Translation of Ramzan Kadyrov’s reaction to Biden’s UNGA lecturing

September 23, 2021

Translation of Ramzan Kadyrov’s reaction to Biden’s UNGA lecturing 🤣🤣

This is a translation of Ramzan Kadyrov’s reaction on this telegram channel to this clip of Biden’s lecturing in his speech to the General Assembly of the UN.Video Player

The leader of the most problematic, aggressive country in the world, embittered by all Muslim states and plowing the Arab world with aerial bombs, Biden, who shamefully returned troops from Afghanistan, all of a sudden began to mention the Chechen Republic.
We have not yet recovered from a number of his absurd statements and actions as President of the United States, and he is already making us happy with his new strange and contentious statements.
Biden made such an absurd statement, in response to which I can only invite him to our republic so that he can see with his own eyes that there are no roosters in the Chechen Republic, and there is not even such a word. Instead of that, we have chicken husbands

Thank you!

Andrei (The Saker)

Iran Seeks Action Rather Than Words From JCPOA Parties – Amir Abdollahian

September 22, 2021 

Iran Seeks Action Rather Than Words From JCPOA Parties – Amir Abdollahian

By Staff, Agencies

Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian met with new UK foreign secretary Liz Truss on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly on Wednesday to discuss Afghanistan and issues of mutual interest as well as the Join Comprehensive Plan of Action [JCPOA].

At the meeting, the top Iranian diplomat said that the rebuilding of bilateral relations requires serious actions and stressed the need for the implementation of the repayment of Britain’s debt to Iran.

Amir Abdollahian said Iran just had heard words from the other parties to the JCPOA and no actions, adding, “Unfortunately, Britain is also part of this inaction and this approach must change.”

He further said that “The US administration, with Europe’s silence and cooperation, continues to impose its illegal sanctions [against Iran] and at the same time claims it wants to return to JCPOA.”

“This is a clear paradox that is carefully being seen by the Iranian people,” he noted, adding that for the current Iranian government action rather than words matters most.

Amir-Abdollahian stressed that Britain needs to pay attention to the fact that fulfilling its obligations is the only way to rebuild relations, and that Tehran will respond appropriately to any positive and constructive step.

The two sides also discussed consular issues, including the issue of dual-national prisoners.

The Iranian foreign minister further stressed the need to pay attention to the humanitarian situation in Yemen and Bahrain.

Regarding Afghanistan, he said that the formation of an inclusive government that represents the ethnic and demographic composition of the country is the only comprehensive solution to achieve lasting stability and peace in Afghanistan.

During the meeting, the new British foreign secretary, for her part, said that her country is ready to repay its debts to Iran.

Regarding the Iran nuclear deal, Liz Truss said that the most urgent issue now is the attention of all parties to the time of the start of the talks process.

The British top diplomat also thanked the Islamic Republic of Iran for facilitating the evacuation of the remaining British nationals from Afghanistan.

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Raisi: US Efforts to Impose Hegemony Have ‘Failed Miserably’

September 22, 2021

Raisi: US Efforts to Impose Hegemony Have ‘Failed Miserably’

By Staff, Agencies

Iranian President Sayyed Ebrahim Raisi said the US efforts to impose hegemony on other countries have “failed miserably,” and that Washington’s hegemonic system lacks credibility.

Raisi made the remarks during the 76th session of the United Nations General Assembly via video conference on Tuesday night, in his first address to the main policy-making organ of the world body since taking office last month.

“This year, two scenes made history: one was on January 6 when the US congress was attacked by the people and, two, when the people of Afghanistan were dropped down from the US planes in August. From the Capitol to Kabul, one clear message was sent to the world: the US’ hegemonic system has no credibility, whether inside or outside the country,” Raisi told the UN General Assembly.

“What is seen in our region today proves that not only the hegemonist and the idea of hegemony, but also the project of imposing Westernized identity have failed miserably. The result of seeking hegemony has been blood-spilling and instability and, ultimately, defeat and escape. Today, the US does not get to exit Iraq and Afghanistan but is expelled,” he added.

The Iranian president further noted that Washington is using sanctions as a “new way of war” against other nations, stressing that the US sanctions against the Islamic Republic during the coronavirus pandemic are “crimes against humanity.”

“Sanctions are the US’ new way of war with the world countries. Sanctions against the Iranian nation started not with my country’s nuclear program; they even predate the Islamic Revolution and go back to the year 1951 when oil nationalization went underway in Iran,” Raisi said at the 76th session of the UN General Assembly.

“Despite the fact that the Islamic Republic was keen from the outset to purchase and import COVID-19 vaccines from reliable international sources, it faced inhumane medical sanctions. Sanctions, especially on medicine at the time of the COVID-19 pandemic, are crimes against humanity,” he noted.

Elsewhere in his remarks, the Iranian president stressed that Tehran has been adhering to its nuclear commitments under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action [JCPOA] while Washington violated the 2015 landmark accord‎, stressing that the US so-called maximum pressure campaign against Iran has failed.

“Today, the whole world, including the Americans themselves, have admitted that the project of countering the Iranian people, which manifested itself in the form of violating the JCPOA and was followed by the “maximum pressure” and arbitrary withdrawal from an internationally recognized agreement, has totally failed,” Raisi said.

“We want nothing more than what is rightfully ours. We demand the implementation of international rules. All parties must stay true to the nuclear deal and the UN Resolution in practice,” he added.

Raisi also said that Iran has “no trust in US promises,” and wants all anti-Tehran sanctions to be removed at once, noting that the Islamic Republic considers the nuclear talks useful only when their ultimate outcome is the lifting of all unilateral sanctions.

Has the US begun its “great retreat”?

AUGUST 06, 2021

THE SAKER • AUGUST 5, 2021

I have to begin this column by admitting that “Biden” (note: when in quotation marks, I refer to the “collective Biden”, not the clearly senile man) surprised me: it appears that my personal rule-of-thumb about US Presidents (each one is even worse than his predecessor) might not necessarily apply in “Biden’s” case. That is not to say that “Biden” won’t end up proving my rule of thumb as still applicable, just that what I am seeing right now is not what I feared or expected.

Initially, I felt my the rule still held. The total US faceplant in Alaska when Blinken apparently mistook the Chinese for woke-neutered serfs and quickly found out how mistaken he was.

But then there was the meeting with Putin which surprised many, including myself. Initially, most Russian observers joined one of two groups about the prospects for this summit:

  1. This summit will never happen, there is nothing to discuss, Biden is senile, his Admin is filled wall to wall with harcore russophobes and, besides, the (US) Americans are “not agreement capable” (недоговороспособные) anyway, so what is the point?
  2. If the summit takes place, it will be a comprehensive failure. At best a shouting match or exchange of insults.

Neither of these happened. Truth be told, we still do not really know what happened. All we have are some vague declarations of intent and worded pious intentions. And even those were minimalistic! In fact, after the summit most Russian observers, again, broke into two main camps:

  1. “Biden” threw in the towel and gave up. Russian won this round. Hurray!
  2. “Biden” only changed tactics, and now the new US posture might well become even more aggressive and hostile. Russia is about to see a major surge in anti-Russian provocations. Alarm!

I think that both of these grossly oversimplify a probably much more complex and nuanced reality. In other words, “Biden” surprised many, if not most, Russians. That is very interesting by itself (neither Bush, nor Obama nor Trump ever surprised the Russians – who knew the score about all of them – in any meaningful way).

My strictly personal guess is that there is some very serious infighting currently taking place inside the US ruling class. Furthermore, that serious infighting is not about core principles or even strategy – it is a dispute over tactics only.

We have to keep in mind an old truism about outcomes: John F. Kennedy once said that “victory has a hundred fathers, but defeat is an orphan” and he was right. When any group seizes power and effectively controls its interests, all is well, and everybody is busy consuming the proverbial milk and honey. But when this group suffers a series of humiliating defeats, a typical cascade of events begins:

  • Finger pointing: everybody blames everybody else (but never himself/herself)
  • Hindsight wisdom: “if I had been in charge, this would not have happened!
  • Infighting over quickly shrinking spoils of war
  • A collapse of the centralized center of authority/decision-making centers
  • Generation of subgroups, fighting each other over their sub-interests

In other words, following many years of extremely weak presidential administrations (since Clinton, imho), it is hardly a surprise that infighting would take place (in both parties, by the way). In fact, an apparently chaotic set of uncoordinated, or even contradictory, policies is what one should expect. And that is exactly what we have been observing since 1993 and this dynamic has been getting worse and worse with each passing year).

Needless to say, the main outcome of such defeat-induced infighting is to weaken all the groups involved, regardless of their objectives and policies. Some might believe that this is a positive development, but I am not so sure at all (see below).

That being said, there are some observations which might be helpful when trying to at least (indirectly) identify who are the main groups fighting each other.

The hardcore, really nutty, russophobes are still here, especially in the US media which seems to be serving not so much “Biden” as much as some “crazies in the basement” kind of cabal. Next to the legacy ziomedia, there is an increasing number of US/NATO/UK military officials who are foaming at the mouth with threats, warnings, complaints and insults, all against Putin and Russia. This is important because:

  • The “Zone A” media has comprehensively and very effectively concealed the very real risks of war with Russia, China and Iran. And if this was mentioned, the presstitutes always stressed that the US has the “best military in the history of the galaxy” and that Uncle Sam will “kickass” anybody he chooses to. If the people of the USA were informed of the truth of the matter, they would freak out and demand that this path to war be immediately abandoned and replaced with a meaningful dialog.
  • US/NATO/UK authorities have talked themselves into a corner where they have only two outcomes left: they can do what the US always does, that is to “declare victory and leave”, or they can force Russia to protect her borders on land, air and sea and, thereby, face a major military humiliation delivered by Russia.

Truth be told, during the recent naval exercises UK and US officials made a lot of threats and promises to ignore Russian warnings, but in the end, they quietly packed and left. Smart choice, but it must have been painfully humiliating for them, which is very dangerous by itself.

How much of these statements/threats actually were done with “Biden’s” approval? I don’t know. But I am unaware of any reprimands, demotions or any other action taken against the crazies who are calling for a war against Russia, China or Iran. That does not mean that it did not happen, only that it was not publicized. My feeling is, however, that even if “Biden” did object to this kind of dangerous sabre rattling, “he” is too weak to do anything about it. It is quite possible that “Biden” is gradually losing control of his own administration.

I recently had a good laugh hearing NATO naval personnel saying that Russians made “imitation attacks” on NATO ships by overflying them several times. Apparently, these folks sincerely think that gravity bombs are the main/only threat from the Russian Aerospace Forces and coastal defenses which, in reality, can sink US/UK/NATO ships without ever approaching them or even getting in their radar range. Not to mention 6-7 extremely quiet and heavily armed advanced diesel-electric subs of the Black Sea Fleet. While I don’t doubt the “diversity” of these NATO naval crews, I am now having major doubts about even their basic competence.

There will be many more NATO exercises in the Black Sea in the future. Ditto for USN operations off the Chinese, Iranian or DPRK coasts. This (always explosive) combo of ignorance, arrogance and incompetence could result in a major war.

Another option is the terminally delusional UK government (supported by those Brits who still have phantom pains about their lost empire and, of course, by the largely irrelevant 3B+PU gang) might do something really stupid (say, like this) and trigger a war with the DPRK, Russia, China or Iran and then the US would have to move to defend/save a British Navy which is mostly a joke (at least by Russian or Chinese standards). The main problem here being that the USN is also in a terrible shape and cannot compete against Russian and Chinese standoff weapons (I mean that literally, there are currently no defenses against maneuvering hypersonic missiles! The only exception would be the Russian S-500). The latter two nations, by the way, have joined into an informal and unofficial military alliance for many years already; check out this article and video or this one for a recent update).

But opposite, de-escalatory developments are also taking place. First and foremost, “Biden” seemed to have “farmed out” the “Ukrainian dossier” to the Germans and washed Uncle Shmuel’s hands from it. If so, that was a very slick and smart move (which is something we have not witnessed from any administration in decades!). I highly recommend this translation of a most interesting article by arguably the best Ukraine specialist out there, Rostislav Ishchenko.

Ishchenko goes into a lot of interesting details and explains what “Biden” apparently just did. Frankly, the Germans richly deserve this full-spectrum mess and they will be dealing with the consequences of this disaster for a long time, possibly decades. In fact, the Germans are stuck: they want to be the Big European Leader? Let them. After all, the EU politicians, led by Germany, did all they could to create what is now often called “country 404” – a black hole in the heart of the European continent. Germany is the biggest economic power of the EU? Good, then let the Germans (and the rest of the EU) pay for the eventual reconstruction of the Ukraine (or of the successor-states resulting from the breakup of the country)! Russia simply cannot foot that bill, China most definitely won’t (especially after being cheated several times by the Ukies) and the USA has absolutely no reasons whatsoever to do so. I would even argue that chaos (social, economic, political, cultural. etc.) in Europe is probably seen by the US ruling class as highly desirable since it 1) weakens the EU as a competitor 2) justifies, however hypocritically and mistakenly, a “strong US presence” in Europe and 3) gives NATO a reason (however mistaken, misguided and even immoral) to exist

The US is protected from the fallout (immigrants, violence, extremism, etc.) of the Ukrainian disaster by distance, the Atlantic, a much stronger military (at least compared to anybody else in NATO). The US can print money in any way it wants and has no interests whatsoever in the (dying) Ukraine. If Ishchenko is right, and I agree with him, then there is somebody (possibly a group of somebodies) who is a lot smarter than anybody in the Trump Admin and who figured out that the Nazi-occuppied Ukraine should be an German/EU problem, not one for the US.

There is, of course, also the pessimistic analysis: the US is on the retreat everywhere, but only for the following reasons:

  • Regroup, reorganize, buy time to develop some kind of coherent strategy
  • Focus on each adversary separately and prioritize (divide et impera at least!)
  • Re-analyze, re-plan, re-design, re-develop, re-train, re-equip and re-test pretty much everything in the US armed forces (which have not been shaped by any rational force planning in decades)

Those who believe the strategic retreat theory (I am not personally discounting this version, but I do not see enough evidence – yet – to endorse it either) typically add that “the US only left Afghanistan to hand it over to the Taliban/al-Qaeda and unleash them against “soft underbelly of Russia”. Now, that is utter nonsense, if only because Russia does not have a common border with Afghanistan.

Yes, sure, what is currently taking place in Afghanistan greatly worries all the leaders of the region, including the leaders of Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and Iran. But it just so happens that the Russians have been in intense consultations with all these regional powers. Not only that, but Russia already has forces deployed in the region (including the 201st base in Tajikistan) and she has been substantially reinforcing them with no protests from the Empire (at least so far). Finally, all of Central Asia, the Caucasus and even the Middle-East is well within reach of numerous types of Russian long-range standoff weapons. Apparently, the Taliban know that, because they went to great lengths to promise all their neighbors that the (now inevitable) regime-change in Kabul will not represent a threat for anybody. Can we trust them? Nope, of course not. But can we trust them to be smart enough to realize that while they are currently the biggest force in Afghanistan, they don’t even come close to having what it takes to fight a war against any of Afghanistan’s neighbors? Yes, I think we can. After many years of fighting, and the Taliban already in control of part of Kabul, the Taliban will finally achieve their goals and become the true, official, leaders of Afghanistan. Should they try to attack or destabilize any of their neighbors, the very first thing they would lose would be Kabul and any chance to be accepted as the legitimate government of Afghanistan. Remember that, like the US, neither Russia nor Iran need to invade Afghanistan to strike at the Taliban, they can use proxies and they have the kind of weapon systems and launch platforms from which the Taliban cannot protect themselves. Last, but certainly not least, the Taliban know how the Russians and the Iranians fought in Syria, and they will not want to trigger anything similar in Afghanistan.

