Anatomy of the EU “gas crisis”

August 05, 2022

Source

by Jorge Vilches

Europe today does not have – or possibly never had – an effective vision of the no-nonsense existential strategy it required to subsist in peace. Furthermore, as if not aware of the coming debacle, EU leaders firmly insist on their failed policies. Now, former Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder proposes to solve the EU’s self-inflicted ´gas crisis´ by launching the Nord Stream 2 (NS2) gas pipeline… although German authorities have repeatedly rejected the idea.

Today the EU is governed by childish impulses necessarily leading to confusion and self-harm. First the EU imposes highly crippling sanctions on its Russian partner and then demands from her full natural gas delivery — even under the current most special situation — while flagrantly violating well-known contract clauses. Accordingly, it is obvious that the assumed European ´energy crisis´ does not really exist as such, be it for natural gas, oil, distillates, coal, uranium rods… or whatever others for that matter. Because if a genuine “energy crisis” truly existed, Europe would not have full access to tangible energy from Russia, which is not the case. Actually, Europe has an enviable, excellent access to high quality, decades-proven, swift, trouble-free, close-by, door-to-door delivery of truly cheap energy from fully-vetted Russian vendors willing and able to reliably deliver the goods as they always have since decades yonder.

contract violations

But besides being immature, the EU can also be highly creative. For instance, by playing games with sacrosanct contractual requirements for the famous peripatetic Siemens NS1 turbine # 073… now stranded at Mülheim an der Ruhr after a yet unfinished maintenance episode at very distant Siemens Canada facilities of all places. Accordingly, Russia´s Gazprom has now officially rejected to accept delivery of turbine # 073 on the basis that

The sanctions regimes of Canada, the EU, the UK and a mismatch of the current situation with the existing contractual obligations by the Siemens side make delivery of the 073 engine to the [ Russian ] Portovaya compressor station impossible”. Gazprom claims that essential documents have not been presented stating that turbine 073 is not under sanctions. “Words are not enough”.

Ref #1 https://www.rt.com/business/560216-kremlin-responds-german-turbine-accusation/

Furthermore, the Minister of Natural Resources of Canada Jonathan Wilkinson declared that “Canada grants a time-limited and revocable permit for Siemens Canada to allow the return of repaired Nordstream 1 turbines to Germany…” So, no direct return to Russia — which is a clear breach of contract — and also under time-limited and revocable conditions which is an additional contract violation simply because turbine # 073 is still not sanctions-free and thus uninsurable. Spokesman Dmitry Peskov made clear that the turbine had been sent to Germany without Russia’s consent and that in the current situation Moscow should now have to make sure that the turbine “cannot be stopped remotely”… Sabotage cannot be excluded while Germany is actively sending weapons to Ukraine to kill Russians.

Ref #2 https://nationworldnews.com/gazprom-repeats-west-bloks-nord-stream-turbine-shipments/

Ref #3 https://www.ft.com/content/d926a768-f976-4bee-823c-0f255afb7087

Ref #8 https://tass.com/economy/1477929

Ref #4 https://www.reuters.com/article/ukraine-crisis-gas-nordstream/update-1-russias-gazprom-sanctions-make-delivery-of-nord-stream-turbine-impossible-idUKL8N2ZF6SQ

Ref #5 https://news.yahoo.com/turbine-works-germanys-scholz-points-083241601.html

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what happened ?

EU sanctions have shut down several Russian pipelines thus completely tying down Gazprom´s hands. Ukraine and Poland effectively closed off the Yamal-Europe pipeline. Ukraine did it overtly for strictly political reasons while Poland by refusing to pay under the new gas-for-Roubles scheme. Also, the NS1 pipeline is still suffering the Siemens-Canada tumultuous service problems. Besides, Gazprom is unable to fully use another pipeline route as Ukraine has been rejecting its transit applications. In sum, Europe has pro-actively shut itself off from Russian gas. Go figure…

et tu Siemens ?

Siemens Energy is the NS1 turbine manufacturer squarely and contractually responsible for the regular maintenance and proper functioning of all NS1 turbines, property of Russia. Siemens has now officially declared what Gazprom has been saying all along, namely that only one of five NS1 turbines is truly operational and able to deliver gas. Of course, this means that Europe is able to receive only 20% of Russia´s badly-needed natural gas as the condition of the four other remaining NS1 turbines is still undefined. According to former German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, the reduction in the NS1 flow rate capacity is entirely Siemens’ fault, not Gazprom´s. Sanctions obviously still apply to turbine # 073 and surely to any other Russian-related piece of equipment or produce or program or whatever Russian.

et tu Gazprom ?

Vitaly Markelov, deputy head of Gazprom, said that Siemens has not fulfilled its obligations to adequately maintain NS1 engine and thusly several pieces of equipment are currently idle. Besides, Gazprom claims it has not received from Siemens the required, well-known, complete package of documents allowing transportation, maintenance service and repairs of Russian-owned equipment. The EU keeps playing lots of childish games while winter gets ever closer. If Gazprom were to accept the turbine it would be liable for illegally breaking the EU sanctions regime plus other unfavorable complications. Lots of tricky lawfare involved while the EU can’t stop digging an ever deeper hole for itself. What´s bloody wrong with Europeans ? Why do they insist in choking down on their own vomit ? EU sanctions were rolled back regarding insurance on freight vessels with Russian oil, right ? So go for it you ignorant fools, now.

Gazprom says: “The current anti-Russian sanctions are hindering the successful resolution of the issue of the transportation and repair of Siemens gas turbine engines for the Portovaya compressor station, which supplies gas to European consumers through the Nord Stream pipeline.”

Ref #6 https://www.rt.com/business/560144-turbine-manufacturer-explains-gas-shortfall/

Ref #7 https://www.rfi.fr/en/business-and-tech/20220803-gazprom-says-gas-turbine-delivery-to-russia-impossible-due-to-sanctions

Ref #8 https://www.rt.com/business/560232-gazprom-explains-turbine-complications/

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the NS2 “solution”

In the whole history of worldwide warfare, no help was ever made readily available by any enemy. Let alone would such help ever include the life-blood of Europe´s economy, including vital products and energy. So Russia right now is not Europe´s “enemy”. Today European industry and households are simply undergoing a fake ´energy crisis´ (not) of their own making by decisions made by un-elected EU politicians who do not represent Europe´s best interests. Now, former German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder insists in a Stern Magazine interview the NS2 pipeline with Russian-made turbines would immediately solve Europe´s — possibly terminal — ´energy crisis´ come winter 2022 – 2023.

Ref #9 https://www.rt.com/business/560125-gerhard-schroeder-nord-stream-gas/

three NS2 problems

But there are three major “problems” to be solved. Number one problem is the absurdly required US political approval of the idea as broadly explained below. Problem number two is time is up as the NS2 certification and commissioning process would have to start right now — meaning yesterday – in order to possibly make it soon enough as neither problem #1 or #2 are simple nor quick to solve. Why so ? Well, one reason the dependency on US authorization of anything meaningful for Europe which is now clearly exposed for all to see. This also includes among other things any European trade and investment decisions with Russia. Furthermore, due to serious and most valid technical reasons, several weeks are required before any natural gas can flow from Russia to Germany through the NS2. Otherwise, the risks of serious accidents and/or malfunctioning could mean the sudden end to any possible successful solution of the problem at hand. People at large – and even top ranking specialized politicians – many times think that oil & gas feedstock flows can be turned on and off with the flip of a switch (not). Of course, all of the above furthermore requires German cooperation and correct decisions such as not using NS2 terminal facilities for any other purposes than those originally intended with specific design criteria and construction technology in mind. This is of utmost importance because German officials have already announced their idea of ´speeding up´ and supplementing the installation of LNG terminals with available NS2 hub-heads to support non-Russian LNG gas imports.

And problem number three is that at this very late stage of the game Gazprom could only deliver 25% of its nominal design capacity. In May, Russia´s President Putin specifically advised German Chancellor Scholz that Gazprom had contractually reserved the NS2 delivery capacity which needed to be effectively purchased as it could not remain suspended in mid-air indefinitely. Thus, President Putin then also warned Chancellor Scholz that Russia was forced to soon redirect half of the NS2 volume for domestic consumption and processing. Therefore, even if Gazprom were to be duly authorized to launch NS2 tomorrow morning, it would pump only 50% of its original nominal design capacity. And given that we are already more than halfway through 2022, that would be just be 20-25%…or less.

Ref # 10 https://www.aa.com.tr/en/energy/general/germany-unable-to-use-second-nord-stream-2-line-before-2028-gazprom/35291

US interference

The US does not leave Europe free to make rational decisions, simply because Europe constitutes a heterogeneous group of vassal states still under US military occupation. The NS2 natural gas pipeline runs under the Baltic Sea from Russia to Germany right besides the currently problematic NS1. Its construction was recently completed but the pipeline was denied certification and commissioning by German authorities prior to the crisis in Ukraine. Despite former Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder´s insistence, the German government has repeatedly said that launching NS2 now is absolutely out of the question. It is impossible to make this stuff up…

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the EU perfect storm

Europe is facing a perfect storm: energy prices are up, economic growth is down and winter is coming ” officially stated by Mr. Josep Borrell, the EU’s top diplomat and High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy.

Add to that the ever-lower Rhine River water levels – almost impassable by barges of any draft — and you get the idea. This ultra-low Rhine level tremendously restricts – and may possibly cut-off altogether – the very badly-needed coal shipments to the now absurdly RE-commissioned coal-fueled power stations. Of course, also this impacts the physical delivery of everything – not just fuels and inputs thereof — with necessarily much higher costs requiring non-available trucking freight. “The risk here is the trade of huge quantities of commodities that would otherwise be used to stave off an economic crisis become logjammed on the Rhine as low water levels make certain parts impassible. Shipment costs for coal are therefore increasing, which in turn inflates the costs of operating coal plants.”

The low water levels are already forcing “irregular operation” at a Uniper 510-megawatt Staudinger-5 coal-fired power plant through the first half of September because fewer and fewer barges have been able to deliver coal as stockpiles dwindle. Rhine water levels below 40 centimeters at Kaub would halt shipments via inland waterways to the power plant, forcing highly expensive and inefficient shipments by land. Many other key industries are seriously affected.

Gazprom explains complications in turbine row

The Rhine River directly affects trade and industrial logistics of several key European countries namely, Austria, Switzerland, Germany, France, and the Netherlands while indirectly affecting many others or, in some cases, all the others. In particular, the über-important German inland transportation system – and therefore its entire supply chains network – depends upon normal levels of Rhine River waters. Because it´s not only a matter of sourcing the right quality, quantity and price of any produce. It is just as important to receive it Just-In-Time at process destinations such as refineries or power plants as explained later. Simultaneously, all European stakeholders are competing with each other tooth and nail struggling to find, contract and retain exactly the same resources in order to solve the same unexpected problems all at once and by the same date.

Ref #11 https://www.eeas.europa.eu/eeas/europe%E2%80%99s-energy-balancing-act_en

Ref #12 https://www.zerohedge.com/commodities/german-barge-traffic-shrinks-rhine-water-levels-fall

Ref #13 https://thesaker.is/europe-hypnotized-into-war-economy/

Ref #14 https://www.zerohedge.com/commodities/germanys-uniper-warns-irregular-operation-power-plant-rhine-river-dries

Russia’s top diplomat, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, talks with RT’s editor-in-chief, Margarita Simonyan in an exclusive interview about the challenges Russia faces amid the Ukraine conflict

July 20, 2022

Highlights as seen by Pepe Escobar:

🇷🇺The highlights of Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s interview with Sputnik and RT:

🔹The EU is forced to make amendments to sanctions against Russia as they have exceeded their potential;

🔹Russia is not happy about energy issues that Europe is currently facing, but “will not worry about it too much”;

🔹Western countries are trying to drag UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres into their “games” around Ukrainian grain;

🔹Moscow has sent a signal to Guterres about the need to include a clause on Russian grain in the Istanbul agreements;

🔹It can hardly be in Europe’s interests to fully cut off ties with Russia and switch to liquefied natural gas supplies from the US;

🔹If the EU suddenly changes its position and proposes Russia to restore relations, Moscow needs to decide if this is beneficial to the country;

🔹The geographical area of the special operation has changed and expanded beyond Donbas due to Kiev receiving the US-made HIMARS and other weapons.

Full Transcript now available

Question: You just returned from a trip and are about to leave again soon. This “international isolation” is so tight that you are almost never home.

Here’s a question from our subscribers. At different levels, from the deputies to public officials, our talks with Ukraine are on and off. We say it’s impossible to hold talks now, but the next thing you know someone is saying it would be good to start them. Does it make sense or is it just a diplomatic ritual?

Sergey Lavrov: It doesn’t make any sense given the circumstances. Yesterday, the President touched on this while speaking at the news conference following talks with the leaders of Iran and Türkiye in Tehran.

Vladimir Putin once again made it clear that the Ukrainian leadership asked for talks early on during the special military operation. We didn’t say no. We approached this process honestly, but the first rounds of talks held in Belarus showed that the Ukrainian side didn’t really want to seriously discuss anything. Then, we passed our assessment of the situation over to them noting that if Kiev was serious about the talks, they should give us something “on paper” so we could understand what kind of agreements they had in mind. The Ukrainian side gave us a document that we found agreeable (yesterday the President again cited this fact) and were ready to conclude a treaty based on the principles outlined in it. Building on their logic, we drafted a corresponding document, which we made available to the Ukrainian side on April 15. Since then, we’ve heard nothing from them, but we hear other people such as Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany Olaf Scholz, Boris Johnson (though, not now for obvious reasons), President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen, and High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Chief Diplomat Josep Borrell say that Ukraine must “win on the battlefield” and should not engage in talks, because it has a weak position on the front. First, they need to improve the situation and start dominating the Russian armed forces and the Donetsk and Lugansk militias, and only then start talks “from a position of strength.” I don’t think this approach holds water.

Question: It doesn’t hold water because Ukraine will fail to do so?

Sergey Lavrov: It won’t work. They will never be able to formulate “things” that really deserve people’s time. We understood this. It is no secret that Kiev is being held back from taking any constructive steps, and they are not just flooding it with weapons, but making it use those weapons in an increasingly risky manner. Foreign instructors and specialists are there servicing these systems (HIMARS and others).

With strong support from the Germans, Poles, and Balts, our US and British (Anglo-Saxon) “colleagues” want to make this an actual war and pit Russia against the European countries. Washington and London are sitting far away, across oceans and straits, but will benefit from this. The European economy is impacted more than anything else. The stats show that 40 percent of the damage caused by sanctions is borne by the EU whereas the damage to the United States is less than 1 percent, if you look at the cumulative negative impact of the restrictions.

I do not doubt that the Ukrainians will not be allowed to hold talks until the Americans decide they have created enough destruction and chaos. Then, they will leave Ukraine alone and watch it get out of this mess.

Question: Do you think this plan is actionable? A big war, a clash between Russia and the European countries? In fact, it’s about a nuclear war.

Sergey Lavrov: The Americans are not thinking about this. Ambitious people who want to reach new heights in their careers have come to the White House. I’m not sure how they will try to fulfill these goals as part of this administration. They are acting irresponsibly and building plans and schemes that are fraught with major risk. We are talking about this publicly. We could have told them, but the Americans don’t want to talk to us, and we will not chase them.

The dialogue we had before was not meaningless if only because we could look into each other’s eyes and lay out our approaches. As soon as the special military operation started, the United States tore this dialogue down. I think that Washington hasn’t yet understood that it is playing a dangerous game, but many people in Europe are beginning to realise this.

Question: Is a Russia-US clash, a nuclear war possible in our view?

Sergey Lavrov: We have initiated several statements (Russian-American statement and statement by the leaders of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council) to the effect that there can be no winners in a nuclear war and that it cannot ever be unleashed. This is our position and we will firmly stick to it.

Moreover, we have an endorsed doctrine that clearly explains in what cases Russia will be compelled to use nuclear arms. Our partners, colleagues, rivals or enemies (I don’t know how they refer themselves with regard to us) know this very well.

Question:  We consider Vladimir Zelensky the legitimate representative of Ukraine. Why is that? We say with good reason that everything happening in that country is a result of the coup, a forced change of power. This did not happen under Zelensky, but he became president because of these events. Why did we acknowledge this initially?

Sergey Lavrov: Guided by his own ethical considerations, President of France Emmanuel Macron recently let everyone listen to a recording of his February telephone conversation with President of Russia Vladimir Putin in which the  Russian leader expressed himself clearly. President Macron tried to persuade him not to bother too much with implementing the Minsk Agreements. He said that Donetsk and Lugansk were illegal entities and that it was necessary to work in the context of the suggested interpretations – allegedly Zelensky wanted this. Vladimir Putin replied that Vladimir Zelensky was the product of a state coup and that the established regime hadn’t gone anywhere.

Do you remember how events developed after the coup? The putschists spat in the face of Germany, France and Poland that were the guarantors of the agreement with Viktor Yanukovych. It was trampled underfoot the next morning. These European countries didn’t make a peep – they reconciled themselves to this. A couple of years ago I asked the Germans and French what they thought about the coup. What was it all about if they didn’t demand that the putschists fulfil the agreements? They replied: “This is the cost of the democratic process.” I am not kidding. Amazing – these were adults holding the post of foreign ministers.

Crimeans and the east of Ukraine refused to recognize the results of the coup. In Crimea, this led to the holding of a referendum on reuniting with Russia and in Donbass to a refusal to deal with the new, illegitimate central authorities that started a war. Then Pyotr Poroshenko began a presidential campaign. The election took place in late May, 2014. President of France François Hollande, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and other European leaders tried to persuade the President of Russia to say nothing in advance about his refusal to recognise the results of the Ukrainian elections. Vladimir Putin replied: since Poroshenko is holding the election with the slogans of peace, promises to restore the rights of all Ukrainians, including the residents of Donbass, we will not question the legitimacy of this process.

It turned out that Poroshenko quickly forgot his election promises. He cheated his voters, lied to them and his Western sponsors, and unleashed another round of war that was stopped with great difficulty in February 2015. Later the Minsk Agreements were signed. He recently admitted that he had no intention of fulfilling the agreements and signed them only because Ukraine had to build up its strength economically and militarily to “win back its land,” including Crimea. This is why he concluded these agreements.

Question: We did not realise this, did we?

Sergey Lavrov: Well, I still hoped that some conscience was left there. Poroshenko revealed his true attitude towards the Minsk Agreements: he would not fulfil a document endorsed by the UN Security Council. Thus, he confirmed once again, this time in public, that he was not a legitimate president, one that relies on the foundations of international law.

Vladimir Zelensky came to power with slogans of peace as well. He promised to return peace to Ukraine. He said all citizens of the country who wanted to speak Russian would be able to and nobody would harass them or discriminate against them. Listen to what he is saying now.

In the role of Servant of the People Zelensky played a democrat, a glad-hander, a teacher, one of the people, who defeated the oligarchs and paid off the IMF. The people became free. He dissolved the corrupt parliament and the government. There are video recordings that cannot be hidden. They show how Zelensky upheld the rights of the Russian language and Russian culture…

Question: He is an actor, Mr Lavrov!

Sergey Lavrov: Yes, an actor under the Stanislavsky system – quickly turns coat. He was recently asked about his attitude towards the people of Donbass. Mr Zelensky replied that there are people and there are species. He also said that if people feel Russian, let them go to Russia “for the sake of the future of their children and grandchildren.” This is exactly what Dmitry Yarosh said the first day after the coup in February 2014: “A Russian will never think like a Ukrainian, will not speak Ukrainian and will not glorify Ukrainian heroes. Russians need to leave Crimea.”

The elite that came to power after the coup have already established their national genetic code. Arseny Yatsenyuk “in between” Dmitry Yarosh, Petr Poroshenko and Vladimir Zelensky called the residents of Donbass “subhuman.”

Question: Do you remember Petr Poroshenko saying that Ukrainian children would go to school, while Russian children would sit in basements? He said this to the people he considered to be their own.

Sergey Lavrov: Now they say that they will liberate their lands…

Question: Without any people?

Sergey Lavrov: I don’t know how Kiev is planning to treat these people. They would start an uprising.

Question: What people? They will try to wipe them out in HIMARS strikes. You mentioned conscience, but you can’t judge others by your own standards. If you have a conscience, this doesn’t mean that your “partners” have it as well.

Before you entered the room, we talked with Maria Zakharova about those whom you have described as seemingly serious people. Of course, we poked fun at them, which was bound to happen. Take the recent comment by White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre, who has replaced our beloved Jen Psaki. When asked what President Joe Biden was doing the previous two days, she replied that he was thinking about the American people.

I mean that Western leaders are crumbling. Many of them have symptoms of “limited adequacy” and sometimes even “limited sanity.” They are going to be replaced. Are there grounds to believe that those who will replace them will display fewer symptoms of “limited adequacy”?

Sergey Lavrov: I would put it differently. The current political establishment that has been raised in the West can be said to have “adequate limitations.” They consider themselves to be adequate, but they have limited competence in terms of political experience and knowledge.

Question: Why is that?

Sergey Lavrov: I don’t know, but many people have taken note of this. Henry Kissinger mentioned this recently when speaking about Gerhardt Schroeder and Jacques Chirac. He didn’t put it bluntly, but he clearly hinted at the stark contrast.

There is a tendency towards the average in political processes. You should elect people who are easy to understand and who will focus on simple, banal subjects. They invented the green transition, shouting that everyone will have no air to breathe soon and will die, and that dolphins and fish will disappear, leaving human beings alone in a desert. They have to deal with the effects of the green transition now. President Vladimir Putin explained the details of this mechanism in Western politics and how it has led to a painful flop because of the lack of proper calculations.

I don’t know the reason for their inadequacy. Maybe the absence of strong leaders is convenient for someone?

Question: For whom exactly?

Sergey Lavrov: For the bureaucrats in the European Commission. There are 60,000 of them, which is a lot. They have become a thing-in-itself. It is no coincidence that Poland, Hungary and other countries have asked why they should listen to these people, in particular in the areas where they have no competence. This is really so.

Question: In other words, it is a kind of a “deep state” in Europe, isn’t it?

Sergey Lavrov: Yes, it seems so. But it is not quite a “deep state” but the elite, the European Commission.

Question: Is it a “shallow state” then?

Sergey Lavrov: Yes, and the pendulum is moving away from the side that was associated with rapid integration. The requirements that are being enforced by Brussels, which are not always based on formal arrangements, are becoming annoying and are preventing countries from living in accordance with their own traditions and religious beliefs. Today they are pestering Budapest with their propaganda of non-traditional values, but Hungarians don’t want this, just as we don’t want this and many other nations. The European Commission demands that Budapest must revise its position, or it will not receive the approved funding.  I believe that this is bad for the EU.

Question: But good for us?

Sergey Lavrov: I don’t think so. I believe that we should stay aloof. We cannot be happy that people in Europe will suffer from the cold and lower living standards.

Question: I agree about suffering from the cold. But maybe the Europeans will finally have enough of being forced? Maybe pro-nation politicians will come to power, those who will care about their own people and therefore will not quarrel with Russia? No country can benefit from quarrelling with Russia.

Sergey Lavrov: This is true. It is a proper process of recovery. People are abandoning the illusion that Brussels should decide everything for them, that everything will be the same every day with cheap energy and food, that everything will be fine. This would be in the interests of Europe and European nations, but I don’t know how it will happen.

We will not be happy, but we won’t feel overly concerned either. I believe we should stay aloof. They have created these problems for themselves; they have opted for living in these conditions and for abandoning the natural and beneficial ties, which have been created over decades in energy, logistics and transport links. This is their choice. Love cannot be forced. This process, when they complete it, if at all, because it is incompatible with unilateral profiteering, will cost the subsequent economic development in Europe dearly. They should not ask us to revive agreements. They have been proved unreliable. We cannot rely on such “partners” when planning long-term strategic investment in the development of our country and its foreign ties. We will work with other partners who are predictable. They have always been there for us in the East, in the South and on other continents. Now that the share of the West in our foreign economic ties has been reduced dramatically, the share of our other partners will increase commensurately.

As for trends in Europe, there is also total lack of responsibility when it comes to explaining the reasons for the current crisis to their own people. Chancellor of Germany Olaf Scholz says he has no doubt that there are political rather than technical reasons for Russia’s intention to limit gas deliveries via Nord Stream. He has no doubt! As if the facts, which we have made public on numerous occasions and which President Putin has mentioned, do not prove that Europe has been systematically and consistently reducing the capabilities of Nord Stream 1 and has  suspended Nord Stream 2, and how it retrospectively adopted restrictions on the operation of Nord Stream after all the investments had been made and the financing rules could not be changed. Nevertheless, the European Commission insisted on its decision, and it was adopted. Instead of using the pipeline to its full capacity, we have halved the transit of gas through it.

We are being accused of using hunger as a weapon. Ursula von der Leyen has said this.

Question: Cold and hunger. Do you remember General Frost? Now we have General Grain and General Heating.

