be discussed at the UN, where multilateralism is at its finest in the modern world, the answer is that the UN is home to “retrogrades” and they want to create an Alliance for Multilateralism based on “advanced” ideas. And the “leaders,” above all the EU, will set the rules for multilateralism, and the rest will have to look up to them. This is a crude description, but it conveys the essence of what they are trying to tell us in so many words.

There are initiatives to create partnerships, including in the areas that were supposed to be discussed at universal platforms long ago. Numerous initiatives appearing in the developing world are also being used for the same purpose. There are attempts to channel them to meet Western interests.

The policy of undermining international law and universal principles sealed in the UN Charter is reflected, to a certain extent, in the efforts to call into doubt the results of World War II. They are aimed at trying to equate the winners in this bloodiest war in human history with those who unleashed it and proclaimed the destruction of whole nations as their goal. These attempts are aimed at undermining our positions in the world. Similar attacks are being made on China’s positions. We cannot give up and remain indifferent on this issue.

Every year, we put forward major initiatives at the UN on the inadmissibility of glorifying Nazism, waging a war against monuments and fuelling any forms of racial discrimination and xenophobia.

The overwhelming majority of states not only support these initiatives but also become their co-authors. In most cases, our Western colleagues bashfully abstain from this. They explain that the appeal to prevent certain trends runs counter to democracy and freedom of speech. In other words, for them the neo-Nazi trends that are obvious in Europe, in part, in the Baltic states and Ukraine, do not amount to a gross violation of the Nuremberg trials verdict but merely reflect a commitment to tolerance and freedom of speech.

I do not think it is necessary to explain in detail the harmful and pernicious nature of such attempts to rewrite history and give the green light to those who want to reproduce misanthropic attitudes in the world arena. I do not believe it is necessary to speak in detail about the need to counter these attitudes with resolve and consistency.

We have a foreign policy course endorsed by President of Russia Vladimir Putin. Its main goal is to ensure the most favourable conditions for national development, security, economic growth and the improvement of the living standards of our citizens. We will consistently translate this course into reality.

We have never striven for confrontation, not to mention isolation. We are open to cooperation with the Western countries if they change their approach and stop acting like teachers who “know everything” and are “above reproach,” treating Russia like a pupil that must do its homework.  It is inappropriate to talk to anyone in this manner, let alone Russia.

Our plans enjoy firm support of our people for the course towards strengthening the sovereignty of the Russian Federation and promoting good, friendly relations with our neighbours and all those who are willing to do this honestly, on an equitable basis.

Question: The question has to do with the changes in modern diplomacy under the influence of new technology. Digital diplomacy is a widespread term today. Technological development adds a fundamentally new dimension to a diplomats’ work, and also leads to a qualitative transformation of the system of international relations. How do you think new technologies will affect energy policy in particular and diplomacy in general?

Sergey Lavrov: I am asked this question every time I speak at Knowledge Day here. Apparently, this reflects the thinking of each new generation of students, about how technology will generally affect the processes concerning state-level problem solving and international relations.

Indeed, digital technologies are rapidly penetrating our lives, even faster in the context of the coronavirus pandemic. Many events, including international events, have transitioned to the online format. There is an upside to this. To a certain extent, it helps to save time, which is becoming a more sparse resource every day, given the aggravating international challenges and problems that our foreign policy tries to resolve.

When it comes to holding official meetings such as the UN Security Council or the UN General Assembly with a pre-agreed agenda where each country wants to express its point of view, such statements are prepared in advance through the efforts of a large number of specialists. The result is a policy document on a specific matter on the international agenda, which then goes through debates in one format or another. I see no problem with participating in this kind of discussion online using digital technology.

There are other international meetings, when something needs to be agreed upon as soon as possible; these meetings can also be held remotely. At least this way is better than a phone call because you can see the other person’s face, and this is very important.

But the most serious issues cannot be resolved online. All my colleagues agree with this. Maybe in the future, humanity will invent a way to convey the feeling of personal contact. But I doubt this will be possible. No machine is capable of replacing a person.

I am confident that conventional diplomacy will retain its importance as the main tool in international affairs. As soon as a serious problem arises, it is imperative to meet and try to negotiate.

Question: Will the autumn 2021 elections to the State Duma of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation impact Russia’s foreign policy in the international arena?

Sergey Lavrov: A good question. Elections in our country actually begin in a little more than a fortnight. Even now Western colleagues make it clear that they are set to cast discredit on them. Various political scientists are publishing articles and making speeches aimed at preparing public opinion in the direction of the narrative that the elections results will be rigged.

