The Great Reset. Our way.

The Great Reset. Our way.

October 19, 2020

By Katerina for the Saker Blog

In this one, which I promise to be the very LAST of my essays, I would like, first of all, to do a short re-cap on the responses to my three previous ones – feedback so to speak. Always useful.

Although in this essay the main subject will be the reflections on a rather unfortunate current relationship between Russia and USA, in the same vein as I did in my last essay regarding England.

First, here is my brief feedback on those three essays’ commentary.

Quite a lot of comments were highly informative and also supportive in what one was trying to say; quite a few provided the necessary backgrounds and the all-important details; there were also those who were trying to show off some knowledge but unfortunately totally missed the whole point; on the other hand, we also had a few that were attempting to discredit the author by any possible means. Difficult to know what motivates and compels these people to act in such a way. Here, someone who took the trouble to analyse and then write something about the subject that concerns them, not doing a full blown historical or whatever essay, just trying to highlight some concerns and to share those with, hopefully, some intelligent readers. And immediately we will have some people here who would be vying among themselves to pull the author down. Why? What are you hoping to archive? Is it the lack of understanding, the lack of manners, the lack of self-confidence, the sheer mendacity or just trying to prove something? What is it? This site is all about analysing the current events and providing some answers. In my opinion those who can take in the offered piece of writing, understand its context and can respond with some degree of intelligence by providing some valid and knowledgeable comments, need to be here. We want to learn a lot more of what is going on in our world and this is a great forum for it. As for the rest of you, the likes of CNN, WaPo, NYT, BBC, etc would do you just fine. For the closed minds to be reinforced by daily propaganda from the above-mentioned media outlets, would be perfect for supporting your attitudes.

What is obvious with those people – if any incoming information does not fit with these ingrained attitudes, that information will be totally ignored, mocked, and dismissed. Sadly, we see it here again and again.

Let’s move on.

Here is the main subject – relations between two global superpowers. (And this one, without any doubt, will also have those commentators showing lots of their ingrained attitudes. Let’s hope some stuff might actually sink in).

For a start, those relations between Russia and USA have NOT been based on unresolvable animosity as exists between Russia and England, on the contrary, USA and Russia were firm allies in the past, right from the beginning. As I have already pointed out in one of my comments, Russia was totally behind the fledging USA in their fight for independence. Russian Tsar Alexander even sent a naval task force to block the English troops heading for America’s shores. Russia has helped a GREAT deal in America’s fight to get its independence from the English Crown. Not that you will find any of that in your “history” books now. What’s more, for a very long time that relationship was friendly and cooperative.

During WWII Russia and USA were close allies once again, this time help was coming from the other side. Russia very much needed the essential supplies in their fight with Nazi Germany and that help came at the right time from one of their closest neighbours, USA. There is only less than 90 km, about 50 or so miles between those two. That’s about the length of the Bering Strait, between Russia and Alaska. Many people forget that.

Now let’s look at the USA from the beginning of the 20th Century. By then some of that country’s vital organs were already taken over by this Anglo Zionist cancer. The Great Depression, at the beginning, was a planned destruction by that very same Banking Cabal that I had described in my previous piece. US recovered from that horror show thanks to some outstanding Presidents that Americans were very fortunate to have at the time. After WWII, the US economy absolutely boomed, as the rest of the world was laying in ruins and needing everything they could get to recover and to re-build, USA was there to provide, but of course at the price. Some of those countries were still paying that debt LONG after the war.

In US, 50s and 60s were the GOLDEN years. It produced great stuff. Even now, when my husband and I need to buy some tool, I would first look for a second-hand one that was made in USA – these were absolutely awesome in their quality and longevity. It was then that the USA was at its best . Unfortunately, they had spoilt a lot of that with their Korean and Vietnam wars.. sadly.

Then came the 70s – the Hippy Era, with drugs and sexual freedoms and from then on, the rot has established itself and then taken hold of that great country. I am saying “great”, for despite its rather unsavoury beginning, starting with the genocide and then slavery – since then it has tried to make up for it to some degree, well, at least, tried. Blacks in USA have been given every opportunity to advance themselves, unfortunately the lack of motivation on their part was not the white Americans fault. Doesn’t matter how those blacks are trying to spin this now – the self-reflection is the hardest thing. One can only help those who want to help themselves. They haven’t shown that.

Here, for simplicity sake, I would call the US citizens “Americans”, with no disrespect to other Americans, in the south and the north.

As people, the Americans, well, the ones that I have met, were quite genuine, open and friendly, with a good sense of humour- much like the Russians in that respect. Stuff that interested them they knew very well and in depth, although they did possess a very American view on the world affairs, but willing to listen to the alternatives to these views. We had no problems whatsoever in communicating, resulting in having a mutual regard and respect.

Why is it so difficult now to do that between the two nations?!

But let’s continue.

Russia, in the 70s had largely escaped that Hippy Era, being very much under the very strict Socialist Communist control. But there were some other major developments appearing – after decades of such oppression people wanted to have some freedoms – to write and to say what they wanted, to express themselves, without being censored or prosecuted, to have some say in the matters that affected their lives, and also, of course, to see the rest of the world. In Russia that rot had set in for the ENTIRE SYSTEM that was in power at that time.

The late 70s and 80s was a strange decade. Lots of thing were obviously happening under the surface but in the visible part it was rather uneventful. No great culture-social movements, the only exception was the appearance of the ghastly Punk Era, thankfully, a short one. Music scene was also rather uninspiring with just a handful of outstanding talents, like Queen, ABBA, Michael Jackson and a few others. (Here I would probably have an avalanche of rebuttals from those for whom that was their time. That’s all right, as long as you had the good times in those days. : )

But things were happening, the mood was changing.

The late 80s-early 90s had suddenly seen the collapse of USSR, something no-one was expecting, thanks to a few traitors, like Gorbachev and Yeltsin plus some others in that power structure. After 75 years it had basically run its course and had to be replaced with something else. People wanted something different. But what? No-one knew.

Enter the USA’s willing and highly motivated “helpers”! Thousands of them poured in – company executives, “experts”, “advisers”, banking specialists, business managers, you name it –they were ALL there. Bringing Instant Capitalism!

Buying Soviet-built industry, resource production, like oil and gas, mines, etc for pennies – everything they could lay their greedy and grubby hands on was looted in this way. Aided and abetted by local scum, feverishly helping themselves to all of that as well, to become the so-called “Russian oligarchs”, with lots of them immediately running to the West with their stolen loot.

With American (read cabal) “help” the new Russian Constitution was duly written, where Russia, obviously, did not have much say in their own national interests. And, of course, the setup of the Central Bank, to control it all! For them it ALL came true at last – their old wet dream has suddenly been realised. Russia was under their control. Or so they though.

These were the terrible 90s in Russia, when it was on its knees, in the gutter, raped, robbed and abused..

In this dire and practically hopeless situation appears a relatively young man, an ex KGB Colonel, who slowly and carefully, over the years, nurses Russia back to health, being surrounded by dedicated group of Russian patriots. This remarkable man has all the necessary skills and abilities that were absolutely needed at that time. His name is Vladimir Putin.

In 90s in Russia, it was a dangerous time. The vultures were not ready to abandon their feeding frenzy – our Colonel had to be extremely careful, smart and clever among that lot and had to be well protected. The vultures sensed the threat.

Add to this the purposely instigated war in Chechnia and the destruction of the “Kursk” submarine, and the young President had an incredible lot on his plate, right from the start.

He had to make that start by seemingly playing along, to a point, with those that managed to get to some levers of power and control at the time, and then slowly, but surely he eliminated all of them from there, one by one. In the West it is known as ”draining the swamp”. He actually did that!

In Russia at present, no State Power or Control belongs to any of the so-called “oligarchs”- they are allowed to have ownership in some business enterprises (paying their taxes of course), but absolutely no power in top political structures. There are a few leftover liberals who still want to hang on to the western idea for Russia, but these people are very much marginalised now. Russia is a democracy not a dictatorship, in Parliament there are quite a few different flavours of various politicians, some quite colourful and entertaining, but the man in charge absolutely knows what he is doing.

The Russian President’s very first task was to re-build Russia’s military power, which he has done truly spectacularly. Russia is now several generations ahead of the rest of the world in its military capabilities. The Russian Constitution has been reviewed and necessary changes made through the people’s referendum. The economy is growing and so are the gold reserves. Next on the list will be the Central Bank, the globalist’s last hook that is still in Russia’s body. Believe me, VVP is working on that as we speak. All takes time. He is against a very powerful and evil entity that wants to be in an absolute control. Careful steps needed.

He is the President of the biggest country on the planet, with 11 time zones, a vast number of nationalities, with infrastructures that other countries cannot even imagine, he has former soviet republics taken over by the western interests that are trying to cause him as much headache there as they possibly can, good examples are Georgia and Ukraine. They are also trying to whip up as much Russophobia as possible, as well as doing other nefarious things, such as building Biolabs. He has an on-going military operation in Syria to eliminate the remnants of ISIS terrorists, which are still being supported and supplied by various players. He had to protect Belarus from the same fate as befell Ukraine, he has the deluded and “ the loose cannon” Turk to deal with, the pathetic EU quislings with their constant inane verbiage, and now he has another instigated war in South Caucuses.

For those who wonder why Russia is having so much trouble with the former Soviet Republics the answer is very simple. These, at the time of USSR break-up, had enthusiastically embraced their newly-found “independence from Russia” thinking that now they can be the ”little kingdoms” with their own “little king”, which is wonderful for one’s ego. Until then, as Dmitry Orlov had wryly observed, they were ”14 greedy little piglets” suckling on emaciated sow, Russia. Once that teat was taken away from them, they were left to fend for themselves and since such was obviously impossible to do – having their own “little kingdoms” and nothing to feed on, they all ran to look for a replacement teat, which was readily offered by the West. With lots of strings attached, obviously. In my previous essay I have already described what these former republics had become since then, so I will not repeat it here, but just to make a point–Russia does not interfere in their affairs, as far as Russia is concerned they are well and truly on their own. There is, of course, a high price to pay for the ungratefulness and the betrayal and that is something that all of them are paying now. Also, sometimes a hard lesson has to be learnt. I believe they are slowly learning that lesson.

At present, any Russian military involvements in these former Republics would be the absolute last resort, I have already explained what a provocation is.

On top of it all the Russian President is also facing the Anglo Zionist Cabal, with their agenda. And that agenda is to start a war with Russia; he is not giving them that chance, as the consequences for the world would be unthinkable. Through all of this he is holding steady and is in control. Meantime, he has re-built his Russia from the ruins, back to being a superpower once again.

Many in the West cannot understand or see that, as their MSM is feeding them something else with regard to Russia. Even here, on this site, we still have some people who are simply incapable of any comprehension as to what the Russian President has to deal with. To them he is either “not doing things fast enough” o,r not doing what they expected him to do, so, “he must be weak” or even some kind of the “western sell-out” then. Really!? Having closed minds has never been a great attribute.

Meantime in USA, there was a different kind of “fun and games” being played on those poor Americans by that very same Cabal. The late 80s – early 90s had also seen quite a lot of changes for US of A. This is when the cabal had decided it was the right time to take over the West’s mass media and education. The Cold War was over, Russia was not in position to be a serious opponent on the global chessboard anymore so, they made their move.

Some people, being adults in that time, no doubt will remember the sudden changes taking place in the large media organisations and what’s more, corporations, appearance of new cable networks, amalgamations, takeovers, sacking of journalists, editors, even directors – it was all happening at once, in USA, in UK, in Europe..

In schools, there suddenly appeared lots of new teachers and subjects, for example something called “social studies” and similar ones that were being introduced, and the subjects that actually gave kids some proper knowledge were taken out and replaced with this weird stuff.

Following that development, (and again some people might remember), was a sudden wave of most disturbing and strange accusations from the kids that their parents had sexually abused them in some ways. Lots of parents had been put through hell at the time. This is what THIS EVIL was doing to those kid’s brains. That was just the beginning, after three decades of such “education” we now have at least two generations of the horrendously brain/mind damaged people, unable to think objectively or even rationally, not looking for facts, unable to have a debate or even effectively communicate with each other face to face. They have been turned into something that can only be described as, yes.. sheeple or even zombies. No other words for them. Looking at them, everyone is with that phone in hand, either lost in that screen or holding that phone above the head to film something so that later they can post that on their FB or Twitter account. All of them doing that, all at the same time, as if some invisible power is controlling them. Which it is.

It is actually quite scary to think that this is the future generations that will soon be in “charge”.

For the Cabal, owing this Mass Media, it is now relatively easy for them to control and manipulate those minds, where they can get them instantly out on the streets, protesting or demonstrating against whatever, (as in “colour revolutions”), most of them probably wouldn’t even know why, but that doesn’t matter. It is that herd mentality.

Such total control of Mass Media also allows this Cabal to easily shape people’s perceptions on various situations and happenings in this world, let alone on issues back in the good old USA. How many Americans think that Iran is their enemy, that Russia is an even bigger enemy and now so is China? Unfortunately, I would say, quite a lot. Where do these perceptions come from? The MSM. All pervasive, powerful, unrelenting. The brainwashing goes on non-stop. Russia has been demonized to such an extent where it is now being made out to be some kind of caricature – on one hand, an all-powerful evil entity that can control your lives and even “influence your elections”, it is “an aggressor, invading Ukraine and annexing it’s territories”, it is planning to “control Europe through its energy supplies there”, “ it’s “bombing sick little children in hospitals in Syria”, but at the same time it is also nothing more than “a gas station masquerading as a country”, “its economy is going down the drain” and “its military is a joke” – all that sounds familiar? This Cabal must be thinking that Americans are absolutely dumb, ignorant and stupid morons, since they continue to feed them this garbage day after day. EVERY SINGLE THING they hear about Russia, or any other country that is supposed to be an enemy of US is a mind-numbing, made-up BS, which is being fed to them CONSTANTLY, and lots of them are swallowing this stinking pigswill. I assume that most of them don’t know any better and I actually feel sorry for them, being subjected to this kind of cruel mental tyranny. No other way to describe it – one can honestly feel sympathy for them as it is obviously very hard to shake yourself awake from that constant, induced, long-term stupor. We can only hope.

Here are few more words that I want to say, this time to the Americans – Russia, as I have said before, is NOT your enemy and never has been, all it wants from you is to STOP this aggressive posturing and provocations – that is not going to end well. Not for the Americans, not for anyone else in this world. Just stop it!

If this insane, deranged doctrine of “maximum pressure” and “containment” (!?) continues towards Russia, Russia will eventually respond. Those imbecilic “Dr Strangelove” characters, that should have been removed from the so-called “administration” long ago, are recklessly and stupidly provoking a very powerful, nuclear armed country and guess what is going to happen to YOUR country when that line is crossed. You, Americans, need to stop these madmen who actually BELIEVE that they can win a war against Russia!! Stop them before it’s too late. You had a great tradition of demonstrating against US instigated wars around the world – bring back that tradition. Right now this is needed more than ever!

You can also go out on the streets and demand that the mind-boggling, trillions of $ worth of military spending budget be spent on adequate health care, on crumbling infrastructure, on proper education, on re-building your economy, reducing massive unemployment (what figures you are fed there is another BS) and to reduce the hardships for the families that lots of them will be facing after this scamdemic is over. This is YOUR MONEY.

The world’s big hope is for US to get itself back to what it used to be. By that, to be once again, just another country on this our planet, the country that looks after its own interests and its own well-being, without trying to control all the others. Not being the world’s belligerent Hegemon that nobody wants and everyone hates. (You, Americans, have no idea just how much you are absolutely hated and despised around the world.)

If there is a will there is a way. Surely you must still have some honest politicians left there who love their country and who have not sold themselves to the Zionists. Commissions that can be set up to clean out your Banking and Wall Street rackets – the way it was done before. Cooperating, trading and dealing with the rest of the world in good faith and with good intentions, without any demands or impositions – you might even get some genuine allies at last, instead of having nothing but pathetic vassals. Closing hundreds(!) of your military bases all around the world and bringing these men back home to their families. Most imperative is to stop this deranged, insane and extremely dangerous “POWER PROJECTION” all around the globe. Tell us what is that all about, for Christ’s sake?! That will bring you nothing but grief.

Both Russia and China have embarked on a great journey of good will cooperation with mutual benefits, also for all of those that want to join in, and my absolute belief is that you, Americans, will do very well by joining them on that journey, as an equal partner. It is THE future for this world.

In conclusion I will repeat it once again – we ALL have ONE COMMON ENEMY, the parasite that needs to be destroyed before it destroys all of us. We must stop fighting among ourselves and concentrate our efforts towards THAT.

May God help us and give us the strength we need for the task.

More Pressure On Russia Will Have No Effect

20 years of Vladimir Putin in power: a timeline.

Source

October 17, 2020

Over the last years the U.S. and its EU puppies have ratcheted up their pressure on Russia. They seem to believe that they can compel Russia to follow their diktat. They can’t. But the illusion that Russia will finally snap, if only a few more sanctions ar applied or a few more houses in Russia’s neighborhood are set on fire, never goes away.

As Gilbert Doctorow describes the situation:

The fires burning at Russia’s borders in the Caucasus are an add-on to the disorder and conflict on its Western border in neighboring Belarus, where fuel is poured on daily by pyromaniacs at the head of the European Union acting surely in concert with Washington.

Yesterday we learned of the decision of the European Council to impose sanctions on President Lukashenko, a nearly unprecedented action when directed against the head of state of a sovereign nation.

It is easy enough to see that the real intent of the sanctions is to put pressure on the Kremlin, which is Lukashenko’s guarantor in power, to compound the several other measures being implemented simultaneously in the hope that Putin and his entourage will finally crack and submit to American global hegemony as Europe did long ago.

The anti-Russia full tilt ahead policy outlined above is going on against a background of the U.S. presidential electoral campaigns. The Democrats continue to try to depict Donald Trump as “Putin’s puppy,” as if the President has been kindly to his fellow autocrat while in office. Of course, under the dictates of the Democrat-controlled House and with the complicity of the anti-Russian staff in the State Department, in the Pentagon, American policy towards Russia over the entire period of Trump’s presidency has been one of never ending ratcheting up of military, informational, economic and other pressures in the hope that Vladimir Putin or his entourage would crack. Were it not for the nerves of steel of Mr. Putin and his close advisers, the irresponsible pressure policies outlined above could result in aggressive behavior and risk taking by Russia that would make the Cuban missile crisis look like child’s play.

The U.S. arms industry lobby, in form of the Atlantic Council, confirms the ‘western’ strategy Doctorow describes. It calls for ‘ramping up on Russia’ with even more sanctions:

Key to raising the costs to Russia is a more proactive transatlantic strategy for sanctions against the Russian economy and Putin’s power base, together with other steps to reduce Russian energy leverage and export revenue. A new NATO Russia policy should be pursued in tandem with the European Union (EU), which sets European sanctions policy and faces the same threats from Russian cyberattacks and disinformation. At a minimum, EU sanctions resulting from hostilities in Ukraine should be extended, like the Crimea sanctions, for one year rather than every six months. Better yet, allies and EU members should tighten sanctions further and extend them on an indefinite basis until Russia ends its aggression and takes concrete steps toward de-escalation.

It also wants Europe to pay for weapons in the Ukraine and Georgia:

A more dynamic NATO strategy for Russia should go hand in hand with a more proactive policy toward Ukraine and Georgia in the framework of an enhanced Black Sea strategy. The goal should be to boost both partners’ deterrence capacity and reduce Moscow’s ability to undermine their sovereignty even as NATO membership remains on the back burner for the time being.

As part of this expanded effort, European allies should do more to bolster Ukraine and Georgia’s ground, air, and naval capabilities, complementing the United States’ and Canada’s efforts that began in 2014.

The purpose of the whole campaign against Russia, explains the Atlantic Council author, is to subordinate it to U.S. demands:

Relations between the West and Moscow had begun to deteriorate even before Russia’s watershed invasion of Ukraine, driven principally by Moscow’s fear of the encroachment of Western values and their potential to undermine the Putin regime. With the possibility of a further sixteen years of Putin’s rule, most experts believe relations are likely to remain confrontational for years to come. They argue that the best the United States and its allies can do is manage this competition and discourage aggressive actions from Moscow. However, by pushing back against Russia more forcefully in the near and medium term, allies are more likely to eventually convince Moscow to return to compliance with the rules of the liberal international order and to mutually beneficial cooperation as envisaged under the 1997 NATO-Russia Founding Act.

The ‘rules of the liberal international order’ are of course whatever the U.S. claims they are. They may change at any moment and without notice to whatever new rules are the most convenient for U.S. foreign policy.

But as Doctorow said above, Putin and his advisors stay calm and ignore such trash despite all the hostility expressed against them.

One of Putin’s close advisors is of course Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. In a wide ranging interview with Russian radio stations he recently touched on many of the issues Doctorow also mentions. With regards to U.S. strategy towards Russia Lavrov diagnoses:

Sergey Lavrov: […] You mentioned in one of your previous questions that no matter what we do, the West will try to hobble and restrain us, and undermine our efforts in the economy, politics, and technology. These are all elements of one approach.

Question: Their national security strategy states that they will do so.

Sergey Lavrov: Of course it does, but it is articulated in a way that decent people can still let go unnoticed, but it is being implemented in a manner that is nothing short of outrageous.

Question: You, too, can articulate things in a way that is different from what you would really like to say, correct?

Sergey Lavrov: It’s the other way round. I can use the language I’m not usually using to get the point across. However, they clearly want to throw us off balance, and not only by direct attacks on Russia in all possible and conceivable spheres by way of unscrupulous competition, illegitimate sanctions and the like, but also by unbalancing the situation near our borders, thus preventing us from focusing on creative activities. Nevertheless, regardless of the human instincts and the temptations to respond in the same vein, I’m convinced that we must abide by international law.

Russia does not accept the fidgety ‘rules of the liberal international order’.  Russia sticks to the law which is, in my view, a much stronger position. Yes, international law often gets broken. But as Lavrov said elsewhere, one does not abandon traffic rules only because of road accidents.

Russia stays calm, no matter what outrageous nonsense the U.S. and EU come up with. It can do that because it knows that it not only has moral superiority by sticking to the law but it also has the capability to win a fight. At one point the interviewer even jokes about that:

Question: As we say, if you don’t listen to Lavrov, you will listen to [Defense Minister] Shoigu.

Sergey Lavrov: I did see a T-shirt with that on it. Yes, it’s about that.

Yes, it’s about that. Russia is militarily secure and the ‘west’ knows that. It is one reason for the anti-Russian frenzy. Russia does not need to bother with the unprecedented hostility coming from Brussels and Washington. It can ignore it while taking care of its interests.

As this is so obvious one must ask what the real reason for the anti-Russian pressure campaign is. What do those who argue for it foresee as its endpoint?

Posted by b on October 17, 2020 at 16:31 UTC | Permalink

Before the Bidens ‘Did’ Ukraine, There Was Iraq – and Serbia

Before The Bidens “Did” Ukraine, There Was Iraq… And Serbia – Finanz.dk
Analyst, former U.S. diplomat and foreign policy adviser to the Senate GOP leadership

James George Jatras

October 16, 2020

The United States approaches the November 2020 election with growing apprehension, even dread.

Among the possibilities:

For those who have followed events outside the United States during the past few decades, much of this sounds familiar. We’ve seen it before – inflicted on other countries.

Now It’s Coming Home to the U.S.

As explained by Revolver News, what happens in America next to a great extent may be a form of blowback from a specific event: the U.S.-supported 2014 regime change operation in Ukraine:

‘A “Color Revolution” in this context refers to a specific type of coordinated attack that the United States government has been known to deploy against foreign regimes, particularly in Eastern Europe deemed to be “authoritarian” and hostile to American interests. Rather than using a direct military intervention to effect regime change as in Iraq, Color Revolutions attack a foreign regime by contesting its electoral legitimacy, organizing mass protests and acts of civil disobedience, and leveraging media contacts to ensure favorable coverage to their agenda in the Western press.

‘It would be disturbing enough to note a coordinated effort to use these exact same strategies and tactics domestically to undermine or overthrow President Trump. The ominous nature of what we see unfolding before us only truly hits home when one realizes that the people who specialize in these Color Revolution regime change operations overseas are, literally, the very same people attempting to overthrow Trump by using the very same playbook. Given that the most famous Color Revolution was the [2004] “Orange Revolution” in the Ukraine, and that Black Lives Matter is being used as a key component of the domestic Color Revolution against Trump, we can encapsulate our thesis at Revolver with the simple remark that “Black is the New Orange.”

This hardly should come as a surprise. The same government agencies and their corporate, NGO, and think tank cronies that are now weaponizing Black Lives Matter, Antifa, other Wokesters, and military putsch plotters here at home to remove Trump have turned regime change abroad into an art form. Ukraine was one of their signal successes, featuring a cast of characters later key to the failed “Ukrainegate” impeachment.

Another consequence of regime change: corruption. As the old saying goes, any idiot can turn an aquarium into fish soup, but no one has yet figured out how to reverse the process. Once a country gets broken it tends to stay broken, whether the “breaking” is accomplished by military means (Serbia 1999, Iraq 2003, Libya 2011) or by a color revolution from the streets (Serbia 2000, Georgia 2003, Ukraine 2004-2005 and again in 2014, Kyrgyzstan 2005, Lebanon 2005, Armenia 2018, plus many others of varying degrees of success, and failures in Iran, Russia, Venezuela, China (Hong Kong), and Belarus). With the target nation’s institutions in shambles, the dregs take over – in Libya, for example, even to the point of reintroducing trade in sub-Saharan African slaves, whose black lives evidently don’t matter to anyone at all.

Iraq: Crush, Corrupt, Cash In

Finally, once regime change occurs and corruption is rampant, another shoe drops: foreign vultures descend on the carcass, profiteers who in many cases are the very same people that helped to create the chaos on which they are cashing in. Invariably, these carpetbaggers are well-connected individuals in the aggressor states and organizations positioned on the inside track both for the carve-up of the target country’s resources and (the word “hypocrisy” doesn’t begin to describe it) for funds to implement “reform” and “reconstruction” of the devastated target.

The showcase of this scam, pursuant to Colin Powell’s reported “Pottery Barn Rule” (You break it, you own it) was the money ostensibly spent on rebuilding Iraq, despite assurances from the war’s advocates that it would pay for itself. With the formal costs conservatively set at over $60 billion to $138 billion out of a tab for the war of over two trillion dollars, the lion’s share of it went to U.S. and other vendors, including the notorious $1.4 billion no-bid contract to Halliburton subsidiary KBR, of which then-Vice President Dick Cheney, a major proponent of the war, had been a top executive. (“Rand Paul Says Dick Cheney Pushed for the Iraq War So Halliburton Would Profit.”)