Sergey Lavrov: US Secretary of the Treasury Janet Yellen has made a pompous statement that the United States would not allow Russia, China or anyone else to break the international economic order, which has allegedly been approved by the international community. She said that economic integration has been weaponised by Russia. This is going much further than the other rubbish we have been hearing and looks like an agony. They don’t know how else to explain their own failure.

Question: You mentioned the green transition and how they are trying to force the LGBT agenda on some East European countries for which, like for us, it is completely alien. For you, an experienced person who has observed many processes for decades, it must be clearer than for us, the ordinary people. This agenda includes green transition, LGBT, MeToo, BLM, cancelling ballet at Britain’s biggest dance school, the ban on math exams in some schools because the minorities would not be able to learn it, the ban on using the words “breast milk” and “mother”. People are contemplating but cannot understand what the idea is and who benefits from it. Who do you think is behind it?

Sergey Lavrov: We cannot step in their shoes and see why they are doing what they are doing. It is incomprehensible. If a person has some inclinations, why shouldn’t they be left with that? Let them have these inclinations. Why is it necessary to make a movement banner out of it?

Question: Why did the new White House Press Secretary openly declare that she is gay and black?

Sergey Lavrov: I am also interested to see how and where the Western political thought has been evolving. Some progressive philosophers, from the point of view of imperialism and colonialism, believe that the gold billion, or those who lead it and make political decisions, want to reduce the population of the planet because the resources are limited. Too many people, too few resources. As Mikhail Zhvanetsky joked, there should be fewer of us. He said it in Soviet times, when there was not enough food and goods. And now I read this explanation in some Western publications. It is horrifying.

Question: Which is not very logical, because the golden billion is reducing its own ranks this way, while the population in Africa is increasing. In Nigeria, which now wants to be friends with us, there are seven children per woman.

Sergey Lavrov: No, all these ways are constantly promoted there.

Question: It will take some time for them to get there… Look at the Hollywood elite: every second child is transgender or something, or non-binary, and they will have no grandchildren. Yes, it seems that they have started with themselves.

Sergey Lavrov: Maybe it is part of the plan, to reproduce less. I said that I cannot explain this, and shared with you one of the conspiracy theories.

Question: Both before the special military operation and today, people have believed that the West cannot manage without Russia. This is true in many respects, as the fact that they have lifted some of the sanctions clearly shows. What is less clear is whether the new package of sanctions passed this week contains new restrictions or lifts the sanctions adopted earlier. But what if they can manage without Russia after all? What prospects do you see? Can the West do completely without Russian energy carriers in the future, if not during the upcoming winter but in 2023 or 2024? Will it refuse to launch Nord Stream 2 and stop using the resources of Nord Stream 1? Is it possible? What do you think about this?

Sergey Lavrov: The new package of restrictions includes both the sanctions and various exceptions from them because the West has already run out of spheres where it can inflict damage on Russia. Now they have to think about what they have done and how it affects them. As far as I know, the West has now introduced some clarifications, and this will help facilitate Russian food exports. For many months, they told us that Russia was to blame for the food crisis because the sanctions don’t cover food and fertiliser. Therefore, Russia doesn’t need to find ways to avoid the sanctions and so it should trade because nobody stands in its way. It took us a lot of time to explain to them that, although food and fertiliser are not subject to sanctions, the first and second packages of Western restrictions affected freight costs, insurance premiums, permissions for Russian ships carrying these goods to dock at foreign ports and those for foreign ships taking on the same consignments at Russian harbours. They are openly lying to us that this is not true, and that it is up to Russia alone. This is foul play.

Unfortunately, the West has been trying to involve UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres in these games. He became concerned about the food crisis and visited Russia, and he advocated a package deal at a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin. It is necessary to lift the artificial and illegitimate restrictions on Russian grain, and action should be taken to clear mines at Ukrainian ports where Ukrainian grain is stored. Antonio Guterres said that he would persuade Europe and the United States to remove all obstacles hampering Russian grain deliveries, and that Russia would cooperate with them, Türkiye and Ukraine in clearing mines at Black Sea ports, to facilitate grain shipments.  We replied that, in principle, it was possible to demine Black Sea ports without Russia, but that we would be ready to cooperate if they asked us. The UN Secretary-General actively promoted this package.

Last week, our colleagues visited Istanbul in order to coordinate this mechanism. We agreed on the basic principles for exporting Ukrainian grain. However, when members of the Russian delegation reminded those present about the second part of the package deal, the Ukrainian side flatly refused, and the UN delegation simply blushed and kept quiet.

Yesterday, we indicated to the UN Secretary-General that this was his initiative to begin with. In reply, Antonio Guterres proposed first resolving the issue of Ukrainian grain shipments, and said that Russian grain deliveries were next in line. This is foul play. People engaged in big politics should not behave in such a way. This means only one thing: I am convinced that the UN Secretary-General has come under tremendous pressure, first of all, from representatives of the United States and the United Kingdom who have settled in around him in the UN Secretariat in the posts of undersecretary-generals and who are actively using this “privatised” structure in their own interests. This is highly regrettable.

Question: How are they putting pressure on him, exactly? Technically, how do we explain this to people? Do as you’re told, or… what? Go to jail?

Sergey Lavrov: I don’t think they are using any personal methods of blackmail. Just, when the UN General Assembly is voting, they come up to the ambassadors, inform them that an anti-Russia resolution has been put to the vote while reminding them, for example, about their account in Chase Manhattan Bank or their daughter at Stanford. Things like that.

Question: But it’s kind of the same thing.

Sergey Lavrov: It happens. Well, of course, they don’t act with such arrogance here. Members of the UN Secretariat (the majority of them are from Western countries because the number of delegated secretariat seats depends on each state’s contribution) aren’t always neutral, as required by the UN Charter and the Regulations on the Secretariat. That’s life. I can assure you, it has always been like this.

Regarding the second part of your question, I think that Western politicians are now making every effort to avoid showing they have been mistaken. The ruling parties will try to do this by hook or by crook – they have no other way. But the opposition – in Austria, voices are increasingly heard (there’s the Austrian Freedom Party, which Brussels does not favour very much, but it’s a legitimate party). In other countries, the opposition is rising their heads: why are we doing this? Why can’t we just look at things and reach agreement? Many people have questions.

Developing countries don’t view the situation as Russia having crossed some “red line.” They remember what the Americans did in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, and Yugoslavia in 1999. With no notice, no warning that American interests were being infringed on, no calls to do something about it…

Question: No eight years of trying to reach agreement…

Sergey Lavrov: The United States bombed countries located 10,000 kilometres away from its coastline and razed cities to the ground. Europe never even dared to make a sound.

Question: No need to protect large communities of American compatriots living there…

Sergey Lavrov: That’s right. Our situation is totally different. There is a real threat, not something invented in order to spread our imperialist tentacles across the ocean – there’s a threat on our borders. For many years, we have been cautioning the West against turning Ukraine into an anti-Russia, with NATO infiltrating that country, against creating direct military threats to our security. Everyone is perfectly aware of this.

Returning to Europe, I don’t think that it is in European interests to completely cut off all ties with us and switch to LNG, which the Americans are trying to…

Question: …foist on them.

Sergey Lavrov: I wanted to use a less polite term, but foist will do. It will be their choice. Serious scientists write that Germany’s entire economic activity, its prosperity of the past decades was due primarily to Russian energy resources they bought at affordable, reasonable and predictable prices. True, LNG is a more flexible commodity. Gas has to be bought at the “end” of the pipeline, while LNG can be redirected. But this is also a disadvantage. When demand rose in Asia, the Americans sent their LNG there, because it was a better deal. This can lead not only to higher prices, but also to a shortage of supplies at a certain stage. But if they do this, we won’t have any particular problems.

President of Russia Vladimir Putin said that, given what they are doing with Nord Stream 2 (we’re ready to launch it, it is under operating pressure), in the current situation, 50 percent of the volume intended for that pipeline are already reserved for internal consumption: for heating purposes, for the chemical industry and for other industrial projects.

We will redirect supplies without any serious losses. I do not doubt it. We have buyers, we have demand; after all, there are applications within the country too – connecting households and facilities and developing the chemical industry.

Question: And thousands of villages without gas…

Sergey Lavrov: That’s why I mentioned connecting them.

So it will be their choice. I would like to say again: we should not (and, thank God, no one is trying to) invent any solutions implying the possibility, the probability, or even desirability of returning to the situation we had six months ago, where it was possible to restore the old supply chains. I think that they need to be discarded and new ones should be built that will be more reliable. This is what we are doing now, including the North-South corridor from St Petersburg to the Indian Ocean, and from India to Vladivostok. Several projects are already halfway through implementation. If and when, at some stage, Europe suddenly says that they have overreacted and are interested in restoring our economic relations and trade, we shouldn’t push them away. We will see how good the offer is, and only then react.

Question: We say if they duped you once, they’ll do it again. You mentioned the diversification of our areas of cooperation. We have covered the East (China, India) extensively. This time, you are going to Africa, which is south. What are you going to do there? What are your expectations? What should we expect?

Sergey Lavrov: We have long-standing good relations with Africa since the days of the Soviet Union which pioneered and led a movement that culminated in decolonisation. We provided assistance to the national liberation movement and then to the restoration of independent states and the rise of their economies. Hundreds of enterprises were built, which now form the basis of many African economies. At the UN, we led the movement to have decolonisation formalised as an integral part of international law and everyday life.

Then, there was the period when the Soviet Union disappeared and the Russian Federation emerged. We were confronted with major problems, not in Africa, but much closer, in our country.

We have been rebuilding our positions for many years now. The Africans are reciprocating. They are interested in having us. We never engaged in teaching them anything, but helped them overcome their problems so that they could live in their country the way they wanted to.

Question: They think we did teach them something, but in a good sense.

Sergei Lavrov: No. We helped them fulfil their goals. That’s how it was. We never told them not to be friends with America or anyone else. To this day, we are not lecturing them, unlike the Americans who go around Africa telling everyone “do not talk with the Chinese or the Russians. All they care about is their selfish interests, even when they trade with you.”

We visit each other every year. Once a year or every two years, the Foreign Minister visits African countries. We’re trying to cover as many countries as possible in a period of two to three years. This year, it will be Egypt, Ethiopia, Uganda and the Republic of the Congo. We have good traditions and economic foundations in these countries.

Egypt is our number one trade and economic partner in Africa with trade just under $5 billion. The first nuclear power plant is being built. The construction of a Russian industrial area on the banks of the Suez Canal is nearing completion. Our relations with Africa have even brighter prospects now that the African Union decided last year to establish the African Continental Free Trade Area. Specific criteria and tariffs for this area are being agreed upon, which will take some time. This will benefit Russia as Africa’s rising partner in terms of boosting our trade and investment which are quite modest compared to the United States, China and the EU. We must work hard, with our colleagues, to prepare for the second Russia-Africa summit. The first one took place in Sochi in 2019. The second one is planned to be held next year.

Question: Maybe in Odessa?

Sergey Lavrov: No, probably not in Odessa. We will announce the venue later. An economic forum will be held concurrently with the summit with round table discussions on trade, energy, cybersecurity, agriculture, outer space and nuclear energy.

It is important to step up our efforts. Africa has a population of 1.4 billion people, which is comparable to China and India. This is a great portion of the modern world and probably the most promising market. That is why companies and countries with good vision are building long-term strategies with regard to Africa, which is the continent of the future. We have an excellent political foundation underlying our relations and a good mutual understanding based on the fact that thousands of Africans who hold positions in their respective governments have studied in Russia and continue to do so. We need to use this human and political capital to achieve economic advancement.

Question: What kind of relations do we have with our “exes?” (I understand exes are rarely friends, but it still happens occasionally.) Do we have real friends among our exes, including Belarus? What is going on in Kazakhstan with mixed signals coming from there?  Is there a sense that we ourselves are a little to blame for some things, that we let them go and gave them away to Europe, America, and even Türkiye? What do you think?

Sergey Lavrov: There was such a period. The Soviet Union ceased to exist. We signed the Belovezh Accords. Of course, the countries that were not invited to Belovezhskaya Pushcha were hurt. No doubt about it. I understand them. Then, some efforts were made to improve this situation (to make amends, so to speak). A special meeting was held in Alma-Ata in late 1991. But it still left a bad taste in the mouth. Most importantly, it was an event followed by some processes.

Our leadership did little to prevent the cooling of relations with our neighbours, closest allies, and comrades-in-arms during the first years of independence and sovereignty. We have lived together for many hundreds, even thousands of years. I remember that time. I was Deputy Foreign Minister in 1992-1994 before I left for work in New York. My scope of duties included international organisations, but at some point Andrey Kozyrev asked me to take up the CIS matters. I didn’t do it for long, though. The situation did not look too good (clearly, the Foreign Ministry was not the one to decide on building policies in this area, the Presidential Executive Office was). Back then, everyone thought they had no place to go. We lived together all that time and shared the language, the universities and the tastes. So, we thought we’ll just keep on living like that. Of course, over the long decades and centuries, the economy had become intertwined to the point where breaking ties was impossible.

True, the West wasn’t sitting on its hands. And not only the West. If you look at Central Asia now, you’ll see multiple “Central Asia plus partner” formats there, such as Central Asia plus the United States, or “plus the European Union,” or “plus Japan,” “plus China,” “plus Türkiye,” or “plus India.” “Plus Russia” is there as well. Despite the fact that we have the CIS, the EAEU, the SCO, the CSTO, there was no association where all five Central Asian countries and Russia were together. Now there is.

This is how things are, not only in foreign ministries, but in our economic agencies as well. It’s an important process. Water and energy were shared. Our Western “partners” are now trying to infiltrate these particular areas. The EU and the United States are coming up with their own programmes which will tailor the ongoing water and energy use processes that rely on the Soviet legacy to their needs, the needs of external players. Clearly, it makes sense to join efforts in this department which is what we are encouraging our partners to do. They agree, but the West is trying in every possible way to disrupt this natural process and meddle in our dealings with our “exes,” as you put it. Poet Andrey Voznesensky once famously said, “Don’t return to those you once loved.” This is the opening line. However, the poem ends with “Anyway, you have nowhere else to go.”

Question:  A trendy modern poetess Vera Polozkova has the following line, “She is friends with all her exes as if they had never let her down.”

You, and the Foreign Ministry, said that you knew nothing about the special military operation before it began. At least, you knew nothing about it long before it started. Perhaps, this is not true, but that was the impression. May I ask you how you found out about it? What did you feel? I remember well what Tigran Keosayan and I felt at home at night, when we learned about it. I wonder what you felt back then. What do you think about the people who are now called “frightened patriots” who were frightened and left, those who are “ashamed” etc.?

Sergey Lavrov: The time and date of when I found out about it is not my secret.

Question: So, this is not a state secret?

Sergey Lavrov: This is not a state secret, but it is not my secret, either. If I may, I would like to leave it at that.

The sense of inevitability is what I felt when this announcement was made. Not joy. Imminent hostilities, with the citizens of your country going to defend justice and risk their lives, are not a reason for joy. It was a sense of inevitability and even relief. For many years we were unable to answer the question posed by the people of Donbass and many of our citizens as to how much longer we would allow them to mock common sense, the people, the UN Security Council resolution and every other aspect of it that was brazenly sabotaged.

Question: What do you think of those who are ashamed of being Russian?

Sergey Lavrov: We are now having a big discussion about foreign agents, and whether it was the right thing to do to draft a new law, which some people consider an extension to the old one and ask if it was right or wrong.

I watch talk shows, including those that you host, where issues are debated that everyone can relate to: so they left, what do we do about them now? How do we feel about them if they return? Or should they even be allowed to return? I don’t have an opinion. Each person is the master of their own destiny. That’s the way it is. But everyone must have a conscience. And everyone has to deal with their own conscience. This is how I see it. But there is something I cannot accept, and that’s people publishing things – I have a duty to read some resources designated as foreign agents in my line of work, and they describe with such lustful pleasure those insurmountable (from their point of view) problems that the Russian Federation is facing. They…

Question: Gloat.

Sergey Lavrov: Yes. They predict collapse. One of them wrote that Russia was threatened with death in terms of high technologies, because it has neither brains nor institutions. It is your country you are writing this about!

There are others. When Roscosmos, in response to the sanctions, told the Americans that, since they did not want our engines anymore, we would discontinue supplies to both the US and the UK, they imposed sanctions on our corporation, making any further contact impossible. A foreign agent site launched into a story about how our corporation had violated every conceivable obligation, and was now irreparably tainted as a dishonest partner that no one would ever deal with. We say double standards. That’s how they work, plain and simple.

My opinion is that these people should be left alone with themselves and realise what they have done. How to treat them is another matter. Will their former acquaintances stay in touch with them? How will the state go about renewing relations with them? That is another question. What is important is to leave them alone with their own conscience.

Question: Your trust that every person has a conscience has already done you a disservice with Petr Poroshenko and the Minsk agreements. Maybe you should just stop believing this. Not everyone has a conscience, unfortunately.

We all wonder, and every person in the country wants to know when “this” will end. We all want the special military operation to end as soon as possible, so that people stop dying – our soldiers, and the civilians that their former Ukraine is hitting every day. Ukraine still considers them its citizens de jure, but this isn’t stopping it, as we know. When will it end? We do not know. I won’t ask you about it. Obviously you don’t have an answer.

But where do you think it should end? I am not asking about the goals that Vladimir Putin announced at the start – the goals, and hence the potential results of this operation – the demilitarisation and denazification. This much is clear. Where should it end geographically? Where would it be reasonable, right and good for us?

Sergey Lavrov: As regards any projections or timeframe, I have just recalled an amusing fact. Ukrainian Minister of Foreign Affairs Dmitry Kuleba recently said that Vladimir Zelensky had set a deadline for joining the European Union, but he wouldn’t reveal that deadline, because many in the European Union might get scared and try to slow down their accession to the EU.

We don’t have any deadlines. As for the special military operation and geographic goals, President Vladimir Putin said clearly (as you quoted him): denazification and demilitarisation, which means no threats to our security, no military threats from the territory of Ukraine. This goal remains. Geography-wise, the situation was different when the negotiators met in Istanbul. Our readiness to accept the Ukrainian proposal was based on the situation as of the end of March 2022.

Question: That was the DPR and the LPR?

Sergey Lavrov: Yes, more or less. Now the geography is different. It is more than the DPR, the LPR, but also the Kherson and Zaporozhye regions and a number of other areas. This process continues, consistently and persistently. It will continue as long as the West, in its impotent rage, desperate to aggravate the situation as much as possible, continues to flood Ukraine with more and more long-range weapons. Take the HIMARS. Defence Minister Alexey Reznikov boasts that they have already received 300-kilometre ammunition. This means our geographic objectives will move even further from the current line. We cannot allow the part of Ukraine that Vladimir Zelensky, or whoever replaces him, will control to have weapons that pose a direct threat to our territory or to the republics that have declared their independence and want to determine their own future.

Question: How can this be arranged, technically? This is our territory. Then there are the republics that will accede to us. In fact they already have – the Kherson and Zaporozhye regions. You are diplomats, so you cannot say this. I’m a journalist, and I call a spade a spade. Further west, there is the territory controlled by Vladimir Zelensky. They have a common border. So either there should be a 300 kilometre buffer zone or something between them, or we need to march all the way to Lvov inclusive.

Sergey Lavrov: There is a solution to this problem. The military know this.

Question: A secret one? Do you think there is a chance that we will leave half-way? This is something our subscribers and viewers are fearing.

Sergey Lavrov: I see no reason to question what President Vladimir Putin announced on February 24, 2022, and reaffirmed a few days ago – our goals remain the same. And they will be met.

By making China the enemy, Nato is threatening world peace

8 July 2022  

US President Joe Biden speaks at the Nato summit in Madrid on 30 June 2022 (AFP)
Jonathan Cook is the the author of three books on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and a winner of the Martha Gellhorn Special Prize for Journalism. His website and blog can be found at: http://www.jonathan-cook.net

Jonathan Cook

As the saying goes, if you only have a hammer, every problem looks like a nail. The West has the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (Nato), a self-declared “defensive” military alliance – so any country that refuses its dictates must, by definition, be an offensive military threat. 

That is part of the reason why Nato issued a new “strategic concept” document last week at its summit in Madrid, declaring for the first time that China poses a “systemic challenge” to the alliance, alongside a primary “threat” from Russia.

Beijing views this new designation as a decisive step by Nato on the path to pronouncing it a “threat” too – echoing the alliance’s escalatory approach towards Moscow over the past decade. In its previous mission statement, issued in 2010, Nato advocated “a true strategic partnership” with Russia.

How are Americans or Europeans suddenly under threat of military conquest from China?

According to a report in the New York Times, China would have found itself openly classed as a “threat” last week had it not been for Germany and France. They insisted that the more hostile terminology be watered down so as to avoid harming their trade and technology links with China.

In response, Beijing accused Nato of “maliciously attacking and smearing” it, and warned that the alliance was “provoking confrontation”. Not unreasonably, Beijing believes Nato has strayed well out of its sphere of supposed “defensive” interest: the North Atlantic.

Nato was founded in the wake of the Second World War expressly as a bulwark against Soviet expansion into Western Europe. The ensuing Cold War was primarily a territorial and ideological battle for the future of Europe, with the ever-present mutual threat of nuclear annihilation.

So how, Beijing might justifiably wonder, does China – on the other side of the globe – fit into Nato’s historic “defensive” mission? How are Chinese troops or missiles now threatening Europe or the US in ways they weren’t before? How are Americans or Europeans suddenly under threat of military conquest from China?

Creating enemies

The current Nato logic reads something like this: Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February is proof that the Kremlin has ambitions to recreate its former Soviet empire in Europe. China is growing its military power and has similar imperial designs towards the rival, breakaway state of Taiwan, as well as western Pacific islands. And because Beijing and Moscow are strengthening their strategic ties in the face of western opposition, Nato has to presume that their shared goal is to bring western civilisation crashing down. 

Or as last week’s Nato mission statement proclaimed: “The deepening strategic partnership between the People’s Republic of China and the Russian Federation and their mutually reinforcing attempts to undercut the rules-based international order run counter to our values and interests.”

But if anyone is subverting the “rules-based international order”, a standard the West regularly invokes but never defines, it looks to be Nato itself – or the US, as the hand that wields the Nato hammer. 

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping meet in Beijing on 4 February 2022 (AFP)
Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping meet in Beijing on 4 February 2022 (AFP)

That is certainly the way it looks to Beijing. In its response, China argued: “Thirty years after the end of the Cold War, [Nato] has not yet abandoned its thinking and practice of creating ‘enemies’ … It is Nato that is creating problems around the world.”

China has a point. A problem with bureaucracies – and Nato is the world’s largest military bureaucracy – is that they quickly develop an overriding institutional commitment to ensuring their permanent existence, if not expansion. Bureaucracies naturally become powerful lobbies for their own self-preservation, even when they have outlived their usefulness. 

If there is no threat to “defend” against, then a threat must be manufactured. That can mean one of two things: either inventing an imaginary threat, or provoking the very threat the bureaucracy was designed to avert or thwart. Signs are that Nato – now embracing 30 countries – is doing both. 

Remember that Nato should have dissolved itself after the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991. But three decades later, it is bigger and more resource-hungry than ever. 

Against all advice, and in violation of its promises, Nato has refused to maintain a neutral “security buffer” between itself and Russia. Instead, it has been expanding right up to Russia’s borders, including creeping furtively into Ukraine, the gateway through which armies have historically invaded Russia. 

Offensive alliance

Undoubtedly, Russia has proved itself a genuine threat to the territorial integrity of its neighbour Ukraine by conquering its eastern region – home to a large ethnic Russian community the Kremlin claims to be protecting. But even if we reject Russian President Vladimir Putin’s repeated assertion that Moscow has no larger ambitions, the Russian army’s substantial losses suggest it has scant hope of extending its military reach much further. 

Even if Moscow were hoping to turn its attention next to Poland or the Baltic states, or Nato’s latest recruits of Sweden and Finland, such a move would clearly risk nuclear confrontation. This is perhaps why western audiences hear so much from their politicians and media about Putin being some kind of deranged megalomaniac.

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The claim of a rampant, revived Russian imperialism appears not to be founded in any obvious reality. But it is a very effective way for Nato bureaucrats to justify enlarging their budgets and power, while the arms industries that feed off Nato and are embedded in western capitals substantially increase their profits.

The impression that this might have been Nato’s blueprint for handling Moscow is only underscored by the way it is now treating China, with even less justification. China has not recently invaded any sovereign territories, unlike the US and its allies, while the only territory it might threaten – Taiwan – is some 12,000 kilometres from the US mainland, and a similarly long distance from most of Europe. 

The argument that the Russian army may defeat Ukraine and then turn its attention towards Poland and Finland at least accords with some kind of geographical possibility, however remote. But the idea that China may invade Taiwan and then direct its military might towards California and Italy is in the realms of preposterous delusion. 

Nato’s new posture towards Beijing brings into question its whole characterisation as a “defensive” alliance. It looks very much to be on the offensive. 

Russian red lines

Notably, Nato invited to the summit for the first time four states from the Asia-Pacific region: Australia, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea.

