EU Parliamentarian Calls to Sanction Vanessa Beeley and All Observers of Donbass Referendums

Global Research, September 30, 2022

By Max Blumenthal and Anya Parampil

The Grayzone 29 September 2022

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MEP Nathalie Loiseau of France is lobbying for individual sanctions on all observers of the Russian-organized referendums in the Donbass region. She has singled out journalist Vanessa Beeley not only for her coverage of the vote, but for her reporting on the foreign-back war against Syria’s government.

A French Member of European Parliament (MEP), Natalie Loiseau, has delivered a letter to EU High Representative of Foreign Affairs, Joseph Borrell, demanding the European Union place personal sanctions on all international observers of the recent votes in the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics and certain Russian-controlled territories in eastern Ukraine.

Obtained by The Grayzone from an EU source, the letter is currently being circulated among European parliamentarians in hopes of securing a docket of supportive signatures.

“We, as elected members of the European Parliament, demand that all those who voluntarily assisted in any way the organization of these illegitimate referendums be individually targeted and sanctioned,” Loiseau declared.

The French MEP’s letter came after a group of formally Ukrainian territories held a vote on whether or not to officially incorporate themselves into the Russian Federation in late September. Through the popular referendum, the independent Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics, which announced their respective successions from Ukraine in 2014 following a foreign-backed coup against the government Kiev, as well as the regions of Kherson and Zaporozhia, voted overwhelmingly in favor of joining the Russian Federation.

Loiseau singled out Vanessa Beeley, a British journalist who traveled to the region to monitor the vote. Extending her complaint well beyond the referendum, the French MEP accused Beeley of “continuously spreading fake news about Syria and acting as a mouthpiece for Vladimir Putin and Bashar el [sic] Assad for years.”

Loiseau, a close ally of French President Emanuel Macron, specifically demanded Beeley be “included in the list of those sanctioned.”

Beeley responded to Loiseau’s letter in a statement to The Grayzone:

“Imposing sanctions on global citizens for bearing witness to a legal process that reflects the self-determination of the people of Donbass is fascism. Should the EU proceed with this campaign, I believe there will be serious consequences because the essence of freedom of speech and thought is under attack.

Russia’s referendums: drawing a line with NATO

In mid-September 2022, Beeley and around 100 other international delegates traveled to eastern Europe in order to observe a vote to join the Russian Federation in the regions of Kherson, Zaporozhia, and the independent republics of Lugansk and Donetsk.

Why did their presence trigger such an outraged response from Western governments? The answer lies in the recent history of these heavily contested areas.

The formally Ukrainian territories of Kherson and Zaporozhia fell under Russian control earlier this year as a result of the military campaign launched by Moscow in February, while the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics declared their independence from the government in Kiev in 2014.

Russia began its special military campaign in Ukrainian territory on February 24. The operation followed Moscow’s decision that same week to formally recognize the independence of the Donetsk People’s Republic and Lugansk People’s Republic (the Donbass Republics) in Ukraine’s eastern Donbass region. Pro-Russian separatists in the Donbass have been embroiled in a bloody trench battle with the US-backed government in Kiev since 2014.

Ukraine’s civil conflict broke out in March 2014, after US and European forces sponsored a coup in the country that installed a decidedly pro-NATO nationalist regime in Kiev which proceeded to declare war on its minority, ethnically Russian population.

Following the 2014 putsch, Ukraine’s government officially marginalized the Russian language while extremist thugs backed by Kiev massacred and intimidated ethnic Russian citizens of Ukraine. In response, separatist protests swept Ukraine’s majority-Russian eastern regions.

Russia Recognizes Two Donbass Republics to Stop Ukraine’s Violence

The territory of Crimea formally voted to join Russia in March of that year, while the Donetsk and Lugansk Republics in Ukraine’s eastern Donbass region declared their unofficial independence from Kiev that same month. With support from the US military and NATO, Ukraine’s coup government officially declared war on the Donbass in April 2014, launching what it characterized as an “Anti-Terrorist Operation” in the region.

Russia trained and equipped separatist militias in Donetsk and Lugansk throughout the territories’ civil campaigns against Kiev, though Moscow did not officially recognize the independence of the Donbass republics until February 2022. By then, United Nations estimates placed the casualty count for Ukraine’s civil war at roughly 13,000 dead. While Moscow offered support to Donbass separatists throughout the 2014-2022 period, US and European governments invested billions to prop up a Ukrainian military that was heavily reliant on army and intelligence factions with direct links to the country’s historic anti-Soviet, pro-Nazi deep state born as a result of World War II.

Russia’s military formally entered the Ukraine conflict in February 2022, following Moscow’s recognition of the Donbass republics. While Russian President Vladimir Putin defined the liberation of the Donbass republics as the primary objective of the military operation, he also listed the “de-nazification” and “de-militarization” of Ukraine as a goals of the campaign. As such, Russian troops have since secured control of Ukrainian territories beyond the Donbass region, including the territories of Kherson and Zaporozhia.

Facing increased Western investment in the Kiev-aligned bloc of Ukraine’s civil war, authorities in the Donbass republics announced a referendum on membership in the Russian Federation in late September 2022, with Moscow-aligned officials in Kherson and Zaporozhia announcing similar ballot initiatives. Citizens in each territory proceeded to approve Russian membership by overwhelming majorities.

The results of the referendum not only threatened the government in Kiev, but its European and US backers. Western-aligned media leapt to characterize the votes as a sham, claiming Moscow’s troops had coerced citizens into joining the Russian Federation at the barrel of a gun. Their narrative would have reigned supreme if not for the hundred or so international observers who physically traveled to the regions in question to observe the referendum process.

Observers like Vanessa Beeley now face the threat of returning home to the West as wanted outlaws. But as Loiseau’s letter made clear, the British journalist was in the crosshairs long before the escalation in Ukraine.

Beeley among European journalists targeted and prosecuted for reporting from Donetsk

Vanessa Beeley was among the first independent journalists to expose the US and UK governments’ sponsorship of the Syrian White Helmets, a so-called “volunteer organization” that played frontline role in promoting the foreign-backed dirty war against Syria’s government through its coordination with Western and Gulf-sponsored media. Beeley also played an instrumental role in revealing the White Helmets’ strong ties to Al-Qaeda’s Syrian branch, as well as its members’ involvement in atrocities committed by Western-backed insurgents.

Beeley’s work on Syria drew harsh attacks from an array of NATO and arms industry-funded think tanks. In June 2022, the Institute for Strategic Dialogue (ISD), which receives funding from a variety of NATO states, corporations and billionaires, labeled Beeley “the most prolific spreader of disinformation” on Syria prior to 2020. (According to ISD, Beeley was somehow “overtaken” by The Grayzone’s Aaron Mate that year). The group did not provide a single piece of evidence to support its assertions.

Though Beeley has endured waves of smears, French MEP Natalie Loiseau’s call for the EU to sanction the journalist represents the first time a Western official has moved to formally criminalize her work. Indeed, Loiseau made no secret that she is targeting Beeley not only for her role as an observer of the referendum votes, but also on the basis of her opinions and reporting on Syria.

Loiseau’s push to issue personal sanctions against EU and US citizens comes on the heels of the German government’s prosecution of independent journalist Alina Lipp. In March 2020, Berlin launched a formal case against Lipp, who is a German citizen, claiming her reporting from the Donetsk People’s Republic violated newly authorized state speech codes.

Prior to Lipp’s prosecution, the Institute for Strategic Dialogue launched a media campaign portraying her as a disseminator of “disinformation” and “pro-Kremlin content.”

In London, meanwhile, the UK government has imposed individual sanctions on Graham Philips, a British citizen and independent journalist, for his reporting from Donetsk.

And in Brussels, Loiseau’s campaign against Beeley appears to have emerged from a deeply personal vendetta.

Who is Natalie Loiseau?

In April 2021, Beeley published a detailed profile of Loiseau at her personal blog, The Wall Will Fall, painting the French MEP as a regime change ideologue committed to “defending global insecurity and perpetual war.” Beeley noted that Loiseau served as a minister in the government of French President Emanuel Macron when it authorized airstrikes in response to dubious allegations of a Syrian government chemical attack in Douma in April 2018.

Beeley also reported that Loiseau has enjoyed a close relationship with the Syria Campaign, the public relations arm of the White Helmets operation. This same organization, which is backed by British-Syrian billionaire Ayman Asfari, was the sponsor of the Institute for Strategic Dialogue report which branded Beeley a “top propagator of disinformation” on Syria.

Loiseau has taken her activism into the heart of the European parliament, using her position as chair of the European Parliament’s Subcommittee on Security and Defense to silence colleagues who ask to many questions about the Western campaign for regime change in Syria.

During an April 2021 hearing, MEP Mick Wallace attempted to question Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) Director General Fernando Arias about allegations he personally aided the censorship of an OPCW investigation which concluded no chemical attack took place in Douma, Syria in April 2018.

Loiseau immediately descended into a fit of rage, interrupting Wallace and preventing him from speaking.

“I cannot accept that you can call into question the work of an international organization, and that you would call into question the word of the victims in the way you have just done,” Loiseau fulminated.

Wallace responded with indignation, asking, “Is there no freedom of speech being allowed in the European Parliament any more? Today you are denying me my opinion!”

A year later, Wallace and fellow Irish MEP Clare Daly sued the Irish network RTEfor defamation after it broadcast an interview with Loiseau during which she baselessly branded them as liars who spread disinformation about Syria in parliament.

Now, Loiseau appears to be seeking revenge against Beeley, demanding that she be criminally prosecuted not just for serving as a referendum observer, but for her journalistic output.

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The editor-in-chief of The Grayzone, Max Blumenthal is an award-winning journalist and the author of several books, including best-selling Republican GomorrahGoliathThe Fifty One Day War, and The Management of Savagery. He has produced print articles for an array of publications, many video reports, and several documentaries, including Killing Gaza. Blumenthal founded The Grayzone in 2015 to shine a journalistic light on America’s state of perpetual war and its dangerous domestic repercussions.

Anya Parampil is a journalist based in Washington, DC. She has produced and reported several documentaries, including on-the-ground reports from the Korean peninsula, Palestine, Venezuela, and Honduras.

Featured image: Left: French MEP Nathalie Loiseau Right: Journalist Vanessa Beeley (Source: The Grayzone)

The original source of this article is The Grayzone

Copyright © Max Blumenthal and Anya ParampilThe Grayzone, 2022

A possible strategy for peace

September 28, 2022

Source

by Gav Don

We now await the results of the referenda in Donetsk, Lugansk, Zaporizhiya and Kherson to request membership of the Russian Federation. In the first three regions the result is a foregone conclusion. In Kherson the vote is also likely to be for membership, in spite of the fact that Kherson’s pre-war population was a majority ethnic Ukrainian one, but the margin may be closer. Many, indeed probably most, of Kherson’s pre-war Ukrainians have, though, left the region as refugees, and will not vote in the referendum by virtue of their absence. President Putin stated in a recent speech that Russia will immediately accept the applications for membership of the Federation that follow.

In parallel Moscow announced this week that Russia will call up army reservists for service. Russian army reserves include men in a wide range of preparedness, from people who had completed conscripted service long ago to a much smaller number of “active” reserve formations similar to western reserve formations – i.e. ones which meet regularly for paid training with regular forces. These latter are a relatively new addition to Russia’s ground forces.

RAND reported in 2019 that “active” reserves totalled only 5,000 men. In 2021 Moscow announced a plan to increase the active reserve under the headline BARS-2021 to 100,000, but no information has reached the public domain since then on how well (or not) that strategy performed. Subsequent clarification stated that reserves called up will undergo months of refresher and update training. Interpolating the limited data suggests that this reserve call-up might bring 20,000-40,000 men with material fighting power to Russia’s Orbat in the short term.

Mr Putin made no reference to the number of men (and women, presumably) to be called up, but within minutes of his speech being broadcast the number of 300,000 appeared throughout western media coverage. The most likely source for that very large number is the media briefers retained by Kyiv.

Prior to this week’s reserve call-up Moscow was already in the process of creating a new unit, the 3rd Army Corps (Luhansk and Donestk militias form the 1st and 2nd Army Corps), comprising some 40 Battalion Tactical Groups. When fully formed the 3rd Army Corps would therefore contain some 35,000 – 40,000 men, but at present is probably less than half that complement, and in an early state of formation and training which will limit its combat power to low-intensity and defensive operations only for several months to come.

Reserves are not the only news: a third insight to Moscow’s objectives has come to light, in one of Mr Putin’s replies in a Q and A at Samarkand, and again in his “reserves” speech. In both he referred for the first time to the Russia’s “main objective” in Ukraine as the full occupation of Donetsk and Luhansk Oblasts. This is the first time since February that Moscow has made an unequivocal statement about its objectives.

It is tempting to extrapolate that Russia’s lesser objectives must be smaller than its main objective. That extrapolation would rule out the taking of much more ground than Russia already occupies, including Odesa (or even Mikolayev), Kharkiv or the ground between the western border of Donetsk and the Dnepr River.

Building on that tentative conclusion leads to another conclusion, that Moscow’s strategic objective now is to conclude the remnants of the peace deal agreed to (and then reneged on) by President Zelensky in Istanbul in March. Much of the rest of Mr Putin’s “reserves” speech was expressing Russia’s defensive rights and plans – the protection of Russian territory and Russian people from Ukraine and the greater west. There was no talk of extending Russian occupation of Ukraine beyond Donetsk and Luhansk.

Last week, the day after the reserves announcement, President Zelensky made a recorded address to the United Nations which Moscow is likely to find discouraging for a peace deal. Mr Zelensky’s first words were a demand for “just punishment” for Russia’s aggression: “Ukraine demands punishment for trying to steal our territory”.  Mr Zelensky stated four preconditions for peace:

·         Punishment (of Russia) for the crime of aggression, to continue (a) until the borders are returned to 2013 line and (b) full financial compensation has been paid for all physical damage. The punishments, to be administered by a special tribunal, specifically include a trade embargo, suspension of Russia from the UN and of its veto, a travel ban on all Russians, and a system to obtain financial compensation from Russia.

·         “The protection of life by all available means”. It was not made clear what this term means in detail.

·         “The restoring of security and territorial integrity” – which must mean a return to 2013 borders.

·         Security guarantees for Ukraine enacted in a suite of bilateral and multilateral treaties, to supplement existing treaties (so, probably not membership of NATO per se). The new guarantees will be written to provide pre-emptive action rather than reactive action (like that in the Atlantic Charter).

To these Mr Zelensky added a fifth precondition, which had no actual provisions or form but appeared to be a call for firm adherence to the four explicit conditions to punish aggression.

Mr Zelensky finished with “I rule out the possibility a settlement can happen on a different basis than the [this] Ukrainian peace formula”.

Ukraine’s position depends entirely on continued materiel and financial support from Washington, London and Brussels. Since it will be immediately clear to even the most Russophobic members of those administrations that the only practically obtainable component of President Zelensky’s formula will be financial compensation from Russia’s frozen foreign reserves, there is probably a different peace deal, which might be imposed on Kyiv by the West. What might those preconditions be?

They would probably include:

·         A clear demonstration by the people living in the four Oblasts that they no longer wish to be part of Ukraine;

·         Clear evidence that the Kharkiv offensive is a one-off, and that it has no practical chance of being repeated elsewhere;

·         Acceptance by the voters of Europe and the United Kingdom that a bad peace is more attractive than a continued war (the voters of the United States are almost completely indifferent to the war and have already lost interest);

·         Acceptance by Prime Minister Truss and Commission President von der Leyen that the economic price of continued conflict with Russia is higher than they will, or even can, pay;

·         Acceptance by the US State Department that the EU Commission and Downing Street are no longer willing to send money and weapons to Ukraine (Mr Biden’s cognitive decline more or less rules him out of the decision process, and the Pentagon has been against the war since February);

It is possible to map last week’s Russian events and announcements against this list of preconditions.

The popular will in the occupied territories

Three of the four referenda are guaranteed to return a strong desire for a transfer from Ukraine to Russia. The fourth, Kherson, may return a less equivocal desire, though a majority for Russia is likely. Moscow may be setting up the surrender of west-bank Kherson to Ukraine as the price of peace.

The western popular consciousness (in so far as it exists as a single “thing”) readily accepts the principle of self-determination where clearly and fairly expressed. Indeed, rather more than half of the people of Europe are independent or unified by virtue of that principle (this would include all Germans, Poles, Czechs, Slovaks, Greeks, Italians, Hungarians, Bulgarians, Romanians, Slovenes, Croats, Montenegrans, Dutch, Danes, Maltese, Kosovans, Macedonians, Estonians, Latvians, Lithuanians, Finns, Irish, and, outside the EU, Norwegians, and in future perhaps Scots and Catalans, and of course Ukrainians themselves). Why, then, spend large amounts of money and incur acute economic pain to resist the clearly expressed desire for self-determination by ethnic Russians in eastern Ukraine?

In the debate which might follow this line Moscow will undoubtedly call in aid the referendum in Kosovo, supported by the western alliance against Russian ally Serbia, as a precedent for the moral right to choose one’s parent state. It will find support from the 2010 Advisory Opinion of the International Court of Justice in the Kosovo case, that “…international law contains no ‘prohibition on declarations of independence” (the caveats and specific circumstances of the Advisory Opinion are unlikely to gain much traction with public opinion).

So, it is possible at least that bringing the referenda forward to now is a step towards undermining popular support for the war in greater Europe.

Clear evidence that the Kharkiv success is a one-off

I covered the Kharkiv offensive here, concluding that a successful attack by some 20,000 men against a space held by 4,000 low-grade troops says little about future military prospects for Ukraine. Most of the rest of the Line of Contact is held in substantially greater force by Russian and allied troops of substantially higher fighting power. Moscow’s announcement of reserves mobilisation will shortly add to that fighting power and deepen the thinly-held Contact Line that runs west from Donetsk to Zaporizhiya.

Moscow’s change of strategy by attacking Ukrainian civil power assets for the first time simultaneously restricts Kyiv’s ability to concentrate force and demonstrates Russia’s willingness to use more violence if and when required.

Kyiv is still capitalising on the glow of the Kharkiv offensive, hoping to use it to persuade an international audience that its goal of returning to its 2013 borders is a realistic one. Indeed, the Kharkiv offensive forms a key foundation stone for President Zelensky’s plan for a peace deal articulated to the United Nations last week.

If the Kharkiv offensive is indeed a one-off and not repeatable it will take time for that truth to prevail in the strategic calculus of Washington, London and Brussels.

The economic price of resistance

The European Commission’s sanctions on Russian gas supplies (shuttering Nordstream 2, forbidding EU states from paying for gas in Roubles, obstructing Nordstream 1 by sanctioning its turbines and supporting Kyiv in its shuttering of pipelines for reasons with little engineering validity) have increased gas prices in Europe and the UK by a factor of roughly ten times, and consequently increased power prices by factor of around five times.

Spiking energy prices undercut popular support for the war while at the same time threatening almost all parts of greater Europe’s industrial and commercial sector, rendering large parts of commerce and industry unprofitable overnight (and catastrophically loss-making in the case of low-margin energy intensive primary industries).

Brussels and London have been forced to respond with a combination of massive subsidies, price controls and windfall profit taxes. In the case of the UK Ms Truss’s emergency plan has an initial (6-month) budget of some £65 bn – 2.5% of GDP to be borrowed and spent in half a year alone. While the Commission’s plan for windfall taxes and targeted subsidies is considerably more sensible, both the EU and the UK are looking at sharp GDP contractions as a result of the energy price spike alongside large adverse swings in international payments balances. The value of Sterling has crashed to its lowest level against the dollar since American independence. The Euro has also dropped by some 20% against the dollar.

Europe will weather the price spike better than the UK, which is facing another economic disaster generated by the inflation-linked coupons on some £500 bn of its government debt. With inflation running at 10-12% per year (depending on which measure is chosen), UK debt interest will leap this year from approximately £48 bn in 2019 to a likely £110 bn in 2022.

UK government debt interest will be yet higher in 2023, when, if the war and EU sanctions on Russian gas continue, the United Kingdom will need to borrow a net £200 bn (plus half as much again to roll over existing maturing debts), with a weak currency, high inflation and a shrinking economy. This toxic combination will further weaken the pound, import more inflation through rising import prices, further increase the cost of index-linked government debt, and drive the government’s budget deficit to around 10% of GDP. Unable to raise taxes (because she has promised not to) and unable to cut government spending (because an election looms in 2024) Ms Truss will be at risk of sinking under a tide of debt.

The question is how long will Downing Street accept the costs of its unequivocal support for Ukraine?

The European Commission’s plans for handling the energy price spike are more sensible than London’s, and it starts from a position of having zero debt (though European members all owe large amounts). There is a possibility of a split emerging between the strategic desires of London and the Commission, with the latter welcoming acute economic pain for the UK as part of the “punishment regime” for the UK’s departure from the European Union. Moscow may try to use that divided agenda to detach the UK from Ukraine’s life support system.

Popular rejection of support for the war

Throughout the war European and UK popular support for Ukraine has been solid. Indeed it is almost impossible to find any voice in either mainstream or niche media that is anything other than entirely on the side of Kyiv (not completely impossible – a small community of dissident thinkers and analysts does exist, led by this website, but with a repeating audience that barely breaks half a million people it has little real-world impact).

Popular support has flowed in roughly equal parts from a latent fear of and dislike for Russia born of the Cold War, from a collective view that states should not invade each other, from perhaps the most successful information war ever waged (by Kyiv) and in part from the reality that so far support has cost Europeans personally nothing in either blood or treasure.

The coming price in treasure is discussed above. It is likely that Mr Putin’s remarks this week on the circumstances in which Russia would be prepared to use nuclear weapons were deliberately intended to alarm European and British citizens with the concept that the distant war might become a very non-distant reality if it is allowed to continue.

Moscow can rely on Europe’s media and politicians to misrepresent and exaggerate its statements (conflating tactical with strategic weapons, eliding the question of use against armed forces or civilians, ignoring the fact the Mr Putin’s remarks were expressly preceded by a reference to Ms Truss’s bellicose statement of her willingness to use nuclear weapons during her election campaign, and neatly ignoring the subtlety of whether Russian weapons might be used in Ukraine, Russia or Europe) to cultivate panic among peoples who had more or less forgotten that nuclear weapons still exist and have no clear idea of what they do or how they work.

If that is what Moscow’s talk of nuclear weapons was intended to spark then it has quickly succeeded – the nuclear threat is now top and centre of mass media discussion, and may be creating the space within which Brussels and London can press Kyiv to a negotiated peace, however uncomfortable.

American guns and money

The final piece of the puzzle is how to persuade the US that it should stop sending weapons and cash to Kyiv.

American support for Ukraine does not require popular consent since the price is small by comparison with total US government spending, and its budgets are readily approved by Congress.

American popular consciousness is also much less responsive to the rattling of nuclear sabres, by virtue of distance, by familiarity with life in the front-line of nuclear brinkmanship and because of innate popular confidence in the size and power of US retaliative capabilities. There is no media panic about possible use of nuclear weapons in the US.