In Ukraine, Biden’s Son Also Rises

The predatory cronyism vignette most pertinent to the Black/Orange regime change op now unfolding before us with the intent of installing Joe Biden in the Oval Office is that of his son, Hunter, and a Ukrainian energy company with a sketchy reputation, Burisma Holdings. (Right at the outset, even some of Hunter’s associates though the gig with Burisma was too “toxic” and broke off ties with him.) Though ignored or dismissed as fake news and a conspiracy theory by Democrats and legacy media (or do I repeat myself?), the facts are well enough known and fit the Iraq pattern to a T: then-Vice President Joe Biden pushed for regime change in Ukraine, which succeeded in February 2014 with the ouster of the constitutionally elected president, Viktor Yanukovych. In April 2014, Joe Biden’s son, Hunter, was brought onto Burisma’s board (along with a fellow named Devon Archer, later convicted of unrelated fraud) at an exorbitant level of compensation that made little sense in light of Hunter’s nonexistent expertise in the energy business – but which made plenty of sense given that his dad was not only Veep but the Obama administration’s point man on policy toward Ukraine, including foreign assistance money. [NOTE: It now has come out that in 2015 Hunter put his dad, the U.S. Vice President, in direct contact with Burisma, news the giant tech firms sought to suppress on social media.]

When a troublesome Ukrainian prosecutor named Viktor Shokin seemed to be taking too much interest in Burisma, Papa Joe came to the rescue, openly threatening the western-dependent politicians installed after Ukraine’s 2014 color revolution with withholding of a billion dollars in U.S. aid until Shokin, whom Joe unironically alleged to be “corrupt,” got the heave-ho. As Tucker Carlson nails it, Shokin’s ouster followed a direct request from Burisma’s Clinton-connected PR firm, Blue Star Strategies, to Hunter to lobby his dad to get Shokin off their back. Joe did just what was asked. He later bragged: “I said, ‘You’re not getting the billion. I’m going to be leaving here [i.e., Kiev] in, I think it was about six hours.’ I looked at them and said, ‘I’m leaving in six hours. If the prosecutor is not fired, you’re not getting the money.’ Well, son of a bitch. He got fired.”

But First There Was Serbia

Today many people remember Iraq, some have a clue about Ukraine. But Serbia, which preceded them, is off the radar screen of most Americans. To recap:

As a Senator in the 1990s, Joe Biden was one of the most militant advocates of U.S. military action against Serbs during the breakup of the Yugoslav federation, first in Croatia (1991-95), then in Bosnia (1992-95), and then in Serbia’s province of Kosovo (1998- 1999). (As has been said about others like Hillary Clinton and the late John McCain, Biden evidently has never met a war he didn’t like. Along with Hillary, in 2003 Biden helped to whip Senate Democrat votes for the Bush-Cheney Iraq war.) Channeling his inner John McCain, Biden continually called for the U.S. to bomb, bomb, bomb bomb the Serbs while (in a foreshadowing of the Obama-Biden administration’s support for jihad terrorists in Libya and Syria, which ultimately resulted in the appearance of ISIS) pushed successfully for sending weapons to the Islamist regime in Bosnia and then for the U.S. to arm the Islamo-narco-terrorist group known as the “Kosovo Liberation Army” (KLA).

Joe Biden was the primary sponsor of the March 1999 Kosovo war authorization for military action against Serbia and Montenegro, S. Con. Res. 21. (As a little remembered historical note, Biden’s resolution might be seen as the last nail in the coffin of Congress’s constitutional war power. While S. Con. Res 21 passed the Senate, it failed in the House on a 213-213 tie vote, with Republicans overwhelmingly voting Nay. It didn’t matter. Bill Clinton, reeling from the Lewinsky scandal, went ahead with the bombing campaign anyway.) The ensuing 78-day NATO air operation had little impact on Serbia’s military but devastated the country’s infrastructure and took hundreds of civilian lives. (Even now, more than 20 years later, Serbia suffers from elevated cancer levels attributed to depleted uranium munitions.) But for Jihad Joe even that wasn’t punishment enough for people he collectively demonized as “illiterate degenerates, baby killers, butchers, and rapists.” In May 1999, at the height of the NATO air assault, he called for the introduction of U.S. ground troops (“we should announce there’s going to be American casualties”) followed by “a Japanese-German style occupation.”

Eventually the bombing stopped in June 1999 when then-Serbian strongman Slobodan Milošević acceded to temporary international occupation of Kosovo on the condition that the province would remain part of Serbia, as codified in United Nations Security Council Resolution 1244. It was a promise the U.S. and NATO, not to mention their European Union (EU) concubine, had no intention of keeping. Under the nose of the NATO occupation, ostensibly demobilized KLA thugs were given virtually free rein to terrorize the Serbian population, two-thirds of whom were driven out along with Jews and Roma, the rest sheltering in enclaves where they remain to this day. Orthodox Christian churches and monasteries, many of them centuries old, were particular targets for destruction and desecration. KLA commanders – who were also kingpins in the Kosovo Albanian mafia dealing in sex slaves, drugs, weapons, and even human organs – were handed local administration.

In 2007 Senator Biden praised the new order as a “victory for Muslim democracy” and “a much-needed example of a successful U.S.-Muslim partnership.” A year later, the Bush administration sought to complete the job by ramming through Kosovo’s independence in barefaced violation of UNSCR 1244 and despite strong Russian objections. But instead of resolving anything the result was a frozen conflict that persists today, with about half of the United Nations’ member states recognizing Kosovo and half not. Touting itself as the most pro-American “country” [sic] in the world, the Kosovo pseudo-state became a prime recruiting ground for ISIS.

But hey, business was good! Just as in Iraq, the politically well-connected, including former officials instrumental in the attack on Serbia and occupying Kosovo, flocked to the province fueled by lavish aid subsidies from the U.S. and the EU, which for a while made Kosovo one of the biggest per capita foreign assistance recipient “countries” in the world. One such vulture – sorry, entrepreneur – was former Secretary of State Madeleine we-think-a-half-million-dead-Iraqi-children-is-worth-it Albright, a prominent driver of the Clinton administration’s hostile policy on top of her personal Serb-hatred. Albright sought to cash in to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars on sale of the mobile telephone company PTK, originally a Yugoslav state-owned firm that was “privatized” (i.e., stolen) in 2005 as a joint stock company, but who later dropped her bid when it attracted unwanted publicity. Also in the hunt for Kosovo riches was former NATO Supreme Commander and operational chief of the Kosovo war General Wesley Clark, who reportedly cornered a major share of the occupied province’s coal resources under a sweetheart deal that seems to have vanished from public scrutiny since first reported in 2016.

At the moment there seems to be no smoking gun of a direct Biden family payout, à la Ukraine, but there is a possible trail via Hunter’s Burisma-buddy Devon Archer and Archer’s fellow-defendant John “Yanni” Galanis, who in turn is connected to top Kosovo Albanian politicians. In any case, the Biden clan seems to have paid a lot of attention to Kosovo for not having skin in the game. Joe’s late son and Delaware Attorney General, Beau, worked in Kosovo following the war to train local prosecutors as part of an OSCE (Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe) “rule of law” mission (admittedly a big task in a mafia-run pseudo-state), for which a road was named after him near the massive U.S. base Camp Bondsteel. With Hunter on hand for the naming ceremony, Joe Biden took the opportunity to express his “condolences” to Serbian families who lost loved ones in the NATO air assault – of which he was a primary advocate.

A ‘Shokin’ Demand  

Perhaps the best parallel between Biden’s handiwork in Ukraine and his interest in Kosovo also relates to getting rid of an inconvenient individual. But in this case, the person in question wasn’t a state official like Burisma prosecutor Viktor Shokin but a hierarch of the Serbian Orthodox Church.

In May 2009 Vice President Biden insisted on visiting one of Kosovo’s most venerable Serbian Orthodox Christian sites, the Visoki Dečani monastery. Ruling Bishop Artemije of the Eparchy of Raška and Prizren, which includes Kosovo and Metohija, refused to give his blessing for the visit, in effect telling Biden he was not welcome. Bishop Artemije long had been a bane of Biden and others advocating detachment of Kosovo from Serbia, starting with his first mission to Washington in 1997 as war clouds gathered. In 2004 Bishop Artemije sued the NATO powers in the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg following their inaction to protect his flock during an anti-Serbian rampage by Muslim Albanian militants in March of that year. Then, in March 2006, as preparations were underway for a “final solution” to the Kosovo issue, Bishop Artemije launched an intensive multinational lobbying and public relations effort (in which Yours Truly was the lead professional) to try to derail the U.S. policy to which Biden had devoted so much attention. While the Bishop’s campaign was unsuccessful in reversing U.S. policy it was instrumental in delaying it for over a year – to howls of outrage from Biden’s associates in Washington. Thus, for Biden, the monastery visit snub by Bishop Artemije was adding insult to injury.

The end for Bishop Artemije came a few months later, at the beginning of 2010 at the time of two visits to Kosovo by U.S. Admiral Mark P. Fitzgerald, then Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe and Africa, and Commander, Allied Joint Force Command (JFC) Naples, (who retired later that year, becoming, unsurprisingly, a consultant “with numerous defense and commercial maritime and aviation contractors”). At that time, an unconfirmed report indicated that a high NATO officer (whether Admiral Fitzgerald or someone else is not specified) stated in the course of one of his local meetings (this is verbatim or a close paraphrase): “What we need here is a more cooperative bishop.” (More details are available here. Since that posting last year the NATO command in Naples seems to have scrubbed the items about Fitzgerald’s 2010 visits from their site.)

Shortly afterwards, Biden’s troublesome priest was forcibly removed by police and exiled from his see, without ecclesiastical trial, by Church authorities in Belgrade under pressure from compliant Serbian politicians installed after the October 2000 color revolution, in turn pressured by NATO. The pretext? Transparently baseless charges of financial wrongdoing. In other words, bogus accusations of “corruption” – like against Ukraine’s Shokin.

One could almost hear Joe Biden chortle: “Well, son of a bitch. He got fired.”

But Look at the Bright Side…

Back to the incipient coup facing the United States, there should be no illusion that what’s at stake in the unfolding scenario for the removal of Donald Trump is not just his presidency but the survival of the historic American ethnos of which he is seen as an avatar by both his supporters and detractors. Remember, we’re dealing with predators and scavengers who are happy to burn the old, evil America down as long as they can achieve total power and continue to feather their cushy nests. Short of a blowout Trump victory by a margin too big to hijack, we’re headed for a dystopian state of affairs.

If they do manage to remove Trump, “by any means necessary,” and Joe Biden takes the helm, we can anticipate a bevy of globalist warmonger appointees that make Trump’s team look like disciples of Mahatma Gandhi. Among the names floated like Nicholas BurnsAntony BlinkenMichele FlournoyEvelyn Farkas, and Anne-Marie Slaughter, all were on board with Bosnia, Kosovo, Iraq, Libya, Ukraine, Syria … [NOTE: The Atlantic Council, known as NATO’s semi-official think tank in Washington and which will be instrumental in staffing a future Joe Biden administration, also has been the beneficiary of generous donations from Hunter Biden’s paymaster, Burisma.]

It’s a recipe for wars, regime changes, and color revolutions galore.

But to finish on a positive note, the potential future business opportunities will be endless!

A New Wall For A New Cold War?

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12 OCTOBER 2020

A New Wall For A New Cold War?

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

Welcome To The New Cold War

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

The US’ Hybrid War On Russia

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

Governing Differences

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

The End Of The “Great Convergence”

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

The “Russian Model”

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

The Rise Of America’s Russian Rival

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

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

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

Post-Soviet Russia’s Irreversible Impact On Western Civilization

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

Concluding Thoughts

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

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s remarks and answers to questions during the meeting with members of the Association of European Businesses in Russia, Moscow, October 5, 2020

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Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s remarks and answers to questions during the meeting with members of the Association of European Businesses in Russia, Moscow, October 5, 2020

October 08, 2020

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation

Mr Vanderplaetse,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Colleagues,

Thank you for the opportunity to address once again the members of the Association of European Businesses in the Russian Federation. First of all, I would like to congratulate you on the 25th anniversary of your association. We appreciate your efforts to promote our economic, investment and trade ties, laying a solid foundation for building good relations between us and the countries you represent.

Here at the Foreign Ministry we value opportunities for dialogue with European entrepreneurs aimed at pushing forward a pragmatic, politics-free and mutually beneficial agenda. At the end of the day, these efforts are designed to improve the wellbeing of the people in Russia and in your countries. Holding regular meetings in this format has become a good tradition, testifying to our mutual commitment to keeping this dialogue going.

Since our previous meeting last year, in fact more than a year ago, the overall global environment has not become any easier, seriously affecting business activity. For many years now, the problems of international terrorism, drug trafficking and organised crime have been escalating around the world. Regional conflicts continue unabated and their number is growing. Recently, the coronavirus infection emerged as a new and a very serious challenge for all of humanity. It would not be an exaggeration to say that it changed the lives of billions of people overnight. Today, no one can say with certainty when the pandemic will end. I will not elaborate here on how the interruption of global supply chains affects global trade. Unemployment is on the rise in many countries. All this weighs on the global economy, which will have to go through a lengthy and probably challenging recovery.

Speaking broadly, in the global context, the pandemic has yet again highlighted what we have long been talking about, that all countries without exception are interconnected, regardless of their geography, size and the level of economic development. All of them have been affected. This is how the pandemic has shown again that cross-border issues cannot be disregarded in this globalised world.

We believed that the conclusion was obvious, that the common tasks and challenges should bring all of us together based on the universally recognised norms of international law. Regrettably, this has not happened so far.  Quite to the contrary, some of our Western colleagues led by the United States have tried to take advantage of the novel coronavirus crisis to promote their narrow interests even more energetically and to settle scores with their geopolitical rivals. The appeals by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet to suspend the illegitimate unilateral sanctions at least during the pandemic, primarily to allow the delivery of medicines and medical equipment as well as the necessary financial transactions, have fallen on deaf ears. Likewise, they have paid no heed to the initiative, put forth by President Vladimir Putin at the online G20 meeting, for setting up green corridors free from trade wars and sanctions to supply medications, food, equipment and technologies. This attitude to unifying initiatives is seriously poisoning the atmosphere of international cooperation and increasing the lack of mutual trust, damaging not only ordinary people, who have been affected first of all, but also the business circles. You know this better than anyone.

These alarming trends have also affected Russia-EU relations. There are hardly any positive achievements to speak about. Since 2014, when the European Union flagrantly violated its own pledge to guarantee the agreement between President Viktor Yanukovych and the opposition, it has not just accepted the coup but has actually been encouraging those who seized power in Ukraine illegally and in violation of the Constitution. In particular, the EU has turned a blind eye to the fact that the coup plotters’ policy is based on Russophobia, and that they threatened to oust Russians from Crimea and tried to browbeat the Russian-speaking regions which refused to recognise the coup and said they wanted to sort out the situation. They were denounced as terrorists, even though they had not attacked anyone, and the army and Ukrainian security forces were sent to fight them. As I said, they have been designated terrorists for refusing to recognise the coup.

Since then, the EU, probably becoming aware of its negative role in these processes but still trying to shift the blame onto someone else. Since 2014, it has ruined the multilevel architecture of interaction between Brussels and Moscow, from summit meetings to over two dozen sectoral dialogues. The programme of four common spaces has been abandoned. To this very day, the normalisation of our relations is being artificially conditioned on the implementation of the Minsk agreements. Moreover, they say openly that it is the Russian Federation that must do this. Meanwhile, our Ukrainian colleagues have announced once again through their leaders, as you probably know, that the Minsk agreements should be preserved as the basis of the EU and US sanctions against Russia. This is their logic.

Of course, we will insist on the implementation of the Minsk Package of Measures, which has been approved by the UN Security Council, but we will not do this because we want the EU to lift its sanctions. We will do this above all in the interests of the fraternal Ukrainian people, who are suffering from what has been recently going on in Kiev and other parts of their country.

Restrictions are still retained on Russian economic operators’ access to external financial markets. European producers, too, continue to sustain multi-billion losses. The other day, we became aware that Sweden has taken yet another discriminatory step. A Swedish company, Quintus Technologies AB, has refused to supply spare parts for GAZ Group’s industrial press, under an absolutely far-fetched pretext. Allegedly, the equipment is of a military nature and has a dual purpose. This is absolutely artificial logic. This press has been in use since 2009, and never before, including the entire period of crisis in our relations after the coup in Ukraine, have the Swedish regulators entertained any doubts. Judging by all appearances, this is by far not the last example, where the wish to curry favour with those who lay down the West’s geopolitical line prevails over commonsense and own interests. Of course, this will also affect Swedish businesses that cooperate with the GAZ Group and the company’s employees.

Regrettably, we have to state that the EU agencies continue their shortsighted policies. In particular, this refers to the EU member countries that have proclaimed themselves “frontline” states. Their mood is also “frontline” and they pursue “frontline” policies. Let me note that in July, the EU set into motion, under an absolutely far-fetched pretext, its 2019 framework for unilateral sanctions against violations of certain “rules” in the cyberspace, which rules have not yet been coordinated on a universal basis. Invented last year, this generic regime, as they decided, should be “test-driven” in practice over Russian citizens. Without providing any real evidence, they have accused them of launching a cyber attack against the headquarters of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) in The Hague. Created in 2019, this regime is not the only one of its kind. The EU has spawned, also within its “inner circle,” yet another generic regime punishing violations in the field of employment of toxic chemicals, or, to put it in a nutshell, the use of prohibited types of chemicals that are chemical weapons. It is intended to be used in specific situations. I have no doubt that they will be attempting to apply this regime to the situation involving Alexey Navalny. Moreover, there is no need to “test-drive” or discuss the facts for this on a universal basis either.

Our French colleagues, again unilaterally, have established the so-called “partnership against impunity for the use of chemical weapons,” a structure outside of the UN or any universal and generally approved international legal framework. But a narrow circle of soul-mates will establish so called “facts,” whereupon a unilaterally created EU organisation intended to punish those who are allegedly guilty of violations will approve sanctions, based on these unilaterally established “facts.” All of this is sad and makes one think that our Western colleagues’ talk of the need for everyone to respect the rules-based order is not just a figure of speech or a synonym of the need to respect international law, but a conscious policy to substitute unilateral and illegitimate actions for the universal international legal framework that requires a consensus of all states in order to approve relevant conventions.

We are interested in establishing the truth regarding Alexey Navalny. That said, this is an outrageous situation that is unfolding following the exact same scenario as in the so-called Skripal case, when accusations were made without presenting any evidence. As you are aware, Russia’s Prosecutor-General’s Office sent requests under the 1959 European Convention for Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters to the relevant agencies in Germany, France and Sweden, where the required tests were allegedly carried out. Under the protocols to this convention they were asked to share information on the results of these tests. We were told that no action will be taken under this convention, which in itself is a violation, and that the results were handed over to the OPCW. They told us to wait for this organisation to release the results of its tests. However, the OPCW informed us that they continue investigating this matter and the samples they collected (it is unclear who collected them and when). We were told that once they are finished, they will communicate the results to Germany, since the request came from there, leaving it to Germany to decide whether to share this information with us. This is a travesty of common sense, and I believe that everyone understands this, including our Western colleagues who deny our requests that are based on a binding international convention. It seems that their Russophobic fervour is so strong that it prevents them from exercising good judgement.

We regret that trade and economic cooperation is becoming increasingly politicised. I have just cited some examples. Trade and economy have always been viewed as a safety net in relations among nations. Nowadays though, things seem to have shifted into a somewhat different phase. I remember so well that in 2014 German businesses called on the European Union and its agencies not to place politics above the economy in its approach to Ukrainian affairs. At the time it was German Chancellor Angela Merkel who said that there are cases when politics must be above economics. This is regrettable.

We are now witnessing another example. The European Commission has drafted a report with a long title: Report on Significant Distortions in the Economy of the Russian Federation for the Purpose of Trade Defence Investigations. You probably understand what this is all about. The document is clearly biased and can lead to new restrictions on the access of Russian goods to the EU market. You know that this will definitely prompt us to reply. In particular, this report presents regulatory measures that are totally legitimate, including in energy, transport and labour resources, as distortions in the Russian economy. We also have questions regarding another EU initiative. I am referring to the key element of the European Green Deal, the so-called carbon border adjustment mechanism. Brussels said that it will be enacted not later than on January 1, 2023 in one form or another. For now, we are looking into what this initiative actually means. We do hope that this mechanism would not contradict the World Trade Organisation (WTO) norms and will not lead to “trade protectionism on climate issues.” We would like to avoid having to take retaliatory measures. I believe now is not the time for trade wars, even in the current politicised environment.

I will not elaborate too much on the games with Nord Stream 2. It all started quite a few years ago when the EU retrospectively amended the gas directive within its Third Energy Package just to make it harder to carry out this project. This ran counter to all legal norms and established practices approved by all countries. It was with great difficulty that compromises were found. This did not prevent things from going awry afterwards. When the end of the project was on the horizon, a new factor emerged in the form of the heavy hand of the United States that stated its open and unscrupulous intention to derail this project for Russia and the Europeans in order to force the US LNG on the Europeans. They are franticly creating LNG capabilities. Washington claims that these measures are designed to support US producers. This is a gloves-off approach free from any ethical boundaries. They do not seem to be concerned with the fact that higher costs for buying expensive gas will undermine the competitiveness of entire European manufacturing sectors. In fact, this suits the US.

Politicised energy cooperation is yet another blow at the foundations of what we call European security. Energy is the area of cooperation dating back over 50 years. We recently marked the anniversary with our Austrian colleagues. Energy was always left outside any forms of confrontation during the Cold War. Our joint energy programme and cooperation have survived the dissolution of some states and the formation of others; they have always served the long-term interests of all European nations, including the Russian Federation.

Protectionism and other barriers and restrictions will only aggravate the economic situation, which is already complicated. By the way, we noted that the BusinessEurope Confederation of European Business recently published recommendations aimed at protecting European businesses amidst sanctions-related restrictions. The document directly states that the weaponisation of the sanctions policy to pursue economic interests is unacceptable. It may seem obvious but as things go nowadays, it takes a lot of courage to say something as obvious as this.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The Russian leadership is implementing measures to support the public and businesses in the face of COVID-19 related problems. We are doing everything we can, considering certain minimum requirements of the epidemiological authorities, to help return foreign workers to Russia, which you are well aware of. You have made respective requests and requests continue to come in. We will continue to process them promptly. We expect that, according to the forecasts made in Russia and foreign capitals (including multilateral institutions), the depth of the economic decline in our country will not be as significant as in many other countries, including the eurozone.

Our potential for countering infectious diseases is becoming increasingly more effective. We have learned a lot while taking practical measures to fight this challenge. Relying on our past experience in countering various pandemics, we managed to develop a series of test systems to diagnose the coronavirus and launch the production of drugs to treat it efficiently. As you know, we registered the Sputnik V vaccine. Registration of one or two more vaccines developed by the Vector Research Centre is being finalised. We support sharing experience in this area and cooperating with all interested countries because it is important for overcoming the consequences of our common emergency once and for all. As you know, speaking at the 75th session of the UN General Assembly via videoconference, President Vladimir Putin proposed an initiative of holding a high-level online conference involving the states interested in cooperation on developing coronavirus vaccines. We hope to receive a constructive response to this important proposal.

Before concluding my opening remarks, I would just like to say a few more words about the main subject on our agenda today: as we have already seen more than once, economic interdependence can be both a boon and a bane. I don’t really think that anything good will come out of this if the EU continues to see its partners as some “appendages” of the Eurocentric world. The world that was based on the central role of Europe has become history, not regrettably or happily but objectively. The drivers of economic growth and political influence are now in the East. The new polycentric reality calls for new approaches in politics and the economy. The “leader-follower” relationship is no longer tenable. What we need now is respect for the fundamental principle of equality.

Nowadays we must help the global economy through this difficult period and ensure its consistent post-COVID development. This goal should unite all of us, because this is about the welfare of all nations. We call for finding new growth points in order to overcome the global recession. It is crucial in this respect to combine the potentials of the various integration initiatives that are being implemented throughout Eurasia. This is the objective of President Putin’s initiative on the Greater Eurasian Partnership based on the universal principles of international law and transparency and open to all countries of our huge common continent without exception. You are aware that we are actively promoting dialogue on this subject within the framework of the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) and the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), as well as in relations with ASEAN nations. While doing so, we point out that we would like all countries of our common continent to join this process, both members of regional associations and the unaligned countries. This means that the EU countries could also take a look at this initiative with regard to their own interests, the interests of European businesses, including the possibility of easy access to the rapidly growing markets and new transit routes within the framework of this project. We have a starting point for launching this work in earnest. I am referring to the contacts created at the technical level between the European Commission and the Eurasian Economic Commission. We would like these contacts to break out of the restrictions of technical and regulatory issues. We would like our discussions to move over to a political level and to acquire a political vision of the development of Eurasia, which will become a global economic driver – there is no doubt about this.

We firmly believe that it is in our common interests to prevent the appearance of undesirable dividing lines in the new economic spheres created by the new technological paradigm. Energy and industry are becoming ever greener and all spheres of human activity, including the work of economic operators, are being digitalised. It is our strong conviction that this calls for combining efforts rather than trying to play zero sum games again, as was the case in the past. We are ready for cooperation on the broadest possible basis.

Thank you. I am now ready for the interactive part of our meeting.

Question: There is a saying in my native German language that smart people give way in a dispute. What steps would Russia be ready to make in this regard? What opportunities do you see for giving an impetus to this process and putting it back on a more constructive trajectory? What mechanisms and measures do you see for shielding small islands of cooperation from the collateral damage caused by geopolitical rivalry?

Sergey Lavrov: As far as I can see, the way you used this German saying (smart people giving way in a dispute) suggests that you are certain that the West will never give way.

I also see this in the way many of the ongoing developments are unfolding. In particular, this refers to the complaints we hear. Russia invariably owes something regardless of the international matter, be it Syria, Libya or Belarus. The same goes for Alexey Navalny, any cyber affairs and poisonings. But no evidence is presented. Moreover, when we question their claims and findings, in this case I am referring to the Bundeswehr laboratory, or to the Porton Down laboratory in the Skripal case, they see this as an insult. But no evidence was presented. Our German colleagues are now telling us that this is our problem and that the poisoning took place on Russian territory, so they don’t know anything. Go ahead and open a criminal case, but we will not give you anything, they tell us.