The creation of a Nato-allied “Asia-Pacific Four” is doubtless intended to suggest to Beijing parallels with Nato’s gradual recruitment of eastern European states starting in the late 1990s, culminating in its more recent flirting with Ukraine and Georgia, longstanding red lines for Russia.

Ultimately, Nato’s courting of Russia’s neighbours led to attacks by Moscow first on Georgia and then on Ukraine, conveniently bolstering the “Russian threat” narrative. Might the intention behind similar advances to the “Asia-Pacific Four” be to provoke Beijing into a more aggressive military stance in its own region, in order to justify Nato expanding far beyond the North Atlantic, claiming the entire globe as its backyard? 

Now, Nato is casting itself as the guardian of the Asia-Pacific region too

There are already clear signs of that. In May, US President Joe Biden vowed that the US – and by implication Nato – would come to Taiwan’s aid militarily if it were attacked. Beijing regards Taiwan, some 200 kilometres off its coast, as Chinese territory. 

Similarly, British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss called last week for Nato countries to ship advanced weapons to Taiwan, in the same way Nato has been arming Ukraine, to ensure the island has “the defence capability it needs”.

This echoes Nato’s narrative about its goals in Ukraine: that it is pumping weapons into Ukraine to “defend” the rest of Europe. Now, Nato is casting itself as the guardian of the Asia-Pacific region too.

‘Economic coercion’

But in truth, this is not just about competing military threats. There is an additional layer of western self-interest, concealed behind claims of a “defensive” alliance. 

Days before the Nato summit, the G7, a group of the seven leading industrialised nations that form the core of Nato, announced their intention to raise $600bn to invest in developing countries.

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This move wasn’t driven by altruism. The West has been deeply worried by Beijing’s growing influence on the world stage through its trillion-dollar Belt and Road Initiative, announced in 2013.

China is being aggressive, but so far only in exercising soft power. In the coming decades, it plans to invest in the infrastructure of dozens of developing states. More than 140 countries have so far signed up to the initiative.

China’s aim is to make itself the hub of a global network of new infrastructure projects – from highways and ports to advanced telecommunications – to strengthen its economic trade connections to Africa, the Middle East, Russia and Europe. 

If it succeeds, China will stamp its economic dominance on the globe – and that is what really worries the West, particularly the US and its Nato military bureaucracy. They are labelling this “economic coercion”.

This week, the heads of the FBI and MI5 – the US and UK’s domestic intelligence services – held an unprecedented joint news conference in London to warn that China was the “biggest long-term threat to our economic and national security”. Underscoring western priorities, they added that any attack on Taiwan would “represent one of the most horrific business disruptions the world has ever seen”.

Unilateral aggression

Back in the Cold War era, Washington was not just, or even primarily, worried about a Soviet military invasion. The nuclear doctrine of mutually assured destruction meant neither had an interest in direct confrontation. 

Instead, each treated developing nations as pawns in an economic war over resources to be plundered and markets to be controlled. Each side tried to expand its so-called “sphere of influence” over other states and secure a larger slice of the planet’s wealth, in order to fuel its domestic economy and expand its military industries. 

The West’s rhetoric about the Cold War emphasised an ideological battle between western freedoms and Soviet authoritarianism. But whatever significance one attributes to that rhetorical fight, the more important battle for each side was proving to other states the superiority of the economic model that grew out of its ideology. 

US soldiers patrol an area near the Syria-Iraq border on 12 January 2021 (AFP)
US soldiers patrol an area near the Syria-Iraq border on 12 January 2021 (AFP)

In the early Cold War years, it should be recalled, communist parties were frontrunners to win elections in several European states – something that was starkly evident to the drafters of the Nato treaty.

The US invested so heavily in weapons – today, its military budget exceeds the combined spending of the next nine countries – precisely to strong-arm poorer nations into its camp, and punish those that refused. That task was made easier after the fall of the Soviet Union. In a unipolar world, Washington got to define who would be treated as a friend, and on what terms, and who a foe. 

Nato chiefly served as an alibi for US aggression, adding a veneer of multilateral legitimacy to its largely unilateral militarism.

Debt slavery

In reality, the “rules-based international order” comprises a set of US-controlled economic institutions, such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, that dictate oppressive terms to increasingly resentful poor countries – often the West’s former colonies – in desperate need of investment. Most have ended up in permanent debt slavery.

China is offering them an alternative, and in the process it threatens to gradually erode US economic dominance. Russia’s apparent ability to survive the West’s economic sanctions, while those sanctions rebound on western economies, underscores the tenuousness of Washington’s economic primacy.

The US looks only too ready to drag Nato into a military sequel to the Cold War – and risk taking the world to the brink of nuclear annihilation

More generally, Washington is losing its grip on the global order. The rival BRICS group – of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa – is preparing to expand by including Iran and Argentina in its power bloc. And both Russia and China, forced into deeper alliance by Nato hostility, have been seeking to overturn the international trading system by decoupling it from the US dollar, the central pillar of Washington’s hegemonic status.

The recently released “Nato 2030” document stresses the importance of Nato remaining “ready, strong and united for a new era of increased global competition”. Last week’s strategic vision listed China’s sins as seeking “to control key technological and industrial sectors, critical infrastructure, and strategic materials and supply chains”. It added that China “uses its economic leverage to create strategic dependencies and enhance its influence”, as though this was not exactly what the US has been doing for decades. 

Washington’s greatest fear is that, as its economic muscle atrophies, Europe’s vital trading links with China and Russia will see its economic interests – and eventually its ideological loyalties – shift eastwards, rather than stay firmly in the western camp. 

The question is: how far is the US willing to go to stop that? So far, it looks only too ready to drag Nato into a military sequel to the Cold War – and risk pushing the world to the brink of nuclear annihilation. 

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Eye.

Douglas MacGregor: Washington wants this to continue

July 02, 2022

Douglas MacGregor

Sitrep Operation Z: SloMo Collapse

July 01, 2022

Source

By Saker Staff

Let us deal with Snake Island first as the level of noise is unbelievable.

Snake Island in the Black sea will remain under Russian naval and air control. Russian Politician Alexei Chernyak.

End of story

Russia can take that piece of serpentine rock and missile it to non-existence but they’ve just used a rock to remove the Ukraine’s biggest impediment (lie) about the paltry amount of wheat in the ships still unable to make passage. Now the supposed ‘international order’ have no more excuses and the Ukraine must demine their naval mines. But always remember, we’re dealing with the Empire of Lies!

For this one, we will look at the bigger world first, and then we will go on to the ramparts.

A reminder: What is this all about?

A Biden advisor says that US drivers will pay a gas premium for as long as it takes, because:

“This is about the future of the liberal world order and we have to stand firm.” https://t.me/IntelRepublic/1516

Liberal world order is code for the rules-based international order which is code for a single pole of power in our world.  In other words, they understand on some level that they are fighting for their existence as the ultimate ruler.

In sharp contrast, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov – Minsk, June 30, 2022

The future world order is at stake. We will go back to the origins and observe in practice the UN Charter principles, above all the principle of sovereign equality of states, or else the world will be plunged into chaos for a long time. Our choice is clear: We stand for unconditional respect for international law. We will uphold this position together with our Belarusian allies and our other numerous like-minded partners who share these approaches, which was confirmed during the recent BRICS summit and in the final documents adopted at this summit.

Russia and the multi-polar world are getting stronger day by day.  Let’s take a look at how the mighty are falling:

EU Circus

We posted a Douglas MacGregor clip recently with the heading: Its collapsed

There is little to be said here and we can only depict this with a cartoon or two.  The number of cartoons generated by this circus exceeded all expectations.  Everyone was cartooning!

NATO – Crisis of Existence and another announcement of Wunderwaffe

The Chinese friends report on the NATO split:

“On the issue of the Russia-Ukraine conflict alone, there are different demands among Western countries, as Germany, France and Italy want to stop the war as soon as possible, and the US is calling on all NATO countries to make a common cause against Russia. Wang Shuo, a professor at the School of International Relations of Beijing Foreign Studies University, believes that in this situation, many European countries are questioning whether NATO can solve the crisis in Ukraine. If it cannot work, what’s the point of NATO’s existence? At the moment when Europeans believe that NATO needs to play a role, it proved itself disunited and incompetent, another sign of NATO’s existential crisis.”

https://www.globaltimes.cn/page/202206/1269395.shtml

And on the NATO document:

Zhao Lijian: The NATO 2022 Strategic Concept has misrepresented facts and distorted the truth. In this document, NATO once again wrongly defined China as posing “systemic challenges”. It smeared China’s foreign policy and pointed fingers at China’s normal military posture and defense policy. The document seeks to stoke confrontation and antagonism and smacks heavily of Cold War mentality and ideological bias. China is gravely concerned over this and firmly opposes it.

Here is our message for NATO: hyping up the so-called “China threat” will lead nowhere. NATO must immediately stop its groundless accusations and provocative rhetoric against China, abandon the outdated Cold War mentality and zero-sum game mindset, renounce its blind faith in military might and misguided practice of seeking absolute security, halt the dangerous attempt to destabilize Europe and the Asia-Pacific, and act in the interest of security and stability in Europe and beyond.

The Baltic States no longer believe in NATO.

Latvia and Estonia decided to buy air defense systems for joint defense.

“The NATO Summit gave a clear signal that assistance will be provided to those who are ready to defend themselves,” Estonian Defense Minister Laanet said. The initiative to develop regional defense was also supported by his Latvian counterpart Pabriks. “We are working on developing our own capabilities,” he stressed.

Finland states it will NOT extradite its citizens to OTHER countries UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES – Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto.

So, already Turkey’s pre-condition to Finland entering the NATO bloc is falling apart. Perhaps The Sultan knows that this may not happen at all.  This is what it looks like: Finland and Sweden have not joined NATO yet, and there is a long process ahead, says Erdogan. According to him, the signatures at the Madrid summit do not mean the end of the work to eliminate Ankara’s concerns. Turkey wants to see in practice what the decisions reached will mean.

Scholz (for what he is worth) at this very same NATO meet, got scared and quickly urged not to hinder the transit of Russian goods to Kaliningrad.  He wants to reduce the tensions in the  Baltic region.  The most interesting is that Politico reports this.  But then, he wants to set the rules according to some rules-based international order concept that he seemingly thinks he is entitled to promulgate on the spot.

“Transit rules should be established taking into account the fact that we are dealing here with traffic between two parts of Russia,” he said at the NATO summit in Madrid.

And he also tumbles the sanctions:

“In the case of Kaliningrad, an exception should be made from anti-Russian sanctions”, Scholz stressed.

Politician and former energy minister Panagiotis Lafazanis urges (https://ria.ru/20220701/lafazanis-1799505196.html)

Greece to conclude a strategic alliance with Russia and to lift sanctions, because “Europe is hit hard by the sanctions. Europe has shot itself.”

And then, Germany Seizes Gazprom LNG Tankers which belonged to the Russian energy giants German subsidiary – Gazprom Germania.  And Russia in the form of Gazprom turns up the Pain Dial by turning off the gas faucet to the company, and key gas retailers in Germany and the UK suddenly stare as the bottom of the tank becomes visible.

So, given the extracts from the last few days through the EU Circus and NATO’s announcement of Wunderwaffen, can you see clearly that they are telling only big stories. These weapons may not materialize, and most know it. Besides, if Russia does not destroy them, she buys them.

Arms trade on the line of contact and indirect deliveries of military equipment from Europe to Russia by Ukrainians

In the context of the news (https://t.me/vzglyad_ru/57577) about the transfer of another six units of CAESAR self-propelled guns by France to Ukraine, we want to talk a little about how things are with the arms trade on the line of contact.

We already wrote that two CAESAR self-propelled guns went to the Russian side for a ridiculous 120 thousand dollars. At the same time, Ukrainian negotiators initially requested $1 million for the launcher.

How it looks technically in practice:

  • Negotiations are underway through special forces on the possibility of acquiring one or another model of foreign equipment;
  • Since this whole thing is taking place on the line of contact, control over specific types of weapons and military equipment received from the West is rather conditional there: the most you can count on is a relatively timid commander and rather zealous representatives of the SBU, who will not give a damn about reputational losses of Ukraine in case of loss of foreign equipment;
  • The Russian side acts as a picky buyer who does not need outdated weapons and military equipment: everything that is needed was obtained by undercover intelligence and so on. Local Ukrainian businessmen are trying to cash in and somehow sell the RF Armed Forces what they have. As a result, the deals go through, but are guided by the Russian side, at the same time, only by the expediency of maintaining contacts with the enemy;
  • In the line of special forces, they agree on the organization of a massive artillery raid on a certain already empty square to divert attention while the actual transfer of equipment is carried out;
  • The Russian side has already expressed interest in acquiring HIMARS. They asked for more ammo.
  • To the Russian side, we repeat, such deals provide an opportunity to maintain working contacts with the Ukrainian side, which in the future will allow solving much more pressing issues. On the Ukrainian side, there is a great desire not to fight and earn money.

So that is one of the deals with the wunderwaffe.  Here is another:

Some watcher of Ukrainian channels report that Ukrainian General Staff asked Zelensky in the role of the President to please please stop requesting 777 howitzers and NLAW anti-tank systems, which quickly fail or do not function at all.

(The telegram channel where I found this, notes .. hahahahah fucking Wunderwaffe)

Xi Jinping’s current visit to Hong Kong for its 25th anniversary since its handover from the Brits, speaks volumes. As well as Mr. Putin’s planned visit to the upcoming G20. The fact that these two leaders are now traveling outside of their countries must show that something has changed. Either the risk of Covid is now such that they can take it, or the security environment has changed so that their security staff considers such visits as an acceptable risk.

Europe is slowly curtailing payments to Ukrainian refugees.  Poland no longer pays for food and accommodation for Ukrainian refugees, with exception of pregnant women, disabled people, and families with many children.

These are convincing arguments that the EU is breaking and NATO is cracking.

To the ramparts we go

Russian Defense Ministry announces successful advance into Lisichansk, Lugansk region, with Russian and allied forces taking control of the Lisichansk oil refinery as well as other key districts in the city, as Ukrainian forces said to be in disorganized retreat.

Sergei Kiriyenko visited the Kharkov region. Such a visit is considered a sign that Putin has made a decision that the region, now Kharkiv, and formerly Zaporozhye and Kherson will be annexed to Russia. The issuance of Russian passports has started and the formation of administration is in progress.  Russia takes full responsibility for such a region. The Russian flag is forever if Kiriyenko, who is responsible specifically for domestic politics, has been there.

This lovely photo was taken in the Lugansk region.

Once the passports flow, and the banks open, Russia is there: The first branch of Promsvyazbank, one of the largest Russian state banks, has opened in Kherson and already there is a bunch of people in line:  https://t.me/EurasianChoice/16207

The Kyiv regime is trying to hide the defeat of the Ukrainian troops in Severodonetsk and present the flight of the UAF militants from the Lysychansk direction as a tactical retreat.

Detail as usual comes in many forms and thank you to the commentators who regularly post different takes.  Be aware we’re coming from the fog of Lisichansk, so, don’t believe everything that every Tom, Dick, and Harry pronounce.  Always confirm with the Russian MoD report.    We still like Military Summary.  I would suggest you take in the last report of yesterday before you look at today’s first report.  The reason for that is that he mentions at the end some of those that he works with.

Payback is in progress for the total hack of all Russian sources as the SMO started.

XakNet Team (https://t.me/xaknet_team) hackers hacked the website of the Ukraine is Our Home TV channel. Now the anthem of Russia is played there.

Earlier (https://t.me/rt_russian/117872), they said that they had gained access to the systems of Ukrainian energy companies of the DTEK group.

And today (https://t.me/intelslava/32332), the Killnet (https://t.me/+a3ATRboVqh05MWNi) group brought down the website of the US Federal Tax Payment System.

Enjoy the discussion.  This sitrep will stay up until it gets too full of comments and then we will refresh.

Nazification Of Poland?

3 JULY 2022

Source

By Konrad Reka

The worship of the “heroes of Mariupol”, i.e. bandits from Azov, cowardly hiding behind the backs of civilians imprisoned in Azovstal, is another example of the progressive nazification of political consciousness in contemporary Poland.

In Gdańsk one of the the squares was officially named in honour of “heroic Mariupol”. Well, although it is hard to believe, there are circles in Poland that can raise toasts to the SS-men killed during attack on the Reich Chancellery in 1945 as “defenders of European civilization”. The worship of the “heroes of Mariupol”, i.e. bandits from Azov, cowardly hiding behind the backs of civilians imprisoned in Azovstal, is another example of the progressive nazification of political consciousness in contemporary Poland.

Deniers of the Polish Genocide

Along with the destruction of the monuments of the Polish-Russian brotherhood in arms, cases of fights against the liberating Red Army are exposed.  Books expressing regret that Poland did not become Hitler’s close ally are being published on a mass scale.  The one and only case of cooperation between the Polish anti-communist underground and the UPA against the Polish army, in propaganda, grows to the size of a great alliance with Ukrainian Nazism.  The Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs has not properly reacted to the scandalous Ambassador Andrij Melnyk interview, in which he had questioned and even praised the Volhynia Massacre, in which nearly 200,000 Poles were killed by the Banderites.  The state authorities order this year to refrain from organising the celebration of the anniversary of the culmination of these events, when on the night only, Bloody Sunday of 11th July 1943, 99 Polish villages in Volhynia were attacked with the slogan “Death to Poles!”.  The monument commemorating the victims of the Banderite genocide, which the local government wanted to set up in a small village in Podkarpacie, near the border with Ukraine, was arrested and censored, when elements as a figure of a boy pierced by a Banderites’ pitchfork and the heads of children punched on fences were removed. “In the current geopolitical situation, should not go back to those events” – repeats the Polish government, but the crimes of the UPA looked exactly so extremely cruel. All remainders of fight of Polish partisans against Ukrainian Hitler’s collaborators are fiercely removed from the public space. Not only the Ukrainian minority in Poland and new immigrants, but many Polish politicians demand, for example, a change of street named in honor of the legendary Major Stanisław Basaj, “Lynx”, during the Second World War a hero of the fights against German and Ukrainian Nazis, in 1945 murdered by the UPA. So is it still Poland, or already Nazi Ukraine?

Polonisation or Banderisation

These are not random events.  We are dealing with the acceleration of preparations for the establishment of Polish-Western Ukrainian federation. Thus, Poles are being prepared for a compromise, which would be the acceptance of the Bandera cult.  In order to return to Lviv – Poland must therefore become at least a bit Banderish, it is explained to the Poles. The problem is that in such a scenario there are not the former eastern lands that would return to Poland, but Poland would be joined to the Nazi-Banderite Reich.

It sounds scary, but we, Poles accept it. After all, there is no harm to those willing…. However, organising ourselves, we could even turn the strategy used against us towards our national benefits. And when we come back to Wołyń, to Stanisławów, Równe, Tarnopol – we can always replace the heads of Bandera’s monuments and transform them into Marechal Piłsudski’s ones. Or even Jeremy Wiśniowiecki (the conqueror of the Chmielnicki’s Kozaks Uprising in the 17th century). As long as we do not let to nazificate us.

Douglas MacGregor: Its collapsed

June 29, 2022

June 27th This and That

June 27, 2022

A quick update from Andrei, with a few additional notes

June 23, 2022

Dear friends,

It has now been a month since my last update, so I have decided to post this note to share a few thoughts with you.

First, the boring stuff: my health is definitely doing better and, while I very much regret having had to take that time off, I now am sure that it was the right decision, both for me and the blog.  I hope to come back to full-time blogging by the end of July.  Again, I apologize to you all for my absence, and I ask for your understanding.

Second, and as I had predicted, the situation in the world and in the Ukraine has changed a great deal over the past couple of months.  I will just mention a few bullet-points of what I see as the highlights:

  • The “the glorious Ukrainians are winning” narrative has now quasi-officially faceplanted (heck, even the NYT changed its tune) and nobody sane is spewing this nonsense anymore.  The reality is that the Ukrainians are, on average, losing about one battalion per day, and this is why they are now sending barely trained civilians to the East: most of the (often very well-trained and courageous) Ukrainian combat units are even dead, prisoners, MIA or in “cauldrons” (actual or by firepower) with no chance to escape.
  • It is now also undeniable that what began as a special military operation (SMO) has now turned into a open and full-scale war between the consolidated West (aka the Anglo-Zionist Empire) and Russia: the Empire has now “hit” Russia with everything it had short of a direct military attack.  The (originally 200’000+ strong) Ukrainian military, arguably the strongest NATO military force (which is otherwise mostly composed of small and thoroughly woked-out “parade militaries”!), especially with the full support of the West (intelligence, weapons, money, political, etc. etc. etc.) is being “demilitarized” and “denazified” by a vastly superior Russian military force (but not one bigger in size: Russia has used only a fraction of her full military power).  The outcome here is not in doubt.
  • This reality has now been fully accepted by the Russian society which now stands behind the Kremlin (at 80%+) which has made no secret that it is now locked into an existential war against the West.  This has been the case since at least 2013, but now the original ratios (roughly 80% informational, 15% economic and 5% military) have shifted to what I would call “total war by proxy“.
  • The hardcore crazies in the West (US Neocons, UK, Poland and the 3B) are trying hard to trigger a fullscale war between NATO and Russia and, so far, the spineless Eurolemmings have let them set the agenda, however suicidal it might be for the EU and NATO.  Frankly, my disgust with western Europe is total – I never had any illusions about the “new” Europeans – and all I can say is that they all richly deserve each other and what is coming their way.  All I can say is this: continue to act like Nazis and you shall be denazified.  It is really that simple.
  • The leaders of the Empire know that they lost yet again, and they are seeking refuge in their usual coping mechanisms: ideological self-gratification and deep, deep denial.  While the EU is committing a straightforward economic, political and social suicide, the Biden Administration has gone “full woke”, as did corporate “America”(meaning the USA, of course, not the American continent): the so-called “minorities” are now shoved down the collective throats of the US people now, no matter how small, or freaky, the said “minorities” are.  This is especially striking in the kind of advertisements the US corporations are now unanimously producing.   I think, for example, of the morbidly obese black women in diapers (!!!) taking “ballerina poses” YouTube is now regularly showing.  Watching these ads, one would think that blacks in the USA occupy all positions of authority and prestige, that most US women are lesbians, and millions of US kids (and even infants!) urgently need a sex change (watch the excellent “What is a Woman?” documentary to see how insane this has all become).  When I see this collective woke insanity, I cannot help but wonder whether corporate “America” is not deliberately trying to really piss off the vast majority of US Americans and trigger some kind of major and violent internal crisis.
  • The Russians, in the meantime, are passing new laws against the propaganda of homosexuality: while in the past, such propaganda was only banned if directed at children, now this expanded to the entire population of Russia.  Just to clarify: Russia is not banning homosexuals and their sexual practices, however pathological, remain fully legal.  But what Russia IS doing is refusing to consider homosexuality as a “normal and natural variation in human sexuality” (Wikipedia).  In other words, the Russians still consider homosexuality as a psychological disorder which might deserve compassion, but not affirmation (nevermind encouragement).  Since “inclusiveness” and “positivity” are now key western “values” this is also a message from Russia: keep your woke-freaks and their ideology to yourselves, we want none of it!
  • In the meantime the Euroukrainians are now planning to ban and destroy over 100’000’000 copies of Russian language books.  Hitler would be proud.  The Eurolemmings have nothing to say.  You know, “#cancelRussia” thingie (meaning both Russians themselves and the Russian culture in all its forms) and all that “it’s okay when we do it” or “our SOBs” stuff.
  • The Western economic Blitzkrieg against Russia has totally failed and the joke in Russia is that while McCain famously once said that “Russia is a gas station masquerading as a country” with contempt, “Biden” is now saying the same thing, but with deep envy 🙂
Translation: for our Fatherland

I could go on and on, but the bottom line is this: the West has declared total war on Russia (and, de facto, to all of Zone B) and Russia has accepted this.  For a decade and more the West has tried hard to wake up and provoke the proverbial Russian bear and these efforts have finally been successful: the bear is now out, and he is very, very angry.  To clarify, by this I am not referring to former Atlantic Integrationists like Medvedev now “coming out” as a Eurasian Sovereignist hardliner (he is clearly setting himself up for a future Presidential election and says all the “right things”), but about the Russian people which are now in what I call a full “WWII” mode (“Rise up immense country” and all that).  To the right is the kind of images now circulating on the Russian Internet and which expresses the awareness that Europe was never truly denazifed, at least not in the US occupied countries.

Russia is now determined to finish this ugly job, once and forever.  You want to “cancel Russia”?  In your dreams only, but Russia can, and will, “cancel Nazism” once and or all.  1000 years of that crap is enough!

From the first Crusades to the invasion of the USSR by the united Europe under Hitler’s command, the West has always has some kind of ideology to justify its wars of imperialist aggression.  The interesting thing is that now this is over and rather than justify is acts of aggression in the name of some putatively universal religion or ideology, the western elites (and, alas, much of its population) have now finally shown their true face which is:

  • Virulent anti-Russian racism in its purest form (again, Hitler would be proud)
  • Pure and overt Satanism under the label of “Woke” ideology (the last western ideology it appears) with its focus on the destruction of the family and, especially, children (Satanists know that they cannot do anything against the Creator of all, hence they try to take out their hatred and revenge against His creatures, especially children)
  • Overt and even “in your face” hatred to any and all who oppose that agenda (as the French revolutionary Louis Antoine de Saint-Just famously declared “No freedom for the enemies of freedom“, right?!)