We regularly invite international observers to our national elections. This year, around 200 observers will come to us as well, including those from international organisations. The only one of them who arrogantly declined the invitation was the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR). We told them they could send a group of 60 observers. This is the largest group we invite from abroad. They said they wanted 500. When you are being invited to visit someone, you do not demand gifts for yourself instead of showing respect towards the hosts. OSCE does not have a rule under which ODIHR must dictate election monitoring provisions. All the countries have only one obligation there – to invite international observers to elections. It is not even written down that they should be from OSCE. They may be from anywhere you like. We do it regularly and meet our obligations in full. This is an example of how international law (and this principle is prescribed at OSCE, I mean that all issues must be solved by consensus) is being replaced by “rules.” This Office itself made up a rule, along the same lines the West operates, by demanding that its own “rules” must be obeyed.

However important international observers might be, we will also have our own observers. Their number is immense. The voting will be streamed live in full. Our Central Electoral Board provides detailed coverage of this and other innovations being introduced. We are taking steps to ensure maximum transparency of voting at our embassies and general consulates. As always, we are making arrangements so that it is possible for our citizens abroad to cast their vote and fulfil their election right.

With all the importance of international observers, it is ultimately our citizens who will take a decision on how we will live on and with which members our parliament will draft new laws. Those who are going to objectively figure out developments in the Russia Federation are always welcome. As to those who have already passed a judgement, let them bear the shame.

Question: I know that poetry and art are among your hobbies. How can we make Russian literature and cinema more effective as a soft power tool abroad?

Sergey Lavrov: There is only one way, and that is to promote these works in other countries’ markets. This policy was vigorously pursued in the Soviet Union. That was a useful experience for the international film and literary community as well. I believe we are renewing these traditions now. I do not know about literary exhibitions, I just do not think I have seen a lot of information on this, but many film festivals recognise the work of our directors, actors and producers. A number of Russian films are highly valued in Cannes and in Karlovy Vary. We must continue to do this.

Question: Does Russia have effective and proportionate methods of fighting manifestations of Russophobia, oppression of Russians, persecution against the Russian language and the Russian world in certain countries?

Sergey Lavrov: This is a difficult question, given the recent manifestations of inappropriate attitudes towards ethnic Russians in a number of countries, including some of our neighbours. This topic has several dimensions to it. The most important point is that the government of a country where our citizens are subjected to some kind of discriminatory influence must firmly oppose such manifestations and take steps to prevent them. This is important, not only because they attack Russians or our other compatriots, but also because it’s required by international conventions, the UN Charter, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and many other documents that are universal and approved by everyone.

In Russia, too, we have seen situations recently where some migrant labourers were at odds with other labour migrants. This is also a problem because Russia needs migrant labourers. We are trying to make immigration as clear, transparent and legitimate as possible. We negotiate with the countries they come from for long-term employment (mostly the Central Asian countries) and agree on special courses for potential migrants that make sure they speak minimal Russian and are familiar with Russian customs, our laws, and that they are planning to behave in a way that is appropriate for being hired in the Russian Federation. This is important for our economy. Without migrant labourers, many Russian industries are now experiencing a significant shortage of personnel.

It is also important to keep in mind that these countries are our allies. We, as allies, must support each other; one way to do so is to ensure an appropriate environment for citizens who represent a different ethnic group.

We have a huge number of ethnic groups living in Russia. Russia is a record holder in multi-ethnicity. All this cultural and religious diversity has always made our country strong, providing the solid foundation on which we stand. We have never tried to destroy the traditions, cultures or languages ​​of any peoples that have lived here since the Russian Empire, then the Soviet Union and now the Russian Federation. We have always supported their languages, cultures, and customs.

Another factor that must be taken into account is the basic quality of life for each and every citizen. We pursue a most open policy. We will make every effort to ensure that our neighbours or other countries where our compatriots live or work fully comply with their international obligations. The fight against discrimination must use political methods based on respect for international commitments.

Question: Do conditions exist for economic and investment cooperation with Japan on the Kuril Islands?

Sergey Lavrov: Yes, they do, of course. It is even more than that. We made a relevant proposal to our Japanese colleagues a long time ago. When, several years ago, Russian President Vladimir Putin met with the Japanese Prime Minister at the time, Shinzo Abe, we came up with an initiative to engage in joint economic activity on these islands. Our Japanese neighbours agreed to this proposal after a while, but decided to confine our cooperation to relatively unsophisticated areas, like aquaculture and waste treatment. These things are important but they are of no strategic significance. We offered them cooperation in any industry of their choice on the southern Kuril Islands and this has been stated repeatedly in the correspondence with our Japanese colleagues. However, the Japanese are seeking to secure a deal with us that would allow them to engage in economic activity and invest money [in the area], not in compliance with Russian law, but rather on the basis of an agreement that provides for another jurisdiction – not that of the Russian Federation. Under this jurisdiction, Russian and Japanese representatives in a certain administrative body would enjoy equal rights, meaning that some hybrid laws would be introduced. This cannot be done under our Constitution.

Regretfully, our Japanese friends are missing out on the opportunity to invest money with us for our mutual benefit. Nonetheless, we have good plans. Soon, new privileges will be announced for our foreign partners who agree to work with us in this part of the Russian Federation. I believe there will be practical interest in this.