Indeed, Ukraine barely breaks into the national mainstream media consciousness, which is preoccupied with inflation, racial tensions expressed by police killings, and the “threat” posed by to US hegemonic power by China, and specifically to Taiwan.

Meanwhile the methane price spike will generate extraordinarily high profits for US LNG producers.

That combination of US circumstances presents Moscow with a wicked problem. There may be one solution to how US opinion should be persuaded to abandon Ukraine.

US popular consciousness firmly believes that Europe (including the UK) has freeloaded on US defence spending for two generations. There are few things the average American dislikes more than a freeloader.

The charge contains an element of truth. Total defence spending by the EU plus UK and Turkey was about Euros 220 bn in 2021. Total US defence spending in the same year was approximately Euros 600 bn. Even allowing for those parts of the budget allocated to strategic nuclear weapons (about 15%), Carrier Strike Groups and amphibious warfare capabilities (10%), and US power projection in Asia and the Middle East (probably another 20%), US defence spending still exceeds Europe’s by about half.

If Moscow can manipulate either or both of the Commission and Downing Street into abandoning support for Ukraine that would leave Washington paying the bill alone. It is not the size of that bill which might undercut support for guns and money, but the fact that it has been forwarded on by decadent and cynical Europeans, which could make US support for Ukraine unacceptably unpopular.

Whatever the American voter thinks, the American neocon will not be persuaded to accept a peace deal with Russia. Indeed, the US is escalating. Last night the pressures in Nordstream 1 and Nordstream more or less simultaneously fell to 7 Atmospheres, and a large gas leak was observed off the Danish Island of Bornholm. 7 Atmospheres is the ambient pressure of the seabed off Bornholm under which both pipelines pass – at 70 metres of water depth. There is only one possible explanation for this event – an attack on both pipelines by an unidentified submarine.

The reliable rule of Cui Bono applies here. A US (or UK, on request from the US) attack on the pipelines secures the EU LNG market for US exporters against possible future competition from Russia after a peace deal, renders Europe dependent on US LNG supplies (in the short term at least), and serves to remove a major possible Russian contribution to peace in the form of cheap gas. It is staggering to see how far US policy-makers will go to promote a continued war.

A possible strategy for peace

Notwithstanding the Nordstream attacks it is possible to see, inside the announcements and moves that have emerged this week, the skeleton of a Russian strategy towards a negotiated peace with Kyiv. An uncomfortable one, to be sure, but peace nevertheless.

If a negotiated peace is not available Moscow can still opt for an imposed one, in which it would complete the occupation of Donetsk Oblast and call a unilateral halt to offensive operations.

Presented with that fait accompli Kyiv is likely to continue its present policy of shelling civilians in Russian-occupied territory wherever its guns can reach – a policy in blatant breach of the Law of Armed Conflict but one which has been consistently and thoroughly ignored by the major media channels in both Europe and the USA, and even by Turkish and Iraq media. An enforced peace would therefore require Russia to create and police an effective artillery “no fire” zone for some 20 kms west of its new imposed border with Ukraine, and a “no-rocket” zone for another 50 kms on top.

Russia’s present artillery and rocket forces cannot do that, since Ukrainian artillery can evade counterbattery fire by the tactic of “shoot and scoot”. Russian air forces are also unable to enforce a no-fire zone because at high altitude they are vulnerable to a SAM shoot-down, and at low altitude to the widespread presence of Man-portable air defence systems (MANPADS).

To create an effective no-fire zone Russia needs a force of unmanned drones capable of delivering 20-40 kgs of high explosive within 2 metres of their targets, both stationary and evading counterfire in “scoot” mode. These drones would have to be sufficiently numerous to give saturation coverage day and night, working in pairs (so that one of the pair can engage MANPADS and SAM launchers which target the other member of the pair), and cheap enough to be disposable.

At the start of the war Russia did not have a drone with those specifications, but now it does. The 1,000 or so Shahed 136 drones ordered this month are beginning to arrive (the first examples of 136 wreckage with their distinctive wingtips have now appeared in Ukraine). Russia has renamed the model the Geranium.

The 136 is an ideal candidate for enforcing a deep no-fire zone. Its 36 kg warhead can completely destroy a heavy artillery piece, a mortar or a Multiple Launch Rocket launch truck. The 136 can loiter for some 20 hours at heights well above the reach of MANPADs, before being dived onto the target by its operator. It can also carry out a chase of a moving target (it was a 136 which hit the bridge of the merchant ship Mercer Street while under way off Oman last year), and can break away and re-attack repeatedly if the target evades successfully.

One limitation is that control systems are line-of-sight, so require the drone controller to use a very high aerial to operate the drone successfully deep behind the Line of Contact, but the 136’s operating depth is likely in most circumstances to be greater than the effective range of most of its targets.

Moscow’s drone purchase also reportedly includes an estimated forty Shahed 129 drones. The 129 is a 400 kg aircraft theoretically capable of carrying guided ground attack munitions but more likely to be used for its electro-optical reconnaissance capability to identify targets for the 136s. The 129 too has a line-of-sight control link, which also limits its operational depth capability.

With sufficient numbers of these two drones, backed up by conventional artillery and MLRS systems, Russia should be able to enforce an effective artillery no-fire zone in defence of the occupied territories.

Amidst the uncertainty one thing is certain – there is a zero probability that Moscow will entertain President Zelensky’s UN peace proposals. It may not even respond to them, on the basis that they rest on a strategic fantasy. Equally likely is that President Zelensky will not respond to peace proposals which include the detachment of the four Oblasts. At least, not until pressured to do so by at least two of his three western backers.

The most likely outcome therefore looks to this author to be a frozen conflict, once the balance of Donetsk Oblast has been taken (slowly) by Russian forces. At the current rate of progress – a few hundred metres per day – that may not happen until the spring or even summer of 2023.

LPR, DPR, Kherson and Zaporozhye vote for reunification with Russia

Sep 28 2022 00:15

Source: Agencies

By Al Mayadeen English 

All four regions have said their word; they voted overwhelmingly in favor of joining Russia.

A woman voting in a referendum

The results of the referenda on the accession of the Lugansk People’s Republic (LPR), Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR), as well as the Kherson and Zaporozhye regions to the country, have been released by Moscow.

The head of the regional electoral committee Galina Katyushchenko declared that 93.11% of voters supported reunification with Russia, as 100% of ballots have been counted in the Zaporozhye Region.

Lugansk People’s Republic

In the Lugansk People’s Republic (LPR), 98.42% of voters backed accession to Russia, as per the head of the regional electoral committee, Elena Kravchenko.

“With 100% of the protocols of precinct commissions processed, 98.42% voted for the republic’s entry into the Russian Federation,” Kravchenko said.

Kherson

In the Kherson region, 87.05% of voters supported reunification with Russia, according to the head of the regional election commission, Marina Zakharova.

“A total of 497,051 (87.05%) participants in the referendum answered ‘Yes’ to the question put forward at the referendum ‘Are for the withdrawal of the Kherson region from Ukraine, the formation of an independent state by the Kherson region and its entry into the Russian Federation as a constituent entity of the Russian Federation?'” she said.

Donetsk People’s Republic

With all referenda counted, Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) reported 99.23% of voters in favor of becoming part of Russia.

There were 2,133,326 voters who voted, accounting for 97.51% of the total number of voters, as per the DPR central election commission.

Meanwhile, more than a hundred foreign observers from 40 countries, excluding specialists from Russia, attending the referenda in the Lugansk and Donetsk people’s republics, as well as in the Zaporozhye and Kherson regions, on joining the Russian Federation, reported no violations, with the exception of threats and shelling from Ukraine.

The voting in the referenda of DPR, LPR, Zaporozhye, and Kherson’s accession to the Russian Federation has begun early on Friday.

Residents of the Zaporozhye and Kherson areas joined the initiative last Tuesday after local public organizations submitted identical demands to their authorities.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has lately indicated in a televised address last Wednesday that Russia will support the referenda results.

NATO countries came together to condemn the referenda, according to a statement revealed last Thursday.

On his account, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell has lately threatened Russia with new sanctions in the event of referenda after White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan stated that the US condemned the DPR, LPR, Zaporozhye, and Kherson referenda to join Russia as “sham” actions and asserted that the US would not recognize the results.

The referenda, according to Sullivan, and a reported Russian plan to mobilize more soldiers, reflect Moscow’s recent military defeats, including ceding sizable amounts of land to the Ukrainian military.

Since the beginning of the war in Ukraine, the Russian military took control of the Azov part of Zaporozhye and Kherson, liberating large cities, such as Kherson, Melitopol, and Berdiansk, and cutting off Kiev from the Sea of Azov.

Related Stories

Referendum in Kherson to continue despite deadly Ukrainian shelling

DPR Referendum NGO observer: UN ‘asleep’ as Ukraine shells civilians

Over 90 percent of voters favor joining Russia: Reports

Putin’s Address: West’s Anti-Russia Policies, Partial Mobilization & Referendums in Ukraine

Putin’s Address: West’s Anti-Russia Policies, Partial Mobilization & Referendums in Ukraine

September 21, 2022

By Fabio Giuseppe Carlo Carisio

by Oleg Burunov – originally published by Sputnik News – All Links to Gospa News articles have been added after

In an address to the nation on Wednesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin focused on a number of pressing issues related to the West’s stance on Russia and Moscow’s ongoing special military operation in Ukraine.

‘The West Wants to Destroy Russia’

Putin pointed out that the West’s current goal is to destroy Russia, as they say openly that they managed to make the USSR collapse and now it’s time for Russia.

“The purpose of this West is to weaken, divide and ultimately destroy our country. They are already directly saying that in 1991 they were able to split the Soviet Union, and now the time has come for Russia itself, and that it should disintegrate into many mortally warring regions and regions,” the Russian president stressed.

According to him, such plans have been hatched in the West for a long time, as they encouraged gangs of international terrorists in the Caucasus, promoted the installation of NATO’s offensive infrastructure close to Russia’s borders and made total Russophobia their weapon.

Putin said that the Western elites are targeting Russia with their aggressive policy in order to maintain their dominance.

“[We talk] about the aggressive policy of a number of the Western elites, who are striving with all their might to maintain their dominance, and for this purpose they are trying to block or suppress any sovereign independent centers of development in order to further brutally impose their will on other countries and nations, to plant their fake values,” according to the Russian president.

West ‘Crossed Every Line’ in Its Anti-Russian Policy

Putin also said that the West “has crossed every line in its aggressive anti-Russian policy,” adding that “we constantly hear threats against our country and our people.”

“Some irresponsible politicians in the West talk about plans to organize the supply of long-range offensive weapons to Ukraine, systems that are capable of launching strikes against Crimea and other regions of Russia”.

According to the Russian president, such terrorist strikes, including those using Western weapons, are already being carried out on settlements in Russia’s Belgorod and Kursk regions.

“In real time, NATO conducts reconnaissance throughout Russia’s southern areas, using modern systems, aircraft, ships, satellites, and strategic drones,” Putin said.

Partial Mobilization in Russia

Putin announced that in light of the latest developments in Donbass, he had signed a decree on partial mobilization in Russia.

“In this situation, I consider it necessary to take the following decisions, they are fully adequate to the threats we face. Namely: to protect our Motherland, its sovereignty and territorial integrity, to ensure the security of our people and people in the liberated territories, I consider it necessary to support the proposal of the Ministry of Defense and the General Staff on conducting partial mobilization in Russia,” the Russian president said.

He added that mobilization will begin on Wednesday, noting that only reservists will be subject to conscription, first of all those who have relevant experience and military professions.

Russia to Help Maintain Security at Referendums in Donbass

The Russian president also said that Russia will do everything to ensure security at the upcoming self-determination referendums in Donbass and other Ukrainian regions which have appealed to Moscow, seeking its support.

“The parliaments of the people’s republics in Donbass as well as civil-military administrations of the Kherson and Zaporozhye regions have decided to hold the referendums on the destiny of these territories and appealed to Russia, asking to support this step. I stress that we will do everything to ensure security at the referendums for people to express their will,” Putin underscored.

Putin also referred to “the policy of intimidation, terror, and violence” pursued by Kiev with respect to Donbass residents, a policy that Putin said becomes “more massive, terrible and barbaric.”He noted that Kiev’s regime of repressions against its own citizens established shortly after the 2014 armed coup had been strengthened across Ukraine.Putin emphasized that he knows that “the majority of people living in the territories liberated from neo-Nazis, including first of all the historical lands of Novorossiya, do not want to be under the yoke of the neo-Nazi regime.”

“In Zaporozhye, the Kherson region, as well as Lugansk and Donetsk, people have seen and are seeing the atrocities that neo-Nazis conduct in the occupied areas of the Kharkov region. The heirs of Bandera and Nazi punishers kill people, torture, throw them in prison, settle scores, crack down, abuse civilians”, the Russian president said.

He added that up to 7.5 million people lived in the Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics (DPR) and (LPR) as well as the Zaporozhye and Kherson regions before the outbreak of hostilities.

“Many of them were forced to become refugees and leave their homes. Those who remained – about 5 million people – today are subjected to constant artillery and rocket fire from neo-Nazi militants, who hit hospitals and schools and organize terrorist attacks against civilians. We have no moral right to hand over people close to us to be torn to pieces by executioners, and we cannot but respond to their sincere desire to determine their own fate,” Putin underlined.

Russian Forces Act ‘Competently’ in Ukraine

Touching upon Russia’s ongoing special military operation in Ukraine, Putin said that Russian forces are acting competently, liberating the territory step by step.He noted that the Lugansk People’s Republic had already been almost completely cleared of neo-Nazis, and that fighting in in the Donetsk People’s Republic is underway.

“The Kiev occupation regime has created a deeply echeloned line of long-term fortifications. Directly assaulting them would have resulted in heavy losses, which is why our units, as well as those of the Donbass republics, act competently and use the military in order to protect personnel. They, step by step, are liberating Donetsk land, clearing cities and towns from neo-Nazis, and helping people whom the Kiev regime has turned into hostages and a human shield,” Putin said.

He stressed that the main goal of the Russian special operation in Ukraine remains liberation of Donbass.

Putin announced the special operation to demilitarize and de-Nazify Ukraine on February 24 following the Donbass republics’ requests to protect them from Kiev attacks.

by Oleg Burunov

originally published by Sputnik News



Disclosure:  Sputnik is a Russian state-owned news agency, news website platform, and radio broadcast service. It was established by the Russian government-owned news agency Rossiya Segodnya on 10 November 2014.

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Speech by the President of Russia at an expanded meeting of the SCO Heads of State Councila Plus Press Conference (ENG Subtitles)

SEPTEMBER 17, 2022

President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr President, colleagues,

https://thesaker.is/speech-by-the-president-of-russia-at-an-expanded-meeting-of-the-sco-heads-of-state-council/I fully share the statements made by my colleagues and their positive assessments of the work of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation and its growing prestige in international affairs. Indeed, the SCO has become the largest regional organisation in the world. As previous speakers have pointed out, over half of the world’s population lives in SCO member states, which account for about 25 percent of global GDP and have a powerful intellectual and technological potential and a considerable part of global natural resources.

At the same time, the SCO is not marking time but continues to develop and build up its role in addressing international and regional issues and maintaining peace, security and stability throughout the vast Eurasian space. Colleagues, this is especially important in the current complicated international situation, about which we have talked in detail during our restricted-attendance meeting.

However, I would like to repeat that global politics and economy are about to undergo fundamental and irreversible changes. The growing role of new centres of power is coming into sharp focus, and interaction among these new centres is not based on some rules, which are being forced on them by external forces and which nobody has seen, but on the universally recognised principles of the rule of international law and the UN Charter, namely, equal and indivisible security and respect for each other’s sovereignty, national values and interests.

It is on these principles, which are devoid of all elements of egoism, that the joint efforts of SCO member states are based in politics and the economy. This opens up broad prospects for continued mutually beneficial cooperation in politics, the economy, culture, humanitarian and other spheres.

Fighting terrorism and extremism, drug trafficking, organised crime and illegal armed formations remains a priority of our cooperation. Other key areas include providing assistance in the political and diplomatic settlement of conflicts along our external borders, including in Afghanistan.

Strengthening economic cooperation has traditionally been a critical part of the SCO’s activities. Our joint efforts are designed to expand trade and investment exchanges, carry out mutually beneficial business projects in various industries, and to increase the volume of settlements in national currencies.

As noted above, including by the President of Kazakhstan, we are open to working with the whole world. The SCO is a non-bloc association. We help addressing the energy and food problems that are growing globally as a result of certain systemic errors in the world’s leading economies in the field of finance and energy. Our policy is not selfish. We hope that other participants in economic cooperation will build their policies on the same principles and stop using the tools of protectionism, illegal sanctions and economic selfishness to their own advantage.

The European Commission’s decision to lift sanctions on Russian fertilisers is a vivid example of such selfish behaviour. We are aware of the fertilisers’ important role in overcoming the food problem. Of course, we welcome the decision to lift the sanctions. But it turns out that, in accordance with the clarification of the European Commission of September 10, these sanctions were lifted only for EU countries. It turns out that they are the only ones who can purchase our fertilisers. What about the developing poorest countries around the world?

Taking advantage of the presence of UN Under-Secretary-General [Rosemary] DiCarlo, I would like to ask the UN Secretariat – I discussed this matter with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres the day before yesterday – to use its influence on the European Commission’s decision not in word, but in deed and to demand that they, our colleagues from the European Commission, lift these clearly discriminatory restrictions on developing countries and provide access for Russian fertilisers to their markets.

Also, the day before yesterday I apprised Secretary-General Guterres of the fact that 300,000 tonnes of Russian fertilisers are stocked at the EU seaports. We are ready to make them available to developing countries for free.

I would also like to note that Russia is increasing its grain exports to international markets. This year, it is going to be 30 million tonnes, and next year it will be 50 million tonnes with 90 percent of our food exports going to the markets of Asia, Africa and Latin America.

Undoubtedly, the ongoing summit’s decisions and documents to improve the efficiency of international transport corridors, to expand intraregional, to advance industrial and scientific and technical cooperation, and to introduce high-tech solutions in agriculture and healthcare will promote further development of business ties within the SCO.

It is also important to advance cultural and humanitarian cooperation within the SCO.

Agreements and memorandums on cooperation in tourism and museology that will be signed during today’s meeting will serve as the next step forward on this path.

It appears that opportunities are good for stepping up sports cooperation and potentially holding major sporting events with SCO sponsorship. To do this, we could think about creating an association of sports organisations under our association.

Friends,

It was noted earlier today during the restricted-attendance meeting that the SCO states focus on expanding cooperation with countries that seek to establish an open and equal dialogue with our organisation and are interested in joining it. In this context, Russia, no doubt, favours the earliest possible accession of the Islamic Republic of Iran to the SCO, which is what the documents and the memorandum that will be signed today are designed to accomplish. We are convinced that Iran’s full-fledged participation will be beneficial for the association, as that country plays an important role in the Eurasian region and the world at large.

We also fully stand behind the decision submitted for approval by the Heads of State Council to start the process of admitting the Republic of Belarus as an SCO member. Let me be clear that we have always advocated that Belarus, which is Russia’s strategic partner and closest ally, should participate fully in the SCO. This will undoubtedly improve our ability to advance unity in politics, the economy, security and humanitarian matters.

Of course, we welcome the granting of SCO dialogue partner status to Egypt, Qatar and Saudi Arabia, as well as the commencement of the procedure for obtaining this status by the Kingdom of Bahrain, the State of Kuwait, the Republic of Maldives, the Republic of the Union of Myanmar, and the United Arab Emirates. Notably, there are more countries desirous of cooperating with the SCO in various capacities, and applications from other states and international associations deserve our utmost attention and favourable consideration.

In closing, I would like to thank President Shavkat Mirziyoyev for the hospitality and excellent organisation of our work, and to congratulate Uzbekistan on its successful SCO chairmanship. I would also like to wish every success to our Indian friends who are taking over the chairmanship today.

Thank you for your attention.

Press Conference (ENG Subtitles)

This video was translated and subtitled by Michael Rossi Poli Sci
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Deaths, injuries in renewed clashes between Azerbaijan, Armenia

September 13, 2022 08:37

Source: Agencies

By Al Mayadeen English 

The decades-old hostilities over the disputed area of Nagorno-Karabakh are back as they were instigated by Azerbaijan.

An Armenian soldier firing artillery during the ongoing fighting between Armenian and Azerbaijani forces over Nagorno-Karabakh (AFP)

Russian news media reported that clashes between Azerbaijani and Armenian troops started early Tuesday, resuming decades-old hostilities over the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh.

Azerbaijani soldiers advanced along various areas of the border, according to Aram Torosyan, spokesman for the Armenian Defense Ministry.

“The enemy continues to use artillery, mortars, drones, and large-caliber small arms. Attacks are being made on both military facilities and civilian infrastructure facilities. In some areas, Azerbaijani units have taken actions to advance positions. Positional battles continue. The Armenian Armed Forces give a proportionate response and carry out their combat tasks in full,” Torosyan said.

Read next: Armenia, Azerbaijan agree to further collaborate on peace treaty work

According to Torosyan, Armenian servicemen were killed and others were injured in an armed encounter near the border with Azerbaijan. “There are dead and wounded on the Armenian side. The data is being specified,” Torosyan said.

He said Azerbaijani troops were also delivering strikes at civilian infrastructure facilities.

Earlier, both sides exchanged blame, with Yerevan accusing the Azerbaijani military of shelling the territory of Armenia late on Monday using artillery and drones. On its part, Baku said the Armenian military fired at the positions of the Azerbaijani troops on the border, resulting in a clash. The Azerbaijani Defense Ministry also reported losses in its ranks.

The Armenian government said it will invoke a cooperation agreement with Russia and appeal to a Russia-led security bloc, the Collective Security Treaty Organization, and the United Nations Security Council, according to Interfax.

Armenia speaks to Russia, Frace, the US

Following the eruption of clashes, Armenia contacted Russia, France, and the US and briefed them on the ongoing situation. 

Armenian Foreign Minister Ararat Mirzoyan informed Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov about the situation on the border with Azerbaijan, according to an Armenian Foreign Ministry statement.

“Armenian Foreign Minister Ararat Mirzoyan on September 13 informed Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov about the situation,” according to the statement, which also states “Azerbaijani aggression.”

In addition to Russian President Vladimir Putin, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan spoke by phone with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken about the situation on the border with Azerbaijan, according to a statement by the Armenian government.

“The prime minister presented the details of the aggression committed by Azerbaijan against the sovereign territory of Armenia. Pashinyan said that in connection with these actions, the decision was made to formally appeal to the Russian Federation in order to implement the provisions of the Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation, and Mutual Assistance, as well as to the CSTO and the UN Security Council. In this context, he expressed hope for a proportionate response from the international community,” the statement said.

Read next: Armenia to withdraw its soldiers from Nagorno-Karabakh by September

According to the Armenian cabinet, Blinken “expressed the American side’s deep concern about the situation, considered it unacceptable to further aggravate the situation, and declared the US readiness to make efforts to stabilize the situation.”