The truth is that the real West, the one born from the Middle-Ages (and *not* from the Roman or Greek civilizations!) has always been ruled by cynical, evil, thugs.  In the past, these thugs always concealed their real worldview and agenda under all sorts of pious pretexts, now its only “ideology” left is pure hatred and wokism (same thing, really).

I submit that it is impossible to predict what will happen in the coming months and years – there are simply too many variables which can dramatically affect our future.  What began as a special military operation (as opposed to a combined arms operation) has now morphed into what one could call WWIII or even WWIV (depending on your definitions).  This war will last for several years unless, of course, the Neocons and their associated crazies in the EU get their way and trigger a nuclear conflict: in the latter case it will be short and very final.

Right now the focus is on the Donbass and the southern Ukraine, but we have to understand two things about this:

  • The Ukronazis and their NATO bosses have already long lost that war, and all the West and its Nazi puppets in Kiev are doing is trying to prolong this unwinnable war for as long as possible to get a maximum number of Ukrainians killed or maimed and to destroy as much of the Ukraine as possible and make Russia “pay the highest price” for her (quite inevitable) victory on the battlefield.  What a paradox!  The Russian “aggressors” are trying as hard as they can to save as many Ukrainians as possible (even at the cost of their own lives!) along with whatever is left of the Ukrainian infrastructure after 30 years of “independence”, while the western “defenders” and even “allies” of the Ukraine want to turn it into a desolate moonscape covered with corpses.
  • This is not a war about the Ukraine, at least not anymore, this is now a war for the future of the European continent and even the future international order.  As I have said many times already, the Russians fully intend to denazify at least all of the European continent, preferably by economic and political means but, if needed, by military means too.  Why?  Because the West has left Russia no other choice.  For Russia and, I would argue, all of Zone B the choice is both stark and simple: true and full sovereignty (economic, of course, but also cultural, spiritual and civilizational) or subjugation.

In other words, this is not a war Russia can afford to lose and the Russian people know it.

Last time around, Russia lost about 27 million people while China lost about 35 millions.  That a total of 62 million people, about two thirds of which were civilians.  Keep these figures in mind when you look at the quick and quite radical modernization of the Russian and Chinese armed forces (btw – the Chinese people also “get it” and they fully support Russia, as does the Chinese leadership, even if they try to keep a low profile for the time being and let Russia carry the burden of being on the frontline of this war: simply put, the Chinese are buying time which, frankly, they still need to achieve parity, or better, against the US and its protectorates in Asia such as Taiwan, Japan, ROK or Australia.  The Russians also understand that as they themselves were in a similar position between 2000 and 2018.  But they know that the Chinese Dragon will have to fully “wake up” sooner rather than later.

Yeah, I know, most folks in the West don’t know that, or don’t care, but the point is now what the folks in the West do not know, but rather it is what the people of Russia and China know and understand quite well.  Only an utter fool would doubt or disregard the kind of determination which sits deep inside the souls of the Russian and Chinese people to never allow the West to subjugate them again.  Ever.

[Sidebar: yes, I know, the Japanese Empire which attacked China was not part of the West (yet), but that is an extremely superficial argument which fails to understand that it was precisely western imperialism which created the conditions, in both China and Japan, which resulted in the Japanese imperialist attacks against the entire Asian-Pacific region!]

The above does not even begin to cover all the amazing developments which have taken place in the last few months.  Not only have there been truly huge changes INSIDE Russia (and they are only accelerating), but also in Latin America, Africa and the Middle-East.  And I will revisit all these topics in about a month or so, when I will come back to full-time blogging.  Besides, in a month or so many of the things I mentioned above will become even more obvious for all to see so rather than trying to establish “fact X” we will be able to actually discuss and analyze it, its reality having been quite established.

[Sidebar: please remember who told you the truth and who lied to you over the past months.  There were many, many such liars, ranging from the official propaganda machine (aka the “free press”) to the “Putin has lost it all” emo-Marxists and assorted 6th columnists who, whether they understood it or not, served the purpose of the Empire’s PSYOPs.  Also please remember that Andrei MartynovBernard and Gonzalo Lira not only spoke truthfully, but they were right and their detractors totally wrong.  We all owe them an immense debt of gratitude!]

Frankly, before my forced break, I was getting really frustrated trying to prove to misinformed or even fully brainwashed commentators that the official narrative (produced by the biggest strategic PSYOP in history) was a load of bull, based on lies and/or on a total “misunderstanding” (and I am being kind here!) of the real world outside the “mental Zone A”.  Now most of that narrative has collapsed.

I am also confident that a month from today, things will be even more obvious than they are today.

So, my friends and readers, I leave you in the (very competent) hands of Amarynth, Herb and the rest of the Saker team and I very much look forward to my full return, God willing, in a month or so.

Kind regards to all, and many thanks for your support!

Andrei

PS: yesterday I was re-watching the superb movie by Costa Gavras “Z” which, at the end, lists all the works of art, literature, music, etc. which the (US CIA backed) Greek “colonels” banned and I thought to myself: “what leftist director would make such a movie today about how the entire West is now doing the same with all things Russian?“.  None, of course.  I also noticed the sweet irony of Costa Gavras’ movie being called “Z” (which in Greek stands for “Ζει” or “he lives”) and I wondered if the copyright owners of the movie will now have to rename it since the letter “Z” is now banned amongst doubleplusgoodthinking russophobes.  Finally, there are some in the West who want to create two categories: “good Russians”, who are expected to publicly denounce their country and President, and “bad Russians” who refuse to do so.  Hitler wanted Jews to wear a star of David, so could we see a day when “bad Russians” in Zone A will be told to wear a “Z”.  Right now, no T-shirt or mugs printing companies in Zone A will accept to print a “Z” on their items (I know, I tried and failed!), but considering the collective rage and insanity of the western ruling elites, maybe the letter “Z” will become obligatory for “bad Russians” in Zone A?  Just kidding, of course, but rewatching the movie “Z” felt quite eerie anyway.

Belarus reveals mass executions of Iraqi refugees by Polish soldiers

22 Jun 2022

Source: Agencies

By Al Mayadeen English 

Belarus says it informed an Iraqi delegation of the details of an investigation concluded about mass executions and secret burial of Iraqi refugees killed by the Polish army.

Iraqi migrants at the Belarus-Poland border

The Investigative Committee of Belarus said that an Iraqi delegation visiting Minsk was handed over evidence and information about the mass and secret executions of Iraqi refugees by Polish soldiers on the Polish side of the border with Belarus.

According to a statement published on the website of the Committee, a meeting was held with the Iraqi delegation in the Committee’s central office.

During the meeting, the Iraqi side was informed of the details of the investigation concluded about mass executions and secret burial of refugees killed by the Polish army.

The Iraqi side also received information on the progress and results of the investigation into the crimes against humanity, propaganda for war, and willful endangerment of others, as well as details related to violations committed by officials in Poland such as illegal acts including deportation, cruelty, torture and deliberate failure to provide assistance that led to the death of refugees from West Asian countries, including Iraq and Afghanistan.

The statement mentioned that these crimes had been assertedly committed on the basis of race, nationality, nationality, and religion.

According to the statement, “Belarusian investigators documented criminal actions committed against 135 Iraqi citizens, who were physically injured as violence was used against them by Polish security forces.”

The Investigative Committee of Belarus is also investigating three cases related to bodily harm and illegal expulsion from the EU to Belarus, which led to the death of Iraqi citizens.

It is noteworthy that in February 2023, the International Criminal Court in The Hague will look into the statement of Belarusian human rights activists on the genocide of migrants in Poland.

On January 25, Poland’s border guards announced the start of construction of a 186-kilometer (115-mile) fence at the border with Belarus after thousands of migrants from West Asia streamed to the border in an attempt to cross into the European Union.

Myths from the Past and the Third Incarnation of Russia since 1721

June 22, 2022

By Batiushka

The First and Second Incarnations of Russia

The Russian Lands existed for well over a thousand years before 2022 and took on many highly significant political and geographical forms. These could be described at another time; here we do not have space. However, in the last 300 years, between 1721 and 24 February 2022, they had known only two incarnations: The Russian Empire (1721-1917), and the Soviet Union with the Post-Soviet Russian Federation (1917-2022). The USSR and its totalitarian faults are fairly well known in the West, but even here the West still refuses to believe in the many ‘Soviet’ social virtues, its free medicine, education and culture, which were all inherited from the Empire. The West has blinded itself with its own anti-Russian (disguised as anti-Communist) propaganda. The continuation of a weakened USSR in the Post-Soviet Federation was initially loved by the West, as it was its own creation. Indeed, in many respects the post-Soviet Federation appeared to have adopted the worst of the West and rejected the best of the Soviet Union. By reaction, some suggested that the Federation should return to the USSR. That was never on the agenda. That was an experiment that had failed. On the other hand, the idea that the Federation would become just another Western chimpanzee like Japan was never going to happen either. The Russian Lands have their own identity, their own civilisation.

On the other hand, the Russian Empire is virtually unknown in the West, as the West still believes its own ignorance and lies about it. After all it was the West which destroyed it, with the help of internal traitors and decadent aristocrats, who cruelly exploited the poor and so guaranteed the fall of the Empire. Unsurprisingly, many of these traitors soon afterwards emigrated to the West, given the disaster that they had created in Russia with Western backing. We will therefore spend some time below disillusioning those who still believe in the racist Western/Soviet propaganda stereotypes of ‘tyrannical Asiatic autocracy’, ‘backward obscurantism’, which kept its people in a state of poverty and ignorance. The condescending West said: ‘If only they had been like us clever Western people, all would have been well’. We will look at these realities (1) firstly because they are so little known and many still actually believe in the myths, and secondly because the positive aspects of the pre-Revolutionary Empire are at the heart of the USSR and will also be at the heart of today’s Third Incarnation (see further). Below we look at the real Russian Empire.

The Economy

In the 20 years before 1917 the population of the Empire increased by 62 million, some 50%. It was a time when industrialisation and modernisation accelerated very sharply. National income and productivity increased at a rate unrivalled anywhere else in the world and the budget increased threefold. Personal taxation in the Russian Empire was half the level of that in France and Germany and a quarter of that in Great Britain.

Average earnings were higher than those in any Western European country, less only than those in the USA. Prices were among the lowest in the world and inflation and unemployment were practically non-existent. Thanks to the monetary reform that the Tsar personally insisted on carrying out in 1897, the rouble was guaranteed by gold. The Empire had the largest gold reserves in the world and the Russian gold rouble remains one of the safest investments in the world.

Between 1890 and 1913 GNP increased fourfold. There was a fourfold increase in the extraction of coal and the production of cast iron, and a fivefold increase in that of copper. Between 1911 and 1914 investment in engineering increased by 80% and electrification had begun in many cities. In 1901 the USA extracted 9.9 million tons of oil, Russia 12.1 million tons. Between 1908 and 1913 productivity surpassed that of the USA, Great Britain and Germany. The Empire was the biggest exporter of textiles and one of the biggest of metals and engineering. Russia was on course to becoming the leading world economy by 1950, surpassing both Europe and the USA.

Infrastructure and Agriculture

The Trans-Siberian Railway was completed at the insistence of the last Tsar despite opposition. In 20 years the length of railways and telegraph networks doubled, indeed, the rate of railway construction was one of the highest in the world, the later Soviet rate being a mere fraction of it. Its locomotives were among the best in the world. This was why armoured trains appeared in Russia. The largest fleet of river ships in the world doubled in tonnage during that period. The plane industry was on a par with that of the American.

The car industry was in a similar situation to the German, Russian cars winning races at rallies in Monte Carlo and San Sebastian. Indeed, Mercedes and Daimler engines were invented by the Russian engineer Boris Lutskoy. Pre-Revolutionary Russia also invented: the wireless telegraph, the helicopter, the television, cine-news, the tramway, hydroelectric power stations, the electric plough, the submarine, the parachute, the radio, the electron microscope, the powder fire extinguisher, the astronomical clock, the seismograph, the electric omnibus, the flying boat, the icebreaker, the motorcycle, the airship and double-decker railway carriages.

Thanks to the Agrarian Reform, by 1914 100% of usable land in Asian Russia and 90% in European Russia belonged to the people. The Empire was the biggest exporter of cereals, flax, eggs, milk, butter, meat and sugar in the world. The wheat harvest was one third larger than that of the USA, Canada and Argentina combined. Cereal production doubled during the reign and the number of cattle increased by 60%. The Empire was also first in the world for the numbers of horses, cows, sheep and one of the biggest for the numbers of pigs and goats.

Social Justice, Health and Education

From June 1903 all employers in the Russian Empire were obliged to pay benefit and pension to all employees and their families who had suffered an accident. This amounted to between 50% and 66% of their salary. Trade Unions were formed in 1906 and from June 1912 compulsory health insurance at work was introduced to cover illness or accident. Social insurance legislation was introduced before other European countries and the USA. The US President William Taft declared that: ‘Your Emperor has created such perfect labour legislation which no democratic state can boast of’.

In 1898 the Empire introduced a universal medical welfare system that cost the tiny sum of one rouble per year. The Swiss hygienist Friedrich Erismann praised this system as ‘the greatest achievement in the world in the field of social medicine’. Russia was third in the world for the number of its doctors. The Tsar personally insisted on introducing economic reforms and measures against alcohol abuse, often in spite of the Duma. Alcohol consumption per head was one of the lowest in the world and the lowest in Europe outside Norway. In 1913 the number of mentally ill was 187 in every 100,000, compared to 5,598 per 100,000 in the Russian Federation in 2013. The number of suicides in the Empire was 4.4 per 100,000. In the Russian Federation in 2012 it was 19.5 and 12.1 in the USA.

Compulsory primary education was introduced in 1908, over a generation later than in the West. However, by 1916 literacy in the Empire had already reached 85%. By 1914 there were 150,000 students studying at university institutions. In terms of numbers of students the Russian Empire was joint third in the world with Great Britain. Another 300 million roubles was spent in 1913 on country schools, a budget up from 70 million in 1894. In less than 20 years the education budget rose by 628%. By 1913 there were 130,000 schools in the Empire with 6 million pupils. All education, primary, secondary and tertiary, was free.

The Internal Situation

The pogroms of the late nineteenth century and very early twentieth century, basically race riots, led to the deaths of nearly 3,000 people, about half of them Non-Jews and about half of them Jews. Similar to the Catholic-Protestant race riots in Northern Ireland in the late 20th century, some were started by one side, others by the other. There is no recorded instance of them being encouraged by the State, which built many large synagogues for the Jewish population. None of the pogroms occurred in Russia, but only in what are now Lithuania, Poland, the west of the Ukraine and Moldova. Many Jews lived there because they had been chased out of Western Europe by Anti-Semitism centuries earlier. Sadly, Western propaganda on this subject is still widely believed in the West. It is notable that where the race riots took place were the same places as where the Nazis received help from the local population when they invaded from 1941 onwards.

Another piece of Western/Soviet mythology is the ‘Bloody Sunday’ march in 1905. In this event it was revolutionaries who opened fire and troops defended themselves. There were 130 victims – not 5,000, as invented by Western propaganda. All victims were given immediate medical care. The Tsar was not even in the city at the time. When he learned of it, horrified, he sacked the officials who should have been in charge and at once gave each family that had suffered the enormous sum of 50,000 roubles from his personal money.

Crime was lower than in Western Europe and the USA. In 1908 56 people per 100,000 were imprisoned. In the Soviet Union in 1949 the figure was 1,537 per 100,000 and in the Russian Federation in 2011, 555, with 724 per 100,000 in the USA in the same year. There was a free press and freedom of speech, unlike in the West where strict ‘editorial policies’ (= censorship) were pursued. The Tsar never rejected a single petition for pardon. Fewer death penalties were carried out during his whole reign than in any single day in the Soviet Union until the death of Stalin.

International Relations

The Hague International Tribunal of Justice, suggested in 1898 to prevent wars, but derided by other European leaders, was the personal brainchild of Tsar Nicholas. If it had been implemented as he had wanted, there would never have been any First World War, let alone later wars. Thus, those who had derided it, notably the British and the Germans, signed their own death warrants.

When in February 1904 Japan, urged on, financed and armed to the teeth by the geopolitical imperialists of Great Britain and the USA, treacherously attacked the small and poorly-armed Russian Navy without first declaring war (as it later did at Pearl Harbour), it only took the non-militaristic Russian Empire eighteen months to recover. However, instead of continuing the war and crushing the by then bankrupt Japan militarily, Russia entered peace negotiations, but imposed such terms at the talks in the USA that Japan, forced to agree to them, went into mourning.

During the Great Patriotic War (as the First World War was then known) the Tsar constantly visited the Front. After less than a year, in 1915, given the incompetence of the former supreme commander, his arrogant and foul-mouthed uncle, he took on supreme command, against the advice of all, showing his strength of will. Russia began winning the greatest victories of the War, advancing huge distances and taking huge numbers of prisoners, for example the Tsar Nicholas Offensive, euphemistically known in the West as the ‘Brusilov Offensive’. This was undreamed of by the jealous Western Allies, who were bogged down in immobile and bloody trench warfare, where millions were dying. On the Russian Front, facing far more enemy troops, deaths amounted to fewer than 700,000.

The Armed Forces

In 1914 the Russian Empire was able to 2,000 engineers to help the USA at its request to set up a heavy armaments industry. The Russian Air Force, founded in 1910, was by 1917 the largest in the world, with 700 planes and by 1917 the Russian Navy, reformed and modernised after the dreadnought-armed Japan’s victories, was one of the strongest in the world. Had it not been for the treason of the Allies, of most of the aristocracy and many in the middle class, historians consider that Russia would have occupied Vienna and Berlin in 1917, thus ending the murderous war at least a year early and saving millions of lives. Over 95% of the 2,417,000 captured enemy soldiers returned home safely after the War.

Only 39% of males aged between 15-49 were mobilised in the Russian Empire, as against 81% in Germany, 79% in France, 74% in Austro-Hungary, 72% in Italy and 50% in Great Britain. Per 100,000 of its population, the Empire lost 11 people, as against 34 in France, 31 in Germany, 18 in Austria and 16 in Great Britain. (Reported very high Russian losses are propaganda myths of the anti-Russian West). The military reform was creating one of the strongest and best-equipped armies in the world, which would have been the best by 1917 if Germany had not started the First World War. It was the officers trained in the Imperial Army who in their forties and fifties won the Second World War.

Church Affairs and Culture

By 1913 the Russian Orthodox Church had 67,000 churches and 1,000 monasteries. It had great influence in the Holy Land, Asia and seventeen Russian churches had been built in Western Europe. The Tsar personally paid for the building of St Nicholas Cathedral in New York and ensured that the number of bishops in North America went from one to three. In 1916 there were plans to make sure that every Western capital would have a church and that the service-books of the Church would be translated into all the main Western languages.

Russian culture went through a period known as the Silver Age, with developments in science, philosophy, art, architecture, music and literature. The French writer Paul Valery stated that Russian culture at the beginning of the 20th century was ‘one of the wonders of the world’. Two of the five founders of Hollywood came from Russia. Chanel No 5 was invented by the Russian émigré Verigin.

The Third Incarnation

So much for the little-known past. Of course, there were many iniquities in the Russian Empire. Otherwise, it would not have fallen. The corruption of the parasitic aristocratic class (oligarchs) and the neglect of the working poor were too great. The gap was too large and the Tsar’s move to social justice did not go fast enough to keep pace with the challenges of rapid industrialisation. However, the positive aspects of the Empire and its huge advances and industrialisation, were retained by the Soviet Union. Despite the huge step backward wrought by the Civil War, Bolshevik persecution and artificial famines, by 1930 the USSR was back where Russia had been in 1916. Only in the last generation since the fall of the Soviet Union have those positive aspects been threatened. However, we will talk no more of the past, but of the future, of Russia’s Third Incarnation, of post-24 February 2022 Russia, the New Russia. This Incarnation has realised that it must keep the best of all previous Incarnations in order to survive and to move forward.

We are able to speak of this now only since the campaign of liberation of the Ukraine began on 24 February. Initially, this was launched to free only the Donbass and prevent the planned NATO-sponsored attack on it, set for early March 2022. This liberation campaign has been so successful that it has had to be extended. It seems certain now that all of Novorossiya (the east and south of the Ukraine) will be liberated, enabling Transdnestria to join the Russian Federation. However, given the continued aggression of the rest of the Ukraine and NATO threats from elsewhere, Russian military success may have to be extended.

Until the whole of the Ukraine is demilitarised, and it is continually being remilitarised by the West, the liberation cannot stop. Moreover, with potential threats from NATO-armed Poland and Lithuania towards Kaliningrad and from Romania towards Moldova, from arms shipments from Bulgaria, Slovakia, the Czech Lands and the Baltic States, especially from the US puppet-government in Lithuania, with threats from Sweden and Finland to join NATO, where will it stop? The West has to be freed from Nazism/woke liberalism (it is the same thing. As they say: there is nothing so intolerant as liberalism). True, Germany, France and Italy, their economies crippled by US-imposed, anti-Russian sanctions, are showing reason. This is unlike the laughable bluster coming from the militarily feeble Johnson-regime in the UK, which may well be toppled by popular internal discontent and a wave of strikes.

The Global Implications of the Third Incarnation of Russia

However, it is the economic aspect, with its international dedollarisation, of the Third Incarnation of Russia which is truly world-changing. In the light of the speech of Vladimir Putin at the Saint Petersburg Economic Forum of June 2022, we can say that Russia is returning to its historic path. It wants to leave aside the errors of the past, become a sovereign nation again and no longer be a Western colony. This is unlike the EU, which is clearly just a US vassal, both economically and politically. The future world order will be formed only by strong sovereign states, independent of the dollar and the massive debts of Western countries. These have been caused by their inflationary printing of money that is not based on real commodities such as cereals, oil, gas, minerals, metals, rare earth elements, fertilisers, timber, manufactured goods and gold.

The break with the West and the ‘obsolete geopolitical illusions’ of its elite’s superiority complex, essentially a form of Nazism, is irreversible. Russia will invest in internal economic development in microeconomic and macroeconomic terms, ensuring ‘technological sovereignty’ (which means for instance that Russia already has unique hypersonic missiles), encouraging free enterprise against bureaucracy, improving infrastructure, but also ensuring social justice, fighting against poverty and supporting the family, encouraging far more ‘families to have two, three or more children’. The ideal of social conservatism together with social justice is what is intended. Russia will also help nations in Africa and the Middle East to avoid Western-imposed famine. True, this is an ambitious programme for the future, but this Third Incarnation of Russia is beginning now.

Note:

1. As the definitive statistical source, compiled by my friend A. A. Borisiuk, see The History of Russia Which They Ordered to be Forgotten, Veche, 2018. This for the first time conveniently collates all Pre-Revolutionary, Soviet and Emigré Statistics (in Russian).

هل تفجّر ليتوانيا المواجهة بين روسيا والناتو؟

الخميس 23 حزيران 2022

ناصر قنديل

مع وصول الرهان على قدرة القوات الأوكرانية أن تعطّل الاندفاعة العسكرية الروسية بالاستناد الى حجم الدعم الغربي بالمال والسلاح إلى طريق مسدود، باتت الجغرافيا الأوكرانية عاجزة عن تحمل تبعات المواجهة رغم صراخ الرئيس الأوكراني فلاديمير زيلينسكي بصوت مرتفع عن تهديدات لروسيا، وصار تماسك الجيش الأوكراني وبقاؤه في الميدان العسكري كقوة جدية يعتمد عليها موضع سؤال كبير، ولأن حلف الناتو لا يرغب بالدخول في مواجهة مباشرة مع روسيا، جاءت خطوة ليتوانيا بمنع مرور البضائع من روسيا إلى كالينينغراد وبالعكس، تحرشاً محسوباً من الناتو، لوضع موسكو بين خياري المبادرة لعمل عسكري ضد دولة عضو في الناتو، هي ليتوانيا، أو الانكفاء والتسليم بنجاح الناتو بتوجيه صفعة للمهابة الروسية.

كالينينغراد هي مدينة عملياً تقع على بحر البلطيق وتتبع لروسيا رغم انفصالها عنها جغرافياً، وتربطها بها شبكة سكة حديد تمرّ عبر ليتوانيا، قامت الحكومة الليتوانية بإخضاع القطارات العابرة بينها وبين موسكو للتفتيش ومنع عبور البضائع التي تطالها العقوبات الأوروبية، مهددة الوحدة التجارية والسياسية للأراضي الروسية، وبسرعة تحول القرار الليتواني الى كرة نار تتدحرج بين روسيا والناتو، فقد أعلن عدد من المسؤولين الدبلوماسيين والعسكريين في موسكو أن الرد سيصدر قريباً على الخطوة الليتوانية، وانه لن يكون دبلوماسياً، بل بجملة إجراءات عملية، رجح كثير من الخبراء أن تتمثل بعملية عسكرية محدودة بإنشاء جيب روسي بين حدود بولندا وليتوانيا حيث يعبر خط سوالكي للسكك الحديدية، الذي يربط موسكو بكالينينغراد عبر روسيا البيضاء كخط رديف للخط الأصلي الذي يعبر وسط ليتوانيا، والأميركيون وقادة الناتو وجهوا بالمقابل تحذيرات لموسكو من أي مساس بسيادة ليتوانيا، والاستعداد لتفعيل المادة الخامسة من ميثاق حلف الناتو باعتبار أي تعرض لدولة عضو في الحلف بمثابة مواجهة مع الحلف كله.

