Article by Vladimir Putin ”On the Historical Unity of Russians and Ukrainians“

July 13, 2021

Article by Vladimir Putin ”On the Historical Unity of Russians and Ukrainians“

http://en.kremlin.ru/events/president/news/66181

July 12, 2021

During the recent Direct Line, when I was asked about Russian-Ukrainian relations, I said that Russians and Ukrainians were one people – a single whole. These words were not driven by some short-term considerations or prompted by the current political context. It is what I have said on numerous occasions and what I firmly believe. I therefore feel it necessary to explain my position in detail and share my assessments of today’s situation.

First of all, I would like to emphasize that the wall that has emerged in recent years between Russia and Ukraine, between the parts of what is essentially the same historical and spiritual space, to my mind is our great common misfortune and tragedy. These are, first and foremost, the consequences of our own mistakes made at different periods of time. But these are also the result of deliberate efforts by those forces that have always sought to undermine our unity. The formula they apply has been known from time immemorial – divide and rule. There is nothing new here. Hence the attempts to play on the ”national question“ and sow discord among people, the overarching goal being to divide and then to pit the parts of a single people against one another.

To have a better understanding of the present and look into the future, we need to turn to history. Certainly, it is impossible to cover in this article all the developments that have taken place over more than a thousand years. But I will focus on the key, pivotal moments that are important for us to remember, both in Russia and Ukraine.

Russians, Ukrainians, and Belarusians are all descendants of Ancient Rus, which was the largest state in Europe. Slavic and other tribes across the vast territory – from Ladoga, Novgorod, and Pskov to Kiev and Chernigov – were bound together by one language (which we now refer to as Old Russian), economic ties, the rule of the princes of the Rurik dynasty, and – after the baptism of Rus – the Orthodox faith. The spiritual choice made by St. Vladimir, who was both Prince of Novgorod and Grand Prince of Kiev, still largely determines our affinity today.

The throne of Kiev held a dominant position in Ancient Rus. This had been the custom since the late 9th century. The Tale of Bygone Years captured for posterity the words of Oleg the Prophet about Kiev, ”Let it be the mother of all Russian cities.“

Later, like other European states of that time, Ancient Rus faced a decline of central rule and fragmentation. At the same time, both the nobility and the common people perceived Rus as a common territory, as their homeland.

The fragmentation intensified after Batu Khan’s devastating invasion, which ravaged many cities, including Kiev. The northeastern part of Rus fell under the control of the Golden Horde but retained limited sovereignty. The southern and western Russian lands largely became part of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, which – most significantly – was referred to in historical records as the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and Russia.

Members of the princely and ”boyar“ clans would change service from one prince to another, feuding with each other but also making friendships and alliances. Voivode Bobrok of Volyn and the sons of Grand Duke of Lithuania Algirdas – Andrey of Polotsk and Dmitry of Bryansk – fought next to Grand Duke Dmitry Ivanovich of Moscow on the Kulikovo field. At the same time, Grand Duke of Lithuania Jogaila – son of the Princess of Tver – led his troops to join with Mamai. These are all pages of our shared history, reflecting its complex and multi-dimensional nature.

Most importantly, people both in the western and eastern Russian lands spoke the same language. Their faith was Orthodox. Up to the middle of the 15th century, the unified church government remained in place.

At a new stage of historical development, both Lithuanian Rus and Moscow Rus could have become the points of attraction and consolidation of the territories of Ancient Rus. It so happened that Moscow became the center of reunification, continuing the tradition of ancient Russian statehood. Moscow princes – the descendants of Prince Alexander Nevsky – cast off the foreign yoke and began gathering the Russian lands.

In the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, other processes were unfolding. In the 14th century, Lithuania’s ruling elite converted to Catholicism. In the 16th century, it signed the Union of Lublin with the Kingdom of Poland to form the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth. The Polish Catholic nobility received considerable land holdings and privileges in the territory of Rus. In accordance with the 1596 Union of Brest, part of the western Russian Orthodox clergy submitted to the authority of the Pope. The process of Polonization and Latinization began, ousting Orthodoxy.

As a consequence, in the 16–17th centuries, the liberation movement of the Orthodox population was gaining strength in the Dnieper region. The events during the times of Hetman Bohdan Khmelnytsky became a turning point. His supporters struggled for autonomy from the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth.

In its 1649 appeal to the king of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, the Zaporizhian Host demanded that the rights of the Russian Orthodox population be respected, that the voivode of Kiev be Russian and of Greek faith, and that the persecution of the churches of God be stopped. But the Cossacks were not heard.

Bohdan Khmelnytsky then made appeals to Moscow, which were considered by the Zemsky Sobor. On 1 October 1653, members of the supreme representative body of the Russian state decided to support their brothers in faith and take them under patronage. In January 1654, the Pereyaslav Council confirmed that decision. Subsequently, the ambassadors of Bohdan Khmelnytsky and Moscow visited dozens of cities, including Kiev, whose populations swore allegiance to the Russian tsar. Incidentally, nothing of the kind happened at the conclusion of the Union of Lublin.

In a letter to Moscow in 1654, Bohdan Khmelnytsky thanked Tsar Aleksey Mikhaylovich for taking ”the whole Zaporizhian Host and the whole Russian Orthodox world under the strong and high hand of the Tsar“. It means that, in their appeals to both the Polish king and the Russian tsar, the Cossacks referred to and defined themselves as Russian Orthodox people.

Over the course of the protracted war between the Russian state and the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, some of the hetmans, successors of Bohdan Khmelnytsky, would ”detach themselves“ from Moscow or seek support from Sweden, Poland, or Turkey. But, again, for the people, that was a war of liberation. It ended with the Truce of Andrusovo in 1667. The final outcome was sealed by the Treaty of Perpetual Peace in 1686. The Russian state incorporated the city of Kiev and the lands on the left bank of the Dnieper River, including Poltava region, Chernigov region, and Zaporozhye. Their inhabitants were reunited with the main part of the Russian Orthodox people. These territories were referred to as ”Malorossia“ (Little Russia).

The name ”Ukraine“ was used more often in the meaning of the Old Russian word ”okraina“ (periphery), which is found in written sources from the 12th century, referring to various border territories. And the word ”Ukrainian“, judging by archival documents, originally referred to frontier guards who protected the external borders.

On the right bank, which remained under the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, the old orders were restored, and social and religious oppression intensified. On the contrary, the lands on the left bank, taken under the protection of the unified state, saw rapid development. People from the other bank of the Dnieper moved here en masse. They sought support from people who spoke the same language and had the same faith.

During the Great Northern War with Sweden, the people in Malorossia were not faced with a choice of whom to side with. Only a small portion of the Cossacks supported Mazepa’s rebellion. People of all orders and degrees considered themselves Russian and Orthodox.

Cossack senior officers belonging to the nobility would reach the heights of political, diplomatic, and military careers in Russia. Graduates of Kiev-Mohyla Academy played a leading role in church life. This was also the case during the Hetmanate – an essentially autonomous state formation with a special internal structure – and later in the Russian Empire. Malorussians in many ways helped build a big common country – its statehood, culture, and science. They participated in the exploration and development of the Urals, Siberia, the Caucasus, and the Far East. Incidentally, during the Soviet period, natives of Ukraine held major, including the highest, posts in the leadership of the unified state. Suffice it to say that Nikita Khrushchev and Leonid Brezhnev, whose party biography was most closely associated with Ukraine, led the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU) for almost 30 years.

In the second half of the 18th century, following the wars with the Ottoman Empire, Russia incorporated Crimea and the lands of the Black Sea region, which became known as Novorossiya. They were populated by people from all of the Russian provinces. After the partitions of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, the Russian Empire regained the western Old Russian lands, with the exception of Galicia and Transcarpathia, which became part of the Austrian – and later Austro-Hungarian – Empire.

The incorporation of the western Russian lands into the single state was not merely the result of political and diplomatic decisions. It was underlain by the common faith, shared cultural traditions, and – I would like to emphasize it once again – language similarity. Thus, as early as the beginning of the 17th century, one of the hierarchs of the Uniate Church, Joseph Rutsky, communicated to Rome that people in Moscovia called Russians from the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth their brothers, that their written language was absolutely identical, and differences in the vernacular were insignificant. He drew an analogy with the residents of Rome and Bergamo. These are, as we know, the center and the north of modern Italy.

Many centuries of fragmentation and living within different states naturally brought about regional language peculiarities, resulting in the emergence of dialects. The vernacular enriched the literary language. Ivan Kotlyarevsky, Grigory Skovoroda, and Taras Shevchenko played a huge role here. Their works are our common literary and cultural heritage. Taras Shevchenko wrote poetry in the Ukrainian language, and prose mainly in Russian. The books of Nikolay Gogol, a Russian patriot and native of Poltavshchyna, are written in Russian, bristling with Malorussian folk sayings and motifs. How can this heritage be divided between Russia and Ukraine? And why do it?

The south-western lands of the Russian Empire, Malorussia and Novorossiya, and the Crimea developed as ethnically and religiously diverse entities. Crimean Tatars, Armenians, Greeks, Jews, Karaites, Krymchaks, Bulgarians, Poles, Serbs, Germans, and other peoples lived here. They all preserved their faith, traditions, and customs.

I am not going to idealise anything. We do know there were the Valuev Circular of 1863 an then the Ems Ukaz of 1876, which restricted the publication and importation of religious and socio-political literature in the Ukrainian language. But it is important to be mindful of the historical context. These decisions were taken against the backdrop of dramatic events in Poland and the desire of the leaders of the Polish national movement to exploit the ”Ukrainian issue“ to their own advantage. I should add that works of fiction, books of Ukrainian poetry and folk songs continued to be published. There is objective evidence that the Russian Empire was witnessing an active process of development of the Malorussian cultural identity within the greater Russian nation, which united the Velikorussians, the Malorussians and the Belorussians.

At the same time, the idea of Ukrainian people as a nation separate from the Russians started to form and gain ground among the Polish elite and a part of the Malorussian intelligentsia. Since there was no historical basis – and could not have been any, conclusions were substantiated by all sorts of concoctions, which went as far as to claim that the Ukrainians are the true Slavs and the Russians, the Muscovites, are not. Such ”hypotheses“ became increasingly used for political purposes as a tool of rivalry between European states.

Since the late 19th century, the Austro-Hungarian authorities had latched onto this narrative, using it as a counterbalance to the Polish national movement and pro-Muscovite sentiments in Galicia. During World War I, Vienna played a role in the formation of the so-called Legion of Ukrainian Sich Riflemen. Galicians suspected of sympathies with Orthodox Christianity and Russia were subjected to brutal repression and thrown into the concentration camps of Thalerhof and Terezin.

Further developments had to do with the collapse of European empires, the fierce civil war that broke out across the vast territory of the former Russian Empire, and foreign intervention.

After the February Revolution, in March 1917, the Central Rada was established in Kiev, intended to become the organ of supreme power. In November 1917, in its Third Universal, it declared the creation of the Ukrainian People’s Republic (UPR) as part of Russia.

In December 1917, UPR representatives arrived in Brest-Litovsk, where Soviet Russia was negotiating with Germany and its allies. At a meeting on 10 January 1918, the head of the Ukrainian delegation read out a note proclaiming the independence of Ukraine. Subsequently, the Central Rada proclaimed Ukraine independent in its Fourth Universal.

The declared sovereignty did not last long. Just a few weeks later, Rada delegates signed a separate treaty with the German bloc countries. Germany and Austria-Hungary were at the time in a dire situation and needed Ukrainian bread and raw materials. In order to secure large-scale supplies, they obtained consent for sending their troops and technical staff to the UPR. In fact, this was used as a pretext for occupation.

For those who have today given up the full control of Ukraine to external forces, it would be instructive to remember that, back in 1918, such a decision proved fatal for the ruling regime in Kiev. With the direct involvement of the occupying forces, the Central Rada was overthrown and Hetman Pavlo Skoropadskyi was brought to power, proclaiming instead of the UPR the Ukrainian State, which was essentially under German protectorate.

In November 1918 – following the revolutionary events in Germany and Austria-Hungary – Pavlo Skoropadskyi, who had lost the support of German bayonets, took a different course, declaring that ”Ukraine is to take the lead in the formation of an All-Russian Federation“. However, the regime was soon changed again. It was now the time of the so-called Directorate.

In autumn 1918, Ukrainian nationalists proclaimed the West Ukrainian People’s Republic (WUPR) and, in January 1919, announced its unification with the Ukrainian People’s Republic. In July 1919, Ukrainian forces were crushed by Polish troops, and the territory of the former WUPR came under the Polish rule.

In April 1920, Symon Petliura (portrayed as one of the ”heroes“ in today’s Ukraine) concluded secret conventions on behalf of the UPR Directorate, giving up – in exchange for military support – Galicia and Western Volhynia lands to Poland. In May 1920, Petliurites entered Kiev in a convoy of Polish military units. But not for long. As early as November 1920, following a truce between Poland and Soviet Russia, the remnants of Petliura’s forces surrendered to those same Poles.

The example of the UPR shows that different kinds of quasi-state formations that emerged across the former Russian Empire at the time of the Civil War and turbulence were inherently unstable. Nationalists sought to create their own independent states, while leaders of the White movement advocated indivisible Russia. Many of the republics established by the Bolsheviks’ supporters did not see themselves outside Russia either. Nevertheless, Bolshevik Party leaders sometimes basically drove them out of Soviet Russia for various reasons.

Thus, in early 1918, the Donetsk-Krivoy Rog Soviet Republic was proclaimed and asked Moscow to incorporate it into Soviet Russia. This was met with a refusal. During a meeting with the republic’s leaders, Vladimir Lenin insisted that they act as part of Soviet Ukraine. On 15 March 1918, the Central Committee of the Russian Communist Party (Bolsheviks) directly ordered that delegates be sent to the Ukrainian Congress of Soviets, including from the Donetsk Basin, and that ”one government for all of Ukraine“ be created at the congress. The territories of the Donetsk-Krivoy Rog Soviet Republic later formed most of the regions of south-eastern Ukraine.

Under the 1921 Treaty of Riga, concluded between the Russian SFSR, the Ukrainian SSR and Poland, the western lands of the former Russian Empire were ceded to Poland. In the interwar period, the Polish government pursued an active resettlement policy, seeking to change the ethnic composition of the Eastern Borderlands – the Polish name for what is now Western Ukraine, Western Belarus and parts of Lithuania. The areas were subjected to harsh Polonisation, local culture and traditions suppressed. Later, during World War II, radical groups of Ukrainian nationalists used this as a pretext for terror not only against Polish, but also against Jewish and Russian populations.

In 1922, when the USSR was created, with the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic becoming one of its founders, a rather fierce debate among the Bolshevik leaders resulted in the implementation of Lenin’s plan to form a union state as a federation of equal republics. The right for the republics to freely secede from the Union was included in the text of the Declaration on the Creation of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and, subsequently, in the 1924 USSR Constitution. By doing so, the authors planted in the foundation of our statehood the most dangerous time bomb, which exploded the moment the safety mechanism provided by the leading role of the CPSU was gone, the party itself collapsing from within. A ”parade of sovereignties“ followed. On 8 December 1991, the so-called Belovezh Agreement on the Creation of the Commonwealth of Independent States was signed, stating that ”the USSR as a subject of international law and a geopolitical reality no longer existed.“ By the way, Ukraine never signed or ratified the CIS Charter adopted back in 1993.

In the 1920’s-1930’s, the Bolsheviks actively promoted the ”localization policy“, which took the form of Ukrainization in the Ukrainian SSR. Symbolically, as part of this policy and with consent of the Soviet authorities, Mikhail Grushevskiy, former chairman of Central Rada, one of the ideologists of Ukrainian nationalism, who at a certain period of time had been supported by Austria-Hungary, was returned to the USSR and was elected member of the Academy of Sciences.

The localization policy undoubtedly played a major role in the development and consolidation of the Ukrainian culture, language and identity. At the same time, under the guise of combating the so-called Russian great-power chauvinism, Ukrainization was often imposed on those who did not see themselves as Ukrainians. This Soviet national policy secured at the state level the provision on three separate Slavic peoples: Russian, Ukrainian and Belorussian, instead of the large Russian nation, a triune people comprising Velikorussians, Malorussians and Belorussians.

In 1939, the USSR regained the lands earlier seized by Poland. A major portion of these became part of the Soviet Ukraine. In 1940, the Ukrainian SSR incorporated part of Bessarabia, which had been occupied by Romania since 1918, as well as Northern Bukovina. In 1948, Zmeyiniy Island (Snake Island) in the Black Sea became part of Ukraine. In 1954, the Crimean Region of the RSFSR was given to the Ukrainian SSR, in gross violation of legal norms that were in force at the time.

I would like to dwell on the destiny of Carpathian Ruthenia, which became part of Czechoslovakia following the breakup of Austria-Hungary. Rusins made up a considerable share of local population. While this is hardly mentioned any longer, after the liberation of Transcarpathia by Soviet troops the congress of the Orthodox population of the region voted for the inclusion of Carpathian Ruthenia in the RSFSR or, as a separate Carpathian republic, in the USSR proper. Yet the choice of people was ignored. In summer 1945, the historical act of the reunification of Carpathian Ukraine ”with its ancient motherland, Ukraine“ – as The Pravda newspaper put it – was announced.

Therefore, modern Ukraine is entirely the product of the Soviet era. We know and remember well that it was shaped – for a significant part – on the lands of historical Russia. To make sure of that, it is enough to look at the boundaries of the lands reunited with the Russian state in the 17th century and the territory of the Ukrainian SSR when it left the Soviet Union.

The Bolsheviks treated the Russian people as inexhaustible material for their social experiments. They dreamt of a world revolution that would wipe out national states. That is why they were so generous in drawing borders and bestowing territorial gifts. It is no longer important what exactly the idea of the Bolshevik leaders who were chopping the country into pieces was. We can disagree about minor details, background and logics behind certain decisions. One fact is crystal clear: Russia was robbed, indeed.

When working on this article, I relied on open-source documents that contain well-known facts rather than on some secret records. The leaders of modern Ukraine and their external ”patrons“ prefer to overlook these facts. They do not miss a chance, however, both inside the country and abroad, to condemn ”the crimes of the Soviet regime,“ listing among them events with which neither the CPSU, nor the USSR, let alone modern Russia, have anything to do. At the same time, the Bolsheviks’ efforts to detach from Russia its historical territories are not considered a crime. And we know why: if they brought about the weakening of Russia, our ill-wishes are happy with that.

Of course, inside the USSR, borders between republics were never seen as state borders; they were nominal within a single country, which, while featuring all the attributes of a federation, was highly centralized – this, again, was secured by the CPSU’s leading role. But in 1991, all those territories, and, which is more important, people, found themselves abroad overnight, taken away, this time indeed, from their historical motherland.

What can be said to this? Things change: countries and communities are no exception. Of course, some part of a people in the process of its development, influenced by a number of reasons and historical circumstances, can become aware of itself as a separate nation at a certain moment. How should we treat that? There is only one answer: with respect!

You want to establish a state of your own: you are welcome! But what are the terms? I will recall the assessment given by one of the most prominent political figures of new Russia, first mayor of Saint Petersburg Anatoly Sobchak. As a legal expert who believed that every decision must be legitimate, in 1992, he shared the following opinion: the republics that were founders of the Union, having denounced the 1922 Union Treaty, must return to the boundaries they had had before joining the Soviet Union. All other territorial acquisitions are subject to discussion, negotiations, given that the ground has been revoked.

In other words, when you leave, take what you brought with you. This logic is hard to refute. I will just say that the Bolsheviks had embarked on reshaping boundaries even before the Soviet Union, manipulating with territories to their liking, in disregard of people’s views.

The Russian Federation recognized the new geopolitical realities: and not only recognized, but, indeed, did a lot for Ukraine to establish itself as an independent country. Throughout the difficult 1990’s and in the new millennium, we have provided considerable support to Ukraine. Whatever ”political arithmetic“ of its own Kiev may wish to apply, in 1991–2013, Ukraine’s budget savings amounted to more than USD 82 billion, while today, it holds on to the mere USD 1.5 billion of Russian payments for gas transit to Europe. If economic ties between our countries had been retained, Ukraine would enjoy the benefit of tens of billions of dollars.

Ukraine and Russia have developed as a single economic system over decades and centuries. The profound cooperation we had 30 years ago is an example for the European Union to look up to. We are natural complementary economic partners. Such a close relationship can strengthen competitive advantages, increasing the potential of both countries.

Ukraine used to possess great potential, which included powerful infrastructure, gas transportation system, advanced shipbuilding, aviation, rocket and instrument engineering industries, as well as world-class scientific, design and engineering schools. Taking over this legacy and declaring independence, Ukrainian leaders promised that the Ukrainian economy would be one of the leading ones and the standard of living would be among the best in Europe.

Today, high-tech industrial giants that were once the pride of Ukraine and the entire Union, are sinking. Engineering output has dropped by 42 per cent over ten years. The scale of deindustrialization and overall economic degradation is visible in Ukraine’s electricity production, which has seen a nearly two-time decrease in 30 years. Finally, according to IMF reports, in 2019, before the coronavirus pandemic broke out, Ukraine’s GDP per capita had been below USD 4 thousand. This is less than in the Republic of Albania, the Republic of Moldova, or unrecognized Kosovo. Nowadays, Ukraine is Europe’s poorest country.

Who is to blame for this? Is it the people of Ukraine’s fault? Certainly not. It was the Ukrainian authorities who waisted and frittered away the achievements of many generations. We know how hardworking and talented the people of Ukraine are. They can achieve success and outstanding results with perseverance and determination. And these qualities, as well as their openness, innate optimism and hospitality have not gone. The feelings of millions of people who treat Russia not just well but with great affection, just as we feel about Ukraine, remain the same.

Until 2014, hundreds of agreements and joint projects were aimed at developing our economies, business and cultural ties, strengthening security, and solving common social and environmental problems. They brought tangible benefits to people – both in Russia and Ukraine. This is what we believed to be most important. And that is why we had a fruitful interaction with all, I emphasize, with all the leaders of Ukraine.

Even after the events in Kiev of 2014, I charged the Russian government to elaborate options for preserving and maintaining our economic ties within relevant ministries and agencies. However, there was and is still no mutual will to do the same. Nevertheless, Russia is still one of Ukraine’s top three trading partners, and hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians are coming to us to work, and they find a welcome reception and support. So that what the ”aggressor state“ is.

When the USSR collapsed, many people in Russia and Ukraine sincerely believed and assumed that our close cultural, spiritual and economic ties would certainly last, as would the commonality of our people, who had always had a sense of unity at their core. However, events – at first gradually, and then more rapidly – started to move in a different direction.

In essence, Ukraine’s ruling circles decided to justify their country’s independence through the denial of its past, however, except for border issues. They began to mythologize and rewrite history, edit out everything that united us, and refer to the period when Ukraine was part of the Russian Empire and the Soviet Union as an occupation. The common tragedy of collectivization and famine of the early 1930s was portrayed as the genocide of the Ukrainian people.

Radicals and neo-Nazis were open and more and more insolent about their ambitions. They were indulged by both the official authorities and local oligarchs, who robbed the people of Ukraine and kept their stolen money in Western banks, ready to sell their motherland for the sake of preserving their capital. To this should be added the persistent weakness of state institutions and the position of a willing hostage to someone else’s geopolitical will.

I recall that long ago, well before 2014, the U.S. and EU countries systematically and consistently pushed Ukraine to curtail and limit economic cooperation with Russia. We, as the largest trade and economic partner of Ukraine, suggested discussing the emerging problems in the Ukraine-Russia-EU format. But every time we were told that Russia had nothing to do with it and that the issue concerned only the EU and Ukraine. De facto Western countries rejected Russia’s repeated calls for dialogue.

Step by step, Ukraine was dragged into a dangerous geopolitical game aimed at turning Ukraine into a barrier between Europe and Russia, a springboard against Russia. Inevitably, there came a time when the concept of ”Ukraine is not Russia“ was no longer an option. There was a need for the ”anti-Russia“ concept which we will never accept.

The owners of this project took as a basis the old groundwork of the Polish-Austrian ideologists to create an ”anti-Moscow Russia“. And there is no need to deceive anyone that this is being done in the interests of the people of Ukraine. The Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth never needed Ukrainian culture, much less Cossack autonomy. In Austria-Hungary, historical Russian lands were mercilessly exploited and remained the poorest. The Nazis, abetted by collaborators from the OUN-UPA, did not need Ukraine, but a living space and slaves for Aryan overlords.

Nor were the interests of the Ukrainian people thought of in February 2014. The legitimate public discontent, caused by acute socio-economic problems, mistakes, and inconsistent actions of the authorities of the time, was simply cynically exploited. Western countries directly interfered in Ukraine’s internal affairs and supported the coup. Radical nationalist groups served as its battering ram. Their slogans, ideology, and blatant aggressive Russophobia have to a large extent become defining elements of state policy in Ukraine.

All the things that united us and bring us together so far came under attack. First and foremost, the Russian language. Let me remind you that the new ”Maidan“ authorities first tried to repeal the law on state language policy. Then there was the law on the ”purification of power“, the law on education that virtually cut the Russian language out of the educational process.

Lastly, as early as May of this year, the current president introduced a bill on ”indigenous peoples“ to the Rada. Only those who constitute an ethnic minority and do not have their own state entity outside Ukraine are recognized as indigenous. The law has been passed. New seeds of discord have been sown. And this is happening in a country, as I have already noted, that is very complex in terms of its territorial, national and linguistic composition, and its history of formation.

There may be an argument: if you are talking about a single large nation, a triune nation, then what difference does it make who people consider themselves to be – Russians, Ukrainians, or Belarusians. I completely agree with this. Especially since the determination of nationality, particularly in mixed families, is the right of every individual, free to make his or her own choice.

But the fact is that the situation in Ukraine today is completely different because it involves a forced change of identity. And the most despicable thing is that the Russians in Ukraine are being forced not only to deny their roots, generations of their ancestors but also to believe that Russia is their enemy. It would not be an exaggeration to say that the path of forced assimilation, the formation of an ethnically pure Ukrainian state, aggressive towards Russia, is comparable in its consequences to the use of weapons of mass destruction against us. As a result of such a harsh and artificial division of Russians and Ukrainians, the Russian people in all may decrease by hundreds of thousands or even millions.

Our spiritual unity has also been attacked. As in the days of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, a new ecclesiastical has been initiated. The secular authorities, making no secret of their political aims, have blatantly interfered in church life and brought things to a split, to the seizure of churches, the beating of priests and monks. Even extensive autonomy of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church while maintaining spiritual unity with the Moscow Patriarchate strongly displeases them. They have to destroy this prominent and centuries-old symbol of our kinship at all costs.

I think it is also natural that the representatives of Ukraine over and over again vote against the UN General Assembly resolution condemning the glorification of Nazism. Marches and torchlit processions in honor of remaining war criminals from the SS units take place under the protection of the official authorities. Mazepa, who betrayed everyone, Petliura, who paid for Polish patronage with Ukrainian lands, and Bandera, who collaborated with the Nazis, are ranked as national heroes. Everything is being done to erase from the memory of young generations the names of genuine patriots and victors, who have always been the pride of Ukraine.

For the Ukrainians who fought in the Red Army, in partisan units, the Great Patriotic War was indeed a patriotic war because they were defending their home, their great common Motherland. Over two thousand soldiers became Heroes of the Soviet Union. Among them are legendary pilot Ivan Kozhedub, fearless sniper, defender of Odessa and Sevastopol Lyudmila Pavlichenko, valiant guerrilla commander Sidor Kovpak. This indomitable generation fought, those people gave their lives for our future, for us. To forget their feat is to betray our grandfathers, mothers and fathers.

The anti-Russia project has been rejected by millions of Ukrainians. The people of Crimea and residents of Sevastopol made their historic choice. And people in the southeast peacefully tried to defend their stance. Yet, all of them, including children, were labeled as separatists and terrorists. They were threatened with ethnic cleansing and the use of military force. And the residents of Donetsk and Lugansk took up arms to defend their home, their language and their lives. Were they left any other choice after the riots that swept through the cities of Ukraine, after the horror and tragedy of 2 May 2014 in Odessa where Ukrainian neo-Nazis burned people alive making a new Khatyn out of it? The same massacre was ready to be carried out by the followers of Bandera in Crimea, Sevastopol, Donetsk and Lugansk. Even now they do not abandon such plans. They are biding their time. But their time will not come.

The coup d’état and the subsequent actions of the Kiev authorities inevitably provoked confrontation and civil war. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights estimates that the total number of victims in the conflict in Donbas has exceeded 13,000. Among them are the elderly and children. These are terrible, irreparable losses.

Russia has done everything to stop fratricide. The Minsk agreements aimed at a peaceful settlement of the conflict in Donbas have been concluded. I am convinced that they still have no alternative. In any case, no one has withdrawn their signatures from the Minsk Package of Measures or from the relevant statements by the leaders of the Normandy format countries. No one has initiated a review of the United Nations Security Council resolution of 17 February 2015.

During official negotiations, especially after being reined in by Western partners, Ukraine’s representatives regularly declare their ”full adherence“ to the Minsk agreements, but are in fact guided by a position of ”unacceptability“. They do not intend to seriously discuss either the special status of Donbas or safeguards for the people living there. They prefer to exploit the image of the ”victim of external aggression“ and peddle Russophobia. They arrange bloody provocations in Donbas. In short, they attract the attention of external patrons and masters by all means.

Apparently, and I am becoming more and more convinced of this: Kiev simply does not need Donbas. Why? Because, firstly, the inhabitants of these regions will never accept the order that they have tried and are trying to impose by force, blockade and threats. And secondly, the outcome of both Minsk‑1 and Minsk‑2 which give a real chance to peacefully restore the territorial integrity of Ukraine by coming to an agreement directly with the DPR and LPR with Russia, Germany and France as mediators, contradicts the entire logic of the anti-Russia project. And it can only be sustained by the constant cultivation of the image of an internal and external enemy. And I would add – under the protection and control of the Western powers.

This is what is actually happening. First of all, we are facing the creation of a climate of fear in Ukrainian society, aggressive rhetoric, indulging neo-Nazis and militarising the country. Along with that we are witnessing not just complete dependence but direct external control, including the supervision of the Ukrainian authorities, security services and armed forces by foreign advisers, military ”development“ of the territory of Ukraine and deployment of NATO infrastructure. It is no coincidence that the aforementioned flagrant law on ”indigenous peoples“ was adopted under the cover of large-scale NATO exercises in Ukraine.

This is also a disguise for the takeover of the rest of the Ukrainian economy and the exploitation of its natural resources. The sale of agricultural land is not far off, and it is obvious who will buy it up. From time to time, Ukraine is indeed given financial resources and loans, but under their own conditions and pursuing their own interests, with preferences and benefits for Western companies. By the way, who will pay these debts back? Apparently, it is assumed that this will have to be done not only by today’s generation of Ukrainians but also by their children, grandchildren and probably great-grandchildren.

The Western authors of the anti-Russia project set up the Ukrainian political system in such a way that presidents, members of parliament and ministers would change but the attitude of separation from and enmity with Russia would remain. Reaching peace was the main election slogan of the incumbent president. He came to power with this. The promises turned out to be lies. Nothing has changed. And in some ways the situation in Ukraine and around Donbas has even degenerated.

In the anti-Russia project, there is no place either for a sovereign Ukraine or for the political forces that are trying to defend its real independence. Those who talk about reconciliation in Ukrainian society, about dialogue, about finding a way out of the current impasse are labelled as ”pro-Russian“ agents.

Again, for many people in Ukraine, the anti-Russia project is simply unacceptable. And there are millions of such people. But they are not allowed to raise their heads. They have had their legal opportunity to defend their point of view in fact taken away from them. They are intimidated, driven underground. Not only are they persecuted for their convictions, for the spoken word, for the open expression of their position, but they are also killed. Murderers, as a rule, go unpunished.

Today, the ”right“ patriot of Ukraine is only the one who hates Russia. Moreover, the entire Ukrainian statehood, as we understand it, is proposed to be further built exclusively on this idea. Hate and anger, as world history has repeatedly proved this, are a very shaky foundation for sovereignty, fraught with many serious risks and dire consequences.

All the subterfuges associated with the anti-Russia project are clear to us. And we will never allow our historical territories and people close to us living there to be used against Russia. And to those who will undertake such an attempt, I would like to say that this way they will destroy their own country.

The incumbent authorities in Ukraine like to refer to Western experience, seeing it as a model to follow. Just have a look at how Austria and Germany, the USA and Canada live next to each other. Close in ethnic composition, culture, in fact sharing one language, they remain sovereign states with their own interests, with their own foreign policy. But this does not prevent them from the closest integration or allied relations. They have very conditional, transparent borders. And when crossing them the citizens feel at home. They create families, study, work, do business. Incidentally, so do millions of those born in Ukraine who now live in Russia. We see them as our own close people.

Russia is open to dialogue with Ukraine and ready to discuss the most complex issues. But it is important for us to understand that our partner is defending its national interests but not serving someone else’s, and is not a tool in someone else’s hands to fight against us.

We respect the Ukrainian language and traditions. We respect Ukrainians’ desire to see their country free, safe and prosperous.

I am confident that true sovereignty of Ukraine is possible only in partnership with Russia. Our spiritual, human and civilizational ties formed for centuries and have their origins in the same sources, they have been hardened by common trials, achievements and victories. Our kinship has been transmitted from generation to generation. It is in the hearts and the memory of people living in modern Russia and Ukraine, in the blood ties that unite millions of our families. Together we have always been and will be many times stronger and more successful. For we are one people.

Today, these words may be perceived by some people with hostility. They can be interpreted in many possible ways. Yet, many people will hear me. And I will say one thing – Russia has never been and will never be ”anti-Ukraine“. And what Ukraine will be – it is up to its citizens to decide.

The Nakba and the Polish Law

 BY GILAD ATZMON

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by Gilad Atzmon

Source: Almayadeen.net

Israel seems upset by a new Polish law that sets a 30-year deadline for Jews to recover seized property. The legislation is yet to be approved by Poland’s senate, yet Israeli officials already refer to it as the “Holocaust law.” They insist that it is ‘immoral’ and ‘a disgrace.’

Last week Israeli Minister of Foreign Affairs Yair Lapid insisted that the bill “is a disgrace that will not erase the horrors or the memory of the Holocaust.”

The Nakba and the Polish Law

I fail to see which part of the legislation interferes with the memory and the horrors of the holocaust. I actually think that the crude attempt to squeeze billions of dollars from Poland in the name of a human tragedy may have a detrimental impact on this historical chapter and the way it is memorized.

The Poles didn’t approve of the Jewish ‘State’ interfering with their internal affairs. On Friday, Poland’s Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki hit back at Lapid, stressing, “I can only say that as long as I am the prime minister, Poland will not pay for German crimes: Neither zloty, nor euro, nor dollar.”

Poland’s Minister of Foreign Affairs echoed Morawiecki’s position, arguing that Lapid’s comments were misguided. “Poland is by no means responsible for the Holocaust, an atrocity committed by the German occupant also on Polish citizens of Jewish origin.”

During the weekend, the crisis seemed to escalate. On Sunday, Poland and Israel summoned the other’s ambassador for meetings as the rift between the two countries didn’t seem to subside.  

I am not in a position to judge what is right and who is wrong on restitution matters. Suppose the Polish new legislation is “a horrific injustice and disgrace that harms the rights of Holocaust survivors and their heirs,” as Lapid says. In that case, we should also expect Lapid to vividly support the Palestinians, their right of return, and their right to be compensated for the colossal crimes committed against them in 1948 and thereafter. 

In 1948, more than 700,000 Palestinians (the vast majority of indigenous Palestine) were ethnically cleansed by the newly born Jewish State. This catastrophic racially driven crime (that included a long list of massacres) is called the Nakba. It took place less than four years after the liberation of Auschwitz. 

During the 1948 war and shortly after, young Israel wiped out Palestinian cities and villages. It then used legislation to prevent Palestinians from returning to their homes and applied any possible means to plunder their properties, dispossessing those few Palestinians who clung to their land. Yet, Israel never admitted its original sin of ethnic cleansing. 

Applying to a moral cause, Israel claims to represent Jewish demands for restitution in Poland. I wonder, shouldn’t the same rule be applied to the Palestinians? Shouldn’t Israel put the same moral law into play and acknowledge the Palestinians’ right to their land, villages, cities, fields, and orchards?