Furthermore, Russia’s “soft underbelly” is a 19th century concept. In the 21st century only the least informed and least competent people would ever use such a concept. Furthermore, only somebody with zero knowledge of actual military capabilities of the Southern and Central Military Districts of Russia could mention such a silly and outdated notion with a straight face. Besides, while the Afghans can be superb guerillas (but not always, contrary to the popular myth!), they cannot conduct combined arms offensive operations, while Russia and Iran can. Again, I will never say never, especially with Takfiris in the loop, but I don’t see the Taliban attacking anybody, least of all Russian or Iranian allies in the region

Coming back to “Biden’s” great retreat: if “Biden” is smart enough to hang the Ukraine on Germany, “he” is probably too smart to predicate the US foreign policy towards Russia predicated around the “soft underbelly” thingie. As for all the “fire and brimstone” threats of war against Russia, they are not impressing anybody as the Russians, the Chinese and the Iranians know that a confident and powerful country does not need to threaten anybody, if only because the actual capabilities of these country are a very telling “threat” by themselves. But when a former superpower is weak, confused and frightened, it will make many roaring statements about how it can defeat the entire planet if needed (after all, the US military is “the best military in the history of the galaxy”! If you doubt that, just listen to Toby Keith!). In other words, while in the West threats are an instrument of foreign policy, in Russia, and in the rest of Asia, they are inevitably seen as a sign of weakness, doubts and even fear.

Then there seems to be a long list of weapons systems, procurement plans and “defense” monies which have been pulled back, including the (truly awful) LCS and F-35. While it is true that the US is gradually phasing out fantastically expensive weapons systems and platforms which were also more or less useless, this show the ability to at least admit that all that talk about super-dooper US superweapons was just that, talk, and that in reality the US MIC is incapable of producing the kind of superb high quality systems which it used to produce in large quantities in the past (Arleigh Burke, F-15, Jumbo 747, the Willys Jeep, F-16, A-10, Los Angeles SSN, KH satellites, etc.). This is why the F-15X is designed to “augment” the F-35 feet (by itself a very smart move!).

Such an admission, even if indirect and only logically implied, might show a level of maturity, or courage, by “Biden” which his predecessors did not have.

Could it be that the folks at the Pentagon, who do know the reality of the situation (see here for a very good Moon of Alabama article about this), figured out that Clinton, Bush, Obama and Trump vastly over extended the Empire and now they need to regroup and “re-everything” to achieve a more sustainable “defense” posture?

Could it be that “Biden” will deliver what Trump promised, i.e. to end the useless (and unwinnable!) wars, stop caring too much about the agonizing EU, silently accept that Russia has no intentions (and no need!) whatsoever to attack anyone and focus on the biggest non-military threat out there: China. Maybe.

As far as I know, many (all?) simulations – by RAND and the US military – and command staff exercises have shown that the US would lose badly to both Russia or China. Could it be that “Biden” wants to put Russia and China on the backburner and “deal” with Iran first? The latest news on the US/Israel vs Iran front is not good, to say the least.

I still believe that following the murder of General Suleimani and the retaliatory Iranian missile strikes the US seems to have given up on the idea of a direct attack on Iran. After all, not only did Trump let the “most powerful military in the history of the galaxy” be humiliated and seriously scared – for good reason – by the extremely accurate Iranian missile strikes, but the entire world witnessed this humiliation. After that disaster, why would “Biden” decide to attack?

Could “Biden” be even dumber than Trump? I very much doubt it. Besides, both Trump and Biden were equally subservient to the Israel Lobby anyway, so I would never say never, especially since all Israel has to do to force the US to attack Iran, is to attack first, then present any Iranian response as a planned “genocide of 6 million Jews” (what else?), but this time in Israel and by the Iranians (who might even use gas, who knows?). At these words, both the GOP and the Dems will snap to attention and immediately rush to save America’s most precious and beloved “ally” (in reality, its colonial master and overlord, of course). About Israel, we can only sadly conclude that it really makes no difference whatsoever whether the Demolicans or the Republicrats (mostly RINOs anyway) happens to be in the White House.

So what are we left with?

Frankly, I am not sure.

I think that there is very strong, even if only indirect, evidence which there is some very serious in-fighting taking place in the “Biden” administration and there is also strong, but also indirect, evidence that the military posture of the United States is undergoing what might end up being a major overhaul of the US armed forces.

If true, and that is a big “if”, this is neither good news nor bad news.

But this might be big news.

Why?

Because, objectively, the current US retreat on most fronts might be the “soft landing” (transition from Empire to “normal” country) many Trump voters were hoping for. Or it might not. If it is not, this might be a chaos-induced retreat, indicating that the US state is crumbling and has to urgently “simplify” things to try to survive, thereby generating a lot of factional infighting (at least one Russian observer specialized in “US studies”, Dmitrii Drobnitskii, believes to be the case: see the original article here, and its machine translation here). Finally, the state of decay of the US state might already be so advanced that we can consider it as profoundly dysfunctional and basically collapsing/collapsed. The first option (soft landing) is unlikely, yet highly desirable. The second option (chaos-induced retreat) is more likely, but much less desirable as it is only a single step back to then make several steps forward again. The last option (profoundly dysfunctional and basically collapsing/collapsed) is, alas, the most likely, and it is also, by far, the most perilous one.

For one thing, options #2 and #3 will make US actions very unpredictable and, therefore, potentially extremely dangerous. Unpredictable chaos can also quickly morph into a major war, or even several major ones, so the potential danger here is very real (even if totally unreported in Zone A). This, in turn, means that Russia, China, Iran, the DPRK, Venezuela or Cuba all have to keep their guard up and be ready for anything, even the unthinkable (which is often what total chaos generates).

Right now, the fact that the US has initiated a “great retreat” is undeniable. But the true reasons behind it, and its implications, remain quite obscure, at least to me.

I will conclude by asking you, the readers, for your opinion: do you think that the US is currently in a “contraction phase”? If yes, do you believe that this is a short-term only phenomenon, or will this retreat continue and, if yes, how far?

Russia’s position at the seventy-sixth session of the UN General Assembly

August 05, 2021

Russia’s position at the seventy-sixth session of the UN General Assembly

https://www.mid.ru/en/foreign_policy/news/-/asset_publisher/cKNonkJE02Bw/content/id/4834791

1.      The goal of the 76-th session of the UN General Assembly (GA) is to reaffirm the central and coordinating role of the Organization in international affairs. Owing to its representativeness and universality, the UN is rightfully viewed as a unique platform for an equitable dialogue aimed at reaching compromise solutions with due regard to different opinions. Attempts to undermine the authority and legitimacy of the UN are, in our view, extremely dangerous, as they can lead to the dismantlement of the multipolar system of international relations.

2.      We have consistently advocated the strengthening of the genuine multilateral framework of international relations and world economy based on the norms of international law, including the UN Charter, with an emphasis on the unconditional respect for the sovereignty of States and non-interference in their internal affairs. We deem unacceptable the attempts of Western States to replace the universally recognized international legal principles with the so-called “rules-based world order” elaborated behind the scenes.

3.      We support the coordinated efforts of the international community to curb the spread of the new coronavirus infection as well as to mitigate its consequences in the political, health care, social and economic sectors. In this regard, we consider it unacceptable to politicize the issue of COVID-19 dissemination. We also stress the importance of showing unity and solidarity among all Member States and organizations of the United Nations system in the face of a common challenge. Russia stands for a gradual return to the face-to-face format of events at the UN as the epidemiological situation in the world improves.

4.      Preventing conflicts and addressing their consequences is our first priority. However, effective international assistance in this sphere, including from the UN, is only possible with the consent of the States concerned and in line with the UN Charter. This applies equally to good offices, preventive diplomacy and mediation, which should be conducted impartially and with respect for the sovereignty of States. It is crucial that there should be no universal “conflict indicators”: each situation calls for a delicate and unbiased approach as well as a thorough search for a tailored solution that would take into account the roots and history of the conflict.

5.        We believe that the goal of the UN Security Council reform is to increase the representation of developing States from Africa, Asia and Latin America in the Council without prejudice to its effectiveness and operational efficiency. Efforts to identify the best reform model, which would enjoy consensus or at least the support of the overwhelming majority of Member States, should continue in the current format of Intergovernmental Negotiations. The prerogatives of the UNSC permanent members shall not be subject to revision. The veto power is a unique tool that encourages the necessary compromises and allows the Council to reach well-considered and balanced decisions.

6.        We support realistic initiatives to revitalize the work of the UN General Assembly within the relevant Ad Hoc Working Group. We attach particular importance to fine-tuning the UNGA working methods, streamlining its overloaded agenda and strengthening multilingualism. Any innovation should be reasonable and correspond to the current needs. Any redistribution of the powers of other statutory bodies, especially the Security Council, in favour of the General Assembly is unacceptable.

7.      We support increased cooperation between the UN and regional and sub-regional organizations in line with the UN Charter, first and foremost, its Chapter VIII. The activities of regional associations, according to the UN Charter, should be in conformity with their objectives and principles. It is essential to further enhance partnership between the UN and such organizations as the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), the BRICS and the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU). The biennial resolutions on cooperation between the UN and the CIS, the CSTO and the SCO, uunanimously adopted at the previous 75th UNGA Session, prove the relevance of this task.

8.      The distortion of history and revision of the outcomes of World War II are unacceptable. We attach particular importance to the annual UNGA draft resolution on Combating Glorification of Nazism, neo-Nazism and Other Practices that Contribute to Fuelling Contemporary Forms of Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance. This document has traditionally enjoyed the support of the majority of UN Member States. We call on the delegations that abstained or voted against this initiative last year to reconsider their position.

9.      The destructive policies of certain extra-regional players in the Middle East and North Africa are clearly part of a global strategy to destroy the UN‑centric architecture established after World War II and replace it with a completely illegitimate “rules-based world order”.

We support the international legal parameters for resolving conflicts in this region agreed upon at the UN and implemented solely through political and diplomatic means. Our proposal to create a regional security architecture in the Persian Gulf and, in the longer term, throughout the whole Middle East remains on the table.

10.      One of the top priorities in the Middle East is the Syrian settlement. Achieving lasting and long-term stabilisation and security in the country is only possible through the full restoration of the country’s territorial integrity and sovereignty over its national territory. The continuation of the fight against international terrorist groups recognized as such by the UN Security Council remains critical.

On the political track, we support the promotion of a Syrian-led settlement process implemented by the Syrian people themselves with the UN assistance, as provided for in UNSC resolution 2254. We have consistently supported the relevant work of the Special Envoy of the UN Secretary-General for Syria, Geir Pedersen, but also stressed that his efforts should not go beyond the mandate defined by the Security Council.

There is growing concern about the significant deterioration of the humanitarian and socio-economic situation in the Syrian Arab Republic against the backdrop of tougher unilateral sanctions and the COVID-19 pandemic. We call on responsible members of the international community to refrain from politicising purely humanitarian issues and render assistance to all Syrians in coordination with Damascus, provide for sanctions exemptions for reconstruction projects and facilitate the return of refugees and IDPs.

11.       We are convinced that one of the foundations for establishing peace and security in the Middle East is the revival of the Middle East settlement process with the resolution of the Palestinian problem at its core.

We attach key importance to preventing an escalation of violence between Palestinians and Israelis and to providing extensive humanitarian assistance to those affected and in need in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. At the same time, we advocate for the restart of direct Israeli-Palestinian negotiations on all issues concerning the final status on the universally recognized international legal basis, including a two-State solution. We call on the parties to show restraint, to refrain from unilateral steps and provocative actions (forced evictions, expropriation of houses and land, settlement construction, arbitrary arrests and any forms of violence) as well as to respect the special status and integrity of the Holy Sites of Jerusalem.

We consider it imperative to step up efforts within the framework of the Middle East Quartet, including its interaction with regional actors. We support the arrangement of a Quartet meeting at the ministerial level.

12.    We believe that there is no alternative to a political settlement in Libya. We highlight the need to take into account the views of all Libyan sides, including while planning for international assistance aimed at putting an end to the conflict. We engage with all parties and call for an early cessation of hostilities and the restoration of sustainable and integrated state institutions, including security agencies.

We support the observance of the ceasefire and a political and diplomatic settlement in Libya. All influential political forces should be heard and involved in the political life of the country. We welcome the formation of the Government of National Unity aimed at making arrangements for the national elections scheduled for December 2021. We encourage Libyan actors to seek compromise and to establish strong and effective unified authorities. We support the activities of Special Envoy Ján Kubiš.

13.    We advocate for the cessation of hostilities in Yemen, which exacerbate the dire humanitarian situation in the country. We urge the States involved to engage in the dialogue with a view to reaching a comprehensive settlement which would be accepted by all stakeholders in Yemen.

14.    We support the Iraqi leadership’s efforts to stabilize security situation and implement long-term social and economic reforms. We emphasize the significance of the forthcoming parliamentary elections. It is important that they contribute to bridging the divide between various ethnic and religious groups and political forces. We welcome the dialogue between Baghdad and Erbil. We believe that Iraq should not be subject to external interference and become an arena for regional rivalries.

15.    We consistently pursue the policy aimed at facilitating the process of national reconciliation in Afghanistan. We provide assistance in building a country free from terrorism and drug-related crime. We are seriously concerned about the continuing influence of ISIS in the north and north east of the country as well as the threat of the spillover of terrorist activities into Central Asia and the use of a deteriorating domestic political environment to undermine the peace process. Together with our partners within the “Troika Plus” and with the participation of both Afghan negotiating teams we are working to advance national reconciliation in the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. We attach particular importance to regional co-operation, primarily through the SCO and the CSTO. We note the continuing relevance of the Moscow format of consultations on Afghanistan. We support the work of the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA).

16.    There is no alternative to the Package of Measures for the Implementation of the Minsk Agreements, enshrined in UNSC resolution 2202, as a framework for the internal settlement in Ukraine. Effective international assistance, including through the UN, should be aimed at implementing this decision and supporting the current settlement format, which includes the Contact Group in Minsk and the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission.

Sustainable political and diplomatic settlement of the internal crisis in Ukraine can only be achieved through a direct dialogue between Kiev and Donbass, while taking into account the legitimate demands of all the regions of Ukraine and its linguistic, ethnic and sectarian groups at the constitutional level. We will continue to actively assist in addressing the acute humanitarian situation in eastern Ukraine, which has persisted for many years and was brought about by the actions of the authorities in Kiev.

We insist on a full, thorough and independent international investigation of the MH17 plane crash over the Ukrainian territory based on irrefutable facts and in line with UNSC resolution 2166. Neither the technical investigation into the causes of the Malaysian Boeing crash conducted by the Dutch Safety Board nor the criminal investigation by the Joint Investigation Team meet these criteria.

We expect that all cases of violence against civilians and journalists that have occurred since the beginning of the internal crisis in Ukraine will be investigated fairly and impartially, and that all those responsible will be brought to justice.

17.       The territorial status of Crimea was definitively determined by the Crimean population itself during a referendum in March 2014. Any discussions on the situation in this Russian region that do not involve its residents bear no relation to reality. This issue as well as the situation around the Sea of Azov and the Kerch Strait, which lies within the scope of the Russian-Ukrainian bilateral relations, cannot be part of the UN-led discussion on the developments in Ukraine.