By the way, I remember a rather gruesome episode in our relations with Germany when there was a problem in 2016 with Yelizaveta Fesenko, a Russian underage girl. She disappeared and the search continued for quite a long time. She later resurfaced and said that she had been raped. It turned out that she had not been raped but Germany still opened a criminal case on child sexual abuse charges. One of the defendants received a suspended sentence. But when we tried to become involved to help the girl (apart from a German citizenship she also is a citizen of the Russian Federation) and asked our German colleagues to explain what happened, we faced an outpouring of resentment, including a statement by then German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, who said that Russia should not interfere in Germany’s domestic affairs or use this incident for propaganda purposes. This is a similar case. Something happened to a Russian national on German territory. When we asked to explain what had happened they told us that it’s not our business and asked us not to interfere in their domestic affairs. When now we asked our German colleagues to share their findings after analysing Alexey Navalny’s test samples, they referred us to the OPCW. The OPCW referred us to Germany, arguing that it was Germany that filed the request, while Russia should have had the same findings as Berlin. However, the doctors in Omsk passed on to the Germans the results of all the tests they ran and everything they did. When the Germans came to transport Alexey Navalny to Germany, they signed papers confirming that they received all the information. Moreover, Alexey Navalny’s spouse signed a document assuming responsibility for all the consequences of his transfer to Germany, since our doctors were not convinced that this was safe. It is true that they did not find any traces of weapon-grade toxic substances. They honestly said so. Let me draw your attention to the fact that the Charite clinic did not find any toxic agents from the so-called Novichok group in Navalny’s samples either. It was the Bundeswehr clinic that made these findings. We still do not know whether the French and the Swedes collected the samples themselves or the Germans simply passed on these samples to them. The fact that our partners are trying to keep this secret, muddying the waters, is a matter of serious concern for us. We want to get to the truth and will pursue this objective. I don’t know what to do with this. Now we are being accused of the developments in the Central African Republic, and they are trying to pin the blame for something that happened in Mozambique on us as well. We stand accused of everything no matter where it occurs.

When US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, his deputies and other members of the US administration travel around the world, they openly call on their partners during news conferences in Africa, Greece or elsewhere to stop cooperating with Russia and China. These statements are being made officially and unceremoniously, for everyone to hear. It is difficult for me to say now what concessions we can make when it comes to this situation.

As your board chairman has already mentioned, it is good that the ties with the EU are being revived. Yes, they are indeed being revived, but only in specific areas, such as Syria, Libya and Africa – we have recently held such consultations. However, we do not see a systemic approach to our relations on the global and hugely important political plane.

High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell is a good friend of mine. We spoke with him earlier  this year on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference. In June, we talked for two hours via videoconference. We discussed all topics in great detail. There is a common understanding that we need to review the situation, at least so as to see if the EU policy based on sanctions is really effective. This is for the EU to do. In our opinion, it is a flawed policy. Sanctions damage both those against whom they are applied and those who apply them. You are aware that we are trying to abandon all forms of cooperation that can strengthen our dependence on Europe, including in the fields of technology and agricultural goods. I believe that we have achieved good results with this. We are probably doing this because we are no longer sure that our European partners will honour their commitments. I have cited the example of Nord Stream 2. It would seem that the EU’s Legal Service has long analysed this project and concluded that it is good and does not contradict any EU norms. Nevertheless, the question has been reopened and the rules have been changed. Is this how reliable partners act? Moreover, this is being done contrary to the fact that companies from the five respected “old” EU members were fully interested, and continue to be interested, in the Nord Stream 2 project. But politics has prevailed over business.

Of course, selective dialogue is underway on some specific matters, as you mentioned. We are not abandoning it. But we can see that the EU has been trying to preserve the five guiding principles and only to modernise them (and they are based on the fact that the normalisation of EU’s relations with Russia is conditioned by the implementation of the Minsk agreements by Russia, not by Ukraine). While these futile discussions are underway in the EU and the very aggressive and loud Russophobic minority is preventing any efforts to reassess relations with Russia, very serious analytical processes are gathering momentum in Germany. As far as we know (this information is based on German media reports), experts close to the German Government are developing what they describe as “a new Eastern policy,” which actually amounts to removing the remaining positive parts on our agenda.  Their main arguments, as cited by the press, are that strategic partnership is a thing of the past; that the Partnership for Modernisation, which used to be a symbol of our cooperation with Germany and subsequently with the EU as a whole, has not materialised; and that Russia refused to become an ally for the EU and NATO and hence became their opponent when it comes to fundamental political and ideological aspects of the new international order. I have already said that our Western friends want the new international order to be based on rules rather than international law, and on rules invented in a narrow circle of confederates.

As for selective cooperation, the circles close to the Government who are formulating a new agenda say that such cooperation will be possible only after Russians mend their ways. Amid mental stagnation in Brussels, these processes are gathering momentum first of all in Germany. Geopolitical analysts have probably seen that Germany is becoming the lead player in ensuring a strong and lasting anti-Russia charge in all processes underway in the EU.

We have seen this before. The first sanctions were adopted after an absolutely transparent referendum was held in Crimea and nobody questioned their outcome – US representatives told me so immediately after the referendum. Nobody doubted then, and nobody doubts now, that it was a sincere desire of the Crimean residents. But as soon as this happened, we were told in a quite superior manner that Russia should know that there would be no “business as usual.” We replied that yes, there will be no “business as usual.” You yourself have ruined your standing and reputation when you were spit in the face – excuse my French – by those who terminated the agreement guaranteed by France, Germany and Poland. We know very well that there will be no “business as usual,” but we are nevertheless ready to look for spheres of constructive interaction. But take a look at the current situation. Just a small but telling example regarding Nord Stream 2: the Swedish authorities have cancelled their companies’ permit for cooperation with GAZ. There are more examples of this kind too. The question now is not that there will be no “business as usual,” but that there may be no reliable basis for doing business with Europe in the long term and we cannot be sure that our European partners will honour their commitments. I am not talking about companies. They want to do business, but it is the politicians who are ruling over business now. This is the problem. As I have already said, there is no lack of goodwill or desire to develop normal relations on our part. Just read President Putin’s message of greetings to Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier and Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel on Germany’s reunification. It clearly says everything. But goodwill cannot be unilateral. It is said that he who is smarter and stronger should take the first step. We probably have grounds to believe that our partners are strong and smart. I really do hope that they think about us in the same way. If there is goodwill on both sides, we can turn the tide. But we do not see any reciprocity so far.

Question: We have noticed these concerns regarding the recent trends that you mentioned, and the articles claiming that the partnership has come to an end. We share these concerns. As an association, we agree that it takes two to tango.

Sergey Lavrov: These days, some prefer breakdancing and you don’t need a partner.

Question: Let’s hope that partner dancing will not go out of style. As an association, we adhere to the principle of independence. We communicate both with Brussels, by voicing our concerns with the current situation, and with officials in Russia. I was very happy to hear your greetings on our anniversary. This year we marked 25 years. We planned to organise a conference using the motto “Russia and Europe in the world of tomorrow: looking back on the past to move towards the future.” How do you see Russia and Europe in the world of tomorrow? What are the most promising areas for continuing the cooperation that has not always been easy but has undoubtedly been productive over these 25 years? What are the key areas for you?

Sergey Lavrov: We spoke about this at length today. If we talk about specific areas, these include, of course, the digital economy, the green economy and everything related to the new types of energy (the Russian-Italian-French thermonuclear reactor project). We have many hi-tech projects with Germany. There is mutual interest. But, again, the political course pursued right now, mainly by the United States, is aimed at preventing any mutually beneficial, promising and competitive economic projects in Europe to be carried out without the American involvement – be it Russia or China. This has been stated openly. Politics is the art of the possible but perhaps, in the current circumstances, the economy is also the art of the possible. As long as the leaders of your countries are capable of protecting the core interests of European businesses, as long as they can protect your competitiveness and as long as they can withstand this pressure.

But, of course, besides the economy, we are deeply concerned about the military and political situation. It is not improving in Europe and, on the contrary, it is becoming more disturbing. By the way, there have been many reports, analysis pieces and articles recently marking the anniversary of the German reunification. Russian television filmed a two-hour documentary, The Wall, which came to a rather sad conclusion: the Berlin Wall was never destroyed; it simply became virtual and moved to the East very close to the Russian border, despite all the promises and assurances. I will not comment on this film right now. I hope you watched it. If you did not, I recommend it because you will understand a lot about the current conditions for the Russia-Europe relations, how the Russian leadership and Russian people remember the times when – and we all know this very well – Russia played the decisive role in the German reunification, by making a huge sacrifice. I am not exaggerating. The withdrawal of our troops was conducted in absolutely cruel and inhumane conditions. We know the real (financial) cost Germany paid for this. We also know that, not that our Western colleagues tried to persuade the Soviet leaders against it but they asked whether they [the Soviet leaders] had thought carefully and whether everybody needed a united Germany. You know the outcome. I find the manner used by some representatives of the German leadership in communication with the Russian Federation not only unacceptable but fully indicative of the fact that the era everybody considered a historic victory of Germans and Russians and eventually the victory of the entire Europe is now completely forgotten. This is unfortunate. I really hope that this anomaly goes away. It cannot reflect the Germans’ true attitude towards Russia. Speaking of which, in a recent public opinion poll, half of the German people across the Federal Republic of Germany, including Western Germany, expressed a positive attitude towards the Russian people. I think the number of people in our country supporting cooperation with Germans will not be less than that. Our historic victory is in overcoming all phobias and focusing on the constructive process in the interests of our nations. Of course, it would be a crime to lose it.

Question: I would like to get back to the issue of highly skilled professionals returning to Russia. We are very grateful for the help we received from the Government of the Russian Federation and, in particular, from the Foreign Ministry. We know that the rules currently in place, the Government Directive No. 635-r of March 16, 2020, is greatly appreciated by our members because it opens a channel for returning highly skilled professionals. However, on the other hand, this process is still complicated and there are many unresolved matters. What are the prospects of relaxing the border crossing regime, especially ahead of the New Year days off?

Sergey Lavrov: I have already spoken on this matter multiple times. The Foreign Ministry will play a secondary role there. Public health is the top priority. Therefore, the epidemiological and sanitary authorities are calling all the shots. We have an Emergency Response Centre headed by Deputy Prime Minister Tatyana Golikova, the Federal Supervision Service for Consumer Protection and Welfare, the Healthcare Ministry and the Federal Medical-Biological Agency. All these experts are working on the best measures to protect our citizens and our visitors from the danger of contracting the coronavirus.

It is in the interests of the Foreign Ministry to establish contacts as quickly as possible. As you are aware, the aviation authorities are also interested in this – as are the airline companies which are suffering losses and hoping to resume air services as quickly as possible. Once again, the decisions are up to the epidemiologists.

Question: I can see that Russia is trying to shut itself off from the rest of the world by demanding that production facilities be more localised.  We invested about 2 billion and are one of the largest companies. Seventy percent of our products will not be considered Russia-made products in two years. I am urging you to do everything you can to make sure that Russia does not isolate itself from the rest of the world and cooperates with Western companies. Do not force us to resort to localisation which puts us at a disadvantage and which will seem rather strange after we invested 2 billion.

Sergey Lavrov: I agree with the idea that we should not destroy the global forms of cooperation and build barriers. If we look at localisation as a barrier, this logic probably applies here. But again, we need to remember about the strategic goals set for our economy by President Vladimir Putin and the Government. To a great extent, they have to do with the events in our relations of the past six or seven years and with the fact whether the West demonstrated itself as reliable and capable of negotiating in relations with us.

When it comes to localisation, we are not alone. For example, India is rather actively pursuing its Make in India policy and I think it is much more demanding than the localisation policy in the Russian Federation. Overall, I understand your production-related concerns and assume that these issues should be raised with the Government Foreign Investment Advisory Council that is in charge of these matters.

Question: The Government of the Russian Federation adopted new rules that prevent us from investing for the next two years. We do not know whether we can invest in the future because in two years there will be no benefits in this for us.

Sergey Lavrov: The Foreign Ministry is interested in continuing pragmatic and mutually beneficial economic cooperation; therefore, let’s agree that following this meeting, following our discussion, your chairman, the Director General, will send me a proposal outlining the steps which, in your opinion, would allow our cooperation to continue on a mutually beneficial basis.

I know that you cooperate with the GAZ Group. I meant exactly the same thing that you are talking about when I said that some small European countries are trying to run before the American hounds because the seizures by the United States were once again extended. The Americans are thinking about themselves, too. Many American jobs depend on continuing this cooperation. Our Swedish neighbours decided that they will be more American than the Americans themselves.

Question: When we discuss relaxing the border crossing regime for highly skilled professionals, please do not forget about their family members because it is a major part of their lives here. I would like to ask you to consider this issue.

Sergey Lavrov: Of course, their comfort is important. We will make sure to support requests concerning their family members as well.

Question: We are witnessing the US administration purposefully dismantling the international relations system that took shape after World War II. How much have they managed to accomplish in this regard? Is this an irreversible process? What can we expect from the upcoming election?

Sergey Lavrov: As I mentioned earlier, the current international relations system is collapsing under the banner of the “rules-based world order.” It became part of the political vocabulary, or narrative, in modern parlance, about three to four years ago. We took note of it immediately. When we began to talk about this term which was proposed to be included in the declarations of international forums, we were told that “this is the same as international law.” When we proposed replacing this term with “respect for international law,” we were told, by hook or by crook, that “we need to use some fresh language.” And then everything that I was talking about came to the surface.

Two parallel processes are underway that are directly related to the erosion of the system that was created after World War II, which suited everyone, made it possible to avoid another world war and, as we all hoped, would be ridding itself of confrontational components after the Cold War ended. We have already talked about the Berlin Wall and everything that followed and what we are witnessing now.

There are two obvious areas where this system is being eroded. The first is the privatisation of the existing international organisations’ secretariats. The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), which is based on the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), is a case in point. It was adopted unanimously (any convention can only be adopted unanimously) and is binding exclusively for the countries that have ratified this Convention, 193 in all. The OPCW is one of the most universal organisations. The Convention can only be amended by way of talks, and the language must be agreed upon by a consensus, after which the amendments are adopted and ratified. Under the convention, the OPCW Technical Secretariat (TC) has the competence to conduct a probe in response to an inquiry by any CWC member country. This should be done by an onsite visit by the experts to a location designated by the corresponding party to take samples that are then taken to certified labs. Then, a report is compiled which says whether a substance prohibited by the special lists attached to the CWC was found in these samples. That’s all there is to it. The OPCW Secretariat began to grossly violate the Convention. For example, in Syria, they were making decisions and compiling reports without onsite visits. They just said that they managed to get samples from, say, Great Britain or France (there was such an episode in Khan Shaykhun), since it was “unsafe” for them to go there. We insisted that, under the Convention, they must go there themselves. The answer was “it’s unsafe.” Then, we asked the British and the French, since they were able to obtain the samples in unsafe circumstances, to use their contacts to ensure the safety of the OPCW inspectors so that they comply with the convention. We were told there was nothing they could do, and it’s “classified.” The Syrian government was accused of airstrikes using bombs filled with toxic agents. This “classified” information was used to conclude that a poisonous agent was used in Khan Shaykhun. End of story. Nobody knows who took these samples, or who took them to which laboratory, because it’s “classified.”

There are many questions. When we started asking them and stopped accepting such reports in the UN Security Council (only the UNSC can decide who is right and who is wrong under international law and the UN Charter), our Western colleagues at the OPCW convened an extraordinary session of all parties to the Convention. They put to the vote a proposal that, in addition to what is allowed for the OPCW Technical Secretariat under the Convention (to determine whether a prohibited poisonous agent was used or not), it should also be authorised to identify the perpetrators and to carry out the attribution. Less than half of the countries members of the convention voted in favour of the proposal. The rest voted against it or abstained. However, according to the rules of procedure, the decision was declared adopted. Thus, instead of an international law instrument, which any universal convention is, we got an instrument of the “rules-based order.” Of course, we will not be paying for the portion of the Secretariat’s activities that focuses on these purposes. China and a number of other countries are doing the same, but that doesn’t make the problem disappear. This is an outright privatisation of the Secretariat, which can now be seen in the way the senior officials of this body (Western countries hold the posts of Director-General and his “right hand”) react to our inquiries on many issues (Syria, Navalny, etc.). Concurrently, privatisation is carried out in less aggressive forms, when the Western employees of the respective secretariats conduct blatantly one-sided policies at the UN organisations.

The second area is about the propensity to move “inconvenient” matters outside the UN system. In my opening remarks, I mentioned that our French colleagues had created the International Partnership against Impunity for the Use of Chemical Weapons. We asked why we can’t discuss this at the UN or the OPCW, which they are trying to manipulate. Why do this somewhere else? We were told that this is just a “group of like-minded people.” Today, I spoke on the phone with my French colleague, Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs Jean-Yves Le Drian, and asked him why they were not responding to a request filed by the General Prosecutor’s Office of Russia regarding Alexey Navalny’s tests. Mr Le Drian told me they were waiting for the OPCW to respond. The OPCW has not yet responded (today is October 5). However, already on September 24, our French colleagues initiated the distribution, among their closest partners at the very same organisation in The Hague, of a draft statement by the countries participating in the International Partnership against Impunity for the Use of Chemical Weapons. The draft of this statement is already saying that, as confirmed by the OPCW Secretariat, Mr Navalny was poisoned with Novichok. The Secretariat has not confirmed or said anything. We have an official letter from the OPCW Director General Fernando Arias Gonzalez saying that the process is still underway.

This “privatisation,” as we call it, creates quite serious problems in other areas of the universal institutions’ work as well. Instead of once again provoking scandals at the conferences of the parties to the relevant universal conventions, they are now making decisions in a narrow circle of “like-minded people” and then present this as an example of multilateralism. This approach forms the basis of the Franco-German initiative for a new multilateralism, which they are promoting and which was proclaimed not so long ago. It was stated that the EU is an example of multilateralism. We asked again why multilateralism is being considered outside the framework of the UN multilateral organisation. There’s no answer, but we know it. There will be more cases like this. Along with this International Partnership against Impunity for the Use of Chemical Weapons, the French have created a similar partnership on the freedom of journalism and information in cyberspace.

Question: The impact of geopolitics on de-globalisation. Modern equipment has a very broad built-in functionality for data collection and transmission. At the same time, requirements for a mandatory local hosting are being tightened, in particular, with regard to data collection and transmission. Some forecasts say that by 2030, many countries will close their markets to each other. What do you think could promote the opening of a common economic space?

Sergey Lavrov: For 15 years, if not longer, we have been actively promoting the initiative (it has gained a large number of supporters now) to figure out how the internet should work so that everyone feels comfortable. This question was raised at the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), an organisation dealing with all forms of information and communication technologies, and in the UN, where it was proposed to agree on the rules of responsible behaviour in the information landscape. It is about international information security. At the same time, we are promoting initiatives at the UN to combat crime in cyberspace. There is one part that relates to processes affecting national security, and the other is crime proper – drug trafficking, paedophilia, pornography, and so on. But things are moving with difficulty at the ITU. All these years of discussions have led us nowhere. The Americans do not seem interested in making this topic the subject of agreements. The discussion continues, but you know how the internet is governed, how it all works. It suits them. The Americans are actually pushing forward the idea that there is no need for any anti-cybercrime conventions or rules of conduct to ensure security in the information landscape. There is international law and it is applicable. This also reflects our Western partners’ policy to declare cyberspace an arena of potential confrontation, including the possibility of hostilities (and the outer space for good measure).

As we have seen from hours of discussions with the Americans and other Westerners, they are reluctant to introduce new regulations and cite applicable international law because the West again wants to reserve some extra rights. I mentioned the partnership to protect freedom in cyberspace. If it is established that someone has violated “freedom in cyberspace,” they will not have to prove anything to anyone, because international law is already in place. The Americans are primarily interested in Article 51 of the UN Charter (the right to self-defence and the possible use of weapons). They do not hide this and want to reserve the right to strike. More precisely, not reserve, but actually obtain the right to use military force in response to what they might consider an encroachment in cyberspace that affects their national interest. You can implicate just about anything there.

President of Russia Vladimir Putin proposed reopening the existing channels on cybersecurity issues. On October 2, Secretary of the Russian Security Council Nikolai Patrushev met with US President Trump’s National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien, who said that so far, Washington has not seen any Russian interference attempts in the 2020 United States elections. Well, they kind of expected Moscow to interfere, but “Mr Patrushev assured them they won’t.” What the Russian Security Council Secretary proposed – we actually lived through all this many years ago with the Obama administration, and later it resumed with Donald Trump – was a proposal to sign a deal on non-interference in each other’s affairs, including in cyberspace, concerning elections or other processes. The US does not want to, because they really interfere in our internal affairs. After Kiev events in 2014, they passed the Ukraine Freedom Support Act, which explicitly ordered the State Department to spend $20 million a year to liaise with Russian civil society, to support certain “independent” and “non-governmental” organisations. You are certainly well aware of this. Indeed, a cutting-edge sphere like cyberspace and information and communication technologies in general, where progress is rapidly gaining momentum, is a field for competition. Look at what is happening with 5G networks now, how the Americans prohibit Europe and the rest of the world from cooperating with China; look at how these policies affect the atmosphere of international relations. Consider artificial intelligence. I think competition will continue, as we are seeing a new industrial revolution – or rather, not an industrial, but a technological one.

If we consider the US policy line they are pursuing today, it is difficult to predict how and when it will end, whether it will even come to a close in our lifetime, because anything’s possible. Who knows what will happen on this planet in 50-100 years. There are many people who believe the current US policy line is irrevocable, and from now on, they refuse to put up with it. The most interesting thing is that they actually achieve their goals in some cases. As we say, might is right. But it seems to me that the United States should and will try to pay more attention to its internal problems. I would say what we can see there now has very deep roots. There are many forecasts that any empire will reach a crisis at some point and become smaller and quieter. As Vladimir Vysotsky wrote, “it goes at random, all over the place, and downhill.”

I am not trying to make any predictions about the US elections now; I do not want to be blamed again for supporting someone or not supporting someone else. Vladimir Putin has said many times that we will work with anyone they elect. We are watching the squabbles between Democrats and Republicans. No silver lining, of course. Destabilisation in the United States is unlikely to do any good to any of us. We are actually all interested in the United States being a responsible player in the international arena; but for that, they should at least have some internal stability, which is now being tested. We want them to be a responsible player, which means they should follow the rules, not those invented by them, consistently rather than occasionally, and not change those rules at their whim or use loopholes (like we say, every law has a loophole). This is rules-based order. Unfortunately, the trend is quite steady – they have left the UNESCO, the UN Human Rights Council, and withdrawn from nearly all treaties; now the last one, the New START, is going to die. The conditions they set are absolutely unilateral and do not take into account either our interests or the experience of many decades, when arms control was enforced to everyone’s satisfaction and was welcomed by all countries. I cannot rule out that the World Trade Organisation will be next. They are also complaining about it, as I understand it, and continue blocking the dispute resolution body, preventing the appointment of the necessary participants for a quorum.

This question causes everyone’s concern, but I have no answer to give you. Some expound on how empires grow old and new ones emerge, like when you all play together as kids, and there is always the main bully in the sandbox who hits the younger ones. But later, when they grow up, they get even. This probably happens in different forms on a bigger scale, like centuries-long cycles.

Question: As you may be aware, Turkey and Libya have certain agreements regarding the Mediterranean Sea. We’re amid an abnormal situation, where Turkey, a NATO member, has a run-in with Europe, where most countries are NATO members as well. Clearly, in addition to the economic interests, there are geopolitical and military reasons as well. What’s your view about a potential increase in the number of clashes in this region and Russia’s role?

Sergey Lavrov: Here, too, we need to look through the lens of geopolitical interests. The situation in Libya, Syria and a number of other countries is far from being alright, but hydrocarbons are among the factors that clearly influence politics. At least what the Americans are doing with oil having illegally occupied the eastern coast of the Euphrates River in Syria and making a decision allowing their company to produce oil. Together with the Kurds, they are trying to “cobble up” a Kurdish autonomy, which will have quasi-state functions. It is well known that they are also trying to talk the Turks into not objecting to the idea of creating such autonomy, assuring them that the Americans will ensure the Kurds’ loyalty. Flirting with a country’s territorial integrity is a gross violation of international law. In this case, this applies not only to Syria, but also to the Kurdish problem, which can be so explosive that the current situation will appear much less serious. It affects a number of countries in the region. An invitation to separatism and its active promotion can end very badly. This is being done by a distant overseas country, but the countries of the region and Europe will have to deal with the consequences. We are not far away from there, either. So, we have come up with an initiative to develop a security concept in the Gulf with the participation of all Arab countries, Iran, the League of Arab States (LAS), the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), the UN Security Council permanent members, and the European Union.

The time has come when too many problems have piled up in and around the Gulf, including the Middle East and North Africa. We need to sit down and talk.

The Americans are also departing from international law and moving to the rules on which they want to establish the world order, I mean a Middle East settlement. They are turning the Arab Peace Initiative upside down, which proclaimed the creation of the Palestinian state followed by the normalisation of relations between the Arab countries and Israel. Now, the process has reversed.

We welcome any agreements that normalise relations between the states, but we cannot agree to this being done to the detriment of the Palestinian people’ interests which are enshrined in numerous consensus resolutions adopted by the Security Council and the UN General Assembly.

Question: More than a year ago now, President of Russia Vladimir Putin met with President of France Emmanuel Macron in Bregancon. How would you assess the results of that meeting? I know that recently in Lithuania, President Macron said he would continue cooperating with Russia because it is crucial for Europe. What do you have to say  on this score?

Sergey Lavrov: In August 2019, Russian President Vladimir Putin and French President Emmanuel Macron had a very good and productive meeting in Bregancon. France is the only state whose government responded to Vladimir Putin’s address circulated in autumn 2019, when it became known that the INF Treaty had finally “died.” That long letter went to all NATO members and a number of other states, in which Vladimir Putin spelled out the history of the issue, explained how important the INF Treaty was, how its termination would increase the risks and wipe out any control over such missiles, and proposed to declare a voluntary moratorium. He said that Russia has already announced it and will not build or deploy any such missiles until such US-made systems are deployed in some part of the world. The President of Russia asked his NATO partners to consider the possibility of a counter moratorium without concluding any agreement – just pure goodwill, similar to the previous nuclear test ban. Only a few of them even bothered to respond, usually “thank you and we’ll read it later.” Some just declined. French President Macron was the only one who actually wrote he was ready to discuss the proposal, and who noticed that we were not just proposing two counter-moratoriums in that letter – a Russia-NATO and a wider one – but we were ready to discuss specific ways to verify compliance. Western Europeans as well as our American colleagues said the “cunning” Russia was proposing a moratorium when it allegedly had such missiles in Kaliningrad. They believe our Iskander systems violate this Treaty, but never provided a single fact that proved it. If they say that an Iskander missile has been tested at a prohibited range, then obviously, they should have satellite images, but they never showed any, just as they have not shown any satellite images when it comes to the Malaysian Boeing shot down over Donbass. They have some pictures, but they just don’t show them to anyone. So Vladimir Putin proposed, if they have any such concerns, to discuss what verification measures we can agree upon to make everyone feel comfortable. The only one who responded to that was Emmanuel Macron.