Question: In one of your interviews you said (and I fully agree) that modern Western-style liberal democracies have run their course. How will nation states evolve going forward? What forms of state organisation hold the most promise? What should we be striving for?

The UN is plagued by many problems, ranging from Greta Thunberg to agreements that are not being acted upon, such as, for instance, the Paris Agreement. What can be done to turn this deplorable trend around? What laws need to be adopted? What kind of organisations must be created? What does Russia think about this?

Sergey Lavrov: I briefly touched on this matter in my opening remarks. I believe each state should be structured around its customs and traditions and be comfortable for its residents who will have children, grandchildren, etc. It appears that they have promised to stop trying to impose democracy on other countries. At least, President Biden and President Macron said this almost simultaneously. We’ll see how they deliver on their promises.

Each country should take care of its own affairs independently. Everyone now agrees that imposing a Western system on Afghanistan was a grave mistake. Afghanistan has always been a fairly decentralised country where clan-based and other bonds, as well as relations between different ethnic groups, have always played a major role. And Kabul usually balanced out these relations. Saying that tomorrow you will have elections and everyone should go and cast their vote to elect a president who will have certain powers – it was not the Afghans who came up with this idea. It was imposed on them and the ones who did it hurt themselves badly. I hope the promises not to impose democracy on anyone else will be kept.

With regard to environmental protection, the Paris Agreement can hardly be described as a treaty that is not being acted upon. It was based on the fundamental principle that included the need to reduce carbon dioxide and greenhouse gas emissions, but each country was supposed to assume commitments of its own. Preparations for another conference of the parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, which will take place in Glasgow this autumn, are underway.

As part of this process, the most important thing is to agree on variables that will meet the interests of each participant. The proposal of several Western countries to stop using coal-fired power generation starting literally today cannot be complied with by many countries, including several Western countries, simply because this would undermine their energy security. The same applies to large developing countries, including China and India. They are reluctant to stop their growth. They are making it clear to the West that the Western countries have attained their current level of development due to intensive use of natural resources, which gave rise to the greenhouse effect, and now the West wants large developing countries to skip their current phase of development and go straight to a post-carbon economy. It doesn’t work that way, they say. First, they need to complete the economic development of their respective states, which is a complex process that involves the interests of each state. An attempt to balance these interests is being undertaken in the course of preparations for the next conference of the parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.

We made a commitment that by 2030 we would have 70 percent of the 1990 level when the countdown began under the UN Climate Convention. It is unlikely that anyone would have complaints with regard to us. President Vladimir Putin has made clear more than once that we must be extremely careful with regard to everything that is happening. The fact that Russia’s Arctic zone, which is mainly permafrost, is warming up much faster than the rest of the planet is worrisome. This matter is being carefully addressed by several of our ministries, and it is a concern for all of our Government.

Question: Can environmental issues motivate the world powers tо unite against a background of general discord? What is the potential for green diplomacy?

Sergey Lavrov: Environmental protection and concern for the planet’s climate must become a motive for pooling our efforts. It is hard to say now to what extent the world powers will manage to achieve this.

Let me repeat that the developing nations are strongly inclined to use their opportunities for the current stage of their development before assuming the commitments promoted by their Western colleagues. Many interests come together here. Our global interest lies in the health of the planet and the survival of humanity. However, every country has its own national assessment of the current situation and the commitments to their people. It is a complicated matter, but there is no doubt that this is a challenge that must prompt all of us to come together. We stand for pooling our efforts.

Question: Can the Russian Federation “enforce Ukraine to peace” under the Minsk Agreements?

Sergey Lavrov: The Minsk Agreements do not envisage any enforcement. They have been voluntarily approved, signed and unanimously endorsed by the UN Security Council, thereby becoming international law. When Ukraine as a state, both under Petr Poroshenko and Vladimir Zelensky, is doing all it can to avoid fulfilling these agreements, we must point this out to those who compiled them with us. I am primarily referring to Germany, France and other Western countries that are going all-out to justify the Kiev regime. When I say that it is trying to avoid fulfilling these agreements, I am referring to many laws that actually prohibit the Russian language, the transfer of special authority to the territories that have proclaimed themselves the Donetsk and Lugansk people’s republics and the efforts to harmonise the parameters of local elections in them. These are the basics of the Minsk Agreements.

Recently, German Chancellor Angela Merkel visited Moscow. This issue was raised at her talks with President of Russia Vladimir Putin. We showed our German colleagues the legal bans that Mr Zelensky adopted himself to justify his complete inability to fulfil what is required by all states in the world. All countries without exception believe that there is no alternative to the Minsk Agreements for settling the crisis in Donbass. Our Ukrainian colleagues are true prestidigitators. At one time, they believed that Rus was the true name of Ukraine (our ministry has already replied to this, so I will not repeat it). Later they said that the conversion of Rus was a Ukrainian holiday. This is sad. Mr Zelensky claims that Russian gas is the dirtiest in the world. He is doing this not because he is particularly bright but because he wants to maintain and fuel his Russophobic rhetoric and actions to prompt the West to continue supporting Kiev.