We condemn the efforts of the Ukrainian delegation to introduce the Crimean issue in the UNGA through a politicized resolution on the “militarization” of the peninsula as well as parts of the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov.           The resolution is built on groundless, unacceptable accusations against Russia and is intended to put the blame for all of Ukraine’s internal problems on the mythical “Russian aggression”. The document contains Kiev’s twisted interpretation of the provocation it carried out on 25 November 2018, when three Ukrainian vessels attempted to enter the Kerch Strait without first notifying the Russian side. The allegations on the alleged militarization of Crimea and parts of the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov contained in the aforementioned resolution also contradict the truth.

In case this odious draft resolution is again introduced in the UNGA, we call on all States to vote firmly against its adoption.

18.    The implementation of the trilateral statements of 9 November 2020 and 11 January 2021 is a priority for normalizing the situation in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict area. We consider it useful to involve UN agencies and in particular the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in humanitarian activities in the Russian peacekeeping operation area. The parameters for their possible work should be agreed upon in direct coordination with Baku and Yerevan.

19.    The problem of the Korean Peninsula should be resolved by political and diplomatic means. Building up sanctions pressure is counterproductive. The creation of a new security architecture in North-East Asia that would take into account the legitimate interests of all States in the region, including the DPRK itself, is key to achieving the settlement of this issue. Various Russian-Chinese initiatives, including the relevant “Roadmap’, the “Action Plan” and a UNSC political resolution are all important tools in this regard.

20.    The early restoration of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) aimed at settling the situation with the Iranian nuclear program is a priority task. We call on the US to return as soon as possible to full compliance with UNSC resolution 2231 and to implement the JCPOA, including through lifting the unilateral anti-Iranian sanctions imposed after the withdrawal of Washington from the “nuclear deal”.

21.    The solution to the Cyprus issue should be elaborated by the Cypriot communities themselves without any external pressure. Russia is guided by relevant UNSC resolutions which call for the formation of a bicommunal, bizonal federation with a single international legal personality, sovereignty and citizenship. The existing security guarantee system has become obsolete, is no longer able to alleviate the concerns of the parties involved and should be replaced with the guarantees from the UN Security Council.

22.    Russia fully supports the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the principle of equality of the three state-constituting peoples and the two entities with broad constitutional powers in full compliance with the 1995 Dayton Accords. In this context, we strongly disagree with the so-called appointment of a new High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina by the Steering Board of the Peace Implementation Council. Without the UNSC approval this decision has no executive force. Moreover, the abolition of the Office of the High Representative is long overdue.

23.    The settlement of the Kosovo issue should be based on international law, first and foremost on UNSC resolution 1244. Belgrade and Pristina should come to an agreement themselves, while the task of the international community is to help the parties find mutually acceptable solutions without external pressure. The EU, as a mediator in the dialogue in accordance with UNGA resolution 64/298 of 9 September 2010, should seek to ensure that the parties implement the agreed decisions, primarily, the establishment of the Community of Serb municipalities in Kosovo (the CSMK; the agreement reached in 2013 has still not been implemented). We support the work of the UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK).

24.    Internal disputes in Venezuela can only be resolved by the Venezuelans themselves, through a broad and direct dialogue and with full respect for the country’s Constitution. Effective international cooperation is possible only if it is aimed at supporting such a dialogue.

The illegal unilateral coercive measures imposed against Venezuela undermine the efforts of the Venezuelan authorities to effectively combat the pandemic, as well as impede the normalization of the humanitarian situation in the country and the improvement of the migration situation in the region. Humanitarian assistance should be provided without politicisation and in accordance with the UN guiding principles enshrined in UNGA resolution 46/182.

We will continue to oppose any attempts to question the mandates of Venezuela’s official delegations at various international organizations.

25.    We learned with deep sorrow the news of the assassination of the President of Haiti Jovenel Moïse. We have been closely following the investigation into this crime. We are seriously concerned about information regarding the involvement of foreign nationals, including from the US and Colombia, in this brutal murder. This indicates that once again external forces are trying to exploit the purely internal conflict to promote their destructive interests.

We are convinced that the only way to normalize the situation in the country is to reach broad internal political consensus in strict conformity with the universally recognized norms and principles of international law. It is important that all decisions should be taken through peaceful political means by the Haitians themselves, with international support but without destructive external interference in order to elaborate solutions acceptable to the opposing parties.

26.    The Final Peace Agreement is the international legal basis for the settlement in Colombia. This document made it possible for the UNSC and the UN Secretary-General to support the peace process. Unilateral attempts to alter the substance of its provisions are unacceptable. Comprehensive sustainable settlement in Colombia is impossible without involving the National Liberation Army (ELN) in the peace process.

27.    We call on all parties to the conflict in Myanmar to put an end to violence and launch a constructive dialogue in order to move towards national reconciliation. International community should avoid politicising the issue, refrain from interfering in the internal affairs of a sovereign State and abandon sanctions threats. We emphasize the ASEAN special role in the peace process. The current situation in Myanmar does not pose any threat to international peace and security, thus the only issue on the UNSC agenda in this context should be the situation in the Rakhine State.

28.    We support the aspiration of India and Pakistan to normalize relations in the context of the situation in the Kashmir region. We hope that a new escalation along the line of control will be prevented. Only direct negotiations between New Delhi and Islamabad can form the basis for a long-term settlement of this sensitive issue.

29.    We believe that conflict settlement in Africa should be based on a leading role of the countries of the African continent and supported by the international community. We call for the strengthening of cooperation between the UN and the African Union as well as the continent’s sub-regional organizations. As a permanent member of the UNSC, we will continue to facilitate a political resolution of the crises in the CAR, the DRC, South Sudan, Somalia, Mali and the Sahara-Sahel region as a whole.

We are firmly committed to actively supporting the efforts of the CAR authorities to improve governance and provide security on the basis of the 2019 peace agreement. At the same time, we will keep engaging constructively with all responsible stakeholders that support stabilisation in the country.

In cooperation with like-minded partners, it is important to assist Sudan in implementing the tasks of the transition period. We insist that the UN Integrated Transition Assistance Mission in Sudan (UNITAMS) should always take into account the views of the authorities in Khartoum.

We stand for in an early normalization of the situation in the Ethiopian region of Tigray. Restoring stability in Ethiopia is certain to have a positive effect on the entire Horn of Africa. We consider the decision of the Federal Government of Ethiopia to establish a ceasefire in the region a step in the right direction. We call on all those involved to support this initiative of the authorities in order to stop the bloodshed and improve the humanitarian and social and economic situation.

30.    The UNGA Special Committee on Decolonization (C-24) will remain relevant until a definitive solution to the issue of all 17 Non-Self-Governing Territories is reached. We will continue to actively participate in the work of this body.

31.    UN peacekeeping should fully comply with the basic principles of the UN work in this area (consent of the parties, impartiality and non-use of force, except for self-defence and defence of the mandate) as well as with the UN Charter. The primary task is to promote political settlement of conflicts and national reconciliation. The adaptation of UN peacekeeping operations to contemporary realities should be implemented in strict accordance with the decisions agreed upon in the intergovernmental format. This includes, inter alia, the issues of “peacekeeping intelligence” and the use of new technologies, which should serve the sole purpose of ensuring peacekeepers’ safety and protection of civilians. Vesting peacekeeping operations with additional powers, including with respect to the use of force, is only possible upon a UNSC decision that takes into account the specific situation in each country.

The UNGA Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations (C-34) should be responsible for defining the further development of UN peacekeeping activities.         Peacebuilding and peacekeeping are inextricably linked and based on the principle of national ownership in prioritising post-conflict reconstruction and development. International support should only be provided upon request of the host government and be aimed at enhancing the States’ own capacity.

32.    The UNSC sanctions, as one of the strongest instruments of ‘targeted action’ to tackle threats to international peace and security, should not be abused. As a measure of last resort in the area of conflict resolution, they cannot be applied without first taking into account the full range of their possible humanitarian, social and economic and human rights consequences. It is unacceptable to use them as a means of unfair competition and pressure on “undesirable regimes”. The functions of the existing institution of the Ombudsperson should be expanded to protect the interests of all the entities on the Security Council sanctions list. It is unacceptable to supplement Security Council sanctions with unilateral restrictions, especially those of an extraterritorial nature.

33.    We believe that all Member States should join efforts in the fight against terrorism, with the UN playing a central coordinating role. We firmly reject any double standards or hidden agendas in this area. We are convinced that the issue of terrorism should be addressed through the implementation of the relevant universal conventions and protocols, the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy and relevant UNSC and UNGA resolutions.

Support for the counter-terrorism bodies of the United Nations system, first and foremost the United Nations Office of Counter-Terrorism (UNOCT), remains a priority. We advocate for the expansion of the UNOCT financing from the UN regular budget. We also intend to increase our voluntary contributions to the Office and call on other Member States to do the same. We believe that law enforcement and prevention-oriented initiatives should remain at the core of the UNOCT programme and project activities.

We consider it critical to make greater use of the tools of the specialized subsidiary UNSC bodies, primarily its Counter-Terrorism Committee (CTC), the sanctions committees on ISIL, Al-Qaida and the Taliban Movement. We are committed to a constructive dialogue with regard to the review of the mandate of the CTC Executive Directorate.

We call for ensuring full compliance with UNSC resolutions against the financing of terrorism, as well as with the standards of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF).

We intend to step up efforts to cut off weapons, financial and material support for terrorists, to stop the spread of terrorist propaganda, including through the use of modern information and communication technologies, and to eliminate links between terrorist groups and drug trafficking and other organized crime groups. It is necessary to strengthen cooperation between countries in countering foreign terrorist fighters (FTFs) and bringing them to justice more quickly.

We oppose the dilution of the international legal framework by non-consensual concepts, such as “countering violent extremism“, which allow for the interference in the internal affairs of States and the reorientation of international cooperation on counter-terrorism towards secondary gender and human rights issues. We believe it necessary to enhance efforts to combat various manifestations of extremism, including right-wing radicalism, while countering attempts to use this issue for political purposes and as an excuse to increase anti-Russian sanctions pressure.

34.    We strongly oppose the revision and weakening of the current international drug control system, including by legalising all recreational (non-medical) drug use, as well as imposing questionable drug treatment practices as a “universal standard” and promoting drug use as a socially acceptable norm.

We advocate the strengthening of the policy-making role of the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) in the area of drug control. We intend to further continue to actively oppose efforts aimed at creating and institutionalising mechanisms that duplicate the CND work, and at imposing an alternative strategy for addressing the world drug problem bypassing the CND. We emphasize the need for States to strictly comply with the international anti-drug conventions. In view of the re-election to the CND for the period of 2022-2025, the Russian Federation will continue to promote a consistent line on the Commission’s platform as well as in negotiating the resolutions and decisions of the 76th UNGA Session.

We are concerned about the drastic deterioration of the drug situation in Afghanistan and its possible projection into increased smuggling of opiates into Russia and Central Asian countries. In the context of the withdrawal of NATO troops from the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, international and regional anti-drug efforts, such as the Paris Pact, the SCO, the CIS, and the CARICC, are of particular importance. We believe that consistent, effective anti-drug efforts by the Afghan leadership based on the principle of common and shared responsibility of States, are essential for achieving security in the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan.

35.    We support the key role of the United Nations in consolidating international efforts to combat transnational organised crime. We note the importance of an impartial Mechanism for the Review of the Implementation of the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organised Crime. We advocate strengthening the legal framework of international cooperation, including the development of new international legal instruments in a number of areas, including cybercrime, asset recovery, extradition and mutual legal assistance.

36.    We facilitate the development of the international anti-corruption cooperation, with the UN playing the central and coordinating role, based on the unique universal agreement, the UN Convention against Corruption (CAC). We support the effective functioning of the Mechanism for the Review of the Convention Implementation. We welcome the results of the first UNGA Special Session against Corruption which took place in June 2021. We consider it important that the political declaration of the UNGA Special Session confirmed the existence of gaps in international law governing the return from abroad of assets obtained as a result of corruption offences. We emphasise the need to develop an international legal instrument on asset recovery under the auspices of the UN to complement the UN Convention against Corruption.

37.    We support the key role of the UN in consolidating joint efforts to ensure international information security (IIS). They should result in the elaboration and adoption under the UN auspices of universal and comprehensive rules of responsible behaviour of States in information space aimed at preventing conflicts therein and promoting the use of information and communications technologies (ICTs) for peaceful purposes.

We welcome the adoption of the consensus reports of the UN Open-Ended Working Group (OEWG) and the UN Group of Governmental Experts on IIS. We note the unique spirit of the constructive dialogue at these platforms.

During the 76th UNGA Session, we intend to introduce in its First Committee an updated draft resolution on “Developments in the Field of Information and Telecommunications in the Context of International Security” welcoming the successful conclusion of the work of both groups as well as the launch of a new Russia-initiated OEWG on Security in the Use of ICTs and ICTs themselves 2021-2025 (in accordance with UNGA resolution 75/240).

We assume that the new Group will ensure the continuity and consistency of an inclusive and truly democratic negotiation process on IIS under the UN auspices within a single mechanism. We call on all States to take an active part in the work of the OEWG 2021-2025 and contribute to building a fair and equitable IIS system.

In line with the relevant UNGA resolutions adopted at the initiative of the Russian Federation, we advocate for an early drafting, under the auspices of the UN, of an international convention countering the use of information and communications technologies for criminal purposes. The consensus modalities set out while preparing for the negotiation process in the relevant UNGA Ad Hoc Committee enable us to count on constructive and comprehensive participation of the entire international community in developing a universal and effective instrument to counter digital crime.

We call on our partners to support our First Committee draft resolution as well as to unequivocally endorse full implementation of the mandates of the new OEWG and the Ad Hoc Committee.

38. We have consistently advocated strengthening the existing treaty regimes and developing, through consensus, new arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation (ACDNP) regimes. The UN and its multilateral disarmament mechanism should play a central role in this process. We are committed to ensuring the coherence and improving the performance of its three key elements – the First Committee of the UN General Assembly, the Conference on Disarmament and the UN Disarmament Commission – while unconditionally respecting the mandates of these forums.

We deem it necessary to counter any attempts to revise the existing disarmament architecture by means of unilateral coercive measures that bypass the UN Security Council.

The main focus of multilateral efforts and fundamentally new approaches to address the whole range of problems in the field of the ACDNP may be considered at a summit of the permanent members of the UN Security Council which Russia has proposed to hold.

39. We strictly comply with our obligations under the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) and advocate for its early entry into force. We call on the eight states on which the launch of the Treaty depends to sign and/or ratify it without delay. We believe that the key destructive factor here is the position of the United States which is the only state to have officially refused to ratify the Treaty. We expect Washington to reconsider its approach to the CTBT.

40. We support the noble cause of shaping a world free of nuclear weapons. We make a substantial practical contribution to achieving this goal. However, we are convinced there is a need for a balanced approach that takes into account all factors affecting strategic stability, including disruptive US steps aimed at undermining the existing ACDNP architecture. We do not support radical initiatives on introducing an early nuclear weapons ban (namely, the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, TPNW).

41. We consider the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) to be the most important international legal instrument for ensuring international security and one of the pillars of the modern world order. Our common task is to prevent the final collapse of the system of international disarmament and arms control agreements that has been developed over decades and the regimes based upon them.

In this regard, we attach primary importance to the viability of the NPT. We call on all States Parties to make every effort at the 10th Review Conference postponed until 2022 because of the new coronavirus pandemic to strengthen the Treaty and to help achieve its goals rather than cause more controversy around it. The ultimate goal is to draft a document that would reaffirm the viability of the Treaty and the willingness of the States Parties to strictly abide by their commitments.