While in Poland, it was Nazi Germany that brought a disaster on the county’s Jewry. In Palestine, young IDF and Jewish paramilitary groups committed colossal crimes against the indigenous population. While Nazi Germany ceased to exist in 1945, the IDF is still with us. The Labour party (which formed the first Israeli government directly) is still active and is even a member of the current governing coalition. The Likud Party, being the offspring of the Irgun and the Stern Gang (both complicit in some of the most brutal massacres in Palestine), is, by far, the biggest party in the Israeli Knesset. The Israeli and Zionist institutions that were responsible for the 1948 crime have never ceased to exist. They have never owned their crimes, let alone repented. 

Holocaust survivors have been compensated by different means for the crime that was committed against them by Europeans. Israel benefitted from a large reparations deal with the German government. The Palestinians, however, are still living in open-air prisons and refugee camps, subject to blockades and constant abuse.    

The time is ripe for Israel to own up to its horrendous past. By now, Israel should accept that the Palestinian cause is not fading away or evaporating into thin air. If Israel seeks to reconcile with the region, it must first apply to itself that moral code that it demands Poland to follow. 

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What Just Happened in the Ukraine?

THE SAKER • APRIL 25, 2021 

Before we look into what just happened in the Ukraine, we need to first recall the sequence of events which lead to the current situation. I will try to make a short summary (skipping a lot of details) in the bullet-point style:

  1. Whether Ze initially intended to stop the war in the eastern Ukraine we don’t know, but what we do know is that he failed not only to stop it, in many ways his policies were even worse than Poroshenko’s. This might be the well-known phenomenon of a supposedly “pro-peace and happiness” politician being accused of being “weak” and thus not “presidential”; this politician has to show his “strength” is “patriotism”, that is acting recklessly on the external front. We see that from putatively “liberal” politicians such as the Dems in the USA and Labor in Israel. Historically, “liberals” are the most common war initiators. Ze showed his weakness almost from day 1, and the Ukronazis immediately seized this opportunity to engage in a massive multi-level campaign for war against Russia. This resulted in:
  2. A quasi-official repudiation of the Minsk Agreements and Steinmeier Formula by Kiev, followed by a sharp increase in bellicose statements and, most crucially a large scale move of forces (including tanks, heavy artillery, MLRS and even ballistic missiles!) towards the line of contact. At the same time Ukronazi politicians began making statements saying that a) the Ukrainian army was capable and willing to “liberate” all of the “Russian occupied” Ukrainian land thus, including both the Donbass and Crimea b) that Russia was going to attack the Ukraine anyway and c) that the consolidated West had to help the Ukraine because only the Ukrainian forces were keeping the asiatic drunken Russian hordes from over-running not only the Ukraine, but even the rest of Europe. Since the Ukraine simply has no agency, this begs the question of the US (and, to a lesser degree, the UK) rationale was for these moves. It is quite simple:
  3. Force Russia to openly intervene to protect the population of the Donbass from the inevitable genocide which the Ukronazis would have meeted out to the population of the LDNR.

How good was this plan? I would argue that it was a very solid plan which, for the USA, meant a win-win situation. Here is how it should have gone:

First, the Ukrainian forces would attack the LDNR, probably along three axes: one between the city of Gorlovka and Donetsk, one frontally attacking Donetsk proper, not to invade the city, but to tie down LDNR forces in protection of their capital, and one in the south with the aim of reaching the Russian border. This way, the LDNR defenders would have to defend their capital while, at the same time, risking envelopment on two axes. Remember that the LDNR has no strategic depth (Donetsk is practically on the frontline) and that the LDNR defenders could not trade space for time.

I have seen some “experts” saying that since the Ukrainians have laid down a very large number of mines they are clearly not going to attack since they would lose time – and possibly men – to cross these minefields. First, there is no way of knowing if these mines are real or fake (many mines also have a timer anyway) but, second, more crucially: an attacking force always wants to concentrate in one specific location of the line of contact, which means that the attacking forces has to not only attack, but also protect herself from enemy counter-attacks: minefields are very effective at providing this sort of protection. The “defensive” moves can, and do, in reality, form an integral part of any offensive plans.

Of course, The Big Question was this: could the LDNR forces stop the Ukronazis? There are those who say that yes, and those who say no. Rather than suggesting an answer, let’s look at both of these outcomes:

Option 1: the LDNR forces successfully stop the Ukrainian invasion:

That would be, by far, the best outcome for Russia, but for the LDNR this outcome, while better than a defeat, would probably result in a lot of deaths and destruction. We know that both the Ukrainian military and the LDNR forces have been profoundly reformed and restructured since 2014. Crucially, the LDNR forces went from being self-organized and disparate militias to a conventional military force capable of operational level combined arms operations. Would that be enough to stop a larger Ukrainian force? Possibly. But this is by no means certain, not only because war is an unpredictable thing to begin with, but also because we really have no way of knowing how well the Ukrainian military was reformed. If what they got was the same type of “training” as the Georgians in the years leading up to 08.08.08 then there is a good cause to doubt it. LDNR leaders, however, did not engage in bravado and silly flag-waving and they took the threat very seriously, which tells us that they were by no means certain of what might happen next. Now let’s look at option 2:

Option 2: the LDNR defenses eventually collapse in one or even several locations:

What if the LDNR forces failed to stop the Ukrainians? At this point, Russia would have absolutely no choice but to intervene to save the people of the Donbass (more than half a million of which already have Russian passports!). I won’t discuss here the options a LDNR+Russia counter-attack would have or how much Ukronazi-occupied land Russia could or should liberate (that is not the topic here). In this case, two things are absolutely certain:

  1. Russia would comprehensively defeat any combination of Ukrainian forces.
  2. The US/NATO would declare a state of quasi war with Russia and create something similar to the Berlin Wall along whatever line of contact would result from a Russian counter-attack.

In this scenario, the biggest loser would, of course, be the Ukraine. But the next loser would be Russia, because instead of “just” dealing with a nutcase Nazi regime next door, Russia would now face a hysterically paranoid and russophobic consolidated West. At the end of such a war, Russia would face something similar to what happened at the end of the Korean war: a ceasefire followed by decades of tensions.

The big winner would be the USA: its main instrument for the colonization of Europe (NATO) would finally find itself a purpose in life (stop the Russians, of course), NS2 and other cooperation between the EU and Russia would all but totally freeze, making the European economy non-competitive against the US, and the US MIC would have a great time selling very expensive, if not very effective, military hardware to all the the European countries. And that strategic US victory would not cost the US a single soldier! What’s there not to like about this?

Well, for Russia this would be a very bad outcome. Yes, Russia has the means to take on both the US and NATO militarily, but politically and economically, this would hurt Russian interests, not critically, but substantially.

Then, there is this: the Ukraine is a thoroughly deindustrialized failed state, worse than many African countries. While there was a lot of window-dressing going on both inside the Ukraine and in the West’s legacy media, the COVID pandemic and its horrible consequences inside the Ukraine became impossible to conceal or deny, especially to the Ukrainian people themselves. Right now, the entire Ukraine is like a vase in a store: if you break it, you own it and you must fix it. Even if we exclude an outcome where the Russian tanks stop at the western borders of the Ukraine and take a middle-of-the-road option where the Russians stop at the Dnieper river, this would have huge consequences for the Russians, including:

  1. The frontline between the Ukronazis and the LDNR+Russian forces would be massively stretched becoming much longer, yet every kilometer of that line of contact would have to be protected. This begs the question: protected by whom?
  2. The Russian side would suddenly inherit several large cities (Chernigov, Kharkov, Poltava, Dnepropetrovsk, Zaporozhia, Mariupol, Berdiansk, etc.). Not only would the Russians have to clear these cities from Ukrainian insurgents and stay-behind forces, but Russia would also have to rebuild them and feed a population much larger than the current population of the LDNR.
  3. The Russian economy simply cannot bear the burden of what is currently a Nazi run Ukraine which has turned into a massive black hole sucking in huge ressoures and never letting anything leave (except emigrating Ukrainians). At best, Russia is currently investing billions of rubles to rebuild Crimea (which the Nazis always hated and neglected – except to build themselves mansions on the Black Sea) while barely keeping the LDNR afloat.

It is the consolidated West (US+UK+EU) which destroyed the Ukraine, and the Russians will capitalize on this by making the West responsible for fixing what it broke, and that won’t happen since the EU does not have the means to do it right now while the USA is not directly threatened by this situation and thus has no reasons to intervene beyond making sure that the regime in Kiev remains a) rabidly anti-Russian and b) totally under the control of the USA.

Thus, neither option 1 nor option 2 were desirable for Russia. So Putin created option three.

Putin’s option 3:

In response to the seemingly unstoppable escalation towards war was something nobody in the West expected: Putin used the pretext of regularly scheduled military exercises to quickly and dramatically increase the Russian capabilities near the Ukraine: Russia moved two Armies (58th and 41st) and three Airborne Divisions (7th76th and 98th) towards Russia’s western regions (including Crimea). The Russians also moved almost their entire Caspian Flotilla into the Black Sea. More Russian warships entered the Black Sea through the Bosphorus. Next, all six advanced 636.3 type diesel-electric submarines (possibly the quietest on the planet, at normal cruising speed they produce less noise than the surrounding environment, turning them into acoustic black holes) went on patrol. Finally, Russia deployed her coastal defense missile systems Bal and Bastion, turning the entire Black Sea into a Russian shooting range). And, crucially, Russia did all that very publicly, in broad daylight, officially announcing her military moves and not even bothering with any type of camouflage or deception.

To those ignorant of military realities this looked like Russia was “threatening the Ukraine”. This is absolute nonsense. All Russia needs to do to threaten the Ukraine is to remind the Ukrainians that Russian long range weapons are enough to obliterate the Ukrainian military and that Russia can use these standoff weapons without moving any forces at all. No, the real object of these Russian moves was not the Ukraine, but the West itself, especially any western force crazy enough to decide to enter the war and militarily help the Ukraine. Why? Here again, I will offer my view of how this situation might have evolved:

  1. First, the Ukrainians attack the LDNR. LDNR forces take the initial blow and try to contain the Ukrainian advance.
  2. The Russians declare a no-fly zone over the area of operations and strikes the advancing Ukrainian forces with her formidable firepower. The outcome here is not in doubt.
  3. NATO+EU nations decide to intervene, say by sending several Polish battalions into the Ukraine. US+UK forces conduct reconnaissance operations by flying near (or even over) the line of contact and by sending special forces. After a few warnings (or not), the Russians decide to shoot down one of these intelligence aircraft or drones. The West decides to “show solidarity” by engaging in cyber-attacks against Russia, imposing even more sanctions and by airlifting even more forces into the Western Ukraine.

At this point, the US+NATO+EU and Russia would be at the brink of a major war. But here is the crucial thing: by moving two armies and three airborne divisions (a huge force, way bigger and more capable than any combo of NATO forces!) so quickly Russia, proved to NATO that she can quickly achieve a huge numerical advantage anywhere any NATO force might decide to attack. Conversely, no NATO nation has the ability to concentrate its conventional forces so quickly and on any point along the frontline.

Comparing force sizes is engaging in “bean counting” and is useless. It really does not matter very much how big a force is, what matters is the force ratios along key sectors of the FEBA or the front (assuming there is a “front”, which sometimes does not really exist) and at a specific moment in time.

Also, keep in mind that, unlike most western airborne forces, Russian airborne forces are fully mechanized, they even have some tanks, plenty of armored vehicles, their own artillery and an ability to move very very quickly (remember the Rusbat in Bosnia going to Pristina almost overnight?). Western airborne forces are attack forces designed to enforce the western imperial hegemony worldwide, so they have to be much lighter. The Russians have no need to send airborne forces across the border, they need them to defend Russia and to be deployed within less than about 1000km from the main Russian forces. Thus, Russia “sacrificed” their strategic mobility of her airborne forces to give them a tactical and operational mobility and firepower which western airborne forces can’t even dream about. So what could these three divisions do in the context of a Ukrainian attack?

Well, they could do what they are mostly designed to do, deploy behind enemy lines, destroy (or hold) strategic targets (like bridges, power stations, missile bases, etc.) hold some strategic location or present a threat from the rear to the Ukrainains. But that overlooks the major reform the Russian AB forces have undergone. They are also really high mobility and high readiness forces which, for example, could be deployed to protect the Russian peacekeeping force in Transnistria (such a move would also be protected by the long range fire capabilities of both the Black Sea Fleet and the Russian Aerospace Forces). Russian AB units could also be deployed in the Ukrainian rear to create chaos and disrupt the Ukrainian supply lines. Finally, any Polish force threatening to intervene could be quickly attacked and destroyed. Again, that would enrage the Western politicians, and it is at this moment that the Russians could move her armies across the border to show that any combo of western forces would be annihilated. This would leave the West only two options: fold or go nuclear. And going nuclear does not seem to be an option the West wants to exercise, hence folding would be the only viable option. So far (things might change in the future, who knows how crazy NATO can act?).

Finally, Putin spoke directly to the West in his speech before the Federal Assembly when he said:

The meaning and purpose of Russia’s policy in the international arena – I will just say a few words about this to conclude my address – is to ensure peace and security for the well-being of our citizens, for the stable development of our country. Russia certainly has its own interests we defend and will continue to defend within the framework of international law, as all other states do. And if someone refuses to understand this obvious thing or does not want to conduct a dialogue and chooses a selfish and arrogant tone with us, Russia will always find a way to defend its stance.

At the same time, unfortunately, everyone in the world seems to be used to the practice of politically motivated, illegal economic sanctions and to certain actors’ brutal attempts to impose their will on others by force. But today, this practice is degenerating into something even more dangerous – I am referring to the recently exposed direct interference in Belarus in an attempt to orchestrate a coup d’état and assassinate the President of that country. At the same time, it is typical that even such flagrant actions have not been condemned by the so-called collective West. Nobody seemed to notice. Everyone pretends nothing is happening.

But listen, you can think whatever you like of, say, Ukrainian President [Viktor] Yanukovych or [Nicolas] Maduro in Venezuela. I repeat, you can like or dislike them, including Yanukovych who almost got killed, too, and removed from power via an armed coup. You can have your own opinion of President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko’s policy. But the practice of staging coups d’état and planning political assassinations, including those of high-ranking officials – well, this goes too far. This is beyond any limits.

Suffice it to mention the admission made by the detained participants in the conspiracy about a planned siege of Minsk, including plans to block the city infrastructure and communications, and a complete shutdown of the entire power system in the capital of Belarus! This actually means they were preparing a massive cyberattack. What else could it be? You know, you cannot just do it all with one switch.

Clearly, there is a reason why our Western colleagues have been stubbornly rejecting Russia’s numerous proposals to establish an international dialogue on information and cyber security. We have come up with these proposals many times. They avoid even discussing this matter.

What if there had been a real attempt at a coup d’état in Belarus? After all, this was the ultimate goal. How many people would have been hurt? What would have become of Belarus? Nobody is thinking about this.

Just as no one was thinking about the future of Ukraine during the coup in that country.

All the while, unfriendly moves towards Russia have also continued unabated. Some countries have taken up an unseemly routine where they pick on Russia for any reason, most often, for no reason at all. It is some kind of new sport of who shouts the loudest.

In this regard, we behave in an extremely restrained manner, I would even say, modestly, and I am saying this without irony. Often, we prefer not to respond at all, not just to unfriendly moves, but even to outright rudeness. We want to maintain good relations with everyone who participates in the international dialogue. But we see what is happening in real life. As I said, every now and then they are picking on Russia, for no reason. And of course, all sorts of petty Tabaquis are running around them like Tabaqui ran around Shere Khan – everything is like in Kipling’s book – howling along in order to make their sovereign happy. Kipling was a great writer.

We really want to maintain good relations with all those engaged in international communication, including, by the way, those with whom we have not been getting along lately, to put it mildly. We really do not want to burn bridges. But if someone mistakes our good intentions for indifference or weakness and intends to burn or even blow up these bridges, they must know that Russia’s response will be asymmetrical, swift and tough.

Those behind provocations that threaten the core interests of our security will regret what they have done in a way they have not regretted anything for a long time.

Putin very very rarely threatens, but when he does, people listen because they understand that his warnings are never a bluff and that when he promises something he has the means to realize his threat (in this case, 2 Combined Arms Armies and 3 Airborne Divisions, all backed by Russian long range and hypersonic weapons and, if all else fails, by the most modern and robust nuclear triad on the planet). As for what would be a Russian “red line”, Putin decided to deliberately leave this point ambiguous only saying that “I just have to make it clear, we have enough patience, responsibility, professionalism, self-confidence and certainty in our cause, as well as common sense, when making a decision of any kind. But I hope that no one will think about crossing the “red line” with regard to Russia. We ourselves will determine in each specific case where it will be drawn.” The point of this strategic ambiguity is to leave the West guessing when it is safe to make a move and when not. This very simply maximizes the deterrent effect of the rest of his speech.

And, today, the Russians have “clarified” that the Kerch strait are not close to traffic, not even Ukrainian traffic. “All” that Russia did was to declare some exclusion zones for military exercises purposes, but traffic under the Crimean Bridge remains open. Right. And how long will it take Russia to (truly) re-close that strait? Minutes. This unspoken threat is primarily a threat to the Ukrainians, showing them how easy it would be for Russia to sever their lines of communications should they threaten Russia.

Yes, Putin did win this round quite elegantly, without a single Russian soldier dying. But the problem is that this undeniable Russian success really solves nothing. All the causes which led the Ukronazi regime to bring the entire region to the edge of the abyss are still present. Inside the Ukraine nothing has changed and, if anything, things are even worse: total censorships of opposition TV channels, political persecutions (including torture and kidnappings), the same warlike rhetoric. The economy in in shambles and Ukrainians are emigrating by the millions (both to Russia and to the EU), the Nazi deathsquads continue to enjoy total impunity, and, of course, the total COVID catastrophe (the West gives the Ukies lethal weapons to use against Russian, but no vaccine, and way more people are dying from COVID in the Ukraine than are dying at the frontlines! These are “European” and “Western” “values” at work…)

Sure, it does appear that a combination of European reservations and the risk of the members of the ruling elite in Kiev to be physically eliminated by Russian strikes, possibly combined with a realization by the “Biden” Administration that a total blow-up in the Ukraine would strain US-European relations (there will be plenty of blame to go around) resulted in the current perceived deescalation.

Sadly, and in spite of the current reprieve, some kind of war between Russia and the Ukraine is still probably inevitable. Right now, the bulk of the Russian forces are returning to their normal areas of deployment, with, probably, some staying. We can also be sure that the Russians will have a major after action review to find out what went wrong and what needs to be changed. As a result, next time around, the Russian will move their forces even faster.

But what about the US, it’s NATO proxies and the Ukronazi regime?

The US is still scrambling to try to retake control of an international situation which has clearly gone totally out of hand for the wannabe world Hegemon. Even more importantly, the internal situation of the USA is truly critical with many very serious crises occurring simultaneously. Yes, there is also a lot of window-dressing in the US media, but most people see and know what is really going on. Which means that the US is as weak as it is unstable. Finally, judging by the low intellectual abilities of US decision makers, we should always expect something silly or even dangerous, or both, from this Administration for and by Woke-freaks (especially since “diversity” has now completely replaced “competence”).

NATO and the EU are in a bind. While some countries go “totally insane” (the Czech Republic and the usual 3B+PU) others are desperately trying to keep things together (Germany). As for the regime in Kiev, it is barely holding on to power and has no other options left than doubling down over and over and over again. Crucially, the junta in Kiev will continue to blame Russia for absolutely everything and anything (about 99% of what the Ukie political class does nowadays is hate on Russia and threaten to defeat Russia militarily).

None of that qualifies as “peace” in any meaningful sense of the word (people die everyday, almost all of them civilians). Worst of all, the same causes can only lead to the same outcomes, and there is very little anybody can do to change this. Thus, at best, what we are seeing is only a reprieve. But as long as a gang of Neo-Nazi thugs continues to hold power in Kiev, war will be a quasi inevitability. True peace will only come when the Ukronazis are either dead, or jailed or back in Canada. Until then there shall be no peace, only degrees of war.

Russian official statements about counter-actions to US sanctions

Russian official statements about counter-actions to US sanctions

16 April 202119:28

Foreign Ministry statement on measures in response to hostile US actions

The latest attack by the Biden administration against our country cannot go unanswered. It seems Washington is unwilling to accept that there is no room for unilateral dictates in the new geopolitical reality. Meanwhile, the bankrupt scenarios for deterring Moscow that the US myopically continues to pursue only promise to further degrade Russian-US relations.

In this context, the appeals from across the ocean to refrain from escalation and essentially accept this attempt to talk to us from a position of strength sound hypocritical. We have repeatedly warned and demonstrated in practice that sanctions and any other pressure will never succeed and will only have dire consequences for those who dare attempt such provocations.

We will introduce the following countermeasures in response to anti-Russian sanctions in the near future:

  •  Employees of US diplomatic missions will be expelled on a reciprocal basis in numbers proportional to the actions taken by the US authorities against Russian diplomats.
  • Incidentally, we noted how quickly Warsaw played up to the US administration by demanding the departure of three Russian diplomats from Poland. In turn, five Polish diplomats will be expelled from Russia.
  •  The US Embassy’s practice of using short-term trips by State Department staff to support the functioning of diplomatic missions will be restricted. The issuance of visas to them will be reduced to a minimum: up to 10 people per year on a reciprocal basis.
  •  In strict conformity with the Vienna conventions on diplomatic relations and Russian law, including the Labour Code, measures will be taken to discontinue completely the practice of US diplomatic missions employing citizens of the Russian Federation and third countries as administrative and technical staff.
  •  The bilateral 1992 memorandum of understanding on open ground is declared invalid due to systematic violations of rules for trips in the Russian Federation by employees of US diplomatic missions.
  •  Plans are in place to halt the activities in the Russian Federation of American foundations and NGOs controlled by the Department of State and other US government agencies. These consistent, long-term efforts will be brought to an end, all the more so since the United States shows no intention of scaling back its systematic subversive efforts underpinned by a wide array of laws.
  •  Obviously, this very tense situation objectively requires the ambassadors of our countries to be in their respective capitals to analyse developments and hold consultations.

These steps represent just a fraction of the capabilities at our disposal. Unfortunately, US statements threatening to introduce new forms of punishment show that Washington is not willing to listen and does not appreciate the restraint that we have displayed despite the tensions that have been purposefully fuelled since the presidency of Barack Obama.

Recall that after a large-scale expulsion of Russian diplomats in December 2016 and the seizure of Russian diplomatic property in the US, we did not take any response measures for seven months. We responded only when Russia was declared a US adversary legislatively in August 2017.

In general, compared to the Russian diplomatic missions in the United States, the US Embassy in Moscow operates in better conditions, enjoying a numerical advantage and actively benefitting from the work of Russian citizens hired in-country. This form of disparity frees up “titular” diplomats to interfere in our domestic affairs, which is one of the main tenets of Washington’s foreign policy doctrine.

Incidentally, soon the Foreign Ministry will publish on its website the names of eight incumbent and former high-ranking US officials and other figures involved in drafting and implementing anti-Russia policy. They will be permanently banned from entering the Russian Federation. This is our equivalent response to the sanctions against Russian officials that the US blacklisted last month.

Now is the time for the United States to show common sense and pull back from this confrontational course. Otherwise, the US will face a host of painful decisions, for instance, an order for US diplomatic missions to reduce personnel in Russia to 300 people. This will establish real parity at bilateral foreign offices because the US quota of 455 employees still includes the 155 people sent to the Russian Permanent Mission to the UN in New York. However, this has nothing to do with our bilateral mission.

There are also other options. Of course, we realise that we are limited in our ability to squeeze the Americans economically as they have us. However, we have some resources in this respect and they will also be used if Washington chooses to follow the path of spiraling sanctions.

None of this is our choice. We would like to avoid further escalation with the US. We are ready to engage in calm and professional dialogue with the US in order to find ways of normalising bilateral ties. However, the reality is that we hear one thing from Washington but see something completely different in practice. There must be no doubt – not a single round of sanctions will go unanswered.

We have obviously heard President Joe Biden express interest in stable, constructive and predictable relations with Russia, including a proposed Russian-US summit. When this offer was made, it was received positively and is now being considered in the context of concrete developments.

Press release on a ban on entry of certain US citizens into the Russian Federation

In response to the sanctions against Russian officials imposed by the US administration on March 2 of this year, the following incumbent and former US high-ranking officials and figures complicit in pursuing the anti-Russia policy, are denied entry to the Russian Federation:

  1. Merrick Brian Garland, United States Attorney General;
  2. Michael D. Carvajal, Director of the Federal Bureau of Prisons;
  3. Alejandro Nicholas Mayorkas, United States Secretary of Homeland Security;
  4. Susan Elizabeth Rice, Director of the United States Domestic Policy Council, former US Permanent Representative to the United Nations and National Security Advisor;
  5. Christopher Asher Wray, Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation;
  6. Avril Danica Haines, Director of US National Intelligence.

In addition, entry is denied to John Robert Bolton, former National Security Advisor to the United States President, former US Permanent Representative to the United Nations, and Robert James Woolsey Jr., former director of the US Central Intelligence Agency.

In view of the unprecedented complications in Russia-US relations provoked by Washington, it was decided to deviate from the usual practice of not making public the response measures taken by the Russian side.

The latest US moves against Russia (OPEN THREAD #11) UPDATED!!!

The latest US moves against Russia (OPEN THREAD #11) UPDATED!!!

April 15, 2021

Bad news all around today.  The US has just slammed provocative sanctions against Russia even though the US ambassador to Moscow was summoned to the Foreign Ministry and clearly told that if the US imposes more sanctions there will be no meeting between Putin and Biden.

Then there is this: the US has informed the Turkish authorities that they will not send two USN ships into the Black Sea.  This is politically a good sign, but in military terms, this is what the US should be doing if they were preparing for war.  Why?  Because any USN ship in the Black Sea at the moment of the initiation of a conflict would be sunk withing minutes: not only do the Russians have formidable missiles – Bal and Bastion – they had SIX advanced diesel-electric submarines of the 636.3 class ready to “greet” them.  Keep in mind that engaging submarines without air cover is another form of collective suicide.

So, the phone call was a deception and the US is still going down the road towards war with Russia.

In my professional opinion, what I see is a joint preparation by the Ukronazis and the USA (along with the UK and Poland) to attack the Donbass and force a conflict upon Russia.

Considering the extreme nature of these developments, I am reopening an open thread.

The Saker

PS: as for the Ukronazis, they have just used their heavy artillery (banned by the Minsk Agreements) to murder another civilian in his home.  They were apparently trying to disable an electric station (a typical move by US-trained militaries before an attack).

It is very hard for me to see how a war could be avoided.

UPDATE: Biden has just declared a national emergency in the USA in response to the Russian threat.  He will make a special address to the nation tonight.

Putin’s Ukrainian Judo

Putin’s Ukrainian Judo

Source

April 14, 2021

By Dmitry Orlov and posted with special permission

A terrible war is about to erupt on Russia’s border with the Ukraine—or not—but there is some likelihood of a significant number of people getting killed before project Ukraine is finally over. Given that around 13 thousand people have been killed over the past seven years—the civil war in the Donbass region of eastern Ukraine has gone on for that long!—this is no laughing matter. But people get desensitized to the mostly low-level warfare. Just over the past couple of weeks a grandfather was shot by a Ukrainian sniper while feeding his chickens and a young boy was killed by a bomb precision-dropped on him from a Ukrainian drone.

But what’s about to happen now is forecasted to be on a different scale: the Ukrainians are moving heavy armor and troops up to the line of separation while the Russians are moving theirs up to their side of the Ukrainian border, a position from which they can blast any and all Ukrainian troops straight out of the gene pool without so much as setting foot on Ukrainian territory—should they wish to do so. The Russians can justify their military involvement by the need to defend their own citizens: over the past seven years half a million residents in eastern Ukraine have applied for and been granted Russian citizenship. But how exactly can Russia defend its citizens while they are stuck in the crossfire between Russian and Ukrainian forces?

The rationale of defending its citizens led to conflict in the briefly Georgian region of South Ossetia, which started on August 8, 2008 and lasted barely a week, leaving Georgia effectively demilitarized. Russia rolled in, Georgia’s troops ran off, Russia confiscated some of the more dangerous war toys and rolled out. Georgia’s paper warriors and their NATO consultants and Israeli trainers were left wiping each others’ tears. Any suggestion of arming and equipping the Georgians since then has been met with groaning and eye-rolling. Is the upcoming event in eastern Ukraine going to be similar to the swift and relatively painless defanging of Georgia in 2008? Given that the two situations are quite different, it seems foolish to think that the approach to resolving them would be the same.

Is it different this time and is World War III is about to erupt with eastern Ukraine being used as a trigger for this conflagration? Do the various statements made at various times by Vladimir Putin provide a solid enough basis for us to guess at what will happen next? Is there a third, typically, infuriatingly Russian approach to resolving this situation, where Russia wins, nobody dies and everyone in the West is left scratching their heads?

The Ukrainian military is much like everything else currently found in the Ukraine—the railway system, the power plants, the pipeline systems, the ports, the factories (the few that are left)—a patched-up hold-over from Soviet times. The troops are mostly unhappy, demoralized conscripts and reservists. Virtually all of the more capable young men have either left the country to work abroad or have bribed their way out of being drafted. The conscripts sit around getting drunk, doing drugs and periodically taking pot shots into and across the line of separation between Ukrainian-held and separatist-held territories. Most of the casualties they suffer are from drug and alcohol overdoses, weapons accidents, traffic accidents caused by driving drunk and self-harm from faulty weapons. The Ukrainian military is also working on winning a Darwin award for the most casualties caused by stepping on their own land mines. As for the other side, many of the casualties are civilians wounded and killed by constant shelling from the Ukrainian side of the front, which runs quite close to population centers.

The Ukrainian military has received some new weapons from the US and some NATO training, but as the experience in Georgia has shown, that won’t help them. Most of these weapons are obsolete, non-updated versions of Soviet armaments from former East Bloc but currently NATO nations such as Bulgaria. These really aren’t of much use against an almost fully rearmed Russian military. A lot of the Ukrainian artillery is worn out and, given that Ukrainian industry (what’s left of it) is no longer able to manufacture gun barrels, artillery shells or even mortar rounds, this makes the Ukrainian military quite literally the gang that can’t shoot straight. It’s a great day for them if they manage to hit a kindergarten or a maternity clinic and most of the time they are just cratering up the empty countryside and littering it up with charred, twisted metal.

In addition to the hapless conscripts and reservists there are also some volunteer battalions that consist of hardcore Ukrainian nationalists. Their minds have been carefully poisoned by nationalist propaganda crafted thanks to large infusions of foreign (mostly American) money. Some of them have been conditioned to think that it was the ancient Ukrs who built the Egyptian pyramids and dug the Black Sea (and piled the left-over dirt to build the Caucasus mountain range). These may or may not be more combat-capable than the rest (opinions vary) but, much more importantly, they are a political force that the government cannot ignore because they can quite literally hold it hostage. They have been known for stunts such as shelling the offices of a television channel whose editorial policies they found disagreeable and physically assaulting a busload of opposition activists.

It is these Ukro-Nazi zealots that stand directly in the way of any peaceful settlement of the situation in eastern Ukraine and an inevitable eventual rapprochement between the Ukrainians and Russia. There is a deep and abiding irony in that these über-antisemitic Ukro-Nazis are about to be ordered into battle against Russia by a Jewish comedian (Vladimir Zelensky, president) who got elected thanks to a Jewish oligarch (Igor “Benny” Kolomoisky). Are they going to be annihilated? Quite possibly, yes. Will their annihilation make Ukraine and the world a better place? You be the judge. To the Russians these Nazi battalions are just a bunch of terrorists and, as Putin famously put it, it is up to him to send terrorists to God and then it is up to God to decide what to do with them. But there is a more efficient strategy: let them remain somebody else’s problem. After all, these Nazi battalions have almost zero ability to threaten Russia. Eventually the Europeans will realize that the Ukraine must be denazified, at their own expense, of course, with Russia offering advice and moral support.

To understand where this Ukrainian nationalist menace came from without venturing too far down the memory hole, it is enough to appreciate the fact that at the end of World War II some number of Ukrainian war criminals who fought on the side of the Nazis and took part in acts of genocide against Ukrainian Jews and Poles found a welcoming home in the US and in Canada, where they were able to feather their nests and bring up the next several generations of Ukrainian Nazis. After the collapse of the USSR, they were reintroduced into the Ukraine and given political support in the hopes of thoroughly alienating the Ukraine from Russia. In the course of serial color revolutions and unending political upheaval and strife they were able to become prominent, then dominant, in Ukrainian political life, to a point that they can now hold the Ukrainian government hostage whenever it fails to be sufficiently belligerent toward Russia, to maintain strict anti-Russian censorship in the media and to physically threaten anyone who voices disagreement with them.

Russophobia and belligerence toward Russia are, in turn, all that is currently required of the Ukraine by its US and EU masters, who wish to portray the Ukraine as a bulwark against a supposedly aggressive Russia but in reality wish to use it as an anti-Russian irritant and to use it to contain (meaning to restrict and frustrate) Russia economically and geopolitically. To this end the Ukrainian school curriculum has been carefully redesigned to inculcate hatred of all things Russian. The Ukraine’s Western mentors think that they are constructing a pseudo-ethnic totalitarian cult that can be used as a battering ram against Russia, along the lines of Nazi Germany but with much tighter external political control, or, to use a more recent, updated CIA playbook, along the lines of Al Qaeda and its various offshoots in the Middle East.

The rationale that’s used to serve up all this is “countering Russian aggression.” But it is inaccurate to describe Russia as aggressive. It is much closer to the truth to describe it as, by turns, assimilative, protective and insouciant. It is assimilative in that you too can apply for a Russian citizenship based on a number of criteria, the most important of which is cultural: you need to speak Russian, and to do so convincingly you have to assimilate culturally. If an entire Russian-speaking region starts waving the Russian tricolor at rallies, singing the Russian anthem and then holds a referendum where a convincing majority votes to rejoin Russia (97% in Crimea in 2014), then Russia will annex that territory and defend it. And if lots of people in a Russian-speaking region individually apply for Russian citizenship, swear allegiance to Russia and are issued Russian passports, then Russia will try to defend them individually against attack.

All would be sweetness and light with this scheme of voluntary accession if certain Russian regions didn’t periodically start demanding independence or if the Russians themselves didn’t periodically shed their self-important and ungrateful dependents. As this has happened, Russia has granted them sovereignty, which, more often than not, they didn’t know what to do with. At various times, Russia has freely bestowed national sovereignty on a whole slew of countries: Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Belarus, the Ukraine, Moldova, Bulgaria, Rumania, Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kirghizia, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan… For some of them, it granted them sovereignty several times over (Poland seems to be the prize-winner in that category). The political elites of these countries, having become used to suckling at Mother Russia’s ample bosom, naturally look for someone new to invade and/or liberate them and then to feed them.

After the collapse of the USSR, their new masters naturally became the US and the EU. But as these newly sovereign nations soon found out, not as much milk has flowed in their direction from their new masters, and some of them have started casting furtive glances toward Russia again. The twentieth century was a confusing time for many of these countries, and many of them are puzzled to this day as to whether at any given time they were being occupied or liberated by Russia. Let us consider, as a mini case study, the three Baltic mini-nations of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. With the exception of the Lithuanians, who had their 15 minutes of fame during their brief late-medieval dalliance with Poland, these three ethnic groups never made good candidates for sovereign nations. They were first dominated by the Germans, then by the Swedes.

Then Peter the Great purchased their lands from the Swedes with silver coin, but after that they continued to toil as serfs for their German landlords. But then in mid-19th century the Russian Empire abolished serfdom, starting with Estonian and Latvian serfs as an experiment. It then introduced compulsory schooling, wrote down the local languages, and invited the more promising native sons to come and study at St. Petersburg. This started them on the way toward developing a national consciousness, and what a headache that turned out to be!

While the Russian Empire held together they remained under control, but after the Russian Revolution they gained independence and swiftly turned fascist. As World War II neared, the Soviet leadership became justifiably concerned over having little pro-Nazi fascist states right on their border and occupied/liberated them. But then as the Germans advanced and the Red Army retreated, they were re-occupied by the fascists/liberated from the communists. But then as the Germans retreated and the Red Army advanced, they were re-occupied/re-liberated again and became, for a time, exemplary Soviet Communists.