Unlike our selective cooperation with EU’s Brussels on specific conflict matters, sporadically, from time to time, what we have with France is a stable dialogue, including the two-plus-two format with the foreign and defence ministers. In September 2019, our French colleagues were in Moscow. We also established cooperation in more than ten working groups on various strategic tracks. The working groups on combating terrorism and cybersecurity met recently – these topics should obviously be of interest to everyone, but the Americans and most other Westerners, including the Germans, have shown little interest in cooperating on them, to put it mildly.

Emmanuel Macron also makes critical statements. We can hear those. We also have some questions for France. I have just mentioned some of the steps they are taking that undermine the legitimacy of universal organisations, attempts to isolate some issues to be addressed by a narrow circle of participants they find comfortable. But we are having a dialogue, whatever disagreements we might have cannot be a reason to refuse to discuss serious matters, and limit interaction to some selective, elective topics, as the European Union does.

Question: The international community failed to prevent two global catastrophes in the 20th century: the Holocaust and the Armenian Genocide. Today we are witnessing the escalation of a conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan in which Turkey has become involved. Do we have any mechanisms for preventing genocide in the 21st century?

Sergey Lavrov: We have the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (Genocide Convention), which is effective. Genocide has been denounced as a crime against humanity. There are different types and forms of genocide. What is happening today to the Russian language and Russian education in the Baltic countries (in Latvia and Estonia), in Ukraine and several other places clearly amounts to infringement on the fundamental rights of a very large group of people.

One of the topics we discussed with Josep Borrell was discrimination against Russian speakers, in particular, in Ukraine. We regularly raise the question of the Baltics with the EU. They seem unable to do anything, and it even looks to me as if they are unwilling to do anything about it. They only speak in favour of naturalisation. The process is underway, they claim, adding that everything will be just fine, in time. Nothing good is taking place there though. And in Ukraine they adopted several laws on education and language, following which they have adopted amendments that stipulate exemptions for EU languages, which has placed the Russian language in conditions of double discrimination, even though the Ukrainian Constitution stipulates the protection of national minority rights. And it directly mentions Russians.

We have informed the EU that there are Hungarian, Bulgarian and Polish communities in Ukraine and called on them to join forces to protect the rights of the national minorities at the UN, the OSCE and the Council of Europe. We sense a trend in each of these countries to settle the problems of their national minorities in Ukraine unofficially, and they don’t care what happens after that. I asked Josep Borrell if Brussels would support this policy. Absolutely not, he replied, adding that they would equally protect all national minority languages and that the EU would never be content with exemptions for their minorities. But these exemptions have already been made. A law prohibiting primary school tuition in any language other than Ukrainian was to become effective as of September 1. A three-year exemption has been approved for the EU languages, but not for the Russian language. I asked Josep Borrell why this was so. He answered that they were working on this problem.

I don’t think a repetition of genocide in its classical form is possible today, but regrettably, discrimination trends will be gathering momentum. Speaking about Karabakh, we maintain contact with Armenia and Azerbaijan, as well as with Turkey and Iran as their neighbours. Today I had a telephone conversation with [French Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs] Jean-Yves Le Drian, during which we also spoke about Karabakh. The presidents of the three co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group – Russia, France and the United States – have made a very strong statement. We are now preparing a statement of the three countries’ foreign ministers.  However, what we need is not only statements but practical moves that can be made to end the bloodshed and resume negotiations.

You have mentioned that Emmanuel Macron said in Vilnius that cooperation with Russia was crucial for finding solutions to problems. We fully share this view. He also met with Svetlana Tikhanovskaya there; she has met with a number of high-ranking officials from EU countries.

This has jogged my memory regarding a situation, I think it was in 2017, when Jean-Marc Ayrault held the post of foreign minister. In March 2017, Marine Le Pen came to Russia at the invitation of our parliament. She met with President Putin. Mr Ayrault criticised that meeting between the President of Russia and the leader of a large French party. He interpreted it as “an attempt to interfere in the election process.” “We would like to understand if this is so. France is not interfering in Russia’s internal affairs, and we hope that Russia will not interfere in our affairs either,” he said. This is how he commented on President Putin’s meeting with the leader of a French political party who had been invited to visit Russia by our parliament. Now look at the [Western] reaction to what is taking place in Vilnius and other places. This is double standards.

Question: First of all, I would like to point out the importance of [foreign] professionals returning to Russia so that they can resume their operations here. As for our exports to Russia, we would like to say that we account for 25 percent of them, and we would like to continue to increase our share. We can see great potential here, in particular, when it comes to raw materials. We should start with renewable materials and discuss recycling. We also need to coordinate certification issues and think about improving the furniture industry in Russia so as to be able to export more IKEA products from Russia.

Sergey Lavrov: I hope your products will not be designated as military or dual-purpose items, as was the case with Sweden’s Quintus Technologies, and that you will continue to supply us with affordable, solid and reliable furniture.

What’s at stake in the Armenia-Azerbaijan chessboard

What’s at stake in the Armenia-Azerbaijan chessboard

October 01, 2020

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

Few geopolitical hot spots across the planet may rival the Caucasus: that intractable, tribal Tower of Babel, throughout History a contentious crossroads of empires from the Levant and nomads from the Eurasian steppes. And it gets even messier when one adds the fog of war.

To try to shed some light into the current Armenia-Azerbaijan face off, let’s crisscross the basic facts with some essential deep background.

Late last month Ilham Aliyev, Azerbaijan’s proverbial “strongman”, in power since 2003, launched a de facto war on the territory of Nagorno-Karabakh held by Armenia.

At the collapse of the USSR, Nagorno-Karabakh had a mixed population of Azeri Shi’ites and Armenian Christians. Yet even before the collapse the Azerbaijani Army and Armenian independentists were already at war (1988-1994), which yielded a grim balance of 30,000 dead and roughly a million wounded.

The Republic of Nagorno-Karabakh declared independence in 1991: but that was not recognized by the “international community”. Finally there was a ceasefire in 1994 – with Nagorno-Karabakh entering the gray area/no man’s land of “frozen conflict”.

The problem is that in 1993, the United Nations had approved no less than four resolutions – 822, 853, 874 and 884 – establishing that Armenia should withdraw from what was deemed to be roughly 20% of Azerbaijani territory. This is at the core of Baku’s rationale to fight against what it qualifies as a foreign occupation army.

Yerevan’s interpretation though is that these four resolutions are null and void because Nagorno-Karabakh harbors an Armenian-majority population who wants to secede from Azerbaijan.

Historically, Artsakh is one of three ancient provinces of Armenia – rooted at least in the 5th century B.C. and finally established in 189 B.C. Armenians, based on DNA samples from excavated bones, argue they have been settled in Artsakh for at least 4,000 years.

Artsakh – or Nagorno-Karabakh – was annexed to Azerbaijan by Stalin in 1923. That set the stage for a future powder keg to inevitably explode.

It’s important to remember that there was no “Azerbaijan” nation-state until the early 1920s. Historically, Azerbaijan is a territory in northern Iran. Azeris are very well integrated within the Islamic Republic. So the Republic of Azerbaijan actually borrowed its name from their Iranian neighbors. In ancient history, the territory of the new 20th century republic was known as Atropatene, and Aturpakatan before the advent of Islam.

How the equation changed

Baku’s main argument is that Armenia is blocking a contiguous Azerbaijani nation, as a look in the map shows us that southwest Azerbaijan is de facto split all the way to the Iranian border.

And that plunges us necessarily into deep background. To clarify matters, there could not be a more reliable guide than a top Caucasus think tank expert who shared his analysis with me by email, but is insistent on “no attribution”. Let’s call him Mr. C.

Mr. C notes that, “for decades, the equation remained the same and the variables in the equation remained the same, more or less. This was the case notwithstanding the fact that Armenia is an unstable democracy in transition and Azerbaijan had much more continuity at the top.”

We should all be aware that “Azerbaijan lost territory right at the beginning of the restoration of its statehood, when it was basically a failed state run by armchair nationalist amateurs [before Heydar Aliyev, Ilham’s father, came to power]. And Armenia was a mess, too but less so when you take into consideration that it had strong Russian support and Azerbaijan had no one. Back in the day, Turkey was still a secular state with a military that looked West and took its NATO membership seriously. Since then, Azerbaijan has built up its economy and increased its population. So it kept getting stronger. But its military was still underperforming.”

That slowly started to change in 2020: “Basically, in the past few months you’ve seen incremental increases in the intensity of near daily ceasefire violations (the near-daily violations are nothing new: they’ve been going on for years). So this blew up in July and there was a shooting war for a few days. Then everyone calmed down again.”

All this time, something important was developing in the background: Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, who came to power in May 2018, and Aliyev started to talk: “The Azerbaijani side thought this indicated Armenia was ready for compromise (this all started when Armenia had a sort of revolution, with the new PM coming in with a popular mandate to clean house domestically). For whatever reason, it ended up not happening.”

What happened in fact was the July shooting war.

Don’t forget Pipelineistan

Armenian PM Pashinyan could be described as a liberal globalist. The majority of his political team is pro-NATO. Pashinyan went all guns blazing against former Armenian President (1998- 2008) Robert Kocharian, who before that happened to be, crucially, the de facto President of Nagorno-Karabakh.

Kocharian, who spent years in Russia and is close to President Putin, was charged with a nebulous attempt at “overthrowing the constitutional order”. Pashinyan tried to land him in jail. But even more crucial is the fact that Pashinyan refused to follow a plan elaborated by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov to finally settle the Artsakh/Nagorno-Karabakh mess.

In the current fog of war, things are even messier. Mr. C stresses two points: “First, Armenia asked for CSTO protection and got bitch slapped, hard and in public; second, Armenia threatened to bomb the oil and gas pipelines in Azerbaijan (there are several, they all run parallel, and they supply not just Georgia and Turkey but now the Balkans and Italy). With regards to the latter, Azerbaijan basically said: if you do that, we’ll bomb your nuclear reactor.”

The Pipelineistan angle is indeed crucial: for years I have followed on Asia Times these myriad, interlocking oil and gas soap operas, especially the BTC (Baku-Tblisi-Ceyhan), conceived by Zbigniew Brzezinski to bypass Iran. I was even “arrested” by a BP 4X4 when I was tracking the pipeline on a parallel side road out of the massive Sangachal terminal: that proved British Petroleum was in practice the real boss, not the Azerbaijani government.

In sum, now we have reached the point where, according to Mr. C,

“Armenia’s saber rattling got more aggressive.” Reasons, on the Armenian side, seem to be mostly domestic: terrible handling of Covid-19 (in contrast to Azerbaijan), and the dire state of the economy. So, says Mr. C, we came to a toxic concourse of circumstances: Armenia deflected from its problems by being tough on Azerbaijan, while Azerbaijan just had had enough.

It’s always about Turkey

Anyway one looks at the Armenia-Azerbaijan drama, the key destabilizing factor is now Turkey.

Mr. C notes how, “throughout the summer, the quality of the Turkish-Azerbaijani military exercises increased (both prior to July events and subsequently). The Azerbaijani military got a lot better. Also, since the fourth quarter of 2019 the President of Azerbaijan has been getting rid of the (perceived) pro-Russian elements in positions of power.” See, for instance, here.

There’s no way to confirm it either with Moscow or Ankara, but Mr. C advances what President Erdogan may have told the Russians: “We’ll go into Armenia directly if a) Azerbaijan starts to lose, b) Russia goes in or accepts CSTO to be invoked or something along those lines, or c) Armenia goes after the pipelines. All are reasonable red lines for the Turks, especially when you factor in the fact that they don’t like the Armenians very much and that they consider the Azerbaijanis brothers.”

It’s crucial to remember that in August, Baku and Ankara held two weeks of joint air and land military exercises. Baku has bought advanced drones from both Turkey and Israel. There’s no smokin’ gun, at least not yet, but Ankara may have hired up to 4,000 Salafi-jihadis in Syria to fight – wait for it – in favor of Shi’ite-majority Azerbaijan, proving once again that “jihadism” is all about making a quick buck.

The United Armenian Information Center, as well as the Kurdish Afrin Post, have stated that Ankara opened two recruitment centers – in Afrin schools – for mercenaries. Apparently this has been a quite popular move because Ankara slashed salaries for Syrian mercenaries shipped to Libya.

There’s an extra angle that is deeply worrying not only for Russia but also for Central Asia. According to the former Foreign Minister of Nagorno-Karabakh, Ambassador Extraordinary Arman Melikyan, mercenaries using Azeri IDs issued in Baku may be able to infiltrate Dagestan and Chechnya and, via the Caspian, reach Atyrau in Kazakhstan, from where they can easily reach Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan.

That’s the ultimate nightmare of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) – shared by Russia, China and the Central Asian “stans”: a jihadi land – and (Caspian) sea – bridge from the Caucasus all the way to Central Asia, and even Xinjiang.

What’s the point of this war?

So what happens next? A nearly insurmountable impasse, as Mr. C outlines it:

1. “The peace talks are going nowhere because Armenia is refusing to budge (to withdraw from occupying Nagorno-Karabakh plus 7 surrounding regions in phases or all at once, with the usual guarantees for civilians, even settlers – note that when they went in in the early 1990s they cleansed those lands of literally all Azerbaijanis, something like between 700,000 and 1 million people).”

2. Aliyev was under the impression that Pashinyan “was willing to compromise and began preparing his people and then looked like someone with egg on his face when it didn’t happen.”

3. “Turkey has made it crystal clear it will support Azerbaijan unconditionally, and has matched those words with deeds.”

4. “In such circumstances, Russia got outplayed – in the sense that they had been able to play off Armenia against Azerbaijan and vice versa, quite successfully, helping to mediate talks that went nowhere, preserving the status quo that effectively favored Armenia.”

And that brings us to the crucial question. What’s the point of this war?

Mr. C: “It is either to conquer as much as possible before the “international community” [in this case, the UNSC] calls for / demands a ceasefire or to do so as an impetus for re-starting talks that actually lead to progress. In either scenario, Azerbaijan will end up with gains and Armenia with losses. How much and under what circumstances (the status and question of Nagorno-Karabakh is distinct from the status and question of the Armenian occupied territories around Nagorno-Karabakh) is unknown: i.e. on the field of battle or the negotiating table or a combo of both. However this turns out, at a minimum Azerbaijan will get to keep what it liberated in battle. This will be the new starting point. And I suspect that Azerbaijan will do no harm to the Armenian civilians that stay. They’ll be model liberators. And they’ll take time to bring back Azerbaijani civilians (refugees/IDPs) to their homes, especially in areas that would become mixed as a result of return.”

So what can Moscow do under these circumstances? Not much,

“except to go into Azerbaijan proper, which they won’t do (there’s no land border between Russia and Armenia; so although Russia has a military base in Armenia with one or more thousand troops, they can’t just supply Armenia with guns and troops at will, given the geography).”

Crucially, Moscow privileges the strategic partnership with Armenia – which is a member of the Eurasia Economic Union (EAEU) – while meticulously monitoring each and every NATO-member Turkey’s movement: after all, they are already in opposing sides in both Libya and Syria.

So, to put it mildly, Moscow is walking on a geopolitical razor’s edge. Russia needs to exercise restraint and invest in a carefully calibrated balancing act between Armenia and Azerbaijan; must preserve the Russia-Turkey strategic partnership; and must be alert to all, possible US Divide and Rule tactics.

Inside Erdogan’s war

So in the end this would be yet another Erdogan war?

The inescapable Follow the Money analysis would tells us, yes. The Turkish economy is an absolute mess, with high inflation and a depreciating currency. Baku has a wealth of oil-gas funds that could become readily available – adding to Ankara’s dream of turning Turkey also into an energy supplier.

Mr. C adds that anchoring Turkey in Azerbaijan would lead to “the creation of full-fledged Turkish military bases and the inclusion of Azerbaijan in the Turkish orbit of influence (the “two countries – one nation” thesis, in which Turkey assumes supremacy) within the framework of neo-Ottomanism and Turkey’s leadership in the Turkic-speaking world.”

Add to it the all-important NATO angle. Mr. C essentially sees it as Erdogan, enabled by Washington, about to make a NATO push to the east while establishing that immensely dangerous jihadi channel into Russia: “This is no local adventure by Erdogan. I understand that Azerbaijan is largely Shi’ite Islam and that will complicate things but not render his adventure impossible.”

This totally ties in with a notorious RAND report that explicitly details how “the United States could try to induce Armenia to break with Russia” and “encourage Armenia to move fully into the NATO orbit.”

It’s beyond obvious that Moscow is observing all these variables with extreme care. That is reflected, for instance, in how irrepressible Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova, earlier this week, has packaged a very serious diplomatic warning: “The downing of an Armenian SU-25 by a Turkish F-16, as claimed by the Ministry of Defense in Armenia, seems to complicate the situation, as Moscow, based on the Tashkent treaty, is obligated to offer military assistance to Armenia”.

It’s no wonder both Baku and Yerevan got the message and are firmly denying anything happened.

The key fact remains that as long as Armenia proper is not attacked by Azerbaijan, Russia will not apply the CSTO treaty and step in. Erdogan knows this is his red line. Moscow has all it takes to put him in serious trouble – as in shutting off gas supplies to Turkey. Moscow, meanwhile, will keep helping Yerevan with intel and hardware – flown in from Iran. Diplomacy rules – and the ultimate target is yet another ceasefire.

Pulling Russia back in

Mr. C advances the strong possibility – and I have heard echoes from Brussels – that “the EU and Russia find common cause to limit Azerbaijani gains (in large part because Erdogan is no one’s favorite guy, not just because of this but because of the Eastern Med, Syria, Libya).”

That brings to the forefront the renewed importance of the UNSC in imposing a ceasefire. Washington’s role at the moment is quite intriguing. Of course, Trump has more important things to do at the moment. Moreover, the Armenian diaspora in the US swings drastically pro-Democrat.

Then, to round it all up, there’s the all-important Iran-Armenia relationship. Here is a forceful attempt to put it in perspective.

As Mr. C stresses, “Iran favors Armenia, which is counter-intuitive at first sight. So the Iranians may help the Russians out (funneling supplies), but on the other hand they have a good relationship with Turkey, especially in the oil and gas smuggling business. And if they get too overt in their support, Trump has a casus belli to get involved and the Europeans may not like to end up on the same side as the Russians and the Iranians. It just looks bad. And the Europeans hate to look bad.”

We inevitably come back to the point that the whole drama can be interpreted from the perspective of a NATO geopolitical hit against Russia – according to quite a few analyses circulating at the Duma.

Ukraine is an absolute black hole. There’s the Belarus impasse. Covid-19. The Navalny circus. The “threat” to Nord Stream-2.

To pull Russia back into the Armenia-Azerbaijan drama means turning Moscow’s attention towards the Caucasus so there’s more Turkish freedom of action in other theaters – in the Eastern Mediterranean versus Greece, in Syria, in Libya. Ankara – foolishly – is engaged in simultaneous wars on several fronts, and with virtually no allies.

What this means is that even more than NATO, monopolizing Russia’s attention in the Caucasus most of all may be profitable for Erdogan himself. As Mr. C stresses, “in this situation, the Nagorno-Karabakh leverage/’trump card’ in the hands of Turkey would be useful for negotiations with Russia.”

No question: the neo-Ottoman sultan never sleeps.

Related

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

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

September 19, 2020

SVR RF Press Bureau – September 16, 2020

(Italics and bolding added for emphasis.)

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

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

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

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

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

S.N. Ivanov

Head of the SVR Press Bureau

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

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

September 18, 2020

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sergey Lavrov: Not all of them.

Question: Can you tell us more about this?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

QuestionLibya, Syria. We stood for Syria.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

QuestionBut they tried to revise it?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Question: Microcredits.

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

Why Today’s India is on the Wrong Side of History

Why Today’s India is on the Wrong Side of History

September 13, 2020

by Allen Yu for the Saker Blog

Recently, I wrote a short comment in the piece India’s border policies line with Thalassa noting that “India is on the wrong side of history.” It was too “conclusory” a comment deserves to be better explained. So I’d like to take a brief time why I think India is on the wrong side of history in siding with America against China today.

I’d first like to take a larger view of history.

Historical Context

Human history has for the most part gotten better over the last few tens of thousands of years. Our technology has advanced. Our life expectancies have increased. The last 200 or so years have seen the most explosive advances. The pace of scientific and technological advances has created a world beyond the wildest dreams of our ancestors.

And if we believe that the human spirit of ingenuity will continue, as there is no reason not to, then the best is still yet to come. 90% of all scientists that have ever lived are alive today. If we can have peace and the world allowed to be free from hegemonic oppression, I’d say the future is bright for the human species.

Unfortunately, ominous dark clouds have hung over the world despite all the positive momentum of history. We live in a time of great paradoxes. Though the world is currently in a “time of peace,” with technologies and economies fast advancing, in relative overall prosperity, sponsored Color Revolutions and civil wars have been unleashed upon many nations, devastating regions from Iraq to Afghanistan to Ukraine to Egypt to Syria to Hong Kong. Economic sanctions have ravaged whole generations of peoples in regions from N. Korea to Turkey to Iran to Venezuela.

WWII by most accounts represents a righteous high point in history. It represents the defeat of the axes of fascism and colonialism. Yet, fascism and colonialism never left us. It got transformed and embedded into our new world.

The more things changed, the more we realize that many things haven’t changed. The poor and disposed of the colonial era are for the most part still poor and dispossessed. Russia is still the target of Western aggression after hundreds of years of antagonism. Even China – the presumed challenger to the West – has not escaped the trajectory of this history. Western powers – with their allies – are now actively scheming and working hard to suffocate China economically and technologically in an attempt to shove it back to a place of perpetual subservience to Western interests.

Some may argue say that Russia and China’s problems are that both had overplayed their hands. Russia had overextended itself in Eastern Europe and the Middle East, and crossed the West’s “red line” in Ukraine. China has crossed the “red line” in the S. China Sea, Hong Kong, Xinjiang, etc.

The truth is that it is the West that has crossed the line in Europe, the Middle East and in Ukraine … and in S. China SeaHong Kong, and Xinjiang.

India’s Strategic Blunder

It is at this critical juncture that India has decided to pivot toward the West. India is making a gigantic strategic mistake. Here are some reasons why.

  • It does not make sense to make an enemy of 1.4 billion people. It’s is one thing to fight a border war, but it is quite another to actually join a group of others to contain the development and growth of 1.4 billion people. The wrath and actions coming out of the U.S. against China has been truly surprising and depressing. It is against the basic rights and dignity expressed in the UN charter. Why should India join that chorus? Chinese have no animosity toward the Indian people. However, the Indian populace – fanned by an irresponsible media with much rumors and fake news – has allowed itself to be whipped into a giant anti-China frenzy.
  • America – and the broader West – will not help India to develop. Many Indians fancy that India – after America decouples from China – will take the place of China and that the West is going to help pull India out of poverty the way it has helped to pull China out of poverty. That is just not going to happen. There are a few reasons for this.
    • First, America has squandered much of its capital since becoming the sole superpower with its endless wars since the fall of the Soviet Union. America today thinks the world as set up after WWII is set against it, with much of the world leaching off America’s largess. America will have no more of it. Enough has been enough! Never again will America work for another country!!! America now wants the world to serve it, not the other way around. If Indians think America had pulled China out of poverty (Chinese mince at that notion since they believe it is they themselves who pulled themselves out of poverty), they can rest assured America will not be able to do the same for India.
    • Second, the West has come to see the world not in win-win terms, but in zero sum terms. For a brief while, the West did experiment with some version of win-win globalism. While it infused globalism with its own suffocating ideologies and rules to benefit itself, it did for a while work on a flatter world. In this “flat world,” people the world over get to exchange ideas and goods and services with each other, for each other’s own benefits, all in a win-win fashion. But that period soon ended. It’s not just Trump. It’s the whole establishment and populace. The jealousy by which the West has come to guard their knowhow, markets, and manufacturing resources for Covid-19 vaccines represents just the tip of the ice berg. The West used to think of itself as a shining beacon for the world. It had first rate technology and science that attract the world over to learn and disseminate back to the world. Now, it considers people coming to learn and bring back knowledge as “stealing.” It considers manufacturing abroad as stealing. It considers R&D abroad as “stealing.” Whatever India hopes to get from America and the West, it is not going to be good jobs or know-how. America wants its manufacturing back. It has drawn from China’s rise the (incorrect) lesson that it should never help or allow another power rise. It doesn’t want to depend on China – or anyone else – to make anything but the lowest value items. It becomes suspicious when others make its masks, medical equipment, pharmaceutical products, software, cars, computers, etc. It will think twice, thrice, about ever helping to create a new peer competitor again.
    • America – and the broader West – is in decline. The West is in decline. There is no doubt about it. The writing is on America’s economic wall – or more accurately, in its Fed balance sheet. An economy cannot go on printing money. An economy cannot stay productive with prolonged low interest rates and paper printing, where the most productive and valuable thing it produces are military weapons. Many people talk about America’s “soft power.” I say B.S. If you take away America’s military, do you think America’s “soft power” will stand on its own? No. America’s “software power” will vaporize. American soft power stands on its military power. And America’s military power stands on the might of its economic power. Recently, that economic power is buttressed in part by China (through trade). But now America no longer wants to rely on faraway lands for anything. Once it starts decoupling from China, it will soon realize how weak it economically is. An economic reckoning will come. Such a inflection point would not necessarily bad for the American people. Stripped of its imperial duties and obligations, Americans can focus on the important things that had made America “America” again. But it means the days of the American Empire are ending. The days of America helping to lift another nation from poverty has long gone.
  • America – and the broader West – is not capable of negotiation. The West cannot keep any agreement that goes against their interests. When even the slightest of circumstances change, they find a reason to tear up the agreements, with the Iran nuclear deal but one example. Whatever deal India think it is going to get, it is not going to get what it thinks it will get. The relationship will only work song as so India gives up much more than it receives. This is the Western way. Forget about getting a fair deal. Forget about even getting a good deal. India is thinking about forging a long-term deal … I say be realistic. There is nothing special about India that will make the West change. Beggars can’t demand change. The West is not going to change its fundamental ways for you.
  • India will miss the boat in the rising Asian Century. The engine of the new global growth for the foreseeable future will be China and its surrounding neighbors. No one doubts that. Many ASEAN nations – despite having intractable territorial disputes with China in the S. China Sea – have decided to join China in building a shared future. India too has been invited but it has decided time and time against joining China because of its territorial disputes with China. This is short-sighted. China and India are old sister civilizations that have long interacted with each other. The notion of a straight line fixed territory is a Western concept. When we fixate on boundaries to the exclusion of everything else, we get led down a zero-sum intractable dispute.