We fully support the work of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) as an international organisation that possesses the necessary authority and competence to monitor the observance of the non-proliferation obligations under the NPT through the application of Agency safeguards, which, in its turn, is an important condition for the States to exercise their right to use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.

We believe that further development of the IAEA safeguards system serves to strengthen the non-proliferation regime, provided that it keeps intact the basic principles of verification – impartiality, technical feasibility, and transparency.

We are concerned about the recent tendency to politicise the IAEA safeguards system. As a result, claims are being made against States based on the ‘very likely/highly likely’ approach while deployment of nuclear weapons belonging to some countries in the territory of other formally non-nuclear States is being ignored.

The IAEA should not be turned into a nuclear disarmament verification tool, as this is neither a statutory purpose nor a function of the Agency. We believe that the participation of the IAEA Secretariat staff in the January 2022 Meeting of States Parties to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) in Vienna is inappropriate.

42. We regard the Conference on the Establishment of a Middle East Zone Free of Nuclear Weapons and Other Weapons of Mass Destruction held in New York on 18-22 November 2019 as a landmark event both in terms of ensuring stability and sustainability in the region and in the context of global efforts towards WMD non-proliferation. We intend to further support the idea of such conferences. We believe that efforts to elaborate a legally binding agreement on creating a WMD-free zone in the Middle East serve the interests of all states in the region.

We hope that the second Conference on the establishment of a WMD-free zone due to be held in New York in November 2020 but postponed because of the COVID-19 pandemic will take place this year, which would allow to kick start a somewhat stagnant process.

43. We are confident that there is still potential for political and diplomatic settlement of the situation arising from the termination of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF Treaty) based on Russia’s initiative to ensure predictability and restraint in the missile sphere.

We intend to maintain a unilateral moratorium on the deployment of land-based intermediate-range or shorter-range missiles in regions where no similar US-made weapons would appear. Despite the absence of a constructive response to this initiative on the part of NATO, we still consider a moratorium to be a promising idea that would make it possible to avoid new ‘missile crises’. We propose that the US and their NATO allies take on a similar commitment.

We reaffirm our commitment to the strict compliance with the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (the New START) and welcome its extension for five years without any preconditions – something that the Russian Federation has long and consistently called for. The extension of this Treaty set the stage for resuming a comprehensive dialogue with the United States on future arms control and the maintenance of strategic stability. At the Russian-US summit in Geneva on June 16, 2021 it was agreed to launch such a dialogue in the near future, as reflected in the Joint Statement by the Presidents at the meeting.

We believe that the goal of this engagement is to develop a new ‘security formula’ that takes into account all major factors of strategic stability, covers offensive and defensive nuclear and non-nuclear weapons capable of meeting strategic challenges, as well as the emergence of new technologies and new weapons.

44. We highly commend efforts of the UN Security Council and its ad-hoc 1540 Committee on the WMD non-proliferation. We are determined to engage in a substantive and constructive dialogue in the framework of the comprehensive review of the implementation of UNSC Resolution 1540. We expect that the procedure will result in the confirmation of the 1540 Committee’s current mandate.

45. Russia has initiated the development of important multilateral agreements in the ACDNP area, such as the Prevention of an Arms Race in Outer Space Treaty (PAROS) and the International Convention on the Suppression of Acts of Chemical and Biological Terrorism. We believe that a constructive dialogue on these issues will provide an opportunity to engage in substantive work (including negotiations) at the UN platform.

The imperative of preserving space for peaceful purposes and taking cooperative practical measures to this end is shared by the vast majority of States. We consider the globalisation of the no-first placement of weapons in outer space initiative to be an important but only interim step on the way towards the conclusion of an international treaty on the prevention of placement of weapons in outer space on the basis of a relevant Chinese-Russian draft treaty on the prevention of the placement of weapons in outer space and the threat or use of force against outer space objects.

At the 76th session of the General Assembly, we will traditionally submit to the First Committee draft resolutions on no first placement of weapons in outer space, transparency and confidence-building measures in space activities and further practical measures to prevent an arms race in outer space.

46. We consider it necessary to continue strengthening the central and coordinating role of the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS). We are against the practice of addressing issues that fall within the competence of the Committee at other non-specialised international fora. We are concerned about the trend towards the consolidation of unilateral approaches in the policies of certain States aimed at establishing of a regime for the research, development and use of space resources, which carries serious risks for international cooperation, including with respect to outer space.

We continue to actively engage in the work of COPUOS to improve the security regime for space operations. We have succeeded in establishing the Working Group on the Long-term Sustainability of Outer Space Activities. The Group’s mandate is to implement the existing and develop new guidelines on long-term sustainability of outer space activities, which is of particular importance against the background of the rapidly changing environment in which space activities take place.

We are against moving the issues traditionally on the COPUOS agenda to parallel platforms, including the First Committee of the UN General Assembly, as part of the concept of the so-called ‘responsible behaviours in outer space’. Neglecting the Committee’s key role with regard to space debris and space traffic management may negatively affect the adoption of balanced consensus decisions in these areas.

We are in favour of the successful completion of efforts to develop the Space-2030 agenda and its implementation plan, with a view to presenting this document at the current session of the General Assembly.

47. We are in favour of strengthening the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention and the Chemical Weapons Convention, the 1925 Geneva Protocol for the Prohibition of the Use in War of Asphyxiating, Poisonous or other Gases, and of Bacteriological Methods of Warfare, as well as the Secretary-General’s Mechanism for Investigation of Alleged Use of Chemical and Biological Weapons.

In order to ensure the effective operation of this UN Secretary-General’s Mechanism, at the 76th session of the General Assembly we will submit a relevant draft resolution to the First Committee.

We come out against attempts by Western states to politicise the work of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) in violation of the norms set in the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC). We regard as illegitimate their actions aimed at vesting the Technical Secretariat of the OPCW with the function of ‘identifying those responsible’ for the use of chemical weapons (attribution), including the creation of an illegitimate Investigation and Identification Team (IIT). We strongly disagree with its biased conclusions. We also have a whole range of complaints about the work of other OPCW inspection missions in the Syrian Arab Republic which violate the methods of investigation set out in the CWC. We urge the OPCW leadership to take action as soon as possible to rectify this deplorable situation.

We support impartial and highly professional investigations into chemical provocations by anti-government forces in Syria and all manifestations of ‘chemical terrorism’ in the Middle East in strict accordance with the high standards of the CWC.

48. We note the negative impact on international security of yet another destructive step by the United States – the decision to withdraw from the Treaty on Open Skies (OST) under the pretext of alleged violations of the Treaty by Russia. Alongside the US withdrawal from the INF Treaty, as a consequence of which the Treaty ceased to have effect, this step is fully in line with Washington’s policy of destroying the whole range of arms control agreements and causes real damage to the European security system. The United States have upset the balance of rights and obligations of the States Parties to the OST, that is why Russia was forced to take measures to protect its national security interests and begin the procedure of withdrawal from the Treaty (to be completed by 18 December this year).

49. We continue to underline the unique role of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea as a universal instrument creating a comprehensive legal regime for international cooperation of States in the World Ocean. We highly appreciate the work of such conventional mechanisms as the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf, the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea and the International Seabed Authority. We believe it is vital that they work strictly within their mandates under the Convention avoiding any broad interpretation of the competence granted to them or politicising their decisions.

50. The Russian Federation supports the work of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) as the main judicial body of the United Nations and is ready to assist the creation of conditions enabling its effective and unbiased functioning.

We closely follow the situation around the implementation of the provisions of the UNGA resolution of May 22, 2019 concerning the Chagos Archipelago, adopted in accordance with the relevant advisory opinion of the ICJ. We view the above-mentioned General Assembly decision in the context of the completion of the decolonisation processes.

Elections to the ICJ are planned for the autumn of 2023 at the Security Council and the 78th session of the UNGA. The Russian group in the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) decided to nominate sitting judge K.Gevorgyan for re-election to the ICJ for the period 2024-2033. We are counting on the support of our candidate by the Member States of the Organisation in the forthcoming elections.

51. The Russian Federation facilitates the work of the International Law Commission (ILC) which contributes significantly to the codification and progressive development of international law. We believe that the UN should further build on its most valuable outputs.

In the autumn of 2021, during the 76th session of the UN General Assembly, elections to the ILC are scheduled to take place. The Russian Federation nominated the current member of the Commission, Director of the Legal Department of the MFA of Russia E.Zagaynov, for re-election to the Commission for the period 2023–2027. We hope that the UN Member States will support our candidate in the upcoming elections.

52. The credibility of the International Criminal Court (ICC) is steadily declining. It is becoming more politically biased and one-sided. We note the low quality of its work and the lack of any tangible contribution to conflict settlement.

53. We underline that the mandate of the Residual Mechanism is strictly limited, and it is necessary to complete its activity as soon as possible. We have to acknowledge yet again that the Mechanism inherited the worst practices from the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, which is demonstrated by its consistent anti-Serbian attitudes. We monitor respect for the rights of persons accused and convicted by the Residual Mechanism. We do not consider it expedient at this point to establish new judicial bodies of this kind.

54. We continue to assume the legal nullity of the International, Impartial and Independent Mechanism to Assist in the Investigation and Prosecution of Persons Responsible for the Most Serious Crimes under International Law Committed in the Syrian Arab Republic since March 2011 established by the UN General Assembly acting beyond its authority. We object to the funding of the Mechanism from the UN regular budget and to the Mechanism gaining access to the archives of the OPCW-UN Joint Mechanism.

55. We continue to regard the issue of “the rule of law” with an emphasis on its international dimension, i.e. the primacy of international law, particularly the UN Charter. We continue to oppose attempts to use it to interfere in the internal affairs of sovereign States under the pretext of strengthening the “rule of law” at the national level.

Given the confrontational incorporation of the permanent item “responsibility to protect” (R2P) in the UNGA agenda, we underline the loss of the consensual nature of this concept. We will continue to block attempts to legitimise it.

56. It is States that bear the primary responsibility for promoting and protecting human rights, while the UN executive structures are to play a supporting role. We believe that equal cooperation between States based on the rule of international law, respect for sovereignty and equality of States should be the main principle in the work of the United Nations to promote and protect human rights. It is inadmissible to duplicate the work of the main bodies of the United Nations through unjustified integration of the human rights agenda into all areas of the UN activities. We are against strengthening the link between the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) and the UN Security Council. We oppose attempts to reform the HRC in order to turn it into a quasi-judicial monitoring mechanism.

We consider it unacceptable to include politicised country-specific resolutions and topics outside the scope of their mandate in the agenda of United Nations human rights mechanisms. We condemn the use of human rights issues as a pretext for interfering in the internal affairs of States and undermining the principles of international law. It is in this light that we regard the resolution on the situation of human rights in Crimea, which, since 2016, has been regularly submitted to the Third Committee of the UN General Assembly by the Ukrainian delegation. This document has nothing to do with the actual situation in this region of the Russian Federation. We will vote against this resolution during the 76th session of the UNGA, and we call on our partners to do the same.

The work of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) should become more transparent and accountable to the UN Member States in order to avoid politically motivated approaches to assessing human rights situations in different countries.

We will continue to promote intercivilisational, intercultural and interreligious dialogue and due respect for the diversity of cultures, civilisations, traditions and historical developments in the promotion and protection of human rights.

57. We strongly condemn all forms and manifestations of discrimination. The ban on discrimination enshrined in international human rights instruments is universal and applies to all persons without exception. We see no value added in defining new vulnerable groups (such as members of the LGBT community, human rights activists, bloggers) that allegedly require a special legal protection regime or new categories of rights. Such steps by a number of countries only lead to de-universalization of legal protection regimes and increased politicisation and confrontation within the UN human rights mechanisms.

58. Active practical work in the area of social development aimed at eradicating poverty, promoting social integration, ensuring full employment and decent work for all will facilitate effective implementation of the decisions adopted at the World Summit for Social Development and the 24th special session of the UN General Assembly.

We consider the UN Commission for Social Development to be the main UN coordinating body that develops framework for harmonised actions on general issues of social protection, ensuring equal opportunities for persons with disabilities, problems of ageing population, improving the situation of young people and strengthening the role of the traditional family. We resolutely oppose any initiatives that undermine its role, as well as the calls for its dissolution.

59. The United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) remains the main intergovernmental platform for discussion of a broad range of issues relating to improvement of the status of women and achieving gender equality in particular. We believe it is important to avoid politicization of these issues or their automatic inclusion into the UN documents focusing on other topics. Special attention in documents on improving the status of women should be devoted to social and economic rights, as well as social protection and support for women and their families.

We believe that gender equality issues should be taken into account in the work of the UN system in a balanced manner, without absolute prioritisation or selective use.

We commend the work of UN Women which should render assistance only within the framework of its mandate, upon request and with the consent of the States concerned. We will continue to interact actively with it within the framework of the Executive Board.

60. We reaffirm the need for strengthening international cooperation in the promotion and protection of the rights of the child on the basis of the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the outcome document of the 27th special session of the United Nations General Assembly entitled “A World Fit for Children”. We consider unacceptable attempts by a number of countries to deprive parents and legal guardians of their role in the upbringing of children and the development of their potential, including by granting young children autonomy in their decision-making. Programmes to support the family in its traditional sense, to ensure access to education and healthcare are important for the successful upbringing of children.

We devote close attention to the problem of children in armed conflict. We support the mandate of the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict and develop cooperation with her, including as part of the programme for repatriation of Russian children from Syria and Iraq.

61. We support discussion at the United Nations General Assembly of the problems of interreligious and intercultural interaction and the development of intercivilisational dialogue, especially within the framework of the Alliance of Civilisations (AoC). We regard the establishment of a culture of peace as an essential prerequisite for peaceful co-existence and global cooperation for the sake of peace and development.

We are actively preparing for holding the World Conference on Intercultural and Interreligious Dialogue (St Petersburg, May 2022).

62. We are ready for the cooperation on the UN agenda issues with all interested relevant non-governmental organizations. Their involvement in the work of the United Nations should take place within the framework of the established practice, which requires the obligatory consent of Member States. We encourage the adequate representation of the Russian non-governmental corps in the activities of the relevant segments, bodies and structures of the United Nations.

63. To overcome the consequences of migration crises affecting individual countries and regions of the world, global efforts are required under the central coordinating role of the United Nations.

We commend the work of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) on ensuring more effective international protection for refugees and other categories of persons under its responsibility. We consider the work of the UNHCR particularly important in situations of major humanitarian crises.

Russia makes a significant contribution to international efforts to improve the situation of refugees, including by accepting forcibly displaced persons from Ukraine and also through programmes for the return of Syrian refugees to their homeland. Each year our country voluntarily contributes some $2 million to the UNHCR budget.

We reaffirm our commitment to the Global Compact on Refugees (GCR) and the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration, which should form the basis of comprehensive long-term cooperation aimed at creating legal channels for migration and countering irregular flows.

Russia took an active part in the first meeting of the Global Refugee Forum. We expect that this platform will help to attract the attention of the international community to the problems of refugees and to consolidate efforts to implement the GCR.

We welcome the strengthening of the UN migration pillar under the coordinating role of the International Organisation for Migration (IOM). We support a comprehensive approach of the UNHCR and IOM to the prevention of the spread of COVID-19 among persons of concern. We are convinced that one of the effective measures to combat the pandemic should be large-scale vaccination of the population, including forcibly displaced persons.

We note the effectiveness of the UNHCR’s work with Syrian refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs). We look forward to the world community pursuing a non-politicized approach in dealing with this issue and providing greater assistance in rebuilding infrastructure and ensuring conditions for their early return.