And so they remained, occupied/liberated, being stuffed full of Soviet-built schools, hospitals, factories, roads, bridges, ports, railways and other infrastructure—until the USSR collapsed. They were the first to demand independence, singing songs and holding hands across all three republics. Since then they have squandered all of their Soviet inheritance and have progressively shed population while serving as playgrounds for NATO troops who get a special thrill, I suppose, by training right on Russia’s border. Their political elites made a tidy little business of Russophobia, which pleased their new Western masters but gradually wrecked their economies. Having reached their peak during the late Soviet era, they are now hollow shells of their former selves.

And now, lo and behold, an embarrassingly large chunk of their populations is pining after the good old Soviet days and wants better relations with Russia (which, in the meantime, seems to have largely forgotten that these Baltic statelets even exist). Their political elites would want nothing more than for Russia to occupy/liberate them again, because then they could be rid of their noisome constituents and move to London or Geneva, there to head up a government in exile and work on plans for the next round of occupation/liberation.

To their horror, they are now realizing that Russia has no further use for them, while their new masters at the EU are sinking into a quagmire of their own problems, leaving them abandoned with no kind master to care for them and to feed them. They thought they had signed up to administer a vibrant new democracy using free money from the EU, but instead they are now stuck administering a depopulating, economically stagnant backwater peopled by ethnic relicts. In eras past, they would have only had to wait until the next wave of barbarian invasion from the east. The barbarians would slaughter all the men, rape and/or kidnap all the prettier women, and the naturally recurring process of ethnogenesis would start again. But now there are a dozen time zones of Russia to their east and no hope at all of any more barbarian invasions, so all they can do is drink a lot and, by turns, curse the Russians and the Europeans.

The situation is much the same throughout Eastern Europe, in a great arc of semi-sovereign, pseudo-sovereign and (in the case of the Ukraine) faux-sovereign nations from the Baltic to the Black Sea and on to the Caspian Sea and beyond. The many serial occupations/liberations have given their political elites a wonderful weathercock-like quality: one moment they are wearing Nazi insignia and heiling Hitler and the next moment they are good Soviet Communists reciting the 10 Commandments of the Builders of Communism. The Ukraine (getting back to it, finally) is no different in this respect but different in another: by no stretch of the imagination is it even a nation, or a combination, assemblage or grouping of nations; it is, strictly speaking, an accidental territorial agglomeration. As a failed attempt to create a monoethnic nation-state it is a chimera.

The following map, labeled “Dynamics of agglomeration of Ukrainian territories,” shows the process in detail. The toponym “Ukraine” (“Ukraina”) is most likely of Polish origin, meaning “border zone,” and it seems to have first become a thing in 1653 when the red-colored region below decided that it had had enough of Polish Catholic dominance and discrimination (its inhabitants being Orthodox Christians) and chose to rejoin Russia. The region became known as Malorossia, or Little Russia, and the yellow-colored districts were added to it over time. And then, after the Russian Revolution, came the big gift: Malorossia and neighboring districts were formed into the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic, and to make it something more than just a rural backwater Lenin saw it fit to lump in with it a number of Russian regions shaded in blue. It was this mistake that paved the way to the current impasse in what is but by all rights should never have been eastern Ukraine.

Then, right before, and again right after World War II Stalin lumped in the green-shaded western districts, which were previously part of he Austro-Hungarian Empire. Its inhabitants were Austrian, Polish, Hungarian, Rumanian and most of the rest, though initially Russian, had spent five centuries under foreign rule and spoke a distinctive, archaic dialect that served as the basis for creating the synthetic language now known as Ukrainian, while the rest of what is now Ukraine spoke Russian, Yiddish and a wide assortment of village dialects. It was this alienated group that was used as leavening to fashion a synthetic Ukrainian nationalism. In turn, Ukrainian Bolshevik leaders used this faux-nationalism to fashion the Ukraine into a regional power center within the USSR.

And then came the final mistake when Nikita Khrushchev, very much a product of the Ukrainian regional power center, paid it back for helping to promote him to the top job by giving it Russian Crimea—a move that was illegal under the Soviet constitution which was in effect at that time and a prime example of late Bolshevik political corruption that was undone in 2014 with great jubilation.

There are those who think that the solution to the Ukrainian problem is to take the Ukraine apart the same way it was put together. Behold the following map. Moving east to west, we have the Russian tricolor over Crimea (the only factual bit so far), then the flag of Novorussia covering all those territories that were arbitrarily lumped into the newly created Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic by Lenin in 1922. Further west we have the flag of the state of Ukraine. And to the west is the flag of the Right Sector, a nationalist party with distinct Nazi tendencies that is currently active in Ukrainian politics.

I believe that, with the exception of Crimea, this map may very well turn out to be complete and utter nonsense. It seems outlandish to think that the Ukrainian Humpty-Dumpty, which is in the process of being knocked off the wall most unceremoniously by just about everyone, including Russia, the EU and the US, is going to break apart into such tidy, historically justifiable pieces. For one thing, national borders don’t matter so much any more once you are east of the Russian border, all of Europe now being one big unhappy mess. With millions of Ukrainians trying to eke out a living by working in Russia, or Poland, or further West, the distinctions between the various bits of the Ukrainian territory they are from are just not that meaningful to anyone.

For another, all of the Ukraine is now owned by the same bunch of oligarchs whose fortunes are tightly integrated with those of transnational corporations and of Western financial institutions. None of them care at all about the people that once inhabited this region and their varied histories and linguistic preferences. They care about translating economic and financial control directly into political control with a minimum of diplomatic politesse. The Ukraine has been in the process of being stripped bare of anything valuable for 30 years now, up to and including its fertile soil, and once there is nothing left to loot it will be abandoned as a wild field, largely uninhabited.

But we are not quite there yet, and for now the only map that really matters is the following one, which shows the two separatist regions of Donetsk and Lugansk, collectively known as Donbass, short for Donetsk Basin, a prolific coal province that was mainly responsible for fueling the Ukraine’s former industrial might, which to this day continues to produce anthracite, a valuable, energy-rich coal that is now scarce in the world. It is that relatively tiny but densely populated sliver of land along the Russian border, less than 100km across in many places, that is the powder keg that some believe may set off World War III.

The Ukrainian military has been massing troops and armor along the line of separation while the Russian military has pulled up its forces to their side of the border. Shelling, sniper fire and other provocations from the Ukrainian side are intensifying, with the hope of provoking the Russians into moving forces onto Ukrainian territory, thus allowing the collective West to shout “Aha! Russian aggression!” Then they could put a stop to Nord Stream II pipeline, scoring a major geopolitical victory for Washington and follow that up with plenty of other belligerent moves designed to hurt Russia politically and economically.

For the Russians, there are no good choices that are obvious. Not responding to Ukrainian provocations and doing nothing while they shell and invade the cities of Donetsk and Lugansk, killing Russian citizens who live there, would make Russia look weak, undermine the Russian government’s position domestically and cost it a great deal of geopolitical capital internationally. Responding to Ukrainian provocations with overwhelming military force and crushing the Ukrainian military as was done in Georgia in 2008 would be popular domestically but could potentially lead to a major escalation and possibly an all-out war with NATO. Even if militarily the conflict is contained and NATO forces sit it out, as they did in Georgia, the political ramifications would cause much damage to the Russian economy through tightened sanctions and disruptions to international trade.

Those being the obvious bad choices, what are the obvious good ones, if any? Here, we have to pay careful attention to the official pronouncements Putin has made over the years, and to take them as face value. First, he said that Russia does not need any more territory; it has all the land it could ever want. Second, he said that Russia will follow the path of maximum liberalization in granting citizenship to compatriots and that, in turn, the well-being of Russia’s citizens is a top priority. Third, he said that resolving the conflict in eastern Ukraine through military means is unacceptable. Given these constraints, what courses of action remain open?

The answer, I believe, is obvious: evacuation. There are around 3.2 million residents in Donetsk People’s Republic and 1.4 million in Lugansk People’s Republic, for a total of some 4.6 million residents. This may seem like a huge number, but it’s moderate by the scale of World War II evacuations. Keep in mind that Russia has already absorbed over a million Ukrainian migrants and refugees without much of a problem. Also, Russia is currently experiencing a major labor shortage, and an infusion of able-bodied Russians would be most welcome.

Domestically, the evacuation would likely be quite popular: Russia is doing right by its own people by pulling them out of harm’s way. The patriotic base would be energized and the already very active Russian volunteer movement would swing into action to assist the Emergencies Ministry in helping move and resettle the evacuees. The elections that are to take place later this year would turn into a nationwide welcoming party for several million new voters. The Donbass evacuation could pave the way for other waves of repatriation that are likely to follow. There are some 20 million Russians scattered throughout the world, and as the world outside Russia plunges deeper and deeper into resource scarcity they too will want to come home. While they may presently be reluctant to do so, seeing the positive example of how the Donbass evacuees are treated could help change their minds.

The negative optics of surrendering territory can be countered by not surrendering any territory. As a guarantor of the Minsk Agreements, Russia must refuse to surrender the Donbass to the Ukrainian government until it fulfills the terms of these agreements, which it has shown no intention of doing for seven years now and which it has recently repudiated altogether. It is important to note that the Russian military can shoot straight across all of Donbass without setting foot on Ukrainian soil. Should the Ukrainian forces attempt to enter Donbass, they will be dealt with as shown in the following instructional video. Note that the maximum range of the Tornado-G system shown in the video is 120km.

And should the Ukrainians care to respond by attacking Russian territory, another one of Putin’s pronouncements helps us understand what would happen next: if attacked, Russia will respond not just against the attackers but also against the centers of decision-making responsible for the attack. The Ukrainian command in Kiev, as well as its NATO advisers, would probably keep this statement in mind when considering their steps.

The Donbass evacuation should resonate rather well internationally. It would be a typical Putin judo move knocking NATO and the US State Department off-balance. Since this would be a large humanitarian mission, it would be ridiculous to attempt to portray it as “Russian aggression.” On the other hand, Russia would be quite within its rights to issue stern warnings that any attempt to interfere with the evacuation or to launch provocations during the evacuation process would be dealt with very harshly, freeing Russia’s hands in dispatching to God the berserkers from the Ukraine’s Nazi battalions, some of whom don’t particularly like to follow orders.

The West would be left with the following status quo. The Donbass is empty of residents but off-limits to them or to the Ukrainians. The evacuation would in no sense change the standing or the negotiating position of the evacuees and their representatives vis-à-vis the Minsk agreements, locking this situation in place until Kiev undertakes constitutional reform, becomes a federation and grants full autonomy to Donbass, or until the Ukrainian state ceases to exist and is partitioned. The Ukraine would be unable to join NATO (a pipe dream which it has stupidly voted into its constitution) since this would violate the NATO charter, given that it does not control its own territory.

Further sanctions against Russia would become even more difficult to justify, since it would be untenable to accuse it of aggression for undertaking a humanitarian mission to protect its own citizens or for carrying out its responsibilities as a guarantor of the Minsk agreements. The Donbass would remain as a stalker zone roamed by Russian battlefield robots sniping Ukrainian marauders, with the odd busload of schoolchildren there on a field trip to lay flowers on the graves of their ancestors. Its ruined Soviet-era buildings, not made any newer by three decades of Ukrainian abuse and neglect, will bear silent witness to the perpetual ignominy of the failed Ukrainian state.

History is as often driven by accident as by logic, but since we cannot predict accidents, logic is the only tool we have in trying to guess the shape of the future. Rephrasing Voltaire, this, then, is the best that we can expect to happen in this the best of all possible worlds.


My other writings are available at https://patreon.com/orlov and https://subscribestar.com/orlov. Thank you for your support.

Drums of war in the Ukraine: OPEN THREAD

Drums of war in the Ukraine: OPEN THREAD

April 02, 2021

Dear friends,

The situation around the Ukraine is very rapidly escalating and there are a lot of signs that everybody is preparing for some kind of crisis.  I would draw your attention to Andrei Martyanov’s blog and, specifically, this article of his: https://smoothiex12.blogspot.com/2021/04/they-neocons-may-have-anger-issues.html. I would also point you to this recent article on ZH: https://www.zerohedge.com/geopolitical/frightening-escalation-looms-russia-warns-nato-against-sending-any-troops-ukraine.

So far these are the key elements of what is taking place:

  1. First, the Ukronazis have moved a large force (infantry, armor, artillery, MLRS, etc.) close to the line of contact.
  2. Ukrainian forces have also penetrated into the “grey zone” which was supposed to remain neutral and separate both sides.
  3. Kiev has officially approved a doctrine which calls Russia the enemy.
  4. The Ukrainian Chief of Staff has admitted that the Ukrainian forces are forward deployed and in the highest state of readiness.
  5. The diversity-freaks who now run the US “diplomacy” have made numerous statements in full support of the Ukraine.
  6. NATO has failed to reach any consensus (Germany seems to be the main reason for this).
  7. The Poles are now openly provoking Russia by sending military ships (surface and one sub) and aircraft in the direct proximity to the Russian pipe-laying ships in the Baltic.  In one case, a Polish fishing vessel has even rammed a ship claiming “engine problems”.
  8. The French AFP reports that General Mark Milley spoke with General Valery Gerasimov, the Russian Armed Forces chief of staff, and General Ruslan Khomchak, chief of the general staff of the Armed Forces.
  9. Russia has been steadily reinforcing her western border and, especially, Crimea.
  10. The Donetsk People’s Republic has declared a mobilization of all her reserves.
  11. The internal situation of the Urkonazi occupied Banderastan is quickly degrading due to the pandemic, the infighting of various factions and the economic freefall.  What does the government do to counteract these problems?  Repeat “Russia!  Russia!  Russia!” like a mantra.
  12. There are consistent reports that NATO is either already on high alert or will soon be.

Things are going to move really fast now, so I am opening this open thread primarily to REPORT FACTS.  You are welcome to include a commentary, but please let’s not make this is the kind of “stream of consciousness” thread which trolls and low IQ folks seem to revel in.

Please note that I have updated the moderation rules (see here: http://thesaker.is/moderation-policy/) with the following rule: “Okay, I am fed up with all this idiotic “there is no pandemic” nonsense. So, from now on, any post denying that there is a pandemic will be removed and its author banned.”.  There are a gazillion of websites out there which will welcome such nonsense with open arms and a standing ovation – please make them happy and post that there, not on this blog.

I have asked the moderators to strictly enforce this rule.

Finally, this open thread is NOT to be used to discuss my evil censorship, the horrible rules I impose or how much you despise me.  There are other websites which will also welcome that with open arms.

Here, I get to set the topic and the topic today is the Ukraine, NOT my horrible COVID-gullibility.

Having clarified the above, I turn this thread over to you.

Kind regards

The Saker

Do these countries really want to be respected?

February 28, 2021

Do these countries really want to be respected?

Did they expect us to treat them with any respect?
Roger Waters (The Final Cut)

Long ago, I learned the hard way that what I call “professional ideologues” count every damn penny and I sure do NOT want you to post a full article of theirs, lest they threaten me with lawsuits (already happened twice): to them, money is far, far, more important than propagating any truths, believe me.  So I won’t post the full thing here, just a link to it.  You can read it there:

https://www.politico.eu/article/nord-stream-2-pipeline-has-damaged-the-west-enough-time-to-put-an-end-to-it/

What I do want to ask you, dear readers, do you think that these two clowns want their country to be treated with respect, or do they simply don’t care at all about things like dignity, respect, or honor?  How about the people who voted for these kind of governments?  Can’t they see how utterly pathetic it makes them look?

I met a lot of Poles and Ukrainians in my life and, if anything, I tend to find them mostly completely irrational about things pertaining to their national pride.  The Ukies, apparently, even rather die than accept a Russian-made vaccine (ask yourself, in the Soviet era, how many bad vaccines did the USSR export to eastern European countries?  The answer? Zero).  As for the Poles, they fancy themselves as the future “Intermarium superpower”!  And then they ask Trump to build them a US base for which they are even willing to pay for the military presence from a country which tries hard to blackmail Poland into paying for “Holocaust reparations”!

Dignity anybody?

And now this: their foreign ministers get together to beg Uncle Shmuel to protect them from North Stream 2.  Just look at this great quote from the said article:

We call on U.S. President Joe Biden to use all means at his disposal to prevent the project from completion“. (but do read the full thing, it is quite amazing).

Also, notice a typical “Polish wisdom”: seek out the protection of a (already agonizing) “ally” located thousands of miles away overseas, but do go directly against your two most powerful neighbors.  Genius!  Pure Polish genius!

To be fair, this could be seen as “progress”.  After all, the biggest Polish hero, Jozef Pilsudski, was hoping to occupy Moscow with Nazi Germany.  Asking Joe Biden for help against the accursed Russians is probably a tad smarter than asking Adolf Hitler.  But not by much, not by much…  (the outcome will be the same though).

The Polish and Ukrainian government have tried to turn total prostitution into a form of “resistance” against a “resurgent Russia”.  Don’t they know how that makes them look in the eyes of the Russian people (most of whom don’t even want to use the Russian military to liberate Novorussia, nevermind “invading” 3B+PU!)?

To be honest, this further convinces me that Russia should simply forget about both these countries and deal with the many mentally sane countries on this planet (I explained that in some details here).  On a personal level, I find most Poles very nice people, and I still do wish them (and the non-Nazi Ukrainians) well, but I also want my country to stop wasting *any* time, effort, energy, resources or patience with these countries.  They want to be left alone?  Great!  I agree.

The Ukraine is a different problem: most Ukrainians are, basically southern Russians, and it is pretty clear that those in the East and the South will have to, sooner or later, liberate themselves from the (truly) Nazi Banderastan which came to power in 2014.  I do believe, firmly, that Russia owes the Russian people of the Ukraine protection.  But once the East and the South are free again, Russia should simply reduce her diplomatic presence in the Ukraine and Poland and bring to the absolute minimum, or even terminate, all deals, agreements, treaties, etc.

Oh sure, Russia will loose some markets and some money.  Not that much though, not compared with the riches Russia has found in the South, the East and the North.  Furthermore, if you look at the benefit/liability ratio from a Russian point of view, it is the entire “West” which is not worth the effort, especially the spineless and clueless EU.  The USA, being a nuclear superpower, will remain an important interlocutor for Russia, agreed.  But the rest of them?  The UK?  Canada?

I say, let Russia begin with the 3B+PU, sever ties with them first.  Then, if Germany caves in and blocks the completion of NS2, I would server ties between Russia and Germany too.  I would keep ties with southern European countries like Italy, Spain, Serbia, but even those really ought to be conditional on some kind two-way mutually beneficial outcome for both parties.

Bottom line: Russia owes nothing to her neighbors or, for that matter, to any country on the planet.  She needs to always remember that.

I realize that the above might seem excessive to some, but judging by this interview of Lavrov (see below), I am inclined to think that even the most moderates of moderates are getting mighty fed up with the Europe, old and new.

The Saker

 ***

source

Vladimir Solovyov: Good afternoon, Mr Lavrov. Why was the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell “buried?”

Sergey Lavrov: Nobody “buried” Mr Borrell. He carried out the will of the EU member states. They determine EU policy. This is a lengthy and controversial process. On several occasions, some EU member states have told us in private that they are against sanctions and that they do not believe that Russia should be “punished” with sanctions. They know this is futile, but they act out of “solidarity,” or the consensus principle. I have said several times that as far as I understand it, the principle of consensus means that if someone disagrees, that means there’s no consensus. So far, I haven’t received an answer to this question.

Back to Mr Borrell, he was visiting us mindful of the complex environment surrounding his plans. Many were against his visit and publicly stated that he should not be going to Russia unless we “put right the wrongs.” In the end, they agreed upon the approaches that Mr Borrell was supposed to make known to us.

This is not the first time – and this applies not only to Mr Borrell, but to his predecessors as well (before him there was Federica Mogherini, and before her there was Catherine Ashton), they were unable to discuss things. When Mr Borrell read out the position regarding Mr Navalny, I put forward our counterarguments. The EU’s position is that we have made him a political prisoner, and this is unrelated to accusations against him. And that all of that constitutes a violation of human rights and Russia, as a party to numerous conventions on human rights, including the European Convention on Human Rights, must release him and respect his rights. But Russia has laws that must be respected. By the way, I notified the High Representative that if he presents this matter from this angle during a news conference, I will respond by mentioning the Catalans sentenced to 12 years or more in prison for organising the referendum on Catalonia’s independence. We were accused of organising this referendum, but no one presented a single piece of evidence, nothing even remotely close to the facts. So it happened.

With regard to human rights, I reminded Mr Borrell that we expressed our willingness to conduct a substantive dialogue on this matter a long time ago. However, first, it must be based on facts and, second, it needs to be a two-way street. If human rights are a recognised topic without borders, and states cannot hide behind their borders when discussing human rights, let’s agree on what human rights are. There’s a list of these rights, which are primarily socioeconomic rights. The right to life is the most important one. But the West strongly opposes the idea of discussing socioeconomic rights.

Vladimir Solovyov: Why do you deny Navalny and his brother the right to rip off the French company Yves Rocher?

Sergey Lavrov: This is what I told High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell. I said that we did not pledge to protect those who did commercial damage to an EU company, Yves Rocher. There is factual information about this, about how the French company was lured to accept transportation and logistics services at 30 percent above the prices it had paid before, and how this was done by a one-man firm, which hired a subcontractor and transferred the money to the accounts of another company whose stakeholders are well known.

Vladimir Solovyov: And he did not give any response to that? Was he pretending not to understand you?

Sergey Lavrov: Mr Josep Borrell definitely has a clear understanding of the matter. But I would like to repeat that the High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, however serious his title may sound, has no room for manoeuvre. He is acting within very tight limits.

Vladimir Solovyov: Did he make any positive suggestion, or was it just a call for surrender?

Sergey Lavrov: We ultimately found a constructive agenda. The High Representative himself proposed focusing on the subjects where we can help each other and find a balance of interests. These subjects are climate change, protecting the interests, economies and population of our countries to the best of our ability in the context of this natural hazard, as well as the issues of healthcare, science and technology. I believe that this is enough to make headway. I reminded him that we have been marking time for over two years on the extension of the Russian-EU intergovernmental agreement on cooperation in science and technology. The problem is that the EU wants the agreement to mention that Crimea is not part of the Russian Federation. The choice is between addressing the current aspects of our economic relations and promoting cutting-edge technology, and being stuck on this problem.

Vladimir Solovyov: Why has Europe decided that it can pose as a moral leader with a right to lecture us? Have they forgotten about the tragedy of Yugoslavia? And, speaking about Navalny, we can remind them about Julian Assange whom nobody is discussing any longer. You mentioned the three political prisoners in Spain, to which they have replied arrogantly that there are no political prisoners, only imprisoned politicians in Spain. Immediately after that, Carles Puigdemont remarked that there are not three but nine of them in Spain.

Sergey Lavrov: Incidentally, when all this happened, Carles Puigdemont and his associates were in Belgium, and several others were in Germany. The Belgian and German law authorities said the charges brought against them were politically motivated, but the Spanish authorities replied that they have their own laws, which must be respected. When I cited this argument during the meeting with High Representative Borrell, adding that we have our own laws as well, he started saying again that Navalny had been sentenced illegally, for political reasons, and that his rights had been infringed upon. We also talked about the rallies which Navalny and his team members, who are currently living abroad, organised actively and with provocative goals. Mr Borrell complained that a thousand people have been detained and many of them have been prosecuted, and that the right to peaceful protest is being rudely trampled on in Russia. He was especially concerned about the three expelled diplomats. His team told him about them while we were having lunch.

Vladimir Solovyov: He didn’t express his concern immediately, did he?

Sergey Lavrov: He told me when we were leaving the room that he was seriously concerned.

Vladimir Solovyov: Did you know that the diplomats were being expelled?

Sergey Lavrov: Yes, we knew this.

Vladimir Solovyov: It was not timed for Mr Borrell’s visit?

Sergey Lavrov: No, of course not. The decision was made when the identities of the diplomats who took part in protest rallies were established. And then they started wailing that the diplomats, who were just doing their job and carrying out their professional duty, had been detailed illegally and accused of what they did not do, that is, that they did not take part in the illegal rallies. We reminded them that the rally was not just unapproved and uncoordinated, but that its organisers did not even plan to request permission for it. Moreover, Leonid Volkov said publicly many times that they would not request permission but would simply take to the streets. In itself, this is more than just a breach of the law; it is an action designed to humiliate the state. If you believe that taking to the streets in this situation is your professional duty, you are not diplomats but provocateurs.

Vladimir Solovyov: Plus, no one has canceled the pandemic restrictions yet.

Sergey Lavrov: International conventions, including Vienna conventions of 1961 and 1963 on diplomatic and consular relations, bilateral conventions and, by all means, our conventions with Estonia and Sweden, firmly stipulate the fundamental truth that diplomats enjoy immunity and privileges, but must respect the host country’s laws and rules. The law was violated in the first place when the permit to hold a rally was not requested. The rules were violated as well since there is a presidential executive order and Moscow Mayor Sergey Sobyanin’s order on epidemiological restrictions that remain in effect. The same restrictions apply in St Petersburg and other cities. That is, both laws and rules have been violated.

Vladimir Solovyov: You also gave them a USB flash drive to keep them in the loop of what’s happening in Europe, didn’t you?

Sergey Lavrov: This flash drive can be updated literally daily. There’s a wave of protests in Poland now that are being brutally suppressed with batons and water cannons. The EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy said that he did not have the chance to watch the contents of the flash drive before his talks in Moscow, but promised to do so afterwards.

Vladimir Solovyov: Did you send it to him before the talks?

Sergey Lavrov: Yes, a couple of days in advance. I’m sure they watched it. The fact that he declined to discuss it saying he didn’t watch it goes to show that they realised they didn’t stand a chance in a candid dialogue with us. This awkward narrative from an arrogant standpoint, which was imposed on Mr Borrell in order for him to let it be known here, is being put into a certain philosophical and political context of the same geopolitical dimension. This is what happened when Josep Borrell was reporting back to the European Parliament and came up with the statements that Russia failed to live up to the expectations, a modern democratic society failed, economic ties with the EU collapsed, and we do not respect human rights and the like.

Vladimir Solovyov: Well, they are demanding that sanctions be imposed on us, aren’t they?

Sergey Lavrov: Yes, they are.

Vladimir Solovyov: I’m one of those who they want to see included on the sanctions list.

Sergey Lavrov: You are in good company.

Vladimir Solovyov: A good company, indeed. I will be the first journalist in history to be sanctioned against.

Sergey Lavrov: Not necessarily. That depends on what you call sanctions. RT and Sputnik correspondents cannot get an accreditation in Paris. I found out recently that one of our media outlets filed a lawsuit against the state for not being allowed to attend a news conference by President Vladimir Putin. Their argument was that, according to the law, if all the requirements are met, the accreditation must be provided. I’m not aware of these subtleties, but I know that this year’s news conference is being held in compliance with the pandemic requirements. It’s a fact that, without any coronavirus, RT and Sputnik, despite direct requests to the French government, were denied access to the Elysee Palace. Of course, we should also bear in mind the situation with Sputnik in Estonia, where criminal cases were opened against the journalists.

Vladimir Solovyov: Yes, our guys find it hard to work in the United States as well. Recently, White House press secretary Jennifer Psaki came up with a boatload of god-knows-what…

Sergey Lavrov: Yes, but getting back to the allegation that we disappointed the EU, failed to live up to their expectations and are moving away from Europe, having adopted a deliberate course on self-isolation… Well, this is some kind of a kingdom of crooked mirrors.

The problems between us and the EU began a long time ago. They were testing our patience and good will. When the Baltic states and other East European countries were admitted to the EU in 2004, we asked them if they were sure those countries were mature enough to be admitted as responsible members of this progressive association. We were told that, of course, they still have some holdover phobias from their past in the Soviet Union, but rest assured that as soon as they become EU and NATO members, they will calm down and no longer have reasons for these phobias. Nothing of the kind. The exact opposite happened and they became the most zealous Russophobes and are pushing the EU to adopt Russophobic positions. On many issues, the EU position dictated by solidarity is determined by an aggressive Russophobic minority.

Vladimir Solovyov: Why did they choose Germany and why Navalny?

Sergey Lavrov: I think he just came their way. It if was not Navalny, it would be something else. Clearly, he was being prepared for that quite seriously, if you think about preparations for the notorious film, which wouldn’t have been possible without the German authorities’ consent.

Vladimir Solovyov: Are you talking about personal data from the Stasi archives and Vladimir Putin’s photograph?

Sergey Lavrov: Yes, that too.

Vladimir Solovyov: But Maria Pevchikh, who had come from London to Moscow to accompany Navalny on his trip, during which she gave him his shirts, as Navalny said, and who allegedly brought back a certain water bottle, later disappeared.

Sergey Lavrov: She brought back more than one water bottle.

Vladimir Solovyov: In the process, they have either forgotten about the bottle or it has grown to the size of a whole water tank. She has openly accused you, saying that even the foreign minister doesn’t know that these documents are available in open access, that it is enough to write a letter.

Sergey Lavrov: She has even said, if I remember correctly, that she has filed such a request.

Vladimir Solovyov: Not so simple. She said that only a German citizen can do this. This makes one wonder who Maria Pevchikh is.

Sergey Lavrov: I have heard debates on this issue on the Rossiya channel.

Vladimir Solovyov: Thanks for watching us.

Sergey Lavrov: I can’t go to sleep otherwise.

Vladimir Solovyov: So much for the secret of ratings: dropping off with your TV set on.

Sergey Lavrov: To begin with, Maria Pevchikh has surrounded herself with mystery. Our German colleagues are helping her to keep up that mystery. First of all, nobody has seen her after she left on board that plane. The Russian Prosecutor General’s Office has bombarded its German colleagues with requests to honour their commitments under the agreements on assistance in legal matters. In particular, we also requested a meeting with Maria Pevchikh, to which our German colleagues replied that they don’t know her whereabouts. However, she wrote herself in social media that she had met with Navalny in Germany.

Vladimir Solovyov: She gave interviews.

Sergey Lavrov: Yes, she did. Navalny had several German security agents with him round the clock. We told the Germans about this, that she had been among the people at Berlin airport who came to see Navalny off before his flight to Moscow on January 17, 2021. But they don’t even allow us to talk with the doctors who provided medical treatment to Navalny and found traces of toxic agents in his samples.

Vladimir Solovyov: But the doctors didn’t find anything.

Sergey Lavrov: No, I mean the Bundeswehr doctors. They are doctors as well. We have pointed out on numerous occasions that if the Omsk doctors did not find anything, and the Charité doctors didn’t either, then the Charité doctors can also be accused of concealing evidence of Navalny’s poisoning.

A great deal has been said about the Bundeswehr. This does no credit to Germany as a country with a responsible attitude to its international commitments. First, they said there was one water bottle, and the request of the Prosecutor General’s Office mentioned it. Suddenly, they forgot about the bottle and started talking about clothing. Then they brought up the bottles again, this time three of them, claiming that traces of a toxic agent had been found on two of them. But the Germans, just as the French and Swedish experts who were allegedly asked to double check the results of German tests, and the Technical Secretariat of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) have not provided any information to us. They have refused to do this.

Vladimir Solovyov: I have read the OPCW’s report. It said plainly that they did not find any traces of a toxic agent but only “biomarkers of the cholinesterase inhibitor” in Navalny’s samples, which are not identical but “have similar structural characteristics” with certain toxic chemicals. And the report further says that this cholinesterase inhibitor is not on the list of toxic agents. Why do they keep saying “Novichok” and “toxic agent” then? The OPCW report doesn’t say so.

Sergey Lavrov: We have been told since the Skripal case that only the Soviet Union, and hence Russia, has the Novichok production technology. They completely disregard the facts which we provide and which are available in open access to the effect that over a hundred inventions related to the so-called Novichok formula have been registered in the United States.

Vladimir Solovyov: If I remember correctly, Hillary Clinton has confirmed this.

Sergey Lavrov: Yes, of course.

Vladimir Solovyov: This has also been confirmed by the Czech President.

Sergey Lavrov: True. Moreover, during the story with the Skripals’ poisoning, Germany was one of those who pointed the finger at us, saying that no other country could have the Novichok production technology. When the Bundeswehr found the traces of a substance similar to Novichok in Navalny’s samples, we asked them how they had been able to determine this if they told us themselves that they had never conducted such research. No reply.

Just note that the point at issue is not Navalny. This is not just a coordinated Western campaign of deterring Russia, but a campaign of aggressive deterrence.

Vladimir Solovyov: Why?

Sergey Lavrov: Because they don’t like it that we have our own views on global developments and that we openly express them and take practical actions to uphold them, unlike a huge number of other countries who have their own views as well but keep mum. I have talked with many ministers and other officials, as well as with members of civil society, who say that they don’t like what the West is doing.

Vladimir Solovyov: Are they afraid to say so?

Sergey Lavrov: Of course, they are. They are tied to the dollar, investments, and the children whose studies abroad are paid for with the money they keep there. It is a major damper on the elite’s ability to speak their minds. But we have no right to remain silent. Our history, our ancestors and our genetic blueprint do not allow us to stomach insults or unilateral attempts to dominate all and everything.

Vladimir Solovyov: I’m aware of what you personally think about this, so I can imagine your indignation caused by Navalny’s behaviour in court with regard to the veteran and this act of bullying … But the West turned a blind eye to this, too. After all, their emissaries were sitting in the courtroom and watching their underling do his thing.

Sergey Lavrov: Representatives of the embassies of Great Britain and France attended this particular court session. They were our allies during World War II. I will not even comment on this. Any decent person can clearly see what is going on. Returning to why it’s Navalny and not anything else, this “case,” in today’s parlance, is a deliberate act. The date of his return and the date of releasing the film make it all too obvious. But, look, now that there’s a wave of attacks on Russia, no one is talking about the “poisoning.” What they are saying is that Navalny has been illegally convicted and must be set free.

Vladimir Solovyov: This has already become imprinted in the public consciousness. This is a lie that has already taken root, same as with the Skripals.

Sergey Lavrov: That is why we will keep asking them questions. Recently, I received an open letter from Mr Kozak, a researcher, a biologist who lives in Switzerland. I answered him.

Literally today, we will be sending an official inquiry to the OPCW, Germany, France and Sweden with a request for them to comment on his findings made on the basis of the publications substantiating and analysing what happened to Navalny, the biomaterials that were obtained from him and tested in the West. From a purely scientific standpoint, he raises a number of questions related to biological and chemical science.

Vladimir Solovyov: I have read Mr Kozak’s papers and your answer. Interestingly, the Lancet documents show a blood test with lithium in it. I started looking closely at various papers on lithium and talked with the professionals. Interestingly, there have been several studies reporting the effect of excess lithium intake on cholinesterase inhibitors. It’s complicated. I’m not even talking about the diseases that are treated with lithium. Clearly, we need to consult psychiatrists about this. However, the complete silence from the other side is surprising. I don’t think Germany is a random choice. At one time, George Friedman from Stratfor wrote that the alliance between Russia and Germany represented an existential threat to the United States. The goal is to prevent an improvement in relations between our two countries. No one expected Germany to be part of this direct attack on Russia. After all, Navalny wasn’t taken to Porton Down in the UK. Germany was their first choice.

Surprisingly, this film, if we are talking about Gelendzhik, managed not to tell a single word of truth. Everything is 3D imagery. But the West got infected with this lie. They are doing their best not to see this debunked.

Sergey Lavrov: I’m sure that the United States does not need us to have good relations with Germany. The same goes for European countries. Britain doesn’t need this either. Just like the West didn’t need a united Germany at one time. The Soviet Union was the main proponent of a unified Germany.

Vladimir Solovyov: First, the preservation of Germany.

Sergey Lavrov: Yes. I’m already talking about modern times. The West was very worried back then and reluctantly agreed on reunifying Germany. We operated on the belief that the German people have the right to be one nation which is its historical destiny as a nation. Here’s something (which is funny) about double standards. When I mentioned this at the Munich Security Conference in 2015 and said that we were doing it then deliberately, understanding the German people’s aspirations, and stressed that it would be important for other countries to treat Crimea’s reunification with Russia in about the same vein – as a manifestation of the people’s will. There was a referendum in Crimea, but there was no referendum in Germany. The audience had a fit of hysterics. The German deputies yelled things like “How dare you compare these things!?” I can see this arrogance on the part of the Germans in recent years. You know, there is such a subtext. They are not saying it out loud, but the message is clear: “Dear friends, we have paid our bills, and we owe nothing to anyone anymore.”

Vladimir Solovyov: Hence, the revision of WWII outcomes and the attempt to equate the Soviet Union to Nazi Germany.