Ukraine continues to exploit the obvious efforts of the West to unbalance and destabilise Russia, sidetrack it from resolving its vital problems and make our foreign policy less effective. The Ukrainian regime is exploiting all this. This is clear to everyone. Having placed its bets on Kiev, the West feels uncomfortable about giving up on them. But this approach has obviously failed. The realisation of this fact is coming up but has not yet been embodied in practical steps aimed at convincing or, to use your expression, “enforcing” anything. It is the West that must enforce compliance from its client.

Question: How do you see yourself as a State Duma deputy, something you may soon be? Do you have proposals or ideas to offer? Perhaps, you have specific initiatives to promote our relations with Armenia or Georgia?

Sergey Lavrov: I will not speculate on the outcome of the elections to the State Duma.

We deal with our relations with Armenia and Georgia as Foreign Ministry officials. Armenia is our ally. New Foreign Minister Ararat Mirzoyan was just in Moscow, on August 31. We had a good discussion. Our bilateral agenda is quite fulfilling and includes mutual visits, major projects and expanded economic cooperation. All of that is unfolding in a very intensive and confident manner.

There is the Nagorno-Karabakh problem, and Russia has played a decisive role in bringing a solution to it. The President of Russia, the President of Azerbaijan and the Prime Minister of Armenia signed agreements on November 9, 2020 (on ceasing hostilities and developing cooperation in this region) and on January 11. These agreements include specific actions that follow up on our leaders’ proposals to unblock all transport lines and economic ties. This is not a one-day project. It is underway, and the leaders of Russia, Armenia and Azerbaijan are closely following it. Our military personnel in the Russian peacekeeping contingent in Nagorno-Karabakh work daily on the ground to reduce tensions and build trust. The border guards are helping their Armenian allies sort out issues with their Azerbaijani neighbours.

Relations with Georgia are almost non-existent. There is a Section of Russia’s Interests in Georgia and a Section of Georgia’s Interests in Russia. There is trade, which is quite significant. Russia is one of Georgia’s leading trade partners. Our people love to go to Georgia (I myself love the country). There are no official interstate or diplomatic relations; they were severed at Tbilisi’s initiative. We have offered to resume them more than once. We planned to reciprocate to our Georgian neighbour when they introduced visa-free travel for our citizens. At first, we followed closely the developments as they were unfolding. We are not banning anyone from going to Georgia. In 2019, we were also willing to announce visa-free travel for Georgian citizens, but an unpleasant incident occurred with gross provocations against the Russian parliamentary delegation, which arrived in Tbilisi for a meeting of the Inter-Parliamentary Assembly of Orthodoxy. Our deputy was the assembly chairman. In a conference room in Georgia, the Georgian hosts offered him the chair of the chairman of the parliament themselves. Then, immediately, a group of thugs came in the room demanding that Russia stop interfering in Georgia’s internal affairs and stop “occupying” their parliament. It even came to fisticuffs. With no apologies coming our way, we held back introducing visa-free travel for Georgian citizens and put our decision to resume regular flights on hold. We were ready to go ahead with it. If Georgia really doesn’t want to “play the Russian card” in an effort to retain Western protection, but instead prefers to have good relations with us as a neighbour, we will respond at any time.

Question: What qualities do you think a diplomat’s wife might need? What rules of etiquette she should observe?

Sergey Lavrov: There are no special rules here. A wife and a husband should both understand each other. Rather than obstructing the other, they should help each other carry out the ideas they have decided to devote their lives to and also achieve self-fulfillment in their professions. There is no universal advice.

When I was a rank-and-file diplomat, I worked with some top officials, whose wives had different “styles” – this occurs sometimes. In both cases, this proved to be effective and useful in our work. If a wife has a profession, her husband should also have respect for it. When a woman, regardless of whether she is the wife of an ambassador or a diplomat in a lower position, goes to a country which her husband has been posted to but where she cannot realise her professional potential, this can be a serious problem, which has to be addressed. In this situation, each family decides on its own whether the spouses go together or each of them keeps his or her job and tries to travel as often as possible to see the other. This is life; it doesn’t necessarily fit into a particular pattern.

Question: I believe the man himself comes first – Sergey Lavrov – and only then there is the Russian Foreign Minister. I like to look at politics through the prism of humaneness. What is your favourite song, the one you listen to and feel happy?

Sergey Lavrov: There are many. I will not give examples. The list is long. I do not want to leave anyone out. These are mostly songs by singer-poets. I enjoy listening to them whenever I have the chance, say, in my car or when I meet with my friends.

Question: I have a question about Russia’s relations with the Eastern European countries, given the complexity of regulating relations in this region since World War II, not to mention after the USSR’s collapse. How will they develop in the near future?