We appreciate and contribute, including financially, to the UNHCR’s efforts to address the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of the internal Ukrainian crisis. We support the UNHCR programmes aimed at eliminating statelessness, in particular in European countries.

We are interested in the UNHCR facilitating the return of IDPs and refugees to Nagorny Karabakh and the surrounding areas.

64. We consider the Georgian UNGA resolution on the status of internally displaced persons and refugees from Abkhazia and South Ossetia to be counter-productive and to entail the risk of aggravating the situation “on the ground” and further stalling the Geneva discussions, which remain the only negotiation platform enabling direct dialogue between the representatives of Abkhazia, South Ossetia and Georgia. We also note that at a time when the Abkhaz and South Ossetian representatives are deprived of the opportunity to convey their position to the General Assembly because of the systematic refusal of the United States authorities to grant them entry visas, discussions in New York on the topic of “refugees from Abkhazia and South Ossetia” without their direct participation are meaningless.

65. We consistently advocate for the strengthening of UNESCO‘s international standing. We believe that the adaptation of UNESCO’s working methods to the emerging challenges, including in the context of the new coronavirus pandemic, should be in line with the intergovernmental nature of the Organisation and be based on unconditional compliance with the provisions of the UNESCO Constitution, rules of procedure and directives of the decision-making bodies.

We oppose to the artificial integration of human rights issues in UNESCO’s activities in order to avoid duplication of functions of other UN specialised agencies. We aim to increase the effectiveness of the Organisation by depoliticising it and removing from its agenda issues of territorial integrity and sovereignty that do not belong to it.

Russia contributes significantly to UNESCO activities. In 2022, Kazan, the capital of Tatarstan, will host one of the largest and most significant UNESCO events – the 45th Anniversary Session of the World Heritage Committee, which will coincide with the 50th anniversary of the 1972 Convention concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage.

66. We view cooperation in sports and the promotion of sport ideals worldwide as effective ways to foster respect and mutual understanding among nations.

We believe that politicisation of sports and discrimination of athletes, including Paralympians, in the form of collective punishment are unacceptable. We advocate the development of a universal system of international sports cooperation based on the principles of independence and autonomy of sports.

67.    In the context of international cooperation to address social and economic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic, we support intensified efforts to implement the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (the 2030 Agenda) as a holistic and balanced strategy to guide the work of the UN in the social, economic, environmental and related fields. We underline the integrated, non-politicised and indivisible nature of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), with poverty eradication being the key objective.

We support stronger coordination between the UNGA and ECOSOC, including through the dialogue platform of the High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF). The HLPF is designed to serve as a forum that brings together all stakeholders, including members of the business community (not only NGOs), to review the progress made in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda at the global level. Russia’s first Voluntary National Review on the implementation of the SDGs presented in 2020 has been a significant contribution to these efforts.

We promote a balanced approach in the energy sector with a focus on ensuring universal access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy sources in line with SDG 7. We recognise the urgent need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, while believing that it should be fulfilled not only through the transition to renewable energy sources but also through the introduction of advanced low-carbon technologies in the use of all types of energy sources, including fossil fuels. In this context, we advocate increased use of natural gas as the most environmentally acceptable fossil fuel, as well as the recognition of nuclear power and hydropower as clean energy sources due to the absence of a carbon footprint. In this spirit, we intend to ensure Russia’s participation in the High-Level Dialogue on Energy in September 2021.

68.    We will continue to uphold the basic parameters for international humanitarian assistance outlined in UNGA resolution 46/182 and other decisions of the General Assembly and ECOSOC. We will oppose revision of fundamental principles, in particular the respect for the sovereignty of an affected state and the need to obtain its consent for assistance. We will continue to urge UN humanitarian agencies to act as “honest brokers” and base their work on carefully verified data about the humanitarian situation “on the ground”.

We are concerned about the worsening of humanitarian crises triggered by the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. As humanitarian needs grow considerably, we believe it crucial to avoid politicising humanitarian assistance.

69.    We condemn individual countries’ practice of imposing unilateral coercive measures contrary to the United Nations Charter and international law. We therefore support the idea of joining efforts of sanctioned countries in line with the Russian President’s initiative to create sanctions-free “green corridors” to provide countries with access to medicines and essential goods.

70.    We call for accelerated implementation of the Addis-Ababa Action Agenda decisions on financing for development in order to mobilise and make effective use of resources to achieve the SDGs.

We support the principle of prioritising the interests of international development assistance recipients. We offer assistance to interested countries based on a de-politicised approach, promoting domestic innovation and expertise.

We recognise the importance of reaching international consensus on global taxation, in particular in the fight against tax evasion. We support the increased intergovernmental cooperation in curbing illicit financial flows and repatriation of income generated from illegal activities.

71.    We oppose attempts by individual countries to reduce socio-economic development solely to the achievement of environmental protection goals, namely climate change. We see such a one-sided position as an indication of unfair competition and trade protectionism, which are inconsistent with the World Trade Organisation (WTO) principles of a universal, open, non-discriminatory multilateral trading system.

72.    We welcome the further strengthening of the work of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat) to achieve sustainable development of the United Nations.

We support the consolidation of UNEP’s role as the key universal intergovernmental platform establishing the integrated global environmental agenda.

We advocate greater efficiency and stronger financial discipline within UN-Habitat as part of the Programme’s structural reform implemented in accordance with resolution 73/239 of the General Assembly.

We stress the need for strict adherence to the principle of equitable geographical representation in the staffing of UNEP and UN-Habitat and the inadmissibility of politicisation of these programmes’ mandates.

73.    We stand for the continued leadership of the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO), the UN World Food Programme (WFP) and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) in coordinating international efforts to eliminate hunger, improve nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture. We will encourage these Rome-based organisations to engage in a closer inter-agency cooperation within the UN system in addressing these issues.

In practical terms, we are actively involved in preparations for the 2021 UN Food Systems Summit. We expect it to deliver a comprehensive analysis of optimal agri-food chain models to help eradicate hunger and improve food security, including the provision of healthy food for the population. We believe that commonly agreed and universally supported sectoral approaches and proposals should be reflected in the Summit outcome documents in a balanced way. We hope that the upcoming event will set the course for the transformation of global food systems, particularly in the context of overcoming the consequences of the new coronavirus pandemic, and give further impetus to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda.

We pay careful attention to preventing the risk of a food crisis, namely in view of the negative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. We will continue to provide humanitarian food aid to countries most in need, first of all to those of the former Soviet Union, as well as in Africa and Latin America.

74.    We attach great importance to the work carried out by the UNGA to support the multilateral efforts in combating the COVID-19 pandemic and overcoming its impact. We advocate a universal, equitable, fair and unhindered access to medical technologies as well as safe, high-quality, effective and affordable vaccines and medicines for the new coronavirus infection.

We consider increasing global preparedness and response capacity for health emergencies to be a priority task. We are ready for a constructive dialogue with all partners in the framework of the relevant formats. Yet we believe that the World Health Organisation (WHO) should continue to be the main forum for discussing global health issues.

We consistently support WHO as the focal point for the international human health cooperation. We call for enhancing the efficiency of its work through increased transparency and accountability to Member States.

75.    We will further strengthen the multi-stakeholder partnership for disaster risk reduction under the Sendai Framework 2015–2030. Amid the ongoing pandemic, we believe that special attention should be paid to building States’ capacity to respond to emergencies, including in health care.

76.    We seek to keep down the growth of the UN regular programme budget for 2022, as well as estimates for peacekeeping operations and the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals. We propose targeted and justified reductions in requested resources. Any requests for additional funding should first undergo careful internal scrutiny. At the same time, the Secretariat should step up its efforts to improve the efficiency of its working methods in order to minimise the associated costs of achieving UN’s objectives. We insist on stronger accountability, strict budgetary discipline and improved transparency in the Secretariat’s work.

77.    Ensuring parity among the six official UN languages in conference services and information and communication activities remains one of the priorities in our interaction with the Organisation’s Secretariat. The principle of multilingualism should be given primary consideration when implementing all media projects and information campaigns as well as allocating financial and human resources to the language services of the UN Secretariat.

‘Israeli’ Occupation of Syrian Golan Heights Illegitimate, Invalid – UN

July 23, 2021

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By Staff, Agencies

The United Nations emphasized Syria’s sovereignty over the ‘Israeli’-occupied Golan Heights, stressing that annexation measures imposed by the Tel Aviv regime in the territory are invalid and illegitimate.

The UN Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia [ESCWA] made the announcement in a periodic report distributed in Beirut, Syria’s official SANA news agency reported on Thursday.

“The compliance with the international law and the absence of impunity are two prerequisites for achieving peace and justice for all the peoples of the region,” the UN body added.

In 1967, the Zionist occupation waged a full-scale war against Arab territories, during which it occupied a large swathe of Golan and annexed it four years later, a move never recognized by the international community.

In 1973, another war broke out and a year later, a UN-brokered ceasefire came into force, according to which Tel Aviv and Damascus agreed to separate their troops and create a buffer zone in the Heights.

The Zionist entity has over the past decades built dozens of settlements in the Golan Heights in defiance of international calls for the regime to stop its illegal construction activities.

Syria has repeatedly reaffirmed its sovereignty over the Golan Heights, saying the territory must be completely restored to its control.

The United Nations has time and again emphasized Syria’s sovereignty over the territory.

In March 2019, former American president Donald Trump controversially signed a decree recognizing ‘Israeli’ “sovereignty” over the Golan Heights during a meeting with then Zionist Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Washington.

The ESCWA report, which covers the period from April 2020 to March 2021, further stressed that it is impossible to achieve sustainable development in the occupied Palestinian territories in light of the continuing ‘Israeli’ occupation and the policies and practices pursued by the entity.

The UN commission also emphasized the necessity of halting such Zionist measures that hinder efforts to combat the COVID-19 pandemic and to provide additional humanitarian aid to the Palestinians.

The report also stressed that the measures and policies adopted by the Zionist regime in Arab territories, occupied since 1967, including the blockade imposed on the Gaza Strip and settlement expansion in the occupied West Bank, are all in sheer violation of international law.

Elsewhere in the report, ESCWA said that last year was one of the worst years in the Palestinian economy since 2002, as it shrank by 11.5 percent.

The UN commission prepares a report for the UN chief every year on the economic and social repercussions of the ‘Israeli’ occupation on the conditions of the Palestinians in the occupied territories and also the conditions of the Syrians in the Golan Heights.

UN Urges Immediate Halt to “Israeli” Demolitions of Palestinian Homes

10/07/2021

UN Urges Immediate Halt to “Israeli” Demolitions of Palestinian Homes

By Staff, Agencies

The illegal demolition of the Palestinian Bedouin community of Humsa al-Baqai’a in the Jordan Valley by “Israeli” forces “raises serious risk of forcible transfer,” the UN warned, calling on Tel Aviv to immediately halt such measures.

“Attempts to force this or any other community to relocate to an alternative location raise a serious risk of forcible transfer. While the ‘Israeli’ authorities have tried to justify this citing their domestic designation of this area for military training, such measures by an occupying power are illegal under international law,” the Humanitarian Coordinator for the occupied Palestinian territory, Lynn Hastings, said in a statement on Friday.

He described the “Israeli” entity’s demolition of Humsa al-Baqai’a and confiscation of properties in the Palestinian community of Humsa al-Baqai’a in the northern West Bank as “disturbing”.

He urged the “Israeli” occupation forces to “immediately halt all further demolitions of Palestinian homes and possessions, allow the humanitarian community to provide shelter, food and water to this most vulnerable community and let these people rebuild their homes in their current location and stay there in safety and dignity.”

The UN official noted that “Israeli” forces blocked access of humanitarian personnel to the families throughout the demolished village.

Hastings said, “When they managed to access the community after the demolition, they found tents, food, water tanks and fodder had all been destroyed or confiscated, leaving people – including children – out in the open, in summer heat, with virtually no basic provisions; even milk, diapers, clothes and toys had been taken.”

According to assessments, he added “six families of 42 people, including 24 children have lost their homes, for the sixth time this year. Thirty-eight structures were demolished or confiscated, most alarmingly, water tanks.”

The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs [OCHA] said in a statement that the so-called “Israeli” Civil Administration [ICA] has confiscated food consignments and detached structures, leaving the residents with no food and water following the demolitions.

The demolitions have also left the villagers with no baby milk powders, clothes as well as personal hygiene products. They also have no fodder and water for their livestock.

Palestinian homes in the Jordan Valley are subjected to demolitions by “Israeli” authorities who claim they lack building permits, despite the fact that the Tel Aviv regime does not provide such permits to Palestinians.

Moreover, the “Israeli” entity orders Palestinians to demolish their own homes or pay the demolition price to the municipality if they refuse to tear down their houses. Palestinians as well as the international community consider “Israeli” demolition politics in the occupied territories illegal.

A United Nations’ human rights investigator on Friday denounced “Israeli” settlements in the West Bank as a “war crime” and warned that Tel Aviv’s “illegal occupation” cannot be cost-free.

Michael Lynk, UN special rapporteur on human rights in the occupied Palestinian territories, was addressing a session of the world body’s Human Rights Council in Geneva.

“I conclude that the ‘Israeli’ settlements do amount to a war crime,” Lynk said.

“I submit to you that this finding compels the international community…to make it clear to ‘Israel’ that its illegal occupation, and its defiance of international law and international opinion, can and will no longer be cost-free,” the UN official added.

In its bi-weekly report on “Israeli” violations on July 2, the OCHA said Israeli forces had either demolished or seized two dozen Palestinian-owned structures in the occupied territories of the West Bank and al-Quds [Jerusalem] in a span of two weeks.

It added that the demolitions were carried out between March 15 and March 28 this year under the pretext that they lacked the necessary construction permits.

Throughout the years, the entity has frequently demolished Palestinian homes, claiming that the structures have been built without permits, which are nearly impossible to obtain.

Islamic Jihad to ’Act Accordingly’ If ’Israel’ Continues Gaza Strikes

19/06/2021

Islamic Jihad to ’Act Accordingly’ If ’Israel’ Continues Gaza Strikes

By Staff, Agencies

Palestinian resistance groups warned Egyptian mediators that their patience is “running out” after the Zionist occupation regime Thursday evening launched an attack against Hamas positions in retaliation for the launching of incendiary balloons, a senior Islamic Jihad official said on Saturday.

The exchanges of hostilities come as the UN and Egypt try to consolidate a fragile ceasefire the ‘Israeli’ side begged for on May 21 following nearly two weeks of intense retaliation from resistance movements in Gaza to the Zionist onslaught.

“The Islamic Jihad will react accordingly to any future ‘Israeli’ military attack,” the official warned, vowing that the Palestinian resistance group “will not allow the ‘Israeli’ government to impose conditions on the resistance or isolate Gaza.”

The official further indicated that “the joint room of the resistance groups in Gaza have formulated a final and unified position to face the ‘Israeli’ action in the coming days.”

Continued ‘Israeli’ strikes “will certainly lead” to a resumption of military confrontation across the border in the near future,’ the Islamic Jihad official added.

The suggestion Turkey was smuggling weapons to Al-Qaeda in Syria shows why Russia’s desire to halt ‘aid’ was a good idea

moi

June 4, 2021, RT.com

-by Eva K Bartlett

New allegations that aid trucks to Syria from Turkey carried weapons for terrorists have surfaced. But it’s unlikely to convince those in the West to change their tune that Russia was wrong to want border crossings closed. 

In July 2020, there were those who self-righteously railed at Russia for allegedly denying humanitarian aid to Syrians. They screamed that in calling for crossings to be closed, Russia was attempting to starve and choke civilians in need of assistance. 