Sergey Lavrov: That’s true. A fairly large portion of their elite is pursuing this policy. There are people who want Germany to lose its every chance to enjoy normal cooperation with us. At the same time, there are still voices of sanity there. Recently, President of the Federal Republic of Germany Frank-Walter Steinmeier said it was always better to discuss things, to be mindful of the future and to operate based on national interests when tackling the most challenging issues. So far, he has been the only foreign politician to mention our past. He said that 2021 marked 80 years since Nazi Germany’s invasion of the Soviet Union. This is nothing short of political courage in modern Germany.

There are a number of public organisations, such as Potsdam Meetings, or the St Petersburg Dialogue forum. This date cannot go unnoticed. When Vladimir Putin was elected President for the first time, we declared the historic reconciliation of our nations. Now, when they are trying to pit us against each other (there are people who want to do so within Germany and outside it), this date could serve as an important psychological message to the effect that confrontational logic must be abandoned and everything should not be seen as an opportunity to impose more sanctions on Russia.

Speaking in the Bundestag, my German colleague Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said that Nord Stream 2 must be preserved, but only in order to have a lever to control Russia. Here again comes the logic of “who has an influence on whom.” It seems to me that the Soviet and Russian energy projects in Europe have always been a material foundation for positive interdependence. It’s always good when the countries depend on each other in terms of the economy. It makes overcoming many other issues easier. Mr Maas then said that Germany should consider sanctions against Russia over the case of Navalny, and “it’s okay” that they failed to achieve their goal earlier. Most importantly, a signal would be given that Moscow’s actions would not go unnoticed. Sanctions are imposed in order to feel satisfaction from the act of meting out “punishment.” But sanctions lead nowhere and cannot result in a change in our course on upholding our national interests.

Vladimir Solovyov: They lead to consolidation of our society.

Sergey Lavrov: What I’m saying is that they are not conducive to achieving the goals that the West has set for us.

Vladimir Solovyov: They do not understand our logic, our society. For example, Yulia Navalnaya suddenly flies to Germany, despite the coronavirus restrictions.

Sergey Lavrov: I’ve read about it. We could ask the Germans if they know anything about the special rules created for her. But they won’t answer. I think there is no need to ask until this story acquires a dimension that affects our legitimate requirement of the Germans to explain what exactly they found in Alexey Navalny’s tests.

Vladimir Solovyov: They do not even bother to enter into a dialogue with us.

Sergey Lavrov: They have no arguments, but we will not leave it at this.

Vladimir Solovyov: In this whole situation, I am most concerned about Donbass. Russia, as one of the guarantors of the Minsk Agreements, has no other choice but to maintain dialogue with our German and French colleagues. Apparently, they have lost sight of their role in this dialogue, and no longer know why they are even there. The war in Donbass has been going on for seven years. This is not a direct function of the Russian Foreign Ministry, but it’s a tragedy for those people. And you have to look your colleagues in the eye all this time. They don’t seem to want anything there, just waiting for a change of government in Russia. They think we are oblivious to it, and will play their game.

Sergey Lavrov: This is a sad story, and every day it is taking on a more and more perverse nature. Paris and Berlin now almost unquestioningly demand that issues be resolved in the Normandy format only, which means without Donbass. We argue that the Minsk agreements say that the Contact Group formed under those agreements should resolve issues directly between Kiev, Donetsk and Lugansk. They tell us no, the Contact Group plays a supporting role, while everything will be decided in the Normandy format, and Donetsk and Lugansk will be given ready-made solutions. It is a lousy position with regard to the people who were declared terrorists, although they never attacked anyone. They are still considered terrorists only because they have expressed dissatisfaction with what was happening in Kiev, and declared its moves unconstitutional, and asked to be left alone. They were actually attacked by the illegal regime that came to power as a result of a coup d’etat.

The West stomached it all: the coup itself, and its instigators’ new Russophobic approach to the Russian language in Ukraine, or their banish-everything-Russian-from-Crimea rhetoric. In response to this, the people revolted, on a political plane. Donbass said it wanted to be independent, and later agreed to negotiations, and Crimea voted for reunification with Russia. The Russophobic wave that brought with it the geopolitical changes in Ukraine and Crimea had been approved by the West, or at least the West did not object to it and even encouraged it to a certain extent. But Russia has been punished for it.

Vladimir Solovyov: But we put up with this for some reason. For some reason, we cannot just tell them that if they are not going to fulfil the Minsk agreements, then we will decide the fate of the Russian people there. It is our legitimate right to protect the interests of our compatriots.

Sergey Lavrov: We are protecting them. Not only in Ukraine, but also in the Baltics, and in other countries. This is not even helplessness on the part of the EU. I think it is a conscious policy of turning a blind eye to Russians being persecuted, be it the media or the Russian-speaking population. In the Baltics, they are denied access to information in their native language, contrary to what is guaranteed under the local laws and international conventions. This attitude to the Russian language problems in the European Union, as well as their stories that they have their own mechanisms and will use them to influence the situation, it is all lies. They will not do anything, will not lift a finger to bring the Baltics to their senses and make them stop their Russophobic hysteria. I could not even imagine this.

But let’s go back to Ukraine. We are interested in keeping the Minsk agreements on the table. They were approved by the UN Security Council and contain arrangements that are very difficult to abandon.

Vladimir Solovyov: They are not complying.

Sergey Lavrov: They are not. This means that Donbass is living the way it does now. As you may recall, with regard to the Minsk agreements and the compliance mechanism in the Contact Group and the Normandy format, we have repeatedly accepted a compromise, such as the Steinmeier formula. Originally, the Minsk agreements required that Donbass be given a special status and then the election be held. The Steinmeier formula stipulates gradual provision of this status.

Vladimir Solovyov: Why go meet them halfway if they take it for granted and never reciprocate? I know you are a diplomat, and I’m a proponent of forceful solutions.

Sergey Lavrov: I’ll give you an example. Take, for instance, the repeated and gross violation of the UN Charter by the United States and its allies. However, no one is suggesting that we leave the UN and tear up our signature under the UN Charter. If there’s a completely “unkillable” document and someone is trying to justify their non-compliance with ludicrous assurances, we benefit from it diplomatically.

Vladimir Solovyov: We can stay. But maybe we need to act in a completely different way.

Sergey Lavrov: How? Life takes its own course. Donbass has learned to live in a situation of illegitimate blockade, which the French and the Germans “refuse to see.” Instead, they pester us with a demand to open two more checkpoints. But this is not about lifting the blockade. The Minsk agreements are not talking about the checkpoints, but complete unblocking of economic ties.

Vladimir Solovyov: Why talk to them at all? They themselves do not decide anything. We need to talk directly with the Americans.

Sergey Lavrov: I think it would be the wrong thing to do. We exchanged views with the Americans on Ukraine when they had a special representative for this conflict. I don’t think we should call on the United States to influence their “underlings” and say that we have no use for the Minsk agreements.

Vladimir Solovyov: They themselves do not decide anything. There’s even no point in memorising the name of yet another of their foreign ministers.

Sergey Lavrov: The process that we are now observing with it being mandatory that the Minsk agreements are kept on the table means that the discrediting of the Ukrainian leadership is in full swing.

Vladimir Solovyov: You are playing chess with them, and they are playing checkers with you.

Sergey Lavrov: We are not playing chess with them. We are not talking to them altogether. Here are the Minsk agreements. Go ahead and comply with them. Period.

Vladimir Solovyov: I like that. No extra motions. What if they don’t comply?

Sergey Lavrov: Let them explain to their own public why they are not doing so.

Vladimir Solovyov: In their own country, they explain that it is normal to close three channels, with sanctions imposed on one of their own citizens, a deputy of the Verkhovna Rada.

Sergey Lavrov: The Americans said that this was the right thing to do. Europe mumbled something (sorry for this non-diplomatic term) to the effect that they will look into it. What is there to look into? Freedom of speech is either there or it is not.

Vladimir Solovyov: There is no freedom of speech.

Sergey Lavrov: Ukraine wants the Minsk agreements to cease to exist. Let them say so themselves. President Zelensky says that the Minsk agreements are bad, but they help keep sanctions on Russia in place. We are telling the Germans and the French: you wrote down that you would resume normal communication with Russia once it fulfilled the Minsk agreements, even though there’s no mention of us there. They talk only about Kiev, Donetsk and Lugansk. So, if they keep intact their five principles requiring Moscow to fulfil the Minsk agreements, President Zelensky will respond that way. He is not doing anything. They say Russia must comply, but the sanctions remain in place which makes him happy.

Frankly, I’m even happy with that sanctions situation. Not fully yet, but we have realised that we must rely only on ourselves. No, we do not want to self-isolate. We want to take advantage of the international division of labour, but if someone is saying that there will be competition, but we will be “cut off” here, here and also there… As Minister Maas put it, they will impose sanctions just to make sure our actions don’t go unnoticed. What kind of a reliable partner are you then?

Vladimir Solovyov: This phrase hurt their feelings.

Sergey Lavrov: First, we said this not one year ago, but a couple of years ago, when the sanctions were being imposed and import substitution was discussed. Then, they began to wail about why we were responding to the sanctions, meaning that they had good reasons to impose them, while we didn’t. It was stunning to see them act like schoolchildren rather than politicians.

I read excerpts from the foreign press. The German Süddeutsche Zeitung wrote a couple of days ago that it is necessary to think twice before acting emotionally and imposing “sanctions for the sake of sanctions,” because the punishing side must understand that they also pose a threat to it, as it ceases to be a reliable partner. So, we are not alone in drawing such conclusions, which I put my name down for.

Vladimir Solovyov: Are we heading for a breach with the EU?

Sergey Lavrov: We believe we would be ready for this. We are neighbours. Speaking collectively, they are our largest trade and investment partner. Many EU companies operate here; there are hundreds or even thousands of joint ventures. When a business benefits both sides, we will continue. I am sure that we have become fully self-sufficient in the defence sphere. We must also attain the same position in the economy to be able to act accordingly if we see again (we have seen this more than once) that sanctions are imposed in a sphere where they can create risks for our economy, including in the most sensitive areas such as the supply of component parts. We don’t want to be isolated from the world, but we must be prepared for this. If you want peace, prepare for war.

Vladimir Solovyov: It should be said that our coronavirus vaccine has come as a blow to them. They never expected this to happen. It turns out that they don’t know anything about Russia and don’t understand it. They are shocked to see that our economy is not in tatters, and that we have [advanced] research and scientists.

Sergey Lavrov: It was Barack Obama who said that Russia’s economy was in tatters. They haven’t learned from others’ mistakes. And it appears that they are unable to learn from their own mistakes either.

Vladimir Solovyov: Will you miss President Donald Trump?

Sergey Lavrov: He is an outstanding person. I remember my two meetings with him, once when I was on a visit to Washington, and also the talks he had with President Vladimir Putin, which I attended.

Donald Trump is a remarkable politician acting from his own experience. Where there is benefit, everything must be done to maximise it; where there is no benefit, let things take their course.

As for respect for our, Spanish or American laws, I am shocked by the impeachment proceedings. The charges brought against him… You can watch and listen to Trump’s video addresses again and again…

Vladimir Solovyov: And find nothing criminal in them?

Sergey Lavrov: Yes. Just compare them to what Leonid Volkov or Vladimir Ashurkov are saying. As many people say, have they ever urged young people and children to take to the streets? No, they have not. But I have heard them say, “What’s wrong with this?”

Vladimir Solovyov: Right. This is exactly what Volkov said.

Sergey Lavrov: They believe that if children want to join a protest rally, there is nothing wrong with it. This means that they are becoming part of civil society.

Vladimir Solovyov: During his meetings with foreign secret agents, Vladimir Ashurkov asked for $10-$20 million and offered to share information about a Russian bank [allegedly involved in corruption].

Sergey Lavrov: We have exposed this. But it’s like talking to a brick wall. The West doesn’t see this, just as it pays no attention to our arguments on the alleged poisoning at this point. They just want our repentance.

Vladimir Solovyov: But we have changed as well, haven’t we? We no longer react as nervously as we did before. I am concerned about you. The newly appointed US Secretary of State Antony Blinken is the ninth US Secretary of State you will be working with. You said that you have to recite the history of Russian-US relations to every new appointee.

Sergey Lavrov: This reminds me of an old phrase, “You are my first.” I have had a conversation with Antony Blinken. I believe it was a normal conversation. We agreed that there are many problems between us.

Vladimir Solovyov: Have you agreed not to agree?

Sergey Lavrov: Yes, we can hardly agree on the majority of these problems. But it is clearly inevitable that we must continue our dialogue on strategic stability and try to mend the damage done by the “disarmament experts” of the previous US administration. An agreement has been reached on extending the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START).

Vladimir Solovyov: But our position remained unchanged, didn’t it? It was the Americans who hesitated, not us?

Sergey Lavrov: Yes, it is unchanged.

As to how our foreign policy activities are being covered by some media, a few neoliberal journalists wrote that as soon as US President Joe Biden snapped his fingers, Russian President Vladimir Putin immediately signed a deal to extend the New START Treaty. The problem was resolved that same day, although before that, the Russian Foreign Ministry had said that it required a lengthy procedure under our laws (several weeks). So it was all a lie, they concluded.

I will not reveal any big secrets. I will just say we hoped common sense would prevail with the President of the United States Joe Biden. A few weeks before his inauguration, we made all the preparations required under our legislation to conclude an agreement to extend the New START Treaty.

Vladimir Solovyov: Joe Biden said last summer that this was one of his top priorities.

Sergey Lavrov: It was not 100 percent guaranteed.

Vladimir Solovyov: But he talked about it.

Sergey Lavrov: In other words, we simply prepared beforehand for an optimistic scenario to avoid time trouble. It is just that sometimes our commitment to extension of the Treaty is shown in a perverse way – like they say, Joe Biden proposed it, and Vladimir Putin agreed.

Vladimir Solovyov: Care for a conspiracy theory?

Sergey Lavrov: Go on.

Vladimir Solovyov: How about Vladimir Putin helped replace Donald Trump with Joe Biden because Trump did not agree to extend the New START?

Sergey Lavrov: Possibly. I am sure this is what happened. I can say just one thing to all those who are looking for an intrigue in who is more important, or whether Russia is doing America’s or someone else’s bidding. In fact, Russian President Vladimir Putin does not really care who will take all the credit later. If we reach an agreement that will be good, useful, and important for us and for the whole world – be it on disarmament or on something else – it’s our pleasure.

Vladimir Solovyov: Mr Lavrov, where does your freedom end? And where does it begin? The Constitution says that the President determines the country’s foreign policy.

Sergey Lavrov: My freedom ends where another’s begins. This is not from the Constitution, though.

Vladimir Solovyov: How free are you in foreign policy matters?

Sergey Lavrov: There’s the Foreign Policy Concept of the Russian Federation which was updated several years ago. It was approved by the President. We have doctrinal documents covering regional geographic areas. They are classified, just like in any other country, but are based on the publicly available Foreign Policy Concept.

In addition to geographical areas, whose doctrinal documents are also approved by the President, there are areas such as strategic stability, arms control, etc. This is also reported to the President collectively by all departments involved, such as security services, the Defence Ministry and the Security Council. Once a common policy is coordinated, that’s what guides action.

Vladimir Solovyov: Your every step isn’t supervised?

Sergey Lavrov: No. The President trusts me. If we have a directive that he approved, be it in foreign policy or elsewhere, you must act independently to achieve the goals it sets. Whether you succeed or not is a separate matter.

In case of unconventional situations that are not covered by the established approaches, we have weekly, or more frequent, meetings of the Security Council permanent members where we openly discuss these matters. It is always a collegial decision.

Vladimir Solovyov: Is there enough time for FC Spartak?

Sergey Lavrov: The winter pause is about to come to an end… I miss it.

Vladimir Solovyov: Do you still play football?

Sergey Lavrov: Yes, on Sundays. Last Sunday, we played outdoors despite the fact that it was 15 degrees below zero.

Vladimir Solovyov: Did you score?

Sergey Lavrov: I’m embarrassed to say … yes! But I like assists better.

Vladimir Solovyov: Like Lionel Messi?

Sergey Lavrov: Messi is a great scorer too.

Vladimir Solovyov: Yes, but he also likes to pass the ball.

Sergey Lavrov: True.

Vladimir Solovyov: Rafts? Rafting?

Sergey Lavrov: Well, not in winter… In summer, yes.

Vladimir Solovyov: Poetry?

Sergey Lavrov: Honestly, no real poetry for a very long time now. For now, I make do with epigrams for my friends’ birthdays. The elevated stuff isn’t coming as easily.

Vladimir Solovyov: The current Russian Government has a quite a few talented writers.

Sergey Lavrov: Do they write poetry? Or…

Vladimir Solovyov: Poetry. Not writing each other up.

Sergey Lavrov: I didn’t know that. I know that Arkady Dvorkovich wrote poetry when he worked in the Government, and he continues to write, probably. Prime Minister Mishustin wrote lyrics for many popular pieces of music. It’s a romantic way to escape. However, it shouldn’t create the impression that we are romantics in practical matters. We are realists.

Vladimir Solovyov: Hard-nosed?

Sergey Lavrov: You could say that. A healthy dose of cynicism has never been a bad thing in politics.

Vladimir Solovyov: Do you prepare your memorable quips in advance? Or do they just come out on their own and “kill” on the spot? Some have become legendary, although you deny authorship.

Sergey Lavrov: The words were accurate but a different order. If you are thinking what I’m thinking.

Vladimir Solovyov: You said to former British Foreign Secretary David Miliband: “Who are you to lecture me?”

Sergey Lavrov: Well, how do you prepare jokes in advance? I’m not saying that I take after Viktor Chernomyrdin, who never prepared his jokes in advance. With him it was like a force of nature. No, I do not prepare my jokes in advance.

Vladimir Solovyov: Do you ever make friends with your international colleagues when you feel like you get each other?

Sergey Lavrov: There are quite a few of them. I am afraid to list them.

Vladimir Solovyov: So they won’t be hounded?

Sergey Lavrov: Many of them hold very high posts in the European Union. They are good guys. I don’t want to give them up.

Vladimir Solovyov: Has it really become that bad?

Sergey Lavrov: I think so. We are “toxic” after all. I mean for them.

Vladimir Solovyov: Us? I think it’s the other way round: we are the only ones who follow their principles.

Sergey Lavrov: They think we are “toxic” but we don’t care. If they want cordial working relationships (President of Russia Vladimir Putin and the Foreign Ministry have said this many times), the foundation has to be mutual respect, not interfering in each other’s internal affairs, and cooperating on issues of mutual interest. Striking a balance between our interests is the only possible outcome of such talks, not merely our consent to their proposals.

Vladimir Solovyov: Do the personal attacks, insults and attempts to smear your family members get to you?

Sergey Lavrov: I don’t read about it myself. Sometimes, a well-meaning person will draw my attention to it. For example, six or seven months ago I was shown a report (anonymously sourced as always) about an illegitimate son of mine who works in the Foreign Ministry’s facilities department.

Vladimir Solovyov: What a pleasant surprise!

Sergey Lavrov: But he doesn’t come to see his dad. Apparently, he makes good money.

Vladimir Solovyov: You are really fortunate to be able to take such a light and ironic attitude to it all. So, they don’t succeed because you don’t let it get to you?

Sergey Lavrov: I don’t think any member of the Government, not to mention the Foreign Minister, should let themselves get rattled. To be honest, I find it easy to deal with. But those who take it harder must keep their perfectly justified feelings to themselves.

As the old Hollywood saying goes, “Never let them see you sweat.”

Vladimir Solovyov: Thank you, Mr Lavrov.

Sergey Lavrov: Thank you for a very interesting conversation.

New U.S. Foreign Policy Problems (2) International files إشكاليات السياسة الخارجية الأميركية الجديدة (2) الملفات الدولية

**Part 2 English Machine translation**Please scroll down for the Arabic version **

Part 1 Here

Click here to see the Video (deleted by You Tube)

Ziad hafiz.

Part 2:  International Files

 What external files will there be a conflict between the  interests of the interventionists and the interests of the forces that want to focus on the internal files?  The contours of foreign policy began to be clarified  after the Senate hearings of Blinken (State Department)  and Heinz (Director of National Intelligence DNI). The  bottom line is that there is little change in substance  about  Obama and Trump’s policies  except  in style and approach. We’ll show here some files, not all of them,  because of the limited space available.

At the international  level, relations with Russia and China are number one. The first signs issued by a number of figures of the President-elect’s transition team do not suggest any future solution in relations with  Russia. Let’s no forget that most of the employees in the new administration were in the Obama  administration,  which  was  anti-Russian.  The Ukrainian crisis was triggered by the Obama administration and then the Vice President, the president-elect today, which had major interventions in Ukrainian affairs,  not to mention the suspicions of corruption that accompanied it. On the other hand, let’s not forget that the entire Democratic Party, the deep state and the dominant corporate media have spent the past four years  demonising President Trump and accusing him of working for Russia. The latter is also accused of  interfering  in the 2016 election in favour of Donald Trump. Taking into account some statements by intelligence leaders supporting Biden that the Russians are lying because lying is an essential part of Russian  DNA, we see that the climate within the new administration is a tough one for Russia. This pessimism is reinforced by the fact that prospective officials  in the new administration n the second  row of foreign affairs, defence and  national security are neoconservatives such as Victoria Newland and liberal  interventionists such as Kathleen Hicks, Wendy Sherman and John Weiner as deputy national security  adviser.  All of them have close ties with the military security complex, research centres and  major    universities, as we explained in an earlier article.  What has attracted the attention of observers  is that  to  date there has been no contact between the transitional administration and the Russian leadership, although  this  is  a tradition that has spanned over the  past decades.

Multifaceted U.S. Retreat

But the fact of the matter is that U.S. competitiveness has declined in politics and the economy, and perhaps most importantly in military matters, as we have also explained in previous articles. Confronting Russia is  by  raising the human rights issue in Russia, by deploying a missile belt in neighbouring countries and by  overthrowing neighbouring regimes that are in agreement with Russia. By the way,  despite the Democratic  Party accusing U.S. President Donald Trump of working for Russia it was the U.S. president who imposed the most sanctions on Russia that his predecessor, Barack Obama, had initiated. The main strategic point of contention is the Russian gas file and its role in supplying it to the European Union, while the dispute over  Ukraine comes in the context of attempts at Atlantic expansion in Eastern Europe.  The security issue    being  waved is to cover up the main target.  There is no evidence that Russia is seeking to destabilization’s  European  security and stability, on the contrary it is seeking the best relations  and cooperation  with the EUROPEAN Union.

That’s what  Germany  understood,  but it  bowed to U.S. pressure, as former German Foreign Minister  Frank-Walter Steinmeier said in justifying his government’s acquiescence to U.S.  dictates when he made  it clear  that Germany was economically affected  by those sanctions, but that the policy had a strong errand  on the  economy. But over the past months, Germany has been able to reduce the arrogance of the United  States with regard to its economic interests with Russia and China. Germany has agreed to extend the Russian Laurel  Pipeline (“Tor  Stream 2” in its Baltic Economic Zone (every  day a kilometre of the pipeline is extended).    This was also the case with the Czech Republic to extend the “Yugal” land line, which is an extension  of “North stream  2” on the  German-Czech Saxon border. This reflects the extent of the U.S. retreat at the  European  ally and cuts the road to the pressures that the new administration could  put on it.

On The Other  Hand, on December 30, 2020, China and the European Union signed an agreement that would open the door to mutual investment, despite opposition from the United States and despite traditional human rights pretexts that were being raised against China to prevent any rapprochement with it. This is another  sign  that Western Europe has felt American weakness and is starting to think about the priority of its interests. The EU would not have taken the move without the approval of Germany and France.

Among the outstanding files between the United States and Russia are  Ukraine, particularly eastern Ukraine (Dombesk), the annexation of Crimea, the file of the Caucasus states in Georgia and Nagorno-Karabakh, and the proliferation of Atlantic weapons in the Baltic states and Poland. Recently, the United States tried to  create unrest in Belarus but failed to do so. Russia’s rapprochement with Russia is intensifying and we do not rule out the accession of Belarus to the Russian Federation, which is a resounding blow to the American administration.  Today, Belarus is mandated to confront Poland and the Baltic states on Russia’s  behalf.  In addition  to the Syrian file and the nuclear file with Iran and of course the treaties in the matter of medium-range ballistic missiles. In the context of the treaty file that the United States has emerged on the subject of  ballistic missiles, Russia is no longer committed to it.

The state of denial is in the  mind of  the ruling elites. 

“We  don’t know what the United  States  can  offer  in  all  these  files other than to back down  from its escalatory positions, which will perpetuate the decline of its influence,”he said. But  in the  current  mood  in the transitional administration, it is not ready  for  any  concession.  Since the denial of that retreat is in control of the ruling elites in the  next administration on the basis of “American exceptionalism” and”its manifest value” and in the absence of any theoretical or concrete evidence to acknowledge that retreat, what we can expect is the continued high and hostile tone in addressing Russia without translating into  confrontation on the ground.   The sanctions regime on Russia continues and began under Obama,  and the next  administration cannot lift it for free to market it in the domestic scene.   There is no creativity in thinking about the American side and the Russian side does not consider itself obliged to make concessions,  especially since there is no confidence in the commitments of the  United States. That’s why  we’re seeing  growing  indifference on the Russian side to what could come from the Biden administration as long as  the  horizon of open armed confrontation is blocked. Russia has been able to adapt to sanctions  and even turned it into a self-sufficiency opportunity freeing it from American blackmail.  Sanctions have only succeeded in increasing the isolation of the United States in the world, especially with its European allies. The elites in  Russia see as we see that the new administration will be focused on the internal files because of their seriousness  and complexity and  therefore do not consider that  they can interact permanently in  external files.

But that doesn’t mean that communicating with Russia is out of the way. If it is necessity or inventions, it is  also the mother of understandings. In  this context, the Russian President announced in a letter to the   president-elect that he hopes for friendly relations on the basis of club and mutual respect, a sign that a return  to the method of transcendence is no longer acceptable. On the other hand, the response of the secretary of  state, Anthony Blinken, was that at the height of the nuclear rivalry between the United States and the Soviet Union and under the existential nuclear threat of thousands of nuclear ballistic missiles  directed against each of  the two countries, areas of cooperation in many hot files were possible. Therefore,  “opportunities for cooperation”  can be looked forward to controlling the rhythm of  tensions so as not to lead  to  confrontations  from which no one will emerge  unscathed.  Does this mean that the climate for settlements will exist?  Not necessarily, the most realistic case is that there are no major settlements, no major confrontations and everything is possible under that  roof. In  summary, it can be said that the ceiling of the  possible “understanding” with Russia does not go beyond the limits of  linking  the conflict until new balances of power are established and this will not happen in the foreseeable future, i.e. in the  mandate of the new administration.

One might ask why not settle? The simple answer is that Russia sees no justification for settling matters with a party that has always proved that it does not respect treaties. The Russian also believes that the American is in a state of structural weakness that may not survive it and therefore make concessions to a country whose fate is unknown may not be justified. On the other hand, the U.S. side believes that if the balance of power is not in its favour at the current stage, it should only adjust it to its advantage and therefore there is no need to give up anything substantial that might constitute the  board of settlement. The ruling elites of the United  States believe that it is destined to lead the world and that  its exceptionalism will enable it to do so. There is no willingness to acknowledge that the United States has entered the stage of strategic decline, even a likely internal collapse, and therefore the narrative prevailing among those elites will be  that the United States has valued the world regardless of the difficulties it is encountering at this stage.

Why not  face… I don’t think

The other question is why not face? The answer here is that both sides are well aware that confrontation  ultimately means the end of the globe in limited minutes!  The next war will not  be as long as it did in the two world  wars, not even in  regional wars.  It will be related to the duration of ballistic missiles reaching their targets and here we are talking about minutes, not hours! But what is the alternative to confrontation  and compromise?

The alternative is limited tensions in space and time determined by changing objective and regional  circumstances.  But this imposes careful cooperation to prevent slippage, which could lead to an all-out  confrontation that no one wants. On the other hand, multiplayer on the one hand and the absence of  any  force  capable of adjusting  the rhythm alone makes it very difficult. Hence we understand the role and value of the axis where each component has no ability to control whatever its own abilities. But the axis gives  added value to those capabilities and therefore the axis will be the rhythm officer and not the pole. Here the role of  regional gatherings or hubs is highlighted.  We are in a multi-axis world, not a multipolar world.

If we want to sum up the international landscape between the competing pivots, we see that the U.S. axis in    strategic decline may reach a collapse, but it does the work of its tactical  and show-off nature that does not  change anything in the  balance of power on the ground. On the other hand, the  other Axis of Russia and the Chinese with it the axis of resistance in the event of a strategic rise interspersed with acts of a tactical  and defensive character fortify the balances of power that created it. The anti-American axis does not believe  that a tactical confrontation is necessary at this stage because of the strategic decline of the U.S. axis.  The  time factor works in favour of the anti-dominance axis. Therefore, we do not rule out a very fragile stabilisation  phase of tensions between brief periods of calm. In our view, the balances of  power that change in favour of the anti-Western axis also include cultural and intellectual structures. It also includes political  systems where Western neoliberalism has reached an impasse and that all decisions taken by the ruling  elites in the United States and in the West in general  are an escape  from the structural internal  entitlements  facing all  states. Until a political and economic system takes into account the radical  transformations  that  have taken place in societies, especially economic and social gaps, the general  landscape will be the internal  tension in the western countries, which influence their foreign policies. These remarks apply to all  contentious files between the United  States and its competitors.

 On the Chinese issue, there appear to be two conflicting currents within the democratic party leadership.   On the  one hand, there is the  legacy of former President Barack Obama, who was the author of the theory of east-shifting to counter the rising threat posed by China. This trend to the East uses a political narrative  of  protecting human rights that are violated by the Chinese government. The U. S. needs a “moral” justification for interfering in China’s domestic affairs, whether in the Tibet, Hong Kong or Uighur Muslim stooum.   ut after the January 6 spectacle of the ruling elites dealing with angry crowds and the condemnation of these  demonstrations by elites, some leaders have come to demand that public freedoms be undermined, and it is difficult to put forward such rhetoric condemning freedoms in countries that want to submit to American  will.

The actual goal of U.S. policy is to undermine China’s competitiveness,  especially in the field of technology and artificial intelligence, by imposing sanctions on it (here new arguments will be sought for it!) And curbed  its military rise to prevent the expansion of its influence in East and South Asia. In the context of the conflict we mentioned between the group of interventionists and the “realists” the issue of dealing with  Chinese  t-communication companies, Huawei, which has been the target of sanctions in the Trump administration. If  the Biden administration wants to ease the conflict with China, it will settle the Huawei file at least  in its legal dimension. But is this in line with the interests of U.S. companies affected by Chinese competition that    have mostly supported Biden’s presidential bid? Here we see the extent of the contradiction within the  administration. This is where  Obama’s policy meets Trump’s policy f  confronting china’s rising  influence    and hitting the OneWay/One Belt project. But the capabilities of the United States, no matter how limited the governing  team may be, are too limited and cannot change the equations imposed by the transformations.

On the other hand, there is the BidenGroup, which has made confusing and suspicious deals with Chinese companies.  A large number of  Democratic party leaders are involved in suspicious deals with Chinese  government institutions such as former California State Attorney Barbara Boxer, who became the agent of a   Chinese state-owned eavesdropping  company, the current senator’s husband, Diane Feinstein, who has close ties to Chinese companies, or Representative Eric Swal of California, who is accused of having sexual  relations with a Chinese intelligence officer.  The president will be among the hammer of the Obama team,  which  wants to surround China, curb its rise, and the sanders of the special interests of the Biden family  and a number of senior Democratic officials in their dealings with China. The Republicans will undoubtedly raise the scandals championed by Hunter Biden, the president’s son, and James Biden, the president’s brother. They are the subject of investigations by the Federal Bureau of  Investigation (FBI), which refused to disclose  before the election, and William Barr, the outgoing Justice Secretary in the Trump administration, could have undermined Biden’s chances of winning the last election, reinforcing  the theory that the deep state of all its components wanted to get rid of Donald Trump and succeeded in disrupting  his mandate and success  in the  election.

One of Obama’s attempts to blockade China is the Trans Pacific Partnership/TPP,  which aimed to create a large  economic space similar to the European Common Market  before it became the European Union,    without China’s participation.  This project is similar to a European project that excludes Russia! Here is the grave  geopolitical error because it runs counter to the constant geography and changing history, how can an Asian  grouping be conceived without China and how can Russia be excluded from Europe? But Trump’s first  decision when he entered the White House was to destroy the Trans-Pacific Partnership project. In the fall  of 2020, China was able to conclude an economic agreement with Southeast Asian countries that effectively  eliminates  any  possibility of economic blockade of China.  The title of this new economic gathering is the Comprehensive Regional Economic Partnership Agreement (RCEP) signed on November 12,  2020 at a summit  of  regional  heads of  state such as China, Japan, South Korea, India and other ASEAN countries. 

China’s  most important economic influence…

The Rand Corporation, a Pentagon think  tank, considers  China’s economic influence more important than  U.S. influence in the Pacific and Asia. Asean countries also prioritise economic considerations and interests at the expense of security considerations. China’s economic influence weakens U.S. military influence, according to the RAND Corporation study, especially since countries in that region do not believe that U.S. military  influence is equivalent to China’s economic influence. There is also a conviction in those countries, according to the study, that the USA commitment to the region is questionable. Based on those considerations in the study, the Biden administration’s policy will be very complicated, especially since  the enthusiasm of the countries in the region to align  with them will be weak.

On the other hand, in recent days, the Trump administration has poisoned the atmosphere  between the United States and China by lifting all restrictions on Taiwan. It is clear that the move will anger China and strain relations with the new U.S. administration. The question is how the Biden administration can reinstate the restrictions lifted by the Trump administration, which means that there is no continuity in the outside  decision and weakens confidence in any U.S. pledge. The decisions of any administration become subject to veto by the administration that follows, and this is the result of  falling signs.  We therefore believe  that the Biden administration’s attempts will not go beyond the point of linking the conflict to conflicts of  interest  between the interveners and the realists, while  weighing  in favour of the interventionists  and the weakness of the realists because of the suspicions of corruption surrounding the president-elect and his family. 

 Some of the”positive” steps of the new administration will be to return  to the climate  agreement and the World  Health Organisation and to demand a return to the ballistic agreement. There is little cost here, but  a material for media propaganda to improve the image of the United States. Blinken’s remarks that he should”consult” with allies are a step toward restoring consideration to “diplomacy” that  his predecessor Mike Pompeo did not believe in. But what is the value of diplomacy if it is not  accompanied by  actions that take into account the interests of the various  parties?  The United States has not  yet acknowledged  this,  and it is continuing  its efforts to achieve its goals of domination and domination, but with far  fewer  possibilities. 

*Researcher  and political  economist And the former Secretary General of the  Arab  National Congress

Part 3 Here

إشكاليات السياسة الخارجية الأميركية الجديدة (2) الملفات الدولية

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الجزء الثاني: الملفّات الدولية

فما هي الملفات الخارجية التي ستشهد صراعاً بين مصالح المتدخلّين ومصالح القوى التي تريد التركيز على الملفّات الداخلية؟ ملامح السياسة الخارجية بدأت تتوضح بعد جلست الاستماع في مجلس الشيوخ لكلّ من بلينكن (وزارة الخارجية) وهاينز (مديرة الاستخبارات الوطنية DNI). الخلاصة الأساسية هي لا تغيير يُذكر في الجوهر عن سياسات أوباما وترامب الاّ في الأسلوب وطريقة التعاطي. سنعرض هنا بعض الملفّات وليست جميعها لضيق المساحة المتاحة.