China’s “community with shared future for mankind”

China is pushing forward a framework of “community with shared future for mankind” for foreign relations. This is a rejection of both traditional ideological based framework of international relations as well as the cold “realist” approach.

It is a rejection of traditional ideology in the sense it is truly agnostic about what forms of government or other ideologies other nations follow. As Deng Xiao Ping has been quoted to say, “It doesn’t matter whether a cat is black or white, as long as it catches mice.” It doesn’t matter if you have a left leaning or right leaning, or capitalistic or socialist, or “democratic” or “authoritarian” government, what matters is if you deliver good governance for the people.

It is a rejection of traditional realistic approach because it doesn’t really view might as the end and be all. While China acknowledges cold realism, it also aspires for a new world order that promotes global justice – which can be summarized as true sovereignty of each nation to develop as it chooses for its people.

The way to a stable world then – according to China – is to create an environment where we can raise the water for each other, shelving all conflicts as much as possible. Once everyone is better off enough – hopefully much better off than today – many issues – including territorial disputes – will become much easier to resolve.

Why Shelf Territorial Dispute?

So if we go back to the India and China territorial dispute: sure, the two neighbors can always fight to the death over a piece of territory, but that is missing the forest for the trees. What they need – above all else – is to develop each other’s society, to pull its peoples from poverty, to provide a better future for its people. What they need then is to meet each other somewhere in the middle and to enable each other to cooperate with each other. China’s faith – which should be India’s as well – is that the benefits of cooperation will in the future outweigh – far outweigh – any territorial concession each can make. It will outweigh territorial concessions because the sky is the limit to where each nation can develop.

If you think lifting 800 million out of poverty over 4 decades is amazing, think lifting 1 .4 billion between India and China over the next 4 decades! That’s the kind of vision and possibility we are looking at!!!

The way out of today’s intractable territorial dispute is to shelf it and to focus on things both sides can cooperate on, leaving the problem for a much more prosperous generation to settle on. The important thing is to build a bigger pie for our future generations instead of bickering over today’s limited pie.

Unfortunately India has decided to not only reject that vision, but to ally with U.S. to suppress China’s win-win shared common future from arising.

From China’s view, the world has been held hostage by the West for too long. Too many nations either cannot or do not want to stand up for their right to develop. The cost of standing up to the hegemon just seems too high. Many actually want to work with the hegemony, hoping to for fleeting crumbs of good will and vague rewards, even if it means enabling the hegemon to continue its pillaging and oppression over them.

The human psyche is a strange thing. While human beings have been known to rise to the highest of braveries in defense of justice, righteousness, honor, and faith, they can also be exceedingly weak and feeble. There are too many stories of a man or woman being beaten to death by a criminal, with passive crowds and strangers watching and passing by, doing nothing.

“Give a Man a Fish, and You Feed Him for a Day. Teach a Man To Fish, and You Feed Him for a Lifetime.” The world must go beyond taking short-term benefits from the West and learn to fish by themselves. It cannot always beg for a fish scrap here and there. It cannot keep fighting against or sabotaging each other for favors from the rich.

Too many of the areas of the world with territorial conflicts have arisen from their colonial legacy. The China-Indian territorial disputes arose from British colonial legacy (others that come to mind include the Palestinian issue, Cyprus, Kashmir, Pakistan-India animosity, etc.). The world must be able to through this trap to free themselves collectively from their colonial legacy.

The West – despite all its follies – continue to be strong. It has the most wealth, technologies, and strongest military. It can buy allies anywhere around the world. It can bribe and corrupt most governments around the world. But in the long term, it cannot last. The rest of the world must learn to stand up by itself.

Freedom and Development with Strings Attached

As the world currently stand, if nothing major is done, much of the fruits of science and technology will continue to accrue only to a few nations. The U.S. and the “West” has been the undisputed leader across a wide swath of science and technology in the 20th and 21th century. By their actions throughout history and today, we know Western dominance rests exclusively on their scientific and technological prowess. If their ideological prowess, not their technological prowess, is the source of their power, why are they so quick to demand others adopt their ideologies while remaining so protective of their technologies?

I mean … have you wondered why the West would want to shove down the rest of the world’s throat their version of “democracy” and “rule of law” … but get so worked up when others learn from them knowledge about science and technology?

Today, China is the only power capable of challenging all dimensions of the Western grip on of scientific and technological dominance – at least in the foreseeable future. But just as China begins to appear to be a credible competitor or alternative, the West is mounting an all spectrum attack on China to suppress its ability to access technology and markets around the world.

Thus we see that the West’s preaching of “free markets” and “rule-based economy” has always been a mirage. The British demanded “freedom” because they wanted the “freedom” to pillage on their own terms. They know that since they had the best technology and companies, the world is there for their picking if the barriers are broken down. Hence they worked to knock those barriers down!

The U.S. took on their mantle … and demanded “freedom” … too, also for the U.S. to pillage the world on their own terms. But when their dominance is threatened, the veil of “free markets” and “rule-based” trade systems has come down too.

From the Chinese view, the U.S.’s lack of confidence about China’s rise shows how insincere and hypocritical the West has always been about the world. Many Chinese have long seen through the façade of “ideologies,” and “norms” and “rules” masquerading hegemony real politik.

China’s dreams for win-win shared future are not false ideals. After all, it is not completely devoid of precedence. After U.S. helped to rebuild Europe and/or Japan, has the U.S. not received benefits from those regions? Of course! Not only have they contributed to advances in science and technology, they also provided a market for the U.S.

But there is a critical limit about American good will. Europe and Japan were allowed to succeed – but only up to a certain level. The main value of allowing Europe and Japan some prosperity is not in making those regions better off per se. The main value was in using those regions to contain Soviet Union / Russia and China. Europe and Japan understand their roles as subservient powers – and their roles as first lines of containment against Russia and China.

A Disgruntled West

Today, with U.S.’s political system and social fabric deteriorating, the U.S. is going through a fundamental rethink. The U.S. now openly thinks allies like Japan and Europe have been “taking advantage” of the U.S. The U.S. now wants payback. From its allies, it seeks better trade deals and more “protection money.”

And against China, it is on a crusade to stop its development. In China’s view, this is a red line and truly tragic. China believes the fundamental right of every people is the right to develop. It is the right of the U.S. to want to decouple from China. But to try to form an alliance to constrain the growth of 1.4 billion, as it had already with lesser powers such as N. Korea, Cuba, Iran, and Venezuela is to cross China’s fundamental red line.

India is on the wrong side of history because it is siding with a West that is going to such levels to extend its grip on dominating the world. Some time ago, I remember seeing Trump tweet out an edited version of Time’s cover of Trumpism outlasting Trump … lasting “4EVER”! There is an important kernel of truth to that video!

The West has changed. It is now open about wanting to dominate the world through suppression instead of being the light that draws the world.

Painting Itself into a Corner

In wanting to join the Western crusade against China, India too has crossed to the wrong side of history. In the coming multipolar world, India is positioning itself in a place where it will be difficult for it to develop. The capital and knowhow that can flow from a renewed China will no longer flow to India. By rejecting the Belts and Road Initiates and the RCEP, India is decoupling from Asia’s coming century.

Losing all that, but what does India have to gain? India will not be able to tease more territory out of China by playing tough. If India believes it can hang on the disputed territories against China, so too can China hang on to its disputed territories against India. Whatever India thinks it can do against China, China can do the same to India. This should be beyond any doubts!

So no new territories will be gained (or lost) through India’s current posture. What is lost however is the space for cooperation and mutual growth. India’s rejection of strategic cooperation perceived tactical gain is India’s tragic mistake today.

China is strong enough to go along without India if necessary. It is moving full steam ahead with its Belts and Road Initiative, RCEP, CJK, etc. It has formed a formidable relationship with Russia not based on ideology, alliance, political preferences, etc. – but based on building up and emphasizing common interests between two previous competitors. China and Russia will be friends not necessarily because the people “like” each other – although Chinese generally do have overwhelming positive feels toward the Russian people – but because their leaders have worked hard to ensure that they have develop and enhance many overlapping common interests.

A Relationship of Mutual Respect and Shared Common Future

Russia and China represents the sort of respectful, cooperative give and take relationship that China believes will represent the future of man-kind. They will succeed because such thinking not because you either join China or get kicked out on the high way. No, it will succeed because it will create far more than the West’s zero sum approach.

Now, don’t think everything is jolly good between Russia and China. I am sure the leaders have had many “frank” discussions about their differences … often. Historically China and Russia has had many issues. But rather than just hyping up (or burying, which is just as bad) their past, they have chosen to work on cooperating with each – to each other’s mutual benefits.

There is still time for India to join China. For eons China and India have coexisted with each other without a clearly demarcated border. Yes, in our modern world, we all long for clearly defined boundaries. But if that’s not possible, it should not be the end all and be all! Through cooperation, India and China can build a bright, shared future together, notwithstanding the territorial disputes. Now is the time for India’s leaders to decide if petty adventures on the border and allying with a dying hegemon are truly in India’s interest. Will India go down defiant, proud, and loud – but weak, petty, and trapped in the history of time?


Allen Yu is an IP attorney in Silicon Valley, a founding blogger at blog.hiddenharmonies.org, as well as an adjunct fellow at the Chunqiu Institute for Development and Strategic Studies. He holds a J.D. from Harvard Law School and a D. Engr., M.S., and B.S. from UCLA Samueli School of Engineering.

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

البناء

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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US/NATO Preparing for War on Russia? Six Military Exercises at Russia’s Doorstep

By Stephen Lendman

Global Research, September 07, 2020

Wars by hot and other means are all about Washington’s main strategy to advance its imperium — seeking dominance over other nations, their resources and populations by brute force if other methods don’t achieve its objectives.

From inception, the US has been addicted to war, glorifying it deceptively in the name of peace.

In 1982, founder of the Pentagon’s nuclear navy Admiral Hyman Rickover explained the risks to Congress in the age of super-weapons able to end life on earth if used in enough numbers, saying the following:

“The lesson of history is when a war starts every nation will ultimately use whatever weapons it has available” to win, adding:

“I think the human race is going to wreck itself, and it is important that we get control of this horrible force and try to eliminate it.”

Rickover regretted his role in what became a nuclear arms race.

“I would sink…all” US nuclear powered ships, he said. “I am not proud of the part I played in” their development.

“That’s why I am such a great exponent of stopping this whole nonsense of war.”

Bertrand Russell noted the risk, saying:

“Shall we put an end to the human race, or shall mankind renounce war.” It’s the only way to live in peace. The alternative risks annihilation.

World powers have a choice. End wars or sooner or later they’ll end us.

Russia is a prime US target. In 1961, hardline US Air Force chief of staff General Curtis LeMay believed nuclear war with Soviet Russia was inevitable and winnable — at the time, calling for preemptive war on the country with overwhelming force.

Joint Chiefs chairman Lyman Lemnitzer at the time urged a surprise nuclear attack on the Soviet Union during a National Security Council meeting.

Expressing disgust, Jack Kennedy walked out of the session, telling then-Secretary of State Dean Rusk:

“And we call ourselves the human race.”

JFK’s Defense Secretary Robert McNamara rejected what LeMay and Lemnitzer called for.

Their recklessly dangerous ideas never went away. In an age when super-weapons can end life on earth in days if detonated in enough numbers, the risk of mass annihilation is real.

Weeks earlier, Russia’s Defense Ministry accused US-led NATO of conducting “provocative” military drills near its borders — what goes on with disturbing regularity. See below.

In June, Russian Colonel-General Sergey Rudskoy, head of its General Staff sent NATO a letter that called for scaling down military exercises by both countries.

With US-led NATO drills in the Barents Sea at the time, he accused the Pentagon of simulating strikes on Russian territory and intercepting its retaliatory ICBMs.

According to Rudskoy, provocative Barents Sea drills at the time were the first of their kind by US-dominated NATO since Soviet Russia’s 1991 dissolution.

He also criticized increasing numbers of flights by Pentagon nuclear-capable strategic bombers near Russia’s borders — at times forcing its military to scramble warplanes and put air defense forces on high alert.

Since the Obama regime’s 2014 coup d’etat in Ukraine, replacing democratic government with neo-Nazi infested fascist tyranny on Russia’s border, bilateral relations  sank to a post-Cold War low.

Moscow considers the deployment of US-led NATO forces near its borders a destabilizing threat to its national security.

Rudskoy said “(t)he US and its allies are continuing to destroy Europe’s security system under the guise of a perceived ‘Russian aggression’ ” that doesn’t exist.

The US refused Moscow’s offer for dialogue to reduce tensions and the risk of conflict by accident or design.

On Sunday, Rudskoy again highlighted the threat of provocative US-led NATO actions near Russia’s borders, including increased surveillance and aerial operations to test its air defenses.

In August, provocative US/NATO aerial maneuvers increased about 30% over the comparable 2019 period, he explained, including simulated missile strikes on Russian targets.

Shoigu called what’s going on “alarming,” notably because several incidents occurred close to Russia’s borders.

Last week, Russia scrambled warplanes to intercept three US nuclear-capable B-52 bombers over Ukraine and the Black Sea near Crimea, a statement saying:

“Violations of the state border of the Russian Federation by American aircraft were prevented.”

Two weeks earlier, a similar incident occurred in international airspace over the Black Sea.

Days earlier, Moscow slammed the US for holding live-fire exercises in Estonia near its border.

A statement by its Washington embassy said the following:

“Russia has repeatedly proposed to the United States and its allies to limit training activities and to divert the exercise zones from the Russia-NATO contact line,” adding:

“Why do this demonstrative saber-rattling? What signals do the NATO members want to send us?”

“Who is actually escalating tensions in Europe? And this is all happening in the context of (a made-in-the-USA) aggravated political situation in” Belarus.

“(H)ow would the Americans react” if Russia conducted similar provocative exercises near its borders?

According to NATO, the following US-led military exercises are ongoing or soon to begin in Europe (and near Iranian waters the Mediterranean):

Operation Dynamic Move II 20 — ongoing through September 10 in waters near Italy, explaining:

“To exercise naval mine warfare (NMW) tactics and procedures, the Allied Worldwide Navigational System (AWNIS), and Naval Cooperation on and Guidance for Shipping (NCAGS) procedures in order to enhance participant’s ability to conduct littoral and amphibious operations.”

Operation Steadfast Pyramid 20 — begun in Latvia on Sunday will continue through September 11, NATO explaining:

“An Exercise Study focused on further developing the abilities of commanders and senior staff to plan and conduct operations through the application of operational art in decision making based on the ACO Comprehensive Operations Planning Directive (COPD) and utilizing a complex, contemporary scenario.”

Operation KFOR III 20 will be held from September 8 – 16 in Herzegovina, explaining:

“Conducted to familiarize future Key Leaders of HQ KFOR with their new tasks, the overall situation in KFOR AOR (Area of Responsibility), and to prepare a smooth transition without loss of continuity.”

Operation Ramstein Guard 9 20 is scheduled for Romania from September 13 – 17, explaining:

“The NATO Electronic Warfare Force Integration Program is a means to exercise the NATO designated regional elements of NATO’s Integrated Air and Missile Defence System conducted through the CAOCs (Combined Air Operation Center) while also including some national systems and assets.”

“It is designed to train Air Command Ramstein and subordinate units on the reporting/coordination requirements while exposing them to a wide variety of EW (electronic warfare) tactics and techniques in a controlled environment.”

Operation Steadfast Pinnacle 20 is scheduled for Latvia from September 13 – 18, explaining:

“An Exercise Study focused on further developing the abilities of commanders and senior staff to plan and conduct operations through the application of operational art in decision making based on the ACO (Allied Command Operations) Comprehensive Operations Planning Directive (COPD) and utilizing a complex, contemporary scenario.”

Operation Ramstein Guard 10 20 is scheduled for Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania from September 20 – 24, NATO explaining:

“The NATO Electronic Warfare Force Integration Program is a means to exercise the NATO designated regional elements of NATO’s Integrated Air and Missile Defence System conducted through the CAOCs (Combined Air Operation Center) while also including some national systems and assets. It is designed to train Air Command Ramstein and subordinate units on the reporting/coordination requirements while exposing them to a wide variety of EW (electronic warfare) tactics and techniques in a controlled environment.”

Exercises like the above go on at all times near the borders of Russia, China, Iran, and other nations on the US target list for regime change.

From now through yearend 2020 near the borders of Russia and Iran alone, other US-led NATO military exercises will be held in Turkey, France, the UK, Kosovo, the Mediterranean Sea, Spain, Lithuania, Estonia, Italy, the Netherlands, Germany, Bosnia Herzegovina, Serbia, Poland and Norway.

Instead of prioritizing world peace, stability, and cooperative relations with the world community of nations, US-dominated NATO is preparing for greater wars than already ongoing in multiple theaters by its forces.

*

Note to readers: please click the share buttons below. Forward this article to your email lists. Crosspost on your blog site, internet forums. etc.

Award-winning author Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. He is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG)

His new book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.”

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.The original source of this article is Global ResearchCopyright © Stephen Lendman, Global Research, 2020

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s remarks and answers to media questions at a news conference following an online meeting of the BRICS Foreign Ministers Council, Moscow, September 4, 2020

Source

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s remarks and answers to media questions at a news conference following an online meeting of the BRICS Foreign Ministers Council, Moscow, September 4, 2020

September 05, 2020

A full-format online meeting of the BRICS foreign ministers has ended. This is the second such meeting this year under Russia’s chairmanship.

The first was dedicated exclusively to mobilising efforts to effectively prevent the spread of the coronavirus infection.

Today, we discussed a wide range of international issues and key items on the agenda of the 75th session of the UN General Assembly as well as our practical cooperation among the five member states.

We have adopted a detailed and appropriate final communiqué. You can read it, so I will not dwell on the key international matters that the communiqué covers in detail.

I would like to note that the communiqué reaffirms the BRICS’ commitment to the principles of multilateralism, reliance on international law and resolving conflicts exclusively through political and diplomatic means and according to the principles enshrined in the UN Charter. Once again, we resolutely supported the central role of the UN in the search for collective answers to the challenges and threats facing humanity.

In this year of the 75th anniversary of Victory in World War II, we noted the importance of preserving the historical memory of this tragedy’s lessons in order to avoid repeating it in the future. We unanimously condemned any and all manifestations of Nazism, racism and xenophobia. The corresponding resolution that is adopted annually by the UN General Assembly is traditionally supported by all BRICS countries.

We agreed to strengthen and promote our strategic partnership in all key areas of BRICS activities, such as politics and security, the economy and finance, and cultural ties.

We are grateful to our friends for supporting Russia’s chairmanship of the Five under rather difficult circumstances, when direct international communication, face-to-face communication, has, in fact, been put on hold. Nevertheless, using modern technology, we have managed to carry out most of the planned activities. We have had over 50 activities and as many will take place before the end of the year. We have every reason to believe (our partners also mentioned this today) that all of the Russian chairmanship’s plans with regard to the BRICS activities will be fulfilled.

We have reached a number of practical agreements, including the one to promote investment and to support the effective participation of micro-, small- and medium-sized enterprises in international trade. Our respective ministries have adopted a joint statement in support of the multilateral trade system and WTO reform. Another important document, the Memorandum of Cooperation in the Competition Policy, was renewed for another term. Our development banks have agreed on an action plan for innovation and blockchain working groups. Other ministries and departments continue to work energetically.

Most of these initiatives are being drafted with an eye to approving them during the next summit, which is scheduled to be held in Russia in the autumn. We will determine the dates later based on the epidemiological situation.

These are the main results. Once again, the communiqué that we have circulated will provide a great deal of interesting information.

Question: The year in which Russia was the BRICS chair has been fairly difficult. The pandemic has taken its toll on every area. What did you manage to accomplish this year in BRICS? What kind of meetings and statements can we expect before 2020 runs out?

Sergey Lavrov: I partially talked about these issues when I presented the main results of our meeting today. To reiterate, we consider it critically important to have reached an agreement on a number of issues.

This includes a package of documents devoted to trade and investment, encouraging small-, medium- and micro-businesses to participate in international trade, strengthening cooperation between banks (central banks and development banks in our respective countries), and the active work of the New Development Bank, which was created by the leaders of the BRICS countries and is operating successfully.) By the way, the Eurasian Regional Centre of the New Development Bank will open in Russia in October.

The agreements concerning the prevention of new challenges and threats are notable as well. A very powerful document on counter-terrorism has been agreed upon and will be submitted for approval by the heads of state. The activities to combat drug trafficking and drug crime have been resumed. Our joint cybersecurity efforts are on the rise. This is a critical area to which we pay special attention.

Notably, special attention was paid to Russia’s initiatives, which were presented a year ago, and that supplemen BRICS’ activities with two new formats. I’m referring to the Women’s Business Alliance (it has been effectively created and is about to go live) and the Energy Research Platform, which is designed to encourage the research community’s involvement in the practical activities on drawing up energy resource plans. Two major events have taken place as part of the Energy Research Platform. Their results will also be submitted for consideration by the heads of state.

Question: You have repeatedly mentioned the importance of international cooperation in combating the coronavirus. China and Russia are now working to develop their own COVID-19 vaccine. China has officially announced its plans to strengthen cooperation in vaccine research and development.

What is your take on the prospects for possible cooperation between China and Russia in vaccine development and production? To what extent will cooperation between the two countries help ensure access to vaccines for other countries in need of support, including the BRICS members?

Sergey Lavrov: Today, we confirmed that this area remains a BRICS priority. Russia and China’s partners (India, Brazil and South Africa) actively supported Moscow and Beijing’s efforts in this regard. All of them appreciated the statements made by our Chinese colleague and myself to the effect that we are interested in the broadest possible cooperation, including with the participation of our BRICS friends. Notably, the coronavirus has by no means initiated the motivation for BRICS cooperation in this area. Interaction began much earlier. The first document on this subject was adopted at the BRICS Summit in Ufa, Russia, in 2015, when the heads of the BRICS states put forward an initiative to establish cooperation in combating infectious diseases. Then, at the 2018 South Africa Summit, our South African partners advanced an initiative to establish a vaccine development and research centre. So, this work has been ongoing for the past five years, even before the coronavirus infection posed very difficult problems for us.

Thanks to the visionary decisions adopted at the earlier summits, the BRICS countries were well prepared and are now able to mobilise their full potential in the face of the coronavirus infection.

Russia’s additional initiatives introduced this year have been reviewed and approved. One of them concerns the creation of an early warning system for epidemiological threats. The other proposes developing specific steps for the legal regulation of medical products which will certainly improve our ability to cope with the coronavirus now and prepare for the fact that we will most likely have to deal with similar challenges more than once in the future. So, BRICS is among the leaders in developing measures to prevent such epidemics and to deal with the aftereffects.

Question:  How will statements that we’ve heard in the past two days from Berlin on the issue of Alexei Navalny influence the strategic dialogue between Russia and Europe? Today, NATO urged Russia to fully open its file on Novichok to the   OPCW. Who is now interested in a crime scenario on Navalny’s poisoning?

Sergey Lavrov: Representatives of the Presidential Executive Office and the Foreign Ministry have already made statements on this issue. We have nothing to hide. Let me recall again that as soon as Navalny felt unwell on the plane it landed immediately. An ambulance was waiting for him in the airport and he was instantly taken to hospital, switched to an artificial lung ventilator and given other necessary measures. As I understand it, Navalny spent a bit more than a day and a half there. During this time, we were urged every hour to explain what happened and report any information immediately.

For over a week after he was taken to Germany, no one who raised a concern during his stay in Omsk has expressed interest in his case or loudly demanded information from the German doctors. We don’t have new information on this up to this day. It’s the same old story: we are publicly accused of something and our official requests for answers to specific questions from the Russian Prosecutor-General’s Office, under legal assistance treaties, remain unanswered. German Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel has been accusing us for two days of this action (ostensibly, the poisoning) but cannot present anything specific. Today, we once again asked our colleagues in the EU and Germany whether Ms Merkel plans to instruct her staff to send the German Justice Ministry’s response to the Russian Prosecutor General’s Office inquiry.

I already have to say out loud that we have information that this reply is being delayed due to the position of the German Foreign Ministry. We have instructed the Russian Ambassador to Germany to ask for a reason for the delay. Today we were at least promised that the reply would come soon. We will react when we receive it with specific facts. As I see it, the Germans believe their reply will contain these facts. Let me repeat that, regrettably, all this brings to mind what happened with the Skripals and other incidents where Russia was groundlessly accused and the results of the investigation (that took place in Britain in the latter case) remain classified. Nobody sees the Skripals themselves.

I would like to remind you that when, on the wave of this Russophobic hysteria over the Skripals, our British colleagues compelled most EU countries to expel our diplomats (to which Moscow certainly responded), we confidentially asked the EU members whether the Brits presented any facts in addition to what they publicly reported in the media. We received a negative answer. Facts were not presented but they asked to expel our diplomats and promised that specific information would be provided later. I am not being lazy and whenever I meet with my colleagues, I ask them about the Skripals case when they expelled Russian diplomats based on London’s parole of honour and followed its appeal. I ask them whether they were given the promised specific information in addition to what was publicly mentioned and they again said “no.” Nobody has given any information to anyone.

This is why we now approach such high-flown, dramatic statements by our Western colleagues with a large dose of scepticism. We’ll see what facts they present. I think this public conduct and such haughty, arrogant demands made in a tone that our Western partners allow themselves shows that there is little to present except artificially fueled pathetics.

Question: The Ukrainian foreign minister said that the foreign ministers of Germany and France seek to hold a Normandy format foreign minister meeting in September. According to him, you have no objections to this. Is that right?

Sergey Lavrov: The Foreign Ministry has already responded to this question. If someone wants to meet, let them meet. We have not discussed any such matter. We are now talking about preparing a meeting of foreign policy advisers to the Normandy format leaders. Nobody said anything specific about a meeting of foreign ministers, because, I think, they are well aware of our position. First, we need to act upon what the leaders of our countries agreed on in Paris in December 2019. There has been little progress so far. We only see more problems in connection with the constant worsening of the Ukrainian authorities’ position with regard to their commitment to implementing the Minsk agreements.