قد تفاجئ روسيا حلف الناتو بالاستعاضة عن العملية العسكرية الجراحية السريعة، بتحويل الدعسة الناقصة الليتوانية، الى مدخل لحركة بحرية عبر بحر البلطيق، الذي تطل عليه روسيا من أقصى الشمال، وتتشارك ضفته الغربية مع استونيا ولاتفيا وليتوانيا كالينينغراد، فيما تقع على ضفته الشرقية فنلندا والسويد والدانمارك، فتنشر سفنها البحرية في البلطيق، وتعلن إصدار عقوبات على ليتوانيا، وربما سواها، وتكلف سفنها البحرية بتفتيش السفن الذاهبة الى ليتوانيا أو سواها والخارجة منها لتطبيق العقوبات الروسية، أسوة بما تذرعت به ليتوانيا من تطبيق العقوبات الأوروبية على روسيا، ويكون على حلف الناتو أن يختار بين تحمّل الصفعة، أو دخول حرب شاملة من بوابة لا غطاء قانونيّ لها بموجب الفصل الخامس من ميثاق الحلف، حيث لا يكون قد وقع اعتداء على أي من دول الحلف، وسيكون على الحلف اعتبار الخطوة العسكرية الروسية في البلطيق استفزازاً، وأن يرد عليها بالمثل باستفزاز مشابه، فيسرّع على سبيل المثال ضم فنلندا والسويد إلى عضويته، وهو ما ينتظر الموافقة التركية، العالقة في حسابات تجارية ترجح كفة علاقتها بروسيا، مثلتها سفن الحبوب التي أبحرت أمس من ماريوبول، علماً أن ضمّ السويد وفنلندا للناتو قد يجعلهما خاضعتين بالعقوبات البحرية الروسية في البلطيق.

في كل خطوة يريدها الغرب لمحاصرة روسيا او إضعافها، سيجد أن موسكو بقيادة الرئيس فلاديمير بوتين قد سبقته بخطوتين، تماماً كما حدث في العقوبات المالية التي تحولت باباً لمعادلة الغاز بالروبل على أوروبا، وبدأت تشدّ على خناقها.

تفادي الحرب على ضفة الناتو أعلى بمراتب منه على ضفة روسيا، لكن المواجهة تتصاعد، والسباق هو على مَن يدفع الآخر للقيام بالخطوة الأولى ويتحمل المسؤولية؟

5 ضربات محتملة على ليتوانيا.. كيف ستردّ روسيا؟

الأربعاء 22 حزيران 2022

يفغيني أومرينكوف

منذ 30 عاماً، كان السياسيون الليتوانيون يحلمون ويقولون إنهم يملكون خيار حصار كالينينغراد، لكن من الواضح أن فيلنيوس لم تحسب العواقب المحتملة لقرارها.

مهما كانت الإجراءات التي تتخذها ليتوانيا لتقييد العبور إلى منطقة كالينينغراد، فإنها لن تتسبب بأضرار جسيمة لروسي

لدى ليتوانيا عبور محدود بالسكك الحديدية إلى منطقة كالينينغراد: لن يُسمح بعد الآن بمرور نصف البضائع التي تخضع لعقوبات الاتحاد الأوروبي المناهضة لروسيا عبر الأراضي الليتوانية. أوضح عالم السياسة ألكسندر نوسوفيتش، الذي يعيش في كالينينغراد، لصحيفة “كومسومولسكايا برافدا” الوضع بالضبط، إذ يبدو واضحاً أن فيلنيوس (عاصمة ليتوانيا) لم تحسب العواقب المحتملة لقرارها.

أولاً، نتحدث عن منتجات الحديد والصلب. ثانياً، عن بعض السلع التي تدر ربحاً على الميزانية الروسية، من بينها، على سبيل المثال، الكافيار والكحول والأسمدة والأخشاب والمنتجات الخشبية والصناعات الزجاجية. ثالثاً، الفحم الذي يحظر استيراده ونقله، لكن الحظر لن يدخل حيز التنفيذ إلا في 10 آب/أغسطس. رابعاً: النفط ومنتجاته.

ما الخطر الحقيقي الذي يمكن أن يشكله قرار ليتوانيا هذا في عزل روسيا؟

منذ 30 عاماً، كان السياسيون الليتوانيون يحلمون ويقولون إن لديهم مثل هذا الخيار ضد روسيا، أي منع العبور إلى كالينينغراد، وأتت اللحظة الرائعة التي تمكنت فيها ليتوانيا من استخدامه، لكن هذا لن يكون من دون عواقب، لأنهم ظلوا يتحدثون عن المنع باستمرار، فيما كنا نستعد له كل هذا الوقت. لذا، إن أي إجراءات تتخذها ليتوانيا لتقييد العبور إلى منطقة كالينينغراد لن تكون حاسمة بالنسبة إلينا، ولن تتسبب بأضرار جسيمة. 

قبل 20 عاماً، اشترت منطقة كالينينغراد الكهرباء من ليتوانيا، من محطة إغنالينا للطاقة النووية، ولكن لديها الآن محطات الطاقة الخاصة بها. بالنسبة إلى الغاز، لدينا محطة المارشال فاسيليفسكي التي اختبرناها بالفعل في حال قيام ليتوانيا بقطع الغاز عن خط الأنابيب.

في ما يتعلق بالعبور، تحدثت إلى كبار المسؤولين في منطقتنا وممثلي الإدارة المركزية، وأكدوا أن الأسطول المدني الروسي في بحر البلطيق يكفي تماماً لتسليم جميع البضائع التي يمكن لليتوانيا أن تمنعنا من نقلها عن طريق السكك الحديدية. السؤال هو: كيف يمكننا أن نفعل كل ذلك بسرعة؟ لكنني متأكد أننا لن نشهد انقطاعاً في الإمدادات، ولن تكون رفوف المتاجر فارغة.

ما الإجراءات الانتقامية التي يمكن أن تتخذها روسيا ضد ليتوانيا؟

أولاً، إلغاء الاعتراف باستقلالها. إن فكرة الاعتراف بانفصال جمهوريات البلطيق عن الاتحاد السوفياتي بوصفه غير شرعي كانت مطروحة منذ 5 أيلول/سبتمبر 1991، عندما حدث هذا الانفصال. لم يكن لدى مجلس الدولة غير الدستوري الذي ينتمي إليه غورباتشوف الحق في اتخاذ قرارات على هذا المستوى، مثل مراجعة حدود الاتحاد السوفياتي وفصل الأراضي عنه. هذه حقيقة قانونية. في المناسبة، قدم نائب مجلس الدوما يفغيني فيدوروف في الآونة مشروع قانون بهذا الصدد.

ثانياً، الانسحاب من الاتفاقيات مع الاتحاد الأوروبي بشأن ليتوانيا، كما ذكر ديمتري روغوزين، الذي قاد المفاوضات بين موسكو وبروكسل سنة 2002-2003، حين اعترفت روسيا بحدود جمهورية ليتوانيا في مقابل ضمانات بالعبور غير المنقطع للمواطنين الروس والبضائع الروسية من كالينينغراد وإليها. بفضل هذا الاعتراف، تمكنت ليتوانيا من الانضمام إلى الاتحاد الأوروبي وحلف شمال الأطلسي.

ثالثاً، إحياء مطلب روسيا بإعادة مدينة كلايبيدا. إذا انسحبت بروكسل اليوم من الاتفاقيات من جانب واحد، فإن موسكو ستنسحب من التزاماتها، فالعواقب بالنسبة إلى ليتوانيا والاتحاد الأوروبي والناتو قد تكون بعيدة المدى للغاية. دعني أذكّرك على الأقل بأن ملكية أراضي ميميل وكونيغسبرغ انتقلت من ألمانيا إلى الاتحاد السوفياتي كلل، وليس إلى جمهورية محددة من جمهورياته، بموجب قرار مؤتمر بوتسدام الذي أعقب نتائج الحرب العالمية الثانية.

وفي وقت لاحق فقط، نقل ستالين، بقراره الداخلي، كونيغسبرغ إلى جمهورية روسيا الاتحادية الاشتراكية السوفياتية، وأصبح اسمها كالينينغراد، ومُنحت ميميل لجمهورية ليتوانيا الاشتراكية السوفياتية، وأصبح اسمها كلايبيدا. روسيا الحديثة هي الخليفة القانونية لاتحاد الجمهوريات الاشتراكية السوفياتية، أي أن حدود ليتوانيا ما بعد السوفياتية تحددها. وإذا انتهك الاتحاد الأوروبي الاتفاقيات التي تضمن هذه الحدود، فكل شيء يمكن أن يحدث لليتوانيا.

رابعاً، إنشاء “ممر سوالكي”. إذا فرضت ليتوانيا حصاراً على منطقة كالينينغراد، تكون، وفق تعبير عضو مجلس الاتحاد الروسي أندريه كليموف، قد “أطاحت الكرسي” الذي كانت تجلس عليه طوال هذه السنوات كدولة عضو في الاتحاد الأوروبي. 

إنه يحذر من أن السلوك غير المقبول لليتوانيا، الذي يقيد العبور إلى منطقة كالينينغراد، يعرض الناتو للخطر. يعتقد البرلماني أن “الاتحاد الأوروبي، ما لم يصحّح تصرف فيلنيوس الوقح فوراً، سيتبرأ من شرعية جميع الوثائق المتعلقة بعضوية ليتوانيا في الاتحاد الأوروبي، ويفسح لنا المجال لحل مشكلة العبور من وإلى كالينينغراد التي أحدثتها ليتوانيا بأي وسيلة نختارها”. 

والطريقة الأكثر جذرية، كما يعتقد الخبراء منذ مدة طويلة، هي إنشاء “ممر سوالكي”، وهو ممر بري بين ليتوانيا وبولندا يصل طوله إلى 100 كيلومتر، ويمكن أن يربط أراضي بيلاروسيا بمنطقة كالينينغراد الروسية. من الواضح أن هذه الخطوة تعني نشوب حرب مع الناتو.

خامساً، فصل ليتوانيا عن نظام الطاقة. سيكون هذا رد موسكو الاقتصادي الأكثر إيلاماً على خطوة فيلنيوس العدائية. اليوم، تربط حلقة “بريلل” للطاقة بيلاروسيا وروسيا وإستونيا ولاتفيا وليتوانيا. لطالما أعلنت دول البلطيق رغبتها في تركها، والاندماج الكامل في أنظمة الطاقة في الاتحاد الأوروبي. وقد أعلنت رسمياً أنّ هذا سيحدث في عام 2025. 

ومع ذلك، فإن انتقال الطاقة إلى أوروبا يواجه صعوبات كبيرة. لذلك، لا تزال دول البلطيق تعتمد بشكل كبير على الكهرباء الروسية. إنّ فصل ليتوانيا عن “بريلل” قبل الموعد المحدد سيخلق مشاكل خطرة للغاية لاقتصادها وحياة سكانها. بالنسبة إلى كالينينغراد، لا تشكّل هذه الخطوة أي تهديد، فقد انفصلت المقاطعة بالفعل عن هذه الحلقة.

نقله إلى العربية عماد الدين رائف. 

Gonzalo Lira: IMPORTANT—A Message for Americans

June 18, 2022

For Europe, from Russia, with love

June 07, 2022

by Jorge Vilches https://thesaker.is/for-europe-from-russia-with-love/

The EU catch-22 conundrum involves many incongruous and conflicting issues each one of which must be solved first before solving any of the others in a context of constant change and dozens of mutually exclusive moving parts.

Simply put, the European situation is ultra-complex, far from enviable, and getting ever worse by the hour. Possibly a Rubik´s cube may represent the problem, but two of them would do it better. Still, you can easily google the solution for Rubik´s cube, but you cannot do that for the European conundrum. And as impossible as it may seem, I tried my best to convince the EU leadership to reverse their foolish decisions. Now, the big news is ( just as unbelievable…) that the Western collective brainos in charge are changing the MSM tune proposing that “a deal must now be made” as if orchestrated by top D.C. communication experts. And it probably is, why not ? Furthermore, most emphatically the living Henry Kissinger persona has boldly proposed the idea to the Davos crowd in.their.face.

fool me once

But HK is not alone and there must be some strategically huge thinking going on. Now even “The Guardian” tries to pivot realizing that “The perverse effects of sanctions means rising fuel and food costs for the rest of the world”. No kidding. ”Sooner or later, a deal must be made “. Congrats for such brilliant idea. And others also join the choir.

pax Russiana

The problem with “a deal must be made” is it contradicts history, and Valdai Director Timofei Bordachev for one.   There cannot be any “deal” in the Ukraine conflict simply because Russia wins and it´s way too late to negotiate anything after plenty of destruction and bloodshed and with no Ukranian or European intention of ever complying with Minsk 2. So Western credibility has reached negative values in the Russian collective mindset. What should take place though is a unilateral withdrawal and full capitulation of Western military support coupled with Ukraine´s unconditional surrender with voluntary regime change and even with a ´pax Russiana´ way beyond Minsk 2. Think US public opinion re Japan 1945 and the Pearl Harbor specter roaming in their minds, nothing less.

the EU conundrum

In an age were securing energy sourcing and ensuring strategic semiconductors is essential, Europe has dug for itself an ugly Catch-22 ditch that will directly hinder the livelihood of 800 million Europeans. Most dangerously, by picking a needless confrontation with Russia and banning the purchase of its oil, Europe has now unilaterally set itself up for an unmanageable outcome with assured negative consequences. This includes severe financial instability derived from

(1) disqualifying higher prices of seaborne risked, batched, necessarily variable and troublesome non-Russian crude oil feedstocks which will turn European products, services, and labor costs utterly expensive and non-competitive.

(2) unnecessarily sacrificing the energy security enjoyed during decades through cheap and reliable Russian Urals blend for yet unknown non-Russian vendors which in the best of cases will never ever match Russia, already a fully vetted, solid, experienced, close-by provider of unlimited quantities of very specific and high quality, door-to-door oils.

(3) spending a monumentally large amount of euros that Europe does not have nor should print while simultaneously risking project non-performance through the necessarily partialized, probably interrupted, postponed or aborted, and well-known trouble full reconversion investments now required for refineries, chemical processing plants, and every logistics infrastructure throughout European industry and trade. And all of this supposedly in 6 months time when 6 years would not be enough, meaning that non-compliance will be rampant by January 2023. Worse yet, having many half-finished, half-baked, half-tested facilities will mean the European energy & fuel matrix will stand flat-footed neither reconverted to yet unknown non-Russian oils nor processing the traditional and fully proven Urals blend (!!!)

 The real ultimate EU problem is ´negotiating´ from a position of extreme weakness it has dug itself into and should have always avoided. But at the same time, Europe cannot be anywhere independent from Russia. So the above will affect current and future European production of fuels to fertilizers and everything in between, from kerosene to diesel to gasoline affecting cars, trucks, buses, plastics, pesticides, agricultural, mining and industrial machinery, foodstuffs, water quality and availability, pharmaceuticals, ships, inks, airplanes, polymers, medical and industrial gases, sealing rings & membranes, power transmission, transformer and lube oils, etc., etc., etc., etc., etc., etc., etc., etc., etc., etc.

Attempting to execute the above under the described terms – and others not mentioned but technically even far more demanding – would be outright engineering and economics madness. But simultaneously attempting many impossible projects as now required throughout Europe within an ultra-narrow 6-month time-frame and everybody at the same time is sheer nonsensical stupidity, doomed to fail. Why do it then ? Because it´s mandated by the prevailing post-Brexit-US-Anglo-Saxon Russophobia that now hypnotized European leadership foolishly and irreversibly endorses.

Davos failed

Henry Kissinger knows it, but do they?.  Naturally, the EU leadership has made mistakes all along the 21st century, both technical and political, as fallible humans cannot avoid it. But the captains of the European ship this time around are going a long step further by unbelievably forcing its sailors to run around the deck like a bunch of beheaded chickens with no sense of purpose in rapidly approaching shallow waters in what seems to be a deliberate suicidal attempt. This has never happened before in recent history as the European success we all know was always based on superb and cheap Russian energy. The plan and policies were led by former German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder who thought it out bottom-up, top-down, sideways, from left to right, from right to left, crossways, you name it. Until finally in the late 1990s reached the conclusion and convinced the European family of nations that Franz should marry Natasha. And so they remained happily married with many healthy and ambitious children until 2022 whereby the post-Brexit US Anglo-Saxon axis achieved the unthinkable by turning Europe against Russia yet again for the third time in a century as Prof. Michael Hudson has correctly observed. Meanwhile, absurdly enough, Poland is now proposing yet additional sanctions against Russia as if they did any good

wrong policy

Mike Whitney at The Unz Review reported how Henry Kissinger nailed it at Davos when claiming that “The EU policy is wrong… and must be changed immediately…or the damage to the US and its allies will be severe and permanent. Negotiations need to begin in the next two months”. So the Davos crowd heard it directly from a very famous horse´s mouth – the still most powerful former Establishment’s Voice – as he splashed ice-cold water at their staring eyes for concocting the current EU suicidal policy. Kissinger told the Davos messenger boys to their faces “you got it wrong” guys so report to your bosses that hurting US allies and US interests must stop immediately, right now. Of course, let´s recall that the real Davos puppeteers never bother to show up anywhere public in their “rules-based order” narrative, let alone at Davos proper. Furthermore, Whitney explained in no uncertain terms that “the basic strategy to weaken and isolate Russia by severing Russia’s economic ties with Europe and goading them into a long and costly quagmire in Ukraine” just pushes Russia and China to their mutual warm embrace. Thus, the West is making both the US No.1 and No.2 top rivals even stronger (unbeatable maybe ?) against US strategic interests. So “ the world’s manufacturing powerhouse (China) and the world’s second biggest producer of hydrocarbons (Russia) just got a helluva a lot better (together) because of Washington’s counterproductive war in Ukraine.” And forgot to add that Russia would also be the world´s topmost nuclear power with flight-ready hypersonic vector delivery capabilities. So already very much with us are supply line disruptions, food and energy shortages, with high inflation rearing its ugly head and worldwide unstoppable deglobalization. But more is coming with massive migrations and unemployment that will necessarily follow as Ukraine calls Germany´s policy “a disgrace”

energy insecurity

Obvious to any clear-thinking and reasonably informed mind, Western energy security is not secure anymore thanks to the EU policy vis-á-vis Ukraine thus placing Western livelihoods and wellbeing at stake. So Russia now has been forced to pull a 180 on the West while successfully focusing on China, India, and the remaining 85% of the world´s population, not NATO´s 15%. Meanwhile, European mismanagement stupidly ensures no possible rewinding for such a trend while Russia can freeze and starve Europe to death anytime it wants as humans are only a few meals away from survival. By the way, Russia has just limited the export of noble gases, a key ingredient in the manufacture of semiconductor chips. So, for example, no neon means no chips which would prolong a worldwide semiconductor supply crisis already wreaking havoc for a wide swath of EU industries. Or just a bit less of Russian natural gas means deep problems for Switzerland which would have to cover its electricity import needs from its other neighbors Germany, Austria, and Italy. Yet, the power export availability of those countries would heavily depend on the available fossil fuels, mostly Russian natural gas to be paid, of course, in nothing else but Rubles.

rubber meets road

The world oil market is finite one and the same. What you buyeth, someone else selleth. If the declared intended goal is to deprive Russia of oil revenue, that would mean that all exportable Russian oils — or a very important fraction thereof – would stay in Russia wherever (even subsurface) but not sold to anyone. That would necessarily mean that approximately 35% of the world´s currently imported oil would have non-Russian vendors. Now there´s no mystery here, so who would that be? Iran and Venezuela would not for different but still well-known technical reasons. So would it be Oman? Let alone whether Oman would have the right quality base blend oil, but still how much constant quality oil can Oman export to the EU? Would Norway suddenly supply all Europe?

(1) So, every refinery in Europe would not possibly be modified and tuned up for, say, a blend based on Oman spot crude. So which ones would and which ones would not? On what basis? Would there be EU infighting for vendors?

(2) such modifications and tuneups would be done all at the same time and with a tremendously strict deadline.

(3) is there enough deliverable surplus Oman or Norwegian blend base oil (or equivalent) to substitute for all current EU consumption of Russian Urals? What percentage then? 10% ? 20 % ? what about the remaining 80%?

(4) What about the added complication of seaborne batch delivery and still missing inland logistics infrastructure?

(5) Thousands of yet unknown people are needed to execute all of these projects with yet to be defined job descriptions, yet to be interviewed, hired, trained, teams put together, deployed, etc. etc. Current operational and maintenance + staff & field personnel would probably demand being switched to other jobs… or will drag their feet… or would simply resign thus necessarily compounding the problem to unchartered depths. New, young, inexperienced hands do not help under these circumstances. Many oldies will be called back from retirement. New managers and all sorts of office & field personnel from logistics to IT contractors, welders, etc. will not even be hired by the end of 2022

humpty dumpty

The EU Russian oil ban means that the UK and others in the continent will find that they now suddenly have spanking new fully unexpected competitors – Germany and Poland and many others too – per European countries bidding for what used to be THEIR vendors, their oils, including “Norway´s or Oman´s” which, of course, have finite supply capacity and will end up exporting a bit more to their traditional European countries and that´d be IT. Same for Middle East producers that besides negative geopolitics are not stupid enough to increase production in this senseless and most probably not sustainable temporary vaccuum of sorts now created by the EU. That leaves the random boutique hit-and-miss “beach front bazaar” oil suppliers, so lots of good luck with that. True enough, the UK and others in Europe have imported non-Russian oils before but in far smaller quantities and still perfectly matched & mated to only a few processing plants and refineries which would now be hundreds all throughout Europe.

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no diesel no glory

At least 50% of cars and almost 100% of trucks in Europe are diesel-powered. So, most European refineries are currently finely tuned to distill humongous tonnage from the “diesel special” Russian Urals blend in theory no longer available unless cheating prevails, of course. Venezuelan and Iran oils are way too heavy for diesel fuel production.

In turn, sweet Middle East oils are clearly not bidding for whatever reasons, even geopolitics. That eliminates the only three possible large enough providers of constant quality oils. So then the trick would be to find crude oil blends from “somewhere” that would be most similar to Russian Urals with a Nelson Complexity Index refinability of 9.8. Of course, this always assuming that European refineries will be rapidly fined-tuned to process such crude blends without problems, something which should be seriously doubted. The fact remains that refineries in the EU still are currently set up to distill diesel from a well-known Russian crude, and switching them over to a different blend would normally take many months if a single refinery were to be modified. Reconverting all refineries and processing plants in Europe simultaneously is an unheard-of experiment with most probable terribly adverse results.

Matching the Urals oil grade in theory is technically “possible” (sorta) by blending oils from different sources, BUT maintaining the blend specs and volumetric physical flow requirements to meet refinery capacity/specs is very difficult.

So, now not having available Russian Urals blend, exactly which “diesel special” crude oil blends — from where? — will European refineries process in order to distill massive amounts of high-quality diesel needed by the European transportation market? Not from Venezuela, and not from the Middle East. Maybe a little bit from Nigeria? Same as the Urals, the final supposedly constant high-quality homogenous non-Russian oil blend has got to have light-intermediate API gravity and low sulfur content. So what percentage of Russian Urals would any of these new blends replace? Anywhere near 100%? If not, how would Europeans manage with the enormous missing difference? The refineability of these non-Russian oil blends is risky and thus requires careful constant testing of all-around refinery modifications adapting internal processes to new yet unknown oil blends required to remain constant for at least 30 years, preferably 50 years. Of course, switching these European refineries over to different and varying types of non-Russian crude blends will take an enormous effort and time. But they better produce tons and tons of diesel. And it is not only a “refinery modification problem”. It´s rather a “refinery modification problem vis-á-vis a given feedstock blend, with guaranteed FIXED & CONSTANT composition, for decades, always unchanging with continuous reliable delivery despite the batch-only nature of seaborne sourcing.

quantity

Russian Urals oil is unlimited, smooth, on-demand, door-to-door, either by pipeline or from nearby Russian ports.

For unknown new oils, chances are that there is not enough volume available, not even in Africa.