فعلى الصعيد الدولي تأتي في المرتبة الأولى العلاقات مع كلّ من روسيا والصين. الإشارات الأولى التي صدرت عن عدد من رموز الفريق الانتقالي للرئيس المنتخب لا توحي بأيّ حلحلة مرتقبة في العلاقات مع روسيا. فلا ننسى أنّ معظم العاملين في الإدارة الجديدة كانوا في إدارة أوباما التي كانت معادية لروسيا. فالأزمة الأوكرانية فجّرتها إدارة أوباما ونائب الرئيس آنذاك، الرئيس المنتخب اليوم، والتي كانت له تدخّلات كبيرة في الشأن الأوكراني ناهيك عن شبهات الفساد التي رافقتها. من جهة أخرى لا ننسى أنّ مجمل الحزب الديمقراطي والدولة العميقة والإعلام الشركاتي المهيمن أمضى السنوات الأربع الماضية على شيطنة الرئيس ترامب واتهامه بالعمالة لروسيا. كما أنّ الأخيرة متهمة بالتدخل في انتخابات 2016 لصالح دونالد ترامب. وإذا أخذنا بعين الاعتبار بعض التصريحات لقيادات استخبارية داعمة لبايدن بأنّ الروس يكذبون لأنّ الكذب جزء أساسي من الحمض النووي الروسي نرى أنّ المناخ المرتقب داخل الإدارة الجديدة مناخ متشدّد تجاه روسيا. وما يعزّز ذلك التشاؤم هو أنّ المسؤولين المرتقبين في الإدارة الجديدة في الصف الثاني في الخارجية والدفاع والأمن القومي هم من المحافظين الجدد كفيكتوريا نيولند ومن المتدخّلين الليبراليين كـ كاثلين هيكس ووندي شرمان وجون فاينر كنائب مستشار الأمن القومي. وجميعهم لديهم ارتباطات وثيقة مع المجمع العسكري الأمني ومراكز الأبحاث ومن الجامعات الكبرى كما شرحناه في مقال سابق. وما لفت انتباه المراقبين أنه حتى الساعة لم يتمّ أيّ اتصال بين الإدارة الانتقالية والقيادة الروسية علماً أنّ هذا تقليد امتدّ طيلة العقود الماضية.

تراجع أميركي متعدّد الجوانب

لكن حقيقة الأمر هي أنّ القدرة التنافسية الأميركية تراجعت في السياسة والاقتصاد، وربما أهمّ من كلّ ذلك في الشأن العسكري كما شرحناه أيضاً في مقالات سابقة. فمواجهة روسيا تكون عبر إثارة ملف حقوق الانسان في روسيا وعبر نشر حزام صاروخي في الدول المجاورة وعبر إسقاط أنظمة مجاورة تتفاهم مع روسيا. بالمناسبة ورغم اتهام الحزب الديمقراطي الرئيس الأميركي دونالد ترامب بالعمالة لروسيا فإنّ الرئيس الأميركي هو الذي فرض أكثر العقوبات على روسيا والتي كان قد بدأها سلفه باراك أوباما. ونقطة الخلاف الرئيسية الاستراتيجية هي ملف الغاز الروسي ودوره في تزويده للاتحاد الأوروبي بينما الخلاف على أوكرانيا يأتي في سياق محاولات توسع الأطلسي في أوروبا الشرقية. قضية الأمن التي يتمّ التلويح بها هي للتغطية على الهدف الرئيسي. ليس هناك أيّ دليل بأنّ روسيا تسعى لزعزعة الأمن والاستقرار الأوروبي بل العكس تسعى إلى أفضل العلاقات والتعاون مع الاتحاد الأوروبي.

هذا ما فهمته ألمانيا لكنها رضخت للضغوط الأميركية كما صرّح وزير خارجية ألمانيا السابق فرانك والتر ستنماير في تبرير رضوخ حكومته للإملاءات الأميركية عندما قال بوضوح إنّ ألمانيا متضررة اقتصادياً من تلك العقوبات غير أنّ السياسة لها القوّامة على الاقتصاد. لكن خلال الأشهر الماضية استطاعت ألمانيا أن تحدّ من غطرسة الولايات المتحدة فيما يتعلّق بمصالحها الاقتصادية مع روسيا والصين. فقد وافقت ألمانيا على تمديد أنبوب الغار الروسي (“تور ستريم 2) في المنطقة الاقتصادية التابعة لها في بحر البلطيق (كلّ يوم يتمّ مدّ كيلومترا من الأنبوب). كذلك الأمر حصل مع الجمهورية التشيكية لتمديد الخط البرّي “يوغال” الذي هو امتداد لـ “نور ستريم 2) على الحدود السكسونية الألمانية التشيكية. هذا يعكس مدى التراجع الأميركي عند الحليف الأوروبي ويقطع الطريق على الضغوط التي يمكن أن تصدرها الإدارة الجديدة.

من جهة أخرى تمّ التوقيع في 30 كانون الأول 2020 بين الصين والاتحاد الأوروبي على اتفاق يفتح باب الاستثمارات المتبادلة وذلك رغم معارضة الولايات المتحدة ورغم الذرائع التقليدية حول حقوق الإنسان التي كانت تُرفع بوجه الصين لمنع أيّ تقارب معها. هذه إشارة أخرى أنّ أوروبا الغربية شعرت بالضعف الأميركي وبدأت تفكّر بأولوية مصالحها. ولم يكن الاتحاد الأوروبي ليقدم على تلك الخطوة لولا الموافقة لكلّ من ألمانيا وفرنسا.

من ضمن الملفّات العالقة بين الولايات المتحدة وروسيا ملف أوكرانيا وخاصة شرق أوكرانيا (الدومبسك) وضمّ شبه جزيرة القرم، وملف دول القوقاز في جورجيا وناغورنو كراباخ، وانتشار السلاح الأطلسي في دول البلطيق وبولندا. ومؤخراً حاولت الولايات المتحدة خلق القلاقل في بيلاروسيا إلاّ أنها فشلت في ذلك. فالتقارب الروسي البلاروسي يشتدّ ولا نستبعد انضمام بلاروسيا على الاتحاد الروسي ما يشكّل صفعة مدوية للإدارة الأميركية. وبلاروسيا اليوم موكّلة في مواجهة كلّ من بولندا ودول البلطيق نيابة عن روسيا. ويُضاف إليها ملف سورية والملفّ النووي مع إيران وطبعاً المعاهدات في الشأن الصواريخ الباليستية المتوسطة المدى. في سياق ملف المعاهدة التي خرجت عنها الولايات المتحدة في موضوع الصواريخ الباليستية لم تعد روسيا متمسّكة بها.

حالة الإنكار متحكّمة في عقل النخب الحاكمة

لا ندري ماذا يمكن أن تقدّم الولايات المتحدة في كلّ هذه الملفّات غير التراجع عن مواقفها التصعيدية الذي سيكرّس تراجع نفوذها. لكن ليس في المزاج الحالي في الإدارة الانتقالية جهوزية لأيّ بادرة لتقديم أيّ تنازل. وبما أنّ حالة الإنكار لذلك التراجع متحكّمة في عقل النخب الحاكمة في الإدارة المقبلة على قاعدة “الاستثنائية الأميركية” و”قدرها المتجلّي” وبغياب أيّ دليل نظري أو ملموس للإقرار بذلك التراجع، فما يمكن أن نتوقّعه هو استمرار النبرة العالية والمعادية في مخاطبة روسيا دون أن تترجم بمواجهة على الأرض. فنظام العقوبات على روسيا مستمرّ وهو بدأ في عهد أوباما ولا تستطيع الإدارة المقبلة رفعها دون مقابل ملموس لتسويقه في المشهد الداخلي. فليس هناك ابداع في التفكير في الجانب الأميركي والجانب الروسي لا يعتبر نفسه ملزما بتقديم تنازلات خاصة أن لا ثقة بتعهدّات الولايات المتحدة. لذلك نشهد تزايد عدم الاكتراث في الجانب الروسي لما يمكن أن يصدر عن إدارة بايدن طالما أنّ أفق المواجهة المفتوحة المسلّحة مسدود. فروسيا استطاعت التكيّف مع العقوبات بل حوّلتها إلى فرص اكتفاء ذاتي حرّرها من الابتزاز الأميركي. فالعقوبات نجحت فقط في زيادة عزلة الولايات المتحدة في العالم وخاصة عند حلفائها الأوروبيين. والنخب في روسيا ترى كما نرى نحن أنّ الإدارة الجديدة ستكون منصبّة على الملفّات الداخلية لخطورتها وتعقيداتها وبالتالي لا تعتبر أنّ باستطاعتها التفاعل الدائم في الملفّات الخارجية.

لكن هذا لا يعني أنّ التواصل مع روسيا خارج الاحتمالات. فإذا كانت الضرورة امّ الاختراعات فهي أيضاً أمّ التفاهمات. في هذا السياق أعلن الرئيس الروسي في رسالة للرئيس المنتخب أنه يأمل بعلاقات ودية على قاعدة الندّية والاحترام المتبادل، وهذه إشارة إلى أنّ العودة الى أسلوب التعالي لم يعد مقبولاً. من جهة أخرى كان ردّ وزير الخارجية المسمّى أنطوني بلينكن أنّ في ذروة التنافس النووي بين الولايات المتحدة والاتحاد السوفياتي وفي ظلّ الخطر النووي الوجودي المتمثّل بآلاف الصواريخ الباليستية النووية الموجهة ضدّ كلّ من البلدين كانت مجالات التعاون في العديد من الملفات الساخنة ممكنة. وبالتالي يمكن التطلّع إلى “فرص تعاون” لضبط إيقاع التوترات كي لا تؤدّي إلى مواجهات لن يخرج أحد سالماً منها. هل هذا يعني أنّ مناخ التسويات سيكون قائماً؟ ليس بالضرورة، فالحالة الأكثر واقعية هي أن لا تسويات كبرى ولا مواجهات كبرى وكلّ شيء ممكن تحت ذلك السقفين. في الخلاصة يمكن القول إنّ سقف “التفاهم” الممكن مع روسيا لا يتجاوز حدود ربط النزاع إلى ان تتبلور موازين قوّة جديدة وهذا لن يحصل في المدى المنظور أيّ في ولاية الإدارة الجديدة.

قد يسأل المرء لماذا لا تسوية؟ الإجابة البسيطة هي أنّ روسيا لا ترى أيّ مبرّر لتسوية الأمور مع طرف برهن دائماً أنه لا يحترم المعاهدات فما بال التسويات! كما يرى الروسي أنّ الأميركي في حالة ضعف بنيوي قد لا ينجو منها وبالتالي تقديم تنازلات لدولة مصيرها مجهول قد لا يكون مبرّرا. في المقابل، يرى الطرف الأميركي إذا كانت موازين القوّة ليست لصالحه في المرحلة الحالية فما عليه إلاّ أن يعدّلها لمصلحته وبالتالي لا داعي للتنازل عن أيّ شيء جوهري قد يشكّل متن التسوية. وتعتقد النخب الحاكمة في الولايات المتحدة أنّ قدرها هو أن تقود العالم وأن استثنائيتها ستمكّنها من ذلك. ليس هناك استعداد للإقرار بأنّ الولايات المتحدة دخلت مرحلة التراجع الاستراتيجي بل حتى الانهيار الداخلي المرجّح وبالتالي ستكون السردية السائدة عند تلك النخب بأنّ الولايات المتحدة قدر على العالم بغضّ النظر عن الصعوبات التي تلاقيها في المرحلة الحالية.

لماذا لا مواجهة…؟

والسؤال الآخر لماذا لا مواجهة؟ الإجابة هنا أنّ الطرفين يدركان جيّداً أنّ المواجهة تعني في آخر المطاف نهاية المعمورة في دقائق محدودة! لن تكون الحرب المقبلة ممتدّة على مدى سنوات كما حصل في الحربين العالميتين ولا حتى في الحروب الإقليمية. ستكون مرتبطة بمدة وصول الصواريخ الباليستية إلى أهدافها وهنا نتكلّم عن دقائق وليس ساعات! لكن ما هو البديل عن المواجهة وعن التسوية؟

البديل هو توتّرات محدودة في المكان والزمان تحدّده الظروف الموضوعية والإقليمية المتغيّرة. لكن هذا يفرض تعاوناً دقيقاً لمنع الانزلاق الذي قد يؤدّي إلى مواجهة شاملة لا يريدها أحد. في المقابل، تعدّد اللاعبين من جهة وعدم وجود أيّ قوّة قادرة بمفردها على ضبط الإيقاع تجعل ذلك الأمر في غاية الصعوبة. من هنا نفهم دور وقيمة المحور حيث كلّ مكوّن له لا قدرة على التحكّم مهما كانت قدراته الذاتية. لكن المحور يعطي قيمة مضافة لتلك القدرات وبالتالي المحور هو الذي سيكون ضابط الإيقاع وليس القطب. هنا يبرز دور التجمّعات أو المحاور الإقليمية. أصبحنا في عالم متعدّد المحاور وليس في عالم متعدد القطبية.

إذا أردنا تلخيص المشهد الدولي بين المحورية المتنافسين نرى أنّ المحور الأميركي في تراجع استراتيجي قد يصل إلى الأفول والانهيار ولكنه يقوم بأعمال طابعها هجومي تكتيكي واستعراضي لا يغيّر أيّ شيء في موازين القوّة على الأرض. في المقابل فإنّ المحور الآخر الروسي الصيني ومعه محور المقاومة في حال صعود استراتيجي تتخلله أعمال طابعها تكتيكي دفاعي تحصّن موازين القوّة التي أوجدتها. والمحور المقاوم للهيمنة الأميركية لا يعتقد أنّ مواجهة تكتيكية ضرورية في المرحلة الراهنة بسبب التراجع الاستراتيجي للمحور الأميركي. عامل الوقت يعمل لصالح المحور المقاوم للهيمنة. لذلك لا نستبعد مرحلة استقرار هشّ للغاية تسوده التوترات بين فترات وجيزة من الهدوء. في رأينا، موازين القوّة التي تتغيّر لصالح المحور المناهض للهيمنة الغربية تشمل أيضاً البنى الثقافية والفكرية. وتشمل أيضاً المنظومات السياسية حيث النيوليبرالية الغربية وصلت إلى طريق مسدود وأنّ كلّ القرارات التي تتخذها النخب الحاكمة في الولايات المتحدة وفي الغرب عموما هي هروب إلى الأمام من الاستحقاقات الداخلية البنيوية التي تواجه كلّ الدول. إلى أن يتبلور نظام سياسي اقتصادي يأخذ بعين الاعتبار التحوّلات الجذرية التي حصلت في المجتمعات وخاصة الفجوات الاقتصادية والاجتماعية فإنّ سمة المشهد العام سيكون التوتر الداخلي في دول الغرب العامل المؤثر على سياساتها الخارجية. هذه الملاحظات تنطبق على كافة الملفات الخلافية بين الولايات المتحدة ومنافسيها.

وفي ما يتعلّق بالملفّ الصيني فهناك تياران متصارعان على ما يبدو داخل قيادات الحزب الديمقراطي. فمن جهة، هناك إرث الرئيس السابق باراك أوباما الذي كان صاحب نظرية التحوّل إلى الشرق لمواجهة الخطر الصاعد الذي تمثّله الصين. وهذا التوجّه إلى الشرق يستعمل سردية سياسية هي حماية حقوق الانسان التي تنتهكها الحكومة الصينية. فالولايات المتحدة بحاجة إلى مبرّر “أخلاقي” للتدخل في الشأن الداخلي في الصين سواء في قضية التيبت أو هونغ كونغ أو المسلمين الأويغور! لكن بعد المشهد الذي قدّمته النخب الحاكمة في 6 كانون الثاني/ يناير في التعامل مع الجماهير الغاضبة وتنديد النخب بهذه المظاهرات وصلت عند بعض القيادات إلى المطالبة بتقويض الحرّيات العامة يصعب عندئذ طرح ذلك الخطاب المندّد للحرّيات في الدول التي تريد الخضوع للمشيئة الأميركية.

الهدف الفعلي لسياسة الولايات المتحدة هو تقويض القدرات التنافسية للصين خاصة في الميدان التكنولوجي والذكاء الاصطناعي وذلك عبر فرض العقوبات عليها (وهنا سيتمّ التفتيش عن حجج جديدة لذلك!) وكبح صعودها العسكري لمنع تمدّد نفوذها في شرق وجنوب آسيا. وفي سياق الصراع الذي ذكرناه بين جماعة المتدخلين وجماعة “الواقعيين” مسألة التعامل مع شركات التواصل الصينية كهواوي التي كانت هدفاً للعقوبات في إدارة ترامب. فإذا أرادت إدارة بايدن التخفيف من حدّة الصراع مع الصين فستقوم بتسوية لملف هواوي على الأقلّ في بعده القانوني. لكن هل هذا يستقيم مع مصالح الشركات الأميركية المتضرّرة من التنافس الصيني وهي التي دعمت إلى أقصى الحدود وصول بايدن إلى الرئاسة؟ هنا نرى مدى التناقض الموجود داخل الإدارة. هنا تلتقي سياسة أوباما مع سياسة ترامب في ضرورة مواجهة النفوذ الصيني الصاعد وضرب مشروع الطريق الواحد/ الحزام الواحد. لكن قدرات الولايات المتحدة مهما كان الفريق الحاكم محدودة للغاية ولا تستطيع تغيير المعادلات التي فرضتها التحوّلات.

ومن جهة أخرى هناك “جماعة بايدن” التي عقدت صفقات مثيرة للالتباس والشبهات مع شركات صينية. ويشاركه في ذلك عدد كبير من قيادات الحزب الديمقراطي في صفقات مشبوهة مع مؤسّسات صينية حكومية كالشيخة السابقة لولاية كاليفورنيا بربرا بوكسر التي أصبحت وكيلة شركة صينية حكومية مختصة بالتنصّت، أو زوج الشيخ الحالية دايان فاينشتين الذي له علاقات وثيقة مع الشركات الصينية، أو النائب أريك سوالوال من كاليفورنيا المتهم بعلاقات جنسية مع ضابطة من الاستخبارات الصينية! فالرئيس سيكون بين مطرقة فريق أوباما الذي يريد محاصرة الصين وكبح صعودها وسندان المصالح الخاصة العائدة لعائلة بايدن ولعدد من كبار المسؤولين في الحزب الديمقراطي في تعاملهم مع الصين. الحزب الجمهوري سيثير دون أيّ شكّ الفضائح التي بطلها هنتر بايدن نجل الرئيس وجيمس بايدن شقيق الرئيس. فهما موضوع تحقيقات يقوم بها المكتب الاتحادي للتحقيقات (أف بي أي) التي رفض الكشف عنها قبل الانتخابات وليم بار وزير العدل المستقيل في إدارة ترامب والتي كان بإمكانها تقويض فرص فوز بايدن في الانتخابات الأخيرة، ما يعزّز نظرية أنّ الدولة العميقة بكافة مكوّناتها أرادت التخلّص من دونالد ترامب وقد نجحت في تعطيل ولايته ونجاحه في الانتخابات.

من محاولات محاصرة الصين التي أطلقها أوباما مشروع الشراكة في المحيط الهادئ ((Trans Pacific Partnership/TPP التي كانت تهدف إلى إيجاد فضاء اقتصادي كبير شبيه بالسوق الأوروبية المشتركة قبل أن تصبح الاتحاد الأوروبي، وذلك دون مشاركة الصين. يتماثل هذا المشروع مع مشروع أوروبي يقصي روسيا! وهنا الخطأ الجيوسياسي الفادح لأنه يتنافى مع الجغرافيا الثابتة والتاريخ المتغيّر، فكيف يمكن تصوّر تجمع آسيوي دون الصين وكيف يمكن أقصاء روسيا من أوروبا؟ لكن أول قرارات ترامب عند دخوله البيت الأبيض كان وأد مشروع الشراكة في المحيط الهادئ. والصين استطاعت أن تعقد في خريف 2020 اتفاقاً اقتصادياً مع دول جنوب شرق آسيا يلغي فعلياً أيّ إمكانية محاصرة الصين اقتصادياً. عنوان هذا التجمّع الاقتصادي الجديد هو اتفاق الشراكة الاقتصادية الإقليمية الشاملة (RCEP) الذي وقّع في 12 تشرين الثاني/ نوفمبر 2020 في اجتماع قمة لرؤساء دول المنطقة كالصين واليابان وكوريا الجنوبية والهند وسائر دول جمعية دول الجنوب الشرقي الاسيوي (ASEAN).

نفوذ الصين الاقتصادي أهمّ…

وتعتبر مؤسسة راند كوربوريشن، وهي مؤسسة أبحاث تابعة للبنتاغون، أنّ نفوذ الصين الاقتصادي أهمّ من النفوذ الأميركي في منطقة المحيط الهادئ وآسيا. كما أنّ دول جمعية جنوب شرق آسيا تعطي الأولوية للاعتبارات والمصالح الاقتصادية على حساب الاعتبارات الأمنية. والنفوذ الاقتصادي الصيني يضعف النفوذ العسكري الأميركي وفقاً لدراسة مؤسسة راند خاصة أنّ دول تلك المنطقة لا تعتقد أنّ النفوذ العسكري الأميركي يوازي النفوذ الاقتصادي الصيني. وهناك أيضاً قناعة عند تلك الدول وفقاً للدراسة المذكورة أنّ التزام الولايات المتحدة تجاه المنطقة مشكوك بأمره. بناء على تلك الاعتبارات التي جاءت في الدراسة المذكورة ستكون سياسة إدارة بايدن معقّدة للغاية خاصة أنّ حماس دول المنطقة للاصطفاف معها سيكون ضعيفاً.

من جهة أخرى أقدمت إدارة ترامب في أيامها الأخيرة على تسميم الأجواء بين الولايات المتحدة والصين عبر رفع جميع القيود على تايوان. من الواضح أنّ ذلك الإجراء سيغضب الصين ويوتر العلاقات مع الإدارة الأميركية الجديدة. والسؤال كيف يمكن لإدارة بايدن إعادة القيود التي رفعتها إدارة ترامب ما يعني أنّ ليس هناك من استمرارية في القرار الخارجي فيضعف الثقة بأي تعهّد أميركي. فقرارات أيّ أدارة تصبح معرّضة للنقض من قبل إدارة تليها وهذا من إرهاصات السقوط. لذلك نعتقد أنّ محاولات إدارة بايدن لن تتجاوز مرحلة ربط النزاع لتضارب المصالح بين المتدخلّين والواقعيين مع ترجيح الكفّة لصالح المتدخلين وضعف الواقعيين بسبب شبهات الفساد التي تحيط بالرئيس المنتخب وعائلته.

بعض الخطوات “الإيجابية” للإدارة الجديدة ستكون في العودة إلى اتفاق المناخ ومنظمة الصحة العالمية والمطالبة بالعودة إلى الاتفاق الباليستي. لا كلفة هنا تذكر بل مادة للدعاية الإعلامية لتحسين صورة الولايات المتحدة. كما أنّ تصريحات بلينكن بضرورة “التشاور” مع الحلفاء خطوة نحو إعادة الاعتبار إلى “الدبلوماسية” التي لم يكن يؤمن بها سلفه مايك بومبيو. لكن ما قيمة الدبلوماسية إن لم ترفقها أفعال تأخذ بعين الاعتبار مصالح مختلف الفرقاء؟ لم تصل الولايات المتحدة حتى الساعة إلى الإقرار بذلك فهي مستمرّة في جهودها لتحقيق أهدافها في السيطرة والهيمنة لكن بإمكانيات أقلّ بكثير ما يؤهّلها بذلك.

*باحث وكاتب اقتصادي سياسي والأمين العام السابق للمؤتمر القومي العربي

فيديوات ذات صلة

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مقالات ذات صلة

Road to Nowhere – Talking Heads

Road to Nowhere – Talking Heads

December 22, 2020

By Francis Lee for the Saker Blog

The referendum on Britain’s vote to Remain or Leave the EU – Brexit – has raised deeper issues than simply whether or not the UK retains its European membership. The real issue is that of the whole Transatlantic bloc from Seattle to Warsaw, its, culture, institutions, politics, and economics has also been undergoing deep structural changes – not necessarily for the good.

The victory of the Leave majority in the first UK Brexit referendum in 2018 and a rerun, which should never have been allowed, of the Remain campaign in the general election of 2019 – both in the face of a massive establishment propaganda blitzkrieg was quite remarkable. The centrist coalition of the centre-right Conservative business class and the still deeply Blairite and third-wayist faction of the overwhelming majority of the Parliamentary Labour Party, the Trades Union Congress (TUC and most of its affiliated unions) and tens of thousands of rank-and-file woke militants, threw everything but the kitchen sink into their campaign but lost. But even then, the issues had not been settled – that is for the self-appointed, London based, middle-class, parvenues who imagined themselves as carrying the torch for civilization. After what was a definitive verdict – which in both instances was a ‘NO’ to the continued membership of Britain in the EU – there was a vicious counter-attack. It started from the premise that EU membership is an absolute good, the absolute truth, and that any opposition is racist, homophobic, xenophobic, misogynist … and so on and so forth. The fuddy-duddy notion of national sovereignty was of course considered completely de rigueur. Therefore, there is not, nor can there be any legitimate critique of the EU. Argument closed: no engagement or discourse on the subject, just hysterical ranting, and mass cancellation. Sound familiar?

In fact the EU before, during, and after the referendum was hardly the Shangri La imagined by the ‘Remainer’ constituency. At that time, their political and cultural love object was the EU of Manuel Barroso, ex-Maoist, ex-President of the European Commission, now working for Goldman Sachs, Merkel’s pet Russophobe, Donald Tusk, and not forgetting Jean-Claude Juncker, at that time President of the European Commission, who was incidentally involved in a tax avoidance scandal in Luxembourg where he was one-time Prime Minister, and then a litany of other self-serving political mediocrities on the make. The EU is also an economic dead zone (particularly in the peripheral areas of Eastern and Southern Europe) with unemployment rates higher than the UK and growth rates lower.

A veritable economic and political Shangri-la? Yeah, right. Like Lord Nelson at the Battle of Copenhagen* the Remainers are putting the telescope to their blind eye: I see no economic and political dead-zone! Maybe they should have gone to Specsavers!

These sentiments are not just conservative, they are downright reactionary and anti-democratic. And the ex-centre-left has played an insidious part in this development. The glaring contrast between the people’s vote for leaving and the vote of the PLP and TUC institutions which supposedly represent them, for remaining, prompted even left observers to conclude that the people, like sheep, had gone astray and handed racist xenophobes a shameful victory. This was the liberal centre-left’s great Brechtian moment when ‘the people should be dissolved and a new one elected.’ The famous German playwright, Bertolt Brecht, was of course making a sardonic comment on the actions of the East German Communist regime in 1953 when it suppressed the workers uprising. It bears a striking similarity to the response by our own neo-totalitarians in 2016. Additionally, the procrastination of the establishment Remainers, which was slowing down the whole exit project, can be thought of as the establishment’s Augustinian moment. St. Augustine ‘’God give me chastity and celibacy, but not yet.’’ the Remainer-speak version being God give me Article 50 but not yet.

In sociological terms the upper-echelons of the liberal class who think that they have the divine right to set the political agenda, represent a sub-hierarchy below the real policy makers and shakers. The 20% beneath the 1%. They tend to be ensconced in the media, academia, professions such as law and medicine, middle-management, financial planners, economists, computer programmers, aerospace designers, and the entertainment business. Quite a number, particularly in business, government, both local and central, advertising, telemarketing, public relations, could be considered to be ‘bullshit jobs’ (in the late) David Graeber’s insightful observation. As a whole this particular social and occupational stratum, look up rather than look down, they serve power not the people. They are Orwell’s Outer party in his 1984 novel, sandwiched between the Inner party and the Proles. Knowing which side their bread is buttered on they identify with and support the Power Elite.

An avant garde leading from the rear, yes. Trahison des Clercs, most certainly but more politically and culturally homogeneous today than as was once the case.

This shell of a once fighting left (now unrecognisable from their previous political and ideological moorings) now embraces the culture of identity but excludes the entity of class. As a result poverty has become the P-word, and the poor the pariahs of neoliberal dystopic utopia. When we talk about class in a Marxist, materialist sense, we are talking about a relation of power, specifically about who does and who doesn’t have power to shape society. Identity politics makes this conflict of interests in society invisible. Neoliberal economics, however, is quite simply class war. It has advanced in part because identity politics depoliticized the public. Is it mere coincidence that the melange of post-Marxism, identity politics, and neoliberal economics saw the light in the same post-sixties decades? Together, they form the heart of the reaction, which is the take-back by the economic elite in the last four decades of every gain the fighting left loosed from the fist of capital before and since World War II. The rapacity of contemporary capitalism is enabled by the weakness, dishonesty, and cowardice of the flaccid and collaborationist left.

On the American side of the pond the same (albeit worse) diseased and morbid social tendencies began to emerge from a decaying body-politic circa 2001 and maybe even before, but the 9/11 was the pinnacle, which was of course no accident. For one of the persistent strands in American political life is a cultish extremism that approaches fascism. This was given expression and  reinforced during the two terms of Barack Obama. “I believe in American exceptionalism with every fibre of my being.” said Obama, who expanded America’s favourite military pastime, bombing, and death squads (“special operations”) as no other president has done since the Cold War.

The American political and social-theorist, Christopher Lasch, now unfortunately no longer with us, succinctly identified the political/cultural shifts in the American polity in the late twentieth-century. (1) America has undergone a profound structural, cultural, and political transmutation: it is not the masses or working class, so much as an emerging sub-elite of professional and managerial types who constitute the greatest threat to democracy, according to Lasch. The new cognitive sub-elite is made up of what Robert Reich called “symbolic analysts’. This middle-class occupational stratum – in the British rather than the American sense – traffics in information and manipulates words and numbers for a living. They live in an abstract world in which information and expertise are the most valuable commodities. Since the market for these assets is international, the privileged class is more concerned with the global system than with regional, national, or even local communities. In fact, members of the new sub-elite tend to be estranged from their communities and their fellow citizens. “They send their children to private schools, insure themselves against medical emergencies … and hire private security guards to protect themselves against the mounting violence against them,” Lasch writes. In effect, they have removed themselves from the common life and have moved offshore.

These tendencies, however, have been observable even before Lasch’s observations. Way back in the middle to late 1950s, the great American theorist C Wright Mills, produced powerful polemics concerning the structure and direction in which the Republic was headed. These tendencies were recognised as early as the 1950s. (2)

He argued:

‘’We cannot assume today that men (sic) must in the last resort be governed by their own consent. Among the means of power that now prevail is the power to manage and manipulate the consent of men … and many people are neither radical nor reactionary, they are simply inactionary. If we accept the Greeks definition of an idiot as an altogether private man then we must conclude that many citizens of mass societies are indeed idiots … History making may well go by default, men may well abdicate its continual making and so merely float along as corks in a bottle of an Ocean drift. The implication of this, however, is that history will indeed be made – but by narrow elite circles without effective responsibility to those who must try to survive the consequences of their decisions and of their defaults.’ (3)

A more recent American social critic, Morris Berman, has also been cognisant of the cultural decline and disintegration of America; indeed it would have been difficult to miss. His caustic analysis on the current state of American Culture – The Twilight of American Culture (4) – makes particularly compelling reading for the English-speaking world. Mr. Berman argues provocatively and incisively that the direction of American civilization is locked into a path which will lead nowhere except into its own demise. The American empire has now borne witness to the passage of its most fruitful and triumphant years and its approaching the future – if it hasn’t already got there – and a period of social and political chaos from which there doesn’t appear to be an exit, or at least a controlled exit. So the controlled exit is about the best route on offer, though only 50/50 at best.

‘’For when a population becomes distracted by trivia, and when cultural life is redefined as a perpetual round of entertainments, when serious public conversation becomes a form of ‘baby-talk’, when in short, a people become an audience and their public business becomes a vaudeville act, then a nation finds itself at risk; culture death is a near (extremely near) possibility.’’(5)

CONCLUSIONS:

The fault-lines, stresses and cleavages in the Transatlantic bloc are becoming increasingly clear both within nations and between nations. In Europe the exit of Britain from the EU and Europe, and the possible defections of Hungary, Poland and Italy. In the United States the strain on the Republic with an increasing and assertive emergence of the South and possible mid-west as well as the drift of coastal America away from flyover America. It could be said that these are simply speculative guesses, but these future possibilities are a little more than simply straws in the wind. For better or worse, big changes are on the way.

Interesting times.

NOTES

(1) Christopher Lasch – The Revolt of the Elites – published posthumously in 1994. The title of the book was taken from the name of a book “the Revolt of the Masses” by the elite theorist Jose Ortega Y Gasset in 1930.

(2) The Power Elite, 1959 and The Sociological Imagination 1956.

(3) C Wright Mills – The Sociological Imagination – Ibid – pps. 51, 195

* The naval Battle of Copenhagen (1801) occurred during the War of the Second Coalition when a British naval fleet commanded by Admiral Sir Hyde Parker defeated a Danish fleet anchored just off Copenhagen. Vice Admiral Horatio Nelson led the main attack. During the battle, he famously is reputed to have disobeyed his senior officer, Sir Hyde Parker’s, order to withdraw by holding the telescope to his blind eye to look at the signals from Parker. The signals had given Nelson permission to withdraw at his discretion. Nelson then turned to his flag captain, Thomas Foley, and said ‘You know, Foley, I have only one eye. I have a right to be blind sometimes.’ He raised the telescope to his blind eye saying, ‘I really do not see the signal.’ Copenhagen is often considered to be Nelson’s hardest-fought victory.

(4) Morris Berman – The Twilight of American Culture – published in 2000.

(5) Berman – Ibid., -Introduction.

Poles Decided to Spit on Trump and Please Biden (Ruslan Ostashko)

Translated by Sasha and subtitled by Leo.

The authorities of the Russophobic Poland have yet again demonstrated the full value of the Eastern European lackey behaviour before the USA. Andrzej Duda who just recently spoke about the joint military program ‘Fort Trump’ has now demonstratively abandoned this name and rushed to play up to Joe Biden.

The newest history of relations between Washington and Warsaw consists of train of acts of abasement of the latter before the former. I’ll remind that in 2018 the Polish president showed up in US but wasn’t even received in the White House, which put him in an unpleasant light before the Poles themselves. Soon however Donald Trump swapped wrath for grace when he saw a chance to shake a lot of money out of the Polish lackeys (Title: “USA Conned Polish Lackeys for $40 bln?”) It was exactly what the American president was preoccupied with for a few years running until very recently. In response, Duda kept polishing the Washington lord’s boots with his tongue. This is what it looked like in case of widening of the American occupation of the independent Poland on 19 September 2018.

(Title: ‘Fort Trump’: what will American base in Poland change? – Pavel Aksyonov. Russian service of BBC): “The presence of American troops in the Eastern Europe may be expanded – the Polish President Andrzej Duda offered Donald Trump to place an American military base on Polish territory. And Poland is ready to assign nearly 2 billion dollars into this project. Duda told about the proposition to build an American base in Poland at the press conference in Washington after a meeting with the American president, having noted that in Warsaw they already came up with the name for the base – ‘Fort Trump.’”

You don’t need to be Solomon to realize that the name choice for the new American base is pure groveling. All of it was done in order to please Donald Trump personally. However already during last summer, when the leader of the USA was under attack on all fronts from his political opponents, Warsaw’s rhetoric began to change.

“The Polish President Duda clarified that ‘Fort Trump’ is not a military base but a complex of steps undertaken for expanding the American military presence in the republic. He told about it at the press conference before his meeting the American leader in Washington which was aired by Polish television. ‘From the very beginning, when I presented this idea to President Trump, he just laughed. Between us it is a name for a certain military-political action that I wanted to carry out,’ Duda said.”

Swoosh! And ‘Fort Trump’ is no military base anymore, but a joke of sorts, just in order to amuse the big white lord.

Andrzej Duda: “Please note that there many places in Poland where there are American soldiers, where there is infrastructure, where American soldiers carry their duty. So ‘Fort Trump’ – and I can say this safely – is not a name for a military base in a physical sense. It is just a general name for actions which increase the American military presence in Poland and which are being conducted during the tenure of President Donald Trump,’ Duda explained.”

Now, when Trump’s presidency is hanging by a thread, the Polish lackeys have changed the music completely. “The name ‘Fort Trump’ proposed by the Polish President Andrzej Duda for an American military base in his country was a generalizing remark, intended to depict the cooperation of Washington and Warsaw in the defense field. This is reported by Washington Post citing the Polish embassy in USA.”

Polish Embassy in the USA: “This name did not feature in any official documents signed by Poland and USA. The treaties and declarations signed by our countries did not specify a particular place where the American troops will be stationed, but rather assumed placement of different military units in a few areas of Poland,’ the embassy stated.”

A new master might appear in the White House very soon and Warsaw, judging by her behaviour, sees this appearance as certain. This means now lackeys can spit in the back of the former master while slyly winking to each other. The lackeys forgot however that in the modern world all the moves are recorded and that the spitters do not look very nice now.

“As Washington Times reminds, the leaders of the two countries spoke openly about a very real ‘Fort Trump’. According to some former Pentagon officials, Poland jumped at this term, having seen an opportunity to toady to the brand sensitive US president, whose name is attached to many buildings around the world. ‘I smiled when I spoke with Mr. President,’ said the Polish President Duda commenting on one of his meetings with Trump. I said that we would like to create a permanent American military base in Poland which we will name ‘Fort Trump’. And I am sure it is possible.’ Various defense officials also mentioned this idea implying that the American troops would be stationed in one place on a permanent basis, which has been Warsaw’s long time dream, and which Kremlin would not like very much.”