Question: Yesterday, it became known that the Democrats in the United States demanded immediate imposition of sanctions on Russia in connection with the upcoming US presidential election in November. They are referring to intelligence that says that Russia can allegedly intervene. What can you tell us about this?

Sergey Lavrov: We have been hearing accusations that Russia is interfering in US presidential elections for many years now. It has now become a kind of a game of who is interfering more: Russia, China or Iran? A US national intelligence official recently said that China is interfering more than Russia or Iran. So, grown-up people have been playing these games for a long time now, and this does not surprise us. Sometimes, though, we can’t help but be surprised. I’m referring to recent accusations against Russia to the effect that we are trying to abuse or use in the interest of a particular candidate the planned voting by mail in the United States. I was surprised by this accusation, because until then I thought that voting by mail was part of the differences between President Trump, who outright refuses to allow this type of vote to be held, and the Democrats, who want to use voting by mail as much as possible.

Truth be told, we are used to these attacks. In this case, as in the case of poisonings and other situations in different countries, we will respond to specific facts, if they are presented to us. We keep telling our partners – Americans and Europeans alike – if you have any concern about anything, especially cybersecurity, which has become a particularly common subject for accusations and reproaches against us, let’s sit down and review your facts. We are ready to do so. Unfortunately, our partners in the United States and the EU shun direct conversations based on professional analysis of available facts. We are ready for this, and we encourage our colleagues to do so. They should stop living in the past reminiscing about the colonial era and considering themselves smarter and mightier than others and start working on the basis of what they signed in 1945, namely, the UN Charter principles, including equality, balance of interests and joint and honest work. We are ready for this.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation

Relentless March

August 30, 2020

Relentless March

by Katerina for the Saker Blog

I left Russia at the tender age of 24, left not because I wanted to leave my country, just simply happened to marry a foreigner who was there at the time and for several years now been living and working in three very different countries, including Scotland and England. Now I am living in yet another English-speaking country that is equally unique and different. I like to think that my experience of these four different cultures, outlooks, attitudes, not to mention systems, had most definitely expanded my horizons. I also want to think that such experience had allowed me to make certain assessments and analysis which hopefully could be translated into informed opinions.

I have been coming to this site for over two years now since it is rather “pro Russian” and therefore my interest was obvious. I have been reading Saker’s and his contributors posts with great interest, although reading some comments was at times bewildering. There are of course some very intelligent analytical comments and commentators on Saker’s blog, after all that is one of the reasons why we want to come here – for the knowledge we might not yet have, for the insight, for an intelligent analyses by someone who took the trouble and for someone’s else point of view that perhaps can make us think – that’s how I see this blog, and I am sure so does Saker. What compelled me to write this piece, a belief that most people coming to this blog are also looking for that same thing, otherwise why bother. On the other hand some of their expressed comments are not opinions but attitudes. Let me explain the difference. Opinion is something that is based on knowledge and at least some research, an attitude is something that expresses a person’s individual take on some particular issue, which has been shaped by picking up some information possibly from MSM, or from social media or wherever without really ANALYZING it but accepting it because it fits with that person’s mentality. See the difference?

I also see in some comments an understandable ignorance of things Russian and I cannot blame them for that, at least they are interested enough to be on this site, which is commendable. Except some obvious troll like creatures, who try to have some facade but most people here I think are a fairly intelligent lot and can see thru that.

In this my small contribution I would like to try and help with a bit more understanding of Russian side of things, which I suppose is rather difficult for people in the West to really understand, as we have lots of pervasive Western media that does not give one a true picture of Russia. Also, I would endeavor to provide some analysis or at least some explanation on the seemingly ingrained animosity of the West towards Russia and it’s possible origins.

So, let’s start.

“Things Russian”. Here I can try to give you some information that you will not get in your Western MSM, for sure. Having Russian as your first language is a great advantage when you can watch, read and listen to what is happening in Russia at present, what is the general mood that comes across, what worries and concerns them, what they think. One can get a pretty clear picture of all of that through their news channels, daily talk shows, expert’s opinions, people’s comments, etc on practically a daily basis. My knowledge on the subject, I can assure you, is up to date.

First, here are some myths that I want to blow apart for some people – Russia and Russians are NOT that greatly enamored with the West that they are so desperately wanting to be “accepted” and “approved” by this West. FAR FROM IT!

Lots of them, having seen the West’s insane, reckless and criminal behavior such as what it has done to Ukraine, hysterics regarding Crimea going back to Mother Russia, MH17 hideous crime, made-up Scripal garbage, expulsion of Russian Diplomats, criminal seizing of Russian diplomatic property, endless sanctions and relentless demonization of Russia and it’s President – feel it’s enough to start a war! No, whatever warm feelings they might have had in the past towards the West after break- up of USSR and hopes of being friendly at last – all these feelings have been killed and long gone. Now, just as it was back in history, they want to keep the distance. Some of the Western poison seeps thru occasionally but that does not get much traction. The so called “opposition” in Russia mostly survives on Soros’s grants and in Russia they even have a name for them -“sorosyata”, which roughly translates as a Soros’s little piglets. These who join them in their various protests are usually mindless youth looking for a bit of excitement. Too much of that excitement can land them with a heavy fine or expulsion from whatever learning establishment they attend. That cools a lot of hot heads. So, whatever one reads in western media regarding strong Russian “opposition” to Putin’s “dictatorship”, bear in mind he has as much fear of this opposition as an elephant of a flea on it’s back. Besides, if he was such a dictator this lot would not be allowed even to exist as an “opposition”, but they even have their own media channels – I reckon the government sees that as the best way to keep an eye on them.

No, there are no censorship, dictatorship or any other “ship” in Russia that does not allow people, however deluded, to express themselves, but in a civilized fashion. Cities are spotlessly clean, excellent infrastructure, every restaurant you could wish for, great bars and nightclubs, same make of cars on the roads as in any European city, friendly people and no homeless on the streets. Those football fans that arrived in Russia from all over the world for the World Cup couple of years ago, had to “pick their jaws off the pavement”. They could not believe what they were seeing as it was so totally different to what they were expecting from the images shaped for them by western media.

This is modern Russia.

In the last 25 years lots of Russians have traveled around Europe, UK, States, etc – something they could not do so easily before – they had a look, and what most of them discovered is that the grass definitely wasn’t greener on the other side. They were interested to have a look and quite content to get back home.

There were some who fled Russia during the terrible 90s when what was going on in Russia at the time was hell on wheels, as it was being robbed and pillaged by the West, whose wet dream at last came true, unfortunately for them only for a brief moment. Quite a number of Russians who left Russia at the time are now returning back home. The West now has got it’s own version of hell on wheels, so let’s call it KARMA.

What Russians also find distasteful are bad manners on the part of the West, showing up in rather unpleasant and uncalled for displays of arrogant lecturing and attempts to show some inexplicable “superiority” with regard to Russia. I have experienced this myself when in England, but NEVER in Scotland, I will hasten to add. Scotland and Scots for me were always “home from home”.

I was buying a train ticket at the Waterloo station in London and the ticket seller, an Englishman in his 40s, seeing my name, muttered under his breath “bloody Russian”. I was looking at him and wondering what made him say that. Here was someone who probably hardly finished secondary school, selling a ticket to someone who is a highly qualified professional, with two degrees, one of which is Masters, attained from one of the best Scottish Universities (writing a dissertation in second language is not easy, believe me!) and yet, he felt somehow “superior” to this Russian and that compelled him to mutter these words. And I suddenly realized that it was CONDITIONED in him, he didn’t even pause to think, it came out because he couldn’t help it. Attitude!

This negative conditioning in the West towards things Russian obviously had roots at some stage and later, reflecting on it I could see how it might have come about. We will leave religion aside for the moment, although it does play some part. The main culprit in my opinion, is the colonial mindset, combined with actual ignorance. To people in the West, meaning Western Europe and Britain, throughout centuries Russia has always been something dark and unknown and therefore to be feared and distanced from. There were few very sparse contacts but on the whole Russia and the West kept themselves to themselves. And until Peter the Great came along, that arrangement absolutely suited Russians as well. They regarded the West as heinous and un-Godly and much preferred to keep that distance. Tsar Peter has changed all of that in his drive to “open a window into Europe” as he put it.

What is not widely known about “superior” Europe of these days and that includes Britain, is that people there never bathed, fearing that it would kill them. When Tsar Peter arrived there with his entourage for their big Euro tour, they were absolutely shocked at the smell and stink of unwashed bodies, even in the palaces. Russians, before baths and showers were ever invented, for centuries had a wonderful tradition of having a “banya” once a week. Sort of like a nice steamy sauna but with an addition of hot water to actually wash yourself. Now, tell me, what nation is more civilized here?

The Russian Tsar, on the other hand was viewed in the West as some strange and fascinating curiosity. When the average person height in those days was shorter than it is now, Tsar Peter, being a young man, virile, handsome, did not wear wig, full of energy AND at 6’8” tall, of course, towered above everyone. At least now the West had a real chance to see a real Russian.

The tour was a great success. Tsar Peter brought back with him some craftsmen, some interesting new inventions, like the sextant and some experienced boat builders. His burning ambition was for Russia to have a Navy, although at that time it was totally landlocked from both Baltic and Black seas.

At some stage Peter also had to fight and defeat the Swedish King who at the time was trying to expand his kingdom into the rest of Europe. Peter had to get him off the land where he wanted to build his new capital, St Petersburg (he never liked Moskva) and that, of course, gave him an access to the Baltic Sea. In the process he also liberated these parts of Europe that the war-addicted Swedish King had managed to grab. Sweden still cannot forgive Russia for that. Afterwards the energetic Russian Tsar set out to build his new capital, laid foundations for his Navy and among many other things made his Boyars in court shave their beards and wear European attire, complete with powdered wigs. Those who refused to obey and shave Tsar himself did it for them and then fined them heavily. One does not trifle with Imperial orders! Eventually he got himself named an “anti-Christ” by the Russian Church, that passionately believed that Russia should not be “westernized”, that it had it’s own destiny and it’s own path. I tend to agree with them there. Meanwhile Europeans had discovered that they had nothing to fear from Russia and that bathing did not kill them after all and everything went rather swimmingly for a while between Russia and the West.

Until the start of the Industrial revolution.

The West suddenly realized that for such one needs lots of resources, which the West did not have but others did. Everyone went busily sailing around the world looking whom they can easily colonize and loot. Britain, one has to say, outdid every other European rival in those pursuits. Then, when the supply of countries to loot started to dwindle, the collective West turned it’s gaze upon… Russia. And this, in my opinion, was the moment when that animosity had taken root. Here was a country, with hardly any population to speak of, occupying huge territory and not just that, full of everything one can only dream about, every great resource imaginable, including gold and diamonds…

There was only one problem. Those “bloody Russians” in the way!

So, that was the start of it – fueled by greed, envy, resentment and hatred. The rest we all know. The “relentless marches” on Russia, mostly in gangs. Both Napoleon and Hitler had lots of willing European accomplices, all wanting a share of the spoils. Well, they all got what they deserved and here we are now, in 21st century and they are STILL at it! Lessons not learned. Only this time they got themselves a big bully that they can all hide behind but unfortunately for them this bully cannot fight. At least not a serious opponent. Some little helpless nations around the world, no problem, drop few bombs, show up with one of your “carrier groups” and it’s all honky dory. Here, it is facing RUSSIA, a nation that NEVER lost a war.

And now we have this NATO – another gang, controlled by this bully. The problem for them is that NONE of them can really fight, even as a gang and so, what we now have is a circus show, called exercises, each one with more ferocious name than the last. Russia is watching these clowns prancing on her borders and has left them in no doubt whatsoever that just one step over that border and there will be nothing left of them, INSTANTLY. They can also install their missile bases in Romania and Poland, or in any other little euro vassal, sorry, NATO ally, that wants to make itself a prime target – anything fired from those will be immediately shot down and the place from where it was fired will be just one large smouldering crater, several kilometers in diameter. No, Russia does not consider NATO a big threat. Just a nuisance. The game that is being played here is as follows: “we”, NATO allies have to scream very loud and very often about “Russian aggression” and “Russian treat”- failing that this NATO becomes irrelevant and the big MIC will not be able to suck up trillions of taxpayers money to line some very, very deep pockets. And while we are at it, we will force our “allies” to buy our military junk at exorbitant prices. So, here you have it.

I think people in the West hearing this Russophobic propaganda garbage 24/7 start believing it and start imagining that perhaps all of this is true, but remember what Goebbels, Hitler’s chief of propaganda advocated – keep repeating a lie often enough and they will eventually believe you.

Russia is not your enemy. All it wants from the West is to be left alone and also to be shown some respect. This arrogant, talking down to, insulting approach has no place in dealings with an old civilized and cultured nation like Russia, which is also extremely well-armed. That attitude actually reflects very badly on the West and on state of mental midgetry of their politicians, who do not seem to have any grasp that such approach will lead them nowhere. Most of course are puppets, just doing what Uncle Sam is telling them but here is a word of warning – following Uncle Sam might lead one to the cliff edge…

Another bit of info that you will not find in western MSM – RF (Russian Federation) Immigration Services are inundated with applications from people in the West, including USA, (and I am not talking about expats), who want to move to Russia. These people see it as some kind of Noah’s Ark, compared to what is coming to their countries. Living in Russia they feel they can be free to be a normal family with normal family values, not parent1 and parent2, but Mum and Dad and where their children can grow up in a normal environment, without being subjected to creepy gender selections.

In conclusion I will say this – in my experience most people are not that different from each other, after all we are ALL human and we all want the same in life – love, appreciation, family and a future for our children. It’s not that hard to get along if you want to. But what we also have in common is a common enemy that hates humanity and wants us culled (their expression) and what’s left, subjugated. So, rather than facing each other with hands in a fist, how about we direct our attention and all our energies to fighting THAT evil, the one that wants to destroy us all.

Might Belarus become the next Syria?

The Saker

Might Belarus become the next Syria?
Lukashenko and son

August 24, 2020

Okay, I admit it, the title is rather hyperbolic 🙂  But here is what I am trying to say: there are signs that Russia is intervening in the Belarusian crisis (finally!)

Second, Lukashenko did something rather weird, but which makes perfectly good sense in the Belarusian context: he dressed himself in full combat gear, grabbed an AKSU-74 assault rife, dressed his (15 year old!) son also in full combat gear (helmet included) and flew in his helicopter over Minsk and then landed in the Presidential building.  They then walked to the riot cops, where Lukashenko warmly thanked them and which resulted in the full police force giving him a standing ovation.  To most of us this behavior might look rather outlandish if not outright silly.  But in the context of the Belarusian crisis, which is a crisis primarily fought in the informational realm, it makes perfectly good sense.

  • Last week Lukashenko said that no other elections, nevermind a coup, will happen as long as he is alive.
  • This time Lukashenko decided to show, symbolically, that he is in charge and that he will die fighting along his son if needed.

The message here is clear: “I am no Ianukovich and, if needed, I will die just like Allende died”.

Needless to say, the AngloZionist propaganda machine has immediately declared that seeing Lukashenko carrying a Kalashnikov is a clear sign that he has gone insane.  In the western context, if this was, say, Luxembourg or Belgium this accusation of insanity would be spot on.  But in the Belarusian context, these accusations get very little traction, chalk it up to cultural differences if you wish.

To understand how powerful this message is, we need to keep in mind the two key rumors that the Empire’s PSYOP operation was trying to convey to the people of Belarus:

  • There are profound differences amongst and inside the ruling elites (especially the so-called “siloviki” – the “power ministries” if you want, like Internal Affairs or KGB).
  • Lukashenko either has already fled the country or is about to flee it (each time a helicopter files over Minsk, the western PSYOPs say that this is footage of Lukashenko “fleeing the country”).

I have a strong suspicion that what happened between Putin and Lukashenko is very similar to what happened between Putin and Assad: initially, both Assad and Lukashenko apparently thought that pure violence will solve the problem.  That profoundly mistaken belief resulted in a situation in which the legitimate authorities were almost overthrown (and this is still possible in Belarus).  In each case, the Russians clearly said something along the lines of “we will help you, but you have to radically change your methods”.  Assad listened.  Lukashenko apparently did too, at least to some degree (this process has just begun).

The truth is that the opposition is in a difficult situation: the vast majority of the people of Belarus clearly do not want a violent coup, followed by a bloody civil war, a total deindustrialization of the country and a total submission to the Empire, i.e. they don’t want to go down the “Ukie way”.  But how to you *legally* overthrow a government, especially if that government now sends the clear message “we will die before we allow you to seize power”?

Then there is the immense problem with Tikhanovskaia: while few believe that she got 10% and Lukashenko got 80% – nobody sincerely believes that she beat him.  So while the West wants to paint Lukashenko as “the next Maduro“, it is practically impossible to convince anybody “that Tikhanovskaia is the next Guaido“.

So where do we go from here?

Well, Lukashenko has not fired Foreign Minister Makei or KGB Head Vakulchik.  Truth be told, I tend to agree with some Russian analysts who say that Makei is not really the problem, and that the main russophobe in Minsk is Lukashenko himself (just one example: he was the one who removed the four Russian Sukhois which Russia had sent to help Belarus control their airspace).  It is quite true that Lukashenko runs all his ministries with an iron hand and that saying that Makei is all evil and black while Lukashenko is this white, innocent, victim is not very credible.  However, even if Makei and Vakulchik were only executing Lukashenko’s orders, then now need to fall in their swords as a sign of contrition and reparation towards Russia.  Still, the Russians will probably indicate the Lukashenko that the Kremlin will not work with these turncoats.

Then there are the public statements of the Belarusian Minister of Defense, Viktor Khrenin, who says all then right things and who seems to take a very hard line against those western forces which are behind this latest attempt at a color revolution.  It is well known in Russia that while Belarusian diplomats seems to, how shall I put it, prefer smiles to substantive collaboration with Russia.  The case of the Belarusian military is quite different, not only do the Russian and Belarusian militaries train together, they also share intelligence on a reportedly continuous basis.  Besides, without Russia the Belarusian military would find itself completely isolated, unable to procure technical support or parts, disconnected from the Russian early warning systems and removed from Russian intelligence support.

The Belarusian military is dramatically different from the Ukrainian military which had practically lost its combat readiness decades ago, which was then purged from all real patriots, and which was fantastically corrupt.  In contrast, the comparatively small Belarusian military is, by all accounts, very well-trained, decently equipped and commanded by very competent officers.  I think that it is a safe bet to say that the armed forces are loyal to Lukashenko and that they would probably welcome a full reunification with Russia.

As for Lukashenko himself, he has, for the first time, allowed an openly pro-Russian party to register (in the past, pro-Russian movements, organizations and parties were systematically persecuted and shut down).  He also declared on public TV that “his friend Putin” advised him on how to react to the demonstrators.

So will Belarus become the next Syria?

Well, no, of course not, the two countries are way too different.  But in a different sense, what happened in Syria might happen in Belarus: Russia will provide her full support, but only in exchange for major reforms on all levels.  And though Lukashenko now declares that the West only wants to destroy Belarus as a first phase of destroying all of Russia, I do not believe that there is any chance for a military conflict, unless one of three things happen:

  1. Some nutcase on either side opens fire and triggers a military incident (and even that might not be enough)
  2. The Poles get really desperate and do something fantastically dumb (Polish history demonstrates that this is a very real possibility)
  3. Lukashenko is killed and chaos ensues (not very likely either)

We must remember that when Russia intervened in Syria, the Syrian military was in shambles and basically defeated.  This is not at all the case in Belarus which has a superb military (of the “lean and mean” sort) and they can secure their own country, especially when backed by the KGB and the Ministry of Internal Affairs forces.

Still, while Lukashenko might be part of the solution in the short term, in the long term he must go and be replaced by a trustworthy leader whom the Belarusian people and the Kremlin could really trust and that leader’s main task will be to fully reintegrate Belarus into Russia.  Again, a major difference with Syria.

Belarus: Why Is Lukshenko Being Color Revolutioned Just Now?

By F. William Engdahl

Global Research, August 21, 2020

The globalist Powers That Be have clearly decided to topple the long-standing sole-ruler of Belarus, President Aleksander Lukashenko. The question is why at just this time? There is a case to be made that one reason is he is being destroyed for his unforgivable coronavirus defiance. In any case Belarus is being hit with a full force West-led Color Revolution. The protests over the August 9 election show every sign of the usual Color Revolution destabilization protests, manufactured by the usual Western NGOs, as well as private contractors using social media to steer the protests.

Under Lukashenko’s regime, the country defied WHO and the global coronavirus lockdown demands. He refused to order lockdown of his citizens or the economy. As of August 13 the country had recorded a total of 617 covid19 related deaths. Belarus stood together with Sweden and the US State of South Dakota as one of the very few places in the world to successfully disprove the bizarre and dangerous WHO demands for a global lockdown to control the pandemic. Belarus ordered no lockdown so most industry continued. Schools remained open other than a 3 week closing during Easter. There were no mask requirements, though volunteer groups distributed masks to some and in June the EU sent a shipment of PPE including masks to Health officials for distribution. Football and the May 9 Victory parade went as normal. And now the country stands as an example the WHO and friends do not want.

One very important point is that the Health Ministry ignored the very flawed WHO recommendations on loosely classifying deaths as Covid19 when only a “suspicion” is there. The basis for the Belarus pathologists to state the cause of death from coronavirus is the presence of a patho-morphological picture with laboratory confirmation of Covid-19.i

This all did not sit well with the globalist Powers That Be. The manifestly corrupt WHO, whose main private donor is the Gates Foundation, criticized Lukashenko’s government for lack of quarantine and in June, when announcing it would grant Belarus a $940 million loan, the IMF said it was conditional on the country imposing quarantine, isolation and closed borders, demands Lukashenko rejected as “nonsense.” He noted in a widely-quoted statement, “the IMF continues to demand from us quarantine measures, isolation, a curfew. This is nonsense. We will not dance to anyone’s tune.”

Color Revolution Begins

Clearly NATO and the Western globalist circles have been working on toppling Lukashenko well before the covid19 events. That coronavirus defiance may only have helped galvanize events. The West and its “democracy” NGOs have long had Lukashenko in their targets. During the Bush Administration in 2008 US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice denounced Lukashenko as Europe’s “last dictator.” After that, Russia created the Eurasian Economic Union along with Kazakhstan and Belarus as members. Until now Lukashenko has refused Putin’s proposal to merge with Russia in one large Union State. That may soon change.

The protests broke out in Belarus after elections on August 9 gave Lukashenko some 80% of the vote against his last-minute opposition candidate, the ‘western’ candidate Svetlana Tikhanovskaya. Those protests are being run using the same model that the CIA and its various “democracy” NGOs, led by the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) developed in Serbia, Ukraine, Russia and numerous other states whose leaders refused to bow to the globalist dictates. A co-founder of the NED, Allen Weinstein, declared in the Washington Post in 1991, “A lot of what we do today was done covertly 25 years ago by the CIA.” The NED gets its financing from the US government, but poses around the world as a “private” democracy-promoting NGO, where it was instrumental in most every Washington-backed regime change destabilizations since the collapse of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s.

In 2019, the NED listed on its website some 34 NED project grants in Belarus. All of them were directed to nurture and train an anti-Lukashenko series of opposition groups and domestic NGOs. The grants went for such projects as, “NGO Strengthening: To increase local and regional civic engagement… to identify local problems and develop advocacy strategies.” Another was to “expand an online depository of publications not readily accessible in the country, including works on politics, civil society, history, human rights, and independent culture.” Then another NED grant went, “To defend and support independent journalists and media.” And another, “NGO Strengthening: To foster youth civic engagement.” Another large NED grant went to, “training democratic parties and movements in effective advocacy campaigns.”ii Behind the innocent-sounding NED projects is a pattern of creating a specially-trained opposition on the lines of the CIA’s NED model.

Belarus Kicks Off Large-scale Military Drills Near Poland, Lithuania

The Murky Nexta

A key role in coordinating the “spontaneous” protests was played by a Warsaw-based texting and video channel called “Nexta,” based on the Telegram messaging app. Nexta, which is Belarusian for “somebody,” is nominally headed by a 22-year old Belarus exile based in Poland named Stepan Putila. With the Belarus Internet shut by the government since days, Nexta, operating from Poland, has posted numerous citizen videos of protest and police crackdown and claims now to have 2 million followers. It quickly became the heart of the Color Revolution once Belarus shut its Internet access.

Stepan Putila is also known under the moniker Stepan Svetlov. Putila previously worked for the Warsaw-based Belsat channel which broadcasts propaganda into Belarus and is funded by the Polish Foreign Ministry and USAID. The co-founder and Editor in Chief at Nexta since March, 2020 is a Belarus exile named Roman Protasevich who used to work for the US Government’s propaganda media, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. Protasevich also worked for the Polish-based Euroradio which is partly funded by USAID. He was active in the CIA’s 2013-14 Maidan Square demonstrations in Kiev and according to his Facebook likes is close to Ukrainian neo-nazi Pahonia Detachment. In April 2018, Protasevich ends up at the US State Department in Washington, a notable contact. On his Facebook then he noted, “The most important week in my life begins.” The same day he posted a picture of himself inside the US State Department, stating “Never had so many important and interesting encounters in my life.”iii After he left Washington he went to work for the USAID-funded radio in Belarus Euroradio.fm on August 31, 2018. Two years later Protasevich is coordinating the anti-Lukashenko events from Warsaw via Nexta. Coincidence?

Nexta which uses the London-registered Telegram, and is in NATO-member Poland, outside the country, so far has eluded shutdown. Nexta has been sending out, via social media, such information as plans for protests, at what time and where to gather for a rally, when to start a strike, where police are assembled and so on. Nexta has also circulated texts of protesters’ demands, updates about arrests, locations of arrests by riot police, and contacts for lawyers and human rights defenders as well as maps showing where police are located and addresses for protesters to hide in.

It has also advised subscribers how to bypass internet blocking by using proxies and other means. As Maxim Edwards, a pro-opposition British journalist at Global Voices, describes Nexta, “It is clear that the channel does not merely report on the protests, but has played a substantial role in organising them.”iv

No doubt such coordination from abroad would not be possible unless Nexta had some very sophisticated assistance from certain intelligence services. Nexta claims it depends on “donations” and ads for funding, but claims to get no “grants” from governments or foundations. Whether true or not, it is an answer that gives little clarity. Is USAID one of their “donors” or the Open Society Foundations? The relevant point is that Nexta uses cyber technology that Belarus is not able to shut down. In 2018 the Russian governments unsuccessfully tried to ban Telegram for refusing to reveal their source codes.