Sergey Lavrov: If a particular country has a government concerned about national interests, projects that meet the needs of its population, economic growth, and a search for partners that will help it resolve these problems in the best way, Russia has no problems in relations with any Central or East European country or any other country in the world.

We have close ties with Hungary and it is being criticised for this. In the European Union, Hungary and Poland are reprimanded for not obeying the EU’s general standards and principles. Thus, they hold referendums calling into doubt LGBT rights. Recently, Hungary held a referendum on the same law as Russia did. This law does not prohibit anything but imposes administrative liability for promoting LGBT ideology among minors. Nothing else. I think this is the right thing to do. In addition to major economic projects (nuclear power plants, and railway carriage production for Egypt), we have many other undertakings and good humanitarian cooperation.

Together with Armenia and the Vatican in the OSCE and the UN Human Rights Council, Russia and Hungary are acting as the driver in protecting the rights of Christians, including in the Middle East where Christians are seriously harassed. Hungary is not embarrassed about its Christian roots (incidentally, nor is Poland ashamed of its past and present). When they start talking about the need to raise their voice in defence of Christians, other European countries say that this is not quite politically correct.

In the OSCE, we suggested adopting a declaration against Christianophobia and Islamophobia, because it has already passed a declaration on anti-Semitism. However, these proposals are getting nowhere. Seven years ago, the West promised to adopt them but so far the OSCE countries have failed to adopt a common position on banning both Christianophobia and Islamophobia.

Regarding other East European countries, we have good relations with Slovenia. In particular, we are both working to preserve our common memory, including the bloody events of WWI and WWII. People in Slovenia care a lot about war memorials. Recently, they established a new monument devoted to all Russian soldiers who perished in both world wars. Our economic cooperation is in good shape.

We are implementing economic projects with other Eastern European countries, for instance, with Slovakia. We have considered many ideas about projects with the Czech Republic, but in the past few months it has decided to take a more Russophobic attitude and adopt overtly discriminatory decisions, like banning Rosatom from a tender on building a new nuclear power plant unit. It justified its policy with allegations that have never been proved by anyone. It blamed us for detonating some arms depots in 2014. Even many people in the Czech Republic consider this far-fetched.

However, the allegations remain. We are used to being accused of all kinds of “sins” without any evidence. This happened during the so-called poisoning of the Skripals and Alexey Navalny, and the investigation of the Malaysia Airlines crash in Donbass in July 2014. As in many other cases, these accusations are not buttressed by anything. Our requests to present facts are ignored or qualified as “classified.” Or we are told someone has “prohibited” to transmit information or some other excuse. This position is not serious. It reflects the Western approach to fueling Russophobic tensions without grounds.

Question: Do you think that we can describe the meeting between President of Russia Vladimir Putin and US President Joe Biden in Switzerland as the beginning of a relative normalisation of relations between the two countries?

Sergey Lavrov: Holding a meeting is better than having no contact at all. No breakthroughs occurred, but there was a mutually respectful conversation, on an equal footing, without any grievances expressed to either side.  The dialogue was permeated with the awareness of responsibility that the two biggest nuclear powers had for the state of affairs in the world. The presidents paid attention to the need to intensify bilateral contacts, particularly in the interests of stakeholders in the business community. But the main focus was on the international agenda.

The United States withdrew from the Treaty on Open Skies (TOS) just a few months before the meeting and from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) in 2019.   This has created a background for the fading of the international arms reduction and control agenda. When Joe Biden took office, he promptly responded to the proposal (which was made way back to the Trump administration but remained unanswered for a couple of years) on the need to extend the New START Treaty without any preconditions. We have managed to preserve at least this element of the arms control architecture for the next five years.

This was the context for the presidents’ meeting in Geneva. The main positive result of the meeting is that the two leaders reaffirmed the position that there can be no winners in a nuclear war and therefore it must never be unleashed. A statement to this effect was made a long time ago by the USSR and the USA. We suggested that the United States confirm this axiom. The previous administration evaded this, but Joe Biden accepted the proposal.

Within the same statement that spoke about the inadmissibility of unleashing a nuclear war, the two presidents outlined an instruction to start a dialogue on matters of strategic stability.  The first tentative meeting took place in July of this year. The second one is scheduled for September. At this stage, the parties’ positions are far apart, but the fact that the dialogue is under way gives hope for the coordination of a basis for further specific talks on arms limitation.   These are our short-term objectives.

They also talked in general terms about the need to establish a dialogue on cyber security. This is yet another topic on which we were unable to reach out to Washington for several years. Vladimir Putin’s official statement was dedicated to the initiatives on ensuring a transparent dialogue based on trust and facts on cyber security in Russian-American relations. Contacts of this kind are being prepared as well. There are reasons to believe that we will reduce international tension just a little in some areas. But this does not abolish the fact that the United States continues to see the containment of Russia and China as one of its main tasks, as well as the encouragement of measures that may be instrumental in having an irritating effect on us.