However, an Azerbaijani statement claimed that Armenian forces conducted intelligence activities on its border, transferred weaponry into the area, and performed mining operations on Monday night, thus using the pretext of conducting operations that are “strictly local in nature and aimed at military targets” to justify the attacks.

Armenia’s Defense Ministry responded, “Intensive shooting is continuing – started as a result of a large-scale provocation by the Azerbaijani side. Armenia’s armed forces have launched a proportionate response.”

Tensions erupt over Karabakh

Clashes erupt every now and then between both sides despite a Russian-backed ceasefire agreement. Last month, tensions erupted over Nagorno-Karabakh as three soldiers were killed and Azerbaijan said it had taken control of several strategic heights in the disputed region.

Armenia and Azerbaijan fought two conflicts over Azerbaijan’s Armenian-populated area of Nagorno-Karabakh, one in 2020 and one in the 1990s.

Six weeks of violence in the autumn of 2020 claimed over 6,500 lives and ended with a ceasefire accord sponsored by Russia. Russia sent 2,000 peacekeepers to monitor the truce, but tensions remain despite a ceasefire deal.

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    Asia’s future takes shape in Vladivostok, the Russian Pacific

    September 08, 2022

    by Pepe Escobar, posted with the author’s permission and widely cross-posted

    Sixty-eight countries gathered on Russia’s far eastern coast to listen to Moscow’s economic and political vision for the Asia-Pacific

    The Eastern Economic Forum (EEF) in Vladivostok is one of the indispensable annual milestones for keeping up not only with the complex development process of the Russian Far East but major plays for Eurasia integration.

    Mirroring an immensely turbulent 2022, the current theme in Vladivostok is ‘On the Path to a Multipolar World.’ Russian President Vladimir Putin himself, in a short message to business and government participants from 68 nations, set the stage:

    “The obsolete unipolar model is being replaced by a new world order based on the fundamental principles of justice and equality, as well as the recognition of the right of each state and people to their own sovereign path of development. Powerful political and economic centers are taking shape right here in the Asia-Pacific region, acting as a driving force in this irreversible process.”

    In his speech to the EEF plenary session, Ukraine was barely mentioned. Putin’s response when asked about it: “Is this country part of Asia-Pacific?”

    The speech was largely structured as a serious message to the collective west, as well as to what top analyst Sergey Karaganov calls the “global majority.” Among several takeaways, these may be the most relevant:

    • Russia as a sovereign state will defend its interests.
    • Western sanctions ‘fever’ is threatening the world – and economic crises are not going away after the pandemic.
    • The entire system of international relations has changed. There is an attempt to maintain world order by changing the rules.
    • Sanctions on Russia are closing down businesses in Europe. Russia is coping with economic and tech aggression from the west.
    • Inflation is breaking records in developed countries. Russia is looking at around 12 percent.
    • Russia has played its part in grain exports leaving Ukraine, but most shipments went to EU nations and not developing countries.
    • The “welfare of the ‘Golden Billion’ is being ignored.”
    • The west is in no position to dictate energy prices to Russia.
    • Ruble and yuan will be used for gas payments.
    • The role of Asia-Pacific has significantly increased.

    In a nutshell: Asia is the new epicenter of technological progress and productivity.

    No more an ‘object of colonization’ 

    Taking place only two weeks before another essential annual gathering – the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit in Samarkand – it is no wonder some of the top discussions at the EEF revolve around the increasing economic interpolation between the SCO and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

    This theme is as crucial as the development of the Russian Arctic: at 41 percent of total territory, that’s the largest resource base in the federation, spread out over nine regions, and encompassing the largest Special Economic Zone (SEZ) on the planet, linked to the free port of Vladivostok. The Arctic is being developed via several strategically important projects processing mineral, energy, water and biological natural resources.

    So it’s perfectly fitting that Austria’s former foreign minister Karin Kneissel, self-described as “a passionate historian,” quipped about her fascination at how Russia and its Asian partners are tackling the development of the Northern Sea Route: “One of my favorite expressions is that airlines and pipelines are moving east. And I keep saying this for twenty years.”

    Amidst a wealth of roundtables exploring everything from the power of territory, supply chains and global education to “the three whales” (science, nature, human), arguably the top discussion this Tuesday at the forum was centered on the role of the SCO.

    Apart from the current full members – Russia, China, India, Pakistan, four Central Asians (Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan), plus the recent accession of Iran – no less than 11 further nations want to join, from observer Afghanistan to dialogue partner Turkey.

    Grigory Logvinov, the SCO’s deputy secretary general, stressed how the economic, political and scientific potential of players comprising “the center of gravity” for Asia – over a quarter of the world’s GDP, 50 percent of the world’s population – has not been fully harvested yet.

    Kirill Barsky, from the Moscow State Institute of International Relations, explained how the SCO is actually the model of multipolarity, according to its charter, compared to the backdrop of “destructive processes” launched by the west.

    And that leads to the economic agenda in the Eurasian integration progress, with the Russian-led Eurasia Economic Union (EAEU) configured as the SCO’s most important partner.

    Barsky identifies the SCO as “the core Eurasian structure, forming the agenda of Greater Eurasia within a network of partnership organizations.” That’s where the importance of the cooperation with ASEAN comes in.

    Barsky could not but evoke Mackinder, Spykman and Brzezinski – who regarded Eurasia “as an object to be acted upon the wishes of western states, confined within the continent, away from the ocean shores, so the western world could dominate in a global confrontation of land and sea. The SCO as it developed can triumph over these negative concepts.”

    And here we hit a notion widely shared from Tehran to Vladivostok:

    Eurasia no longer as “an object of colonization by ‘civilized Europe’ but again an agent of global policy.”

    ‘India wants a 21st Asian century’

    Sun Zuangnzhi from the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS) elaborated on China’s interest in the SCO. He focused on achievements: In the 21 years since its founding, a mechanism to establish security between China, Russia and Central Asian states evolved into “multi-tiered, multi-sector cooperation mechanisms.”

    Instead of “turning into a political instrument,” the SCO should capitalize on its role of dialogue forum for states with a difficult history of conflicts – “interactions are sometimes difficult” – and focus on economic cooperation “on health, energy, food security, reduction of poverty.”

    Rashid Alimov, a former SCO secretary general, now a professor at the Taihe Institute, stressed the “high expectations” from Central Asian nations, the core of the organization. The original idea remains – based on the indivisibility of security on a trans-regional level in Eurasia.

    Well, we all know how the US and NATO reacted when Russia late last year proposed a serious dialogue on “indivisibility of security.”

    As Central Asia does not have an outlet to the sea, it is inevitable, as Alimov stressed, that Uzbekistan’s foreign policy privileges involvement in accelerated intra-SCO trade. Russia and China may be the leading investors, and now “Iran also plays an important role. Over 1,200 Iranian companies are working in Central Asia.”

    Connectivity, once again, must increase: “The World Bank rates Central Asia as one of the least connected economies in the world.”

    Sergey Storchak of Russian bank VEB explained the workings of the “SCO interbank consortium.” Partners have used “a credit line from the Bank of China” and want to sign a deal with Uzbekistan. The SCO interbank consortium will be led by the Indians on a rotation basis – and they want to step up its game. At the upcoming summit in Samarkand, Storchak expects a road map for the transition towards the use of national currencies in regional trade.

    Kumar Rajan from the School of International Studies of the Jawaharlal Nehru University articulated the Indian position. He went straight to the point: “India wants a 21st Asian century. Close cooperation between India and China is necessary. They can make the Asian century happen.”

    Rajan remarked how India does not see the SCO as an alliance, but committed to the development and political stability of Eurasia.

    He made the crucial point about connectivity revolving around India “working with Russia and Central Asia with the INSTC” – the International North South Transportation Corridor, and one of its key hubs, the Chabahar port in Iran: “India does not have direct physical connectivity with Central Asia. The INSTC has the participation of an Iranian shipping line with 300 vessels, connecting to Mumbai. President Putin, in the [recent] Caspian meeting, referred directly to the INSTC.”

    Crucially, India not only supports the Russian concept of Greater Eurasia Partnership but is engaged in setting up a free trade agreement with the EAEU: Prime Minister Narendra Modi, incidentally, came to the Vladivostok forum last year.

    In all of the above nuanced interventions, some themes are constant. After the Afghanistan disaster and the end of the US occupation there, the stabilizing role of the SCO cannot be overstated enough. An ambitious road map for cooperation is a must – probably to be approved at the Samarkand summit. All players will be gradually changing to trade in bilateral currencies. And creation of transit corridors is leading to the progressive integration of national transit systems.

    Let there be light

    A key roundtable on the ‘Gateway to a Multipolar World’ expanded on the SCO role, outlining how most Asian nations are “friendly” or “benevolently neutral” when it comes to Russia after the start of the Special Military Operation (SMO) in Ukraine.

    So the possibilities for expanding cooperation across Eurasia remain practically unlimited. Complementarity of economies is the main factor. That would lead, among other developments, to the Russian Far East, as a multipolar hub, turning into “Russia’s gateway to Asia” by the 2030s.

    Wang Wen from the Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies stressed the need for Russia to rediscover China – finding “mutual trust in the middle level and elites level”. At the same time, there’s a sort of global rush to join BRICS, from Saudi Arabia and Iran to Afghanistan and Argentina:

    “That means a new civilization model for emerging economies like China and Argentina because they want to rise up peacefully (…) I think we are in the new civilization age.”

    B. K. Sharma from the United Service Institution of India got back to Spykman pigeonholing the nation as a rimland state. Not anymore: India now has multiple strategies, from connecting to Central Asia to the ‘Act East’ policy. Overall, it’s an outreach to Eurasia, as India “is not competitive and needs to diversify to get better access to Eurasia, with logistical help from Russia.“

    Sharma stresses how India takes SCO, BRICS and RICs very seriously while seeing Russia playing “an important role in the Indian Ocean.” He nuances the Indo-Pacific outlook: India does not want Quad as a military alliance, privileging instead “interdependence and complementarity between India, Russia and China.”

    All of these discussions interconnect with the two overarching themes in several Vladivostok roundtables: energy and the development of the Arctic’s natural resources.

    Pavel Sorokin, Russian First Deputy Minister of Energy, dismissed the notion of a storm or typhoon in the energy markets: “It’s a far cry from a natural process. It’s a man-made situation.” The Russian economy, in contrast, is seen by most analysts as slowly but surely designing its Arctic/Asian cooperation future – including, for instance, the creation of a sophisticated trans-shipment infrastructure for Liquified Natural Gas (LNG).

    Energy Minister Nikolay Shulginov made sure that Russia will actually increase its gas production, considering the rise of LNG deliveries and the construction of Power of Siberia-2 to China: “We will not merely scale up the pipeline capacity but we will also expand LNG production: it has mobility and excellent purchases on the global market.”

    On the Northern Sea Route, the emphasis is on building a powerful, modern icebreaker fleet – including nuclear. Gadzhimagomed Guseynov, First Deputy Minister for the Development of the Far East and the Arctic, is adamant: “What Russia has to do is to make the Northern Sea Route a sustainable and important transit route.”

    There is a long-term plan up to 2035 to create infrastructure for safe shipping navigation, following an ‘Arctic best practices’ of learning step by step. NOVATEK, according to its deputy chairman Evgeniy Ambrosov, has been conducting no less than a revolution in terms of Arctic navigation and shipbuilding in the last few years.

    Kniessel, the former Austrian minister, recalled that she always missed the larger geopolitical picture in her discussions when she was active in European politics (she now lives in Lebanon): “I wrote about the passing of the torch from Atlanticism to the Pacific. Airlines, pipelines and waterways are moving East. The Far East is actually Pacific Russia.”

    Whatever Atlanticists may think of it, the last word for the moment might belong to Vitaly Markelov, from the board of directors of Gazprom: Russia is ready for winter. There will be warmth and light everywhere.”

    Putin’s speech at the Eastern Economic Forum

    September 07, 2022

    President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Friends, Mr Min Aung Hlaing, Mr Pashinyan, Mr Oyun-Erdene, Mr Li Zhanshu, ladies and gentlemen,

    I am delighted to greet all participants and guests of the Eastern Economic Forum. Russia and Vladivostok are again hosting a forum of business leaders, experts, politicians, public figures and members of government from dozens of countries across the world.

    As per tradition, the programme of the Eastern Economic Forum includes discussions on the projects and initiatives that are extremely important for the development of the regions in Russia’s Far East and for strengthening Russia’s cooperation and production ties with Asia Pacific countries, both our old, traditional partners and countries that are only developing dialogue with Russia in a broad range of areas and business projects.

    Of course, this meeting in Vladivostok is a good opportunity to once again review the situation in the global economy and to exchange views on its main trends and risks.

    Last year, the Eastern Economic Forum was held after a long pause caused by the coronavirus pandemic. At that time, the majority of experts agreed that global business activity was beginning to recover and that it would normalise soon after the lifting of the coronavirus restrictions, However, the pandemic has given way to new challenges, global ones that are threatening the world as a whole. I am referring to the Western sanctions frenzy and the open and aggressive attempts to force the Western mode of behaviour on other countries, to extinguish their sovereignty and to bend them to its will. In fact, there is nothing unusual in that: this policy has been pursued by the “collective West” for decades.

    The waning dominance of the United States in the global economy and politics, as well as the stubborn unwillingness or even inability of the Western elites to see, let alone recognise objective facts, acted as a catalyst for these processes.

    I have already mentioned that the entire system of international relations has recently undergone irreversible, or should I say, tectonic, shifts. Emerging states and regions around the world, primarily, of course, in the Asia-Pacific region, now play a substantially bigger role. Asia-Pacific countries emerged as new centres of economic and technological growth, attracting human resources, capital and manufacturing.

    Despite all that, the Western countries are seeking to preserve yesterday’s world order that benefits them and force everyone to live according to the infamous “rules”, which they concocted themselves. They are also the ones who regularly violate these rules, changing them to suit their agenda depending on how things are going at any given moment. At the same time, other countries have not been forthcoming when it comes to subjecting themselves to this dictate and arbitrary rule, forcing the Western elites, to put it bluntly, to lose grip and take short-sighted, irrational decisions on global security, politics, as well as economics. All these decisions run counter to the interests of countries and their people, including, by the way, the people in those Western countries. The gap separating the Western elites from their own citizens is widening.

    Europe is about to throw its achievements in building up its manufacturing capability, the quality of life of its people and socioeconomic stability into the sanctions furnace, depleting its potential, as directed by Washington for the sake of the infamous Euro-Atlantic unity. In fact, this amounts to sacrifices in the name of preserving the dominance of the United States in global affairs.

    Back in spring, many foreign corporations rushed to announce their withdrawal from Russia, believing that our country will suffer more than others. Today, we see one manufacturing site after another shutting down in Europe itself. One of the key reasons, of course, lies in the severed business ties with Russia.

    The competitive ability of European companies is in decline, for the EU officials themselves are essentially cutting them off from affordable commodities and energy, as well as trade markets. It will come as no surprise if eventually the niches currently occupied by European businesses, both on the continent and on the global market in general, will be taken over by their American patrons who know no boundaries or hesitation when it comes to pursuing their interests and achieving their goals.

    More than that, in an attempt to obstruct the course of history, Western countries have undermined the pillars of the global economic system, built over centuries. It is in front of our eyes that the dollar, euro and pound sterling have lost trust as currencies suitable for performing transactions, storing reserves and denominating assets. We are taking steps to shed this dependence on unreliable and compromised foreign currencies. By the way, even allies of the United States are gradually reducing their dollar assets, as we can see from statistics. Step by step, the volume of transactions and savings in dollars is diminishing.

    I want to note here that yesterday, Gazprom and its Chinese partners decided to switch to 50/50 transactions in rubles and yuan with respect to gas payments.

    I want to add that with their short-sighted actions, Western officials have triggered a global inflation. In many developed economies, the inflation rate has reached a record-high level that had not been seen in many years.

    Everybody is aware of this but I will reiterate: as of late July, inflation in the United States reached 8.5 percent. Russia has just over 14 percent (I will speak about this further) but it is declining, unlike in Western economies. The inflation there is on the rise, and in our country it is declining. I believe that as of the end of the year, we will have around 12 percent and, as many of our experts think, in the first quarter or by the second quarter of 2023, we will most likely reach the target inflation rate. Some say it will be 5–6 percent. Others say it will go down to 4 percent. We will see. In any case, the trend is positive. Meanwhile, what is happening with our neighbours? The inflation in Germany has reached 7.9 percent, in Belgium 9.9 percent, in the Netherlands 12 percent, Latvia 20.8 percent, Lithuania 21.1 percent and Estonia 25.2 percent. And it is still on the rise.

    Rising prices in the global markets can be a real tragedy for most of the poorest countries, which are facing shortages of food, energy, and other vital goods. I will cite a few figures that underline the danger: while in 2019, according to the UN, 135 million people in the world were facing acute food insecurity, their number has soared by 2.5 times to 345 million by now – this is just horrible. Moreover, the poorest states have completely lost access to the most essential foods as developed countries are buying up the entire supply, causing a sharp increase in prices.

    Let me give you an example. Most of the ships – you all know very well how high passions have been running, how much has been said about the need to facilitate the export of Ukrainian grain at all costs, to support the poorest countries. And we certainly had no other choice but to respond, despite all the complicated developments taking place around Ukraine. We did everything to ensure that Ukrainian grain was exported, and we certainly assumed – I met with the leaders of the African Union, with the leaders of African states and I promised them that we would make every effort to uphold their interests and would facilitate the export of Ukrainian grain.

    Russia did it together with Turkiye. We did it. And I would like to report the result to you, colleagues: if we exclude Turkiye as an intermediary, all the grain exported from Ukraine, almost in its entirety, went to the European Union, not to the developing and poorest countries. Only two ships delivered grain under the UN World Food Programme – the very programme that is supposed to help countries that need help the most – only two ships out of 87 – I emphasise – transported 60,000 tonnes out of 2 million tonnes of food. That’s just 3 percent, and it went to the developing countries.

    What I am saying is, many European countries today continue to act as colonisers, exactly as they have been doing in previous decades and centuries. Developing countries have simply been cheated yet again and continue to be cheated.

    It is obvious that with this approach, the scale of food problems in the world will only increase. Unfortunately, to our great regret, this could lead to an unprecedented humanitarian disaster, and perhaps, exporters need to think about limiting their exports of grain and other food to this destination. I will certainly consult with President of Turkiye, Mr Erdogan, because together with him we were the ones who developed a mechanism for the export of Ukrainian grain, primarily, I repeat, to help the poorest countries. But what happened in practice?

    I would like to stress once again that this situation has been caused by the reckless steps taken by the United States, the UK and the European Union, which are obsessed with illusory political ideas. As for the wellbeing of their own citizens, let alone people outside the so-called golden billion, they have been pushing it to the backburner. This will inevitably lead Western countries into a deadlock, an economic and social crisis, and will have unpredictable consequences for the whole world.

    Colleagues,

    Russia is coping well with the economic, financial and technological aggression of the West. I am talking about a real aggression; there is no other word for it. Russia’s currency and financial market has stabilised, inflation is going down, as I have already mentioned, and the unemployment rate is at an all-time historical low of less than 4 percent. The assessments and forecasts of our economic performance, including by businesspeople, are more optimistic now than in early spring.

    I would like to say that our economic situation has stabilised overall, but we also see a number of problems in some sectors, regions and individual enterprises, especially those that relied on supplies from Europe or supplied their products there.

    It is important to continue working with businesses to take prompt decisions and launch effective targeted support mechanisms. I would like to ask the Government Commission to Increase the Sustainability of the Russian Economy under the Sanctions to keep track of the situation. It is true that we are doing this almost on a daily basis. Nevertheless, despite the evidence of stabilisation I have mentioned, we are also aware of the risks and so we must keep an eye on them.

    Russia is a sovereign state. We will always protect our national interests while pursuing an independent policy, and we also appreciate this quality among our partners, who have demonstrated their reliability and responsible attitude in the course of our trade, investment and other types of cooperation over many years. I am referring, as you are aware, to our colleagues from the Asia Pacific countries.

    An absolute majority of Asia Pacific countries reject the destructive logic of sanctions. Their business relations are focused on mutual advantage, cooperation and the joint use of our economic capabilities to the benefit of our countries’ citizens. This adds up to a huge competitive advantage of the regional countries and a guarantee of their dynamic long-term development, which has been growing faster than the world’s average for a long time.

    You are aware of this, but I would like to remind everyone that over the past 10 years Asian countries’ GDP has been increasing by approximately 5 percent every year, while the figure is 3 percent in the world, 2 percent in the US and 1.2 percent in the EU. But it is even more important that this trend persists. What will this ultimately lead to? As a result, the share of Asian economies in global GDP will grow from 37.1 percent in 2015 to 45 percent in 2027, and I am sure that this trend will persist.

    It is important for Russia that the economy of the Russian Far East grows together with Asia Pacific economies, that this region provide modern living conditions, boost people’s incomes and well-being, and that it create high-quality jobs and cost-effective production facilities.

    We have already tested unique national tax, administrative and customs privileges in the Far East. They help implement landmark projects, even by global standards, in such fields as natural gas conversion and the shipbuilding sector, bioengineering technologies and clean energy.

    In the past seven years, industrial production volumes in the Far East have increased by about 25 percent. This exceeds nationwide levels by one third. I want to stress this: growth rates of industrial production in the Far East greatly exceed similar nationwide growth rates.

    We will continue to promote the priority development of the Far Eastern regions by using new advanced state support measures and by creating the best and highly competitive business environment. For example, we intend to continue adjusting the mechanism of priority development areas for modern and joint projects with other countries, to create the best possible business climate for attracting the most advanced technologies to Russia and for manufacturing high value-added goods in the Far East.

    Events of this year confirm the special significance of such a factor as accessible and affordable raw materials without which it is impossible to organise any production process or to set up co-production chains. Russia is just about the only country that is completely self-sufficient in terms of natural resources, and the Far East plays a substantial role here. This region is a highly important supplier of crude oil and natural gas, coal, metals, timber and marine biological resources to the domestic market and our foreign partners.

    We are staking on the prudent and rational development of Russia’s natural riches under the most stringent environmental standards. First of all, we will refine all extracted raw materials domestically as much as possible. We will also use these raw materials to strengthen the sovereignty of this country, to ensure industrial security, to raise incomes and to develop the regions.

    We have already protected the resource extraction industry from unfriendly actions. From now on, only companies with Russian jurisdiction have the right to develop natural resources in Russia.

    The Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment together with the Ministry of Industry and Trade and leading business associations has determined the national economy’s demand for strategic raw materials. This information will become the foundation of the revised Strategy for the Development of Russia’s Mineral Resources Base with an extended planning horizon up to 2050.

    At the same time, special focus should be placed on geological exploration and processing of rare raw materials (such as titanium, manganese, lithium, and niobium), which are used in metallurgy, medical and chemical industries, microelectronics, aircraft manufacturing and other industries, as well as in new energy storage and transmission technologies.