The Russian mission to the UN, however, maintains that ample aid is delivered from within Syria, via various agencies, including the UN. It argues that delivering aid from outside of Syria is no longer necessary, since most of the country has returned to peace and security. I haven’t come across a Russian representative who has stated so, but wonder if another reason Russia wanted cross-border ‘aid’ from Turkey halted was because it knew weapons were being smuggled to terrorists in Syria? 

On May 30, Sedat Peker, a Turkish mobster and former ally to Turkish President Recep Erdogan, published a new video in a series he has been releasing on criminal activities among Erdogan’s inner circle. In this latest video, Peker spoke of the weapons and vehicles sent to Al-Qaeda in Syria, and that the contractor behind these shipments was a company called SADAT, run by Erdogan’s former chief military advisor.

Turkish mobster Sedat Peker, former ally to President #Erdogan, revealed he shipped arms, military supplies, drones, vehicles to al-Nusra front in #Syria at the request of #Sadat, Turkish contractor run by Erdogan’s former chief military advisor Adnan Tanriverdi. pic.twitter.com/AdqUxSyVVO— Abdullah Bozkurt (@abdbozkurt) May 30, 2021

Our trucks went under the name of Sedat Peker Aid Convoy. We knew other trucks that went on my behalf carried weapons. This was organized by a team within SADAT. No registration, no paperwork applied to these shipments that crossed directly [to Syria],” said Peker.

The revelations should not come as a surprise. In January 2013, the late journalist Serena Shim, as I wrote, exposed how terrorists and arms were smuggled into Syria from Turkey, noting World Food Organization trucks were being used. In October 2014, Shim was killed in a car accident, shortly after telling Press TV she feared for her life and that Turkish intelligence had accused her of being a spy. Her family, and inquiring journalists, believed it was down to Turkish foul play, noting the official story of Shim’s death changing. The US government didn’t investigate the suspicious death of one of its citizens in Turkey. 

As Shim reported, if WFO trucks were at one point used to smuggle arms into Syria, can you blame Russia or Syria if they are indeed sceptical of supposed ‘aid’ entering from Turkey?

But whenever the issue of aid crossing into Syria is brought up at the UN Security Council, the narrative is usually to ‘blame Russia’. Hysterical headlines aside, is it really likely that Russia, with the world’s eyes on its every move, is actually trying to starve civilians in Syria? It is Russia, remember, that has demined vast areas of Syria formerly occupied by terrorist factions in order for local people to be able to return to their areas. It is also Russia that delivered aid to Raqqa, the city completely flattened by the US and allies in the pretext of fighting terrorism. 

Syria’s cross-border mechanism (CBM) began in 2014, when – due to the presence of terrorist groups – aid couldn’t be delivered from within the country. The Security Council established the CBM, with four crossings into Syria: two from Turkey, one from Iraq, the last from Jordan. In December 2019, all except the Bab al-Hawa crossing from Turkey were closed down, with aid being coordinated via Damascus. 

But as Russian representatives at the UN pointed out in a statement in July 2020, by then the situation had changed, with most of Syria back under the control of the government. Sending aid to those who need it can be done from within the country. Western media suggested that Syria would use the closure of crossings to starve its civilians, but the reality is that Damascus has consistently cooperated in sending aid, while the US has in the past stymied aid delivery. 

Russia’s statement also noted, “The UN still has no presence in Idlib de-escalation zone which is controlled by international terrorists and fighters. It’s not a secret that the terrorist groups control certain areas of the de-escalation zone and use the UN humanitarian aid as a tool to exert pressure on [the] civil population and openly make profit from such deliveries.”

But amid a round of finger pointing, the West and allies continued to criticise Russia for wanting to end the CBM. In response, the Russian Federation’s representative to the UN Security Council wondered whether the UN’s OCHA (Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs) could go to Idlib to see if terrorists occupying that region were respecting the Declaration of Commitment some had signed regarding aid deliveries. 

This was a valid point, given that in areas previously occupied by terrorists, most civilians never saw the ample aid sent in by Syria and agencies. Terrorist groups controlled and hoarded the aid, from east Aleppo to Madaya to al-Waer, to eastern Ghouta. So it was by no means a stretch of the imagination to assume the same might play out in Idlib, particularly since the terrorists included factions from the aforementioned regions, who were bussed to Idlib as the cities and towns finally returned to peace. 

The Russian statement also addressed frenzied Western claims that the other closed crossings were the only means to send aid to civilians in the north-east of Syria. It read“In total, since the beginning of 2020 when ‘Al Yarubiyah’ was closed, more humanitarian aid has been delivered to the north-east of Syria than in previous years.” 

Still the narrative continued, though, and in March 2021, the dictator of Human Rights Watch, Ken Roth, tweeted about “Putin starving Syria”, resurrecting the cries over the unnecessary, and closed, crossings. But his claim prompted an angry response from some.

🇷🇺

So who is actually starving civilians in Syria? Aside from terrorists hoarding food and denying it to the local people, there are more significant reasons for their preventable suffering. And these are the West’s sanctions against them, particularly the June 2020 Caesar Act. 

Last year, James Jeffrey, the then US Special Representative for Syria Engagement, was quoted as saying the latest sanctions would contribute to the fall of the Syrian pound. What a wonderful way to “protect” Syrians. In US parlance, “protect” means “starve.”

As I walk around Damascus, I ask about the cost of food, and whether people can afford to feed their families. Most say their salaries aren’t sufficient: food prices have skyrocketed, salaries have not. Most describe adopting a more vegetarian diet – chicken and meats are too expensive to have more than once a month, or at all. 

Furthermore, there is the US occupation forces’ thieving or destroying of Syrian resources. On that, Dr. Bashar Ja’afari, in his former post as Syria’s permanent representative to the UN, in June 2020, said“When the United States daily steals 200,000 barrels of oil from the Syrian oil fields, 400,000 tons of cotton, 5,000,000 sheep and sets fire to thousands of hectares of wheat fields, and deliberately weakens the value of the Syrian pound, and when it imposes coercive economic measures aiming to choke the Syrian people and occupying parts of the Syrian lands, and when the US representative expresses her concern over the deteriorating situation of the Syrian citizen’s living conditions the logical question will be are not these acts the symptoms of political schizophrenia?”

But as usual the US and its allies blame Russia and Syria for the suffering in Syria, whitewashing their own very long litany of crimes there. 

Although the smuggling of weapons and terrorists via Turkey has been openly known for years, it’s rather amusing that it takes a petty mobster, and not Western media or leadership, to draw new attention to it. No, as terrorists use those weapons to fight the Syrian government (and rival terrorist factions, and civilians), the West is only concerned about blaming Russia and Syria. Ten years of lies and war against the people of Syria just aren’t enough for America and its allies.

Previous Articles:

Syrians filled the polling stations to defend their sovereignty and now fill the streets to celebrate the result

Today I saw Syrians dancing and celebrating life, and a return to peace – but, of course, the Western media won’t report that

Western nations want ‘democracy’ in Syria so badly they close embassies and prevent Syrians from voting in presidential elections

Douma: Three Years On, How independent media shot down the false “chemical attack” narrative.

It’s 10 years since the war in Syria began, and Western media & pundits are still eager to keep it going

American Journalist Killed in Turkey for Revealing the Truth Regarding ISIS-Daesh: No Investigation Two Years After Suspicious Death of American Journalist Serena Shim

Faina Savenkova appeal for the 2021 UN Children’s Day

Faina Savenkova appeal for the 2021 UN Children’s Day

May 31, 2021

Dear friends

Today I am sharing with you the video of the public appeal made by Faina Savenkova, from Lugansk, to the United Nations and the rest of the world reminding them that the children of the Donbass deserve to live in peace and security.  This video is posted at the same time it will go on display at the UN HQ in New York, courtesy of the Russian Mission to the UN.  For those who have missed it, here is an article written by Faina for the Saker blog in which I mention the possibility to ask Faina any question you want, please do check it out.  I now leave you with Fania’s appeal, please circulate it as much as possible!

Thank you

The Saker

Gaza – US and the West Supports Israel’s Crimes Against Humanity – Understanding the Never-Ending Conflict

May 18, 2021

Gaza – US and the West Supports Israel’s Crimes Against Humanity – Understanding the Never-Ending Conflict

By Peter Koenig for the Saker Blog

“I said we would exact a very heavy price from Hamas and other terror groups, and we are doing so and will continue to do so with great force,” Netanyahu said in a fiery video address.

Israel’s PM Netanyahu is a war criminal and should be held accountable for war crimes throughout his PM-ship of Israel, according to the 1945 / 1946 Nuremberg trials criteria. His crimes against humanity, against a defenseless Palestine are comparable to the Holocaust.

In 2016 Mr. Benjamin Netanyahu had been indicted on charges of bribery, fraud and breach of trust. The trial is ongoing but has temporarily been “suspended”. Netanyahu has dismissed the charges as hypocritical and acts as if they didn’t exist. Even though he lacks the majority to form a government, he acts with impunity, because he can – he can because he has the backing of the United States.

More importantly, Israel has been accused before the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague for crimes against humanity and war crimes against Palestine. The prosecutor of the ICC, Ms. Fatou Bensouda, said on 3 March 2021 that she has launched an investigation into alleged crimes in the Palestinian territories. She added the probe will look into “crimes within the jurisdiction of the Court that are alleged to have been committed” since June 13, 2014, and that the investigation will be conducted “independently, impartially and objectively, without fear or favor.”

In a quick response, PM Netanyahu accused the Court of hypocrisy and anti-Semitism. Of course, the quickest and often most effective defense and counter-attack is calling any accusation, no matter how rightful it is, as anti-Semitism. Calling someone an anti-Semite shuts most people up, no matter whether the accusation is true or false. That explains in part why nobody dares to even come forward with the truth about crimes committed by Israel.

Imagine, Jews were the chief victims of the German Third Reich – a Nazi Regime, and today the descendants of these very Jews, persecuted and slaughtered in Nazi-concentration camps, allowed the transformation of Israel into a Zionist Fourth Reich, executing Palestinians Holocaust-style. They have done this with impunity for the last 73 years, with the current massacres reaching unheard-of proportions.

Pro-Palestine protests take place around the world – and especially now, finally, throughout Europe. Workers and young people joined protests across Europe on Saturday, 15 May, including in London, Paris, Berlin and Madrid, to oppose Israel’s bombardment of the Palestinian population in Gaza. The demonstrations coincided with the Palestinian Nakba (Catastrophe Day, 14 May 1948)—marking the founding of the state of Israel, through the forced expulsion of 760,000 Palestinians from their villages.

Here is what one protester, Khalid, in Manchester, UK, had to say. Khalid held a placard reading “Lift the siege of Palestine-Stop bombing Palestine”. He said, “Israel should know better. They know how it feels to be exterminated. They had no homeland and came to Palestine as guests and now they have taken the Palestinians’ homes and are trying to throw them out. The Palestinians have no water, they have no food. You have got people like [UK Prime Minister] Boris Johnson and presidents colluding with Israel and giving them money to destroy human life” – http://www.defenddemocracy.press/protests-across-europe-against-israeli-war-on-gaza/

Israeli war crimes, crimes against humanity, always take place with the unwavering support of the United States. No US presidential candidate has a chance of being “elected” to the empire’s highest chair, the Presidency, without having proven his or her unquestioned support for Zionist-Israel. Without that western support, Israel’s war against and oppression of Palestine would soon be over.

Palestine could start breathing again and become a free country, an autonomous, sovereign, self-sustained country, what they were before the forced UN Partition Plan for Palestine, and as was foreseen by UN Resolution 181 II of 1947. This genocidal conflict situation has lasted almost three quarters of a century – and has little chance to abate under the current geopolitical constellation of the Middle East and the world, where obedient submission to US-Israeli command and atrocities is the name of the game.

Background
The conflict started basically with the creation of Israel. The UK, since the end of WWI and the Dissolution of the Ottoman Empire, occupier of the Palestine Peninsula (Palestine and Transjordan, see map), proposed to the UN as a condition for UK withdrawal, the creation of Israel in the western part of what was then known as Palestine and Transjordan. The so-called UN Partitian Plan for Palestine, was voted on 29 November 1947 by the UN General Assembly, as Resolution 181 (II). The then 57 UN members voted 33 (72%) for, 13 against the resolution, with 10 abstentions, and one absent. The Palestinian Authority was never consulted on this proposal. Therefore, for many scholars the UN Partition Plan’s legality remains questionable.

The Plan sought to resolve the conflicting objectives and claims of two competing movements, Palestinian nationalism and Jewish nationalism, or Zionism. The Plan also called for an Economic Union between the proposed two states, and for the protection of religious and minority rights.

However, immediately after adoption of the Resolution by the General Assembly, a civil war broke out and the plan was not implemented. The remnants of this civil war, the non-acceptance by Palestine of this UN Resolution 181, for which the historic owners of the land were not consulted, are lingering on as of this day.

British Mandate Palestine map

After the fall of the Ottoman Empire, the British administration was formalized by the League of Nations under the Palestine Mandate in 1923, as part of the Partitioning of the Ottoman Empire following World War I. The Mandate reaffirmed the 1917 British commitment to the Balfour Declaration, for the establishment in Palestine of a “National Home” for the Jewish people, with the prerogative to carry it out.

The Balfour Declaration was a public statement issued by the British government in 1917 during the First World War, announcing support for the establishment of a “national home for the Jewish people” in Palestine, then an Ottoman region with a small minority Jewish population. The declaration was contained in a letter dated 2 November 1917 from the United Kingdom’s Foreign Secretary Arthur Balfour to Lord Rothschild, a leader of the British Jewish community, for transmission to the Zionist Federation of Great Britain and Ireland. The question is still asked today: How legitimate was that declaration in terms of international law? Many academics see this declaration still today as a unilateral move and a breach of international law, as no consultation of the Palestine Authority ever took place.
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In the November 1947 UN General Assembly vote, the US was among the 33 countries voting FOR the Partition Plan. Interestingly, though, President Truman later noted, “The facts were that not only were there pressure movements around the United Nations unlike anything that had been seen there before, but that the White House, too, was subjected to a constant barrage. I do not think I ever had as much pressure and propaganda aimed at the White House as I had in this instance. The persistence of a few of the extreme Zionist leaders—actuated by political motives and engaging in political threats—disturbed and annoyed me.” – This Zionist pressure was to set the bar for what was to follow – up to this day.

David Ben-Gurion, Zionist statesman and political leader, was the first Prime Minister (1948–53, 1955–63) and defense minister (1948–53; 1955–63) of Israel. In a letter to his son in October 1937, Ben-Gurion explained that partition would be a first step to “possession of the land as a whole” (emphasis added by author).

As of today, seventy-three years later and counting, the conflict is not resolved. To the contrary. It has become the longest lasting war, or aggression rather, in recent human history. A war it isn’t really, because a sheer oppression and literal slaughter against a perceived enemy, like Palestine that has no weapons to speak of, being bombarded and shot with the most sophisticated US-sponsored weapons systems, cannot be called a war. It is sheer genocide. The Palestinian weapons of choice are mostly rocks; rocks thrown by Palestinians at the Israeli IDF invaders, who then mow them down with machine guns, mostly civilians, women and children.

The Israel armed-to-the-teeth Defense Forces (IDF), invade Gaza and Palestinian West Bank areas with the most sophisticated machine guns, bombs, white phosphorus, practicing indiscriminate killing. The IDF destroys Palestinian living quarters, administration buildings, schools, shops, the little manufacturing industries that makes up their economy – destroying a people already teetering at the edge of extreme poverty and despair. No mercy. What does one call people who are committing such unspeakable crimes?