Explanation of vote by Permanent Representative Vassily Nebenzia after the UNSC vote on a draft resolution on Afghanistan

August 31, 2021

August 31, 2021 

Explanation of vote by Permanent Representative Vassily Nebenzia after the UNSC vote on a draft resolution on Afghanistan

Permanent Mission of the Russian Federation to the United Nations

Mr.President,

The Russian Federation strongly condemns the terrorist attack that was carried out in the vicinity of the Kabul airport on 26 August killing hundreds of people. We express our condolences to the friends and families of those killed and wish speedy recovery to the injured.

At the same time, we had to abstain during the vote on the draft SC resolution on Afghanistan.

We had to do this because the authors of the draft had ignored our principled concerns.

Firstly, despite the fact that the draft resolution was proposed against the backdrop of a heinous terrorist attack, the sponsors refused to mention ISIL and “Eastern Turkistan Islamic Movement” – the organizations that are internationally recognized as terrorist – in the paragraph on counter-terrorism. We interpret it as unwillingness to recognize the obvious and an inclination to divide terrorists into “ours” and “theirs”. Attempts to “downplay” threats emanating from these groups are unacceptable.

Secondly, during the negotiations we emphasized the unacceptability and negative impacts of evacuation of Afghan highly qualified personnel for Afghanistan’s socio-economic situation. If experiencing a “brain drain”, the country will not be able to achieve Sustainable Development Goals. These elements that are vital for the Afghan people were nor reflected in the text of the resolution.

Thirdly, the authors ignored our proposal to have the document state the adverse effects that freezing of Afghan financial assets had on the economic and humanitarian situation in the country, and mention the fact that humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan must imperatively comply with the UN guiding principles, stipulated in UNGA resolution 46/182.

Mr.President,

We understand why the authors tried to use the Security Council’s authority to have the resolution adopted in this particular form and on such tight schedule. Perhaps, if we had had more time, the results of the vote would have been different.

At the same time, therein we see attempts to shift responsibility for the failure of the 20-year-long presence of the United States and its allies in Afghanistan to the Taliban movement and to the states of the region that will have to deal with the effects of this prolonged campaign. Such irresponsible behavior of the Western coalition and its attitude to the developments in Afghanistan are little surprising if we take into account i.a. purely formalistic approach taken by NATO’s former military mission “International Security Assistance Force” (which was later replaced by the “Resolute Support” training mission) when it was reporting progress to the Security Council.

Russia consistently stands for a peaceful, safe, and stable Afghanistan with no terrorist or drug threat coming from its territory. We will continue assisting Afghans in pursuing this goal.

Thank you.

This is what a dying empire looks like

August 30, 2021

This is what a dying empire looks like

By Aram Mirzaei for the Saker blog

These past weeks in Afghanistan have been what some would call a shit storm, in lack of better words. What is unfolding in front of our eyes is truly both a tragedy of great proportions and a spectacle of some sort I guess. After 20 years of occupation, Washington and its obedient dogs are not just retreating, they are fleeing in panic from Afghanistan. The US backed regime, just like all such puppet regimes, was fragile, corrupt and had no popular support whatsoever. This is why it collapsed after a few weeks since the start of the Taliban offensive. It was a collapse that shocked not just the Western imperialists and their propaganda tools, but even the Taliban themselves were surprised. The NATO trained and supplied Afghan Army either fled the battlefield or surrendered, often without even offering any kind of resistance.

To some of us observers, this didn’t come as a surprise at all. Those of us who have been following the war in Afghanistan for the past 2 decades are well aware of the problems that the so called Afghan armed forces have had. Rampant corruption, criminal incompetence, and drug abuse have plagued this army for as long as it has existed in its current form. It is a well-known fact that a large percentage of the Afghan armed forces were drug abusers, often getting high on heroin or opium while on duty. Furthermore, the corruption from top to bottom was unprecedented. Many police chiefs were outright rapists and pedophiles who would kidnap children to rape and kill, instead of fighting crime, and the level of turncoats who would sell arms and supplies to the Taliban was so high that most Afghan bases stood without any kind of heavy equipment or even fuel when faced against the Taliban onslaught. If you don’t believe me, then check this video: 

To say the least, morale among these soldiers and officers was at rock bottom. And why would this be a surprise? All the good fighting men had joined the Taliban or been killed in the past years. The only people left were drug abusers and opportunists. I quote a former US soldier in Afghanistan:

“By and large the Afghan National Army is recruited from the dregs of society. The good soldiers went off and joined the Taliban.

I don’t mean that lightly. I have fought the Taliban and trained and been on joint operations with ANA. The Taliban are tough, brave, well-disciplined soldiers, and frankly, I respect them. If I had been born in Afghanistan rather than America and raised with Afghan morals I likely would have joined their ranks.”