    I would like to separately ask the Government to have a look at the bioresources harvesting sphere, where we have a mechanism of investment quotas. Here, it is important to achieve balanced growth and full utilisation of production capacities, as well as to ensure the harmonious development of the regions’ infrastructure.

    I would like to stress that the funds the state receives from the utilisation of water bioresources must above all be allocated for developing the infrastructure of rural areas, employment support, and increasing incomes of local residents. I ask the Government to take specific measures on this. We have discussed this many times.

    Next, over the past years Russia has implemented big plans for the development of transport infrastructure, railways and roads, seaports and pipelines. These timely decisions have made it possible for businesses to quickly rebuild logistics in today’s conditions, and redirect cargo flows to those countries that are ready and willing to trade with Russia and prefer civilised and predictable business relations.

    It is noteworthy that despite the attempts of external pressure, the total cargo of Russian seaports has only slightly decreased over the seven months of this year; it has remained at the same level as a year earlier, which is about 482 million tonnes of cargo. Last year there were 483 million, so the figure is practically the same.

    At the same time, Far Eastern ports are seeing a real logistics boom. The volume of cargo transhipment and container handling is such that specialists are working 24/7 to handle the workload. In a word, no matter how much someone might like to isolate Russia, it is impossible to do it, as we have always said so. It is enough just to look at the map.

    We will use natural competitive advantages to build up our further transport capabilities, expand the road and railway network, build new access roads to sea terminals and expand their capacity.

    I mentioned earlier that our focus is on building the eastward infrastructure and developing the North-South international corridor and ports of the Azov-Black Sea basin which we will keep working on. They will open up more opportunities for Russian companies to enter the markets of Iran, India, the Middle East and Africa and, of course, for reciprocal deliveries from these countries.

    The total volume of freight and cargo transportation along these routes and arteries will be able to grow by about 60 percent by 2030. We are absolutely realistic about our predictions, and this is how it will be. To achieve these numbers, the Government has drafted specific “roadmaps” in the three areas I outlined earlier, which will enable us to make this work consistent, consolidate and coordinate our efforts in terms of deadlines and capacity to break up the bottlenecks and upgrade border checkpoints and related infrastructure.

    In addition to our plans to expand transport corridors, it is important to put in place new rolling stock and railway traction vehicles, to provide Russian shipyards with orders for modern high-quality tankers, dry cargo ships and container vessels, including ice-class ships, for the further expansion of the Northern Sea Route as a potent transport corridor of national and global importance with, I want to stress this, year-round navigation. The state-of-the-art icebreakers that we are designing and building make it possible for us to do this already now.

    This year, a container vessel made its first run between Murmansk and Kamchatka along the Northern Sea Route to reaffirm the reliability and safety of shipping operations in the Arctic zone.

    Notably, the point is not just about authorising the passage of ships in the Arctic or simply connecting two destinations. What we need to do is make sure that ships are properly serviced and cargo is properly handled at each port along the route, and the traffic schedule is sustainable, predictable and reliable. Then, every Northern Sea Route waypoint and region will benefit from the logistics corridor. That is what we should be striving for.

    The Government has approved a development plan for the Northern Sea Route until 2035 with plans to allocate 1.8 trillion rubles from various sources to implement it. As forecasted, the cargo traffic along this corridor will go from the current 35 million tonnes per year to the targeted 220 million tonnes per year.

    The availability of freight vehicles is certainly a key factor in the transportation of goods to and from the Russian Far East. This means we need to offer economically justified and competitive freight rates. I am asking the Government to study all these issues carefully.

    Aviation is a special issue for the Far East. Here, the availability of flights from the European part of Russia to the Far East is not the only issue, but connectivity between the Far Eastern regions themselves also matters – air services should cover as many destinations, cities and regions of the Far East as possible.

    That is why we have established a single Far Eastern airline. It offers almost 390 destinations, some of them subsidised by the state. In the next three years, this airline’s traffic should increase, and the number of destinations will exceed 530. And as we could see after those flights were opened, these destinations are in great demand.

    To implement these plans, we need to expand the company’s fleet, to make sure it has modern aircraft, including small aircraft. A decision has been made in this regard, and I ask the Government to strictly implement it.

    I would like to note that in general, Russian air carriers will soon be thoroughly re-equipped. Our airlines, including Aeroflot, have placed the largest order package in modern history, for about 500 Russian-made mainline aircraft. By the way, as far as I know, the United Aircraft Corporation and Aeroflot have signed a respective agreement on the sidelines of this Eastern Economic Forum, and the figures in there are quite impressive – over a trillion, I think.

    This high demand should become a powerful incentive for aircraft factories and design bureaux, for many related industries, including electronics and aircraft components, and, of course, for the schools training professional personnel including engineers and skilled blue-collar workers in the aviation industry.

    I would like to add that a decision has been made on another sensitive issue for the Far East. I am referring to the development of air medical services and increasing the availability of medical care for people living in remote areas. Starting next year, we will more than double federal funding for these purposes, which means that the number of flights will also increase, and there will be faster and better provision of healthcare in the region.

    Friends, colleagues,

    All our decisions involving the economy and social sphere, all the mechanisms that we are implementing in the Far East have the same important purpose – to make this region a truly attractive place for living, studying, working, for starting families, to ensure that more children are born.

    Several important initiatives in this regard have been included in the package of measures that the Government is now considering. One of them is to create an up-to-date environment for living, to improve the local cities and towns.

    Let me remind you that at the last forum, we set a task to develop master plans for the development of the largest Far Eastern cities. These include all administrative centres of the regions, and cities with a population of over 50,000 people, as well as Tynda and Severobaikalsk, the key stations on the Baikal-Amur Mainline railway.

    We had in mind an integrated approach to the development of communities, where plans for the modernisation of infrastructure, social facilities, and creation of public spaces and so on would be combined competently and conveniently, and economic and industrial projects would rely on thoroughly calculated business models.

    In all cities, the initial task was to make strategic development plans. Master plans are already being actively developed on the basis of those strategic plans in 17 cities and metropolitan areas. One of them has to do with the development of the Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky urban area, and the day before yesterday, we discussed this issue with our colleagues on the spot. Once again, I ask the Government to provide maximum assistance in implementing this and other master plans in order to have them unconditionally implemented.

    Here, among other things, it is important to use tools such as the Far Eastern concession, the government’s infrastructure loans and infrastructure bonds. It is necessary to determine target limits for the Far East in these programmes. The funds should be used for urban development and improvement, and of course, for infrastructure, including the upgrade of existing networks and connections to utilities.

    I would like to add that at the recent St Petersburg Economic Forum, I instructed the Government to allocate an additional 10 billion rubles annually for improvement projects in Russian cities. I think it would be right to channel half of this financing, that is, 5 billion a year, towards upgrading Far Eastern cities and towns with populations below 250,000.

    Separate resources should also be allocated under all our main infrastructure development programmes for projects to modernise Far Eastern cities. I have already given such an instruction, and I ask you to ensure its implementation as quickly as possible. Target limits should be stipulated in the federal budget for the next three years.

    Something else I would like to stress – we need to increase the volume of housing construction in the Far East, while also widely applying the most advanced ‘green’ and energy-efficient construction technologies.

    This year, the Far Eastern Quarters programme was launched. Under this programme, developers will be able to take advantage of priority development areas, including tax and infrastructure benefits, which will reduce the cost of flats and the price of finished housing. This will increase the availability of housing for people. The plan is to build about 2.5 million square metres of housing by 2030 using this cost-reduction mechanism. I ask the regional authorities and the Ministry for the Development of the Russian Far East to hold the first tenders by the end of the year, to select developers and start designing and developing the residential buildings.

    Next, the Far Eastern residents are entitled to special, preferential mortgage terms. As many as 48,000 families have already purchased new housing using mortgages with a rate of 2 percent. This year, we have expanded the Far Eastern mortgage programme so that doctors and teachers, regardless of their age, can apply for it along with young Far Easterners.

    Let me remind you that the programme is planned until 2024. But given the demand and efficacy – and this programme is working effectively – I propose extending it until at least 2030. I hope that the Far Eastern residents will also appreciate this.

    (Applause.)

    A separate decision concerns the support of young professionals who come to the Far East or graduate from local educational institutions, get a job and consider local accommodation. As many as 10,000 rental apartments will be built for them. The rental rate will be significantly below the market level due to subsidies from the regional and federal budgets. The Government has already envisaged such a measure. I ask you to work out all the details in order to start building rental housing for young professionals without delay. And I would like to specifically point out that the location of this housing should be included in the development master plans for Far Eastern cities, which means all the necessary infrastructure should be available – in short, such accommodation should be convenient and enjoy demand.

    I would like to note that the Far Eastern regions, like many other regions of the Russian Federation, are experiencing a shortage of workers today. We will also take several important steps to intensify personnel training in key competencies. Over 900 modern workshops will be opened in Far Eastern colleges by 2030, and in the near future, until the end of 2025, we will launch 29 production and educational clusters. In addition, businesses will receive compensation for employing young workers.

    Another important area is improving the quality of higher education in the Russian Far East. The goal is to attract qualified instructors, upgrade facilities and equipment in higher education institutions, and provide grants to stimulate academic research and prospective developments in the crucial areas of the technological agenda.

    There are network programmes for Far Eastern universities that connect education institutions in the region with the country’s leading universities such as St Petersburg State Marine Technical University, Moscow Aviation Institute and others. We will undoubtedly support this area of cooperation.

    Finally, branches of the Russian Institute of Theatre Arts (GITIS), the National State Gerasimov Institute of Cinematography (VGIK) and the Boris Shchukin Theatre Institute will open in 2025 in the Russian Far East to train cultural and art workers. I would like to ask the Government to provide all necessary assistance.

    I would like to note that the Far Eastern regions offer their own professional development initiatives. For example, the Agency for Strategic Initiatives in the Sakhalin Region supports a pilot project called Earning Money Together. Participants in the project will be able to undergo free additional training, receive career guidance and get help with starting a business. Based on the outcome of these pilot projects we will think about scaling up.

    I also want to mention a training programme for a new generation of managers in the Far East. The programme focuses on cultivating a local pool of talent, and on integrating study programmes and internships in public offices and development institutions. This programme is already running and I suggest that the heads of all regions in the Far Eastern Federal District get involved.

    Colleagues, I want to conclude my remarks by stressing once again that the modern global economy and the entire system of international relations is going through challenges. However, I believe that the logic of cooperation, aligning the potentials and mutual benefits that our countries and our friends in the region adhere to, will prevail no matter what. By reasonably taking advantage of the competitive sides and strengths of the Asia-Pacific countries, by creating constructive partnerships we will open new colossal opportunities for our peoples. We are ready to work together for the sake of a successful future. And we are grateful to our partners for participating in this work.

    Thank you.

    Ukraine’s Military Suffers over 1,200 Casualties in Failed Offensive: Russian Top Brass

     August 30, 2022

    Ukraine’s military lost over 1,200 personnel in the past day upon its attempt to launch an offensive in the Nikolayev-Krivoi Rog and other areas on order by Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky, Russian Defense Ministry Spokesman Lieutenant-General Igor Konashenkov reported on Tuesday.

    The enemy suffered heavy casualties as a result of the rout of the Ukrainian military’s offensive in the Nikolayev-Krivoi Rog and other areas, the spokesman said.

    “In the past 24 hours, in their effective operations the Russian forces eliminated 48 tanks, 46 infantry fighting vehicles, 37 other combat armored vehicles, 8 pickup vehicles with large-caliber machine-guns and over 1,200 Ukrainian servicemen,” the general reported.

    In repelling the enemy’s advance, the Russian forces routed the units of the Ukrainian army’s 128th separate mountain assault brigade redeployed from western Ukraine to participate in the offensive, Konashenkov said.

     “Five servicemen of that brigade laid down their arms and surrendered,” the spokesman said.

    The Russian forces delivered strikes by ground-based precision weapons, eliminating over 200 Ukrainian militants and about 40 foreign mercenaries in the Dnepropetrovsk Region, Konashenkov reported.

    “The strikes by ground-based precision weapons in the area of the settlement of Aleksandrovka in the Dnepropetrovsk Region destroyed the following targets: the temporary deployment site and an ammunition depot of the Ukrainian army’s 1st tank brigade. The strikes eliminated over 200 militants, including about 40 foreign mercenaries, more than 20 armored vehicles and a large amount of artillery shells,” the spokesman said.

    Over 100 militants of the Ukrainian army’s foreign legion and Kraken armed formation were killed in Russia’s strikes in the Donetsk People’s Republic, Konashenkov reported.

    “In the area of Konstantinovka in the Donetsk People’s Republic, concentrated fire strikes were delivered against the temporary deployment site of mercenaries from the foreign legion and against the command post of the Kraken nationalist formation. The strikes eliminated over 100 militants and also seven items of military hardware,” the spokesman said.

    Russian combat aircraft, missile and artillery troops struck five Ukrainian army command posts in the past day in their special military operation in Ukraine, Konashenkov reported.

    “Operational-tactical and army aviation aircraft, missile troops and artillery continue striking military sites on Ukrainian territory. In the past 24 hours, they hit five command posts, including those of the 108th and 65th mechanized brigades near the settlements of Vodyanoye in the Donetsk People’s Republic and Veselyanka in the Zaporozhye Region, the 35th and 36th marine infantry brigades of the Ukrainian army in the area of Nikolayev and a nationalist formation in the city of Kharkov,” the spokesman said.

    The strikes destroyed 52 Ukrainian artillery units, manpower and military hardware in 142 areas. The Russian forces also wiped out three missile/artillery arms and ammunition depots near the settlements of Sarny in the Rovno Region, Krivoi Rog in the Dnepropetrovsk Region and Vernopolye in the Kharkov Region, the general added.

    The Russian Aerospace Forces obliterated the production workshops of the Intervzryvprom factory in Krivoi Rog in the Dnepropetrovsk Region, which produced explosives for the Ukrainian army, Konashenkov reported.

    “In the city of Krivoi Rog in the Dnepropetrovsk Region, precision weapons of the Russian Aerospace Forces wiped out the production workshops of the Intervzryvprom factory that produced explosives and other items for the Ukrainian troops,” the spokesman said.

    In all, the Russian Armed Forces have destroyed 278 Ukrainian combat aircraft, 148 helicopters, 1,837 unmanned aerial vehicles, 370 surface-to-air missile systems, 4,539 tanks and other combat armored vehicles, 822 multiple rocket launchers, 3,357 field artillery guns and mortars and 5,136 special military motor vehicles since the beginning of their special military operation in Ukraine, Konashenkov reported.

    Source: Agencies

    Alexander Dugin: His Theories and How He Thinks

    August 24, 2022 

    By Al-Ahed News

    An infographic detailing the some of the most significant details in the life of Russian political researcher Alexander Dugin.

    Putin To Macron: Ukraine’s Shelling Near Zaporozhye Nuclear Plant Poses Danger of Large-scale Disaster

    August 21, 2022

    By Staff, Agencies

    Russian President Vladimir Putin and his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron have had their first phone call in almost three months to discuss the Ukraine conflict and nuclear security in the area of Zaporozhye, the Kremlin announced on Friday.

    The call was initiated by the French side and saw the two leaders discuss “various aspects of the situation around Ukraine,” according to the Kremlin’s readout.

    Putin emphasized that “the systematic shelling of the territory of the Zaporozhye nuclear power plant by the Ukrainian military poses a danger of a large-scale disaster that could lead to radiation spillover onto a large territory,” Moscow said.

    The two leaders agreed that a mission under the auspices of the International Atomic Energy Agency [IAEA] should be dispatched to the NPP “as soon as possible” in order to assess the situation on site.

    “The Russian side confirmed it’s ready to provide the Agency’s inspectors with all the necessary assistance,” the Kremlin said.

    According to the Elysee Palace, Putin agreed that the IAEA mission to Zaporozhye NPP would be dispatched on the terms already arranged by Ukraine and the United Nations. This would mean that the IAEA delegation might travel via the territory currently controlled by Kiev’s forces. Previously, Moscow insisted that such a mission could arrive only via Russian-controlled territory.

    The two sides will address this issue again in the coming days, after technical teams discuss the matter in detail, the Elysee said.

    According to the Kremlin, Putin once again invited international experts to visit a detention facility in Yelenovka, in the Donetsk People’s Republic. An artillery attack on the prison, which Moscow says was carried out by Kiev’s forces, killed 50 Ukrainian POWs and injured dozens more last month.

    Putin also informed Macron on the implementation of the deal for Ukrainian grain exports via the Black Sea. This agreement, which was brokered by the UN and Turkey, is also supposed to allow Russia to deliver fertilizers and food products to the global markets. However, the Kremlin noted, “obstacles for the Russian grain [export] persist,” which continues to have an adverse effect on global food security.

    The most recent call between the two leaders took place on May 28 and also involved German Chancellor Olaf Scholz. During that conversation, Putin blamed Ukraine for the stalled peace talks, assuring his counterparts that Moscow remained ready to negotiate an end to the ongoing conflict and condemning the West for supplying Kiev with weapons.

    Peace with Syria: The final piece in Turkey’s foreign policy puzzle

    August 15 2022

    Ankara has managed to reset relations with several neighbors, yet normalization with Damascus has remained the most elusive, until recently. Why now? And what will it take?

    Photo Credit: The Cradle

    By Hasan Ünal

    The 5 August meeting in Sochi between Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Russian President Vladimir Putin has given rise to speculation in the west over Turkish-Russian rapprochement – and its possible negative impact on western efforts to curtail the imminent multipolar order.

    Western NATO states have reason to be concerned about Ankara’s recent moves, given the momentum created on 19 July during Astana talks in Tehran – between Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, Erdogan, and Putin – geared to resolve the Syrian crisis.

    United against the States

    What was striking about the meeting in the Iranian capital was its defiant tone, slamming US-led unipolarity (the so-called rules-based order), and accusing Washington of looting Syria’s resources and sponsoring terrorism, all while demanding that the US exits the region immediately.

    Washington has long sought to undermine the Astana Process, launched in January 2017 by Russia, Iran and Turkey to demilitarize the Syrian conflict and establish ceasefires. To that end, it manipulated Turkey’s ill-defined Syria policy, expecting that Ankara and Moscow would collide head-on over “opposition-controlled” Idlib or elsewhere, thereby hindering possible rapprochement between the two Eurasian states.

    However, it seems as if the Erdogan-Putin meeting has instead advanced beyond their earlier encounter on 29 September 2021, also held in Sochi, where it was then leaked that the two leaders had somewhat agreed on a broad geopolitical vision.

    The two leaders focused on a wide range of areas of close cooperation – particularly on trade and economy – but also on prospective fields of mutual benefit such as defense industry ventures, as well as on regional issues like Syria, Crimea, and Cyprus.

    Turkey’s shift on Syria

    Although few details have been released following that closed-door meeting, it is interesting to note the discernable change in Ankara’s stance on Syria since then.

    There is now serious talk of normalization with Damascus and a renewal of the Syrian-Turkish 1998 Adana Agreement, which will entail a joint effort to defeat US-sponsored Kurdish separatists in Syria, especially in the areas to the east of the Euphrates where the latter are striving to install a US-backed statelet.

    As things stand, there is no reason why Erdogan and Putin could not iron out a deal to end the Syrian conflict, especially since Ankara – in an 18-month flurry of diplomatic outreach to regional foes – has largely given up on its Muslim Brotherhood-oriented foreign policy by mending ties with Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and even Israel.

    Today, Erdogan’s personal obstinacy over Syria remains the main hurdle obstructing an overall peace with Turkey’s war-stricken southern neighbor.

    Why make peace?

    The Turkish president certainly has a lot to gain from a well-orchestrated rapprochement with the Syrian government. For starters, Ankara and Damascus could agree on a protocol to repatriate millions of Turkish-based Syrian refugees back to their places of origin, and renew the Adana Agreement to create a common front against the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) and its Syrian affiliates.

    Conceivably, Erdogan could even ask Damascus to recognize the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus – a very dear issue for Ankara – in return for Turkey’s full support for the re-establishment of Syrian sovereignty over all its territories, including those areas currently under Turkish occupation.

    With strong Russian guidance, is not entirely inconceivable that the two states could return to a comfortable neighborly states quo, with trade, investment, and reconstruction activities leading the way.

    It would be a far cry from the 1998 to 2011 Syrian-Turkish ‘golden era,’ when Ankara studiously worked to bolster friendly relations with Damascus, to such an extent that joint-cabinet meetings were occasionally held between the administrations of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and Erdogan, where the latter would refer to the former as “my brother.”

    Today, the emerging multipolar order makes diplomatic and economic re-engagement all the more conducive, because as NATO’s Madrid Summit demonstrated, the west needs Turkey more than ever, and Ankara’s moves to normalize relations with Damascus is less likely to incur a significant cost than before the Ukraine crisis erupted.

    Indeed, even before events in Europe unfolded, Turkey undertook several military operations against the PKK/ Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in northern Syria, much to Washington’s dismay and outrage.

    Ankara could proceed with these operations with less censure today, but it has not. Turkey appears to have realized – possibly under Russian advisement – that without normalization with Damascus, Turkish military moves on Kurdish separatists would yield significantly fewer results.

    Problems closer to home

    Moreover, Erdogan’s administration has been beset by the contentious domestic issue of the millions of Syrian refugees who remain inside Turkey. The days when the president and his close associates were preaching Islamic solidarity in defense of hosting Syrian refugees have long past.

    The mood across Turkey has changed dramatically amid rising inflation, a collapse of the lira, and the general public’s disenchantment with the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP). For the first time since Erdogan’s ascension to power in 2003, the masses sense that his once-unbeatable, Islamist-leaning populist party may be defeated in upcoming presidential polls slated for May-June next year.

    True or not, there are public rumblings that the AKP – to escape an election loss – plans to bestow millions of Syrian refugees with Turkish citizenship, allowing them to vote in the pivotal polls.

    The disoriented outlook of Turkey’s main opposition party has always played to Erdogan’s advantage in previous elections. The feeble-looking Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, who took the helm of the Republican People’s Party (CHP) after a sex scandal involving its previous leader, has never managed to rally the public around him.

    Importantly, Kılıçdaroğlu has typically trailed behind Erdogan in opinion polls because of his pro-American, pro-EU approach to almost everything – at a time when anti-US sentiment in the country polls at a startling 85 to 95 percent of the population.

    Repatriating refugees

    Furthermore, Kılıçdaroğlu and his party do not make any clear-cut pronouncements about a peace with Syria. If anything, the CHP was as critical of Assad as Erdogan’s AKP, and its spokespeople barely weighed in on the divisive Syrian refugee issue, even though economically-challenged Turkey currently hosts more refugees than any other country.

    The entry of a new figure – Ümit Özdağ, a professor of Political Science and International Relations, who recently formed the Party of Victory (Zafer Partisi) – onto the Turkish national political scene, has introduced a radical change in the discourse about Syrian refugees and their repatriation.

    Almost overnight, Özdağ has gained widespread support from voters across the political spectrum. His unexpected surge in the polls has clearly contributed to a reassessment by the government and ruling party on the Syrian issue.