Global Stakes

The opposition political candidates to Lukashenko is also surprisingly clever in tactics, suggesting they are being guided by professionals. Svetlana Tikhanovskaya the alleged “political novice” who stepped in when her husband was arrested and forbidden to run, claims she won the election based on exit pollers. On August 14 Tikhanovskaya announced that she was forming a “coordination council” to secure a peaceful transfer of power. It echoed the earlier call by another opposition candidate, Valery Tsepkalo, a former Belarus Ambassador to Washington who, like Tikhanovskaya’s husband Sergei Tikhanovsky, was barred from running for president. Tsepkalo called it a “national salvation front.”

Though Belarus is a small country of less than 10 million, the stakes of this destabilization effort of the West are enormous. In 2014 the Obama CIA head John Brennan led a US-backed coup d’etat in Ukraine to prevent Ukraine joining Russia’s economic union. That coup has not given Ukraine anything positive. Instead it has resulted in rule but by other corrupt oligarchs, but friendly with Washington, especially under Obama.

The NED tried in 2018 to destabilize Armenia, another part of the Russian Eurasian Economic Union. Were they now to break off Belarus, the military and political consequences for Russia could be severe. Whether or not the Lukashenko defiance of the WHO coronavirus dictates had a role in the timing of the ongoing Minsk Color Revolution attempt, clearly some powers that be in the West, including the EU and Washington would love to collapse Belarus as they did in Ukraine six years ago. If they succeed we can be sure they will be emboldened to try Russia after.

*

Note to readers: please click the share buttons above or below. Forward this article to your email lists. Crosspost on your blog site, internet forums. etc.

This article was originally published on the author’s blog site, williamengdahl.com.

F. William Engdahl is strategic risk consultant and lecturer, he holds a degree in politics from Princeton University and is a best-selling author on oil and geopolitics. He is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization. 

Notes

Natalya Grigoryeva, How Belarus Ignored the WHO and Beat Coronavirus, FRN, June 21, 2020, https://fort-russ.com/2020/06/covid-19-psychosis-defeated-how-belarus-ignored-the-who-and-beat-coronavirus/

NED, Belarus 2019, https://www.ned.org/region/central-and-eastern-europe/belarus-2019/

Anonymous, Roman Protasevich, August 17, 2020, https://www.foiaresearch.net/person/roman-protasevich

Maxim Edwards, How one Telegram channel became central to Belarus protests, August 19, 2020, https://radioeonline.com/2020/08/19/how-one-telegram-channel-became-central-to-belarus-protests/

Featured image:  Protest rally against Lukashenko, 16 August. Minsk, Belarus License: The Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license Under Some Conditions https://bit.ly/325WwSw


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This skilfully researched book focuses on how a small socio-political American elite seeks to establish control over the very basis of human survival: the provision of our daily bread. “Control the food and you control the people.”

This is no ordinary book about the perils of GMO. Engdahl takes the reader inside the corridors of power, into the backrooms of the science labs, behind closed doors in the corporate boardrooms.

The author cogently reveals a diabolical world of profit-driven political intrigue, government corruption and coercion, where genetic manipulation and the patenting of life forms are used to gain worldwide control over food production. If the book often reads as a crime story, that should come as no surprise. For that is what it is.The original source of this article is Global ResearchCopyright © F. William Engdahl, Global Research, 2020

Two clicks to midnight

Two clicks to midnight

Two clicks to midnight[1]

by Ken Leslie for The Saker Blog

While I was absent from this esteemed blog focusing on other things, an extremely dangerous situation started to develop and I found myself reaching for the keyboard again. If some of my previous writings were a bit alarmist, the tone was motivated by a genuine angst before an unfeeling and unstoppable machine of conquest and destruction the likes of which the world had never seen. And angst it is—anybody with an ounce of common sense can see that the World is hurtling towards some kind of catastrophe. Whether this occurs in a year or five is less relevant. The point is that we are witnessing a process of rapid implosion of the current global system and are not able to see what will replace it. There is no compelling vision of the future—a universal vessel of hope that would transport us across the turbulent waters of fundamental change. This time I am not anxious but resigned. Resignation does not imply learned helplessness—unlike most people around me I am grateful for the ability to be aware of the danger and to articulate what I see as the truth without fear or self-censorship.

Oh, and if the post sounds like a rant, that’s because it is one.

Some academics (ideologues?) such as Steven Pinker have argued that things are much better than they were a 100 years ago—at least in terms of deaths caused by wars and other hard indicators of well-being. Although it pains me to say that Pinker could be correct, this essay is not about “progress” but about the approach of the ultimate regress—the unavoidable and ultimately catastrophic clash between the “West” and the “East”. A couple of months ago I was writing about the danger of NATO hordes closing in on Moscow from the Ukraine, Poland and the Baltics only to realize that unless a miracle happens, in a few months, Russia will be completely surrounded by enemies. The only exceptions—Norway at the extreme North and Azerbaijan at the extreme South are less relevant at the moment but as we have seen recently, these countries too are being subjected to accelerated weaponization—just yesterday, a Russian diplomat was detained in Norway and Azerbaijan is involved in a tense standoff with a (supposed) ally of Russia.

The fracturing and occupation of the post-Soviet space that began in 1991 is almost complete. More or less willingly, the former Warsaw pact and buffer states of Eastern Europe joined the criminal alliance that is NATO and over the last 30 years gradually prepared for the coming war against Russia. When did it all begin? The blueprint for the current mechanism was established by the Nazi Germany which narrowed the distance between itself and the Soviet Union over a few years. Moreover, the political mechanism behind the new Drang (the European Union) was designed in 1944 by Hitler’s economic experts (and put into practice by the founder of the CIA, William Donovan). It should be noted that on his way to the USSR, Hitler had to “pacify” a few countries including Poland, France, Yugoslavia and Greece. This time around, the whole West is united in its enmity towards Russia (economic links notwithstanding) and ALL European countries with the exception of Serbia and Byelorussia have placed themselves willingly in the anti-Russian camp. This is not to say that the majority of people in those countries hate Russia (in many they do) but that the governing cliques and military juntas inside various NATO satrapies are ready to contribute to the “joint effort to bring freedom and democracy” to the “benighted Rus”.

Of these two pariahs, the Serbs, despite their love of Russia are doomed by geography and by the privilege of being the only nation to have a piece of their country (Kosovo and Metohija) taken away, of being bombed by the combined forces of the West for 78 days and having a quarter of a million of their number cruelly expelled from their homeland in Srpska Krajina (currently occupied by Croatia). Exhausted and surrounded by enemies, the Serbs can do little to stop the clock ticking towards the Armageddon. This leaves Byelorussia, the only post-Soviet country that has not flirted with overt Russophobia and whose president showed many signs of real independence of mind vis-à-vis the West. Alexander Lukashenko’s personal bravery is not in question. In the midst of the NATO bombing in 1999, he visited Belgrade and declared himself openly pro-Serb. He signed the accession to the Union State between his country and Russia that same year.[2] He was somebody who wanted to preserve the positive legacy of the Soviet Union and his unwillingness to toe the EU line (pro-German “democracy” at home and anti-Russian posture abroad) earned him the sobriquet of the “last European dictator”.

But then, things started to go wrong, especially after the Nazi takeover of the Ukraine in 2014. Lukashenko might have started to feel isolated and between Western pressure and ossification of his quasi-socialist system (nothing wrong with it in principle), he began to turn against his only genuine ally—Russia. The reasons for this U turn are complex but at this moment also irrelevant. Whatever the cause of the cooling of the relations between Russia and Byelorussia, the consequences are dire and are fast becoming catastrophic. To understand the gravity of the situation, we should be able to see the “Gestalt”—the whole of the current geopolitical situation and its trends. That a global conflict between the West and the East is in the offing there is no doubt. Not only has Russia been targeted since the mid-1990s, but the total war on China and Iran declared by Trump and his Jesuitical agents provocateurs confirms absolutely that we are facing something unprecedented. I need to remind the reader that nothing like this was even remotely possible only 30 years ago. The brazenness and sheer bloodthirst of the new Operation Barbarossa with its global ambitions dwarfs any conquests known to history. What boggles the mind is how successful it has been.

No bromides about how strong Russia is, how well it’s coping (I repeat—coping) with the cruel sanctions by the West will suffice this time. No empty hope that somehow the miserable quisling statelets from the Balkans to the Baltics will experience a Zen-like enlightenment and disobey their Western masters. No false hope that the push towards Russia’s borders can somehow be reversed and no end in sight to the total war waged by the combined “West” (a dire temporary reconciliation of a resurgent Roman Catholicism, neutered Protestantism and newly respectable Zionism). From this point on, there is no going back. The distance between Moscow and the closest point in the Ukraine is 440 km (as crow flies). In the case of Byelorussia, it is 410 km. Although symbolic, this advance would be hugely important for the would-be conquerors as it is for Russia. Starting with Orsha in Byelorussia, the path to Moscow leads through Smolensk, Vyazma and Mozhaysk—towns that experienced so much suffering in WWII because they were on the road to Moscow. But what about the suffering of Byelorussia? It was probably the worst-suffering Soviet republic with an unknown number of people killed or sent of to Germany as slave labour and uncountable number of villages and towns destroyed.

None of this matters in the upside-down Western world view in which black is white and white is black. It is a world in which the close descendants of the worst war criminals in history are now the unofficial rulers of Europe together with their Gallic poodles and Anglo-Saxon frenemies, while the nation which bore the brunt of the cruellest genocide ever is being attacked by those same criminals again—as if two Vernichtungskriege in 30 years weren’t enough.

Many will point out that we are already at war and this would be true. The threat of a nuclear conflict has prompted Western strategists to think of alternative ways of destroying their opponents. We are talking about a broad-spectrum effort which includes political, economic, intelligence, cultural, psychological, religious and military components. By weaving these different strands into a single coordinated strategy, the West is hoping (and succeeding) in getting closer to Moscow every day without igniting a global nuclear war. This time however, it is different. Not only has the West crossed Russia’s geopolitical red lines, it has given notice that it will stop at nothing until Russia is defeated and destroyed. They are skilfully neutralising Russia’s nuclear deterrent by inflicting a thousand cuts from all sides without suffering any harm themselves. Two days ago, a Russian major general was killed by America’s proxies in Syria while delivering food to the people of Idlib. Today, Alexey Navalny is in a coma after an alleged poisoning attempt. The quickening is palpable but no event demonstrates the current danger better than the attempted colour revolution in Byelorussia which is unfolding as we speak.

The genius of the Western destruction-mongers lies not in their ingenuity and creativity but in their understanding of the lower reaches of human nature (in this respect they have no peer). They know how to exploit weaknesses such as greed, envy and ego and especially people’s susceptibility to vices. Moreover, these agents of darkness know that most people are frightened, helpless, largely ignorant and easily swayed and distracted. With this knowledge and an inexhaustible source of money, the West has settled on a winning scheme of “peaceful” conquest which has brought it all the way from the Atlantic coast to the gates of Moscow after 30 years of colour revolutions, coups and open war. I need to stress the importance and success of this “boiling frog” strategy.[3] There is nothing new or surprising in their latest move on Lukashenko—the same combination of underground CIA-funded networks from Poland, Ukraine and the Baltics and incompetent opposition which is transformed into a “plausible democratic alternative” overnight. Nazi-linked symbols, Russophobic vultures such as the buzzard-faced Bernard Henri-Levi circling above the scene, invented ancient roots… It’s all there.

But that is not why I’m writing. Throughout my years as a keen observer of the latest (and last) Drang, I have been fascinated by the patterns of behaviour (on a geopolitical level) which seem to come straight out of a history book to describe the period circa 1940. While the Western juggernaut hurtles through space, the decorum of “partnership” is maintained to the very last moment. Even though a few lonely voices are screaming that the war is inevitable and that Russia must neutralise any further advances by the new Nazis, most people are distracted by COVID, Joe Biden’s dementia and other nonsense. This could be cowardice but could also be wisdom in the face of an inevitable tragedy.

Even the tone of the Russian diplomacy is slowly changing—as it did in the autumn of 1940 following the cooling of German-Soviet relations. The ever measured and moderate Sergei Lavrov (like Vyacheslav Molotov before him) has started describing the international situation in more realistic terms using noticeably harsher language. Nevertheless, unless Russia does something very quickly, it will find itself completely surrounded and unable to defend itself as it did in 1941—hypersonic weapons notwithstanding.

However, the most fascinating aspect of this latest escalation is the fact that another colour revolution could be attempted at all and that Russia is still unable to assert itself in its neighbourhood, if only in order to save itself. “Unable” is perhaps too strong a word. What I mean is that unlike the West which is achieving its geopolitical goals without shedding blood and even without suffering any significant economic damage (no, Russian countersanctions have not crippled Germany or France), the Russians know that any attempts to stop and reverse the Western push will cost them dearly—primarily in terms of further isolation from all Western countries (already, Russian diplomats are being detained and expelled throughout the EU, as if in anticipation of the Byelorussian endgame). [4]The Western planners know that Russia can survive on its own but they also know that it can’t survive for long if deprived of the oxygen of international exchange—the feeling that it belongs to the family of European nations. No Eurasian ideology can ever replace the esteem in which Europe has been held by Russian intellectuals. While I see this pronounced inferiority complex as Russia’s curse, I have to acknowledge it in order to explain president Putin’s attempts to get various EU countries on his side.

It is not so much about economy but about Russia’s eternal yearning to prove itself worthy of “European standards” despite the fact that it was Europe that has been attacking Russia relentlessly and is guilty of crippling it possibly beyond healing. Hope springs eternal. And yet, president Putin must be aware of the dirty double-dealing game the EU is playing (I am giving the villain du jour a miss this time) by leaning on the United States to re-establish its hegemony over the Eurasian, African and Middle-Eastern space while lecturing Putin and Lukashenko on the merits of democracy. There is something deeply hypocritical—not to say Jesuitical—about EUs posture. It is doing everything in its power to isolate and weaken Russia while offering carrots such as Nord stream 2. This is much more pernicious than the open enmity of Trump and his crude supremacism because it offers the deeply unpleasant EU block an opportunity to play a good cop towards Russia at no cost to itself. Compared with the US’s Berserker-like attack on anything and everything, the EU appears “reasonable” and ready for a compromise by comparison—but this is only a dangerous illusion.

While the EU is wholeheartedly supporting the new Maidan (relying on the nazified pockets in the West of Byelorussia and the usual pro-Western suspects), it has the temerity to issue warnings to Putin not to “meddle” and to Lukashenko not to “oppress”. This coming from a president who has been perpetrating mass violence on the peaceful demonstrators in the centre of Paris for over a year. Even worse, Angela Merkel who is initiating a more muscular foreign policy under the guidance of expansionist hawks who are champing at the bit to replace her (Annegret whatever and Ursula I don’t care) dares lecture Russia on interfering in other countries’ affairs—after her illustrious predecessors. the CDU crypto-Nazis Kohl, Kinkel and Genscher destroyed Yugoslavia (only for Russian top partnyor Gerhardt Schröder to finish the job by sending German bombers, spies and military trainers to Serbia in 1999). And yet, all Russia can do is appeal meekly to the EU in the hope that the Ukrainian scenario will not recur. Promises of military help given to Lukashenko are almost worthless in the light of the cumulative EUs response—which would be nothing short of traumatic. The proof of this is the complete support by Germany for the Ukrainian regime notwithstanding its dirty role in overthrowing Yanukovich and undermining the Minsk accords.

So, what am I trying to say? The moment of reckoning has arrived. Despite the heroic battle by President Putin and his comrades to buy time and delay the inevitable, the time for procrastination and appeasement has passed. Russia must choose between a difficult but sustainable future and no future at all. The Western offensive has destroyed all buffers between Russia and its enemies and although this might not mean much militarily, it has a vast symbolic value.[5] If Byelorussia goes, Russia remains geopolitically isolated like never before. Furthermore, its enemies, far from collapsing as many have been predicting, are strong and more united than ever despite various internecine squabbles.[6] This is not to say that Russia is at the death’s door. On the contrary, it is precisely because it is so resilient and forward-looking that its enemies are compelled to ramp up the pressure.

Even if Lukashenko survives the current jeopardy, he will cease to be a relevant political factor in years to come. The weakening of his rule (however clumsy and obsolescent) can mean only one thing—the infiltration of the Byelorussian political life by various pro-Western agents of influence who will find it easy to corrupt and disrupt by dipping into NED’s and USAID’s seemingly inexhaustible coffers. The moment Russia intervenes in the affairs of Minsk in any detectable way, it will be subjected to a barrage of hatred, military threats and punitive measures that have not been seen before. President Putin has an unenviable choice—act sub rosa (like he has been doing in the Donbass) and watch Byelorussia slowly descend into an orgy of anti-Russian madness or intervene openly and risk alienating the EU further, at a time when the fate of the lifeline pipeline crucially depends on EUs goodwill and willingness to antagonise Trump (a perfect good cop, bad cop scenario played by the USA and EU).

All of this is clear to president Putin and his cabinet and I have no doubt that they are burning midnight oil trying to think of the best ways to counter the Western aggression. Yet, history still holds valuable lessons. Stung by what he saw as the betrayal by the British and the French, Joseph Stalin signed a non-aggression treaty with Hitler in order to delay the inevitable. The period of collaboration involved the USSR shipping oil to Germany, oil which would later power German tanks on the road to Stalingrad. Although he did buy enough time to execute some important war preparations, Stalin waited far too long. Months after having received reports of German reconnaissance planes overflying Byelorussia and Ukraine, Stalin refused to believe that Hitler would betray him and ascribed the “anti-German” panic to the agents of Winston Churchill. Yet, this time he was horribly wrong and his error cost the USSR millions of lives and billions in damage. None of the subsequent amazing victories of the Soviet arms would quite wash away the bitter taste of Stalin’s epic blunder of 1941.

The historical lesson I was alluding to is simple yet devilishly hard to implement because it is “two-tailed”. In other words, the possibility of a deadly miscalculation stretches equally in both temporal directions away from the point that represents a timely decision. In other words, given the huge stakes that are involved, making a correct decision is well-nigh impossible. And although the choice can be defended post-hoc, especially if it results in a victory, we can never know if a better decision could not have been made. Like Stalin, Putin is facing the Scylla and Charybdis of time, only I would argue that he is facing an even more difficult decision. For all its weaknesses, the Soviet Union was much larger than its successor state and possessed by far the largest armed forces in the world (to say nothing about the reserves of raw materials and workforce). The factor that probably decided its fate was a relative weakness of the fifth column inside the country and the ability of the security services to neutralise pro-German networks operating inside the country. President Putin has entered the twilight zone in which the smallest mistake can cost him everything. I don’t envy him but pray for his wisdom and Russia’s preparedness.

Of course, circumstances have changed dramatically and today’s warfare bears scant resemblance to the mass movement of army fronts across thousands of kilometres of chernozem and steppe. These days, the crude manoeuvring of armoured columns has been replaced by silent software attacks on a state’s currency system and infrastructure, covert takeovers and sabotage of its assets, denial of open and free intercourse with other countries, replacement of the indigenous values and goals by the foreign dogma and suborning of its institutions to will of the Empire. This new form of warfare requires sophistication and intercontinental co-ordination. Occasionally, we are made aware of the bloopers of the Western intelligence services and their silly attempts to blame Russia for all their ills, but make no mistake! The cumulative effect of their misdeeds has been a complete homogenisation of the European space along the Russophobic lines prescribed by the behind-the-scene bosses. Let me put it this way: If tomorrow the USA and the EU were to declare a war on Russia, do you believe that any of the Slav vassals would openly defy the clarion call? Again, let me give you a couple of examples from history.

When NATO bombed Serbia, not a single country refused to participate in this egregious war crime and the honour of defying the black criminal cabal of Brussels belongs to a few heroic soldiers from Greece, Spain and France. With Iraq it was different in that Germany and France did not feel sufficiently incentivised to participate in what they saw as a neocon-inspired Anglo-Saxon adventure (for which they have been lauded no end). To pre-empt the possibility of future betrayal by its vassals, the US has shifted to a new strategy which seeks to weaken Russia (or China) without having to mobilise military “coalitions of the willing”. The war is being fought in small, almost invisible increments which do not require absolute allegiance to the cause and payment in blood.

The new army consists of spies, computer and finance specialists, thinktank ideologues, NGO “activists”, “security experts” and other assorted ghouls whose victories are not measured in square kilometres of conquered territory or body counts but in fractions of a percent of damage caused to the currency, prestige or freedom of action of the enemy. This leaves a lot of space for “plausible deniability” and the maintenance of the “business as usual” posture while the deadly blows are administered below the waterline. It also bamboozles the ordinary people into thinking that the war could never happen. It can and it will.

Another consequence will be accelerated squeezing and neutralisation of the semi-impotent Serbia and the final Gleichschaltung of the Eastern wing of NATO in preparation for a more muscular phase of the war. This will involve transferring more troops and missiles to the East (but always under the retaliation threshold), closing down of Russia’s embassies and consulates in Europe while pretending to oppose the United States, closing down financing channels and media outlets, making life miserable for Russian citizens and businessmen abroad plus hundreds more nasty tricks. In many ways, the strategy of sustained pressure is more dangerous than open conflict because it sucks out hope from the people of the affected country—the hope that they will be treated as equals by the “cultured” West. A similar tactic has been used against China but China is in a much better economic position to withstand such pressures.

The fall of Lukashenko and “old Byelorussia” can mean only one thing—an intensified total war which Russia will have to face totally isolated. If Russia’s last real ally (yes, that’s what he is) can be removed with such ease, Russia cannot hope to attract and keep long-term allies and neutral partners. This is only partly Russia’s fault. The power aligned against it is unprecedented in history and I am praying that Russia will be able to overcome the forces of evil again.

One piece of good news though—the dissolute Jesuitical warmonger Bannon has been arrested for fraud—finally showing the Chinese the fruits of a “Christian” education.

Notes:

  1. The illustration has been borrowed from the irreplaceable Colonel Cassad (Boris Rozhin) whose blog most of us visit regularly. The link is: https://colonelcassad.livejournal.com/6110832.html 
  2. Generally, I agree with the Saker that Byelorussia should not exist as an independent state. Nor should the Ukraine for that matter, apart from the Uniate appendage of Galicia. 
  3. From Wikipedia: “The boiling frog is a fable describing a frog being slowly boiled alive. The premise is that if a frog is put suddenly into boiling water, it will jump out, but if the frog is put in tepid water which is then brought to a boil slowly, it will not perceive the danger and will be cooked to death. The story is often used as a metaphor for the inability or unwillingness of people to react to or be aware of sinister threats that arise gradually rather than suddenly.” 
  4. A recent episode has infuriated me no end. After helping Italy to stem the spread of COVID in a gesture of friendship and good will, the Russian air force has had to chase an Italian military aeroplane that was approaching the Russian Black Sea coast. Even if this was an attempt by the Americans to poison the relations between the two nations, it is inexcusable and leaves another stain of dishonour on the standard of the much abused battle standard of Italy. 
  5. Actually, it does mean a lot militarily because it allows for all kinds of fast aggressive moves for which Russia cannot find timely countermeasures. In today’s world of nanosecond processing, 10 km is a huge distance. 
  6. If you think that Brexit and Greek-Turkish tensions prove me wrong, remember that modern European history was a never-ending saga of bloody and destructive wars. 

Will Belarus become the next Banderastan?

THE SAKER • AUGUST 19, 2020

The situation in Belarus is evolving very rapidly, and not for the better, to say the least. A lot has been going on, but here is a summary of what are the most crucial developments in my opinion:

  • Last Sunday was a major success for the Belarusian opposition: huge crowds took to the streets of several Belarusian cities and, in most cases, the demonstrations were peaceful.
  • Belarus now has its own “Juan Guaido” in the person of Svetlana Tikhanovskaia – whose only “qualification” to lead the opposition is that is that her husband is in jail. Tikhanovskaia has already declared herself the “national leader” of Belarus.
  • The Belarusian opposition formed a coordinating committee which is staffed by well-known and long-time rabid russophobes.
  • The program of the opposition (they call it “Reanimation package of reforms for Belarus”) is simple: new “fair” elections followed by the following goals: Belarus must withdrawn from all the collective agreements she has with Russia (including the union state, the SCO, etc.). Instead, the national goal ought to be, what else, to join NATO and the EU. All the Russian military forces in Belarus must be expelled. The Belarusian language must be reimposed, Ukie-style, on the Belarusian society (including, apparently, the military – good luck with that!). Russian organizations will be banned in Belarus, and Russian TV channels forbidden. The border with Russia must be closed. Next, a new, independent “Belarusian Orthodox Church” must be created. Finally, the Belarusian economy will “reformed” – meaning that whatever can be sold will be sold, then the country will be deindustrialized (like the Ukraine or the Baltic states).
  • At this point, it is pretty clear that the Western-controlled “opposition” has successfully taken over the control of the events from the very REAL local popular opposition. This mechanism (the hijacking of a truly popular and legitimate opposition by western controlled agents of influence) is exactly what happened in the Ukraine, in Syria and in many other places (I would eve argue that this is what is happening to the US right now). Some Belarusian ambassadors (Slovakia, Switzerland, Sweden) have now sided with the opposition just like what happened with Venezuela, Syria and other countries.

To be honest, there are more similarities between the recent events in Venezuela and what is now taking place in Belarus, it’s not just Tikhanovskaia as the Belarusian Guaido. For example, Lukashenko made at least as many, if not more, crucial mistakes than Maduro and now there is hell to pay for it.

Let’s look at Lukashenko’s actions:

  • Now Lukashenko is fuming against the West again, to the degree that he actually moved the most capable Belarusian military unit (the 103rd Special Mobile Guards Airborne Brigade from Vitebsk) to the western border, and the rest of the military forces have been put on high alert. Lukashenko explained that by saying that there is a real risk of western military intervention (which is utter nonsense, NATO does not have what it takes to attack Russia, which is present in Belarus, and survive).
  • Lukashenko and at least two of his ministers did go out to talk to the protesters, which is a courageous act which should not be overlooked (as in: Lukashenko, for all his very real faults, is no Ianukovich, and neither are many of his ministers). The meetings did not go well, especially for the two ministers who both clearly lack the undeniable personal charisma of Lukashenko.
  • Lukashenko has also publicly admitted that he has to engage Belarusian special forces against some demonstrations. He gave no further details, but that admission is interesting as it shows two things: a) since special forces had to be used, it means that other police forces were either unable or unwilling to control the situation and b) elite Belarusian forces are still backing Lukashenko
  • Lukashenko has also called Putin several times and he is now declaring that the current threat is not only a threat to Belarus, but also a threat to Russia. Clearly, Lukashenko is begging for Russian help.
  • Lukashenko has publicly declared “unless you remove me there will be no other elections” adding that the opposition would have to kill him before it will get to destroy Belarus (again – the dude is no Ianukovich).