Billions of dollars were poured in by the occupying NATO powers, to prop up warlords and criminals across Afghanistan, not to create a stable society, but to buy their temporary silence and loyalty, and this is the result after twenty years. The Taliban just had to wait patiently for the occupiers to one day leave, and they even warned the NATO regimes of this inevitable reality when they said many years ago: “You have the watches, but we have the time”. Alas, the arrogant and self-worshipping West, drunk with their own imaginations of superiority based on the number of cool US warships and awesome Navy Seal gear, could not, and still cannot understand why they lost in Afghanistan.

The sheer arrogance and incompetence of those in charge over at Washington is astonishing to watch. US intelligence had at first calculated that the Kabul regime would survive months or even years, this was later revised into 30-90 days and finally, it fell in less than two weeks after the Taliban began attacking provincial capitals across the country. Kabul itself fell in less than a day! Washington’s “guy” in Kabul fled the country, reportedly taking with him millions or billions of dollars in cash to the UAE while the Taliban waltzed into the presidential palace- the same palace where Ashraf Ghani had held a speech only 48 hours earlier, vowing to “resists and push back the Taliban onslaught”.

Which takes us to the reality of today. Over the past two weeks, NATO countries and their friends have been evacuating their troops, citizens, and Afghan collaborationists in a chaotic and shameful manner reminiscent of the fall of Saigon in 1975. This is while White House fool Joe Biden and his clown Secretary of State Anthony Blinken claimed that this wouldn’t be another “Saigon moment”. Tragic scenes have since played out at Kabul airport, where people have been flocking in hopes of catching a plane to flee the country. Men who have been holding onto the side or landing gears of planes, only to fall off mid sky after take-off, stampedes and people throwing their babies off fences to US soldiers standing guard on the other side. Thousands, if not tens of thousands have been left behind as NATO forces have prioritized the evacuations of their dogs, cats, and beer kegs.

One can only help but wonder how such “sophisticated” countries with the best military forces in the galaxy can be so pathetically disorganized in their evacuations, especially since they knew they were leaving several months ago. As if the Afghan people’s misery wasn’t enough, Daesh has entered the scene now as well, and allegedly conducted a heinous terrorist attack outside the airport, killing well over 200 people in the mayhem, including 13 US soldiers. The scenes from Kabul airport on that day were the pinnacle of the misery and death that the Western imperialists have brought upon the Afghans. I say this because it is the US that has brought Daesh into Afghanistan and I believe there are several suspicious things to mention with regards to the terrorist attack of last week.

Firstly, why is it that every time that the US is withdrawing or looking to leave a conflict zone, a Daesh terrorist attack suddenly occurs against its forces. The same happened in Syria 2019, when a Daesh terrorist blew himself up in the town of Manbij, killing US troops, just as former president Donald Trump had announced his intention to withdraw US troops out of Syria. Why is Daesh, a supposed “enemy” of the US, trying its hardest to make the US continue its occupation of these countries?

Secondly, isn’t it interesting that both British and French intelligence allegedly had knowledge about an imminent terrorist attack, several hours before it took place and didn’t do anything to stop it? Isn’t it also interesting that the US who hasn’t conducted a single strike on Daesh in Afghanistan by the way, suddenly knew exactly who was behind the bombings and “took them out” with pinpoint accuracy only a day after the bombings? And thirdly, isn’t it also interesting how the Pentagon refused to even release the names and identities of the supposed “planner and facilitator” that were killed, with spokesman John Kirby holding a mock press conference and refusing to answer any question whatsoever from the multiple journalists in place?

Well, I won’t go into further speculation but I find this terrorist attack to have been plotted in one way or another by Washington itself, in order to save face in some way. Perhaps they hoped that the focus won’t be on the evacuation disaster but rather on the “strength” they showed in “confronting terrorism” even now when they are leaving.

Elsewhere, the US seems to be plotting for another civil war in Afghanistan as former Vice president Amrullah Saleh and Ahmad Massoud, the son of Ahmad Shah Massoud, the famous Mujahid during the Soviet-Afghan War are amassing forces in the still unconquered Panjshir province, to the east of Kabul. It is worrying that they are seemingly stupid enough, to think they actually stand a chance against the Taliban and are both pleading and hoping for Western support. Apparently, they didn’t learn a damn thing from Ashraf Ghani’s mistakes, or any other puppet that put their faith in the West’s “benevolence”. But no matter what Washington is plotting, they cannot escape the fact that this defeat has been humiliating for them and more humiliation is to come. Their days in Iraq and Syria are also numbered. The scenes at Kabul airport won’t just disappear so lightly as they tell the tale of a failure and a disaster that will have consequences for many years to come.

General Allen of the US occupation forces in Afghanistan once declared, drunk by his own arrogance, in the belief that they had succeeded in Afghanistan that “This is victory, this is what winning looks like”. I would like to revise that phrase into – this is what a dying empire looks like.

Terrorists Increase Bombings in Syria; Is False Flag Looming?