    Ankara needs Damascus

    Today, almost all voices from the CHP to the AKP are floating arguments for some sort of repatriation, but as even the Turkish public understands, this cannot be done without normalization with Damascus.

    Hence, Erdogan’s test-balloon musings to Turkish journalists on his flight back from Sochi, hinting that Putin had repeatedly recommended that Ankara coordinate with Damascus on any military operation in Syria to rout out the PKK/SDF.

    Despite the positive national outlook on normalizing with Syria, Erdogan won’t have a smooth path ahead. Turkish foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu’s untimely remark a few days ago that Ankara should try to bring the Syrian opposition (a clear reference to the Turkish-backed Syrian National Army) and the Assad government together with a view to striking a deal, didn’t go down well at all with those oppositionists.

    It almost led to an uprising in Syrian areas under Turkish control – particularly in Azaz, where militants burned down Turkish flags and vowed to fight to the bitter end against the “Assad regime” and even Turkey.

    Same old foreign policy

    The statement the Turkish Foreign Ministry issued following these events underlined the long hard slog to a Syrian peace settlement, and revealed the depth of the Erdogan government’s involvement with these militants.

    As it has predictably done since 2011, the FM statement conveniently shifted blame back onto the Syrian government for foot-dragging toward overall peace and reconciliation.

    But Ankara desperately needs to drop its tired old refrain: demanding that Damascus agrees to a new constitution, pushing for federalization of the state, and insisting on new Syrians elections, under a care-taker government, composed of opposition politicians, and preferably without Assad at its helm.

    Having failed to oust Assad militarily, Turkey once imagined it could unseat him through this convoluted political and electoral formula. Erdogan’s logic was that the millions of Syrians under Ankara’s influence – both in Turkey, as well as in Turkish-controlled Syrian territories – in addition Syrian Kurds in areas under the PKK/PYD, especially to the east of the Euphrates, would vote Assad out.

    Trading the ‘rebels’ for the Kurds

    This ‘fantasy’ contrasts sharply with realities on the Syrian ground, and also totally undermines Turkey’s own national interests.

    Years of these haphazard AKP policies, premised on the unrealistic scenario of a sudden collapse of Assad’s government, all while stealthily transforming the country into a jihadist paradise – in the name of democracy – has instead become Ankara’s biggest foreign policy quagmire, and has emboldened its separatist Kurdish foes as never before.

    Furthermore, Erdogan’s disastrous Syria policy has isolated Turkey for almost a decade in the region, even among Sunni states, and threatened to set off a conflagration with Russia, a major source of energy and tourism for the Turkish economy.

    In fairness, the Turkish leader appears to be making some sound political maneuvers of late, and reaching out to Damascus is the most important of these for the region’s stability. Whether Erdogan will crown his new grand foreign policy moves with a Syrian peace by normalizing relations with Damascus remains to be seen.

    If he doesn’t take this bold step, particularly in advance of Turkey’s presidential elections, Erdogan runs the risk of joining the long list of politicians determined to oust Assad, who have themselves left or been ousted from office under the weight of the so-called “Assad Curse.”

    The views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of The Cradle.

    Author

    Germany’s Century-Long Plot To Capture Control Of Europe Is Almost Complete

    July 20, 2022

    By Andrew Korybko

    Source

    Germany was waiting this whole time for a major crisis, which ultimately turned out to be the latest phase of the Ukrainian Conflict that US-led NATO is entirely responsible for provoking, in order to make its two interconnected power plays that are now actively unfolding.

    The German elite has consistently remained hellbent on capturing control of Europe for over a century, with the only thing changing over the decades being their means after military ones horribly failed twice already. The former West Germany came to believe after World War II that the best bet for fulfilling this plot was to play it cool by abandoning unilateralism in favor of US-led multilateralism. That in turn enabled it to strategically disarm the rest of the continent, especially in the run-up to reunification with the former East Germany, after having tricked everyone into thinking that its elite finally changed their ways even though the only change was the means employed to this end.

    The strategic patience practiced by the German leadership in the decades since World War II and especially the end of the Old Cold War was impressive since it certainly did indeed seem as though their elite finally abandoned their hegemonic plans. Even President Putin, who established extremely close relations with former Chancellor Merkel and arguably seemed to trust her, was duped to an extent despite his former career in intelligence. After all, he took her government’s word that it would resolve the ”EuroMaidan” crisis that soon thereafter led to a Berlin-backed coup and then still continued to believe that she’d succeed in getting Kiev to implement the UNSC-endorsed Minsk Accords.

    These observations speak to how convincing the German elite’s act had been that even this world-class professional largely fell for it, which resulted in Russia losing almost eight years’ worth of time before it was finally compelled to commence its ongoing special military operation in Ukraine. This whole time, Germany was playing everyone for fools by plotting behind the scenes to capture control of Europe exactly as it’s sought to do for a century, albeit through different means than what observers had come to expect from Berlin. Instead of military ones, superficial multilateralism was employed via EU institutions and associated hyper-liberal ideology in order to disguise these hegemonic ambitions.

    Germany was waiting this whole time for a major crisis, which ultimately turned out to be the latest phase of the Ukrainian Conflict that US-led NATO is entirely responsible for provoking, in order to make its two interconnected power plays that are now actively unfolding. The first concerns Chancellor Scholz’s plans for his country to have the “biggest conventional army” in Europe and the second involves his latest proposal to abandon national vetoes in order for the EU to compete with other Great Powers. About the last-mentioned, he predictably added that Germany should “assume responsibility for Europe and the world in these difficult times”, which exposed the whole charade as a hegemonic power play.

    Russia finally seems to have wised up to Germany’s complicity in provoking the latest phase of the Ukrainian Conflict, with Foreign Minister Lavrov blaming it and France for killing the Minsk Accords in a recent op-ed. From there, it’s only a proverbial hop, skip, and a jump away from realizing that this was all part of Germany’s plan to capture control of Europe by “passively facilitating” the major crisis that was required to unveil the two interconnected power plays that were mentioned in the preceding paragraph. This hegemonic plot is so important for the German elite that they’re even willing to accept massive self-inflicted economic damage in pursuit of it as proven by their anti-Russian sanctions.  

    In hindsight, this latest phase of the Ukrainian Conflict was the only scenario that could prompt Germany to unveil this long-plotted power play in a “plausibly deniable” way. The 2015 Migrant Crisis concerned unconventional security threats and wouldn’t have realistically necessitated Germany openly aspiring to build the biggest conventional army in Europe, nor would it have been the proper pretext for proposing an end to the EU’s policy of national vetoes. Only a conventional security crisis could have created the conditions for superficially “justifying” that, hence why Berlin “passively facilitated” this outcome for the past eight years after earlier duping everyone into thinking its elite had finally changed.

    What’s different from the last two World Wars and what many have begun describing as a hybrid form of the so-called “Third World War” is that the former saw Germany truly aspiring for independent hegemony over everyone else while the latter sees it willingly behaving as the US’ “Lead From Behind” proxy for managing Europe on Washington’s behalf. In fact, this all seems to have been part of the larger plan too since Germany learned the hard way twice already that America will never let it truly become an independent hegemon, ergo why its elite modified their plot after World War II by incorporating their “junior partner” status vis-à-vis that superpower into everything from the get-go.

    Where Russia got it wrong for so long is that its passionately sovereign leadership subconsciously projected their independent aspirations onto Germany, naively believing that the EU’s de facto leader sought to strive for the same Great Power status that their own civilization-state has while also falling for the charade of thinking that its elite abandoned their hegemonic plans. What really happened is that this same elite simply duped everyone through their embrace of superficial multilateralism via EU institutions and associated hyper-liberal ideology into thinking that they changed when the only thing that’s different is the means through which they’ve consistently pursued the same end.

    France doesn’t feel militarily threatened by Germany anymore so it won’t seek to sabotage its neighbor’s militarization plans, and while its famous perception of itself as the bastion of European culture might be bruised by Berlin proposing that the bloc abandon national vetoes, Paris could always redirect its grand strategic focus away from Europe in response and towards Françafrique (West-Central Africa) where it’s struggling to retain its declining hegemony there in the face of newfound multipolar trends embodied by the Malian junta. This observation suggests that only Poland could stand in the way of Germany’s century-long hegemonic plot, though it’s unrealistic to expect it to succeed.

    Its faux “conservative-nationalist” ruling party already submitted to hyper-liberalism by actively advancing the Ukrainization of their country, plus it’s powerless to indefinitely rebuff Germany’s pressure for Poland to adopt the euro, which gray cardinal Kaczynski just warned would kill its economy once that happens. This aspiring Great Power in its own right might become a nuisance to Germany, but it’s incapable of stopping the latter’s hybrid economic-institutional-military capture of the continent. Poland might temporarily prevent Germany from exerting its envisioned hegemony over the Baltics and especially Ukraine, but Warsaw was ultimately Berlin’s “useful idiot” as it’s finally beginning to realize.

    For these reasons and barring any black swan events such as the consequences of President Putin’s prophesized populist-driven “elite change” across the continent that he made in mid-June while speaking at the Saint Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF), it should therefore be taken for granted that Germany will inevitably capture control of the continent sooner or later. This poses a complex array of geostrategic challenges for the emerging Multipolar World Order and Russia in particular, though the silver lining is that they can at least be better predicted than previously now that Moscow finally acknowledges Berlin’s hegemonic ambitions.

    Five months into the Special Military Operation – a summary

    July 23, 2022

    On the Future of Europe: A Proposition from 1 January 2023

    Note: after three months away (mostly) from the blog, it is a real pleasure for me to come back. Simply put – I missed you and I missed writing analyses. Thus I am truly delighted to be back and I want to once again thank all those who patiently waited for me to recharge my batteries. Your support means the world to me! Thank you for everything!
    Andrei

    ***

    Five months ago, on February 24th, Russia began what she called a “special military operation” (SMO). In very simple terms, this is what Russia has achieved so far: Ukraine has lost about 20% of its territory, about 3 thousand towns and villages, half of the gross national product, and a third of coal production. It completely lost access to the Sea of Azov, and traffic through the Black Sea ports froze due to fighting and mining of waterways. The number of refugees has reached 7 million (source).

    But these factoids don’t even begin to tell the full story. There would be many ways that this story could be told, but to begin I want to list a few elements of the official western narrative which have now faceplanted and nobody sane would take seriously. I will present a few them in no specific order (and I will ignore the most idiotic ones, including that Putin is dying of cancer or very sick (check here for 50 headlines about this!) – he is not, to the great chagrin of the CIA –  or that Shoigu wants to overthrow him).

    “Russia is losing the war, was defeated by the Ukronazis near Kiev, she is running out of ammunition and supplies and is about to collapse”.

    First, if you look at the size of the Russian force which took the Antonov airport near Kiev (one airborne regiment) and the size of the force which moved by land towards that airport, you can easily convince yourself that this force was not intended to attack or invade Kiev. This force did exactly what it was intended to do, it forces the Ukronazis to move forces to protect Kiev and, thereby, it pinned them down just long enough to establish air superiority, attack and cut off the forces near and in the Donbass, destroy the Ukrainian C4I and almost the entire Ukrainian air force. This took just a few days and once that mission was completed, these forces withdrew as they had literally nothing to gain by staying in place. If anything it is the Ukrainian side which is running out of weapons, supplies and soldiers (more about that later). The Russians have all the firepower they need for many years ahead.

    “Russia had to change her plans and tactics because of the heavy losses suffered by the Russian military early in the operation”

    Actually, there is a grain of truth here, but not the correct explanation. As I have mentioned several times, the special military operation is “special” because it is an operation which is not a regular combined arms operation. The Russians began the SMO with fewer soldiers than the opposing side, and they privileged maneuver and long range strikes over the taking and holding of towns and cities. Most crucially, the Russians very deliberately tried all they could to minimize Ukrainian casualties and to preserve the Ukrainian civilian infrastructure (unlike the “democratic” countries out there who first destroy power plants, bridges, water stations, etc. to inflict the maximum of “shock and awe” on the civilian population!). The Russians could have easily turned, say, Kiev into Baghdad or Belgrade under US/NATO bombs, but they deliberately chose to save as many lives and civilian infrastructure as possible, even at the cost of lives of Russian soldiers).

    [Sidebar: a prefect example is the small town of Avdeevka, near Donetsk, which is heavily fortified and from which the Ukronazis shell not only Donetsk, but also other towns such as Makeevka killing people and destroying the civilian infrastructure every day.  The Russians could use their TOS-1A “Solntsepyok”, airborne FAE, FAB-3000 bombs, heavy mortars and plenty of other weapons to simply turn all of Avdeevka into a lifeless desert.  But here is the problem: Avdeevka is full of civilians, including relatives of LDNR combatants.  Furthermore, if Russia used such weapons, it would only feed the Anglo-Zionist propaganda to create a “victastar” city à la Sarajevo or even accuse the Russians of a Srebrenica-like “genocide”.  The precedent of Bucha is something which limits the Russians in two major ways: first, it makes it almost impossible to retreat, now that we know that the Ukronazis will massacre all the “collaborators” in the area left by Russian forces and, second, it means that any major strike, no matter how militarily justified, will be turned into a “massacre” just like in Bosnia, Kosovo or Syria.

    What apparently did take the Russians by surprise is the willingness of the Ukrainian forces in some towns to attack the Russian columns even though the local authorities seemed to have indicated to the Russians that, like in, say, Kherson, their city would not resist. Simply put, they chose the Mariupol model rather than the Kherson model. This choice was mainly dictated by the very powerful Nazi death squads who would at best arrest anybody negotiating with Russia and, at worst, simply shoot them on the spot. The Russians found plenty of bodies of executed Ukrainian soldiers.

    But this does not tell the full story either.

    The truth is that by the laws of warfare the Ukraine lost the war in less than a week.

    What is my evidence for such an apparently outlandish and over-the-top statement? Simple: since the beginning of the SMO, the Ukrainians failed to execute a single operational level attack or counter-attack. At most they were able to execute small, tactical level attacks, the vast majority of which almost instantly failed, a few were defeated in a few days, and, crucially, not a single one gave the Ukrainian side the operational initiative. Not once.

    So what happened?

    If Kiev had any agency and if the Ukrainian leadership cared about their country and people, they would have immediately sued for peace. But Kiev never had any agency and the buffoons in power do not give a damn about the Ukrainian people.

    Instead, it was the US that told the Ukrainians to never surrender or pull back, even if that meant huge losses in both manpower and firepower. The West, which despises and hates the Ukrainians almost as much as it hates the Russians were delighted to see the hated Ukrainians and the hated Russians killing each other (well, mostly Russians doing the killing). Furthermore, being military incompetent, the leaders of the West apparently believed that supplying weapons, money, instructors, and special forces to the Ukrainians could, if not turn the tide, slow down Russia enough to create fear, uncertainty, and doubts in the Russian public opinion. That plan also spectacularly failed, Putin is as popular as ever, the 5th column and the 6th columns in Russia are in despair (many emigrate) and the SMO has the full support of the Russian nation.

    As for the much talked about “Russian plans”, which nobody has seen, they are not like the plan for a building. They are not fixed, but highly flexible and reactive and, in fact, they are constantly adjusted and refined in response to the developments on the ground. So while the Russians did have hopes that much/most of the eastern Ukraine would follow the “Kherson model” they were quick to adapt to the reality that the US and its Nazi agents in the Ukrainian military would force the eastern Ukraine to follow the “Mariupol model”. So yes, operational plans are like water in a stream, depending on the obstacles encountered, they can go left or they can go right to bypass that obstacle, but in either case, they are going down towards the ocean. The fact that armchair strategists declared that Russia “changed plans” simply proves that they don’t understand how operational planning works.

    [Sidebar: most people in the West think of military operations as something similar to US football: there are “lines/fronts” which are defended and most forces are facing each other along these lines. This is not so. Modern warfare is much more similar to European soccer, where each player is “attached” to an opposing player and these players constantly maneuver and regularly engage each other. For example, modern warfare does not really have a “front” and a “rear” as we can see from the Russian strikes deep inside the western Ukraine. Finally, modern warfare deeply relies on coordinated actions. That is to say that even if side A has, say, five subunits (say companies) you cannot add them up and count them as a regiment or brigade because they lack the ability for coordinated operations (nevermind joint or combined ones). Think of your hand, it has five fingers, but these five fingers only become a powerful fist if the five fingers act in unison and become one fist. So when somebody write about, say, 60’000 Ukrainian soldiers in the eastern Ukraine, this describes a X number of platoons, companies, regiments or even “brigades” (I put quotation marks because these are not real brigades with a full table of organization and equipment), these subunits are not capable of coordinating their actions like the Russian military does. There is a lot of talk about “network centric warfare” which is nothing but combined arms operations on steroids, where the level of integration includes a full fusion of all C4ISR data into one common real time picture of the battlefield and a full coordination of all military forces/means. By the way, only Russia has fully developed such a capability (though the US has also made some serious progress in this field)].

    Now let’s address two smaller but nonetheless crucial lies told by some about Russia:

    “There are no Atlantic Integrationists or Eurasian Sovereignists in Russia”

    If anything, this war has resulted in a major shakeup of the Russian society where some folks suddenly showed their true feelings.  Examples range from Russian journalists standing with an anti-war sign behind a newscaster to those Russians abroad who either agreed to condemn Putin and the SMO or accepted to participate in various events under a neutral or foreign flag, to Dmitri Medvedev now changing his tune 180 degrees and rebranding himself as an ultra-patriot. I listed those examples because they are known in the West, but inside Russia, there are many more such examples, including amongst business executives and elected officials. Finally, even Putin himself mentioned the existence of such internal enemies of Russia. The fact that Russia has now expanded the definition of “treason” means that pro-US agents in Russia now face a major risk for their activities. Some 5th columnists have already been sentenced to jail. As for the 6th columnists, they still hate Putin with a passion and are still chanting their “all is lost” mantra, but (almost) nobody takes them seriously anymore.

    The irony is that the US wanted to create a crisis to overthrow Putin but, instead, this crisis gave him yet another boost in popularity, in spite of some very real problems (automotive sector, civilian airliners, etc.).

    Next,

    “Putin is an Israeli stooge, he works hand in glove with the Israelis”

    In reality, it is pretty obvious that the most vociferous Russophobes in the West are overwhelmingly Jews, both inside and outside Israel. Usually, the invoked excuse is that there were anti-Jewish pogroms in Russia. Yet, in reality, all those pogroms happened in what is today the Ukraine, and yet it is pretty clear that Zionist and Jewish organizations are overwhelmingly siding with Kiev (in spite of the regime in power being undeniably Nazi), and only very few individuals side with Russia (but they exist and should never be overlooked). As for the Kremlin, it is getting fed up with the Israeli arrogance in Syria (even if the Israeli airstrikes are ineffective and make no difference for the reality on the ground) and the Russians are now demanding that the Israelis cease their attacks on Syria. The Israelis cannot stop, for internal political and even psychotherapeutic reasons, but one of two things are likely to happen: the Israeli attacks will become even more useless and symbolic, or Russia will shoot down an Israeli aircraft.

    But enough about Israel here, this is only a small part of the Anglo-Zionist Empire run by the USA. Now let’s turn to the West’s actions over the past 5 months.

    So what about the US/NATO/EU in all this?

    First, I want to make it clear that I strongly believe that the Anglo-Zionist Empire died on January 8th, 2020 when it allowed Iran to bomb CENTCOM bases without even a single bullet being fired back. That day the Empire showed the world that it did not even have what it takes to attack Iran. As for the USA, they died on January 6th, 2021.

    However, remember my example above contrasting 5 fingers with a fist? While the Empire as we knew it and the USA as we knew it did die, that does not mean that its composing parts all vanished in thin air. Countries and Empires have momentum, just like the Titanic, when they have been mortally wounded. Simply put, the final process of sinking takes time. The Russian Empire died in February of 1917, yet the civil war lasted until 1923 (and I would even argue until WWII).

    Second, there are two totally different planes in which the West (well, really the USA) decided to fight Russia:

    • First, it declared total proxy war on Russia, but only total short of a direct war military confrontation with Russia
    • Second, a total #cancelRussia in the PR/propaganda virtual reality. These infantile actions (latest example here) show how frustrated and powerless the West really is.

    For years now I have stated many, many times that Russia and the Empire were locked into an existential war from which only one side would walk away. I usually added that this total war was about 80% informational, 15% economic and only 5% kinetic. I hesitate to provide numbers here, but I would say that after a very strong success in the first 2-3 months of the SMO, the informational war initially won by the West is now fizzling out. The economic war massively grew, as did the kinetic one (albeit still by proxy). I am very reluctant to provide numbers here, but very tentatively I would score the current war as maybe 10% informational, 50% economic and maybe 40% kinetic. Again, please don’t focus on these very tentative figures, the key thing is this: as per President “Biden”, the goal of the USA is to inflict a strategic failure on Russia. The same stuff was also spoken by the EU, UK politicians and pretty much everybody in the West.

    As for the demented Poles, one of their former Presidents and Nobel Prize winner declared that he wants to reduce the population of Russia down to 50 million. Then there are the Brits, who still want to be “Great” or, at least, relevant, and who speak about “leading the free world” against Russia with such stellar allies as Poland, the 3B statelets and Banderastan.

    And yet, let’s look at the outcomes on three levels:

    • Military: the best proxy the USA had in history (the Ukrainian armed forces) is being slowly and inexorably destroyed by about only 8-10 percent of the Russian armed forces.
    • Economic: while some sectors in Russia did suffer from the so-called “sanctions” (they are not sanctions, but acts of war and crude robbery, only the UNSC can impose legal sanctions), all in all, Russia did great, and seems to be set on a path for economic success due to the fact that a) most countries have refused to obey Washington’s demands and b) the Russian economy is powerful and real, not virtual like the western economies. It will take a couple of years for Russia to adapt, but now that this process has begun, it is unstoppable.
    • Propaganda: here the image is pretty clear: on one hand we have the USA and its colonies, then a few countries with comprador elites that are hated by most people, and countries that openly defy Washington. This is best expressed by this map from the Chinese foreign ministry:

    One key characteristic of the countries shown in red on the bottom (realistic) map is that all these countries have two crucial factors in common: a) they (mostly) lack real resources (since their civilizations were always built on imperialism, colonialism and plain robbery) b) they hate Russia so much that they are willing to take measures which hurt themselves much more than they hurt Russia. This type of hate-saturated insanity reminds me of an old Soviet joke: “in a small village, a local discovers a bottle and when he opens it, a genie comes out and says: since you have liberated me, I will grant you one wish, the only condition is that your next door neighbor will get double of what you will. Then the man thought for a while and replied: please poke one of my eyes out!”. This is the current mental state of western “leaders”…

    That is the core “philosophy” of the USA: fight Russia to the last Ukrainian, prolong the war as long as possible, get as much of the civilian infrastructure of the Ukraine destroyed, subvert the status of the dollar, crash the world economy, let the EU crash and burn economically, socially, and politically, shove the Woke agenda down everyone’s throats, even if that makes them gag and throw up and, last but not least, totally and comprehensively stick your head in the sand and deny reality in all its aspects.