The problem is also finding non-Russian oil suppliers with possible future “incremental” export volumes beyond current production for two main reasons: one would be potential growth in EU demand and the second is that no vendor will leave traditional customers abandoned high & dry just because the EU has now launched itself to an impossible project. Furthermore, these possible future European contracts might all turn out to be short-term ephemeral unsustainable ´purchases of convenience´ with no future. If Europe were not receiving timely, large enough, and well-delivered quantities it´d mean degraded European livelihoods and a failing economy, with shut down plants and refineries affecting everything. Price would also go way up, of course. The problem is that increasing source oil-field production is a fantasy stifled by the realities of labor shortages, increased drilling costs due to inflation, and temporary or permanent lack of raw materials caused by supply chain disruptions. There is little chance that worldwide production without Russia´s EU-specific blends will ever be able to match EU demands. Meanwhile, Russia is finding new Asian markets real fast as India in 2022 has increased its purchase of Russian seaborne oil by 25 times, that is 2500%…

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weaker West

So, by banning Russia, its primary and already well-established crude oil import source which satisfied all its energy requirements, Europe will now have to laboriously find it elsewhere with far less supply bidded. So the West will be paying higher prices – possibly much higher – while China, India, and others will be taking advantage of solid, constant, on-demand supplies and discount prices from Russia. Some suicidal EU strategy no?

So, from 2023 Europe will pay very dearly for its energy, thus having much higher non-competitive costs all around. This will affect the internal cost of living and most probably will ruin its export-based business model. “The current energy crisis could be one of the worst and longest in history and European countries could be hit particularly hard”, said the head of the International Energy Agency, Fatih Birol, in a public statement. But it could be even worse.

no game in town

Europe may find itself not only paying much higher prices for the energy it requires. It may end up not even finding it at any price, period. At least not the right type at the precise time that any just-in-time economy requires thus leading to massive unemployment and massive migrations. So you either have it as you should or you actually have nothing at all. The current “just-in-time” world would obviously not function without proper and constant “just-in-time” deliveries of the right type of oil blends.

Europe has just drastically reduced the supply side of its economic equation by not allowing itself to access Russia, the world’s largest oil exporter, the world’s largest natural gas exporter, and a major supplier of coal. This means a self-inflicted severe limitation simply because not oil blends are the same (!!!) And Russia´s Urals oil may not have substitutes anywhere in the world large enough and compliant enough to satisfy European current and future needs.

Actually it´s not a “refinery problem” it´s a joint “refinery + oil blend problem”. Because the refinery is matched and mated for a given (and constant !) oil blend. Refineries do not refine just any oil. It is not plug & play, nowhere near that. So it´s a “specific refinery – specific oil blend” coupling that marries happily ever after for many years to come.

The refinery is always dependent on the input grade of the crude while following the output market requirements.

Right now the EU doesn´t even know what oil blends it will find in enough quantity, quality, and type for whichever of the hundreds of refineries and processing plants involved. That will not be known until both the right oils are secured in the required amounts and terms of delivery while whichever refinery adjusts to it, something not always possible. The much-needed end result has got to be a CONTINOUS supply of a highly SPECIFIC & UNIFORM quality oil blend in ENORMOUS quantities with the right delivery format. No occasional dating but rather a faithful MARRIAGE.

So a given plant or refinery for all practical purposes would pretty much FOREVER be fed with one and the same CONSTANT oil blend of the right formulation and specs. Repeat: it is not “plug & play”. Russia is the T-Rex supplier of a European troglodyte crude oil consumer. The problem is that Europe has just set itself up short of the QUANTITY of the right constant QUALITY of the oil blends it requires from a trustworthy and proven supplier.

Achilles heel

Finding non-Russian substitutes for Russian Urals blend will be hard enough to find and expensive enough to pay for. Constant uninterrupted physical delivery of such will be a whole new challenge which may end being the weakest link, same as yet unthought of human resources as partially explained hereinbefore.

So the process involves lots of previous lab testing trying to find the right reservoirs ( which exactly ? ) with the right type of blend base oil, with the right time window for oil-field production, the right seaborne delivery plus internal logistics and loading port capabilities, availability of the right vessel freight fleet yet unknown plus today non-existent capabilities at unloading ports, and the right land logistics for delivery per end-user requirements. This requires lots of coordination of thousands of the right people, lots of time, lots of the right policies and expertise in place, and tons of money. Russia has always complied with all of that — and even more — at cheap prices. Where will Europe find that in 6 months?

In a nutshell, the world wasn´t anywhere nearly prepared for an EU ban on Russian oil… or other Russian fuels…

market blues

Approximately 50% of the world´s total oil imports are from Japan + South Korea + Australia + New Zealand + Canada + US + Europe. Supposedly, none of these will now be buying any oil from Russia, so they will buy non-Russian oil competing among themselves. In the case of Europe, it´s 36% of their oil imports that they now have to substitute. Obviously a huge amount and not just of any oil. So which oil-exporting countries will now replace the missing Russian oil for these “unfriendlies” to buy? For example, will they have the right quality and enough quantity to substitute Russia´s previous oil export volumes to Europe and other places? In order to substitute for Russian oil, these oil-exporting countries will have to either (a) suddenly increase their production (?) and how would they do that exactly (??) or (b) disregard their traditional clients by suddenly cutting them off high and dry to sell to Europe.

In that case, where would their traditional clients find an exporter to buy the right quality oil from? It´s a single planet Earth market no? So, by now not having Russian Urals blend available because of the EU ban, exactly which crude oil blends — from where? — will European refineries adequately process enough in order to distill MASSIVE amounts of high-quality diesel fuel needed by European cars and trucks market and still render other required distillates…?

refineries nightmare

The fuel supply crisis will continue increasing sharply worldwide as the 2022 summer demand season kicks in while refineries everywhere keep running at an unsustainable rate. Still, refineries will not undergo major revamping & upgrades such as European refineries would now require because of new non-Russian crude oil feedstocks. Only very limited budgets would be approved for refinery modifications in the EU as the normal investment payback is 40 to 50 years, while, in the near future, fossil fuel consumption will supposedly be plummeting sharply. No incentives nor any subsidies will be awarded in any way shape or form. This year, China is expected to overtake the United States as the world’s largest oil refining country meaning it will import ever-larger amounts of crude oil, including Russia´s, so prices will go up accordingly despite any discounts. Meanwhile, the US continues to normally import Russian heavy oil on its own while telling Europe not to. There has been no announcement of any US Russian oil import reduction let alone an outright ban. I guess this piece of information makes it clear who is really running this show.

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ports

Each and every European port will require modifications adapting to new handling, unloading, storage, and additional delivery requirements of non-Russian oil from whichever tanker fleet is found, yet unknown, if any. This means designing and building new dedicated facilities per specific consumer and tanker needs (supposedly fixed and unchanging) in order to match the processing foreseen and executed until today with necessarily different non-Russian oils. An EU Russian seaborne oil ban will shrink the number of vendors and the volume of oil offered to Europe very significantly thus ruining the supply side of the EU oil price equation. The much lower the supply, the MUCH higher the price. With Russian seaborne oil banned, the potential European supply is much smaller both in number of vendors and/or of the volume available for bidding. An unnecessary procurement mess and a very harmful self-inflicted policy. No feasibility studies have been made as there has not been enough time to do any in 3 months.

Ever larger migrations will be one of the prominent indicators of Europe in the very near future while Ukraine officials exchange insults with Hungarian government officers.

Sitrep Operation Z: Back into The Grind while the penny drops in Europe

June 06, 2022

Source

by Saker Staff

Weapons incoming

Russia have struck a major artery for the shipment of NATO weapons from Europe via the Beskidy railway tunnel. The Beskidy Tunnel is a railway tunnel under the Volovets Pass in the Carpathian Mountains. Confirmed by Ukraine itself.

High-precision long-range air-based missiles of the Russian Aerospace Forces have destroyed industrial buildings of the smithy-mechanical plant on the outskirts of Lozovaya (Kharkov Region), where the AFU armoured vehicles were being rebuilt and repaired.

The consequences of the arrival at the Darnitsa car repair plant, which was converted for the repair of equipment and the preparation of Polish tanks for shipment to the front https://t.me/intelslava/30873

Russian Mod states that an An-26 military transport aircraft of the Ukrainian Air Force carrying weapons and military equipment was shot down in the Odessa region.

More here

Gonzalo Lira: Those Lying Americans, lol

June 03, 2022

Europe now cheats or suffers

May 31, 2022

Source

by Jorge Vilches

Europe has now painted itself into an infamous corner with only two choices left, nothing else. Both are definitely bad and terribly expensive — probably un-payable — in political and financial terms. On May 30, Brussels (a) dropped its previous declared strategy of ´buying Russian oil to prevent Moscow from selling it elsewhere at soaring prices´ (???) and (b) approved its sanctions package No. 6 imposing a ban on Russian seaborne oil imports. But by Christmas such ban will supposedly exceed 90% of total Russian oil as Germany and Poland have ´volunteered´ to reduce their own pipeline imports by then. Still, 65% of European consumers who today import Russian seaborne oil will suddenly face either one of the only two possible highly detrimental options explained hereinafter. Meanwhile the remaining 35% would theoretically benefit from the Russian Druzbha pipeline which will continue to safely feed them with the excellent Urals oil. But not quite and not really, because an ugly catch is awaiting Europe already cocked — line, hook and sinker — as if planned by its enemies, not its leaders as is the case. Migrations and unemployment cannot be avoided with the self-destructive ideology now rampant in the EU political mindset. Probably unknowingly, the EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen paraphrased Mao Zedong by considering this “a big step forward”.

Ref #1 https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-61638860 + Ref #2 https://www.rt.com/news/555989-eu-russia-embargo-explained/

the rub

There is a very important game-changing rub that short-sighted EU politicians haven´t yet fathomed, let alone sorted out. And it will hit them hard, head-on, blindsided without any protection whatsoever. Not even their favorite protection, i.e, political cover for an obvious self-inflicted harm that public opinion is now witnessing front & center. Because, as duly forewarned, there will be tons of very serious problems with the 65% of consumers using — and most negatively affected by — the new non-Russian seaborne oil blends which literally no one would be exempt from.

Not even the remaining 35% of supposedly “Druzbha safe” oil consumers. How come ? In one minute you´ll find out.

Ref # 3 https://www.rt.com/news/556292-eu-oil-embargo-ukraine/

atomic fall out

Apparently, European brains are AWOL. The sole exception could be Hungary (sorta) the most prominent amongst the opponents of the embargo comparing its potential effect to “an atomic bomb”. So now here we have the atomic bomb being dropped, although rather than an extraordinary explosion it´d be a silent implosion of sorts that not even Hungary has thought of. For, theoretically, this EU ban on Russian seaborne oil would not affect Hungary et al, at least for now, as they would supposedly continue business as usual (not). And supposedly the same would happen with refineries such as all-important Schwedt which, for the time being at least, same as Hungary will continue to receive the Druzbha pipeline feedstock all with 100% normality with excellent Russian oil they are most used to consume, process and refine regularly … But not quite not really anymore, because the non-Russian oil fed to the other refineries and other chemical processing plants in Europe (65%) will cause havoc with knock-on impact throughout the economy directly affecting the remaining 35% of supposedly still “safe” consumers that will continue receiving the Druzbha pipeline feedstock with excellent Russian oil. So, it´ll be an all-around contagious bloody mess.

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scenarios

You just can´t have 35% of the plants processing and/or running with “good” Russian oil still fed by the Druzbha pipeline… while the remaining 65% run on “bad” unknown non-Russian seaborne oil. It just doesn´t work that way.

Basic laws of physics, chemistry, geology, logistics, engineering, politics, business and trade are being violated without mercy by such an approach. Economies are integral, non-divisible. Will any Karens fill up their fuel tanks with “bad” gasoline / petrol derived from “badly” refined non-Russian oil… or intermittently supplied at filling stations on and off as in now-you-have-it but then you don´t ? What about trucks and plant machinery ? Petrochemicals anyone ?

Will any businesses want to deal with and buy products from associates processing new, yet unknown non-Russian oil blends plagued with problems of every sort derived from their lack of proper matching with their now necessarily hurriedly modified & retrofitted processing plants ? Reference #3 below describes the severe harmful differences between Russian and non-Russian oil blends regarding reservoirs + investments + price + quality + quantity + delivery + refinery feed + Baltic ports modifications + logistics + refine-ability + vendor performance + contract sustainability,etc.

Ref # 4 https://thesaker.is/dear-ursula-you-are-dead-wrong/

Option 1 (expensive) cheating

As European businesses know perfectly well, Option 2 simply means suicide, no doubt about it. So per Option 1 Europe avoids Option 2 and just plain cheats, still hurting itself badly by buying the very same Russian oil it says it´d be banning (not) but actually paying for it to third parties through “triangulation” which is far more EXPENSIVE. That´d mean that Russian oil would be sold to third parties as many times as needed so that the original Russian source can no longer be traced thus declaring it to be non-Russian and delivering it at European ports. This may also include STS or Ship-To-Ship transfers. Actually, even before being downloaded to the very first tanker somewhere in Russia, the now EU banned Russian oil could already be sold at least once, maybe more times. Of course, with each pass of hands, some mark-up is added to justify the investment…and the risk of being caught red-handed somewhere along the line. So the very same excellent Russian oil would get to Europe with at least a 35 to 50% higher price which would defeat the purpose of the EU Russian seaborne oil banning decision. Additional cheating could also include mixing Russia´s Urals oil with other third party blends of different origin OR tapping the South Druzbha pipeline branch into Hungary et al so better keep a close eye on that also. Still, whatever the cheats would still be far more expensive.

Option 2 (expensive) harm

If Europe effectively bans seaborne Russian oil for real, it´d fall into the infamous TRAP of ruining 65% of its industrial base through the failed attempt to use third party non-Russian oil blends with TONS of problems derived from the necessarily incomplete/unsuccessful attempt to adapt refineries and processing plants in 6 months time as repeatedly explained to death in deep detail and forewarning flashing signs at Ref #5 https://thesaker.is/why-russias-oil-ban-is-impossible/

The EU would thus still have the remaining 35% of traditionally excellent products derived from the Urals oils blend delivered by the Russian Druzbha pipeline and refined and/or processed as usual INTERMIXED and “competing” in the very same European economy with a rainbow planoply of different products obtained from different yet-unknown oil blends (65%) through differently modified process plants and refineries which would not be a close equivalent of original Druzbha products obtained with this excellent, proven Made-In-Russia raw material which European refineries and processing plants are specifically tuned-in for. For Heaven´s sake which part of this is so hard to understand ???

Ref #6 https://energyandcleanair.org/wp/wp-content/uploads/2022/05/Corrected_Fossil-fuel-imports-from-Russia-first-two-months-invasion.pdf

worse of both worlds

In a sense, it´d be the worst possible of all cases. It would mean a wholly unfair competition as Druzbha pipeline fed plants would have tremendous advantages over those fed with the new unknown oils plus the corresponding retro-fitting / reconversion downtime (or plain non-performance) kicking them outright out of the market for unknown period of time possibly bankrupting them and creating EXTRA-ordinary logistics problems to consumers throughout Europe.

Allowing for the Druzbha pipeline to continue feeding 35% of Europe with excellent Russian oils will mean the perfect comparison standard of practice. And it would reveal the fallacy of the premise itself, i.e, that Russian oil can be substituted easily and without enormous great pain. But no rewinding is allowed, sorry. And history will not be kind watching how “the EU makes sure to phase out Russian oil in an orderly fashion, in a way that allows us and our partners to secure alternative supply routes minimising the impact on global markets” Who are you kidding Ursula ?

bad options

The new unknown oil blends cannot be described because they do not exist and quite possibly may never exist,

Russian Urals oil = enormous, well-known, geologically & physico-chemically stable reservoirs, reliable, well studied.

Unknown new oils = experimental mix from occasional “beach-front bazaar” vendors variable in time, not well coordinated. Venezuela oil, not good. Middle East oils, not available. Will North Sea supply ALL of Europe ?

In a nutshell, the world wasn´t anywhere nearly prepared for an EU ban on Russian oil… or other Russian fuels…

So now an EU Russian seaborne oil ban would require deep — and in many ways impossible – urgent modifications of European refineries and chemical processing plants throughout in order to adapt them to new yet-unknown feedstocks if ever possibly attainable as explained hereinafter. Instead of shooting itself in the head temple Europe now chooses to shoot itself in both knee-caps and both elbows…Is there not 1 thinking mind in Europe to stop this utter nonsense ?

Oil pipelines

European ports

Each and every European port will probably require modifications adapting to new handling, unloading, storage and additional delivery requirements of non-Russian oil from whichever tanker fleet is found, yet unknown, if any. This means building new dedicated facilities per specific consumer and tanker fleet needs (supposedly fixed, unchanging) in order to match the processing foreseen and executed until today with necessarily different Russian oils. As well known examples, below please find equivalent modifications to be urgently made at Baltic and North Sea ports which may also need to be similarly executed throughout European ports as needed. It´s an unfathomable mystery how all of this will be done simultaneously while maintaining current production at refineries and processing plants as current supply requirements dictate. Of course, countries will be selfish and, just as an example, Poland will not accommodate for German needs at its Gdansk Baltic port. Poland now has other priorities and helping out Germany is not one of them. This will severely affect German refinery logistics, most specially at Gdansk.

Baltic & North Sea ports

Rostock is a not-fit-for-purpose port with only tanker berth No. 3 which accepts crude oil with handling & unloading equipment also very limited. So upgrading and retrofitting is urgently needed plus specific dedicated facilities for storage and delivery capabilities. Also, Long Range (LR) 2 vessels are the maximum size accepted by this Rostock berth, thus limiting crude unloading volumes by each vessel. Furthermore, Wilhelmshaven (North Sea, Germany) and Gdansk (Baltic, Poland) also require dedicated storage + equipment for rather smallish yet frequent deliveries plus dedicated outbound logistics to Rostock port storage terminals which would be the only hub available in such area.

Rostock port in turn needs berth revamping for larger oil tankers from Wilhelmshaven or elsewhere plus dedicated equipment for larger, more frequent seaborne batches. Also required are logistics for internal delivery via inland waterways + rail + road inbound to both Wilhelmshaven and Gdansk dedicated storage terminals with additional linkage to the Rostock – Schwedt pipeline as the refinery just chews up unbelievable volumes of crude oil every day.

Both Wilhelmshaven and Gdansk despite already being large deep well-furnished ports still also require modifications.

Argenschwedt blues

Germany and Poland have also “volunteered” by Christmas 2022 to substitute Russian oil today delivered to both thru the Russian North Druzbha pipeline branch only for a few more months. This means — among many other impossible projects already described in detail — to find a solution for adequate feedstock delivery to Europe´s largest and most politically important refinery namely the troglodyte monster Schwedt that only T-Rex Russian oil can feed. So say no more and refer to fully seasoned Ref #7 https://thesaker.is/germans-schwedt-hard-for-russian-oil/ whereby the more than obvious ´Krautensuiciden´ is described in detail. Just as teaser, please be advised that the Schwedt refinery “solution” goes far beyond Baltic and North Sea ports deep modifications. It necessarily also includes the Rostock-Schwedt pipeline enlargement, upgrade, and revamping, a real-life mission impossible under current circumstances where ALL of Europe is turned upside down indefinitely while it still needs to consume what is still being normally produced until today with superb Russian oil perfectly matching all current and future refinery needs. Please allow

me to repeat myself: It´d be like trying to change all four tires while the car keeps on running non-stop at 100 km/hr.

So don´t cry for Argenschwedt, but be reminded of the required new oil feedstock definition, testing and vendor selection, approval, certification & contract + retrofit and full revamping modifications per Option (3) + enhanced storage facilities + handling equipment for large & frequent batch deliveries. Without very deep and years-long modifications of the Rostock port, the Schwedt refinery will starve to death. And without the Druzbha door-to-door Russian oil feed — besides the poor quality of the non-Russian oil substitute and its probable non-matching with the pertinent technical requirements — the Schwedt refinery would chew up the largest possible Suez tanker in just 4 (four) days. Still, this is impossible today at Rostock port so a string of dozens of far smaller tankers would have to cue up like school children at the infamous berth No.3 the only one apt for oil handling and unloading onto yet to be resolved storage and transmission lines to the Schwedt terminal…and then onto the obsolete 1963 Soviet era pipeline today way too small to make any difference thus badly needing urgent enlargement. Europe has obviously gone full bananas trying to unnecessarily do all of that and plenty more by Christmas. This very bad idea should not end well.

And pray that trying to execute the required modifications with such an unbelievably tight and impossible schedule does not mean – as usual — any physical injuries directly or indirectly to anyone involved in new feedstock lines and infrastructure, an atmospheric distillation facility, a vacuum distillation system, a cat-crack unit, a visbreaking facility, an alkylation unit, a catalytic reformer, an isomerisation unit, and a very important ethyl tertiary butyl ether facility.

https://dxczjjuegupb.cloudfront.net/wp-content/uploads/2022/05/word-image-2-8.jpg

price

An EU Russian seaborne oil ban will shrink the number of vendors and the volume of oil offered to Europe very significantly thus ruining the supply side of the EU oil price equation. The much lower the supply, the MUCH higher the price. With Russian seaborne oil banned, the potential European supply is much smaller both in number of vendors and/or of the volume available for bidding. An unnecessary procurement mess, a harmfull self-inflicted policy.

Russian Urals oil = cheap, unbeatable, un-subsidized, already fully amortized facilities, in-expensive operation

Unknown new oils = unknown, but definitely FAR more expensive with terrific freight, logistics, and final delivery costs.

Not low enough – let alone very high prices — means disrupting the EU and the world with inflation beyond imagination

The unit price would not include pay-back amortization or the many huge investments / modifications / reforms made.

This means that the real effective price would be even far higher if the required monumental investments are priced in.

Ref # 8 https://www.statista.com/statistics/468405/global-oil-tanker-fleet-by-type/

Ref # 9 https://oilprice.com/Energy/Energy-General/Record-High-Diesel-Prices-Will-Ripple-Across-The-Economy.html

Ref # 10 https://www.rt.com/business/556051-eu-new-gas-pipeline/

quality

Russian Urals oil = proven, fully vetted high-quality homogenous blend, low in sulphur, light- intermediate API gravity.

Unknown new oils = wishy-washy-iffy, does not even exist, will mean an engineering-chemical-logistics nightmare that does not bode well, and which will necessarily be heterogenous with batch to batch variations. A lower or mis-adapted oil quality would mean poor performance and operational risks with serious breakdown troubles and injuries plus down-time probably beyond repair at refineries, processing plants and final end use One single ‘bad’ batch would produce never ending down/time impact, damages, repairs, claims, potential accidents with possible injuries, non-compliance and altered delivery schedules, liabilities everywhere. It has happened before with non-Russian oils.

quantity

Russian Urals oil = unlimited, smooth, on-demand.

Unknown new oils = chances are that there is no enough volume available, not even in Africa, let alone Iran.

It´d also have to be “incremental” export volumes beyond current production for two reasons: one would be potential growth in EU demand and the second reason is that no vendor will leave traditional customers abandoned high & dry just because the EU has now gone bananas. Furthermore, these contracts could might all turn out being short-term ephemeral un-sustainable ´purchases of convenience´ with no future. Not enough and well delivered quantity means degraded European livelihoods and failing economy, with shut down plants and refineries affecting everything. Price would go up. Meanwhile, India increases its purchase of Russian seaborne oil by 25 times, that is 2500%. Just sayin´.

Ref. #11 https://www.rt.com/business/556345-russian-oil-exports-jump-india/

refineability

Russian Urals oil = efficient, well known, reliable with excellent guaranteed performance for decades allowing to refine with excellence a range of products including petrol (gasoline) diesel, aviation turbine fuel, LPG, extra light heating oil, heavy fuel oil, bitumen, benzene, toluene, xylene and sulphur.

Unknown new oils = fully unknown, risky, requires carefull constant testing of all-around refinery modifications (details on that later) adapting internal processes to new yet unknown oil blends required to remain constant for at least 30 years, preferably 50 years. No data possible yet. Lots of work yet to be done. Refinement process jeopardized, final distillates quantities and qualities unknown. Politicians believe that technical problems will always be solved by technical people. And though saying that contains a grain of truth, what about time, money and human resources ?

Technical people are not magicians.

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matched & mated

Refineries are very closely matched and subtly calibrated to very specific and foreseeable supply feedstocks which are also very difficult to substitute and with great uncertainty regarding the final outcome. Changing anything either on the refinery side as well as on the feedstock requires lots of time, effort, money, dedicated facilities, experimentation, mistakes, trial & error, specific expertise, risk, and most important fixed, unchanging feedstocks always complying with specs. It´s not a “plug & play” substitute.

This means that Russia today supplies Europe with specific Urals oil that would be almost impossible to get from unknown third parties fast enough and cheap enough in enormous quantities. A very delicate and tight matching has already achieved between the European industry and reliable, vetted, well-known Russian oil vendors.