Is this not a disgrace? Well, naturally they know in Washington what the Eastern European lackeys of the USA are like. But the lackeys themselves like to pompously accentuate their geopolitical dignity, while hushing up the fact that they are ready to instantaneously betray the one whose boots they licked only yesterday. Russia is also informed about the peculiarities of the post-Soviet independents’ way of thinking and life. Strange is only the fact that our Foreign Ministry rarely reminds them of these peculiarities. In the meantime every address to Poland, disregarding its cause, should begin with these words: “Russia is informed about Warsaw’s wish to bow to Washington and, having this in mind, states…” Would you approve such innovation, dear subscribers?

CHAOS AND ARMED CONFLICTS: U.S. STRATEGY TO DISMANTLE RUSSIA IS ALREADY WORKING

South Front

Chaos And Armed Conflicts: U.S. Strategy To Dismantle Russia Is Already Working

In 2020, there have been several notable developments, that all seem to have been happening along Russia’s borders and in key regions developments in which influencing the Russian position on the international scene.

These include:

  • Ukraine’s refusal to seek peace in its East with the Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics, and various questionable policies.
  • Western-backed protests against Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, with a ‘school teacher-turned-politician’ challenging him with an insignificant share of the vote in the presidential election. She received wide support from the West, especially from heavily US-aligned states such as Poland and the Baltics.
  • The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and other groups in Syria are being supported openly, and not so openly, by the United States and sabotage the further diplomatic settlement of the conflict in Syria.
  • The situation in Central Asia is rather exacerbated, with an evident increase in ISIS activity in Afghanistan, alongside various terrorist elements appearing near its borders with Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) countries. The Russian Security Service – FSB – is hard at work in countering various ISIS and other terror cells on the territory of the Russian Federation, and reports such as these are frequent, meaning that there appears to be a network that is successful in either moving terrorist elements into the country, or recruiting them there.
  • There also was the Armenian-Azerbaijan War in Nagorno-Karabakh, which Russia didn’t directly involve itself in, since the fight was for the self-proclaimed independent republic of Artsakh, and Armenia never officially asked for assistance. Regardless, with the Peace Deal it brokered on November 10th, there have been numerous voices in Armenia blaming Russia for the defeat. And that is even though it essentially saved it from an even bigger fiasco and loss of territory. At the same time, despite being the victor, Azerbaijan simply received what it was promised with the Minsk agreements, with the addition of Shusha. There are protests against Russia in Azerbaijan, a country in which any non-government sanctioned protest is snuffed, violently. There are calls that Russia stole the “glorious victory”, while in Armenia there are calls to renew hostilities, while the Russian peacekeepers are there and somehow force their hand in the fight.
  • Turkey deployed thousands of Syrian militants to South Caucasus, and there are claims that it is even reportedly attempting to relocate families from Syria’s Afrin and other areas to the parts of Karabakh that were given to Azerbaijan. This is likely to also provide a fresh extremist presence in the region.
  • Turkey, once again, appeared to be shifting its gaze towards Crimea, but also cooperate with Ukraine in terms of selling UAVs to it and other military equipment.

All of these developments, somehow, almost entirely coincide with a report which the RAND Corporation released back in 2019.

The report is called “Extending Russia” with the subtitle “Competing from Advantageous Ground.” A short description of the report reads the following:

“The steps we posit would not have either defense or deterrence as their prime purpose, although they might contribute to both. Rather, these steps are conceived of as measures that would lead Russia to compete in domains or regions where the United States has a competitive advantage, causing Russia to overextend itself militarily or economically or causing the regime to lose domestic and/or international prestige and influence. This report deliberately covers a wide range of military, economic, and political policy options. Its recommendations are directly relevant to everything from military modernization and force posture to economic sanctions and diplomacy; consequently, it speaks to all the military services, other parts of U.S. government that have a hand in foreign policy, and the broader foreign and defense policy audience.”

Notably, the report suggests that the following “Geopolitical measures” need to be employed in order to counter Russia’s spreading influence and capabilities to provide an adequate answer to an extraordinary situation.

This chapter describes six possible U.S. moves in the current geopolitical competition:

  • providing lethal arms to Ukraine,
  • resuming support to the Syrian rebels,
  • promoting regime change in Belarus,
  • exploiting Armenian and Azeri tensions,
  • intensifying attention to Central Asia,
  • isolating Transnistria (a Russian-occupied enclave within Moldova).

There are several other possible geopolitical moves discussed in other RAND research but not directly evaluated here—including intensifying NATO’s relationship with Sweden and Finland, pressuring Russia’s position in the Arctic, and checking Russia’s attempts to secure its influence in Asia.

Ukraine

Between 2014 and 2016, the US provided $600 million in security assistance to Ukraine. These funds have been used to train Ukrainian military forces and provided nonlethal military equipment, including counterartillery and countermortar radars, secure communications, logistics systems, tactical unmanned reconnaissance aircraft, and medical equipment.

According to RAND, the US could increase its military assistance to Ukraine, or increase its calls to allow Kiev into NATO.

“Expanding U.S. assistance to Ukraine, including lethal military assistance, would likely increase the costs to Russia, in both blood and treasure, of holding the Donbass region. More Russian aid to the

separatists and an additional Russian troop presence would likely be required, leading to larger expenditures, equipment losses, and Russian casualties. The latter could become quite controversial at home, as it did when the Soviets invaded Afghanistan.”

Eastern Ukraine is already a significant drain on Russian resources, exacerbated by the accompanying Western sanctions. Increasing U.S. military aid would certainly drive up the Russian costs, but doing so could also increase the loss of Ukrainian lives and territory or result in a disadvantageous peace settlement. This would generally be seen as a serious setback for U.S. policy.

What’s going on in reality? There appears to be no conclusive peace settlement in Ukraine, and anti-Russian policy continues moving forward full speed. The Kiev regime, at large controlled from Washington, is intentionally sabotaging attempts to de-escalate the situation and publicly preparing for a new military operation in eastern Ukraine. Recently, pro-Kiev sources started laying great hopes on the Turkish military aid. For sure, the US is also involved. In August 2020, incoming US President Joe Biden promised to provide Ukraine with even more lethal weapons. In late 2019, the Trump administration also approved several sales of “defensive lethal weapons” to Ukraine.

As such this part of RAND’s suggestion appears to be moving, more or less, according to plan.

Chaos And Armed Conflicts: U.S. Strategy To Dismantle Russia Is Already Working

Syria

“In 2015, Russia’s intervention in Syria cost an estimated $2.4 million to $4 million a day, according to the Moscow Times and IHS Janes’ estimates. 34 Given the size of Russia’s defense budget ($50 billion that year), the sum might not be significant in and of itself.”

Increased U.S. support to the so-called ‘moderate’ Syrian opposition could perpetuate and intensify a civil war that had begun to wind down, thereby imposing attritional costs on both Russia and Iran.

RAND believes that such support should also reduce the “moderate opposition’s” reliance on the better-armed, more extremist groups and ultimately might improve the willingness and ability of moderate opposition forces to combat the “more extremist elements.” Now, first of all RAND doesn’t even deny that the most of “moderate opposition” is made up of extremists, who are fighting against even more extreme elements.

At the same time, the reality of the situation is this: the US, with all its claims of complete withdrawal from Syria, simply employed the SDF separatist leadership as a tool of sabotaging the peace settlement in Syria, while Washington is looting Syria’s oil fields. US companies exploit Syrian oil resources. Some of the money is used to bankroll the SDF.

The Russian side has repeatedly also claimed that ISIS and ISIS-affiliated fighters were being trained and received improved weaponry in the US-controlled areas of Syria.

Unlike Ukraine, the United States does not have a single actor to aid in the fight in Syria but rather faces a plethora of groups—often with murky affiliations—increasing the chances of weapons falling into the wrong hands.

“Supporting the rebels could run counter to the most prominent objective of the Trump administration’s Middle East foreign policy—fighting radical Islamist terrorism.”

In the highly unlikely event of total success—if Russia were to abandon the Assad government and the opposition were to somehow ‘defeat’ Damascus—the result would be a major geopolitical setback for Moscow but also a major contraction in its foreign commitments and associated expenditures, not to mention a huge responsibility for the United States and its allies to assume.

At the same time, it appears that supporting the “moderate rebels” isn’t proving effective enough and Israel is picking up the slack with targeting various Syrian and alleged Iranian positions in the areas under Damascus’ control.

Chaos And Armed Conflicts: U.S. Strategy To Dismantle Russia Is Already Working

Essentially, there were some attempts, but none of them are any significant, since the fight in Syria appears to be too far gone.

Likewise, according to RAND, this course of action might have been viable a few years ago, when the armed opposition was stronger and less radicalized. Under current circumstances, the most that expanded U.S. aid could likely do would be to perpetuate a conflict that has already destabilized an entire region. Russia might be forced to pay a bit more for its Syrian commitment but only at the cost of continued regional turbulence, societal radicalization, and increased civilian casualties and displaced personnel.

Belarus

Belarus is Russia’s neighbour and important ally. It provides a buffer between Russia and major NATO countries and is the initial link in Russia’s ground lines of communication between the mainland and Kaliningrad— the Russian enclave entirely encircled by Lithuania and Poland. Already host to Russian forces, Belarus features prominently in many notional conflicts among the United States, NATO, and Russia.

In a zero-sum world, denying Russia its one and only true ally would be a clear geopolitical and ideological gain for the West. It would bring an end to “Europe’s last dictatorship,” a long-standing U.S. policy goal.

“Starting revolutions is not easy, and the United States lending public support to opposition movements does not guarantee that they will be successful. In 2007, Gallup found that 60 percent of Belarusian respondents believed democracy was important and 47 percent believed it was “somewhat” or “very” important for Belarus to have an active opposition party.”

RAND considered regime change in Belarus as one of the most significant escalations, but the attempts have all but failed, and with Russia actually not having to lift a finger.

Even despite Lukashenko attempt to get some concessions from Russia prior to the protests in the country.

“Promoting regime change in Belarus is one of the most escalatory options considered in this report. Such an effort probably would not succeed and could provoke a strong Russian response, including the possibility of military action. Such a reaction might extend Russia by requiring the nation to commit resources to preserve its grasp over Belarus, thereby provoking the United States and its European allies to respond with harsher sanctions, but the result would be a general deterioration of the security environment in Europe and a setback for U.S. policy.”

Currently, protests in Belarus are still on-going, but they’ve barely achieved any real progress in the regime change agenda. However, the Western/NATO interference in the internal situation in Belarus is an undeniable fact.

Lukashenko may be making some interesting claims regarding Russia, or attempting to play tough in order to get a discount from Moscow on natural gas, or some other commodity, but at the same time is wise enough to continue actively communicating with Russian President Vladimir Putin and remain a formal ally.

Nagorno-Karabah: Armenia and Azerbaijan

The RAND analysis begins with reminding that in 2008, the Georgian-Russian relations with damaged severely, after a few days of war and the resulting South Ossetia and Abkhazia as separate countries.

Russia also plays a key role with Azerbaijan and Armenia, particularly over the disputed territory of Nagorno-Karabakh. Ethnically Armenian but geographically located within Azerbaijan, Nagorno- Karabakh’s bid to join the Armenia Soviet Socialist Republic during the latter years of the Soviet Union was denied by the Soviet Politburo because of the risk of encouraging secessionist movements elsewhere.

According to RAND, the United States could extend Russia in the Caucasus in two ways. First, the United States could push for a closer NATO relationship with Georgia and Azerbaijan, likely leading Russia to strengthen its military presence in South Ossetia, Abkhazia, Armenia, and southern Russia.

Alternatively, the United States could try to induce Armenia to break with Russia.

Chaos And Armed Conflicts: U.S. Strategy To Dismantle Russia Is Already Working

“Increased U.S. involvement in the region could produce additional economic benefits as well. The Caspian Sea remains a key producer of both oil and natural gas. Indeed, the U.S. Department of Energy estimates that there are “48 billion barrels of oil and 292 trillion cubic feet of natural gas in proved and probable reserves in the Caspian basins. Almost 75 percent of oil reserves and 67 percent of natural gas reserves are located within 100 miles of the coast.”

According to the analysis, resolving Nagorno-Karabakh is likely a prerequisite to Armenia breaking with Russia, but it is unclear precisely how the United States or NATO could resolve the decades-old conflict without privileging one side and antagonizing the other. NATO has encouraged both parties to resolve the conflict through the Minsk Group—led by the Russians.

Currently, the situation in Nagorno-Karabakh and the six-week war that started on September 27th, 2020 was due to several factors.

Notably, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, as an avid supporter of the West worked to the benefit of what RAND describes and distanced Armenia from Russia with questionable policy.

In turn, Turkey, in support of Azerbaijan saw a chance, prepared and began to largely pull the strings on Baku’s offensive on the region.

Still, Russia managed to somehow salvage the situation for Yerevan, by brokering a peace deal which saw Azerbaijan get what it was supposed to be given under the Minsk Agreements, with the addition of Shusha.

Pashinyan, however, continued blaming Russia, the Armenian population, foreign countries and such for the failure and the gross mismanagement of Armenia’s forces in the war.

Azerbaijan’s president Ilham Aliyev presents the war as “gloriously won” but there are some elements which are protesting and claiming that Moscow actually robbed Baku of its “glorious victory.”

There are anti-Russian protests, in a country in which all non-government approved protests are violently stopped.

The US made some claims for peace and so on, as did many Western countries, with France even attempting to somehow mediate the conflict, but only barely.

Paris attempted to prove itself as a valuable ally to Armenia, but in the end, it simply said “we are with you, our Armenian brothers” and all they provided were empty words.

In Armenia, in order for Pashinyan and the pro-Western leadership to remain, political arrests of the opposition began. As such, support for Russia still remains rather low, and it is playing to the measure that RAND outlined in April 2019. In the current conditions, pro-Western forces in the region would continue their efforts to destabilize the region creating chaos near the Russian border and setting conditions for the NATO expansion there.

Central Asia

Russia is part of two economic ventures related to Central Asia: the Eurasian Economic Union and the Belt and Road Initiative. Russia has benefited from both, although in the case of the former, partners might have been harmed economically. There might be steps the United States and allies could take to reduce Russia’s benefits from both of these.

Engaging more with Central Asia could have modest benefits. Expanding Central Asian connectivity to the rest of the world could reduce that area’s trade with Russia. It must be noted, however, that economic growth within these countries would likely have the opposite effect and increase their trade with Russia because economic size and trade are correlated.

Now, little of this has succeeded in the year. Notably, and not in the vein which RAND describes is that militant activity in Afghanistan, as well as along its borders with the CSTO countries has increased, which Russia sees as a threat.

There are frequent reports of the FSB arresting various terrorist elements that either came from Central Asian republics or were recruited from groups from there. There is little evidence that the US has anything to do with that, but there are some reports that unknown black hawks have been extracting militants from all around, and they’ve resurfaced in northern Afghanistan, after a while.

The US efforts to counter China’s Belt and Road Initiative, and is attempting to counter various projects in the Eurasian Economic Union, which Russia is part of such as the Nord Stream 2, but they are unrelated to Central Asia. In conclusion, regarding this, RAND appears to be a bit far from what’s been carried out, or if such measures are being implemented – they’re not being effective.

Chaos And Armed Conflicts: U.S. Strategy To Dismantle Russia Is Already Working

Moldova

Transnistria is a Russian-speaking enclave within Moldova that currently hosts a Russian peacekeeping force and army base.

Officially, Russian policy toward Transnistria is ambiguous. Russia’s Foreign Policy Concept includes only a single, rather inarticulate statement:

Russia strongly advocates a political and diplomatic settlement of conflicts in the post-Soviet space, specifically, Russia works within the existing multilateral negotiating mechanism to find an inclusive solution to the Transnistrian issue, respecting the sovereignty, territorial integrity and neutral status of the Republic of Moldova in determining the special status of Transnistria.

The United States could encourage Transnistria’s youth (who, according to some journalistic accounts, might be more pro-West than their elders) to push their pseudo-state to leave the Russian orbit.

Moldovan cooperation in an effort to expel the Russians would not be easy to secure. In an interview with Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Moldova’s pro-Russian President Igor Dodon stated, “A NATO office in Chisinau [Moldova’s capital], in a neutral country, is a provocation. I do not want this. I want neither NATO nor this Russia-led [military] alliance as far as armed forces are concerned.”

There’s been very limited movement throughout 2020, but it is likely that activities have been more focused on Belarus, Ukraine and Nagorno-Karabakh, and Moldova has been left for sometime in the near (or far future). The pro-Western presidential candidate, Maia Sandu, won the 2020 election in Moldova, and she’s already promoting the ideal of the need of the withdrawal of the Russian peacekeeping force from Transnistria. This move sets conditions for the increase of instability.

RAND’s General Recommendations

Extending Russia through geopolitical competition is a fundamentally difficult and dangerous proposition. One might bait Russia into extending its foreign commitments, but only at the risk of serious setbacks to local U.S. partners. Even if such efforts succeeded in generating Russian withdrawals, the result would be the opposite of an extension.

Chaos And Armed Conflicts: U.S. Strategy To Dismantle Russia Is Already Working

Any geopolitical moves to extend Russia would also need to consider other options that (for reasons of length and resources) were not considered here in depth—namely, intensifying NATO’s cooperation with Sweden and Finland, pressuring Russia’s claims in the Arctic, and checking its influence in the Arctic.

Many of these are not exactly spot on, and whether they’re entirely connected to what’s going on comes down to conspiracy theories. However, it is fact that within a year and a half of the publishing, many of these recommendations have been implemented.

There has been a regime change attempt in Belarus, which is still on-going. Armenia and Azerbaijan went to warn for Nagorno-Karabakh, and Russia had to mediate, deploy peacekeepers and further resources, as well as is being accused of both sides for either losing the war for Armenia, or stealing away a bigger victory for Azerbaijan.

Militants are being delivered to South Caucasus, and even families are being relocated there from Syria.

The US and the “moderate rebels” in Syria are still operating, albeit not as actively as before, but Israel is there to provide assistance by bombing Syrian and alleged Iranian targets.

Attempts to spread chaos in Central Asia are apparent, and the FSB continues arresting various extremist elements, but there are likely more who are roaming around and entering the country through various channels.

It is unknown what will happen in Moldova, as of yet, but the trend is alredy seen.

Another thing that could be added is cooperating with Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople, assisting in the forming of the autonomous Orthodox Church of Ukraine, making pushes to repeat that questionable “success” in other countries such as Montenegro, and more.

Regardless, pressure on Moscow is being exerted from quite a few directions, at the same time, and it is unlikely that under US President Joe Biden this will end. After all, his chosen aides all plan to improve relations with allies, while countering Russia’s spreading influence. Namely in Ukraine, since Biden appears to have a soft spot for the country from which he and his son allegedly funneled billions. Ukraine, and Eastern Ukraine, could also be the best direction from which to target Russia.

Things are still developing on many fronts, and the pieces are yet to fall squarely on the board.

MORE ON THE TOPIC:

Reforming the EU – Like waiting for Godot!

Reforming the EU – Like waiting for Godot!

October 22, 2020

By Francis Lee for the Saker Blog

There is a human tendency to cling on to cherished beliefs even in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary. There was a time, during the heady days of Jacques Delors and the Social Chapter, when the EU appeared to represent a social-democratic and neutral geopolitical bloc; a third force between the USSR as it then was and the US/NATO – this, however, is no longer the case. The EU has long since transmuted into part of an aggressive neo-liberal and neo-conservative imperial alliance under US command. The liberal, centre-left Remainers such as Yanis Varoufakis seem to think that it is possible to reverse this development and get the EU back to its original prototype, presumably by dint of political will. In view of historical developments this view seems increasingly difficult to sustain.

EU/NATO PUSHES EAST.

In particular since the ratification of the Lisbon Treaty of 2005 the EU Defence and Security Policy has been aligned with NATO. Indeed, EU membership has become a stalking horse for NATO membership and vice versa. NATO’s geopolitical drive to Russia’s western borders has been concurrent with the EU’s economic expansion – a strategic partnership between a military push and an economic push.

Not surprisingly perhaps the Russians see the siting of US anti-ballistic missile systems on their western borders in Romania and Poland, together with ongoing NATO military exercises involving tens of thousands of alliance troops as something of a provocation. Little wonder we now have a second cold war.

The position of the EU is, in geopolitical terms, completely subordinated to US interests. If there is a Russian-NATO conflict it will be fought on Europe’s turf not on America’s; Europe is ultimately expendable. This much can be inferred from facts on the ground, though this must be kept assiduously secret from the electorates of western Europe. Eastern Europe, however, seems only too willing to serve as the cannon-fodder for the US imperial designs; witness the incessant baying for war on the part of Russophobic states such as Poland and the Baltics, as well as NATO-EU wannabees like Ukraine and Georgia. It was precisely this expansion to the East (or new Europe as it was called by Donald Rumsfeld) which served as the essential prerequisite for the NATO takeover of the whole of Europe. The change has been noted:

EUROPE FROM LISBON TO VLADIVOSTOCK – AN IMPOSSIBLE DREAM.

‘’The destructive Russophobia of the new Europe undermined the credibility and cohesion of Europe as a whole. It had been anticipated that the new members’’ – Poland, the Baltics. etc. – would be ‘socialised’ into the ways of the EU, but, instead, the EU was in danger of reverse socialization incorporating the axiological (ethical – FL) dynamics and virulent neo-liberalism of some of the newer members, accompanied by their prioritisation of Atlantic Security over EU social solidarity.’’ (1)

In its original quasi-Gaullist form the EU might have played a constructive part in the Ukrainian crisis as a third party and disinterested broker between Russian and American interests, but by 2014 the EU had been transformed into something very different from its original configuration: it had become joined at the hip to the US imperial juggernaut. Moreover, the EU’s status in this relationship was subaltern rather than equal. It should be understood that the United States does not do ‘partnerships’ only master and flunkey slave relationships. It is further commented that:

‘’Instead of a vision embracing the whole continent it (the EU) it has become little more than the civilian wing of the Atlantic security alliance … The drift toward a merger with the Atlantic Security system left it bereft of autonomy and policy instruments when it really mattered – maintaining peace on the European continent.’’ (2)

COSTS IN EUROPE OF US FOREIGN POLICY

The terrorism and refugee crisis in Europe – the blowback – was unquestionably traceable to the US bull-in-a-china-shop foreign policy in the middle east, this much is obvious to even an impartial observer; but answering the call of duty the western media has strained every nerve and muscle in an attempt to deny what was a blatant fact. Terrorism and refugee flows were ripped out of the wider context in an attempt to obfuscate any causal connexions with these phenomena and US/EU/NATO foreign policy. The media propaganda tsunami notwithstanding the electorates of Europe were able to put 2 and 2 together, and this resulting in an ongoing political crisis in Europe which shows no signs of stabilization and, if anything, seems to be intensifying including the Brexit vote which committed the UK to leaving the EU, and, the electoral advances for the AfD in Germany as well as anti-EU sentiments which in Hungary and Poland has gained significant support from the population of those states. Propaganda and economic stagnation seems to have its limits; like Abe Lincoln said: ‘You can’t fool all of the people all of the time.’

So much for the geopolitics.

WASHINGTON CONSENSUS CROSSES THE POND

Perhaps as significant is the shift in economic policies and development which has taken place within the EU. Without doubt there has taken a sharp right turn since the 1980s.This policy consists of full-on neo-liberal economic and social imperatives involving the imbibing of a ruthless, winner-takes-all orthodoxy and its equally brutal imposition; Greece is perhaps the most egregious victim of this frugal economic diet, followed by Latvia, Estonia, Ireland, Portugal, Greece and even Italy, all of which are being forced into penury and debt-peonage courtesy of the Troika’s relentless austerity programme.

THE EURO – A NON-OPTIMAL CURRENCY WITHOUT A STATE.

Piling on the agony the creation of the Euro single currency (the key problem) since 1992 has put the Euro member states into an economic strait-jacket. The currency value cannot be changed or devalued to boost national exports during economic downturns such as that experienced since 2008. The result has been that the largest industrial power in the Eurozone, Germany, has benefited from the stable euro while weaker economies on the periphery of the EU, including most notably, France, have endured catastrophic consequences to the rigid Euro rate. The cost and productivity structures of Germany and the northern bloc in the EU, means that its goods will be cheaper than the higher costs and lower productivity levels in the southern belt. It follows therefore that the northern bloc runs permanent trade surpluses whilst the south has permanent trade deficits.

In a new report, the Dutch think-tank, Gefira Foundation, notes that French industry has been contracting since the adoption of the euro. “It was not able to recover after either of the 2001 or 2008 and present crisis because the euro, a currency stronger than the French franc would be, has become a burden to France’s economy. The floating exchange rate works like an indicator of the strength of the economy and like an automatic stabilizer. A weaker currency helps to regain competitiveness during a crisis, while a stronger currency supports consumption of foreign goods.

The only reason that the Germans were prepared to abandon their beloved deutschmark was that it would be replaced by a hard euro whose exchange rate was fixed and overvalued. The euro is an orphan, a currency without a state, and thus a foreign currency to all the European states in Europe.

EASTERN EUROPE:

TWO COLLAPSES. 1. COMMUNISM, 2. NEOLIBERAL CAPITALISM

The EU’s eastern periphery also has problems, but of a different kind. However only the Baltics, Slovenia and Slovakia actually use the euro. It is planned to include them into the euro in the fullness of time. Apart, that is, from basket cases like the Baltics whose government, unlike the people, went where angels feared to tread – into the Eurozone and the euro.

Excluding Russia, of course, these Eastern European states – termed ‘transitional economies’ – have become stalled in economic stagnation which so far has been difficult if not impossible to overcome. These obstacles have been specific to the Eastern periphery. The European Union now consists of 28 states. No fewer than 10 of these are former states of the Eastern Bloc, and this proportion is set to grow with the impending accession with some minor Balkan nations. Although Georgia and Ukraine are in line for membership of the EU, they are also expected to join NATO as has become customary for aspirant EU states.

Whether they obtain either is a matter of conjecture, however, as this would be almost certain to cross Russia’s red lines and result in a major geopolitical flareup. Europe’s centre of gravity is shifting. And while the process of joining the European Union is driving change within these countries, it is also changing the nature of Europe itself. Those Eastern European states which emerged from the break-up of the Soviet Union had been led to believe that a bright new world of West European living standards, enhanced pay levels, high rates of social mobility and consumption were on offer.

Unfortunately, they were sold an illusion: the result of the transition so far seems to have been the creation of a low-wage hinterland, a border economy on the fringes of the highly developed European core; a Euro version of NAFTA and the maquiladora, i.e., low tech, low wage, low skills production units on the Mexican side of the US’s southern borders. Moreover there are acute demographic problems confronting the ‘new Europe’.

Eastern Europe is bleeding people. With low fertility rates, higher death rates, and emigration. Case study:

‘’IN THE Lithuanian town of Panevezys, a shiny new factory built by Devold, a Norwegian clothing manufacturer, sits alone in the local free economic zone. The factory is unable to fill 40 of its jobs, an eighth of the total. That is not because workers in Panevezys are too picky, but because there are fewer and fewer of them. There are about half as many students in the municipality’s schools as there were a decade ago, says the mayor.

Such worries are increasingly common across central and eastern Europe, where birth rates are low and emigration rates high. The ex-communist countries that joined the European Union from 2004 dreamed of quickly transforming themselves into Germany or Britain. Instead, many of their workers transported themselves to Germany or Britain. Latvia’s working-age population has fallen by a quarter since 2000; a third of those who graduated from university between 2002 and 2009 had emigrated by 2014. Polls of Bulgarian medical students show that 80-90% plan to emigrate after graduating.

Lithuania’s loss of workers is costly, says Stasys Jakeliunas, an economist. Remittances and EU money for infrastructure upgrades have helped, but labour shortages discourage foreign investment and hurt economic growth. According to the IMF, in some countries in eastern Europe emigration shaved 0.6-0.9 percentage points from annual GDP growth in 1999-2014. By 2030 GDP per person in Bulgaria, Romania and some of the Baltic countries may be 3-4% lower than it would have been without emigration.

All of this imperils public finances. Pensions, which take up about half of social spending in eastern Europe, are the biggest worry. In 2013 Latvia had 3.3 working-age adults for each person older than 65, about the same as Britain and France; by 2030 that is projected to fall to just over two, a level Britain and France will not reach until 2060. Countries are raising the retirement age (apart from Poland, which is recklessly lowering it). Benefits are already meagre, leaving little room for cuts. As a share of GDP, social spending in Bulgaria, Romania and the Baltic states is roughly half of that in many richer European countries.

Unable to dissuade people from leaving, governments are trying instead to lure them back, inspired by successful efforts in Ireland and South Korea. Daumantas Simenas, project manager of the Panevezys free economic zone, credits his return from Britain to the country’s “Create for Lithuania” programme, which matches educated professionals from the diaspora with government jobs. Having a job already lined up made the decision to return easier, he says. Plus, he adds, “home is home.”

Whether such efforts can turn the tide seems doubtful. “Create for Lithuania” has brought back more than 100 people since its launch five years ago, says Milda Darguzaite, who started the programme after leaving an investment-banking career in America for a government post in Vilnius. Returnees include an MP, a deputy mayor and several advisers to the prime minister. Bringing back doctors and engineers, however, is trickier. Studies show that skilled workers from eastern Europe are attracted abroad primarily by the quality of institutions such as good schools; better social benefits matter more for unskilled migrants. Data on return migration are scanty, but a recent report by the IMF suggests it has been “modest”, in some countries as low as 5% of those who left.’’ (3)

In more general terms figures for Eastern and central Europe as a whole are as follows. With the exception of the Czech Republic and Slovakia and Russia, every eastern European country has a declining population. Population declines as follows from 2006 to 2018:

Latvia and Lithuania = 12%

Ukraine = 9%

Hungary = 8.5%

Romania = 7%

Bulgaria = 6%

Estonia = 1.5%

Poland = 0.3%

The comprador vassal elites on the wrong side of the Oder-Neisse Line have been caught in the trap of dependency and semi-development, and in some cases under-development, and this was partly of their own making due to their rush to throw themselves into the arms of the US-NATO-EU alliance and an expected pay-off/bribe. The only states to avoid this have been Czechia, Slovakia and Russia. In the Balkans the same devastating NATO coalition engineered the destruction and break-up of what was once the sovereign state of Yugoslavia.

Thus In both economic and foreign policy the European political and financial elites have acted as overseas branch managers of a multinational enterprise whose HQ is on the other side of the pond (the US) where policy is determined and exported. Quislingism might be an appropriate word in this context.

DEMOCRATIC DEFICIT – THE FINAL ACT.

Finally, we come to the democratic deficit. This is important since the only way that change is possible is through the EU institutions. In order of importance these institutions comprise 1. The Council of Ministers, 2. The European Central Bank, 3. The European Commission. The last of these institutions consists of a President, at present, Ursula Von der Leyen, and formerly, Jean-Claude Juncker, seven, Vice-Presidents, whose identities are not known to me, and twenty Commissioners, equally obscure. Juncker succinctly enunciated the process of EU’s decision making as follows: ‘’If it’s Yes, we will say on we go, and if it is a No, we will say we will continue.’’ So much for open and flexible debate on policy.

The Council of Ministers and the ECB also pull various levers, often in tandem with extra-European global institutions such as NATO, WTO and IMF. Of course there is absolutely no sign that the current policies of the EU are not continuing along their present reactionary trajectory; and since the electorates of the EU have no control of the Council of Ministers and ECB there seems no way to break into this closed system of rule by a technocratic oligarchy. Once again political unrest in Europe suggests a causal connexion between the nature of the EU’s political and economic structures and the policies and outcomes emanating thereof.

This is not the EU we (the UK) signed up to in 1976, and there comes a time in politics where it is judicious to give up flogging a dead horse. A ‘progressive’ Labour government – if such a political animal is possible – would not be allowed by EU law to implement its economic reforms, cancel Trident, leave or even modify its NATO membership. Democracy is impossible without some measure of sovereignty, and nations must get control of their own foreign and economic policies since if they don’t the globalisers and Bilderbergers will and have done. There is nothing wrong with a volte face in politics.

It was J.M. Keynes who once said: ‘’When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do sir?’

NOTES

(1) Richard Sakwa – Frontline Ukraine.

(2) Sakwa, Ibid. pp.227/228)

(3) The Economist – 19/01/2017. It should be added that the Economist is very much the house journal of the British elite. Yet even they have their doubts about the Euro project.

A New Wall For A New Cold War?

Source

12 OCTOBER 2020

A New Wall For A New Cold War?

The head of the prestigious Munich Security Conference warned late last month against efforts to “build a new ‘wall’ between Russia and the West” in light of the Navalny incident and the many other disagreements between both sides, and while it’s unrealistic to expect another Berlin Wall-like physical division of Europe, there’s no denying that their different governing models have created a sharp split across the continent.

Welcome To The New Cold War

Last month will probably go down in history as the moment when the New Cold War became impossible to deny. The US has been attempting to rekindle its fading unipolarity since the onset of its coordinated Hybrid War “containment” campaigns against Russia and China in 2014, which only intensified in the aftermath of Trump’s election. The leaders of all three countries addressed the UN General Assembly (UNGA) by video in a series of speeches that laid bare these two sides’ contradictory assessments of contemporary global affairs and related visions of the future. Their keynote speeches were preceded by UN Secretary General Guterres warning the world that “We must do everything to avoid a New Cold War.” Trump obviously didn’t listen to him, which is why the head of the prestigious Munich Security Conference (MSC) followed up that global representative’s warning with his own at the end of that historic week cautioning that “It will result in nothing if we now try to build a new ‘wall’ between Russia and the West because of Navalny and other sad and terrible events.” It’s his dramatic words that form the basis of the present article.

The US’ Hybrid War On Russia

There are many angles through which the ongoing global competition can be analyzed, but the prospect of a new wall of some sort or another accompanying the New Cold War in Europe is among the most intriguing. The MSC head presumably isn’t implying the creation of a 21st-century Berlin Wall, but seems to be speaking more generally about his fear that the growing divisions between Russia and the West will soon become irreversible and potentially even formalized as the new status quo. The author wrote last month that “The US’ Hybrid War On Russian Energy Targets Germany, Belarus, And Bulgaria”, pointing out how even the partial success of this latest “containment” campaign will greatly advance the scenario of an externally provoked “decoupling” between Russia and the West. That would in turn help secure American grand strategic interests in the continent. This “decoupling” would reverse the progress that was made in bilateral relations since the end of the Old Cold War up until the Ukrainian Crisis. Taken to its maximum extent, the spiritual return of the Berlin Wall seems almost inevitable at this point.

Governing Differences

It’s true that the border between the NATO countries and Russia’s CSTO (which importantly includes Hybrid War-targeted Belarus) represents the modern-day military equivalent of the “Iron Curtain”, but the situation isn’t as simple as that. While military divisions remain (albeit pushed much further eastward over the past three decades), ideological and economic ones are less apparent. Russia no long ascribes to communism but follows its own national variant of democracy within a mostly capitalist system, thus reducing the structural differences between itself and its Western counterparts. Unaware observers might wonder why there’s even a New Cold War to begin with when considering how much both sides have in common with one another, but that overlooks their contradictory worldviews which lie at the heart of their mutual suspicions. Russia strongly believes in safeguarding its geopolitical and domestic socio-political sovereignty so it accordingly follows a more conservative path whereas Western countries mostly submit to the US’ authority and generally regard their liberal position on many social issues as universalist.

The End Of The “Great Convergence”

The reason why the thaw in Russian-Western relations failed to achieve the “Great Convergence” that Gorbachev originally hoped for was because the US wanted to impose its will onto Russia by treating it as just another vassal state that would be forced to follow its lead abroad and accept extreme liberal social mandates at home instead of respecting it as an equal partner. Nevertheless, this policy was actually surprisingly successful all throughout the 1990s under Yeltsin, but its fatal flaw was that it went much too far too quickly by attempting to dissolve the Russian Federation through American support for Chechen separatist-terrorist groups. That inadvertently provoked a very patriotic reaction from the responsible members of Russia’s military, intelligence, and diplomatic bureaucracies (“deep state”) who worked together to ensure their motherland’s survival in the face of this existential crisis. The end result was that Putin succeeded Yeltsin and subsequently set about to systematically save Russia. This took the form of stabilizing the security situation at home in parallel with reasserting Russia on the world stage.