    Yes, the West is so soaked in rabid hatred and fear of Russia that it prefers to commit collective suicide rather than accept any type of coexistence with a sovereign Russia.

    Hitler’s comparatively vague/ambiguous/oblique slogan of “Drang nach Osten” has now been replaced by a much more candid and unambiguous #cancelRussia slogan. Same idea, just much more “in your face”.

    Truth be told, most of the so-called “West” is really run by these three groups, in order of influence:

    1. The US Neocons
    2. The Anglo imperialists
    3. The EU comprador ruling elites

    This reminds me very much of an album by Roger Waters called “Animals” in which he separates our modern societies into three archetypes: dogs, pigs and sheep. Needless to say, the dogs and pigs will run the sheep, but as soon as a (Russian) bear shows up, they are powerless against him.

    This small image tells the true story about the Ruble “turning into rubble” as “Biden” promised.

    This is what we see now and which will probably continue well into 2023. The fact that the economic warfare waged against Russia or the promise of Wunderwaffen has totally failed will never be admitted by these deeply psychopathic and terminally delusional people. And if they cannot double down ad infinitum in their actions, they sure will continue to double down in their rhetoric, just as the orchestra continued to play while the “unsinkable” Titanic was sinking.

    Still, at least some of the regular folks in the West are smelling the roses, hence the dismal rating of ALL the western political leaders. The hostility of many US Americans even results in polls that suggest that many of them would want to secede from the other states, in this case Trump voters. Considering that Trump voters are, as a rule, far more patriotic than Woke-soaked US “liberals”, this is very telling. But also ironic: the USA wants to break up Russia and ends up breaking up itself. Karma?

    Not only. Let’s look at the map which shows which countries did and did not impose “sanctions” on Russia:

    Notice that pretty much the entire green zone is composed of countries that the West has invaded, robbed, devastated, enslaved, subverted, forcibly converted, bombed, economically “sanctioned” with blockades and blackmail (by means so-called “secondary sanctions” which is a euphemism for blackmail and extortion) and, more recently, upon which the full satanic insanity of Wokeness has been imposed (hence the US embassies flying “homopride” flags). The population of these green countries, which I call “Zone B”, knows the true score and they mostly hate and despise the West. And that places all their comprador ruling elites in a very tricky situation: their US masters want them to declare total war on Russia while their population is mostly sympathetic to Russia. In the past, this would have been a no-brainer, Uncle Shmuel with his CIA-run death squads, aircraft carriers and seemingly infinite money printing capability was much more vital to these comprador elites than their own population. But now that death squads have been largely replaced with woked-out fairies which are only good at shooting unarmed civilians, now that US aircraft carriers don’t really frighten even countries like Iran, the DPRK or Venezuela and now that the entire Western-built international economic and financial system is collapsing, these comprador elites have to become much, much more careful lest they end up like the US stooges in Bolivia: out of power and in jail.  Even Colombia seems to be slowly slipping away, as does Brazil.  And I won’t even mention the absolute lack of utility of the likes of Guaido, Tikhanovskaia or the “friends of Syria” gang (Maduro, Lukashenko and Assad or all doing great, thank you!).

    The writing is on the wall, and only those who deliberately shut their eyes fail to see it.

    This leaves us with the issue of the US Neocons.

    What about the western ruling classes, what impact, if any, did the SMO have on them?

    First, let’s define our categories. In the EU we don’t really have any real “ruling class”, we only have frontmen (sorry! I meant “frontpersons” of course), puppets, pretend-rulers with no agency whatsoever (Olaf Scholz and Josep Borrell are perfect examples)  . There is no European “defense policy” or any other meaningful evidence of agency on any level.  The EU is dead, clueless and totally in the control of the US Neocons.

    Second, in the USA, Neocons rule supreme, having total control of both major parties in the US. And while the GOP base is very different from the Dem’s base, their leaders are mostly interchangeable. So I will consider them as one.

    Their mindset and worldview are pretty clear: they are messianic supremacists and sincerely consider themselves racially superior to the rest of mankind. The fusion of Anglo imperialism and Jewish supremacism has yielded the monster we now know as “Neocons”. These folks excel in the art of accumulating power, by hook or by crook. They like to claim that they have superior intelligence, but in reality, what separates these people is not brainpower, but two key aspects of their worldview: a) tribalism and b) drive. Simply put, most other people do not have this tribal “us against them” mindset, and only a subsection of regular people are truly driven to power and influence. Hence, while being a numerically small minority, the US Neocons are in full control of the USA.

    Their psychological profile is narcissistic at best, and fully psychopathic in most cases. That also gives them an advantage, especially when dealing with weak, ignorant and easily influenceable people. But when they meet a determined pushback, be it by Russia, Iran, the DPRK or even Hezbollah, they quickly become clueless and helpless. Check the expression of Blinken on the photo above – that is the face of a coward and a loser. He might have become a decent tailor, instead, he was asked to run the foreign policy of the (now former) superpower. No wonder all he ever produced was disasters and abject failures!

    Initially, feeling buoyant from their total control over Eltsin and the Russian liberals, the US Neocons celebrated victory. Then something went very wrong and suddenly they were faced with a radically different kind of leader, one with the massive support of the Russian people. Remember here that Putin was an intelligence officer specializing in the West, thus a man who had a very good understanding of his enemies. Furthermore, Putin was patient enough to realize that in the early years of the confrontation with the West, Russia was in no condition to openly defy the West, let alone fight it militarily. This is why he stopped the LDNR forces from moving any further westwards in 2014-2015 even though the Ukrainian military was in disarray.  While he knew that during the time the Ukrainians were in a panic and disorganized, he also knew that Russia could not take on the consolidated West. So between 2014 and 2018 Russia made a gigantic effort to develop the kind of capabilities needed to be able to take on all of NATO and win. By the time of the Russian ultimatum to the West last Fall, Russia was finally ready.

    Notice that the Russian ultimatum was not an ultimatum to Kiev as much as it was a direct challenge to the US and NATO. The Neocons, drunk on their bravado and sense of racial superiority, basically told Russia to screw herself and doubled down in their rhetoric. And when Russia moved in, they truly freaked out, hence their suicidal policies towards Russia ever since. These folks mistakenly assumed that while Russia might (maybe!) prevail over the Ukrainian forces, they were confident that Putin would not dare openly defy the consolidated West. And when Putin did just that, they went into full panic mode, hence the nonsense we hear from the western capitals on a daily basis.

    But it got even worse. Far from being deterred by western promises of fire and brimstone, the Russian then proceeded to methodically destroy the Ukrainian armed forces. In spite of the Ukrainian military being the best proxy force in US history, in spite of BILLIONS given to the Nazi regime each month, in spite of all sorts of super-dooper Wunderwaffen deliveries, in spite of economic warfare, Russia is now pounding the Ukie+western forces in the Ukraine day after day after day and while the US is ordering the Ukrainians to fight to the end and never withdraw, the many waves of Volkssturm reinforcements have had no impact on Russian warfighting capabilities. The US also ordered its vassal states in eastern Europe to send their large supplies of Soviet era weapons to the Ukraine (over 300 tanks just from Poland!), and Ukrainian-branded Mi-24s, Su-25s and MiG-29s still are seen in the Ukrainian skies almost daily in spite of the fact that almost the entire Ukrainian air force was destroyed in the first 3 days of the war. Helicopters are easy to hide, “Ukrainian” aircraft take off from bases in Poland and Romania, and yet they don’t seem to make a difference: for most of them, it is a one-way mission and they know it. But it is good PR, even if it costs lives (at least that is what Uncle Shmuel thinks). But now that the already low credibility of the legacy corporate media is in freefall, even such PR “victories” yield very little traction:

    It is outright comical to hear western countries (Germany, Italy and even the USA) whining about their weapons stores getting depleted while all these truly huge deliveries have not made any difference at all on the ground since the beginning of combat operations.

    [Sidebar: does Russia have air superiority over the Ukraine? Yes, absolutely. A few helicopters or fixed wing aircraft on one way missions make no difference here. In fact, a much bigger threat to the Russian Aerospace Forces are the Ukrainian air defenses which, while old, have often been modernized and have the full support of US C4ISR (Command, Control, Communication, Cyber, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance) including surveillance drone, AWACS, satellites, SIGNIT, etc. etc. etc. and yet the Russians have adapted: the close air support aircraft fly low, while their SEAD (suppression of enemy air defenses) fly high with long range anti-radiation missiles on the ready. A quick reminder, while the USAF/USN has often achieved air supremacy over countries without a modern air force or any modern air defenses, it failed to knock out the Serbian air defenses during the Anglo-Zionist wars against the Serbian nation. In fact, the USAF/USN *never* operated in an environment as dangerous as the one currently created over the Ukraine, but the comparatively much smaller Russian Aerospace Force did achieve and maintain air superiority over this huge country.  As for air supremacy (as oppose to superiority), it is only achievable against a very poorly armed adversary: air superiority is the best one can hope to achieve, even theoretically, over any country with serious air defenses]

    And yet, the (comparatively small, but more modern) Russian aerospace forces have achieved and maintained air superiority throughout the past 5 months of combat operations. This is an extremely alarming sign for the US and NATO forces. Just imagine what the full might of the Russian armed forces would do to NATO if it was unleashed!

    But it gets even worse (for the Empire, that is): there are all the signs and even clear messages that Putin is not “bluffing” at all and that Russia has full escalation dominance over the West. but it is now becoming quite evident that the Kremlin will not stop under any circumstances short of a total victory, and if that means nuclear war, so be it. And the Russian people are overwhelmingly supportive of this stance.

    Why?

    Because the Russian people have now FINALLY seen the true face of the West, they now understand that this is nothing else but a continuation of WWII and that the very existence and sovereignty of the Russian people are at stake. Again, Putin said it clearly: “if someone makes a decision to destroy Russia, we have every right to fight back. Yes, it would be a global disaster for humanity and for the world, but being a Russian citizen and head of Russia, I want to ask a question, “What’s the point of the world without Russia?“. If these were just empty words, like what Biden reads (with difficulty) from his teleprompter, that would be one thing, but these words need to be remembered in the context of the deployment of Avangards, Poseidons, S-500 and all the other weapons and tactics developed by Russia while the Neocons, drunk with arrogance, slept at the wheel.

    So no, while Putin rarely makes threats, he never bluffs.

    Bottom line is this: anybody who sincerely believes that Russia will not wipe out the entire West if she is seriously threatened is terminally delusional, knows nothing about history, and does not understand the Russian mindset. They would do so at their own peril.

    If there is one message I want to convey to anybody willing to listen it is this: Putin is not bluffing, the West cannot win, and the only variable here is what price the West is willing to pay for its defeat.

    By the way, the Chinese are also getting mighty fed up with the crazies in DC, just check out their latest statements.

    Will somebody actually take action against the Neocons? I doubt it. If anything, the entire Trump debacle has proven beyond any reasonable doubt that US anti-Neocons are either fakes, or that they have the willpower of a case of jello (that also goes for Tulsi Gabbard, by the way). Will the Neocons realize that if they persist in doubling down, they will personally and physically die? Maybe. At the end of the day, the US can afford to have a comprehensively destroyed Ukraine and a not less comprehensively destroyed EU. Now that the UK has left the EU, the Anglos couldn’t care less, and triggering wars in Europe is a time-honored British tradition anyway.

    The real blowback from the Neocons’ arrogance and ignorance is that far from dealing with Russia first and with China as an end goal, they have greatly contributed to a major strengthening of the Russian, Chinese and Indian alliance.

    The Neocons could decide to let Europe burn, while they remain in control of the USA which, unlike the EU, has plenty of natural resources and will remain, if not a world hegemon, then at least a powerful nation. In that case, their plan is simple: to continue to push for a maximum confrontation and war in Europe, but short of involving the USA in a nuclear exchange with Russia. The Brits on their island might have similar plans, just on a smaller scale and with the vital need to fully rely on the support of the USA. In the “best” of cases (for them), the UK would be in charge of managing the chaos in Europe on behalf of the USA.

    I don’t think that the Neocons give a damn about Israel and the Israeli people either, by the way. Nor do the Anglo ruling “elites” give a damn about the people of the USA or the UK. If there is one lesson we must take from the horror of 9/11 is that these people won’t hesitate to murder thousands of “their own” because, in reality, for all the patriotic or Zionist flag-waving, they only care about themselves and their power.

    NATO is a joke, and sooner or later, Russia will denazify all of the EU, either politically and economically, or, if no other option is left, militarily. First, the Ukraine, then the 3B+P crazies will have to be denazified. Next will be the turn of the EU/NATO beginning with Germany. By then, the US will have suffered a massive economic, social and cultural disaster which will probably reformat the current US polity. Where will the Neocons go next? I don’t know and, frankly, I don’t care. The Neocons are only dangerous just like a parasite that invades the brain of a much larger host. Once the host is down, the parasite might as well leave ditch it and find a new host.  By itself, this parasite is weak and universally disliked.

    In the meantime, the stupidified Woke-sheep can keep themselves busy wondering if men can give birth or deciding whether a “twerking” senator will solve the USA’s many problems.

    So where do we go from here?

    Well, at least so far, the leaders of the USA are still in full “double down forever” mode, along with their volunteer slaves in eastern Europe. Their plan for Russia is best visualized with this map: (source)

    These wet dreams even include the infamous “Idel Ural” which was denounced by Alexander Solzhenitsyn in his articles against the equally infamous “captive nations law”. In fact, this “law” has its origins from the CIA and Nazi Germany. So we can say that this is nothing but “same old, same old again”. Although not quite, some things have changed.

    During WWII the Russian people quickly understood that Hitler was no “liberator”, no more than Napoleon before him, and that he only used that kind of language to try to achieve victory. Then, during the Cold War, it was easy to believe that the enemy of the West was Communism and its idea of universal liberation from the capitalist yoke. Surely, if Russia got rid of the CPSU the West would embrace such a free Russia?

    Nope, the exact opposite happened: in spite the “all you can eat” “freedoms” of bluejeans, fast foods, crime and pornography, Russia was plundered and came very very close to totally breaking up (only the 2nd Chechen war with Putin as the Commander in Chief prevented that from happening).  Instead of the promised “democratic heaven” Russia got deeply immersed in the worst kind of capitalist hell imaginable.

    Furthermore, the combination of a rather inept Soviet propaganda machine and a much more effective western propaganda gave many Russians the illusion that the West was a group of free and prosperous nations only wanting the best for Russia. The Western-run nightmare of the 90s opened the eyes of some, but not all. As did the apocalypse in the so-called “independent Ukraine”. But the kind of open, direct and absolute hatred for Russia, Putin and everything Russian we all see know has convinced the vast majority of Russians that what the West erally wants is a “final solution” to the “Russian problem” not unlike what the Papist regime of Pavelic during WWII wanted for the Serbs: kill ⅓, expel another ⅓ and “convert” the remaining ⅓.

    Some things never change, especially not in the West.  The Muslim are all spot on when they speak of the “modern Crusaders”!

    So far, Russia has only been observing with some amazement, and even amusement, how the EU was committing economic, political and social suicide without even trying to improve its fate. For the people of Europe, there is only one thing more important than their imperialistic and racist mindset: their wallets. And that wallet has been hurting pretty badly since the self-defeating “sanctions” against Russia were implemented. In Russia that attitude is referred to as a “kid freezing his own ears to piss off his granny”: infantile, self-defeating and simply stupid. That being said: how many regimes (by that I mean political systems, as opposed to governments which are specific people; for example, if Truss replaces Johnson in the UK, this will be a government change, but not a regime change) are threatened by popular discontent in the EU?

    The sad reality is that none. Oh sure, they are immensely unpopular, just like “Biden” is in the USA, but changing the puppet figureheads will do nothing to change the regimes in power (basically US-controlled colonial occupation regimes).

    It is therefore likely that Russia will have to turn up the pain dial quite a few notches up before the sheep in the EU or the US come to their senses. Primarily, I think of economic measures, but if the crazies from the 3B+PU do something really stupid Russia will not hesitate to use military power if/when needed. The bottom line is this: Russia needs to denazify all of the European continent, and the more countries are told to join NATO, the more candidates for denazification Russia will have.

    It is impossible to predict the future, there are simply too many variables at this point, but I would offer the following tentative suggested steps towards escalation:

    • Russia could gradually either refuse to sell her resources to Europe, not only gas and oil, of course, but everything else which Russia has been selling to the EU in the past for very good prices and which was a key to the wealth of the EU nations. So that would be a full-scale economic counter-attack from Russia against the EU.  As an initial step,  Russia could also demand to only be paid in Rubles for any and all exports to the EU.
    • Russia is already killing scores of Polish, British and other mercenaries (excuse me, “advisors” and “volunteers”) in the Ukraine, but most of these are low-level grunts. Russia could decide to target higher ranks involved in the war against Russia, including targets in Kiev and elsewhere. So far Russia has unleashed only a tiny fraction of her real firepower, but if the US/NATO weapon deliveries and deployment of mercenaries increase, Russia will have little choice but to further turn up the pain dial. And if the Poles, or the Baltic statelets go “full crazy” strikes against targets in these countries will become inevitable (Putin has already warned against that when he mentioned striking the “decision making centers”).
    • Finally, if Russia decides that enough is enough, the first targets of a Russian military response to the US/NATO proxy war would be to attack the US/NATO C4ISR capabilities, including AWACS/JSTARS aircraft, SIGINT centers and satellites.

    Right now, these US/NATO aircraft are only flying along the Ukrainian airspace and remain based outside the Ukraine. But if, say, the US/NATO does actively participate in a strike against Crimea or the Crimean Bridge, then all bets will be off and S-400s and various standoff weapons will do the talking.

    Imagine for a second that Russia shoots down a US AWACS/JSTARS, what will be the West’s reaction? And I don’t mean expressions of outrage and hatred, they are already at max and really have no effect on Russians. Would the US/NATO try to shoot down a Russian aircraft? And what would the Russian response to that be?

    The truth is that the US/NATO simply don’t have the means to wage a land war against Russia. They literally lack everything needed to do that. Oh sure, they have many (mostly old and subsonic) cruise missiles which they could fire at Russia, but here again, this would pose a dilemma for the West: if the strikes are unsuccessful (as they were in Syria), what to do next? And if these strikes are successful, what would the Russians do next? Use their own conventional strategic deterrence capabilities to strike at targets all over Europe and possibly even the USA? And then what?

    [Sidebar: airpower and cruise missiles are vastly overrated in the US propaganda. One of my teachers in college was a retired USAF Colonel who worked for the YF-23 program and who taught us a very good course in force planning. One day he said in class “what good does it do to you if you bomb all your targets, shoot down enemy aircraft if by the time you get back your officer’s club is filled with enemy soldiers?!” He was joking, of course, but what he knew is that only “boots on the ground” can win a war. And “boots on the ground” is exactly what neither the US, nor NATO (nor Israel or the KSA by the way) can deploy, especially against a military which has the biggest experience of land warfare on the planet, and by a huge margin!]

    The truth is that the choice for the Neocons is binary: either accept defeat in Europe and keep the USA as their prize and host, or die in a major nuclear confrontation that will wipe out millions (which they don’t care about at all), including the Neocons themselves (which they care a lot about).

    Try to reason with or convince messianic, narcissistic and delusional racist maniacs is a dangerous and mostly futile task. This is why Russia is turning the pain dial up very very slowly.  Right now, most of the efforts of the Kremlin are not even directed at the West, but at forging the core of the future multilateral world, the BRICS countries and BRICS candidates (possibly including Iran, Argentina, Egypt, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, Mexico, Lebanon and Indonesia in the near future). Russia is also expanding her ties to Africa and Latin America. Last, but not least, Russia, China and India are constantly expanding their ties and even collaboration, especially with China.

    In this respect, I would strongly recommend to the Neocons and their puppet regimes to carefully consider the implications of Putin’s words that “We haven’t really started yet anything in earnest yet” (мы ещё всерьёз и не начинали). That is not a threat, but a statement of fact. Whether the West will continue to pretend that Russia is about to collapse, or that Putin is bluffing, will determine what will happen next.

    Right now, and exactly as I predicted would happen, Russia has basically totally given up on any form of dialog with the West, since the West has basically severed all its diplomatic ties with Russia. Put differently, Russia is now acting unilaterally without giving the moaning and threats from the West any consideration whatsoever. In fact, the stark reality is that Russia has no need, or use, for the West, especially a West trying to commit collective suicide by a million cuts. Right now, the West is mostly dialing up the pain dial on itself, with little or no Russian assistance. But that does not mean that Russia won’t proactively turn up that dial if/when needed. And if the sheep in the West prefer athletic events or chess tournaments without Russian participation, by all means, let them do it and, in the process, make these events meaningless. The same goes for all the #cancelRussia insanity out there, including the destruction of statues and monuments or sanctioning of Russian musicians. The putatively proud and freedom-loving East Europeans seem to especially relish their “glorious victories” against old Soviet statues and monuments. I say – let them, it just shown their impotence and utter irrelevance.  If they have no respect for themselves, why should anybody else?

    As the saying goes, “go woke, go broke”. A fitting epitaph on the West’s gravestone.

    As for Russia, her real future lies in the South, East and North. She has no need or use for the West. Almost one thousand years of western imperialism are coming to a shameful and self-inflicted death, one way or another. As I have written many times, that system was neither viable nor reformable. It will either die of its own internal contradictions, or Russia and China will have to cull it. They most definitely has the means to, but won’t act directly unless provoked.

    But that, should it happen, is still further down the road. For the time being, we are entering a long phase (many months probably) of gradual pain dial increase. Russia will continue to grind down the NATO forces in the Ukraine and let the economic realities sink into the awareness of the European sheep.

    As many observe in Russia: “now russophobia will come at a steep price”.

    I couldn’t agree more.

    Andrei

    PS: the above was kind of a “bird’s eye view” trying to cover the key developments during the five past months.  From now on, I will write shorter, but more frequent, analyses of specific issues.  In this context, if you have questions or want me to address a specific topic in my future analyses, please let me know in the comments section below.  Thank you!

    Israel Bombs Damascus Countryside, 3 Killed 7 Injured, a Challenge to Russia!

    ARABI SOURI

    Israel bombed the city of Sayyeda Zainab in the southeastern countryside of Damascus shortly after midnight, three soldiers were killed and seven others were wounded in an initial official Syrian military report, this latest Israeli bombing comes less than three days after Russian President Putin condemned previous repeated Israeli bombings against Syria.

    A Syrian military spokesperson said in an official statement carried by Sana:

    “At exactly 12:32 a.m. this morning, the Israeli enemy carried out an air attack with bursts of missiles from the direction of the occupied Syrian Golan, targeting some points in the vicinity of the city of Damascus. Our air defense media confronted the aggression’s missiles and shot down some of them.”

    The brief statement concluded that ‘three soldiers were killed, seven others were wounded, and some material losses were caused’ as a result of the Israeli aggression.

    Other sources, including Israeli news outlets, claim that members of Hezb Allah were among the casualties, Sayyeda Zainab is a small city in the Damascus southern Ghouta, formerly orchids, in which the shrine of the granddaughter of Prophet Muhammad PBUH is buried in the shrine in the city which is named after her.