Ref # 12 https://www.ifo.de/en/node/69417

first-hand SKovacs

Many EU refineries have been built to process certain types of oils found in Russia. The very design & build of these refineries was based on certain specific oil types within narrow variation in blend/quality and steady supply — variation normally of less than 15% vol/day — guaranteed for over 30 years (most commonly 50+ years). Obviously enough, the continuous supply of quality feeds is critical to the operation of a refinery or any chemical plant.

complications

Adapting an EU refinery to new types of oils requires detailed laboratory knowledge of the new blend with constant composition and formal guarantees for its continuous delivery for decades, convoluted & lengthy contracts and procurement processes, extremely detailed engineering plans, manufacturing of parts, shipping, installation, testing, commissioning, optimization, permitting etc. etc. etc. before it can be declared “done”. Any element of this incomplete list, if missing, renders the whole affair a failure both technically and economically.

guarantees

The above assumes guaranteed efficient and continuous shipping and receiving network(s) are always in place and fully operational (!) Such work involves thousands of people, complex processes and of course many billions of euros, regulatory permitting process, inherent lawsuits etc., i.e. A LOT OF TIME – years. If Europe were also deprived of oil + metallurgical coal from Russia — and also iron ore — is unlikely to build much. Never mind the finer components that require other alloy metals which are also provided by Russia… Ref # 13 https://thesaker.is/europes-mad-ban-on-russian-oil/

length of contract

Russian Urals oil = 50+ years, Made-In-Russia will be missed.

Unknown new oils = can´t know, but for decades-long contract requires mammoth reservoirs such as Russia has.

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Christmas 2022

Every European refinery and chemical process plant affected (say, 65%) will now immediately require modification of internal processes adapted to new unknown non-Russian seaborne oils. This re-vamping and retrofitting will consume humongous amounts of euros, human resources, expertise, trials & errors, risk and lots of hard work and lots and lots of time. Plus all sorts of sensors, software & firmware modifications and purchase of new equipment. Unbelievably, Christmas 2022 is the simultaneous deadline for all of the above. Schedule non-compliance could lead to outward chaos by continuous damage beyond repair of machinery, processes, sensitive devices and installations that EU plants currently have in place. No equivalent madness has ever been planned and implemented except for enemies.

Apocalypses now

So the goal is to simultaneously modify all affected European chemical plants and refineries by adapting them to whatever non-Russian feedstocks of whatever quantities (better find enough…) quality and variations are effectively found, contracted and delivered by yet-unknown non-Russian vendors willing and able to deliver to Europe under current circumstances… Geopolitics anyone ? So the name of the game is to modify, adapt, retrofit for non-Russian substitutes of unknown origin with yet undefined all-around characteristics nor vendor track record. These oils would all be different and obviously not interchangeable. Possible storage and delivery cross-contamination are not allowed. Impossible having a “toggle-switch” for alternate feed of different oils to the same piece of equipment. No way.

Also this mammoth undertaking would have to be done without Russia´s accommodation meaning it´d be utmost difficult to phase-out of Russian Urals oil as gradually as needed while new non-Russian blends phase-in… while the rest still awaits modification thus still requiring Russian oil grades which Russia would not supply in the way that Europe would need to keep importing. Russia would have other priorities, not accomodating for European needs.

The EU today has highly sensitive plants finely tuned and used to Russian high quality oil during decades. And no plant will run without continuous, foreseeably constant feed of the right quality product in large enough quantities which most probably will grow in time as demand increases. Europe is now trying to change that in 6 months by executing 11 (eleven) new and very complex and unexpected projects just for the Schwedt Refinery alone. No Pre-Feasibility nor Feasibility studies whatsoever. If this were not a very serious matter I would take it as bad joke.

No batch system in the whole wide world no matter how well designed and built – Swiss and Germans included– is anywhere comparable to a modern door-to-door pipeline such as Druzbha. Tankers have a costly service life if only for the regulation/inspection requirements. So they are a higher risk and higher cost. Also there are negative seasonal availabilities of hydrocarbons and shipping vessels types and sizes which means lots of negotiation, coordination, funding, expertise, risk, new fixed and variable costs and surprises from yet unknown trade and business partners, new procedures, modus operandi, brokers, insurance companies, etc. Can´t make this stuff up.

Human resources are probably the weakest link with tons of people missing with yet to be defined job descriptions, yet to be interviewed, hired, trained, teams put together, deployed, etc. Current operational and maintenance + staff & field personnel would probably demand being switched to other jobs… or will drag their feet… or would simply resign thus necessarily compounding the problem to uncharted depths. New, young, inexperienced hands do not help under these circumstances.

The Schwedt Refinery badly needs a 200 km. pipeline upgrade + revamping on a partially-buried heavy structure built with obsolete materials and technology commissioned in 1963 and already repaired many times. The old pipeline trace goes through highways and urban areas, pristine environments, rolling hills, valleys and ridges, forests, rivers, lakes, home to fish and wildlife with strong winds, rain and snow. People will not like all of that in their back-yards.

This new EU plan needs to cover absolutely 100% of all of Europe´s current and future oil consumption, not just a part. Because Russia now has other priorities and will no longer cooperate with and adapt to EU needs in any way.

So forget about gradual Russian oil substitution. It´d be the opposite. For example, and just to entertain the idea, even if eventually achieving constant delivery of 75% fully-compliant non-Russian oil… it´d still mean digging a 25% deep hole into Europe´s economy, which Russia will not help to solve by supplying the missing 25% oil. This and other important matters led to the title of this article. Europe now will either cheat & pay more or harm itself beyond belief.

My suggestion is get out of Dodge.

Ref # 14 https://thesaker.is/europes-mad-ban-on-russian-oil/

Lavrov x two

May 30, 2022

Source

Introduction by Amarynth

This posting contains one recent interview and one recent address by Mr Lavrov.  One is extensive and the second contains a few comments not included in the first.  One is directed to an international audience (more specifically the Arab world) and the other to a domestic audience.  Why should we look at these very carefully, and why do we post them on the Saker Blog?   Mr Lavrov is arguably one of the best diplomats in the world today.  In that role, he is a pleasure to read or listen to.  But, that is not the main reason.  He has a fine facility with language and explains exactly Russia’s position and further, the world position in its process toward multipolarity and a new financial system in a pragmatic realpolitik style, undergirded by an encyclopedic knowledge of world affairs.

Sidebar:  While Mr Lavrov is speaking to the Arab countries, his counterpart in China, Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi, is speaking to all of the smaller Pacific island countries (PICS).  Comparing the welcome that these statesmen receive, it is beginning to clarify that the other geopolitical axis (which we roughly and in shorthand refer to as Zone B)  of this war for the world is active and up and running.  Mr Lavrov mentions the organizations.   It is then worthwhile to mention that BRICS is expected to grow by at least two countries during the next general meeting.  It is expected that Argentina will be next, which will then start including the new Latin American groupings such as Celac (The Community of Latin American and Caribbean States) or ALBA-TCP.  Thus we see a coalescence of countries around the principles of international law, the true principles in the UN Charter, and a world community built on cooperation and collective values, instead of one ruler of the world.

First up is an interview with RT Arabic, clearly for an international audience.

Second up is remarks to the Heads of Constituent Entities of the Russian Federation, clearly a domestic audience.


Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s interview with RT Arabic, Moscow, May 26, 2022

Question: Your recent visit to Algeria and Oman generated a lot of interest. What can you say about its results? Why did you decide to visit these states?

Sergey Lavrov: We communicate with all interested countries. As for this tour, it was planned long ago. The programme of my visits and their timeframe were coordinated some time ago.

In Algeria, I had good, lengthy talks with President of the People’s Democratic Republic of Algeria Abdelmadjid Tebboune and Foreign Minister Ramtane Lamamra. We emphasised that for many years our relations were based on the Declaration on Strategic Partnership that was signed by our presidents in 2001. Since then we have intensively developed our strategic ties as partners in many areas. It is enough to mention our regular political dialogue, trade (it went up by several percent in 2021 to exceed $3 billion despite the pandemic), the economy, joint investment, our work in the OPEC+ and the Gas Exporting Countries Forum, extensive military-technical ties and cultural and humanitarian exchanges.

We concluded (at the prompting of Algeria) that our relations are reaching a qualitatively new level. This should be reflected in a document that is already being drafted. We hope to sign this document when President of Algeria Abdelmadjid Tebboune visits Russia at the invitation of President of Russia Vladimir Putin.

We appreciate that the countries of the Arab world are refusing to follow in the wake of the West and are objectively assessing the events in Ukraine and refusing to join the anti-Russia sanctions. They understand that the current situation was caused by the flat refusal of our Western colleagues to reach an accommodation on equal and indivisible security in our common region.

As for Oman, this was the first visit since its new Sultan Haitham bin Tariq Al Said acceded to the throne. The Sultan received me with good grace and devoted much time to me. I was particularly grateful to his Majesty for this gesture (the protocol of the Sultanate of Oman does not envisage communication with ministers in this format). Our detailed talks showed that we have a good potential for developing trade and economic ties. We want to raise them to the level of our trust-based political dialogue. We have many opportunities in energy and ICT and interesting cultural projects. A half-year exhibition of Islamic Art in Russia ended in the National Museum of Oman last March. This museum and the Hermitage have been closely cooperating since 2015. Both museums display their own expositions on each other’s territory.

These two planned visits to both countries at the planned time were useful, in my view.

Question: What about a top-level visit?

Sergey Lavrov: I have already said that during a telephone conversation with President of Algeria Abdelmadjid Tebboune, President of Russia Vladimir Putin invited him to visit the Russian Federation. Now we are preparing the documents required for this visit.

Question: And what about Oman?

Sergey Lavrov: No top-level visits are envisaged for Oman for the time being. We are planning to develop practical cooperation, make it more intensive and productive.

Question: Will there be additional agreements on military cooperation?

Sergey Lavrov: Our military-technical cooperation with many countries develops according to their wishes. We are always ready to examine ways to strengthen their defence capabilities. We consider them as we receive relevant requests.

Question: We are talking about Algeria, which also produces both gas and oil. The OPEC+ countries have shown firmness about the previously agreed positions within the organisation on the parameters of oil production and pricing on the oil market. Do you have confidence in the stability of your partners’ position?

Sergey Lavrov: We have discussed our further cooperation not only within OPEC+ but also the Gas Exporting Countries Forum (GECF), where Russia and Algeria are also included. All OPEC+ and GECF members without exception publicly affirmed their commitment to the agreements reached in these formats and their intention to continue working in this direction in order to stabilise the energy market.

Question: Where will you visit next?

Sergey Lavrov: The next visit will take place very soon. On May 31 and June 1, based on my invitations, I plan to visit Bahrain first. Later, on June 1, Riyadh will host a regular meeting of the Russia-GCC Foreign Ministers Forum. This forum has been around for a long time. Due to the pandemic, there was a break in our meetings. Now our friends have proposed resuming them. In addition to the Russia-GCC meeting, there will also be bilateral meetings with almost all members of this organisation.

Question: How do you find Arab countries’ position on the Ukrainian crisis?

Sergey Lavrov: Just now, answering the previous question, I said that all Arab countries have a responsible position. This proves that they rely solely on their national interests and are not ready to sacrifice them for the sake of anyone’s opportunistic geopolitical adventures. We have mutually respectful relations. We understand the vital interests of the Arab countries in connection with the threats to their security. They reciprocate our feelings and understand the threats to the security of the Russian Federation that the West has been creating right on our borders for decades, trying to use Ukraine to contain Russia and seriously harm us.

Question: Do you think these countries will continue to pursue this policy, despite the pressure from the West, particularly, from the Anglo-Saxon alliance?

Sergey Lavrov: The arrogance of the Anglo-Saxon alliance has no limits. We are offered evidence of that every day. Instead of delivering on their obligations under the UN Charter and honouring, as is written in this charter, the sovereign equality of states and abstaining from interfering in their domestic affairs, the West churns out ultimatums every day, issuing them through their ambassadors or envoys to each, without exception, capital not only in the Arab world but in other regions of the world as well, and, in so doing, blatantly blackmailing them, citing some subjective situations. The West is directly threatening their interlocutors, saying they will regret failing to join the sanctions against Russia and will be punished for this. It is blatant disrespect for sovereign countries. The reaction of Arab countries and almost all other countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America that we are seeing shows that these countries do not want to disregard their national dignity, running errands, in a servile manner, for their senior colleagues. This situation is yet another example of colonial thinking. The habits of our Western colleagues have not vanished. In their traditional style, the United States and Europe are still preaching the colonial customs they adhered to at a time when they could dictate to all others. It is wrong and regrettable, and flies in the face of the historical process, which objectively shows that a multipolar world is taking shape now. It has several centres of economic growth, financial power and political influence. Everyone understands now that China and India are fast-growing economies and influential countries, just like Brazil and other Latin American countries. The tapping of Africa’s enormous potential of natural resources has been held back by the colonialists during the period of neo-colonialism as well, which is not over yet. That is why Africa is also making its voice heard. There is no doubt whatsoever that the Arab world is objectively one of the pillars or one of the centres of a multipolar world that is being shaped now.

Question: We are talking about good relations between Russia, China and India. Can these countries form an alliance against US hegemony?

Sergey Lavrov: We never form alliances against anyone and never make friends with someone against others. We have a ramified network of partner organisations established many years ago. I will mention the organisations established after the Soviet Union’s disintegration. These are the CIS, the CSTO, the EAEU and the SCO on a broader geopolitical plane. The SCO has established and is developing close ties with the EAEU and as part of the linkage of Eurasian integration projects with the Chinese Belt and Road Initiative. The EAEU and the PRC have signed an agreement. The linkage of these integration projects is embracing more and more territories. Thus, in addition to EAEU-SCO cooperation, these organisations have memorandums on cooperation with ASEAN. The Greater Eurasia project (or the Greater Eurasia Partnership) should embrace the whole of Eurasia. President of Russia Vladimir Putin spoke about this at the Russia-ASEAN summit six years ago. It is based on the processes on the ground and has a Eurasian dimension.

Many countries of the Arab world are interested in establishing partner relations with the SCO that represents all other leading sub-regions of our enormous common continent. These are efforts to build constructive and positive (not antagonistic) alliances that are not aimed against anyone. They are gradually acquiring a global character, which is reflected in the development of the BRICS Five (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa). Our Saudi friends and Argentina are interested in it. Argentine Foreign Minister Santiago Cafiero expressed his country’s desire to become a full member of BRICS.

BRICS is preparing for a regular summit. It will create an outreach format in which a dozen developing nations will take part. These processes are underway. We know that our Western friends have many phobias and complexes of their own superiority and infallibility. But they are also paranoid. The West sees opposition and a threat to its domination in any process in which it does not take part and which it does not control. It is time to get rid of these manners and customs.

Question: What about the recent Russia-China military exercises? What do they show?

Sergey Lavrov: This is the continuation of our cooperation aimed at enhancing security in this region. They supplement regular military undertakings: drills and training sessions with counterterrorism aims, efforts to strengthen the security of our common borders within the SCO. Russia-China bilateral military cooperation already has a long history. This is not the first year that we are holding events in the zone of our common borders where our security interests directly overlap; we do it regularly. They show that both Russia and China have a responsible attitude to fulfilling these tasks.

Question: Despite the evidence cited by Russia, the development of biological weapons by the United States in Ukraine has not evoked any concern in the West. What should be done for the world to understand how dangerous this is? The Arab press writes about the historical importance of Russia’s efforts to show how these laboratories operate.

Sergey Lavrov: This is a direct violation of the Convention on the Prohibition of Biological and Toxin Weapons. Enjoying support of all countries except the US, we have long been advocating the formation of a universal transparent verification mechanism within its framework that would allow all states to be sure that no participants of the Convention violate it. The United States has simply blocked this initiative since 2001 (for more than 20 years). Now it is clear why it occupies this position. During all these years, the Americans have been setting up their military bio laboratories all over the world. The Pentagon’s unit – the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) – is in charge of these activities. In developing a network of such laboratories, the Pentagon is focusing on the post-Soviet space and Eurasia. Available information shows that these laboratories have been or are being established along the perimeter of the Russian Federation and closer to the PRC. We initially suspected that the experiments made in these laboratories were not entirely peaceful and innocent. When the Russian Armed Forces and the militias of Donetsk and Lugansk liberated Mariupol during the military operation, they discovered laboratories left by the Americans in a rush. The Americans tried to get rid of documents and samples but didn’t destroy all of them. The samples of pathogens and the documents found there clearly pointed to the military character of these experiments. It is clear from the documents that there are several dozen such laboratories in Ukraine. We are pursuing two goals. First, we will convince the UN Security Council to take seriously the information we presented to it (you noted that the overwhelming majority of the developing nations do take it seriously). Second, we want this information to lead to specific actions that must be taken under the Biological Weapons Convention. It requires that the United States explain what it was doing there. We held five special briefings in the UN Security Council, one of them quite recently. We will work to make the US take specific actions proceeding from its commitments under the Convention. We will also analyse additional information about the involvement of other countries in these experiments and military bio laboratories in Ukraine. According to some sources, these are Great Britain and Germany.

Question: If you don’t mind my asking, where are other similar laboratories located in the vicinity of Russia?

Sergey Lavrov: No, I don’t mind. There are such laboratories in Armenia, Kazakhstan, and Central Asian countries. Russia and these countries have been analysing these problems both bilaterally and at the CSTO. We are signing (or have signed, or are preparing) memorandums on interaction in biological security with practically all CSTO and other CIS countries.  These documents stipulate that the signatories will inform each other of how biological programmes develop in each country.

What is important is transparency, which makes it possible to ascertain that these programmes have no military dimension, since this is prohibited under the Convention. These memorandums imply that the parties will pay mutual visits and familiarise themselves with the activities conducted by these laboratories.  In addition, it is stipulated that there should be no military representatives of any third party at the biological facilities in each of our countries.

Question: How are these countries motivated in having such laboratories? Will this bring them any material or political benefits?

Sergey Lavrov: The USSR pursued a large-scale biological programme. After the Soviet Union joined the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin Weapons and on their Destruction, this programme was stripped of its military aspects, but the scientific value of the biological research is retained.  We all remember the state in which this country was in 1991, when the USSR ceased to exist. We faced the problem of preserving the Russian Federation’s integrity. There were no state reserves to repay the national debt or even to purchase the basic necessities for the Russian population’s everyday life. At that time, our Western partners “hopped to it,” as we say, offering their services in all areas of life. They penetrated all spheres of the newly independent states, sending their advisers and advice-givers. Today we are experiencing the aftermath of those times. Major changes have occurred. There are no Soviet republics, which became independent overnight. They had no experience of independent international activity. But now all of this is a thing of the past. All the post-Soviet republics have consolidated their stand, asserting themselves as absolutely sovereign, independent states.  They decide what partners to choose on their own. We have agreements with them to the effect that the commitments assumed within the framework of the Commonwealth of Independent States, the Collective Security Treaty Organisation, and the Eurasian Economic Union should be fully respected by other countries interested in developing relations with all post-Soviet states. We discussed the problems that all of us encountered during the emergence of the new statehood.  Various agencies exchange information about the risks involved in this sweeping cooperation with foreign countries in sensitive spheres. Biology is, of course, one of these spheres.  There is awareness that we have a unified biological security space. The CSTO’s purview includes security issues that are directly related to public health and the environment.  We will continue our constructive cooperation based on these statutes.

Question: Turkey and Italy have proposed a plan for organising talks between Russia and Kiev. Is Russia ready to continue the talks, which have not yielded any results lately?

Sergey Lavrov: We pointed out on numerous occasions that our Western colleagues want to use Vladimir Zelensky and all citizens of Ukraine to the last Ukrainian, which has become proverbial, to damage Russia as much as possible, to defeat it on the battlefield. This has been openly declared in Washington, Berlin, London and especially loudly in Warsaw. Poland has proposed that the Russian world must be destroyed like a “cancer” which is a deadly threat to the whole world. I would like to look at this world as it is represented by our Polish neighbours. For many years Russia has tried to explain why NATO’s eastward expansion and the drawing of Ukraine into the bloc are unacceptable to us. They listened to us but did not comprehend what we said.

When the coup was staged in 2014, the [Ukrainian] opposition trampled on the agreements reached despite the EU’s guarantees. The EU proved unable to force the putschists to respect the signatures of France, Germany and Poland. In 2015, the war in Donbass unleashed by the new Ukrainian authorities, who seized power in the coup, was stopped. The Minsk agreements were signed and guaranteed by France and Germany. All these years we called on Kiev to honour its commitments. Since the West had the decisive influence on it, we also worked with the Europeans and Americans, appealing to their conscience. Regrettably, they have no conscience.

Instead of forcing Kiev to implement the agreements, which should have been done through a direct dialogue with Donetsk and Lugansk, the West tried to justify Zelensky and his team, even when they said publicly that they would never talk with “those people,” although this is stipulated in the UN Security Council resolution approving the Minsk agreements. They said that they would never implement the Minsk agreements or give a special status to these republics. At the same time, they adopted laws that prohibited the Russian language in education and media. Media outlets were shut down. The Russian language was even prohibited in everyday life. Only the Ukrainian language was allowed as the medium of interaction between people in Ukraine.

Moreover, Vladimir Zelensky stated that those who feel Russian must go to Russia. He said this in September 2021. We drew the attention of some Western countries, the OSCE, the Council of Europe and the relevant UN bodies to these aggressively Russophobic and racist statements made in the spirit of the neo-Nazi policy which was gaining a foothold in the Ukrainian legislation. They did not react in any way. Some officials sometimes called for respect for international commitments. But Zelensky doesn’t give a damn about international commitments or the Constitution of Ukraine, which guarantees the rights of Russian speakers in Ukraine. They showed no respect for the Constitution and international conventions and adopted a lot of anti-Russian laws.

As for Russia’s readiness for talks, we have already explained why we couldn’t sit on our hands any longer. What we found on the Ukrainian army positions during the special military operation proved that we were barely in time with starting it, because Ukraine’s Plan B was to be enacted on March 8. A huge group of the Ukrainian armed forces, which was deployed on the contact line with Donbass by mid-February, planned to attack and occupy these territories in flagrant violation of the Minsk agreements and the UN Security Council resolution.

I have no doubt that had they succeeded the West would have turned a blind eye to these violations, just as it pretended not to notice Kiev’s disregard for all the agreements during the previous eight years.

When the Ukrainian authorities proposed negotiations several days after the operation began, we agreed immediately. We held several in-person rounds of talks in Belarus, trying to understand Ukraine’s position and what it wants to achieve at the talks, because we had presented our approach. After several rounds were held in Belarus and online, the idea of meeting in Istanbul was put forth, and the Ukrainian delegation brought, for the first time, written proposals signed by the head of the delegation to the meeting we held on March 29. We analysed these proposals, reported our opinion to President Putin and told our Ukrainian colleagues that we were ready to proceed on that basis. Since they didn’t present a complete agreement but only its individual provisions, we used them to quickly draft an agreement that was based on the Ukrainian proposals and turned it over to the Ukrainian delegation. The following day a flagrant provocation was staged in Bucha, where dead bodies were found in the streets three days after Russian troops had left the city, after three days of peaceful life. We were accused of killing those people. You remember what happened next.

The West adopted a new package of sanctions, as if it had been waiting for it to happen. The Ukrainians said that they had reviewed their position and would reformulate the principles underlying the agreement. Nevertheless, contacts between us continued. The latest draft agreement, which we submitted to Ukraine nearly a month ago, is gathering dust. If you ask who wants to hold and is ready for talks, Vladimir Zelensky said in an interview the other day (he does this almost every day) that he is ready for talks, but they must be held between himself and Vladimir Putin, because there is allegedly no use doing this at any other level. He said the talks should be held without any intermediaries and only after Ukraine resumed control of its territory as of February 23, 2022. Anyone can see that this is not serious. But it suits the West to keep up this unreasonable and unsubstantiated obstinacy. This is a fact.

The West has called for defeating Russia on the battlefield, which means that the war must continue and that increasingly more weapons must be provided to the Ukrainian nationalists, to the Ukrainian regime, including weapons that can hit targets in the Russian Federation. It is such weapons that Vladimir Zelensky demands publicly. We have issued most serious warnings to the West that it is, in fact, fighting a proxy war against the Russian Federation with the hands, bodies and brains of the Ukrainian neo-Nazis, which can become a major step towards an unacceptable escalation. I hope that the remaining reasonable forces in the West are aware of this.

As for Turkey and Italy, Turkey doesn’t have a plan. At least nobody has presented it to us, although President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has noted on many occasions that Turkey is ready to provide a venue just as it did in Istanbul on March 29.  In fact, it was a useful contact. For the first time the Ukrainians presented their vision of a peace agreement on paper in response to our numerous requests, which we accepted and translated into the legal language. I have told you what happened after that. President Erdogan stands for peace and is ready to do all he can to bring it about. But Vladimir Zelensky has said that he doesn’t need intermediaries. That’s his business. He is as fickle as the wind: first, he rallied the support of all the G7 countries, and now it appears that former NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen is creating an advisory group at Kiev’s request that will provide proposals on security guarantees for Ukraine in the context of a peace settlement.

I would like to remind you that initially the Ukrainians’ concept was to draft a comprehensive agreement which would include Ukraine’s pledge not to join any blocs or have nuclear weapons, as well as guarantees of its neutral status. It would also stipulate the guarantor countries’ guarantees that will take into account the security interests of Ukraine, the Russian Federation and other countries in the region. As I have mentioned, Kiev is moving away from that concept. If Andreas Fogh Rasmussen has been recruited to formulate certain “guarantees” in a narrow circle of the Ukrainian regime’s Western sponsors and to subsequently try to submit them to Russia, it is a path that leads nowhere.