The “Russian Model”

Putin, though, was always a liberal in the traditional (not post-modern) sense. He never lost his appreciation for Western civilization and sincerely wanted to complete Gorbachev’s hoped-for “Great Convergence”, though only on equal terms and not as a US vassal. Regrettably, the Russian leader’s many olive branches were slapped away by an angry America which feared the influence that a powerful “moderately liberal” state could have on its hyper-liberal subjects. All of Putin’s efforts to take the “Great Convergence” to its next logical step of a “Europe from Lisbon to Vladivostok” failed for this reason, after which an intense information warfare campaign was waged to portray Russia was a “radical right-wing state” even though it was never anything of the sort. This modus operandi was intended to prevent Europe’s indoctrinated masses from ever countenancing whether a “moderate” alternative exists whereby they’d preserve their domestic and international sovereignty despite remaining committed to traditional liberal values, just like the “Russian model” that Putin pioneered. Understandably, this would pose a serious threat to American strategic interests, hence the campaign against it.

The Rise Of America’s Russian Rival

As time went on, the “Russian model” was partially replicated in some of the countries of Central Europe such as Poland and even within the US itself through Trump’s election, though this wasn’t due to any so-called “Russian meddling” but was a natural result of the ideological interplay between radical and “moderate” liberals. It just so happened that Russia was the first country to implement this model not because of anything uniquely “Russian” within its society, but simply as the most pragmatic survival plan considering the extremely difficult circumstances of the 1990s and attendant limits on the country’s strategic maneuverability during that time. It was considered by the patriotic members of Russia’s “deep state” to be much too risky to reverse the direction of post-Soviet reforms, hence why the decision seems to have been made to continue with them, though doing all in the country’s power to regain control over these processes from Russia’s Western overlords in order to protect national geopolitical and domestic socio-political interests. This struggle led to Russia becoming an alternative pole of influence (in the governance sense) within the “Greater West”, rivaling the US.

Hillary & Trump: Same Anti-Russian Strategy, Different Infowar Tactics

With this insight in mind, the New Cold War was inevitable in hindsight. Had Hillary been elected, then the infowar narrative would have focused more on Russia’s different “values”, seeking to present its target as a “threat to the (hyper-liberal) Western way of life”. Since Trump’s America interestingly enough shares many of the same values as contemporary Russia does, however, the focus is on geopolitical differences instead. From the prism of International Relations theory, Hillary’s angle of attack against Russia would have been more liberal whereas Trump’s is more realist. Either way, both American leaders (theoretical in the first sense and actual in the second) have every reason to fear Russia since it challenges the US’ unipolar dominance in Europe. Hillary would have wanted to portray Russia as being outside of the “Western family of nations”, though Trump can’t convincingly do that given his much more high-profile provocations against obviously non-Western China, hence why he’s basically competing with Russia for leadership of the “moderate” liberal model of Western civilization, ergo accepting their structural similarities but instead over-hyping their geopolitical differences.

Post-Soviet Russia’s Irreversible Impact On Western Civilization

Taking all of the aforementioned into account, it’s understandable why the US wants to build a “new wall” in Europe by “decoupling” its NATO-captive subjects from Russia through a series of Hybrid Wars, though the genie is out of the bottle since some Central European countries like Poland the even the US itself under Trump already implement elements of the “Russian model”. This means that while the physical separation of Russia and Europe along military, geopolitical, and soon perhaps even economic-energy lines is practically a fait accompli at this point, the ideological-structural influence emanating from Moscow is impossible to “contain”. No “wall” will reverse the impact that the “Russian model” has had on the course of Western civilization, though it should be remembered that the aforesaid model wasn’t part of some “cunning 5D chess plan” but an impromptu survival tactic that was triggered in response to American unipolar-universalist soft power aggression on post-Soviet Russia. It’s not distinctly “Russian”, which is why the hyper-liberal Western elite fear it so much since they know very well that it could take root in their countries too, just like in Poland and the US.

Concluding Thoughts

The typical Western mind is conditioned to think in terms of models, especially historical ones, which is why they imagine that the New Cold War will closely resemble the Old Cold War simply because of the effect that neuro-linguistic programming has on their thought process. This explains why the MSC head warned against the creation of a “new wall” between Russia and the West even though no such scenario is realistic. No physical barrier like the Berlin Wall will ever be erected again, and even though the geopolitical, military, and perhaps even soon economic-energy fault lines between them might become formalized through the impending success of the US’ “decoupling” strategy, this will not address the root cause of the New Cold War which lies with Russia’s “moderately liberal” model of state sovereignty in contrast to the US’ (former?) hyper-liberal universalist one of state vasselhood. It’s this difference that’s primarily responsible for every other dimension of their competition since it placed Russia on the trajectory of supporting a Multipolar World Order instead of the US’ hoped-for Unipolar World Order.By Andrew KorybkoAmerican political analyst

The World Has Gone Absolutely Insane!

THE SAKER • SEPTEMBER 25, 2020

We all know that we are living in crazy, and dangerous, times, yet I can’t help being awed at what the imperial propaganda machine (aka the legacy ziomedia) is trying to make us all swallow. The list of truly batshit crazy stuff we are being told to believe is now very long, and today I just want to pick on a few of my “favorites” (so to speak).

First, of course, comes the “Novichok Reloaded” scandal around the alleged poisoning of the so-called “dissident” Alexei Navalnyi. I already mentioned this absolutely ridiculous story once, so I won’t repeat it all here. I just want to mention a few very basic facts:

  • Navalnyi is pretty much a discredited non-entity in Russia. “Putin” (because this is how the imperial propaganda machine always personalizes the evils of Russia: “Putin” did this or that, as if Putin was personally in every alleged Russian evil deed) had absolutely and exactly zero reasons to harm Navalnyi in any way. I would even add that IF Navalnyi was poisoned in Russia (which I do not believe) then the FSB screwed up by not offering him 24/7 protection, especially in the current political climate (i.e. struggle for the completion of North Stream 2).
  • The Empire always likes to produce a “sacrificial lamb” to symbolize the putative evil of the nation which dares to resist. In Iran it was Neda, in Kuwait the infamous “incubator babies”, in Syria anonymous kids killed by Russian gas, and in Russia it was Nemtsov (did not really work) and now Navalnyi (I wonder who the sacrificial lamb will be in Belarus (Tikhanovskaia?). The FSB should have seen this coming, especially after Nemtsov.
  • There is exactly zero evidence that the mineral water bottle which the Germans claim contained traces of, what else, “Novichok”, ever was anywhere near Navalnyi or even that it ever was in Russia. No such bottle was found by, or mentioned to the Russian investigators. This bottle was, allegedly, hidden from the FSB by Navalnyi supporters, and secretly brought to Germany. What that means in terms of “chain of custody” is self-evident.
  • As I have mentioned in my past article, if what the German authorities are claiming is true, then the Russians are truly the dumbest imbeciles on the planet. Not content to use this now famous “Novichok” gas against Skripal in the UK and after failing to kill Skripal, these stupid Russians decided to try the very same gas, only “improved”, and they failed again: Navalnyi is quite alive and well, thank you!
  • Then there is this: according to the imperial propaganda machine, Novichok was so horribly dangerous, that the Brits had to use full biosuits to investigate the alleged poisoning of Skripal. They also said that they would completely destroy the dangerous Skripal home (though they never did that). The self same propaganda machine says that the Novichok used on Navalnyi was a more powerful, improved version. Okay. Then try to answer this one: why did the Russians NOT put on biosuits, why did not a single passenger suffer from any side effects (inside a closed aircraft cabin!)? How is it that this super-dooper Novichok not only failed to kill Navalnyi (who, allegedly, ingested it!) but also failed to even moderately inconvenience anybody from the many people Navalnyi was surrounded by on that day?

I could continue to deconstruct all this nonsense, but that would take pages. I will mention two thing though:

First, the Russians have requested any and all evidence available to the Germans and to the Organization for the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons – but they got absolutely nothing in return. Yet the EU is demanding an investigation (which is already under way in Russia anyway!) as if the Russians did not want the exact same!

After being exposed to an improved Novichok and after weeks in coma in intensive care, here is Navalnyi trotting down stairs feeling great

After being exposed to an improved Novichok and after weeks in coma in intensive care, here is Navalnyi trotting down stairs feeling great

Second, Navalnyi apparently has an immunity to otherwise deadly Russian biological agents, just take a look at him on this post-Novichok photo:

[By the way, the first time around the Brits also never gave the Russians any information, nevermind any kind of evidence. Apparently, to hide some super-secret secrets. Yeah, right!]

Next, I absolutely have to mention the absolutely insane situation around Belarus.

To make a long story short, the EU wants to sanction Russia for intervening in Belarus while that self-same EU is intervening in every possible imaginable manner: from the Poles who treat Tikhanovskaia as a modern False Dmitri the Fifth (see here for a summary of Polish-run False Dmitris), to the promise of a special “Marshall Plan for Belarus”, to the coordination of all the protests from Poland. The EU refuses to recognize Lukashenko as the winner (in spite of the fact that there is exactly zero evidence suggesting that Lukashenko lost) and refers to Tikhanovskaia as the “Leader of Belarus” (whatever that means).

As for our US American friends, having learned exactly nothing from the abject failure of their Guaido coup in Venezuela, they now want to repeat exactly the same with Tikhanovskaia in Belarus. As a result, Tikhanovskaia has been re-christened “Juanita Guaido”

But the worst are still the Europeans. Not only are they prostituting themselves to the leaders of the Empire, the following countries were the first to declare that they will not recognize Lukashenko as the leader of Belarus: Poland, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia (which is no surprise, they all compete for the title of most pro-US colony on the planet), but also putatively mentally sane countries such as Germany, Czechia, Slovakia, Denmark. The case of Germany is particularly amazing, because Germany will now be placed under immense pressure to cancel North Stream 2, something which the entire German industry opposes. Eventually, the US, Canada, the Ukraine, the UK and the entire EU joined in and also refused to recognize Lukashenko as the leader of Belarus.

What is especially amazing to me is that these EU imbeciles apparently don’t care that without North Stream 2 they will have to purchase US gas, at much higher prices, which will make the EU economy less effective than the US one. And I thought that prostitutes are always acutely aware of the money they can make: not the European ones, apparently.

Still, I think that the “top honor” in this category goes to Poland which, while condemning some undefined Russian intervention in Belarus, runs the NEXTA Telegram channel which runs videos like this one: (in Russian – no, not in Belarusian, they know that 99.9999% Belarussians speak Russian):

Oh, but it gets better.

NATO seems to be trying to frighten Russia with maneuvers in Poland and B-52 flights over the Ukraine and the Black Sea (see here for a full analysis). As for the Poles and Ukronazis, they apparently believe that the Russian bear covered himself in poop and ran away at full speed.

What I am going to say next is not a secret, every military person who looked into this issue knows and understands this: NATO, and I mean the combined power of all NATO member states, simply does not have the hardware needed to wage a war against Russia in Europe. What NATO does have is only sufficient to trigger a serious incident which might result in a shooting war. But once this war starts, the chances of victory for NATO are exactly zero. Why?

Well, for one thing, while coalitions of countries might give a thin veneer of political legitimacy to a military action (in reality, only a UNSC resolution would), in purely military terms you are much better off having a single national military. Not only that, but coalitions are nothing but the expression of an often held delusion: the delusion that the little guy can hide behind the back of the big guy. Poland’s entire history can be summarized in this simple principle: strike the weak and bootlick (or even worse!) the powerful. In contrast, real military powers don’t count on some other guy doing the heavy lifting for them. They simply fight until they win.

Yes, the Europeans, being the cowards that they are, do believe that there is safety in numbers. But each time these midgets gang up on Russia and start barking (or, to use Putin’s expression, start oinking) all together, the Russians clearly see that the Europeans are afraid. Otherwise, they would not constantly seek somebody to protect them (even against a non-existing threat).

As a direct result of this delusion, NATO simply does not have the equivalent of the First Guard Tank Army in spite of the fact that NATO has a bigger population and much bigger budgets than Russia. Such a tank Army is what it would take to fight a real war in Europe, Russia has such an Army. NATO does not.

The other thing NATO does not have is a real integrated multi-layered air defense system. Russia does.

Lastly, NATO has no hypersonic weapons. Russia does.

(According to President Trump, the US does have super-dooper “hydrosonic” weapons, but nobody really knows what that is supposed to mean).

I would even argue that the comparatively smaller Belarusian military could make hamburger meat of the roughly three times larger Polish armed forces in a very short time (unlike the Poles, the Belarusian are excellent soldiers and they know that they are surrounded by hostile countries on three sides).

As for the “armed forces” of the Baltic statelets, they are just a sad joke.

One more example: the Empire is now sending ships into the Black Sea as some kind of “show of force”. Yet, every military analyst out there knows that the Black Sea is a “Russian lake” and that no matter how many ships the US or NATO sends into the Black Sea, their life expectancy in case of a conflict would be measured in minutes.

There is a popular expression in Russia which, I submit, beautifully sums up the current US/NATO doctrine: пугать ежа голой задницей, which can be translated as “trying to scare a hedgehog with your naked bottom”.

The truth is that NATO military forces currently are all in very bad shape – all of them, including the US – and that their only advantage over Russia is in numbers. But as soon as you factor in training, command and control, the ability to operate with severely degraded C3I capabilities, the average age of military hardware or morale – the Russian armed forces are far ahead of the West.

Does anybody sincerely believe that a few B-52s and a few thousand soldiers from different countries playing war in Poland will really scare the Russian generals?

But if not – why the threats?

My explanation is simple: the rulers of the Empire simply hope that the people in the West will never find out how bad their current military posture really is, and they also know that Russia will never attack first – so they simply pretend like they are still big, mighty and relevant. This is made even easier by the fact that the Russians always downplay their real capabilities (in sharp contrast to the West which always brags about “the best XYZ in the world”). That, and the fact that nobody in the Western ruling classes wants to admit that the game is over and that the Empire has collapsed.

Well, they apparently can hide these truisms from most of their public opinion: Trump promises super-dooper missiles and big red buttons, and his supporters immediately wave (Chinese made) US flags! But I assure you that the Russians (political leaders and even the general public) know what the real score is.

Yet the Empire still refuses to deal with Russia in any other way except insults, bullying, threats, accusations, sanctions, and constant sabre-rattling. This has never, and I mean never, worked in the past, and it won’t work in the future. But, apparently, NATO generals simply cannot comprehend that insanity can be defined as “doing the same thing over and over again, while hoping to achieve different results”.

Finally, I will conclude with a short mention of US politicians.

First, Trump. He now declares that the Russians stole the secret of hypersonic weapons from Obama. This reminds me of how the Brits declared that Russia stole their vaccine against the sars-cov-2 virus. But, if the Russians stole all that, why is it that ONLY Russia has deployed hypersonic weapons (not the US) and ONLY Russia has both two vaccines and 2 actual treatments (and not the UK)? For a good laugh, check out Andrei Martyanov’s great column “Russia Steal Everything”.

And then there is Nancy Pelosi who, apparently, is considering, yes, you guessed it – yet another impeachment attempt against Trump? The charge this time? Exercising this Presidential prerogative to nominate a successor to Ruth Ginsburg. Okay, Pelosi might be senile, but she also is in deep denial if she thinks impeaching Trump is still a viable project. Frankly? I think that she lost it.

In fact, I think that all the Dems have gone absolutely insane: they are now considering packing both the Supreme Court and the Senate. The fact that doing so will destroy the US political system does not seem to bother them in the least.

Conclusion: quos Deus vult perdere prius dementat!

We live in a world where facts or logic have simply become irrelevant and nobody cares about such clearly outdated categories. We have elevated “doubleplusgoodthinking” into an art form. We have also done away with the concepts of “proof” or “evidence” which we have replaced with variations on the “highly likely” theme. We have also, for all practical purpose, jettisoned the entire corpus of international law and replaced it with “rules-based international order“. In fact, I can only agree with Chris Hedges who, in his superb book the “Empire of illusions” and of the “triumph of spectacle”. He is absolutely correct: not only is this a triumph of appearance over substance, and of ideology over reality, it is even the triumph of self-destruction over self-preservation.

There is not big “master plan”, no complex international conspiracy, no 5D chess. All we have is yet another empire committing suicide and, like so many before this one, this suicide is executed by this empire’s ruling classes.

Russian Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR) Statement About the Situation in Belarus

Russian Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR) Statement About the Situation in Belarus

September 19, 2020

SVR RF Press Bureau – September 16, 2020

(Italics and bolding added for emphasis.)

The Director of the Foreign Intelligence Service of the Russian Federation, Sergey Naryshkin stated:

“The events in Belarus show clearly visible Western traces. The protest actions from the very beginning carry a well organized character and is coordinated from abroad.

It’s remarkable that the West began preparing the protests long before the elections. In 2019 – early 2020 alone, the United States allocated about $20 million through various NGOs to organize anti-government protests. This money was used to form a network of ‘independent bloggers’ and informational accounts in social networks, to prepare activists for street actions. The most promising of them were trained abroad, in particular in Poland, Lithuania and Ukraine, where they were trained by experienced American instructors in ‘non-violent protest’.

According to information available to the SVR, the United States plays a key role in the current events in Belarus. Although Washington is trying to stay ‘in the shadows’ in the public space, after the start of mass street protests, the Americans have multiplied their funding of Belarusian anti-government forces. Its volumes are estimated in tens of millions of dollars. The United States has taken under close guardianship the former presidential candidate Svetlana Tikhanovskaya and other opposition activists who are being promoted as ‘people’s leaders’ and future leaders of ‘democratic Belarus’.

In our contacts with European allies, Washington insists on the need to increase pressure on Minsk to induce the legitimate leadership of Belarus to launch a dialogue with the so-called Coordination Council on the ‘transfer of power’. In fact, we are talking about a poorly veiled attempt to organize another ‘color revolution’ and an anti-constitutional coup, the goals and objectives of which have nothing to do with the interests of Belarusian citizens.”

S.N. Ivanov

Head of the SVR Press Bureau

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s interview with RTVI television, Moscow, September 17, 2020

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s interview with RTVI television, Moscow, September 17, 2020

September 18, 2020

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation

Question: I’ll start with the hottest topic, Belarus. President of the Republic of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko visited Bocharov Ruchei. Both sides have officially recognised that change within the Union State is underway. This begs the question: What is this about? A common currency, common army and common market? What will it be like?

Sergey Lavrov: It will be the way our countries decide. Work is underway. It relies on the 1999 Union Treaty. We understand that over 20 years have passed since then. That is why, a couple of years ago, upon the decision of the two presidents, the governments of the Russian Federation and the Republic of Belarus began to work on identifying the agreed-upon steps that would make our integration fit current circumstances. Recently, at a meeting with Russian journalists, President Lukashenko said that the situation had, of course, changed and we must agree on ways to deepen integration from today’s perspective.

The presidential election has taken place in Belarus. The situation there is tense, because the opposition, backed by some of our Western colleagues, is trying to challenge the election outcome, but I’m convinced that the situation will soon get back to normal, and the work to promote integration processes will resume.

Everything that is written in the Union Treaty is now being analysed. Both sides have to come to a common opinion about whether a particular provision of the Union Treaty is still relevant, or needs to be revised. There are 31 roadmaps, and each one focuses on a specific section of the Union Treaty. So, there’s clearly a commitment to continue the reform, a fact that was confirmed by the presidents during a recent telephone conversation. This is further corroborated by the presidents’ meeting in Sochi.

I would not want that country’s neighbours, and our neighbours for that matter, including Lithuania, for example, to try to impose their will on the Belarusian people and, in fact, to manage the processes in which the opposition is unwittingly doing what’s expected of it. I have talked several times about Svetlana Tikhanovskaya’s situation. Clearly, someone is putting words in her mouth. She is now in the capital of Lithuania, which, like our Polish colleagues, is strongly demanding a change of power in Belarus. You are aware that Lithuania declared Ms Tikhanovskaya the leader of the Republic of Belarus, and Alexander Lukashenko was declared an illegitimate president.

Ms Tikhanovskaya has made statements that give rise to many questions. She said she was concerned that Russia and Belarus have close relations. The other day, she called on the security and law-enforcement forces to side with the law. In her mind, this is a direct invitation to breach the oath of office and, by and large, to commit high treason. This is probably a criminal offense. So, those who provide her with a framework for her activities and tell her what to say and what issues to raise should, of course, realise that they may be held accountable for that.

Question: Commenting on the upcoming meeting of the presidents of Russia and Belarus in Sochi, Tikhanovskaya said: “Whatever they agree on, these agreements will be illegitimate, because the new state and the new leader will revise them.” How can one work under such circumstances?

Sergey Lavrov: She was also saying something like that when Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin went to Belarus to meet with President Lukashenko and Prime Minister Golovchenko. She was saying it then. Back then, the opposition was concerned about any more or less close ties between our countries. This is despite the fact that early on during the crisis they claimed that they in no way engaged in anti-Russia activities and wanted to be friends with the Russian people. However, everyone could have seen the policy paper posted on Tikhanovskaya’s website during the few hours it was there. The opposition leaders removed it after realising they had made a mistake sharing their goals and objectives with the public. These goals and objectives included withdrawal from the CSTO, the EAEU and other integration associations that include Russia, and drifting towards the EU and NATO, as well as the consistent banning of the Russian language and the Belarusianisation of all aspects of life.

We are not against the Belarusian language, but when they take a cue from Ukraine, and when the state language is used to ban a language spoken by the overwhelming majority of the population, this already constitutes a hostile act and, in the case of Ukraine, an act that violates its constitution. If a similar proposal is introduced into the Belarusian legal field, it will violate the Constitution of Belarus, not to mention numerous conventions on the rights of ethnic and language minorities, and much more.

I would like those who are rabidly turning the Belarusian opposition against Russia to realise their share of responsibility, and the opposition themselves, including Svetlana Tikhanovskaya and others – to find the courage to resist such rude and blatant manipulation.

Question: If we are talking about manipulation, we certainly understand that it has many faces and reflects on the international attitude towards Russia. Internationally, what are the risks for us of supporting Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko? Don’t you think 26 years is enough? Maybe he has really served for too long?

Sergey Lavrov: The President of the Republic of Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko, did say it might have been “too long.” I believe he has proposed a very productive idea – constitutional reform. He talked about this even before the election, and has reiterated the proposal more than once since then. President of Russia Vladimir Putin supports this attitude. As the Belarusian leader said, after constitutional reform, he will be ready to announce early parliamentary and presidential elections. This proposal provides a framework where a national dialogue will be entirely possible. But it is important that representatives of all groups of Belarusian society to be involved in a constitutional reform process. This would ensure that any reform is completely legitimate and understandable for all citizens. Now a few specific proposals are needed concerning when, where and in what form this process can begin. I hope that this will be done, because President Alexander Lukashenko has repeatedly reaffirmed carrying out this initiative.

Question: Since we started talking about the international attitude towards Russia, let’s go over to our other partner – the United States. The elections in the US will take place very soon. We are actively discussing this in Russia. When asked whether Russia was getting ready for the elections in the US at the Paris forum last year, you replied: “Don’t worry, we’ll resolve this problem.” Now that the US elections are around the corner, I would like to ask you whether you’ve resolved it.

Sergey Lavrov: Speaking seriously, of course we, like any other normal country that is concerned about its interests and international security, are closely following the progress of the election campaign in the US. There are many surprising things in it. Naturally, we see how important the Russian issue is in this electoral process. The Democrats are doing all they can to prove that Russia will exploit its hacker potential and play up to Donald Trump. We are already being accused of promoting the idea that the Democrats will abuse the mail-in voting option thereby prejudicing the unbiased nature of voting. I would like to note at this point that mail-in voting has become a target of consistent attacks on behalf of President Trump himself. Russia has nothing to do with this at all.

A week-long mail-in voting is an interesting subject in comparing election systems in different countries. We have introduced three-day voting for governors and legislative assembly deputies in some regions. You can see the strong criticism it is subjected to, inside Russia as well. When the early voting in the US lasts for weeks, if not months, it is considered a model of democracy. I don’t see any criticism in this respect. In principle, we have long proposed analysing election systems in the OSCE with a view to comparing best practices and reviewing obviously obsolete arrangements. There have been instances in the US when, due to its cumbersome and discriminatory election system, a nominee who received the majority of votes could lose because in a national presidential election the voting is done through the Electoral College process rather than directly by the people. There have been quite a few cases like that. I once told former US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in reply to her grievances about our electoral system: “But look at your problem. Maybe you should try to correct this discriminatory voting system?” She replied that it is discriminatory but they are used to it and this is their problem, so I shouldn’t bother.

When the United States accuses us of interference in some area of its public, political or government life, we suggest discussing it to establish who is actually doing what. Since they don’t present any facts, we simply recite their Congressional acts. In 2014, they adopted an act on supporting Ukraine, which directly instructed the Department of State to spend $20 million a year on support for Russian NGOs. We asked whether this didn’t amount to interference. We were told by the US National Security Council that in reality they support democracy because we are wreaking chaos and pursuing authoritative and dictatorial trends abroad when we interfere in domestic affairs whereas they bring democracy and prosperity. This idea is deeply rooted in American mentality. The American elite has always considered its country and nation exceptional and has not been shy to admit it.

I won’t comment on the US election. This is US law and the US election system. Any comments I make will be again interpreted as an attempt to interfere in their domestic affairs. I will only say one thing that President Vladimir Putin has expressed many times, notably, that we will respect any outcome of these elections and the will of the American people.

We realise that there will be no major changes in our relations either with the Democrats or with the Republicans, as representatives of both parties loudly declare. However, there is hope that common sense will prevail and no matter who becomes President, the new US Government and administration will realise the need to cooperate with us in resolving very serious global problems on which the international situation depends.

Question: You mentioned an example where voters can choose one president and the Electoral College process, another. I even have that cover of Time magazine with Hillary Clinton and congratulations, released during the election. It is a fairly well-known story, when they ran this edition and then had to cancel it.

Sergey Lavrov: Even the President of France sent a telegramme, but then they immediately recalled it.

And these people are now claiming that Alexander Lukashenko is an illegitimate president.

Question: You mentioned NGOs. These people believe that NGOs in the Russian Federation support democratic institutions, although it is no secret to anyone who has at least a basic understanding of foreign and domestic policy that those NGOs act exclusively as institutions that destabilise the situation in the country.

Sergey Lavrov: Not all of them.

Question: Can you tell us more about this?

Sergey Lavrov: We have adopted a series of laws – on public associations, on non-profit organisations, on measures to protect people from human rights violations. There is a set of laws that regulate the activities of non-government organisations on our territory, both Russian and foreign ones.

Concepts have been introduced like “foreign agent,” a practice we borrowed from “the world’s most successful democracy” – the United States. They argue that we borrowed a practice from 1938 when the United States introduced the foreign agent concept to prevent Nazi ideology from infiltrating from Germany. But whatever the reason they had to create the concept – “foreign agent” – the Americans are still effectively using it, including in relation to our organisations and citizens, to Chinese citizens, to the media.

In our law, foreign agent status, whatever they say about it, does not prevent an organisation from operating on the territory of the Russian Federation. It just needs to disclose its funding sources and be transparent about the resources it receives. And even that, only if it is engaged in political activities. Initially, we introduced a requirement for these organisations that receive funding from abroad and are involved in political projects to initiate the disclosure process. But most of them didn’t want to comply with the law, so it was modified. Now this is done by the Russian Ministry of Justice.

Question: Do you think that NGOs are still soft power?

Sergey Lavrov: Of course. In Russia we have about 220,000 NGOs, out of which 180 have the status of a foreign agent. It’s a drop in the ocean. These are probably the organisations, funded from abroad, that are more active than others in promoting in our public space ideas that far from always correspond to Russian legislation.

There is also the notion of undesirable organisations. They are banned from working in the Russian Federation. But there are only about 30 of them, no more.

Question: Speaking about our soft power, what is our concept? What do we offer the world? What do you think the world should love us for? What is Russia’s soft power policy all about?

Sergey Lavrov: We want everything that has been created by nations and civilisations to be respected. We believe nobody should impose any orders on anyone, so that nothing like what has now happened in Hollywood takes place on a global scale. We think nobody should encroach on the right of each nation to have its historical traditions and moral roots. And we see attempts to encroach upon them.

If soft power is supposed to promote one’s own culture, language and traditions, in exchange for knowledge about the life of other nations and civilisations, then this is the approach that the Russian Federation supports in every way.

The Americans define the term “soft power” as an attempt to influence the hearts and minds of others politically. Their goal is not to promote their culture and language, but to change the mood of the political class with a view to subsequent regime change. They are doing this on a daily basis and don’t even conceal it. They say everywhere that their mission is to bring peace and democracy to all other countries.

Question: Almost any TV series out there shows the US president sitting in the Oval Office saying he’s the leader of the free world.

Sergey Lavrov: Not just TV series. Barack Obama has repeatedly stated that America is an exceptional nation and should be seen as an example by the rest of the world. My colleague Mike Pompeo recently said in the Czech Republic that they shouldn’t let the Russians into the nuclear power industry and should take the Russians off the list of companies that bid for these projects. It was about the same in Hungary. He then went to Africa and was quite vocal when he told the African countries not to do business with the Russians or the Chinese, because they are trading with the African countries for selfish reasons, whereas the US is establishing economic cooperation with them so they can prosper. This is a quote. It is articulated in a very straightforward manner, much the same way they run their propaganda on television in an unsophisticated broken language that the man in the street can relate to. So, brainwashing is what America’s soft power is known for.

Question: Not a single former Soviet republic has so far benefited from American soft power.

Sergey Lavrov: Not only former Soviet republics. Take a look at any other region where the Americans have effected a regime change.

QuestionLibya, Syria. We stood for Syria.

Sergey Lavrov: Iraq, Libya. They tried in Syria, but failed. I hope things will be different there. There’s not a single country where the Americans changed the regime and declared victory for democracy, like George W. Bush did on the deck of an aircraft carrier in Iraq in May 2003, which is prosperous now. He said democracy had won in Iraq. It would be interesting to know what the former US President thinks about the situation in Iraq today. But no one will, probably, go back to this, because the days when presidents honestly admitted their mistakes are gone.

QuestionHere I am listening to you and wondering how many people care about this? Why is it that no one understands this? Is this politics that is too far away from ordinary people who are nevertheless behind it? Take Georgia or Ukraine. People are worse off now than before, and despite this, this policy continues.

Will the Minsk agreements ever be implemented? Will the situation in southeastern Ukraine ever be settled?

Returning to what we talked about. How independent is Ukraine in its foreign policy?

Sergey Lavrov: I don’t think that under the current Ukrainian government, just like under the previous president, we will see any progress in the implementation of the Minsk agreements, if only because President Zelensky himself is saying so publicly, as does Deputy Prime Minister Reznikov who is in charge of the Ukrainian settlement in the Contact Group. Foreign Minister of Ukraine Kuleba is also saying this. They say there’s a need for the Minsk agreements and they cannot be broken, because these agreements (and accusing Russia of non-compliance) are the foundation of the EU and the US policy in seeking to maintain the sanctions on Russia. Nevertheless, such a distorted interpretation of the essence of the Minsk agreements, or rather an attempt to blame everything on Russia, although Russia is never mentioned there, has stuck in the minds of our European colleagues, including France and Germany, who, being co-sponsors of the Minsk agreements along with us, the Ukrainians and Donbass, cannot but realise that the Ukrainians are simply distorting their responsibilities, trying to distance themselves from them and impose a different interpretation of the Minsk agreements. But even in this scenario, the above individuals and former Ukrainian President Kravchuk, who now heads the Ukrainian delegation to the Contact Group as part of the Minsk process, claim that the Minsk agreements in their present form are impracticable and must be revised, turned upside down. Also, Donbass must submit to the Ukrainian government and army before even thinking about conducting reforms in this part of Ukraine.

This fully contradicts the sequence of events outlined in the Minsk agreements whereby restoring Ukrainian armed forces’ control on the border with Russia is possible only after an amnesty, agreeing on the special status of these territories, making this status part of the Ukrainian Constitution and holding elections there. Now they propose giving back the part of Donbass that “rebelled” against the anti-constitutional coup to those who declared these people terrorists and launched an “anti-terrorist operation” against them, which they later renamed a Joint Forces Operation (but this does not change the idea behind it), and whom they still consider terrorists. Although everyone remembers perfectly well that in 2014 no one from Donbass or other parts of Ukraine that rejected the anti-constitutional coup attacked the putschists and the areas that immediately fell under the control of the politicians behind the coup. On the contrary, Alexander Turchinov, Arseniy Yatsenyuk and others like them attacked these areas. The guilt of the people living there was solely in them saying, “You committed a crime against the state, we do not want to follow your rules, let us figure out our own future and see what you will do next.” There’s not a single example that would corroborate the fact that they engaged in terrorism. It was the Ukrainian state that engaged in terrorism on their territory, in particular, when they killed [Head of the Donetsk People’s Republic] Alexander Zakharchenko and a number of field commanders in Donbass. So, I am not optimistic about this.

Question: So, we are looking at a dead end?

Sergey Lavrov: You know, we still have an undeniable argument which is the text of the Minsk Agreements approved by the UN Security Council.

QuestionBut they tried to revise it?

Sergey Lavrov: No, they are just making statements to that effect. When they gather for a Contact Group meeting in Minsk, they do their best to look constructive. The most recent meeting ran into the Ukrainian delegation’s attempts to pretend that nothing had happened. They recently passed a law on local elections which will be held in a couple of months. It says that elections in what are now called the Donetsk and Lugansk people’s republics will be held only after the Ukrainian army takes control of the entire border and those who “committed criminal offenses” are arrested and brought to justice even though the Minsk agreements provide for amnesty without exemptions.

Question: When I’m asked about Crimea I recall the referendum. I was there at a closed meeting in Davos that was attended by fairly well respected analysts from the US. They claimed with absolute confidence that Crimea was being occupied. I reminded them about the referendum. I was under the impression that these people either didn’t want to see or didn’t know how people lived there, that they have made their choice. Returning to the previous question, I think that nobody is interested in the opinion of the people.

Sergey Lavrov: No, honest politicians still exist. Many politicians, including European ones, were in Crimea during the referendum. They were there not under the umbrella of some international organisation but on their own because the OSCE and other international agencies were controlled by our Western colleagues. Even if we had addressed them, the procedure for coordinating the monitoring would have never ended.

Question: Just as in Belarus. As I see it, they were also invited but nobody came.

Sergey Lavrov: The OSCE refused to send representatives there. Now that the OSCE is offering its services as a mediator, I completely understand Mr Lukashenko who says the OSCE lost its chance. It could have sent observers and gained a first-hand impression of what was happening there, and how the election was held. They arrogantly disregarded the invitation. We know that the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) is practically wholly controlled by NATO. We have repeatedly proposed that our nominees work there but they have not been approved. This contradicts the principles of the OSCE. We will continue to seek a fairer approach to the admission of members to the organisation, but I don’t have much hope for this. Former OSCE Secretary General Thomas Greminger made an effort with this for the past three years but not everything depended on him – there is a large bloc of EU and NATO countries that enjoy a mathematical majority and try to dictate their own rules. But this is a separate issue.

Returning to Crimea, I have read a lot about this; let me give you two examples. One concerns my relations with former US Secretary of State John Kerry. In April 2014, we met in Geneva: me, John Kerry, EU High Representative Catherine Ashton and then Acting Foreign Minister of Ukraine Andrey Deshchitsa. We compiled a one page document that was approved unanimously. It read that we, the representatives of Russia, the US and the EU welcomed the commitments of the Ukrainian authorities to carry out decentralisation of the country with the participation of all the regions of Ukraine. This took place after the Crimean referendum. Later, the Americans, the EU and of course Ukraine “forgot” about this document. John Kerry told me at this meeting that everyone understood that Crimea was Russian, that the people wanted to return, but that we held the referendum so quickly that it didn’t fit into the accepted standards of such events. He asked me to talk to President Vladimir Putin, organise one more referendum, announce it in advance and invite international observers. He said he would support their visit there, that the result would be the same but that we would be keeping up appearances. I asked him why put on such shows if they understand that this was the expression of the will of the people.

The second example concerns the recent statements by the EU and the European Parliament to the effect that “the occupation” of Crimea is a crude violation of the world arrangement established after the victory in World War II. But if this criterion is used to determine where Crimea belongs, when the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic joined the UN after WWII in 1945, Crimea did not belong to it. Crimea was part of the USSR. Later, Nikita Khrushchev took an illegal action, which contradicted Soviet law, and this led to them having it. But we all understood that this was a domestic political game as regards a Soviet republic that was the home to Khrushchev and many of his associates.