    The video is also available on BitChuteOdysee, and Rumble.

    Israel bombs Sayyeda Zainab in Damascus countryside

    Israel bombs Sayyeda Zainab in Damascus countryside

    Israel bombs Sayyeda Zainab in Damascus countryside

    Israel bombs Sayyeda Zainab in Damascus countryside

    Israel bombs Sayyeda Zainab in Damascus countryside

    Israel bombs Sayyeda Zainab in Damascus countryside

    Hezb Allah’s initial intervention in Syria was to assist in protecting the Islamic shrines, especially this one after the NATO-sponsored anti-Islamic terrorists started attacking Muslim prayer houses, shrines, and the graves of the Prophet’s companions buried in Syria.

    We will find out the details shortly, if there were members of Hezb Allah within the casualties, the Hezb will officially report that and they will retaliate to the aggression on their own separately from Syria’s retaliation.

    In August 2019, Israel bombed an apartment in Sayyeda Zainab killing two Hezb Allah soldiers assigned to guard the shrine, Hezb Allah vowed to avenge the killing of its soldiers and within less than a week, Hezb Allah blew up a vehicle of the Israeli IDF terrorists in northern occupied Palestine killing and injuring who’s inside it.

    Israel did once more bomb another site used by Hezb Allah killing one of the group’s soldiers in the same area in July 2020, this record is not yet settled by the Hezb who is awaiting a proper time to score it, if there were casualties of the Lebanese resistance party in this latest Israeli aggression, the Hezb will definitely retaliate and will score among the IDF terrorists the same number of casualties if not more.

    Today’s Israeli bombing against Damascus is seen as a humiliating message to Russia whose officials have issued a flurry of statements condemning the Israeli war crime of bombing Damascus International Airport on the 10th of last month, June, the Russian statements escalated very recently, and including a direct condemnation by the Russian President Putin during his trilateral summit in Tehran with his Iranian counterpart President Raisi and the Turkish madman Erdogan who joined in condemning the Israeli repeated aggression against Syria!

    Russia is not in direct conflict with Israel in Syria, however, it’s acting as a peace arbitrator in its capacity as one of the five permanent member states of the United Nations Security Council, the council supposedly responsible for maintaining peace and security around the globe, in addition to Russia’s long-standing relations with Syria which one of the main reasons of the US-led war of terror on it was because of Syria’s refusal to allow the US camp to extend a gas pipeline from Qatar to Europe through Syria thus strangling both Russia and Iran back in 2008 when both of these countries were not in a good economic position.

    Syria accepted to shoulder the burden of the most heinous and evil war waged against one small country by most of the world countries including three of the main superpowers and all of the super-rich countries, directly and by using tens of thousands of anti-Islamic Wahhabi and Muslim Brotherhood Al Qaeda, ISIS (ISIL), and their affiliated terrorists.

    The least Russia can do is withdraw from the weird agreement it signed with Israel to ‘operate’ over Syria, or notify the Syrian side about Israel’s intentions of bombing Syria conveyed to the Russians within the framework of this agreement in order for Syria to prepare the defenses, relocate its troops to avoid casualties, and to take other necessary precautions to limit the damage from such aggression until the time Syria is capable of directly retaliating against Israel.

    Russia, could also, at least ask the Israeli ambassador to Moscow to leave until further notice especially since this latest Israeli aggression comes less than three days after Russian President Putin condemned the previous Israeli attacks on Syria.

    Russia, could also, at least, allow Syria to use the 6 decades old S300 air defense systems that Syria bought over 12 years ago its delivery was delayed upon the request of Israel allowing the Israelis, Turks, and other members of NATO to freely bomb Syria multiple times since. The systems were delivered to Syria after Israel used a Russian IL20 military plane as a shield to carry out an aggression against the Syrian port city of Latakia in September 2018, the Syrian outdated S200 air defense missiles fired at the attacking Israeli fighter jets hit instead the larger bird the Israelis were hiding behind killing all 15 Russian soldiers and technicians onboard the Russian IL20 plane. Despite delivering the systems, many sources confirm that the Russians are not allowing the Syrian air defense units to use those systems until this very day.

    Russia, could as well, at least suspend or even reduce the volumes of the ‘thriving’ businesses with Israel including tourism which provides Israel with hundreds of millions of dollars it uses part of that to humiliate Russia in Syria and to arm the Nazi battalions in Ukraine whose goals are to kill Russian people, in addition to Israel helping Turkey with its Bayraktar drones which were used against Russia in Syria and in Ukraine!

    July 2018 Israeli article about Israel arming Neo-Nazis in Ukraine

    Syria, on its part, should start developing its own independent air defense systems and it’s about time to retaliate to the Israeli aggression, there’s nothing much left to lose in Syria, casualties or damage to infrastructure, while wherever Syria hits back in Israel the Israelis will lose a lot.

    Syria, as well, should stop granting amnesty to the terrorists who are still fighting against the Syrian state and who are thinking of joining the reconciliation process in the future, give them a limited time for the amnesty, these are traitors in addition to being terrorists as they are aiding all the enemies of the Syrian people in Israel, the USA, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar. These terrorists are exhausting Syria’s capabilities to a very large extent.

    Israel will continue to bomb Syria as long as Syria does not retaliate, there’s already a very long list of war crimes that Israel committed against Syria including the bombing of civilian infrastructures like the Damascus International Airport, several times, Latakia seaport, several times, and scientific centers, to name a few, retaliating in kind will deter Israel from further aggressions, the Russians, and the UNSC can afterward ask all the parties to maintain restraint, especially that the UNSC collectively is a partner to Israeli aggressions by refusing to condemn these war crimes.


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    Major news day for Russia: In conclusion of his working visit to Iran, Vladimir Putin answered questions from the media.

    July 20, 2022

    In conclusion of his working visit to Iran, Vladimir Putin answered questions from the media.

    Question: Mr President, some would think the world has forgotten about Syria amid the numerous issues on the international agenda. But we have seen today that this is not so.

    We would like to hear your views on the situation on the ground in Syria. A great deal has been said today about points of contact, but there are many differences as well. Have you discussed or coordinated any fundamentally new solutions today? I am referring primarily to these differences.

    President of Russia Vladimir Putin: What I would like to begin with is not the differences but the fundamental issues that allow us to work and continue our efforts in the trilateral format. All of us believe that it I necessary to guarantee the territorial integrity of the Syrian Arab Republic and to eliminate all sorts of terrorists, which I will not enumerate here. This is the fundamental and the most important thing, as we have pointed out again in our joint statement. I believe that this is very important.

    Yes, there are certain differences, which is obvious, but all of us support the constitutional process. Thanks to our efforts, we have brought together various conflicting parties at one negotiating platform, including the opposition and the official authorities of the Syrian Arab Republic, experts and representatives of public organisations, as well as the UN. I believe this is extremely important. This is the first point.

    The second. Humanitarian aid is being provided to Syria, for which there is particularly great demand today, because the sanctions imposed on Syria and the Syrian people have produced a deplorable result: nearly 90 percent of people in Syria are living below the poverty line. The situation in Syria is extremely serious.

    Of course, it would be unfair to give priority attention to certain groups, to politicise humanitarian aid.

    Third. There are different approaches to organising humanitarian aid. We have always believed that it should be organised in full compliance with international humanitarian law. This means that all humanitarian aid must be provided through the official Syrian authorities, through Damascus. However, we have agreed to extend the existing procedure for six months, including for deliveries to the Idlib zone, so as to have more time for coordinating our positions.

    There is some disagreement about what is happening in Northern Syria. Incidentally, we also have some common ground here: all of us believe that US troops should leave this area. This is the first point. And they should stop looting the Syrian state, the Syrian people, taking their oil illegally. But there is disagreement about how to organise and stabilise the situation in that region. As you know, Russian-Turkish observation convoys are working there together.

    However, in our view, in order to ensure a long-term, stable situation there it is necessary to transfer the entire territory under the control of the official authorities in Damascus, under the control of the Armed Forces of the Syrian Arab Republic, and then it will be possible to hold a dialogue with those who are responsible – in this case the official Syrian authorities. I believe it would greatly stabilise the situation there.

    But in general, it is work in progress. As I have said many times and would like to stress once again, the work of this tripartite group – Russia, Turkiye and Iran – this joint effort to search for compromises and find these compromises has led to the fact that over 90% of Syria is now under official government control and, as we say in such cases, we have broken the back of international terrorism there. This is a great result of this joint work.

    Question: Mr President, you had three one-on-one meetings today, first with Mr Raisi, then with Mr Khamenei, and then with Mr Erdogan, and there were no news conferences after these meetings. All we know is the topic you were discussing, the official part.

    In particular, you said that you discussed the grain issue with your Turkish counterpart, the issue of supplying Russian and Ukrainian grain to international markets. Could you tell us some more about that, please?

    Vladimir Putin: There are no secrets here; in fact, almost everything is known. There are some subtleties; maybe I do not always have time to follow what is happening in the information field. I will tell you how I see it.

    First, what was the highlight of the three meetings? At each meeting, there were issues that could be considered central to a particular bilateral meeting.

    For example, as I said at the news conference, in my press statement, the main theme at the meeting with the Spiritual Leader of Iran was strategic issues, including developments in the region. This is natural, as it is the sphere of his activity. It was very important for me to hear his opinion, his assessment. I have to say that we have very similar views with Iran on many aspects. So, it was very important and very useful.

    As for my meeting with President Raisi, we discussed primarily economic matters. I would like to note that Russian-Iranian trade has grown by 40 percent over the past six months. This is a very good indicator.

    There are promising spheres for our cooperation, and there is a great variety of them, like infrastructure development. You may know that a deputy prime minister of the Russian Government chairs a group that is responsible for developing relations in the South Caucasus, including infrastructure projects in the South Caucasus, that is, in Azerbaijan, Armenia and Russia. A great deal can be achieved in this sphere in cooperation with Iran.

    As you know, the first pilot train is travelling along the North-South Railway line. It is a short route to ports in the south of Iran, which further leads to the Persian Gulf and India.

    There is a practical project: the Rasht-Astara railway is a short 146-kilometre line across Iran. Azerbaijan is interested in its construction. I recently met with President Aliyev during the Caspian Summit, and we discussed this matter. Iran is interested in this as well, as our Iranian partners have told us just now. Russia is interested in this, because it will connect Russia’s northern region, St Petersburg, directly to the Persian Gulf. It is a very interesting and promising project. The task now is to build this line, which is only 146 kilometres. Russia is ready to do this.

    We need to coordinate the conditions of this construction project. We have discussed its general outlines with our Iranian partners and friends, and we have coordinated it with Azerbaijan. I hope we will get down to business now. And then, it will be an interesting job for us. It actually amounts to exporting the services of Russian Railways (RZD). This is one of the relevant examples.

    There are other spheres. There are security issues relevant to Iran’s nuclear programme. It was very important for us to understand the sentiments of the Iranian party regarding this work. It also involves Russia, which is contributing to the joint efforts aimed at relaunching interaction between Iran and the IAEA. I will not speak about this now, but Russia is playing a considerable role in this.

    The grain issue. It is what we discussed with the President of Turkiye. I have already said that the Republic of Turkiye and personally President Erdogan have done a great deal to facilitate the agreement on Ukrainian grain exports. But initially we suggested that it should be adopted as a package, that is, we would facilitate the Ukrainian grain exports provided all the restrictions on the potential exports of Russian grain are lifted. This is what we initially agreed upon with international organisations. They pledged to formulate this as a package solution. Nobody has so far raised any objections, including our American partners. We will see what comes of it in the near future.

    As you know, the Americans have actually lifted restrictions, for example, on the delivery of Russian fertilisers to the global market. I hope this will also happen with regard to the export of Russian grain if they really want to improve the situation on the global food markets. As I have said, we are ready to do this right now. We can export 30 million tonnes of grain, and our export potential based on this year’s harvest will be 50 million tonnes.

    Question: Mr President, a serious energy crisis is developing in Europe, which is discussing the possibility of Gazprom cutting off gas deliveries. The company has allegedly issued an official notification to one of its German clients, citing force majeure circumstances.

    Are there grounds for accusing Russia of causing this energy crisis? Will Gazprom continue to honour its obligations

    Vladimir Putin: First of all, Gazprom has always honoured, and will continue to honour its commitments.

    There are no grounds at all for the attempts by our partners to shift or try to shift the blame for their own mistakes on Russia and Gazprom.

    What is the situation with energy deliveries? In 2020, in the first half of 2020, gas cost 100 euros per 1,000 cubic metres in Europe. The price rose to 250 euros in the first half of 2021. Today it is 1,700 euros per 1,000 cubic metres of gas.

    What is happening? I have spoken about this on numerous occasions, and I do not know if we should go into detail regarding the energy policies of European countries, which underrate the importance of traditional sources of energy and have put money on non-traditional energy sources. They are big experts on non-traditional relations, and they have also decided to make a bid for non-traditional energy sources like the sun and wind.

    Last winter was long, there wasno wind, and that did it. Investment in the fixed assets of traditional energy producers has decreased because of previous political decisions: banks do not finance them, insurance companies do not insure them, local governments do not allocate land plots for new projects, and pipeline and other forms of transportation are not developing. This is a result of many years, probably a decade of this policy. This is the root cause of price hikes rather than any actions by Russia or Gazprom.

    What is going on today? Until recently, we supplied gas to Europe without Turkiye: we supplied around 30 billion cubic metres a year to Turkiye, and 170 billion to Europe, 55 billion via Nord Stream 1, and, if memory serves me, 33 billion were supplied via Yamal-Europe, via the two strings that run through Ukraine. About 12 billion were delivered to Europe through Turkiye via TurkStream.

    Ukraine suddenly announced that it was going to close one of the two routes on its territory. Allegedly because the gas pumping station is not under its control but on the territory of the Lugansk People’s Republic. But it found itself under the control of the Lugansk People’s Republic several months before, and they closed it just recently without any grounds. Everything was functioning normally there, no one interfered. In my opinion, they closed it simply for political reasons.

    What happened next? Poland imposed sanctions on Yamal-Europe, which supplied 33 billion cubic metres of gas. They used to take 34, I think, 33–34 million cubic metres a day from us. They shut it down completely. But then we saw that they turned on the Yamal-Europe pipeline in reverse mode, and they started taking about 32 million a day from Germany. Where is the gas from Germany coming from? It is our Russian gas. Why from Germany? Because it turned out to be cheaper for the Poles. They used to get it from us at a very high price, closer to the market price, whereas Germany gets it from us 3–4 times cheaper than the market price under long-term contracts.

    It is profitable for German companies to sell it to the Poles at a small premium. It is profitable for the Poles to buy it because it is cheaper than to buy it directly from us. But the volume of gas in the European market has decreased, and the total market price has gone up. Who has won? All Europeans only lost. This is the second point: Yamal-Europe.

    So, first one of the routes in Ukraine was shut down, then Yamal-Europe was shut down, now Nord Stream 1, which is one of the main routes – we pump 55 billion cubic metres a year through it. There are five Siemens gas compressor stations working there, and one is on standby. One compressor had to be sent out for repairs. A repaired compressor was supposed to come from Canada, from the Siemens plant in Canada, to replace it. But it ended up under sanctions in Canada. So, one pumping station, just one piece of equipment was out of order because of scheduled maintenance work and it has not been returned from Canada.

    Now we are being told that the unit will be delivered from Canada soon, but Gazprom does not have any official documents yet. We must certainly obtain them, because this is our property, it is the property of Gazprom. Gazprom should receive not only the hardware, not only the gas pumping unit, but also the accompanying documents, both legal and technical documentation. We must be able to see what Gazprom is taking – the turbine’s current condition as well as its legal status, whether it is under sanctions or not, what we can do with it, or maybe they are taking it back tomorrow. But that is not all.

    The problem is that at the end of July, on July 26, I think – we can ask Gazprom – another turbine should be sent for routine maintenance, for repairs. And where will we get a replacement from? We do not know.

    One more turbine is actually out of order because of some crumbling of its internal liner. Siemens has confirmed this. That leaves two operational units, which are pumping 60 million per day. So, if one more is delivered, fine, we will have two in operation. But if it is not, only one will be left, and it will pump only 30 million cubic meters per day. You can count how much time it will take to pump the rest. How is this Gazprom’s responsibility? What does Gazprom even have to do with this? They have cut off one route, then another, and sanctioned this gas pumping equipment. Gazprom is ready to pump as much gas as necessary. But they have shut everything down.

    And they have fallen into the same trap with the import of oil and petroleum products. We hear all sorts of crazy ideas about capping the volume of Russian oil imports or the price of Russian oil. This is going to lead to the same situation as with gas. The result (I am surprised to hear people with university degrees saying this) will be the same – rising prices. Oil prices will spiral.

    As for gas, there is another route we are ready to open, which is Nord Stream 2. It is ready to be launched, but they are not launching it. There are problems here as well, I discussed them with the Chancellor about six or maybe eight weeks ago. I raised this issue; I said that Gazprom had reserved the capacity, and that this capacity needed to be used, and it cannot be suspended in mid-air indefinitely.

    The answer was that there were other issues on the agenda, more important things, so it is difficult for them to deal with this right now. But I had to warn them that then we would have to redirect half of the volume intended for Nord Stream for domestic consumption and processing. I raised this issue at the request of Gazprom, and Gazprom has actually already done it. Therefore, even if we launch Nord Stream 2 tomorrow, it will not pump 55 billion cubic meters, but exactly half that amount. And given that we are already halfway through this year, it would be just a quarter. Such is the supply situation.

    But – I said this at the beginning of my answer to your question and I want to end with this – Gazprom has always fulfilled and will always fulfil all of its obligations, as long as, of course, anyone needs it. First, they themselves close everything, and then they look for someone to blame – it would be comical if it were not so sad.

    Question: You spoke with Mr Erdogan today. He has repeatedly stated his readiness to arrange talks between you and Vladimir Zelensky. Has this issue surfaced today? Are you ready to meet with the President of Ukraine?

    Vladimir Putin: President Erdogan is making a lot of efforts to create the necessary conditions for normalising the situation. It was during our talks in Istanbul that we actually reached an agreement, and it only remained to initial it. But, as you know, after that, when our troops, in order to create the right conditions, withdrew from central Ukraine, from Kiev, the Kiev authorities backed off on those agreements. These were agreements that had actually been achieved. So, you see that the final result depends, of course, not on intermediaries, but on the parties’ commitment to fulfil the agreements reached. And we can see today that the Kiev authorities have no interest in that.

    As for Turkiye’s efforts, as well as other countries’ proposals – Saudi Arabia has offered its mediation services, and the United Arab Emirates, and they do have such capabilities – we are grateful to all our friends who are interested in resolving this crisis for providing their opportunities. Even their willingness to make some contribution to this noble cause is worth a lot. We are deeply grateful for that.

    قمّة طهران تثمر في إدلب: تحضيرات تركيّة لفتْح «M4»

    الجمعة 22 تموز 2022

    تعمّد أردوغان خلال قمّة طهران ذكر إدلب والتشديد على ضرورة الإبقاء على الهدوء فيها (أ ف ب)

    سوريا 

    علاء حلبي 

    لم تكد ساعات تمضي على انتهاء قمّة طهران، التي احتلّ الملفّ السوري حيّزاً رئيساً منها، حتى بدأت تركيا سلسلة خطوات على الأرض تمهيداً لفتح طريق حلب – اللاذقية، ضمن مقايضة أوّلية تشمل تسليماً جزئياً لمنبج وتل رفعت للجيش السوري. وعلى رغم تواضع الإجراءات المتّصلة بتلك المقايضة إلى الآن، إلّا أن من شأنها، إذا ما آلت إلى نهايتها، ولم تفلح الولايات المتحدة في عرقلتها، أن تُحقّق انفراجة جزئية في الملفّ الإدلبي الشائك، وأن تؤدّي إلى إعادة تشغيل أحد أبرز الطرق الاستراتيجية (M4) في سوريا

    دمشق | تُعتبر إدلب، أكبر المعاقل التي تتجمّع فيها الفصائل المتشدّدة في سوريا في ظلّ سيطرة «هيئة تحرير الشام» (جبهة النصرة) عليها، أحد أكثر الملفّات إشكالية بين كلّ من تركيا من جهة، وإيران وروسيا من جهة أخرى. وقد حاولت أنقرة، على مدار الأعوام الأربعة الماضية، المماطلة في معالجة هذا الملفّ، وتثبيت أمر واقع لصالحها، بالتوازي مع عمليات تبييض لصفحة «جبهة النصرة» تستهدف إعادة تصديرها على أنها فصيل معتدل، ضمن معادلة تشابكت فيها مجموعة من العوامل. وتفرض اتفاقات سوتشي الموقَّعة بين روسيا وتركيا عام 2018، ومتمّمتها عامَي 2019 و2020، على أنقرة، فتح طريق حلب – اللاذقية (M4)، وعزل الفصائل الإرهابية، مقابل إبعاد «خطر الأكراد» في الشمال والشمال الشرقي من سوريا مسافة 30 كلم عن الحدود التركية، وهو ما تعهّدت روسيا بتنفيذه. غير أن التسويف التركي في تنفيذ تلك الالتزامات، التي ظلّت محدّدة بجدول زمني واضح بعد كلّ لقاء بين الرئيس الروسي فلاديمير بوتين ونظيره التركي رجب طيب إردوغان، دفع الروس إلى الردّ بالمثل والمماطلة في حلّ قضية الأكراد، على الرغم من تنشيط دوريات المراقبة المشتركة.

    وتعمّد الرئيس التركي، في كلمته التي ألقاها خلال قمّة طهران وفاقت بطولها كلمتَي الرئيس الروسي ونظيره الإيراني، ذكر إدلب في أكثر من موقع. كما تعمّد التشديد على ضرورة الإبقاء على الهدوء فيها، مشيراً إلى أن بلاده «تتفهّم مخاوف جميع الأطراف حول الوضع هناك، لكنها تبذل جهوداً كبيرة في المنطقة وتقدّم الدعم للنازحين على الحدود من دون دعم من دول أخرى». وسبق لإردوغان أن جادل، خلال لقاءات سوتشي السابقة، بالمسائل نفسها، وعلى رأسها وجود أكثر من 1500مخيّم تضمّ مئات آلاف النازحين في ريف إدلب وقرب الحدود مع تركيا، الأمر الذي يمثّل، وفق الرئيس التركي، تهديدات بموجات لجوء جديدة إلى بلاده لا يرغب فيها، في الوقت الذي يحاول فيه أصلاً التخلّص من اللاجئين الموجودين لديه عبر بناء تجمّعات سكنية لهم قرب الشريط الحدودي، من أجل إعادة توطينهم.