Now let’s also note what Lukashenko has NOT done:

  • He has not fired his ministers of foreign affairs and the head of the Belarusian KGB (according to a pro opposition Telegram channel the Minister of Foreign Affairs did resign, but Lukashenko has rejected his resignation; this is one of the many rumors about Belarus inundating Telegram right now)
  • He has NOT declared that his so-called “multi-vector policy” (i.e. courting the West) was a mistake or that it has now been changed or abandoned. Clearly, and in spite of the overwhelming evidence to the contrary, Lukashenko still hopes that he can somehow sit between the two chairs of submission to the Empire or reunification with Russia.
  • He has not apologized to Putin and/or Russia for all the false accusations he was hurling at them just a few days ago.
  • Paradoxically, following the numerous cases of wanton violence which the Belarusian cops used initially, now the streets are almost entirely free from any police forces. On one hand this is good, the violence used initially did A LOT of damage to the government and it got people very angry. Furthermore, the amount of violence by the opposition did dramatically decrease too, which is also good. But the problem is that there are now very clearly special organized groups, not necessarily formed by locals, who are now trying to seize power illegally and by violence. It is vital that the Belarusian KGB now locate and arrest these people. My fear is that the Belarusian KGB has been infiltrated by pro-western elements who will be hard to neutralize.

Now let’s look at what the “collective West” has done:

  • The West has clearly taken a consolidated, common, position towards this crisis. The West does not recognize the outcome of the elections and the West has now thrown its full weight behind the so-called “opposition”.
  • Western leaders have called Putin, apparently to demand that Russia not intervene in Belarus. Putin apparently told them that what is taking place is Belarus is none of their business, thank you.
  • It is now clear that the West will accept nothing short of what we could call a “Ukronazi outcome” and that the Empire will use all its resources short of military action to try to seize control of Belarus.

Next, let’s look at what Belarus’ neighbors are doing:

  • Very predictably, the Poles are clearly thinking that they will restore something which is know by the evocative (to some..) concept of “Rzeczpospolita” in Polish and which roughly translates as “Polish Commonwealth” (see here for a quick primer). In this context, it is very important to understand that modern Poland is an ideological heir to the infamous Józef Piłsudski (here for details). This means that Poland’s ultimate goal is to break up Russia, restore the Polish Commonwealth, and become a willing prostitute to the western power, especially the US (it is just as easy for the current Polish pseudo-patriots to prostitute their nation to the US as it was for Piłsudski to prostitute himself before Hitler). If some of you bump into the concepts of “Prometheism” or “Intermarium” then click on these words for more details. It is hardly surprising that the nation Winston Churchill called the “the hyena of Europe” would pounce on Belarus: the Poles always, always, attack when either they think that a) there is some big guy behind them and b) that their victim is weak. I fully expect the Pope to publicly “pray for peace in Belarus” and express his “distress” at the violence. Truly – this has been the same gang for almost 1000 years (see here and here) and they are still at it. There is really nothing new under the sun…
  • The clueless Balts also want to join the Rzeczpospolita for a very simple reasons: they are terrified that the West will eventually dump them and they know that by themselves they will never achieve anything. So as much as the Poles like to hide behind the US, the Balts like to hide behind Poland. Finally, these countries probably realize that even Belarus alone could prevail militarily over them, nevermind Russia, so they figure that united and protected by Uncle Shmuel they will seize Russia like they seized the Ukraine and finally (!) become the (collective?) “Prometheus” they think they are, but which history never allowed them to become.
  • As for the EU gerontocrats, they are just doing what they know how to do: try to impersonate some kind of (moral?) “authority” which gets to decide which elections are fair, which are not, which regimes get to beat up demonstrators (Macron anybody?) and which ones must immediately yield to the demands of a carefully controlled “opposition”. It is especially touching to see Merkel who clearly does not realize the utter contempt the Russians feel for her and for what she stands for.

Lastly, let’s look at what Putin and other Russians are saying:

  • Putin and Xi have both recognized the outcome of the elections. Frankly, I don’t know of any halfway serious source which would dispute the fact that Lukashenko beat Tikhanovskaia by a wide margin. Yes, I also seriously doubt the frankly silly 80% vs 10% figures, but I doubt those who say that Lukashenko lost even more. Neither Putin nor Xi will “unrecongnize” these elections. Which means that neither Putin nor Xi will ever accept the western narrative about what happened or what is happening now.
  • Putin’s reaction to Lukashenko’s phone calls appears to be a special kind of “restrained goodwill” or “polite benevolence”. Clearly, nobody in Russia has forgotten what just happened and I notice a very clear trend on Russian talkshows, news reports and articles: while most Russians sincerely see Belarusians as fellow Russian brothers, the level of frustration and even disgust with Lukashenko is hard not to notice, and it is only growing. Even very pro-Kremlin commentators are losing their cool with what Lukashenko is doing (they are no less angry at what Lukashenko is not doing), I think of Igor Korotchenko, the head of the Public Council under the Ministry of defense of the Russian Federation, a typical Kremlin-insider, who has now declared that the Belarusian Foreign Minister is a “foreign agent of influence” (which I don’t doubt) and that Russia ought to demand that he be fired. I can only agree with him.
  • Crucially, in the official summary transcript of the telephone conversation between Lukashenko and Putin the latter repeated that the integration between Russia and Belarus must continue. Here is how the Kremlin put it: “The Russian side reaffirmed its readiness to render the necessary assistance to resolve the challenges facing Belarus based on the principles of the Treaty on the Creation of a Union State, as well as through the Collective Security Treaty Organization, if necessary“. In other words, Putin is laying down the legal framework under which Russia might intervene in some manner, especially if such an intervention is officially requested by Minsk.

Now let’s summarize what is really taking place, I will also do that in the form of a bullet-point list:

  • There is no doubt that many Belarusians are fed up with Lukashenko
  • There is no doubt that many Belarusians still support Lukashenko (if only as a guarantor against a Ukraine-like collapse).
  • There is no doubt that the legitimate Belarusian opposition was quickly and effortlessly co-opted by western and, let’s call them “Promethean”, special services.
  • Lukashenko was so sure of himself, that he never bothered to really campaign, to talk and plead with his own people. He entered this election cocky sure of himself, only to find out that what is immediate entourage of yes-man (they stand when they report to him) either was lying or was clueless.
  • Next, it is also clear that Lukashenko was sure that between his KGB and the Belarusian riot police, he could easily clear the streets. And while this seemed to work for 24 hours, the last couple of days are proof that the regime has lost control of the streets and/or is clueless as to what to do next. Furthermore, while you can use riot police to disperse demonstrators, you cannot use this riot police to force anybody to work: there are many consistent reports of strikes in major Belarusian plans and corporation. How will Lukashenko force these people to work? He cannot. In fact, he specifically said so when he declared that strikes will destroy Belarus. There are now even reports that the company Belaruskalii, one of the most profitable companies in Belarus (it produces potassium fertilizer) has now stopped working.
  • In extremis, Lukashenko began calling Putin and he even said “we, Russians” during a public meeting. Right now I know of no respectable analyst in Russia who would believe that Putin owes Lukashenko anything.
  • The blame for what just happened cannot be placed solely on Lukashenko’s infinite arrogance, the infiltration of the Belarusian KGB or on Ukronazi provocations: it is possible that the SVR and GRU dropped the ball in this instance, in spite of the fact that what happened was easy to predict (and many did predict this). Had it not been for the superb work of the FSB, it is quite possible that by now some Russian citizens would be sitting in Ukronazi jails. The Russian Foreign Ministry also appears to have been caught off guard. I don’t necessarily feel that “heads should roll” at the SVR/GRU, but at the very least there ought to be a full internal investigation on why this crisis apparently caught the Kremlin off-guard and some “organizational conclusions” ought to be drawn. By the way, there is also the possibility that the SVR/GRU and Ministry of Foreign Affairs didprovide timely and substantive (actionable) warnings. In this case, the problem is with the heads of these services, the Russian government and the President. It is sometimes said that the process of intelligence involves three phases referred to as the “three As”: acquisition (data collection), analysis (data management and interpretation) and acceptance (convincing the political decision makers). I do, obviously, not know at what level this failure happened, but I see it as a clear sign of a major problem.

Now lets look at the core of the “Russian problem in Belarus”: it is simple, really: Belarusians are Russians, even more so than the Ukrainians. Not only that, but judging from the footage from Belarus (on all changes and from all sources), while the (supposed) “leaders” of the so-called “opposition” are all rabid russophobes, the vast majority of those who protested against Lukashenko are not.

The problem here is that it is impossible to get truly reliable numbers. Official Belarusian polls are a joke, but “opposition” polls, or western run polls, are probably even MORE unreliable. Then there is the fact that Minsk is somewhat of a special case amongst Belarusian cities. Furthermore, there is a difference between urban and rural Belarus. And, finally, the opposition itself is not monolithic at all, and when somebody is asked whether he supports Lukashenko or not, there are many possible reasons why somebody might reply “no” (heck, many Russians in Russia do not support Lukashenko either). So we have to accept that until some kind of normalcy return to Belarus and truly free elections are held, nobody will know for sure what percentage of Belarusian think about this crisis or Lukashenko.

Then there is the fact that, just as in Syria or the Ukraine, the initial protest were legitimate, both in terms of having many valid reasons to protest and in terms of being truly local, not controlled from aboard. But then, just as in Syria and in the Ukraine, these protests were infiltrated and co-opted by foreign agents. Ideally, Russia would want to support the original/real demonstrators as much as possible within reason and counter-act the infiltrated subversives. But how can the Russian separate them unless they themselves make it happen?

One idea circulated here and there is that Russia should intervene very openly, in the context of the Union State between Russia and Belarus and, even more so, under the auspices of the Collective Security Treaty Organization. Putin did mention this organization already, so this is definitely an option for Russia. But would that be a good option?

To be honest, I am not even sure that there are ANY good options left for Russia. I mentioned several times that I personally came to conclusion that the only possibly way for the Belarusian people to remain free is to join Russia. I still think that. However, I am not at all sure that this is even really possible right now, if only because the only interlocutor of Moscow in Belarus appears to be losing control of his own government and because there is no easy way to make progress on this issue while Belarus is at the very real risk of complete collapse.

The root cause of it all?

Corruption. As always.

It is often said that the Ukrainian leaders since 1991 were terrible, and that is true: every one of them seemed to be acting in some kind of toxic freak show. And yes, in Belarus, people feared the cops and the KGB a lot more than the did in the Ukraine. But that does not necessarily mean that Belarus was less corrupt. All this means, is that in Belarus the government did a great job running a semi-feudal system of protection which only guaranteed that only officials and their “business partners” got to make good money.

And this is not a Belarus or Ukrainian problem only. The exact same thing took place in Russia in the 90s. It is not even a personality problem, it is a class problem, in the Marxist sense of the word.

We need to remember that the CPSU and its Nomenklatura was a fantastically corrupt organization, not necessarily at the member level, but as a whole. I would summarize the “integrity” of these people as so:

  • First they betrayed Stalin and the ideals of Marxism-Leninism (Khrushchev years)
  • Then they betrayed their own USSR and CPSU (Brezhnev & Gorbachev years)
  • Then they disguised themselves as patriots (or even nationalists, like that hardcore communist ideologue Kravchuk did!).
  • Next, they deeply penetrated the West to seek protection, hide their real revenues and obtain the right to rule.
  • Next, they sucked their countries dry of all their wealth while their personal worth skyrocketed.
  • Finally, they all volunteered to prostitute themselves and their people before the West.

These guys have no more morals than an amoeba and they are as ruthless as any psychopath. They used to prostitute themselves before their Party bosses, and now they do the same to their AngloZionist ones.

So here is the question: how could Russia remove this ruling class without a) major bloodshed and b) making it look like what Russia is really doing is trying to save Lukashenko?

What Russia really needs now is for the West to do something as terminally stupid as when the US tried to overthrow Erdogan. But that would only be sufficient to bring Lukashenko to heel and get rid of some of the most dangerous elements in his entourage. The bigger problem is how could Russia help the Belarusian people?

Just tossing more money at the Belarusian regime makes no sense and does not work. Been there, done that.

Using military force is possible (I don’t expect anybody in the Belarusian military, at least key commanders and units, to object to this). But that is very tricky and outright politically dangerous. It might also not be correctly understood by Belarusians and by many Russians too.

The first conclusion I personally am coming to is that Russia must not do anything which could be credibly construed as “saving Lukashenko”. Lukashenko needs no “saving”. Belarus does.

Second, while in military terms securing Belarus would not be a problem for the Russian military, in political terms it would be a major crisis as the West would, no doubt, pounce on that to not only impose more sanctions (that is not really a problem) but also to create a New Cold War in which mentally sane and patriotic Europeans would be “shouted down” by hysterical mantras about “the Russians are coming! the Russians are coming!”.

I am also concerned about the recent military moves by Belarus. To forward deploy high readiness forces near the Polish border is a very bad idea: considering the historical record the Russians should never assume that any Polish leader won’t do something fantastically stupid which will end up as fantastically tragic. I don’t believe for one second that NATO has plans to invade Belarus. If anything, Lukashenko and Russia ought to leave what is called a “tripwire force” in the West while preparing their strategic defenses in depth. There is NO need to go and provoke the Poles, the Balts or anybody else in NATO.

If given a choice, Putin would probably want for both Lukashenko and the so-called ‘opposition’ to go (this reminds me of the Argentinian “que se vayan todos” or the Lebanese كلهم يعني كلهم both of which can be roughly translated as “they all have to go”and “all means all” – including both Tikhanovskaia AND Lukashenko.

At the time of writing this (Aug. 19th) it appears that Lukashenko will now have to chose between the “civilized West” and “Putin’s bloody Mordor”. Truly, he really has no option other than to chose Moscow, but that does not at all mean that Moscow thinks that there is anything salvageable from Lukashenko’s regime. His latest “zag!” back to being a “Russian brother” is way too little and way too late. And if his foreign minister and his head of KGB are still in the next government, all this talk will also become irrelevant and meaningless.

Simply put: if Lukashenko wants to remain in power he has only one option – beg for Putin’s mercy, not publicly, of course, be most emphatically and as sincerely as he can pretend to be. Then he needs to purge his government from every single name Putin (or the Russian special services) will hand to him. Yes, that means that he has to truly and really relinquish control. As for Putin, he needs to address both the Russian and the Belarusian people to explain whatever decision he comes to. This is, yet again, a situation where Putin’s biggest weapon might be his very high popular support (not only in Russia, but also, by all accounts, in Belarus).

Right now it appears that the West seriously fears a Russian intervention: they probably (correctly) realize how easy it would be for Russia and how there is absolutely nothing anybody, including NATO or, even less so, the EU could do about it. Trump personally has much bigger fish to fry and I doubt if he cares much. But his narcissistic Secretary of State probably feels like he can turn Belarus into another US-run Banderastan.

So what can happen next?

I think that it is crucial that Russia reach out to the non-US-controlled opposition in Belarus, publicly, and try to establish some kind of dialog. Russia also has to publicly warn the people of Belarus that if they allow the current US-controlled “opposition leaders” to come to power, Belarus will collapse just like the Ukraine did.

This might be the strongest argument Russia could repeat over and over again: as bad as Lukashenko was, if he is overthrown in some kind of Maidan-like coup, then Belarus will become the next Banderastan. This will be a major headache for Russia, but Russia can easily survive this. Belarus cannot.

But simply keeping Lukashenko in power is no solution either: whether he did or did not win the latest elections is not even the real issue anymore – the real issue is that he did lose his credibility with pretty much everybody involved. For this reason alone – Lukashenko has to go. Next, some kind of government of national unity which would include the main political forces in Belarus except the ones controlled by the West should probably be formed. Finally, whoever is in power in Minsk needs to set a course on a full reintegration of Belarus into Russia. That remains the only viable long-term solution for the people of Belarus.

Canada today slipped beneath the waves, like the Titanic, but into deep dictatorship.

Canada today slipped beneath the waves, like the Titanic, but into deep dictatorship.

August 18, 2020

By Marcel Woland for The Saker Blog

Today, the Minister of Finance, Morneau, was forced by Trudeau to resign, after he and Trudeau were caught (*see below) diverting one billion dollars to personal, non-governmental, associates. George Soros, through an Ukrainian agent/mole, is now the de facto head of Canada.

George Soros’s designated ‘biographer’ (hagiographer) Ukrainian-Canadian Fascist, Chrystia Freeland, becomes Minister of Finance, (presumably de facto keeping her duties as Minister of InterGovernmental Affairs and Deputy Prime Minister) as parliament is dissolved amidst the cover-up of a billion dollar scandal.

With Canada rudderless, in a time of alleged pandemic and economic collapse, the new Minister of Finance, DPM and Intergovernmental Affairs-in-one, has already promised to “help women” using money-printing and the almost empty Treasury of Canada. Women voters are likely the last hope for the oligarch playboy, thrice found guilty of ethics violations, minority PM Trudeau. His support at the last election was 30%. By now it is likely down to 20% of die-hard, mostly female, fans.

Shutting down Parliament completely, which he has partially done for months under cover of the alleged pandemic, will prevent a motion of non-confidence being brought, even if the Sikh leader of the NDP, who keeps Trudeau in power, remembers suddenly that his allegiance is to the country and not to the ‘white Sahib’ PM.

* Our Prime Minister and his ex-Finance Minister were caught recently attempting to siphon one billion dollars to an alleged pedophile cult and real estate assembly crime family(the Kielburgers), with which both their families had business dealings, called The WE Foundation. So far we know that the WE Foundation, or its subsidiaries, had paid the PM  and the former Finance Minister and their families over 500 thousand dollars in ‘free vacations’ and ‘speaker fees’. 

Here ​(below) ​is the new de facto Queen of Canada, Chrystia Freeland who concealed her family’s Nazi past.  “Look upon her​ works​, ye ​M​ighty, and despair.”​ (apology to Percy Shelley) ​ She was instrumental in the coup d’etat in the former The Ukraine, working with various Soros NGOs and the USSD as well as other quasi-criminal organizations. In this time of collapsing trade, and nuclear proliferation, she has long been banned from Russia in any capacity for Russophobia and crazed antagonism towards one of the world’s three “superpowers”. She of course makes no apology for this and the Canadian press dares not pressure her, even if they wanted to. She has also accelerated the destruction of the Canadian economy by the arrest, requested by the USA, of Meng Wan Zhou, CFO of Huawei, in the West’s il-thought out and failing trade war with China.

Meet the new Queen of Canada

And here, for some comic relief, on this bleak day for Canada indeed, is the eternal inspiration of crooked, low-potential, high-achievers (though a bit taller than the micro-Mini-Me Freeland) Pooh-Bah from The Mikado by Gilbert and Sullivan  https://youtu.be/jbpUzCFCy_8?t=889  (to 18:13) …but the whole of The Mikado in this Stratford Ontario Canadian production is often delightful and yet quite a dark and timely tale of misrule. Perfect viewing for a luxurious solitary confinement.

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Meanwhile, under cover of press silence and collusion, as in Russia, in 1917, the attack on the Church is  advancing at full speed:

VIDEO: Holy Communion BANNED at Churches in Toronto Canada

Turmoil in Belarus, Another US Color Revolution Attempt?

By Stephen Lendman

Global Research, August 16, 2020

E-40 Waterway Project

Time and again, the CIA, National Endowment for Democracy (NED), International Republican Institute (IRI), National Democratic Institute (NDI), and USAID have been involved in US schemes to replace independent governments with pro-Western puppet ones.

Tactics include violent and non-violent labor strikes, mass street protests, major media propaganda, and whatever else it takes to achieve Washington’s aims — at times succeeding, other times failing.

In late 2013, early 2014, the Obama regime successfully replaced Ukraine’s democratically elected Viktor Yanukovych with pro-Western putschist rule — a fascist dictatorship in Europe’s heartland, targeting Russia.

For months in Hong Kong last year and sporadically in 2020,  Trump regime orchestrated violence, vandalism and chaos failed to achieve its aims that were all about weakening China by attacking its soft underbelly.

Tactics employed by the US in Ukraine, Hong Kong, and elsewhere were first used against Serbia’s Slobodan Milosevic in 2000.

What appeared to be a spontaneous political uprising was developed by RAND Corporation strategists in the 1990s — the concept of swarming.

It replicates “communication patterns and movement of” bees and other insects used against nations to destabilize and topple their governments.

The CIA and other anti-democratic US organizations are involved.

Their mission is all about achieving what the Pentagon calls “full spectrum dominance,” seeking control over planet earth, its resources, populations, and outer space.

Swarming and related actions are war by other means, including by use of information and communications technologies, along with social media.

Cyberwar today is what blitzkrieg was to 20th century warfare.

Swarming is a way to strike from all directions in an overwhelming fashion similar to an all-out military attack.

Is this what’s been going on in Belarus for months, especially since the August 9 presidential election.

Longtime incumbent Alexander Lukashenko claimed victory by more an 80% majority over key opposition figure Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya.“The Weaponization of Sanctions”: Waging War by Other Means against Russia

Now in Lithuania, she cried foul, claiming she won. He lost.

Disruptive actions against Lukashenko have been ongoing since last spring, dubbed a “slipper revolution” by Belarusian Belsat TV in May.

Like Ukraine, Belarus borders Russia, why Washington aims to transform it into a client state.

On Saturday, Lukashenko said he’s being target by a “color revolution” attempt to remove him from power he’s had as president since 1994.

Reportedly he said “(w)e have read the guidelines on how to conduct color revolutions,” adding that’s what happening in Belarus suggests that Russia is next if not effectively countered.

Late Saturday, he and Putin spoke by phone, a Kremlin readout saying:

Lukashenko initiated the call. He “informed Vladimir Putin about the developments following the presidential election in Belarus.”

“Both sides expressed confidence that all existing problems will be settled soon.”

“The main thing is to prevent destructive forces from using these problems to cause damage to mutually beneficial relations of the two countries within the Union State.”

In 1995, both countries agreed on this arrangement that lets their citizens work and/or live in either nation at their discretion — while retaining their passports and national identity.

A bilateral 1999 treaty calls for economic integration and mutual cooperation to defend both nations from foreign threats — with the intent of integrating Belarus with Russia.

So far, it hasn’t happened because Lukashenko’s power would be subordinated to Moscow.

Is now the time to accept where he hasn’t gone before because of concern about a fate similar to Ukraine’s Yanukovych?

Public anger is fueled by Belarusians wanting change, his dubious one-sided reelection margin, and police state tactics against street protesters, including thousands of arrests and reported mistreatment in detention.

Opposition elements demand he step down. Mass protests continued over the weekend, including many thousands in Minsk, the nation’s capital.

Lukashenko said he ordered the deployment of an air assault brigade to border areas in response to US-led NATO military exercises in bordering Poland and Lithuania.

Belarus “cannot calmly observe this” and do nothing, he reportedly said, adding that Putin offered to help protect the country’s security.

Now is the time for integration into Russia, perhaps in similar fashion to how Crimeans corrected an historic error by becoming the Republic of Crimea in the Russian Federation.

The alternative for Lukashenko may be a successful US-style color revolution that replaces him with pro-Western rule.

The alternative for Russia would be having another hostile US controlled state on its border.

Belarusians under Lukashenko are between a rock and a hard place — his hardline rule v. a likely worse fate under a US installed regime similar to Ukraine’s.

Full integration as a Russian Federation republic makes most sense, perhaps where things are heading.

*

Note to readers: please click the share buttons below. Forward this article to your email lists. Crosspost on your blog site, internet forums. etc.

Award-winning author Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. He is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG)

His new book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.”

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.The original source of this article is Global ResearchCopyright © Stephen Lendman, Global Research, 2020

European leaders bring flowers to honor a Belarusian terrorist (+important development!)

August 14, 2020

Source

Check out this video of diplomats of the EU (and a few others) laying flowers on the location where a Belarusian recently died:

This action is truly breathtaking in its hypocrisy and total delusion.

Why?

Well, for one thing, these guys don’t realize that their reputation has been roadkill ever since they “guaranteed” the deal between Ianukovich and the Urkonazis, a deal which, as we all know was broken the next day.  I would even argue that the moral authority of EU leaders has been exactly zero since they joined the AngloZionist in their war against the Serbian nation.  Oh, and did I mention that the Europeans are also the prime culprits for what happened in both the Ukraine and Libya?  Bottom line – unless your IQ floats somewhere in the low 70s, you know that the crocodile tears of EU politicians mean absolutely nothing.

But it gets “better”.

The guy who died did so while trying to toss some kind of home made bomb at law enforcement officers.  That makes him a terrorist, at least under US law.

Apparently, when a bad terrorists screws up and kills himself, that makes him a good terrorist.  At least in the eyes of the leaders of the AngloZionist Empire.

Can you imagine what would happen if, say, the Russian, Venezuelan, Iranian and Chinese diplomats came to every location where a wannabe cop-killer had been killed (by his own mistake or by cops) in the US or France?

It is also rather funny to see representatives of countries like the USA or France (which both brutally beat up and even kill demonstrators) giving lessons in “democracy” to a regime which killed far LESS people than in most “western democracies”.

Back to the real world now.

The reason why western diplomats engaged in this totally silly PR action is not the outcome of some kind of clever plan.  Not at all!  This is yet another case of “to a person with a hammer everything looks like a nail”: they engage in this behavior because that is all they are halfway good at.  Yanks and Israelis like to kill lots of civilians, Europeans love to virtue signal how “dignified” and “civilized” they are.  The fact that nobody takes them seriously anymore does not bother them one bit (they are mostly utterly unaware of this).

Truly – the Old World became the (cheap, or even unpaid) prostitute of the AngloZionist Empire.

How utterly disgusting.

Right now the Empire is basically reusing the “Ukrainian textbook” on Belarus.  All we miss is Nuland handing out bagels to rioters.

I can all repeat that left by itself Belarus will never be able to withstand the combined forces of the Empire, at least not in the long term.  A full return to Russia is the one and only possible option for Belarus to be free.

The Saker

UPDATE: I have just heard that all the Russians arrested by the Belarusian KGB have been returned to Russia.  This is very good and extremely important, as it shows that Lukashenko did not dare hand over a single man to the Ukronazi regime.  Excellent!

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