What does one call this style of aggression? – Literally killing hundreds, thousands of people without defense, in the world’s largest open prison – Gaza – home to more than 2 million people, living in misery, housing and infrastructure constantly destroyed, painfully partially rebuilt – just to be destroyed and bombed to pieces again. Those who don’t die from Israeli direct aggressions, may die from the indirect effects – famine, misery, disease and suicide – of this constant, abject hostility perpetuated upon what was supposed to be, according to the UN Partition Plan, an autonomous Palestine home of the Palestine people.

It is an ongoing – seemingly never-ending conflict, ever since the first Intifada beginning in December 1987 (Intifada in the context of the Israeli-Palestine conflict is a concerted Palestinian attempt to shake off Israeli power and gain independence).

The Oslo Accords I and II are a pair of agreements between the Government of Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), of 1993 and 1995, respectively, sponsored by Norway in an attempt to achieve peace between the two parties. The Oslo Accords failed bitterly, over the issue of Jerusalem that was to become the religious capital for both countries, but Israel refused, claiming Jerusalem as her own, making the holy city to Israel’s capital. The first foreign leader recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, was US President Donald Trump on 6 December 2017.
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There was, however, another, less talked-about but equally important issue – an issue of survival – within the Oslo Accords: The fair sharing of the water resources. Israel never agreed, as about 85% of all water resources of what used to be the Palestinian Land, falls currently within the borders of what was defined by the Partitian Plan as Palestine. This is based on a World Bank study, in which I participated. On the insistence of Israel, the US vetoed publication of the study. Hence, the report was never officially published and publicly available.

Subsequent, so-called Peace processes, mostly US-sponsored, failed as of this day, because both Israel and the US have no interest in finding a peaceful solution. Neither one of the two nations have an interest in a Peace Accord, as the US needs the conflict to keep control over the Middle East, while Israel has no intentions to give up (slave)-control over Palestine, as her wellbeing depends on the overall control of what used to be Arab-Palestinian territory, and especially Palestine’s water resourcesWithout them, Israel would be a dry and unproductive desert.

There is a purpose behind these illegal, but ever-growing number of Israeli settlements on Palestine territories: Control over water. The settlements are usually over or near underground water resources. This is one way of controlling Palestine’s water. This happens not only in the so-called West Bank, but also in Gaza, where water resources are really scarce. Gaza is the world’s per capita water-scarcest area. The few Gaza water tables are super-posed by Israeli settlements.

This totally illegal and often UN-condemned Israeli Settlements strategy – also totally ignored by Israel – gradually reduces Palestine land and increases Israel’s control over crucial Palestinian water resources. See map

The impediment of being able to manage their own water resources, therefore increasing their food self-sufficiency through their own agriculture, makes out of Palestine an Israeli slave-state.

In addition, Israel has a handle on opening or closing the Gaza border, letting at will minimal food, medication and other life-essentials into Gaza, as well as allowing exactly the number needed of low-paid Palestinians (literally slave-labor) cross the border in the morning to work in Israel, and having to return at night to their Palestine homes. It is sheer Apartheid exploitation. Furthermore, Israel does not recognize Gaza’s territorial Mediterranean waters which would be a means towards Palestinians self-sustention and economic industrial activity.

According to an OECD report of 2016, Israel ranks as the nation with the highest poverty rate among OECD countries, i.e. 21% of Israelis are living under the poverty line. This is more than Mexico, Turkey and Chile. The OECD average is about 11%. This figure (21%) may be slightly exaggerated, given the relatively large informal sector and transfer payments to Israel from Jews abroad, as well as from international Jewish organizations.

Nevertheless, it is clear that Israel is economically not autonomous and needs Palestine to survive, both in terms of confiscated Palestinian water resources, as well as Palestinian slave labor. Therefore, there is hardly any hope for the UN-planned two-state solution to eventually materialize. There is little hope that this situation will change under the current geopolitical conditions. The US wants to dominate the Middle East and needs Israel as a garrison state that will be armed to the teeth for the US – to eventually grow and become Washington’s proxy ruler of the Middle East.

A question that is rarely asked, if ever: What is Hamas’ role in this never-ending Israeli-Palestine conflict? Since 2007 Hamas is officially governing the 2-million-plus population of the 363 square kilometer Gaza Strip. Hamas is also the Palestine paramilitary or defense organization. Hamas is said to be funded largely by Iran. Is it true? And if so, is Iran the only funder of Hamas?

It is odd, however, that ever so often, Hamas attacks Israel by launching unsophisticated rockets at Israeli cities, rockets that most often are intercepted by the IDF defense system, or cause minimal damage. But they cause, predictably minimal damage against an IDF which is US-equipped with the latest technology weapons- and defense systems.

Yet, a Hamas attack on Israel prompts regularly a ferocious retaliation; bombardments, not so much aiming at Hamas, as Netanyahu intimidates, “We would exact a very heavy price from Hamas and other terror groups…” , but at the civilian populations. The heaviest casualties are civilian Gaza citizens, many women and children among them, after an Israeli “self-defense” retaliation. This is of course no self-defense. The Hamas attacks usually follows an Israeli provocation.

Why would Hamas hit back, knowing that they won’t wreak any damage on Israel, yet they will trigger each time a deadly massacre on the Gaza population? – At the outset, Israeli provocations look like “false flags”. Could they be false flags with the willing participation of Hamas? If so, with whom does Hamas collaborate?

These are questions which certainly do not have an immediate answer. But the 14-year pattern of repeatedly similar events begs the question – is there another (Hamas) agenda behind what meets the eye?
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What is nearly as criminal as the IDF’s aggressions, is the almost complete silence of the west, and the world at large, vis-à-vis Israel’s atrocities committed on the Palestinian population. It is an unspoken tolerance for the carnages Israel inflicts on Palestine, especially in the Gaza Strip, the world’s largest open-air prison.

For example, the political UN body, despite hundreds of Resolutions, condemning and flagging Israel’s illegal actions against Palestine, including the ever-increasing number of illegal Israeli settlements on Palestine territories, seems to be hapless against Israel. Weak condemnations of Israel, calling both parties to reason – leaves Israel totally cold and undisturbed. There is no punishment whatsoever, not from the UN system, not from the western allies, most of whom are Washington and NATO vassals.

The Biden Administration has taken the usual imperialist position of cynical neutrality, like it was an uninvolved disinterested player, while painting up Israel as being some kind of victim instead of the brutal Zionist apartheid state that it is. It is important to remember that the creation of Israel was so that the US had a garrison state to protect her interests in the Middle East.

Take the UN Secretary General. Instead of condemning Israeli ruthlessness and demanding accountability, the spokesman for UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, merely called on the Netanyahu regime to “exercise maximum restraint and respect the right to freedom of peaceful assembly.”

The Secretary General himself reiterates his commitment, including through the Middle East Quartet, “to supporting Palestinians and Israelis to resolve the conflict on the basis of relevant United Nations resolutions, international law and bilateral agreements.” The Quartet, set up in 2002, consists of the United Nations, the European Union, the United States and Russia. Its mandate is to help mediate Middle East peace. As of this day they have not achieved any tangible results.

Because they do NOT WANT to achieve any peace. For the reasons mentioned before, Peace is not in the interest of Israel, nor in the interest of the West, led by the United States. To keep the conflict burning, sacrificing hundreds, thousands, tens of thousands of Palestinian lives is not important. It’s just a collateral damage of a larger agenda – control over the Middle East and her riches, a step towards controlling the entire world.

Time and again, Guterres disgraced himself and the office he holds by failing to denounce US/NATO/Israeli aggression and demand accountability for high crimes too serious to ignore.

If the UN is incapable or unwilling of assuming the responsibility of reigning in Israel, perhaps the Group of 77 (by now more than 120 UN member countries) should take a joint stand, exerting pressure on Israel, asking as an intermediary for outright negotiating with Israel and Palestine to reach a sustainable peace settlement, including the original two-state solution, back to the pre-1967 Israeli-Palestine borders. Let us, the UN, become pro-active in seeking and finding a permanent solution for the stressed-to-death, starving and tortured Palestinians, especially those from the Gaza Strip.


Peter Koenig is a geopolitical analyst and a former Senior Economist at the World Bank and the World Health Organization (WHO), where he has worked for over 30 years on water and environment around the world. He lectures at universities in the US, Europe and South America. He writes regularly for online journals and is the author of Implosion – An Economic Thriller about War, Environmental Destruction and Corporate Greed; and co-author of Cynthia McKinney’s book “When China Sneezes: From the Coronavirus Lockdown to the Global Politico-Economic Crisis” (Clarity Press – November 1, 2020)

Peter Koenig is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization.

Remarks by Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov

May 07, 2021

Source

Remarks by Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov

Remarks at the meeting of the UN Security Council, “Maintenance of international peace and security: Upholding multilateralism and the United Nations-centred international system,” held via videoconference, Moscow, May 7, 2021

First of all, let me thank Mr Wang Yi, State Councillor and Foreign Minister of the People’s Republic of China, for organising today’s debates. Maintaining multilateralism and the UN-centred international system is as topical as ever and demands the UN Security Council’s constant attention.

Today the world finds itself in a critical stage of development. The coronavirus pandemic has posed a grave challenge to everyone without exception. Normal life has been completely upended. It is difficult to predict the long-term or deferred consequences of the crisis, although we can see some positive trends thanks to the massive deployment of coronavirus vaccines.

The pandemic broke out in a world that was already far from perfect. In recent years, we have seen growing international tensions, as well as escalating regional conflicts and cross-border challenges and threats. The entire architecture of global governance created after the Second World War is being tested.

It is clear that the prospects of the international community’s sustainable and predictable development are directly connected with our ability to find effective solutions to common problems and our readiness to exercise collective leadership in order for true multilateralism to prevail.

Russia, like the majority of countries, is convinced that such work must be carried out solely on the basis of universally recognised norms of international law. The United Nations must serve as the key platform for coordinating efforts: it is the backbone of the modern global order, where all independent states are represented. Today, its unique legitimacy and unique capabilities are especially needed.

The core tenets of international law enshrined in the UN Charter have withstood the test of time. Russia calls on all states to unconditionally follow the purposes and principles of the Charter as they chart their foreign policies, respecting the sovereign equality of states, not interfering in their internal affairs, settling disputes by political and diplomatic means, and renouncing the threat or use of force. This is especially important at the current stage in the difficult process of forming an international multipolar system. At a time when new centres of economic growth, financial and political influence are gaining strength, it is necessary to preserve the internationally recognised legal basis for building a stable balance of interests that meets the new realities.

Unfortunately, not all of our partners are driven by the imperative to work in good faith to promote comprehensive multilateral cooperation. Realising that it is impossible to impose their unilateral or bloc priorities on other states within the framework of the UN, the leading Western countries have tried to reverse the process of forming a polycentric world and slow down the course of history.

Toward this end, the concept of the rules-based order is advanced as a substitute for international law. It should be noted that international law already is a body of rules, but rules agreed at universal platforms and reflecting consensus or broad agreement. The West’s goal is to oppose the collective efforts of all members of the world community with other rules developed in closed, non-inclusive formats, and then imposed on everyone else. We only see harm in such actions that bypass the UN and seek to usurp the only decision-making process that can claim global relevance.

The well-known idea to convene a Summit for Democracy proposed by the US Administration is in the same vein. The establishment of a new club based on interests, with a clearly ideological nature, has the potential to further inflame international tensions and deepen dividing lines in a world that needs a unifying agenda more than ever. Of course, the list of democracies to be invited to the summit will be determined by the United States.

Another initiative with the goal of global leadership that bypasses the UN is the French and German idea to create an Alliance for Multilateralism. What could be more natural then discussing the tasks of strengthening multilateralism at the UN? However, Berlin and Paris think differently and issue joint documents declaring that “the European Union is the cornerstone of the multilateral international system” and promote the conclusions of the Council of the European Union under the title “The central role of the European Union and European institutions in promoting multilateralism.” Presumptuous, you might say. The EU does not think so and declares its own exceptionalism despite all its invocations of equality and brotherhood.

By the way, as soon as we suggest discussing the current state of democracy not just within states but on the international stage with our Western colleagues, they lose interest in the conversation.

New ambitious initiatives to create narrow partnerships are emerging all the time within the Alliance for Multilateralism, on issues that are already being discussed at the UN or its specialised agencies, for example, on cyber security (with 65 member countries), respect for the international humanitarian law (43 member countries), the Information and Democracy Partnership (over 30 countries), etc.

This also reveals the West’s true attitude toward multilateralism and the UN, which they do not regard as a universal format for developing solutions acceptable to everyone, but in the context of their claims to superiority over everyone else, who must accept what is required of them.

Another example of the dictatorial methods introduced by the West is the practice of imposing unilateral sanctions without any international and legal grounds, with the sole purpose of punishing “undesirable regimes” or sidelining competitors. During the pandemic, such restrictions have limited the capacity of a whole range of developing countries to counter the spread of the infection. Despite UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’s call to suspend such unilateral sanctions during the pandemic, we mostly see them becoming harsher.

We believe such efforts to impose totalitarianism in global affairs to be unacceptable, yet we see it more and more from our Western colleagues, above all the United States, the European Union and other allies, who reject all principles of democracy and multilateralism on the global stage. As if to say, either it’s our way, or there will be repercussions.

It is striking that Western leaders, while openly undermining international law, do not hesitate to argue that the main task of world politics should be to counter the attempts of Russia and China to “change the rules-based order.” Such statements were made the other day following the G7 ministerial meeting in London. In other words, there has already been a substitution of concepts: the West is no longer concerned with the norms of international law and now requires everyone to follow its rules and observe its order. What’s more, US representatives freely admit that the USA and Great Britain have had the biggest hand in shaping these rules.

I am not saying all of this to ratchet up the confrontational rhetoric or advance an accusatory agenda. I am simply stating facts. But if we all support multilateralism in word, let us honestly search for ways to ensure that there is fairness in deed, without attempts to prove one’s superiority or infringe on another’s rights. I hope that this approach to maintaining multilateralism and the UN-centred system will guide the activities of the UN Secretary-General and his team.

I am convinced that the time has come to do away with medieval and colonial habits and recognise the reality of today’s interconnected and interdependent world. Honest and mutually respectful cooperation based on equal partnership between all states, guided by pragmatism and devoid of any ideology or politicisation, is what is needed now. It is the only way to improve the atmosphere in the world and ensure predictability in the advancement of the human race. That is especially true of such global challenges as the threat of terrorism and the proliferation of WMDs, climate change, new infectious diseases, and protecting human rights, starting with the most important one – the right to life.

I agree with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken who stressed recently that no country can overcome such global threats to the lives of our citizens alone, not even the United States.

The permanent members of the UN Security Council are called on to play a key role in fostering open and direct dialogue about the most pressing problems of our time. According to the UN Charter, they bear special responsibility for maintaining international peace and security. President of Russia Vladimir Putin proposed convening a summit with the leaders of the five permanent members. We hope to make this idea a reality once the epidemiological situation in the world stabilises.

In conclusion I would like to emphasise that the UN, as the main multilateral platform, must keep pace with changes on the global stage. The organisation must constantly adapt to ever-changing conditions, while continuing to fully respect the division of labour between the main UN Charter bodies and maintaining the support of all the member states. At every stage of change, our actions must be measured by the improvements made to the United Nations’ real-world effectiveness.

Russia stands ready to continue working constructively with all partners who share these approaches in order to bolster the authority and fully unlock the potential of the UN as the true centre of multilateralism.

Thank you for your attention.