    ترى موسكو في فتح طريق حلب – اللاذقية خطوة مقبولة ضمن الظروف الحالية


    وبالتوازي مع عقد قمّة طهران، وفي اليوم التالي لها، زار وفد أمني وعسكري تركي مناطق عدّة في إدلب، حيث أجرى سلسلة من اللقاءات، بعضها مع ممثّلين عن سكّان قرى على خطّ التماس في جبل الزاوية، حيث يمرّ طريق حلب – اللاذقية. وبحسب مصادر تحدّثت إلى «الأخبار»، فإن الوفد طلب من الأهالي الاستعداد للعودة إلى قراهم، وسط وعود بمنْع تدهور الأوضاع الأمنية والعسكرية خلال الفترة المقبلة، بالإضافة إلى أخرى بتحسُّن اقتصادي كبير، حيث سيتمّ فتح طريق «M4»، ومجموعة من المعابر الاقتصادية التي تربط بين إدلب بشكل عام ومناطق سيطرة الحكومة، مع ضمانات باستمرار وصول المساعدات إلى تلك القرى بدلاً من المخيمات. ونقلت المصادر أن الوفد أكّد أكثر من مرّة أن «ملفّ إدلب لن ينزلق إلى العسكرة»، وأنه «بات مرتبطاً بالحلّ السياسي»، لافتةً إلى أن الوفد أجرى لقاءات مغلقة مع «هيئة تحرير الشام»، تسرّب عنها وجود أوامر تركية واضحة لـ«الهيئة» بضبْط محيط الطريق، ومنْع أيّ محاولات من فصائل منفلتة لعرقلة الاتفاق، ومتابعة العمل على إزالة مظاهر التشدّد. وكان أبو محمد الجولاني، زعيم «النصرة»، بدأ، قبل مدّة، بهذه المهام بالفعل، عبر زيارات لقرى تسْكنها أقلّيات، آخرها زيارة لقرية تقطنها عائلات مسيحية لتطمين الأهالي وإزالة مخاوفهم من «الهيئة»، وذلك بالتوازي مع إدخال تعزيزات عسكرية تركية إلى نقاط تمركز القوات التركية في جبل الزاوية. غير أن الجهود التركية لا يبدو أنها تمكّنت حتى الآن من ضبط الأمن، حيث سُجّلت خلال الساعات الماضية عدّة خروقات لوقف إطلاق النار من طرف الفصائل المسلّحة، بالإضافة إلى محاولة شنّ هجمات بطائرتَين انتحاريتَين على قاعدة حميميم الروسية في جبلة.

    ويبدو، حتى الآن، أن ثمّة قبولاً، على مضض، من قِبَل موسكو، التي ترى في فتح طريق حلب – اللاذقية، والمتأخّر نحو أربع سنوات عما اتُّفق عليه، خطوة مقبولة ضمن الظروف الحالية، في وقت ينصبّ فيه اهتمام الدول الثلاث (إيران وروسيا وتركيا) على زيادة الضغوط لإخراج القوات الأميركية من الشمال الشرقي من سوريا، وهي الأرضيّة المشتركة التي بنت عليها إيران قمّتها، وحاولت ترسيخها كونها قد تساهم في فتح الأبواب المغلقة بين دمشق وأنقرة. وبشكل عام، يمكن القول إن الرئيس التركي نجح، إلى حدّ ما، في تجميد ملفّ إدلب، وتجاوُز المعادلة الروسية التي تربط بين منبج وتل رفعت من جهة، وإدلب من جهة ثانية، عبر خطوات صغيرة في الأخيرة مقابل تسليم الأُوليَين للجيش السوري. ومن شأن ذلك أن يؤدّي، في حال تمّت الخطوات المتّفق عليها، ولم تنجح المساعي الأميركية القائمة في عرقلتها عبر الضغط على «قسد» ومنعها من تسليم المدينتَين، إلى تحقيق انفراجة جزئية في الملفّ الإدلبي الشائك، بالإضافة إلى فتح أحد أبرز الطرق الاستراتيجية (M4)، والذي يمتدّ من أقصى الشرق السوري مروراً بحلب وصولاً إلى الساحل السوري، علماً أن الخطّة الروسية، التي أبلغها قائد القوات الروسية في سوريا، ألكسندر تشايكو، لممثّلي «قسد»، خلال لقاء في القامشلي قبل يومين، تقضي بأن تنسحب قواتها من الشريط الحدودي إلى ما بعد الطريق، على أن يتسلّم الجيش السوري المنطقة بما فيها «M4».

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    The power troika trumps Biden in West Asia

    The presidents of Russia, Iran, and Turkey convened to discuss critical issues pertaining to West Asia, with the illegal US occupation of Syria a key talking point

    July 20 2022

    Photo Credit: The Cradle

    Oil and gas, wheat and grains, missiles and drones – the hottest topics in global geopolitics today – were all on the agenda in Tehran this week.

    By Pepe Escobar

    The Tehran summit uniting Iran-Russia-Turkey was a fascinating affair in more ways than one. Ostensibly about the Astana peace process in Syria, launched in 2017, the summit joint statement duly noted that Iran, Russia and (recently rebranded) Turkiye will continue, “cooperating to eliminate terrorists” in Syria and “won’t accept new facts in Syria in the name of defeating terrorism.”

    That’s a wholesale rejection of the “war on terror” exceptionalist unipolarity that once ruled West Asia.

    Standing up to the global sheriff

    Russian President Vladimir Putin, in his own speech, was even more explicit. He stressed “specific steps to promote the intra-Syrian inclusive political dialogue” and most of called a spade a spade: “The western states led by the US are strongly encouraging separatist sentiment in some areas of the country and plundering its natural resources with a view to ultimately pulling the Syrian state apart.”

    So there will be “extra steps in our trilateral format” aimed at “stabilizing the situation in those areas” and crucially, “returning control to the legitimate government of Syria.” For better or for worse, the days of imperial plunder will be over.

    The bilateral meetings on the summit’s sidelines – Putin/Raisi and Putin/Erdogan – were even more intriguing. Context is key here: the Tehran gathering took place after Putin’s visit to Turkmenistan in late June for the 6th Caspian summit, where all the littoral nations, Iran included, were present, and after Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov’s travels in Algeria, Bahrain, Oman, and Saudi Arabia, where he met all his Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) counterparts.

    Moscow’s moment

    So we see Russian diplomacy carefully weaving its geopolitical tapestry from West Asia to Central Asia – with everybody and his neighbor eager to talk and to listen to Moscow. As it stands, the Russia-Turkey entente cordiale tends to lean towards conflict management, and is strong on trade relations. Iran-Russia is a completely different ball game: much more of a strategic partnership.

    So it’s hardly a coincidence that the National Oil Company of Iran (NIOC), timed to the Tehran summit, announced the signing of a $40 billion strategic cooperation agreement with Russia’s Gazprom. That’s the largest foreign investment in the history of Iran’s energy industry – badly needed since the early 2000s. Seven deals worth $4 billion apply to the development of oil fields; others focus on the construction of new export gas pipelines and LNG projects.

    Kremlin advisor Yury Ushakov deliciously leaked that Putin and Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, in their private meeting, “discussed conceptual issues.” Translation: he means grand strategy, as in the evolving, complex process of Eurasia integration, in which the three key nodes are Russia, Iran and China, now intensifying their interconnection. The Russia-Iran strategic partnership largely mirrors the key points of the China-Iran strategic partnership.

    Iran says ‘no’ to NATO

    Khamenei, on NATO, did tell it like it is: “If the road is open for NATO, then the organization sees no borders. If it had not been stopped in Ukraine, then after a while the alliance would have started a war under the pretext of Crimea.”

    There were no leaks on the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) impasse between the US and Iran – but it’s clear, based on the recent negotiations in Vienna, that Moscow will not interfere with Tehran’s nuclear decisions. Not only are Tehran-Moscow-Beijing fully aware of who’s preventing the JCPOA from getting back on track, they also see how this counter-productive stalling process prevents the collective west from badly needed access to Iranian oil.

    Then there’s the weapons front. Iran is one of the world’s leaders in drone production: Pelican, Arash, Homa, Chamrosh, Jubin, Ababil, Bavar, recon drones, attack drones, even kamikaze drones, cheap and effective, mostly deployed from naval platforms in West Asia.

    Tehran’s official position is not to supply weapons to nations at war – which would in principle invalidate dodgy US “intel” on their supply to Russia in Ukraine. Yet that could always happen under the radar, considering that Tehran is very much interested in buying Russian aerial defense systems and state of the art fighter jets. After the end of the UN Security Council-enforced embargo, Russia can sell whatever conventional weapons to Iran it sees fit.

    Russian military analysts are fascinated by the conclusions Iranians reached when it was established they would stand no chance against a NATO armada; essentially they bet on pro-level guerrilla war (a lesson learned from Afghanistan). In Syria, Iraq and Yemen they deployed trainers to guide villagers in their fight against Salafi-jihadis; produced tens of thousands of large-caliber sniper rifles, ATGMs, and thermals; and of course perfected their drone assembly lines (with excellent cameras to surveil US positions).

    Not to mention that simultaneously the Iranians were building quite capable long-range missiles. No wonder Russian military analysts estimate there’s much to learn tactically from the Iranians – and not only on the drone front.

    The Putin-Sultan ballet

    Now to the Putin-Erdogan get together – always an attention-grabbing geopolitical ballet, especially considering the Sultan has not yet decided to hop on the Eurasia integration high-speed train.

    Putin diplomatically “expressed gratitude” for the discussions on food and grain issues, while reiterating that “not all issues on the export of Ukrainian grain from the Black Sea ports are resolved, but progress is made.”

    Putin was referring to Turkiye’s Defense Minister Hulusi Akar, who earlier this week assured that setting up an operations center in Istanbul, establishing joint controls at the port exit and arrival points, and carefully monitoring the navigational safety on the transfer routes are issues that may be solved in the next few days.

    Apparently Putin-Erdogan also discussed Nagorno-Karabakh (no details).

    What a few leaks certainly did not reveal is that on Syria, for all practical purposes, the situation is blocked. That favors Russia – whose main priority as it stands is Donbass. Wily Erdogan knows it – and that’s why he may have tried to extract some “concessions” on “the Kurdish question” and Nagorno-Karabakh. Whatever Putin, Russia’s Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev and Deputy Chairman Dmitry Medvedev may really think about Erdogan, they certainly evaluate how priceless is to cultivate such an erratic partner capable of driving the collective west totally bonkers.

    Istanbul this summer has been turned into a sort of Third Rome, at least for expelled-from-Europe Russian tourists: they are everywhere. Yet the most crucial geoeconomic development these past few months is that the western-provoked collapse of trade/supply lines along the borders between Russia and the EU – from the Baltic to the Black Sea – finally highlighted the wisdom and economic sense of the International North-South Transportation Corridor (INTSC): a major Russia-Iran-India geopolitical and geoeconomic integration success.

    When Moscow talks to Kiev, it talks via Istanbul. NATO, as the Global South well knows, does not do diplomacy. So any possibility of dialogue between Russians and a few educated westerners takes place in Turkey, Armenia, Azerbaijan and the UAE. West Asia as well as the Caucasus, incidentally, did not subscribe to the western sanctions hysteria against Russia.

    Say farewell to the ‘teleprompter guy’

    Now compare all of the above with the recent visit to the region by the so-called “leader of the free world,” who merrily alternates between shaking hands with invisible people to reading – literally – whatever is scrolling on a teleprompter. We’re talking of US President Joe Biden, of course.

    Fact: Biden threatened Iran with military strikes and as a mere supplicant, begged the Saudis to pump more oil to offset the “turbulence” in the global energy markets caused by the collective west’s sanction hysteria. Context: the glaring absence of any vision or anything even resembling a draft of foreign policy plan for West Asia.

    So oil prices duly jumped upward after Biden’s trip: Brent crude rose more than four percent to $105 a barrel, bringing prices back to above $100 after a lull of several months.

    The heart of the matter is that if OPEC or OPEC+ (which includes Russia) ever decide to increase their oil supplies, they will do it based on their internal deliberations, and not under exceptionalist pressure.

    As for the imperial threat of military strikes on Iran, it qualifies as pure dementia. The whole Persian Gulf – not to mention the whole of West Asia – knows that were US/Israel to attack Iran, fierce retaliation would simply evaporate with the region’s energy production, with apocalyptic consequences including the collapse of trillions of dollars in derivatives.

    Biden then had the gall to say, “We have made progress in strengthening our relations with the Gulf states. We will not leave a vacuum for Russia and China to fill in the Middle East”.

    Well, in real life it is the “indispensable nation” that has self-morphed into a vacuum. Only bought-and-paid for Arab vassals – most of them monarchs – believe in the building of an “Arab NATO” (copyright Jordan’s King Abdullah) to take on Iran. Russia and China are already all over the place in West Asia and beyond.

    De-Dollarization, not just Eurasian integration

    It’s not only the new logistical corridor from Moscow and St. Petersburg to Astrakhan and then, via the Caspian, to Enzeli in Iran and on to Mumbai that is shaking things up. It’s about increasing bilateral trade that bypasses the US dollar. It’s about BRICS+, which Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Egypt are dying to be part of. It’s about the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), which formally accepts Iran as a full member this coming September (and soon Belarus as well). It’s about BRICS+, the SCO, China’s ambitious Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and the Eurasia Economic Union (EAEU) interconnected in their path towards a Greater Eurasia Partnership.

    West Asia may still harbor a small collection of imperial vassals with zero sovereignty who depend on the west’s financial and military ‘assistance,’ but that’s the past. The future is now – with Top Three BRICS (Russia, India, China) slowly but surely coordinating their overlapping strategies across West Asia, with Iran involved in all of them.

    And then there’s the Big Global Picture: whatever the circumvolutions and silly schemes of the US-concocted “oil price cap” variety, the fact is that Russia, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Venezuela – the top powerful energy-producing nations – are absolutely in sync: on Russia, on the collective west, and on the needs of a real multipolar world.

    The views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of The Cradle.

    Meeting of the guarantor states of the Astana process to facilitate the Syrian settlement + Speech by President Vladimir Putin

    July 20, 2022

    Joint Statement by the President of the Islamic Republic of Iran, the President of the Russian Federation, and the President of the Republic of Turkiey, Tehran

    July 19, 2022

    President of the Islamic Republic of Iran, H.E. Seyyed Ebrahim Raisi, President of the Russian Federation, H.E. Vladimir Putin, and President of the Republic of Turkiey, H.E. Recep Tayyip Erdogan gathered in Tehran on 19 July 2022 for a Tripartite Summit within the framework of Astana format.

    The Presidents:

    1. Discussed the current situation on the ground in Syria, reviewed the developments following the last virtual summit on 1 July 2020 and reiterated their determination to enhance the trilateral coordination in light of their agreements as well as conclusionsof foreign ministers and representatives’ meetings. Also, examined the latest international and regional developments and emphasized the leading role of the Astana Process in peaceful and sustainable settlement of the Syrian crisis.

    2. Emphasized their unwavering commitment to the sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity of the Syrian Arab Republic as well as to the purposes and principles of UN Charter. Highlighted that these principles should be universally respected and that no actions, no matter by whom they were undertaken, should undermine them.

    3. Expressed their determination to continue working together to combat terrorism in all forms and manifestations. Condemned increased presence and activities of terrorist groups and their affiliates under different names in various parts of Syria, including the attacks targeting civilian facilities, which result in loss of innocent lives. Highlighted the necessity to fully implement all arrangements related to the north of Syria.

    4. Rejected all attempts to create new realities on the ground under the pretext of combating terrorism, including illegitimate self-rule initiatives, and expresses their determination to stand against separatist agendas aimed at undermining the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Syria as well as threatening the national security of neighboring countries including through cross-border attacks and infiltrations.

    5. Discussed the situation in the north of Syria, emphasized that security and stability in this region can only be achieved on the basis of preservation of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the country and decided to coordinate their efforts to this end. Expressed their opposition to the illegal seizure and transfer of oil revenues that should belong to Syria.

    6. Reaffirmed the determination to continue their ongoing cooperation in order to ultimately eliminate terrorist individuals, groups, undertakings and entities, while ensuring the protection of the civilians and civilian infrastructure in accordance with the international humanitarian law.

    7. Reviewed in detail the situation in the Idlib de-escalation area and underscored the necessity to maintain calm on the ground by fully implementing all agreements on Idlib. Expressed their serious concern over the presence and activities of terrorist groups that pose threat to civilians inside and outside the Idlib de-escalation area. Agreed to make further efforts to ensure sustainable normalization of the situation in and around the Idlib de-escalation area, including the humanitarian situation.

    8. Expressed grave concern at the humanitarian situation in Syria and rejected all unilateral sanctions which are in contravention of international law, international humanitarian law and the UN Charter including, among other things, any discriminatory measures through waivers for certain regions which could lead to this country’s disintegration by assisting separatist agendas. In this regard, called upon the international community, particularly the UN and its humanitarian agencies and other governmental/non-governmental international institutions to increase their assistance to all Syrianswithout discrimination, politicization and preconditions and in a more transparent manner.

    9. Reaffirmed their conviction that there could be no military solution to the Syrian conflict and that it could only be resolved through the Syrian-led and Syrian-owned, UN-facilitated political process in line with the UN Security Council Resolution 2254. Emphasized in this regard the important role of the Constitutional Committee, created as a result of the decisive contribution of the Astana guarantors and the implementation of the decision of the Syrian National Dialogue Congress in Sochi. Reaffirmed the readiness to support the continuous interaction with its members and the UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Syria Geir O. Pedersen, as facilitator, in order to ensure the sustainable and effective work of the next sessions of the Constitutional Committee. Expressed the conviction that the Committee in its work should respect the Terms of Reference and Core Rules of Procedure to enable the Committee to implement its mandate of preparing and drafting for popular approval a constitutional reform as well as achieving progress in its work and be governed by a sense of compromise and constructive engagement without foreign interference and externally imposed timelines aimed at reaching general agreement of its members. Underlined the necessity that it should conduct its activities without any bureaucratic and logistical hindrances.

    10. Reaffirmed their determination to continue operations on mutual release of detainees/abductees within the framework of the respective Working Group of the Astana format. Underscored that the Working Group was a unique mechanism that had proved to be effective and necessary for building confidence between the Syrian parties, and decided to further continue its work on the release of detainees and abductees and in line with its mandate on handover of bodies and identifications of missing persons.

    11. Highlighted the need to facilitate safe and voluntary return of refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs) to their original places of residence in Syria, ensuring their right to return and right to be supported. In this regard, they called upon the international community to provide appropriate contributions for their resettlement and normal life as well as to undertake greater responsibility in burden-sharing and to enhance their assistance to Syria, inter alia by developing early recovery projects, including basic infrastructure assets – water, electricity. sanitation, health, educations, schools, hospitals as well as the humanitarian mine action in accordance with international humanitarian law.

    12. Condemned Israeli military attacks in Syria including to civilian infrastructures. Considered it as violating the international law, international humanitarian law, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Syria, and recognized it as destabilizing and intensifying the tension in the region. Reaffirmed the necessity to abide by universally recognized international legal decisions, including those provisions of the relevant UN resolutions rejecting the occupation of Syrian Golan, first and foremost UN Security Council Resolutions 242 and 497, which also consider all decisions and measures taken by Israel in this regard null void and have no legal effect.

    13. In addition to the Syrian issue, they confirmed their intention to strengthen trilateral coordination in different fields in order to promote joint political and economic cooperation.

    14. Agreed to assign their representatives with the task of holding the 19th International Meeting on Syria in the Astana format by the end of 2022.

    15. Decided to hold the next Tripartite Summit in the Russian Federation upon the invitation of President of the Russian Federation, H.E. Vladimir Putin.

    16. The Presidents of the Russian Federation and the Republic of Turkiye expressed their sincere gratitude to the President of the Islamic Republic of Iran, H.E. Seyyed Ebrahim Raisi for graciously hosting the Tripartite Summit within the framework of Astana format in Tehran.


    Speech by President of Russia Vladimir Putin at the summit of the guarantor states of the Astana process

    President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr Raisi, Mr Erdogan, colleagues,

    First, I would like to thank President Raisi for inviting us to visit Tehran for our today’s meeting in the framework of the Astana process. Of course, it is best to talk in-person in this format, and now we have the opportunity to do so.

    We hope to discuss in a practical and business-like spirit the urgent issues of stabilisation in Syria, and there are quite a few of them at present.

    Overall, the joint efforts of Russia, Iran and Turkiye to facilitate the comprehensive settlement of the crisis in the Syrian Arab Republic are highly productive. Owing to the assistance and support of our countries, the level of violence in Syria has decreased significantly; peaceful life is returning and the country is gradually rebuilding its economy and social sphere.

    And no less important, the real political and diplomatic process has been launched in line with Resolution 2254 of the UN Security Council. We believe the Astana Troika must continue playing a key role in the efforts to achieve complete normalisation in Syria and establish durable peace and civil accord in the country.

    Importantly, Russia proceeds from its firm commitment to the fundamental principles of unconditional respect for the sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity of the Syrian Arab Republic.

    We support the draft joint statement prepared for approval following the summit, which determines the priorities of cooperation in this trilateral format.

    We believe our task for the near future is to agree on specific steps to promote the intra-Syrian inclusive political dialogue, that is, to implement our agreement on creating conditions that will allow the Syrians to determine their future themselves, without outside interference.

    In fact, this is why our three states initiated the adoption of the decision to establish a Constitutional Committee at the Syrian National Dialogue Congress in Sochi in 2018. The Syrian parties achieved noticeable progress with support from Russia, Iran and Turkiye, and the participation of the UN Secretary-General’s special envoy for Syria. Importantly, the Syrians showed a willingness to come to terms, to search for and find consensus solutions on priority issues related to the future arrangement of their sovereign state.

    I am convinced that our countries will continue promoting cooperation in the interests of the ultimate elimination of the remaining hotbeds of international terrorism on Syrian territory. It is necessary to put an end, once and for all, to the presence of ISIS and other extremist groups in Syria.

    Let me stress that the situation on the territories outside the control of the Syrian government is particularly concerning. We see real threats of crime, extremism and separatism coming from those regions. This is largely allowed through the destructive policy of the Western states led by the US which are using a broad arsenal of political and economic measures, are strongly encouraging separatist sentiment in some areas of the country, as the President of Iran just mentioned, and plundering its natural resources with a view to ultimately pulling the Syrian state apart. So, it would be best to take extra steps in our trilateral format aimed at stabilising the situation in those areas and at returning control to the legitimate government of Syria.

    I think it is important that Russia, Iran and Turkiye are making concerted efforts to render support to the Syrian people in the post-conflict recovery. We believe that everything needed must be done to restore the economy and social sphere, to return refugees and internally displaced persons to their homes, and to create conditions for safe and unimpeded access to humanitarian aid for those who need it. And these activities must be continued, of course.

    In addition, it is necessary to see that other members of the international community, the respective UN agencies, and international development institutions play a more substantial role in providing Syria with assistance without politicisation or any preconditions.

    To conclude, I would like to express confidence that our talks will be useful and productive and the results will serve to enhance stability and security not only in Syria but also in the Middle East in general.

    I would also like to note that the next Astana Troika summit is scheduled to be held in Russia, and we will definitely be happy to see all of you there.

    Thank you for your attention.

    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.

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