MIRI WOOD 

Archive of terrorists described as medics by the NATO liars.

Terrorists armed and supported by NATO countries, who refused reconciliation with the government, and rejected getting on those air conditioned green bus to join other al Qaeda savages in the temporary haven provided by NATO invader Erdogan, have increased deadly attacks against Daraa al Balad.

The NATO supremacist junta ruling the UN was wailing its tears for the savages, on Wednesday, one day after the first batch of the beasts with two legs, along with their concubines and unfortunate biological footprints, had been shipped out. The second parcel of human garbage was sent on its way, on Thursday — with some reports claiming they were en route to somewhere in Europe.

Daraa Balad green buses to evict ISIS and Al Qaeda terrorists to northern Syria

On Saturday, terrorists who went into hiding with their NATO weapons — weapons do not fall like manna from the heavens — and used ground to ground mortars to blow up a civilian home, murdering two children, and injuring their older siblings, and mother. Lest it still not be clear after more than one decade of heinous atrocities, the NATO rabid dogs of war would still have us believe that the savage terrorists are altruistic human beings, yearning to be free — likely from pre-NATO Spring affordable food, housing, schooling, and full employment — and will stop at no lie to continue the barbaric, war criminal lies.

Reuters lied , defended terrorists against murderous crimes.

NATO stenographer Reuters, recently notorious for fraudulent fact checks, lied about Saturday’s terrorists bombings.

On Sunday, the NATO sponsored terrorists bombed the building of the Internal Security Forces, murdering one policemen and injuring two others in Daraa al Balad.

Our NATO double standards of murderous hypocrisy and other war crimes are increasing, along with attacks by terrorists in Syria. NATO stenographer-media will wax poetic about hushed reverence among grieving families under gray skies as caskets with dead US soldiers are returned from a Taliban terror attack in Kabul, and ignore Syrian Arab Army soldiers coming under terrorists’ bombings, and lying about murdered civilians.

Demented Joe checks his watch at the somber occasion of Americian troops killed by terrorists coming home in caskets.
Somber Joe Biden checks the time as US troops return home in caskets.

We provide the photo of President Biden and the watch, not to point out a singular bit of rudeness, but to bring attention to his increasingly coming under attack, even by those ignoring his obvious dementia (despite his meds, his massive herding noted at the inauguration and at the G7 meeting, his likely getting plenty of sleep, his recent onset of some extrapyridimal side effects — caused by neuroleptics noted in his gait). That much of the bipartisan country is perturbed by him suggests it may be time for another false flag, to divert attention to a 10 minute hate.

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In September 2016, uninidicted war criminal Barack Obama accidentally slaughtered 83 Syrian Arab Army soldiers in al Thardeh, near the Deir Ezzor Airport. These soldiers were about to wipe out the hiding place of a small army of ISIS terrorists, who were accidentally rescued by this little faux pas of the 44th president.

slaughter in Deir Ezzor by terrorists in suits.
Mass funeral for 83 Syrian Arab Army solders accidentally murdered by Obama terrorists.

Syria News mentions this seeming ancient history as preface to the response of then US ambassador to the UN, also unindicted war criminal, and NATO supporter of terrorists in Syria, Samantha Power.

Power was enraged that the Russian ambassador had disturbed her by calling an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council. At her presser, she not only voiced her annoyance, she not only ignored the fact that the US led coalition bombing the SAR was a war crime, but she also let the proverbial cat out of the bag, albeit via the geopolitical version of Freudian projection — that is, blaming another country for the nefarious actions one’s own country has previously perpetrated, and is amenable to perpetrating again (e.g., the Gulf of Tonkin ‘incident.’)

She explained that when there is a problem, the puppeteers of the terrorists create a diversion; her admission in 2016 hold true, today.

US Americans are increasingly faced with home evictions, endure unaffordable healthcare, are terrorized by COVID and its ever-increasing variants, are watching food costs skyrocket. Do they really care about fraudulent monthly meetings on the ridiculous chemical Syria files?

Or, while they complain about Afghanistan being ‘abandoned’ to terrorists, are they in need of a need false flag by terrorists against the people of Syria, so they may enjoy a short-lived dopamine rush to divert attention from their very real problems?

— Miri Wood

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Congress Supremacists Remind White House of Regime Change Doctrine in Syria

https://syrianews.cc/congress-supremacists-remind-white-house-of-regime-change-doctrine-in-syria/embed/#?secret=IUyo9nAaJC

9 Women and Children Injured Trying to Put Out a Fire in Al-Hol Camp

https://syrianews.cc/9-women-and-children-injured-trying-to-put-out-a-fire-in-al-hol-camp/embed/#?secret=b3UxLExcy3

NATO Turkish Army Drone Bombs NATO Kurdish SDF Vehicle in Hasakah

https://syrianews.cc/nato-turkish-army-drone-bombs-nato-kurdish-sdf-vehicle-in-hasakah/embed/#?secret=ap5sz1a5vD

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