Question: Is this a non-paper? Just an initiative of former [NATO] officials?

Sergey Lavrov: We are looking into this now. This has already been promoted as a breakthrough step. The same applies to the Italian initiative.  Luigi Di Maio is quite active in the media landscape promoting the Italian four-point initiative. All we know about it is that it can bring the long-awaited peace, and not just suit both Russia and Ukraine, but launch something like a new Helsinki process, a new agreement on European security, and that it already enjoys the support of the G7 and the UN Secretary-General. I don’t know whether this is true, or to whom he has shown it. No one has sent us anything. All we can go by is speculation, descriptions of this initiative as they appear in the media.

But what we have read (if it is true, of course) makes us regret that the sponsors of this initiative show so little understanding of what is happening or knowledge of the subject, the history of this matter. Allegedly, it says that Crimea and Donbass should be part of Ukraine, which should grant those regions broad autonomy. Serious politicians who want to achieve results, not just grandstand to impress their voters, cannot be proposing such things. Donbass could have returned to Ukraine a long time ago if the Ukrainian regimes (Petr Poroshenko, and then Vladimir Zelensky) had fulfilled the Minsk agreements and granted a special status to the people that refused to accept the coup. The package included the status of the Russian language. However, instead of granting that status, Ukraine banned the Russian language. Instead of unblocking economic ties, Poroshenko announced a transport embargo on those regions, making retirees travel many kilometres to receive their pension benefits.

This Italian initiative you asked me about – as reported by the media – also calls for launching a new Helsinki process, in addition to reconciliation between Russia and Ukraine, to ensure the safety of everyone and everything.  Our colleagues in Rome came to their senses too late. The Helsinki process has given a number of important gains to the world, to our region, to the Euro-Atlantic region, including declarations signed at the highest political level, at the OSCE summits, in particular in Istanbul in 1999, in Astana in 2010 – declarations on indivisible security. Those documents said security can only be equal and indivisible. Further elaborating on this, they said all participating states have the right to be or not to be a party to treaties of alliance, but no country can join any alliances or otherwise strengthen its security if it affects the security of any other state. The third component of this formula is that no country, no organisation in the OSCE area will claim to dominate security issues.

Anyone familiar with the situation in Europe understands that Western countries have been grossly violating the key components of that commitment by strengthening their security in violation of Russia’s right to its own security. They claim that only NATO can call the tune in this region, and no one else. We have tried to make those beautiful political words become reality, to make them work rather than keep them on paper signed off by the presidents of the United States and European countries. We proposed making that political commitment legally binding. As far back as in 2009, we proposed an agreement to NATO countries. They said they wouldn’t even discuss it because only NATO could provide legal security guarantees. When we asked about the OSCE’s role, they said those were just political promises and slogans. That showed how Western politicians treat the signatures of their presidents. But we did not stop there.

We made another attempt last year. In November 2021, President Vladimir Putin instructed his team to draft new documents to agree with the United States and NATO on the principles that would be approved by all at the highest level. We drafted those treaties and transferred them to Washington and Brussels in early December 2021. Several rounds of negotiations followed. I met with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken. We were told that we could discuss the arms control agenda, but NATO expansion was not our business or anybody’s business, for that matter. When we again quoted their commitment not to strengthen their security at the expense of others, they dismissed that as immaterial. What mattered was NATO’s so-called open door policy. We have warned them repeatedly – in 2009, then in 2013, 2014 (when a coup d’état occurred in Ukraine), and in 2015 (the Minsk agreements). All these years, we have been telling our Western colleagues that it will end badly because they continue to ignore our legitimate interests and rudely tell us no when we ask them to take us into consideration – not somewhere tens of thousands of kilometres away, but right on the borders of the Russian Federation. This arrogance, this air of being exceptional, this colonial mentality (I can do anything and you will do what I tell you) is not manifested only in their attitude to our interests.

Remember 1999, when the United States suddenly decided that Yugoslavia, lying 10,000 kilometres away from its coasts, posed a threat to its security? They bombed it to dust in a heartbeat. They used OSCE Mission leader William Walker from the United States to loudly declare that several dozen corpses discovered in the village of Racak were a crime against humanity. As it turned out later, these corpses were not civilians, but militants who were disguised as civilians and scattered around the place.

The same setup was used in Bucha near Kiev on April 3. It works regardless of whether the public finds it convincing or not. They didn’t need to convince anyone. They bombed Yugoslavia, created an independent Kosovo violating every OSCE principle in the process and then said it would be like that from then on.

They said no after the referendum in Crimea. According to them, self-determination in Kosovo is a good thing, but self-determination in Crimea is not. This is being done as if nothing were wrong. No one is even blushing, although it’s a shame for Western diplomacy which has lost its ability to provide elegant explanations for their grossly reckless moves.

In 2003, the United States decided that a threat was coming from another country located 10,000 kilometres away and produced a vial with what I think was tooth powder. Poor Colin Powell later lamented that he had been set up by the intelligence. Several years later, Tony Blair, too, said it was a mistake, but nothing could be done about it. Nothing can be done about it. They bombed the country killing under a million civilians. Until now, Iraq’s integrity has not been restored. There are enough problems there, including terrorism, which did not exist there before. Indeed, Iraq and Libya were authoritarian regimes, but there were no terrorists, ongoing hostilities, or military provocations.

Libya is on that list, as well. In 2011, President Obama said that they would be “leading from behind” Europe.  France, the most democratic nation in the Old World (freedom, equality, fraternity), led the NATO operation to destroy the regime. As a result, they destroyed the country. It is hard to put it back together now. Again, the French are trying to do so as they come up with initiatives, convene conferences and announce election dates. All in vain, because, before going in, they needed to think about what would become of Libya after the West ensured its “security” in that country.

I’m citing this example not to say: they can, but we can’t. That would be simplifying matters. What I’m saying is that the Western countries believe that the entire world is part of their security, and they must rule the world.

As NATO was crawling up to Russia’s borders, it told us not to be concerned about it, since NATO is a defensive alliance and does not threaten our country’s security. First, this sounds like a diplomatic effrontery. We must decide for ourselves on our security interests, just like any other country. Second, NATO was a defensive alliance when there was someone to stand up to like the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact. There was the Berlin Wall between Western and Eastern Europe. Everyone was clear about the line of defence. After the Warsaw Pact and the Soviet Union ceased to exist, any lieutenant with basic training knew there was no longer any such thing as a defence line. All you need to do now is live a normal life based on shared values and a common European space.

We put our signature under multiple slogans including “from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean,” “from Lisbon to Vladivostok,” and “we are brothers and sisters now.” However, they retained their military nature as they continued to move the “line of defence” closer to our borders. We have just had an in-depth discussion on the outcomes of this policy. In recent months, the NATO Secretary General and warmongering politicians like the British Foreign Secretary have been publicly stating that the alliance must have global responsibility. NATO must be in charge of security in the Pacific. This may mean that next time NATO’s “defence line” will move to the South China Sea.

Not only NATO, but the EU leaders also decided to “play soldiers.” Ursula von der Leyen, who is rivalling EU top diplomat Josep Borrell in terms of bellicosity, claimed that the EU must be in charge of security matters in the Indo-Pacific region. How are they going to accomplish this? They keep talking about an EU “army.” No one will let them create this “army” as long as NATO exists.

To all appearances, no one is going to even reform NATO. They are going to turn this “defensive alliance” into a global alliance claiming global military dominance. This is a dangerous path that is definitely doomed to failure.

Question: To what extent are these developments affecting the Russian army’s presence in Syria?

Sergey Lavrov: We are present in Syria at the request of the legitimate President of the Syrian Arab Republic and the legitimate government of that country. We are there in full compliance with the principles enshrined in the UN Charter and are addressing the tasks set by UN Security Council Resolution 2254. We will stick to this policy and support the Syrian government in its efforts to fully restore Syria’s territorial integrity. The armed forces of the countries that no one had invited to Syria are still deployed there. Until now, the US military, which has occupied a significant portion of the eastern bank of the Euphrates River, is openly building a quasi-state there and is directly encouraging separatism taking advantage of the sentiment of a portion of the Kurdish population of Iraq. Problems are arising between the various entities that unite the Iraqi and Syrian Kurds. All of that intensifies tensions in this region. Of course, Turkey cannot stay on the sidelines.

We want to address these issues solely on the basis of respect for Syria’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. We are talking to the Kurds. We have channels which we use to communicate with all of them. We encourage them to take a closer look at recent developments where the United States promised something to someone and then failed to deliver. Starting a serious dialogue with Damascus and agreeing on arrangements of living in a single state is a much more reliable approach even from these purely pragmatic considerations, not to mention international law.

Of course, Russia will continue to provide humanitarian aid. The United States is trying to keep the crisis situation unchanged and to encourage the sides to resume hostilities. The notorious Caesar Act is designed to strangle the Syrian economy. We see that a growing number of Arab countries are starting to understand the utter futility of this policy and are interested in resuming relations with Syria. Recently, the UAE restored its embassy’s activities in full. A number of Arab countries have never withdrawn their embassies from Damascus. Preparations are underway for a summit of the League of Arab States, which I discussed with Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune. The vast majority of the League members (as far as we can tell from our contacts) are in favour of a solution that will make it possible to resume Syria’s full Arab League membership.

Refugees are another issue. The UN mediators are trying to get involved in this matter, but the United States and the compliant Europeans are doing their utmost to make the return of these people impossible. Remember when Syria held a conference in Damascus a couple of years ago to raise funds and make it possible for the refugees to return, the Americans went out of the way to keep everyone from attending this conference. Not everyone listened to them and about 20 countries, primarily Arab countries, as well as the People’s Republic of China and other countries, took part in it.

The UN showed its weakness by refusing to participate in that conference and only sending its representative in Damascus to sit there as an observer. That decision hit the United Nations’ reputation hard because its Resolution 2254 explicitly calls for the return of refugees. Both the UN Secretariat and the Secretary-General personally have an obligation to contribute to this directly. Until recently, the European Union held its own conferences on refugees (and they were not devoted to creating conditions for their return, but to raising money to pay the host countries). The purpose of those conferences was to make the current situation permanent and prevent any chance of positive developments in Syria. Yet, the Secretary-General did not just send representatives to them, but participated in these conferences as a co-chair. We have been pointing out that serious misinterpretation of his direct responsibilities.

As for the process that is taking place in Geneva, including the Constitutional Committee, its Drafting Commission – I keep in touch with Geir Pedersen, who represents the UN as a mediator in this process. He visited Russia not long ago. We also communicate through our mission in Geneva. There is an agreement that the next meeting of the Drafting Commission will begin at the end of May. I believe that President Bashar al-Assad’s recent decision to grant amnesty to Syrians charged with terrorism-related crimes was an important positive step. As far as I understand, a lot of work has been done, and the amnesty was announced. It will be a good chance to see how it goes. Geir Pedersen as well as many of our Western colleagues said Bashar al-Assad should take some steps. Okay. Whatever prompted the Syrian president’s decision, he did take a step. Let’s reciprocate now. Let Geir Pedersen talk to the opposition and those who control it, and persuade them to show some constructive action in this regard.

Question:  Is Russia keeping the same number of troops in Syria?

Sergey Lavrov: We have not had any requests from the Syrian government. If any such decisions are deemed expedient, they will be implemented. The numbers on the ground are determined by the specific objectives our force is tasked with there. It is clear that there are practically no military objectives left, but only ensuring stability and security. As for the remaining military objectives that the Syrian army is working for, with our support – there is the terrorist threat in Idlib, and it has not gone anywhere. Our Turkish friends and neighbours are trying, as they are telling us, to fulfil what presidents Vladimir Putin and Recep Tayyip Erdogan agreed on a few years ago. As we all see, things are going hard. This objective remains on the agenda. However, thanks to the actions by our contingent and the Syrian armed forces, we have not seen any provocations from Idlib lately targeting the Syrian army strongholds or our bases in Syria.


Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s remarks at the 38th meeting of the Foreign Ministry’s Council of the Heads of Constituent Entities of the Russian Federation, Moscow, May 27, 2022

Colleagues,

We are holding a regular meeting of the Foreign Ministry’s Council of the Heads of Constituent Entities of the Russian Federation. The meeting is taking place against the background of the special military operation in Ukraine, which is being conducted in connection with the tasks set by President of Russia Vladimir Putin, tasks involving the protection of civilians, the elimination of the Ukraine-posed security threats to the Russian Federation, and the denazification of this kindred country whose people have suffered and continue to suffer at the hands of a regime which encourages extreme neo-Nazi sentiments and practices.

You see the United States and its satellites double, triple and quadruple their efforts to contain Russia with the use of a broad range of tools, from unilateral economic sanctions to utterly false propaganda in the global media space. Popular Russophobia has taken on an unprecedented scale in many Western countries, where, to our regret, it is nurtured by government circles.

Under these circumstances, it is of crucial importance that the foreign policy course approved by President Vladimir Putin is based on a broad national accord and supported by the key political forces of Russia and the leading public and entrepreneurial associations. We also feel daily the support from all Russian regions. This country is witnessing the consolidation of all healthy and patriotic forces. This is an important aspect of the present stage.

Colleagues,

At our last meeting, we discussed regions’ cultural diplomacy. The recommendations that we approved have made it possible to give a new impetus to international cultural ties maintained by Russian regions and expand the geographical reach and range of partners (of Russia’s republics, regions and territories). But the situation has changed since that time: the West has declared a total war on us and the entire Russian world. No one is concealing this any longer.

The cancel culture directed at Russia and all things Russian is reaching the apogee of absurdity. Russian greats, including Pyotr Tchaikovsky, Fyodor Dostoevsky, Leo Tolstoy and Alexander Pushkin, are banned. Russian cultural figures and artists representing our culture today are persecuted.

It may safely be said that this situation is here to stay. We should be ready to accept the fact that it has revealed the West’s true attitude to those fine-sounding slogans concerning human values and the need to create a united Europe, a “common European home” stretching from the Atlantic to the Pacific, which were put forward 30 years ago after the end of the Cold War. Today we see the true worth of all these empty words.

Let us not become self-complacent. Under the current circumstances, we need a detailed analysis of the Foreign Ministry’s effort to promote cooperation with civil society, including at the level of regions.

A sufficiently effective system of collaboration between the Foreign Ministry and non-profit organisations focusing on international issues has been established. For example, the recent assembly of the Council on Foreign and Defence Policy has clearly demonstrated the high expert potential of scientific diplomacy. Our joint work has made it possible to carry out a comprehensive analysis of the highly intricate and complex developments in the world.

That said, the presence of NGOs from regions at international venues is insignificant. However, the inclusion of certain regional NGOs in Russian delegations to the UN General Assembly has been a success. This experience shows that this partnership has a promise. We would like to make it regular and broad in nature.

I would like to highlight a number of priority areas concerning interaction with civil society institutions:

1. Mobilising Russian NGOs’ capabilities to promote recovery and to provide humanitarian aid to residents of the DPR and the LPR, as well as the liberated Ukrainian territories.

2. Engaging public diplomacy channels for outreach activities with constructive international partners, including stepping up efforts to debunk fakes about the special military operation and promoting our views in social media and the blogosphere.

3. Using NGO resources, in particular, regional associations of entrepreneurs and the Chamber of Commerce and Industry, to minimise the consequences of unilateral sanctions, and to promote ties with the friendly countries, primarily, our allies and like-minded partners in the CSTO, the SCO, the CIS, the EAEU and BRICS.

On a separate note, regional consultative mechanisms with the participation of top executives from national cultural associations are working productively. Clearly, this helps maintain inter-ethnic and inter-religious peace and accord. I think broader use of this set of tools should be made in order to strengthen business ties with the expat communities’ countries of origin, primarily in the CIS.

4. Working with our compatriots residing abroad is particularly important. They are at the forefront of dealing with the phenomenon known as Neanderthal Russophobia. Our foreign-based communities are facing unprecedented pressure and are being discriminated against on national and linguistic grounds. In spite of everything, our compatriots are holding their own and bravely defending their right not to sever contacts with the Motherland even in the most challenging times. The Immortal Regiment drive that took place in over 80 countries, including the United States and Europe, clearly showed it. Our duty is to continue to support our compatriots, and we count on the regions’ proactive moves in this regard.

It is gratifying to know that many regions, in particular, Moscow, St Petersburg, Tatarstan, Crimea, the Altai Territory and the Yamalo-Nenets and Khanty-Mansi autonomous areas (the list goes on) are effectively working with the Russian expat communities and their coordinating bodies. The most recent examples include the Moscow Government holding, in conjunction with other regions, round table discussions on the topic “Interactions with compatriots abroad at the regional level.” Such events took place in certain regions, in particular, Kaliningrad in late March, and Khabarovsk and Vladikavkaz in April. More such meetings will be held this year. We strongly support these initiatives and will sponsor such events. We are ready to provide advice to our colleagues from non-governmental organisations on the corresponding issues. We will update them on the situation of their compatriots, including instances of their legal rights being violated.

5. The developments in Ukraine confirm the importance of continued efforts to counteract the falsification of history and glorification of Nazism. The absurd content of modern Ukrainian school textbooks is a case in point. However, the problem is not limited to Ukraine. The West does not stop trying to pit the peoples of the former Soviet Union against each other through a biased interpretation of historical facts.

The other day the German government approved plans for a World War II and the German Occupation of Europe documentation centre. At first glance, this concept raises serious questions regarding its historical truthfulness. The planned centre is structured not only to downplay the Soviet Union and the Soviet people’ decisive role in defeating German Nazism, but also to play down the crimes committed by the Third Reich against the Soviet people. These themes are not indicated in the planned expositions. The plans also contain language that seeks to equate German criminals to liberators of Europe. This is yet another step within the policy adopted by modern Berlin which seeks to rewrite the history of World War II and to rehabilitate the Third Reich.

It is important to focus on preserving the common chapters of history, primarily, the Great Patriotic War, and to promote shared memories of the war and the fallen war hero search movement, as well as the ongoing CIS historians’ dialogue on existing platforms.

Proper resources and staff are required in order to overcome these challenges, and the broad involvement of NGOs that should be issued targeted grants and subsidies to this end as well. Let’s not forget about this, either.

Many Russian regions are addressing these issues adequately, including through the use of extrabudgetary sources. We are ready to support this work and supplement these initiatives with increased funding from the federal budget.

In conjunction with Rossotrudnichestvo and the Civic Chamber, we will continue to help the regions use public and people’s diplomacy in the interest of promoting our foreign policy.

Who is the end user of the US weapons sent to Ukraine?

26 May 2022

Source: Al Mayadeen

Joe Joubran 

A detailed look into the deliveries of US armaments and weapons shipments to Ukraine.

The US has few ways to track the substantial supply of anti-tank, anti-aircraft, and other weaponry it has sent across the border into Ukraine

Introduction

The U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said that the U.S. wants Russia’s military capability weakened so that it cannot carry out another invasion (April 25, 2022). So the U.S. is arming Ukraine against Russia. 

The Biden administration sees the transfer of hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of equipment to be vital to the Ukrainians’ ability to hold off Moscow’s invasion. But the risk is that some of the shipments may ultimately end up in unexpected places. 

The decision of the given short-term needs of Ukrainian forces for more arms and ammunition will lead to the long-term risk of weapons ending up on the black market or in the wrong hands was accepted. 

Usually, the U.S. military has a great concern about the end-user of the US made weapons and equipment. They have specialized teams to track these weapons and equipment in almost all countries (except North Korea).

This strict rule does not much apply in the case of Ukraine, where there is a great risk. This conscious risk is up to the Biden administration to take. 

1- The goal  

The goal now is what Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin called a “weakened” Russia, one that won’t be able in the future to “do the kinds of things that it has done in invading Ukraine.” 

But first, the supplies of weaponry, notably long-range artillery, have to be delivered, and the Ukrainians have to be trained to use new Western systems, a process that is underway but will take time. 

The United States and its allies are speeding up the deliveries. But transferring them from Eastern Europe into Ukraine is going to require an unprecedented logistical effort at a time when the main supply lines are increasingly being targeted by Russian missiles.  

  • Figure 3: S-300 missile
  • Figure 1: Javelin missile
  • Figure 2: Stinger missile
  • Figure 3: S-300 missile
  • Figure 1: Javelin missile
  • Figure 2: Stinger missile
  • Figure 3: S-300 missile

2- The Russian Threat

U.S. Officials are less concerned that the weapons may fall into the hands of the Russians.

A source familiar with the US intelligence said that it does not appear that Russia has been actively attacking western weapons shipments entering Ukraine – although it is unclear exactly why especially since the US has intelligence information that the Russians want to and have discussed doing so both publicly and privately.

There are a number of theories for why the shipments have so far been spared, including that Russian forces simply can’t find them – the weapons and equipment are being sent over in unmarked vehicles and often transported at night.

It could also be that the Russian forces are running out of munitions and don’t want to waste them targeting random trucks unless they can be certain they are part of an arms convoy.

In general, Russia doesn’t have perfect intelligence visibility into Ukraine, and their air capabilities over western Ukraine, where the shipments are coming in, are extremely limited because of Ukrainian air defense systems.

The Pentagon says it has not yet seen Russian attempts to interrupt the weapons transfers or the shipments moving inside Ukraine.

3- Tracking the supplies

The US has few ways to track the substantial supply of anti-tank, anti-aircraft, and other weaponry it has sent across the border into Ukraine, a blind spot that’s due in large part to the lack of US military on the ground in the country – and the easy portability of many of the smaller systems now pouring across the border.

Both current US officials and defense analysts say that the risk is in the long term, because some of those weapons may wind up in the hands of other militaries and militias that the US did not intend to arm.

US intelligence sources have fidelity for a short time, but when it enters the fog of war, they have almost zero. “It drops into a big black hole, and you have almost no sense of it at all after a short period of time.”

In making the decision to send billions of dollars of weapons and equipment into Ukraine, the Biden administration factored in the risk that some of the shipments may ultimately end up in unexpected places.

4- The American politics

The Biden administration is giving new, heavier weapons to Ukraine because the US military is not on the ground, and the US and NATO are heavily reliant on information provided by Ukraine’s government. 

Ukraine has an incentive to give only information that will strengthen its case for more aid, more arms, and more diplomatic assistance. 

Top of Form

The US and western officials have offered detailed accounts of what the West knows about the status of Russian forces inside Ukraine: how many casualties they’ve taken, their remaining combat power, their weapons stocks, what kinds of munitions they are using, and where.

But when it comes to Ukrainian forces, officials acknowledge that the West – including the US – has some information gaps. Western estimates of Ukrainian casualties are also not accurate, according to some sources familiar with US and western intelligence. “It’s hard to track with nobody on the ground”. 

5- The risk

Recently, the US agreed to provide Kyiv with the types of high-power capabilities some Biden administration officials viewed as too much of an escalation risk, including 11 Mi-17 helicopters, 18 155 mm Howitzer cannons, and 300 more Switchblade drones.

a- Where weapons are used

The U.S. Defense Department couldn’t track the weapons sent for particular units, according to Pentagon press secretary John Kirby.

Trucks loaded with pallets of arms provided by the Defense Department are picked up by Ukrainian armed forces – primarily in Poland – and then driven into Ukraine, “then it’s up to the Ukrainians to determine where they go and how they’re allocated inside their country.”

b- Monitoring Tools

A congressional source said that while the US is not on the ground in Ukraine, It has tools to learn what’s happening, noting that the US has extensive use of satellite imagery and both the Ukrainian and Russian militaries appear to be using commercial communications equipment.

The US military views the information it’s receiving from Ukraine as generally reliable because the US has trained and equipped the Ukrainian military for years, developing strong relationships. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t some blind spots, such as on issues like the operational status of Ukraine’s S-300s.

Conclusion

Finally, the western supply to Ukraine is certainly the largest supply to a partner country in a conflict. The Biden administration and NATO countries say they are providing weapons to Ukraine based on what the Ukrainian forces say they need, whether it’s portable systems like Javelin and Stinger missiles or the Slovakian S-300 air defense system.

Javelin and Stinger missiles and rifles and ammunition are naturally harder to track than larger systems like the S-300. Although Javelins have serial numbers, there is little way to track their transfer and use.

The biggest danger surrounding the flood of weapons being funneled into Ukraine is what happens to them when the war ends. Such a risk is part of any consideration to send weapons overseas. 

For years, the US sent arms into Afghanistan, first to arm the “mujahidin” in their fight against the Soviet army, then to arm Afghan forces in their fight against the Taliban.

Some weapons ended up on the black market including anti-aircraft Stinger missiles, the same kind the US is now providing to Ukraine. Some US officials feared that they could be used by the Taliban against the United States.

Other weapons have ended up arming US adversaries. Much of what the US left behind to help Afghan forces became part of the Taliban arsenal after the collapse of the Afghan government and military. The problem is not unique to Afghanistan. Weapons sold to other countries found their way into the hands of terrorists.  The risk of a similar scenario happening in Ukraine also exists.

In the Defense Department, there are raising concerns about the end-use monitoring of weapons being sent to Ukraine.

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

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