Question: You have been Foreign Minister for 16 years now. This century’s major foreign policy challenges fell on your term in office. We faced sanctions, and we adapted to them and coped with them. Germany said it obtained Alexey Navalny’s test results. France and Sweden have confirmed the presence of Novichok in them. Reportedly, we are now in for more sanctions. Do you think the Navalny case can trigger new sanctions against Russia?

Sergey Lavrov: I agree with our political analysts who are convinced that if it were not for Navalny, they would have come up with something else in order to impose more sanctions.

With regard to this situation, I think our Western partners have simply gone beyond decency and reason. In essence, they are now demanding that we “confess.” They are asking us: Don’t you believe what the German specialists from the Bundeswehr are saying? How is that possible? Their findings have been confirmed by the French and the Swedes. You don’t believe them, either?

It’s a puzzling situation given that our Prosecutor General’s Office filed an inquiry about legal assistance on August 27 and hasn’t received an answer yet. Nobody knows where the inquiry has been for more than a week now. We were told it was at the German Foreign Ministry. The German Foreign Ministry did not forward the request to the Ministry of Justice, which was our Prosecutor General Office’s  ultimate addressee. Then, they said that it had been transferred to the Berlin Prosecutor’s Office, but they would not tell us anything without the consent of the family. They are urging us to launch a criminal investigation.

We have our own laws, and we cannot take someone’s word for it to open a criminal case. Certain procedures must be followed. A pre-investigation probe initiated immediately after this incident to consider the circumstances of the case is part of this procedure.

Some of our Western colleagues wrote that, as the German doctors discovered, it was “a sheer miracle” that Mr Navalny survived. Allegedly, it was the notorious Novichok, but he survived thanks to “lucky circumstances.” What kind of lucky circumstances are we talking about? First, the pilot immediately landed the plane; second, an ambulance was already waiting on the airfield; and third, the doctors immediately started to provide help. This absolutely impeccable behaviour of the pilots, doctors and ambulance crew is presented as “lucky circumstances.” That is, they even deny the possibility that we are acting as we should. This sits deep in the minds of those who make up such stories.

Returning to the pre-investigation probe, everyone is fixated on a criminal case. If we had opened a criminal case right away (we do not have legal grounds to do so yet, and that is why the Prosecutor General’s Office requested legal assistance from Germany on August 27), what would have been done when it happened? They would have interviewed the pilot, the passengers and the doctors. They would have found out what the doctors discovered when Navalny was taken to the Omsk hospital, and what medications were used. They would have interviewed the people who communicated with him. All of that was done. They interviewed the five individuals who accompanied him and participated in the events preceding Navalny boarding the plane; they interviewed the passengers who were waiting for a flight to Moscow in Tomsk and sat at the same bar; they found out what they ordered and what he drank. The sixth person, a woman who accompanied him, has fled, as you know. They say she was the one who gave the bottle to the German lab. All this has been done. Even if all of that was referred to as a “criminal case,” we couldn’t have done more.

Our Western partners are looking down on us as if we have no right to question what they are saying or their professionalism. If this is the case, it means that they dare to question the professionalism of our doctors and investigators. Unfortunately, this position is reminiscent of other times. Arrogance and a sense of infallibility have already been observed in Europe, and that led to very regrettable consequences.

Question: How would you describe this policy of confrontation? When did it start (I mean during your term of office)? It’s simply so stable at the moment that there seems no chance that something might change in the future.

Sergey Lavrov: President of Russia Vladimir Putin has repeatedly spoken on this topic. I think that the onset of this policy, this era of constant pressure on Russia began with the end of a period that followed the collapse of the Soviet Union, a time when the West believed it had Russia there in its pocket – it ended, full stop. Unfortunately, the West does not seem to be able to wrap its head around this, to accept that there is no alternative to Russia’s independent actions, both domestically and on the international arena. This is why, unfortunately, this agony continues by inertia.

Having bad ties with any country have never given us any pleasure. We do not like making such statements in which we sharply criticise the position of the West. We always try to find compromises, but there are situations where it is hard not to come face to face with one another directly or to avoid frank assessments of what our Western friends are up to.

I have read what our respected political scientists write who are well known in the West. And I can say this idea is starting to surface ever stronger and more often – it is time we stop measuring our actions with the yardsticks that the West offers us and to stop trying to please the West at all costs. These are very serious people and they are making a serious point. The fact that the West is prodding us to this way of thinking, willingly or unwillingly, is obvious to me. Most likely, this is being done involuntarily. But it is a big mistake to think that Russia will play by Western rules in any case – as big a mistake as like approaching China with the same yardstick.

Question: Then I really have to ask you. We are going through digitalisation. I think when you started your diplomatic career, you could not even have imagined that some post on Twitter could affect the political situation in a country. Yet – I can see your smile – we are living in a completely different world. Film stars can become presidents; Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook can become drivers of political campaigns – that happened more than once – and those campaigns can be successful. We are going through digitalisation, and because of this, many unexpected people appear in international politics – unexpected for you, at least. How do you think Russia’s foreign policy will change in this context? Are we ready for social media to be impacting our internal affairs? Is the Chinese scenario possible in Russia, with most Western social media blocked to avoid their influence on the internal affairs in that country?

Sergey Lavrov: Social media are already exerting great influence on our affairs. This is the reality in the entire post-Soviet space and developing countries. The West, primarily the United States, is vigorously using social media to promote their preferred agenda in just about any state. This necessitates a new approach to ensuring the national security. We have been doing this for a long time already.

As for regulating social media, everyone does it. You know that the digital giants in the United States have been repeatedly caught introducing censorship, primarily against us, China or other countries they dislike, shutting off information that comes from these places.

The internet is regulated by companies based in the United States, everyone knows that. In fact, this situation has long made the overwhelming majority of countries want to do something about it, considering the global nature of the internet and social media, to make sure that the management processes are approved at a global level, become transparent and understandable. The International Telecommunication Union, a specialised UN agency, has been out there for years. Russia and a group of other co-sponsoring countries are promoting the need to regulate the internet in such a way that everyone understands how it works and what principles govern it, in this International Union. Now we can see how Mark Zuckerberg and other heads of large IT companies are invited to the Congress and lectured there and asked to explain what they are going to do. We can see this. But a situation where it will be understandable for everyone else and, most importantly, where everyone is happy with it, still seems far away.

For many years, we have been promoting at the UN General Assembly an initiative to agree on the rules of responsible behaviour of states in the sphere of international information security. This initiative has already led to set up several working groups, which have completed their mandate with reports. The last such report was reviewed last year and another resolution was adopted. This time, it was not a narrow group of government experts, but a group that includes all UN member states. It was planning to meet, but things slowed down due to the coronavirus. The rules for responsible conduct in cyberspace are pending review by this group. These rules were approved by the SCO, meaning they already reflect a fairly large part of the world’s population.

Our other initiative is not about the use of cyberspace for undermining someone’s security; it is about fighting crimes (pedophilia, pornography, theft) in cyberspace. This topic is being considered by another UNGA committee. We are preparing a draft convention that will oblige all states to suppress criminal activities in cyberspace.

QuestionDo you think that the Foreign Ministry is active on this front? Would you like to be more proactive in the digital dialogue? After all, we are still bound by ethics, and have yet to understand whether we can cross the line or not. Elon Musk feels free to make any statements no matter how ironic and makes headlines around the world, even though anything he says has a direct bearing on his market cap. This is a shift in the ethics of behaviour. Do you think that this is normal? Is this how it should be? Or maybe people still need to behave professionally?

Sergey Lavrov: A diplomat can always use irony and a healthy dose of cynicism. In this sense, there is no contradiction here. However, this does not mean that while making ironic remarks on the surrounding developments or comments every once in a while (witty or not so witty), you do not have to work on resolving legal matters related to internet governance. This is what we are doing.

The Foreign Ministry has been at the source of these processes. We have been closely coordinating our efforts on this front with the Security Council Office, and the Ministry of Digital Development, Communications and Mass Media and other organisations. Russian delegations taking part in talks include representatives from various agencies. Apart from multilateral platforms such as the International Telecommunication Union, the UN General Assembly and the OSCE, we are working on this subject in bilateral relations with our key partners.

We are most interested in working with our Western partners, since we have an understanding on these issues with countries that share similar views. The Americans and Europeans evade these talks under various pretexts. There seemed to be an opening in 2012 and 2013, but after the government coup in Ukraine, they used it as a pretext to freeze this process. Today, there are some signs that the United States and France are beginning to revive these contacts, but our partners have been insufficiently active. What we want is professional dialogue so that they can raise all their concerns and accusations and back them with specific facts. We stand ready to answer all the concerns our partners may have, and will not fail to voice the concerns we have. We have many of them.

During the recent visit by German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas to Russia, I handed him a list containing dozens of incidents we have identified: attacks against our resources, with 70 percent of them targeting state resources of the Russian Federation, and originating on German territory. He promised to provide an answer, but more than a month after our meeting we have not seen it so far.

Question: Let me ask you about another important initiative by the Foreign Ministry. You decided to amend regulations enabling people to be repatriated from abroad for   free, and you proposed subjecting the repatriation guarantee to the reimbursement of its cost to the budget. Could you tell us, please, is this so expensive for the state to foot this bill?

Sergey Lavrov: Of course, these a substantial expenses. The resolution that provided for offering free assistance was adopted back in 2010, and was intended for citizens who find themselves in situations when their life is at risk. Imagine a Russian ambassador. Most of the people ask for help because they have lost money, their passport and so on. There are very few cases when an ambassador can actually say that a person is in a life-threatening situation and his or her life is in danger. How can an ambassador take a decision of this kind? As long as I remember, these cases can be counted on the fingers of my two hands since 2010, when an ambassador had to take responsibility and there were grounds for offering this assistance. We wanted to ensure that people can get help not only when facing an imminent danger (a dozen cases in ten years do not cost all that much). There were many more cases when our nationals found themselves in a difficult situation after losing money or passports. We decided to follow the practices used abroad. Specifically, this means that we provide fee-based assistance. In most cases, people travelling abroad can afford to reimburse the cost of a return ticket.

This practice is designed to prevent fraud, which remains an issue. We had cases when people bought one-way tickets knowing that they will have to be repatriated.

Question: And with no return ticket, they go to the embassy?

Sergey Lavrov: Yes, after that they come to the embassy. For this reason, I believe that the system we developed is much more convenient and comprehensive for dealing with the situations Russians get into when travelling abroad, and when we have to step in to help them through our foreign missions.

Question: Mr Lavrov, thank you for your time. As a Georgian, I really have to ask this. Isn’t it time to simplify the visa regime with Georgia? A second generation of Georgians has now grown up that has never seen Russia. What do you think?

Sergey Lavrov: Georgians can travel to Russia – they just need to apply for a visa. The list of grounds for obtaining a visa has been expanded. There are practically no restrictions on visiting Russia, after obtaining a visa in the Interests Section for the Russian Federation in Tbilisi or another Russian overseas agency.

As for visa-free travel, as you know, we were ready for this a year ago. We were actually a few steps away from being ready to announce it when that incident happened with the Russian Federal Assembly delegation to the International Interparliamentary Assembly on Orthodoxy, where they were invited in the first place, seated in their chairs, and then violence was almost used against them.

I am confident that our relations with Georgia will recover and improve. We can see new Georgian politicians who are interested in this. For now, there are just small parties in the ruling elites. But I believe our traditional historical closeness, and the mutual affinity between our peoples will ultimately triumph. Provocateurs who are trying to prevent Georgia from resuming normal relations with Russia will be put to shame.

They are trying to use Georgia the same way as Ukraine. In Ukraine, the IMF plays a huge role. And the IMF recently decided that each tranche allocated to Ukraine would be short-term.

Question: Microcredits.

Sergey Lavrov: Microcredits and a short leash that can always be pulled a little.

They are trying to use Georgia the same way. We have no interest in seeing this situation continue. We did not start it and have never acted against the Georgian people. Everyone remembers the 2008 events, how American instructors arrived there and trained the Georgian army. The Americans were well aware of Mikheil Saakashvili’s lack of restraint. He trampled on all agreements and issued a criminal order.

We are talking about taking their word for it. There were many cases when we took their word for it, but then it all boiled down to zilch. In 2003, Colin Powell, a test tube – that was an academic version. An attack on Iraq followed. Many years later, Tony Blair admitted that there had been no nuclear weapons in Iraq. There were many such stories. In 1999, the aggression against Yugoslavia was triggered by the OSCE representative in the Balkans, US diplomat William Walker, who visited the village of Racak, where they found thirty corpses, and declared it genocide of the Albanian population. A special investigation by the International Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia found they were military dressed in civilian clothes. But Mr Walker loudly declared it was genocide. Washington immediately seized on the idea, and so did London and other capitals. NATO launched an aggression against Yugoslavia.

After the end of the five-day military operation to enforce peace, the European Union ordered a special report from a group of invited experts, including Swiss diplomat Heidi Tagliavini. She was later involved in the Minsk process, and then she was asked to lead a group of experts who investigated the outbreak of the military conflict in August 2008. The conclusion was unambiguous. All this happened on the orders of Mikheil Saakashvili, and as for his excuses that someone had provoked him, or someone had been waiting for him on the other side of the tunnel, this was just raving.

Georgians are a wise nation. They love life, perhaps the same way and the same facets that the peoples in the Russian Federation do. We will overcome the current abnormal situation and restore normal relations between our states and people.


In addition, if you follow the Minister, follow up on this interview with Sputnik

Exclusive: Sergei Lavrov Talks About West’s Historical Revisionism, US Election and Navalny Case

لوكاشينكو يكشف عن نصائح بوتين له وبيسكوف يستبعد تكرار السيناريو البيلاروسي في بلاده

البناء

كشف رئيس بيلاروس، ألكسندر لوكاشينكو عن الرسالة التي بعثها من خلال ظهوره أمام عدسات وسائل الإعلام مسلحاً ببندقية حربية، على خلفية موجة الاضطرابات الاجتماعية التي تمر بها بلاده.

وجاء ذلك في معرض تعليق لوكاشينكو، في حوار مع ممثلين عن وسائل الإعلام الروسية في مينسك، على شريط الفيديو المدوي الذي يظهره وهو يحلق على متن مروحية فوق مينسك ويخرج منها لدى هبوطها أمام قصر الاستقلال (المقر الرئاسي) حاملا بندقية كلاشنيكوف.

Might Belarus become the next Syria?
Might Belarus become the next Syria?

وأوضح لوكاشينكو أنه «قام بتلك الرحلة على متن المروحية الرئاسية بغية الاطلاع على واقع الوضع على الأرض، فيما كان المحتجون المعارضون يتقدمون لأول مرة نحو قصر الاستقلال».

وتابع: «أظهرت أن أطفالي هنا ووطني هنا وسأدافع عنه بأي ثمن».

وأشار الرئيس إلى أن «مسؤولين في إدارته حاولوا إقناعه بعدم مغادرة المقر الرئاسي في ذلك اليوم»، قائلاً: «كانوا يمسكون يدي وقدمي».

كما كشف لوكاشينكو، عن حديثه مع الرئيس الروسي فلاديمير بوتين، حول دعم رئيس أوكرانيا فلاديمير زيلينسكي.

وقال لوكاشينكو، رداً عن سؤال حول موافقة بوتين بأن يدعم رئيس أوكرانيا: «نعم (دعمني) في العديد من القضايا… (وقال بوتين) تحدث إليه بطريقة أبوية، إنه شاب… وقلت له حسناً، لقد تحدثت إليه، خلال مشاركتي في منتدى هناك، وأوضحت له (لزيلينسكي) أن بوتين ليس هدفه الاستيلاء على كييف… والسيطرة على كل شرق أوكرانيا».

وتابع لوكاشينكو، «بوتين تكفيه روسيا… وناقشنا العديد من القضايا الحياتية وحاولت إقناعه (زيلينسكي)، وهو شخص متفهم وعاملني بشكل جيد».

وحذر الرئيس البيلاروسي، من انهيار بلاده، منوهاً بأن» روسيا ستكون التالية إذا حدث ذلك»، قائلاً: «هل تعلمون إلى ماذا توصلنا مع المؤسسات والقيادة الروسية؟ إذا انهارت بيلاروس اليوم، فالتالية ستكون روسيا».

بدوره، علق المتحدث باسم الرئاسة الروسية، دميتري بيسكوف، على تصريحات لوكاشينكو، عن إمكانية تكرار الاضطرابات التي تشهدها بلاده في روسيا.

وقال بيسكوف للصحافيين، أمس: «لا أعتقد أن المقارنة ممكنة في هذا الشأن، إذ نحن بلدان مختلفان ودولتان سياديتان، وإن كنا متحدين ضمن الدولة الاتحادية التي نثمّنها كثيراً. فلكل منهما ما يميزه من الثقافة السياسية والواقع السياسي والتوجهات السياسية. لذا فيبدو لي أن من غير الصواب إطلاق أي تعميمات في هذا الشأن».

وأشار المتحدث باسم الكرملين إلى أن «روسيا تحترم بالكامل الثقافة السياسية البيلاروسية، على الرغم من هذه الاختلافات».

وفي تعليقه على تقارير عن اختفاء بعض النشطاء المعارضين في بيلاروس، وخاصة قياديين بمجلس التنسيق التابع للمعارضة هناك، قال بيسكوف: «بالتأكيد يمثل اختفاء أشخاص ما أمراً مثيراً للقلق.. وبالطبع نعوّل على أنه سيتم تقديم معلومات معينة (حول هذه الحوادث) في مواعيد محددة وفقا للقانون».

فيما قالت المحامية لودميلا كازاك إن «عضو هيئة رئاسة مجلس التنسيق المعارض في بيلاروسيا، ماريا كوليسنيكوفا، موقوفة بالاشتباه بها في قضية محاولة الاستيلاء على السلطة». وأصبحت كوليسنيكوفا من أول قادة المجلس بهذا الوضع.

ورداً على سؤال توضيحي، أضافت كازاك أن كولسنيكوفا مشتبه بها في ما يسمى «قضية مجلس التنسيق»، والتي بدأت بموجب المادة الخاصة بمحاولة الاستيلاء على السلطة.

وألقي القبض، أول أمس الثلاثاء، على عضو هيئة رئاسة المجلس التنسيقي للمعارضة البيلاروسية، ماريا كوليسنيكوفا، على الحدود مع أوكرانيا، والبحث جار عن ممثلين آخرين في المجلس، وهما إيفان كرافتسوف، وأنتون رودنينكوف، بالتعاون مع كييف.

ووفقاً لوكالة الأنباء التلفزيونية الأوكرانية: «اجتاز الهاربون نقاط التفتيش الحدودية والجمارك وعند تفتيش السيارة فقدوا أعصابهم، وانطلقوا بسرعة في اتجاه أوكرانيا حيث كادوا يصدمون أحد عناصر حرس الحدود، وفي الوقت نفسه دفعوا بـ كوليسنيكوفا من السيارة».

من جانبها أكدت لجنة حدود الدولة البيلاروسية، في وقت سابق، أن «الأشخاص الثلاثة تم تسجيلهم عند نقطة التفتيش وتوجهوا نحو أوكرانيا نتيجة لذلك تمكن أنطون رودنينكوف وإيفان كرافتسوف من الهرب، ولم تستطع كوليسنيكوفا فعل ذلك، وتم اعتقالها على الحدود مباشرة، والآن البحث جار عن الهاربين مع الجانب الأوكراني».

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Poland and Lithuania Are Ready to ‘Take Back’ Belorussian Lands (Anna Sochina)

Poland and Lithuania Are Ready to ‘Take Back’ Belorussian Lands (Anna Sochina)

September 02, 2020

Translated by Sasha and subtitled by Leonya.

Hello dear friends, once again Anna Sochina is with you. You may accuse me of a biased attitude towards Poland and the Baltic states. I often criticize them in my releases. Firstly, these republics often throw such performances that one cannot just walk by. And secondly, there is food for discussion in view of the events in Belorussia. Because no matter how much the local authorities assure that they do not encroach upon Belorussian sovereignty, the facts speak the opposite.

Paralytics Politics with Anna Sochina

I read the news recently: “The European MP for Poland Jacek Dariusz Wolski raised a most important issue at the extraordinary session on the situation in Belorussia: Let us pronounce ‘Tichanowska’ instead of ‘Tikhanovskaya’, let us pronounce it the Polish way.” “Because when foreigners say ‘Tikhanovskaya,’” he explains, “they pronounce the last name in a Russian way, and this way they recognize that the Republic of Belarus is in the sphere of Russia’s interests.” While it should, by the looks of it, be within Poland’s sphere of interests. If the West is moulding you as a leader of protests, you must become clay. If they say you’re not going to be Tikhanovskaya but Tichanowska, you will be. If they say you’re not going to be Sochina but Soczynski, you will be.

Clearly I wouldn’t have paid attention to this news had it not been for this linguistic screen concealing rather more serious intentions of Poland towards its neighbouring country. Here is, for instance, Tomasz Sommer, the Chief Editor of the ‘Najwyższy Czas’ weekly, writes on his Twitter:

It is absolutely obvious that Grodno must, in case of Belarus breaking up, be taken by Poland. PiS (the ruling Law and Justice Party) knows this but is afraid to say so.”

Well, who cares what some editor in chief said somewhere, it’d seem. However, my friends, the voice of Tomasz Sommer is not alone. Many representatives of the Polish elite share his thoughts, only they don’t voice it. The Poles use other methods in order to advance their interests in Belorussia. Thus the Polish trade union conglomerate ‘Solidarność’, whose influence level arguably exceeds any parliamentary party, sent humanitarian aid to the Republic of Belarus, in the form of a few dozens tonnes of food, which could to be of use at the workplaces during strikes. Additionally, they, with the support from the Polish government, helped to create the Fund of Solidarity with Belarus, which has already collected 1,000,000 PLN to aid the protesters, which translates into over 700,000 Belorussian rubles, or over 20,000,000 Russian rubles which the Belorussian service of ‘Radio Freedom’ joyfully announces to us.

It’s not that much, it might seem. But ‘Solidarność’ is not the only one who pours money into the Republic of Belarus, and it is not just coming from Poland. For instance, the strike committee of ‘BelarusPotassium’ announced lately that the aid to the strikers from foreign funds and the EU will amount to 35,000,000 euros. The President of the European Commission, Ursula Von der Leyen, announces at the same time that the EU will allocate 53,000,000 euros to support Belorussia “in this difficult time.” Belorussia herself, on the other hand, was able to raise only 2,000,000 euros in aid of the striking workers. So it is not the Belorussians who will be determining their country’s policies in the near future I agree with the ‘Temnik’ Telegram channel:

The governments of the Baltic states and Poland announce almost on the daily basis that they assign new sums for ‘the civil society development’, for ‘the independent media’, ‘training of the psychologists’, ‘first aid to the victims’, etc. The sums are modest – only a few dozens of hundreds of thousands euros, but if you put together these streamlets, they shape up into a considerable investment in the regime change scenario in the Republic of Belarus.”

Apart from the direct financial injections, for which the Belorussians will of course be made to pay later, Poland and Lithuania employ other methods. Lithuania in particular jumps up the highest out of their pants. It is there where at the moment the Belorussian female version of Juan Guaido is being moulded. There a ‘strong leader’ is being created out of a ‘weak woman’, as Tikhanovskaya described herself. However, in this case, I will agree with our colleague Armen Gasparyan. A strong leader must be charismatic, which is a quality I cannot discern no matter what when I look at Tikhanovskaya’s writing. Either way Lithuania accepted ‘Tichanowska’ within its borders. Lithuania also wrote a hurriedly long sanctions list against over 130 names of Belorussian officials. Lithuania is organizing mass rallies in support of the Belorussians on its territory. “The ‘Road of Freedom’ from Vilnius to the border with Belarus. Tens of thousands of people formed a living chain in Lithuania in order to support the Belorussian protest.”

RBK: “On the Sunday evening, almost 50 thousand people in Lithuania held their hands, having formed a living chain from Vilnius to the village of Miadininkai on the border with Belarus, in order to express their support for the Belorussians who are fighting for democratic reforms in their country. The length of the chain during the ‘Road to Freedom’ action was 32 km.”

The authors of the Telegram channel ‘Horde’ noted an interesting moment in connection to this 32 km long chain. I don’t do well in math, but they made the calculations:

According to the estimates of the Sunday Party in Minsk, it gathered from 20,000-150,000 people, or if we average it, it was around 85,000 citizens. The Belorussian population is only 9 million. It is 3.5 times more than in Lithuania. So 50,000 sympathizers in lith is equivalent to 150,000 in Belorussia. In other words, the Lithuanians sympathize with the Belorussians more than the Belorussians sympathize with themselves.”

I, by the way, never stop being amazed at the Poles’ and the Baltics’ mentality. They make an impression of a small lap dog that pounces at your legs, wants to bite but is too afraid to do it and so it just yaps. I’ll explain why I think so, having quoted the Ministry of Defense of Republic of Belarus:

A probe consisting of eight air balloons carrying anti-state symbols was launched from the contiguous territory. Thanks to the actions of Mi-24 helicopter crews belonging to the duty air defense forces, the flight of the air balloons was stopped without weapon deployment.”

This news is actively ridiculed, including the mockery on behalf of some Russian authors. Wikipedia has already published an article titled “The Helium War”. Although I personally see nothing funny in this. Launching air balloons with the white-red-white symbol, which is totally anti-state but which very close in spirit to Poland and Lithuania, and to laugh when Belorussian helicopters take in the air: “Ha ha, the army is sent against our air balloons”, – can any one tell me what is so funny here? In reality, what’s laughable here are the imperial ambitions of Poland and Lithuania, who, in their dreams, are already dividing between themselves Grodno and other adjacent territories. And even if they are not yet dividing it, they demand to be included in the negotiations alongside Russia, Germany and France.

In this light, the interview with the former Foreign and Defense Minister of Poland Radosław Sikorski, is quite interesting and telling. Its headline is “The Crisis in Belarus Confined the Strength of Poland”. Nowhere in the article are arguments in support of this headline, but the principal thought developed by Sikorski sounds like this:

Radosław Sikorski: “Had Poland had normal diplomatic relations with Russia, she could have been the negotiator between Russia and the West about how Belarus could transform from a dictatorship into a democracy that does not infringe upon anyone’s interests. Poland should be in the centre of the situation but it is not so at the moment.”

It’s as if the neighbours on the floor have made a party but did not invite that one who always drills and makes noises after eleven. Poland is absent from the Normandy Four who negotiate about Donbass. It is also not awaited at the Minsk negotiations, although it would seem that nearest neighbour must be present. Evidently the Poles’ appetites for the tasty pieces of Belarus are apparent to Berlin, Paris and Brussels and the openly conservative policies of President Andrzej Duda doesn’t, let’s say, resonate in their hearts. Nevertheless this doesn’t mean that Poland and the Baltic states can be written off. As Sikorski himself incautiously notes in his interview when speaking of Lithuania’s role in the conflict, “sometimes small countries are used for scouting the battlefield.” That was a quote. And these small countries are being used by the United States, if to believe the former Defense and Foreign Minister of Poland.

It is on the Lithuanian territory where meetings between Tikhanovskaya and high ranking US representatives are being held at the moment. Strange is however that Sikorski does not draw parallels and does not understand that Poland, just like Lithuania, is being instigated, just like Lithuania, and is being used against Russia’s interests. But no, “Poland is the hegemon while Lithuania is just a mere pawn in the hands of the White House.” What do we have as a result? Cheap provocations like the one with air balloons. Large financial injections into Belorussia. Rallies in support of the protesters. Establishment of new foundations and non-governmental organizations within Belorussia. The support for such bloggers as ‘Nekhta’ or ‘Nexta’, I don’t know what is the correct pronunciation. I will quote Sikorski again:

Radosław Sikorski: “I am pleased that one of the principal Telegram bloggers ‘Nekhta’ came to Poland to study thanks the Erasmus program. The Belorussian House in Warsaw was founded in our time by the Polish Foreign Affairs Ministry and my personal idea was to create European Endowment for Democracy, and I know that it is also participating in the events in Belarus.”

Oh, European Endowment for Democracy is a topic for a separate conversation altogether. It this one is taking part, it is as good as lost. Someone may ask how do we differ from Poland or Lithuania. After all, Russia has been sponsoring Belorussia for years. Well, my friends, there is a huge difference between cooperation on the governmental level and pumping money and air balloons into the opposition. On the governmental level, Belorussia even holds joint marine exercises with Great Britain and it seems ok. But moulding a ‘Guaido’ on its territory and pumping money into the protesters and the strikers is not the official level, right? Besides answering the possible questions about Moscow’s role, I must remind that Russia and Belorussia are the Union State, and I don’t recall that Lukashenko made such unions with Lithuania or Poland.

Goodbye.

Poland Coordinates Protests in Minsk. Why Russia Needs Runet as an Information Shield

Video by REDUX, it was then posted by Bornaya Solyanka, a successor channel to PolitRussia which has been deleted from YouTube since shortly before August 20th.

Poland Coordinates Protests in Minsk. Why Russia Needs Runet as an Information Shield

Translated by Sasha and captioned by Leonya.

The events in Belorussia bring on more than thoughts about the brotherly country’s internal and external political problems. The shutting down of the Internet over there and the phenomenon of the Telegram channel ‘Nexta’ (Belorussian word for ‘Someone’) make worth an examination of the informational aspect of such a thing as a street protest, particularly in view of the fact that in the era of Internet it is the information which brings people into the streets.

The rally and street protest as a sable form of the public city protest ritual have been considerably transformed under influence of the Internet and social networks. The methods for political mobilization and protest preparation have also changed with the appearance of the so-called new media. The key issue of these methods is naturally the conversion rate, the transformation of a social network reader and user into an active participant of a protest action in the street. The crux is that users can express their discontent at will and on mass in the social networks. But this does not result in people coming out into the streets. The thing is that joining the protests is practically always an emotionally rather than rationally validated action for an ordinary participant. Initially, according to sociologists, the propaganda is always directed to the young generation. The organizers play on the youths’ need to raise the self evaluation and to experience new emotions.

“The youth in any society is the most protest prone electorate,” explains sociologist, the director of the Enterprise group of the Sociology Institute, Maria Fil. “A generational conflict takes place here because the authorities are associated with a certain domineering of the older generation who allegedly are imposing their rules of play, the order of behaviour. In a wider sense it is the fathers and sons problem. The young want to announce themselves, want to have more opportunities and it seems to them that those opportunities are not as freely available as they would be, should the authorities be replaced. The opposition leaders arm themselves with an image of a modern advanced person.” Additionally it is important to evoke within a protester strong negative emotions. So the principal supporting factor for people’s emotions that make them come out in the streets can be the visuals of dispersing of rallies, when the security forces pound the protestors. After all it is a strong source for outrage. And the more such videos appear, the stronger probabilityfor those people appearing in the square who previously were not sure they needed to act. The advantage that the protest organizers have against their opponents, the authorities, is obvious: in most cases it is impossible to determine whether the attacked were the genuine protesters as opposed to those who attacked the police themselves. Of course you can spend a few hours in order to find out these nuances. But this has no bearing whatsoever on the target audience. So all that is left in the viewer’s mind is the violence of the law enforcement against the civilians.

After the first dispersals and arrests dozens of videos will appear on the Internet, which will trigger the chain reaction. The entire anger stowed withing the society will blaze up from one match strike, whose role will be performed by the right photos and videos. In these conditions the decision to block the Internet does not appear to be so stupid. It becomes rather logical. This way the authorities can kill two birds with one stone. Firstly, the interaction on the Internet has a direct influence on the formulating the rules for behaviour during the protest and at the point of detention. The protests are prepared on the Internet, there the problem is discussed, supporters are recruited. And next, when the protest moves into the street, the crowd’s movements are coordinated through the Internet. This means the demonstrators must be deprived of this possibility to coordinate their actions. But, as I said earlier, it is even more important for the authorities to deprive the protest of the new energy, which can be created by the same videos of protest dispersals and beatings. In this light, the situation in which Belorussia found itself is very interesting, when the country blocked everything it could, even to the detriment of its own economy, but was unable to block the Telegram with Nexta within it. The Belorussian authorities faced a completely new problem here, for whose solution they did not prepare in advance. Possibly they did not even suspect its existence. This problem can be briefly described as a punctured informational shield. In other words, to attempt blocking the social networks and fail at it is more effective than not trying to turn off anything.

According to the preliminary assessments the modest republic’s economy was losing up to $56 million a day. But this is not as bad as the informational vacuum which the authorities created with their own hands and which was filled by the oppositional channel ‘Nexta’, whose creators, the way, live in Poland by the way, and which gained almost 2 million subscribers in a couple of days, having become, in fact, the principle coordinator of the protests and the largest Russian language political Telegram channel. Compare: the popular and quite reputable channel “Nezygar’” has merely 348 thousand subscribers, which used to seem a huge number. Aleksei Navalny has only 176 thousand subscribers to his Telegram channel. I will not analyze the ‘Nexta’ channel in the context of Belorussian protests. I am more interested in something different. Everything points at the fact that a new anti-Russian media giant appeared under our noses, which, in addition to everything else, is practically out of range for the Russian law enforcement system. There should be no doubt in the Russophobic nature of the newly born Russian-language Polish media source. The channel simply gleams with outward Russophobia and a few times it transmitted fakes, one of which was the post about the ‘Russian spetsnaz’ beating up ordinary Belorussians. Have a look.

Besides this channel’s posts are soaked with calls for radicalization of the protest. Interesting are the personalities who created the channel. For instance the chief editor of ‘Nexta’ is Roman Protasevich, who used to work for the American ‘Radio Freedom’ and for the Lithuanian-Polish ‘Euro Radio’. The problem is that if some protests start in the territory of the Russian Federation, that channel will be able to easily tell the protesters what and how they should do all the way from Poland. And if the comrades from ‘Nexta’ calls for throwing Molotov cocktails into the law enforcement forces or shoot at them with fireworks, ‘Nexta’ could not be held into account. They are in Poland. Out of reach. In this hypothetical situation ‘Nexta’, calling for the protest radicalization, will not be acting in the people’s interest. Because this would cause casualties among both the law enforcement forces and among the protesters, and would bring to naught any possible concessions on behalf of the authorities, which would be quite possible in the case of a peaceful protest. As is the case in Khabarovsk, where there have been no dispersals of rallies, nor forceful detentions, nor beatings of citizens. On the contrary, the clerk in the rank of Prime Minister visited the region for the first time in thirteen years. Prior to Mishustin, it was Fratkov who visited the region in the remote year of 2007. All that time the leaders of the country demonstrated their attention to the region’s problems only from a distance. This illustrates perfectly the role of peaceful protests in Khabarovsk in the transformation of the Center’s attitude towards the entire Far East.

Russia should be thinking today how it should behave when the described above situation appears here. Because pinpoint strikes against particular agitators inside the country would be useless. Because the entire coordination of actions and the feeding the ever renewed videos and photos of beaten up teenagers to the undecided will be directed from abroad. Yes, Russia can repeat the mistake of Belorussian authorities and try to cover herself with a punctured informational shield. But here, it seems to me, the real help to Russia could be rendered by the sovereign Runet, of which there was so much talk some time ago. For instance, the Telegram channel ‘On Duty in Iran’ draws the example of the last year’s protests in Iran. This is what it says: “The Belorussian protests reminded me of the demonstrations in Iran back in November which was lucky to witness… the Iranian way of neutralizing the protest threat looks a lot more successful (than the Belorussian one). They didn’t just turn off the Internet within 24 hours, but launched the ‘national internet’, which meant that a widen local service remained: the state media sites continued working, so did banking systems, food deliveries and taxis, ticket sales – practically everything in the .Irzone, but no social networks, no messengers, youtubes or even email. The ‘national internet’ was prepared for almost two years but the result turned out impressive: it was practically impossible to bypass the blocking, while the basic infrastructure kept working. It is an extremely effective short term measure.”

This way, in case of events developing according to earlier described scenario, the sovereign Runet would help to prevent bloodshed and keep the protest within the peaceful framework, without causing damage to the country’s economy. Yes, technical questions arise as well as the danger of misuse of the instrument by the authorities. However the Kremlin and Russian society still have enough time to reach a compromise, having created a powerful shield against the external resources like ‘Nexta’, which, besides its role described above, could be used first and foremost for protection of important infrastructure of the country from cyber attacks during the cyber war, which I covered in my previous video. This is all for today. Write your comments, rate this video, subscribe to the channel and to my group in VKontakte (the link is in the description to this video), and see you soon.

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