U.S. Joins Past Empires in Afghan Graveyard

President Biden announced a removal of all U.S. troops by September 11, but he failed to include some important details.

By Medea Benjamin and Nicolas J. S. Davies

Global Research, April 16, 2021

All Global Research articles can be read in 51 languages by activating the “Translate Website” drop down menu on the top banner of our home page (Desktop version).

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An Afghan taxi-driver in Vancouver told one of us a decade ago that this day would come. “We defeated the Persian Empire in the eighteenth century, the British in the nineteenth, the Soviets in the twentieth. Now, with NATO, we’re fighting twenty-eight countries, but we’ll defeat them, too,” said the taxi-driver, surely not a member of the Taliban, but quietly proud of his country’s empire-killing credentials. 

Now, after nearly twenty years of a war that has been as bloody and futile as all those previous invasions and occupations, the last 3,500 U.S. troops and their NATO brothers-in-arms will be coming home from Afghanistan.

President Joe Biden tried to spin this as the United States leaving because it has achieved its objectives, bringing the terrorists responsible for 9/11 to justice and ensuring that Afghanistan would not be used as a base for a future attack on the United States. “We achieved those objectives,” Biden said. “Bin Laden is dead and Al Qaeda is degraded. It’s time to end the forever war.”

What Biden did not admit is that the United States and its allies, with all their money and firepower, were unable to vanquish the Taliban, who currently control about half of Afghanistan and are positioned to control even more in the coming months without a ceasefire. Nor did Biden admit that, in two decades, the United States and its allies have been unable to build up a stable, democratic, popular government or a competent military in the country.

Like the U.S.S.R., the U.S. is leaving in defeat, having squandered the lives of countless Afghans, 2,488 U.S. troops and personnel, and trillions of dollars.

A U.S. withdrawal—especially one not based on conditions on the ground—is, nevertheless, a bold move for Biden. He is going against the advice of the U.S. intelligence community and top Pentagon officials, including the head of the U.S.-Afghan Forces and the Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Biden is also coming under attack from Republicans and Democrats in Congress. Senator Mitch McConnell artfully slammed Biden’s decision, accusing him of helping U.S. enemies “ring in the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks by gift-wrapping the country and handing it right back to them.” Democratic Senator Jeanne Shaheen, a member of the Foreign Relations Committee, said the withdrawal “undermines our commitment to the Afghan people, particularly Afghan women.”U.S. Joins “Rules-Based World” on Afghanistan

But while Biden is being pilloried by some for pulling out too soon, the truth is that he is violating a May 1 deadline for U.S. troop withdrawal that was painstakingly negotiated under the Trump Administration.

Ironically, Biden acknowledged in his speech on Wednesday that the withdrawal agreement the United States signed with the Taliban in February 2020 was a solemn commitment, but then he said U.S. forces would begin their withdrawal on May 1 and complete it by September 11, which is not what was agreed to.

After it was clear that the United States was going to break the May 1 withdrawal agreement, Mohammad Naeem, the Taliban spokesperson in Qatar, issued a statement that the Taliban would now not take part in the ten days of U.N.-led peace talks scheduled to begin in Istanbul on April 24, nor would it take part in any further peace negotiations until the last foreign soldiers leave Afghanistan.

This is a reversion to the Taliban’s long-standing position that it would not negotiate with a government backed by foreign occupation forces.

U.S. envoy Zalmay Khalilzad spent years of his life negotiating with the Taliban to arrive at the 2020 withdrawal agreement. Secretary Blinken took a potentially historic step back from U.S. unilateralism when he invited the United Nations to lead a new Afghan peace process. And Russian Foreign Secretary Sergei Lavrov set the stage for a ceasefire and a peaceful transition of power by bringing the two Afghan warring parties together in Moscow in March, where they agreed to keep talking.

By reneging on the May 1 deadline, President Biden has squandered much of the hard-won goodwill and trust that was painstakingly built up through these diplomatic efforts. It was not impossible to meet the May 1 deadline. The Trump Administration was steadily withdrawing troops, Biden’s transition began in November, and he’s been President since late January.

It is also unclear whether the United States will continue the war by providing airpower for the Afghan military and carrying out covert operations. Throughout these two decades, the United States has dropped more than 80,000 bombs on Afghanistan and waged a secret war with special forces, CIA operatives, mercenaries, and paramilitary units. Ending U.S. airstrikes and covert operations is as vital to peace as withdrawing U.S. troops.

It’s true that a U.S. withdrawal may lead to setbacks in the gains made by Afghan women and girls. But those gains have been mainly in the capital city of Kabul. Two thirds of girls in Afghanistan still receive no primary education, and Afghan women will never achieve significant advances while their country remains at war.

The United States and NATO military presence has made an end to violence impossible for twenty years, as the Taliban have long made clear that they will keep fighting as long as their country is under foreign occupation. And as long as the U.S. continues to prop up a weak, corrupt government in Kabul, instability and political fragmentation is inevitable.

Ending the fighting and investing a small fraction of U.S. war spending in education and health care would do far more to improve the lives of Afghan women and girls.

The United Nations, even with the full support and cooperation of the United States, will have its work cut out to convince the Taliban to rejoin talks. If the U.N. fails to negotiate a lasting ceasefire before the occupation forces withdraw, the U.S. and its NATO allies will be leaving a country still at war with the Taliban, the Afghan government, and various warlords vying for power.

We must hope that, in the coming months, the U.N. will find a way to bring the warring parties in Afghanistan together and craft a ceasefire and a workable peace process based on power sharing. After so many decades of war and intense suffering, much of it perpetrated by the United States and its allies, the Afghan people desperately need—and deserve—an end to this war.

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This article was originally published on The Progressive.

Medea Benjamin is co-director of the peace group CODEPINK. Her latest book is Inside Iran: The Real History and Politics of the Islamic Republic.

Nicolas J S Davies is the author of “Blood On Our Hands: the American Invasion and Destruction of Iraq.” He is a researcher for CODEPINK: Women for Peace, and a freelance writer.

Lebanon Confirms Its Rights To Confront ’Israel”… What Are Its Power Elements?

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Lebanon Confirms Its Rights To Confront ’Israel”… What Are Its Power Elements?

Charles Abi Nader

Apart from the political contending that preceded and accompanied the administrative-legal path of the Lebanese Maritime Borders Amendment Decree [6433], which also takes its constitutional and diplomatic path [as soon assumed] to the United Nations, it can be said that Lebanon – the government and the institutions – through its delicate and decisive decision to amend that decree, has imposed itself as a powerful player in the game of regional and international interests and conflicts.

The statement that Lebanon has imposed itself as a powerful player in the game of international interests and conflicts may be misplaced or inappropriate if we compare it to the crisis situation in Lebanon today, and what it is experiencing in terms of what looks like a financial, economic and social collapse, in addition to its fragmentation and political imbalance. But in reality, despite all the tragedies that have passed through Lebanon, its position has brought the highest level of challenge to many regional and international players.

First of all, the field of interest in which Lebanon has created itself by amending the decree defining its pure economic waters, is almost the entire eastern Mediterranean region, which is apparently very rich in gas and oil, between Syria and Turkey eastward and northward, between the occupied Palestine and Egypt southward and southwestward, and between Cyprus, Turkey and Greece westward. We are talking here about a maritime field, which is currently experiencing a delicate conflict and danger over the division and determination of the exclusive economic waters of the aforementioned countries, not far from the possibility that it will cause a military confrontation, such as between Greece and Turkey or between Cyprus and Turkey.

On the other hand, while ‘Israel’ is considered Lebanon’s fiercest opponent in this maritime border dispute, and due to its urgent need to exploit the huge wealth from the occupied Palestine’s coasts and to accelerate and advance its partnership with the Forum of Eastern Mediterranean States [Egypt, Cyprus and Greece], which is based on the initiation of the extraction and supply of gas and since it has completed the completion and preparation of the administrative, technical and legal structure for the initiation of the exploration in the Karish border field with Lebanon, which was affected by the aforementioned Lebanese amendment in more than half of its area, it will consider the Lebanese position regarding the amendment of its maritime rights in the south as a declaration of war against it, which would call for a non-simple reaction, not only as it threatened to stop indirect negotiations with Lebanon.

At a time where Lebanon is experiencing this almost complete collapse at all levels, and where most of the external parties involved in the conflict or the file contribute to deepening the collapse by exerting a lot of additional pressure on Lebanon to force it to surrender or submit to the maritime or other border file, and as these parties consider that the Lebanese position is supposed to be lenient and lax, in other words, disregarding what they see as their rights, so that they can make quick use of their needs before its inevitable collapse, Lebanon declares this strong position.

Therefore, the fundamental question remains: On what does Lebanon depend in this powerful position? And what are Lebanon’s power elements in the delicate game of defiance that it got itself involved in?

Of course, the consistent position of His Excellency the President of the Republic as a key official actor in guiding the negotiation process has been instrumental in amending the decree and establishing Lebanese maritime rights by fully supporting and embracing the perspective of the experts in the Lebanese Armed Forces and the specialists of the negotiating delegation in the demarcation process, which highlighted in a scientific-legal manner the correct maritime borders, that must be at first: A valid document for deposit with the United Nations and relevant institutions of the international community, and secondly: a platform for indirect negotiation with the enemy and for the demarcation and precise determination of the border based on it.

On the other hand, the legal and technical point of view presented and proved by the Lebanese Army in scientific details, from which its position was clear and decisive, regarding the necessity of completing indirect negotiations with the enemy on its basis, and in terms of the futility of its completion without it, proves without any doubt that the military, as a matter of national responsibility and duty, will be an essential party in fixing, protecting and supporting the amendment decision, with all possible military or security implications, dangers or repercussions.

Also, it is absolutely impossible to overlook the important role of the unified internal Lebanese position on the amendment, which was finally demonstrated by all concerned, official, partisan and political parties, and despite some initial reservations, which were in good faith in order not to lose the opportunity of demarcation and to benefit from the wealth as soon as possible, due to the urgent need for it today, this united position in terms of cohesion and non-division was essential in confirming the Lebanese decision to amend against all external parties.

In the end, the decisive role remains for the resistance, with its deterrent capabilities and balance of force against the ‘Israeli’ enemy, which is the main foundation in stabilizing and protecting the delicate, sensitive and bold Lebanese position, in terms of modification in general, and in terms of its sensitivity to hit the center of the Karish field, which ‘Israel’ considers to be under its control [within the areas occupied in the Palestinian waters], which had completed all appropriate measures to initiate exploration and exploitation of its wealth, with possible implications and developments, that will produce a provision that the enemy will regard the official Lebanese amendment to the decree as war or targeting what it claims to be its rights. As the Resistance has always stated, it is behind the Lebanese government in supporting and protecting what the latter determines in terms of national rights, land or maritime borders or the borders of Lebanese sovereignty, thus it [the Resistance] will, with its qualitative capabilities, remain the most powerful and solid safety valve for the protection, maintenance and stabilization of these national rights.



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RUSSIAN-SYRIAN GAS CONTRACT HINTS AT SYRIA’S RECOVERY

Source

 09.04.2021

Russian-Syrian Gas Contract Hints At Syria’s Recovery

Submitted by Steven Sahiounie.

The Syrian government signed a 4-year contract in March with Capital Limited, a Russian firm, to conduct oil and gas exploration in the area known as block No. 1 in the Syrian exclusive economic zone in the Mediterranean Sea, off the coast of the Tartous province.

The disputed maritime area covers 2,250 square kilometers on the Syrian-Lebanese maritime borders in the Mediterranean Sea.

Large reservoirs of natural gas have been discovered under the seafloor of the eastern Mediterranean and the neighboring nations and energy exploration companies are eager to exploit these gas deposits.

The Levantine basin has proven reserves of more than 60 trillion cubic feet of gas. The US Geological Survey has estimated that 1.7 billion barrels of oil lie in the basin, and as much as 122 trillion cubic feet of gas. That amount of gas is equivalent to about 76 years of gas consumption in the European Union (EU).javascript:window[“$iceContent”]

Natural gas is the cleanest of the fossil fuels and serves as a transition fuel towards more renewables, and to replace coal and nuclear electric generation across the EU.  Gas is the energy of demand for the EU, which is the biggest emerging gas market in the world.

In December 2013, Damascus entered into a major agreement with Moscow to explore oil and gas in the offshore territorial waters for 25 years.  Drilling and exploration costs were estimated at $100 million.  Russia would finance these activities with expenditures recovered from eventual production.

The 2013 deal for gas exploration involved Russia’s SoyuzNefteGaz; however, the current contract involves two Russian companies, Capital Limited and East Med Amrit.

The area in which Russian companies are being allowed to operate is disputed by the Lebanese, with the maritime borders drawn by the Syrians, especially in Block No. 1, overlapping significantly with Block No. 1 and Block No. 2 on the Lebanese side, and encroaching approximately 750 square kilometers within Lebanon’s maritime border.

Lebanon was busy demarcating its southern maritime and land borders with Israel for years, without making any progress.

On April 6, Lebanese caretaker Foreign Minister Charbel Wehbe said that Lebanese President Michel Aoun held a phone conversation with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to discuss the demarcation of maritime borders between the two countries. Wehbe said Aoun confirmed in his call with Assad that “Lebanon won’t accept to diminish from its sovereignty over its waters”, and confirmed that his country sticks to demarcating the maritime borders via negotiations, and not court disputes.

The majority of the land borders between the two countries have been demarcated in 1971, while the maritime borders between Syria and Lebanon have not been delineated. Lebanon had previously demarcated its maritime borders in 2011, and in 2014 launched a round of primary licenses and invited bids for Block No. 1 in the north, but Syria did not recognize the Lebanese demarcation. Damascus objected to the unilateral Lebanese demarcation of its exclusive economic zone in the north, by sending a protest letter to the United Nations in 2014.

Wehbe said that Beirut must negotiate with Damascus about the demarcation of maritime borders.

“This is not an act of aggression but every state demands its rights according to its perspective,” Wehbe said, adding that negotiations must take place within the framework of international laws and the brotherly relations between the two countries.

In late 2010, a dramatic discovery was made in the eastern Mediterranean of a huge natural gas field offshore, in what geologists call the Levant or Levantine Basin. The discovery set into motion a geopolitical plan devised in Washington and Tel Aviv back in 1996.  By March 2011 Syria was immersed into a revolution instigated and fueled by the CIA on orders from President Obama.

In August 2011 findings were revealed by Syrian exploration companies of an immense gas field in Qara near the border with Lebanon and near the port of Tartus, which was leased to the Russian navy. The gas reserves are believed to be equal to or exceed those of Qatar.  The US-backed rebels kept the fighting focused in the area to prevent the recovery of the gas.

Trump ordered the US troops illegally occupying Syria to stay and steal the oil.  The US military prevents the Syrian government from using the oil in the northeast to rebuild or recover from 10 years of war.

The US, NATO, and the EU all worked in coordination to destroy Syria and keep it from reaching its potential as an energy-sufficient nation.

Washington’s ‘regime-change’ strategy was based on instigating internal chaos in Syria through the use of CIA training and weapons of armed fighters following Radical Islam, which they thought would end with an Islamic State as opposed to the existing secular government in Damascus, and supported through the coffers of Saudi Arabia and Qatar, both nations state sponsors of Radical Islam.

The US lost the war in Syria. But, Washington will continue to isolate Russia and try to prevent the unchanged government in Damascus from the gas reserves off-shore.

Turkey began the US-NATO war against Syria as a team player. Turkey was used as a transit point for all the hundreds of thousands of foreign terrorists from the four corners of the globe who flocked to Syria on Team-USA to oust the Syrian government, in favor of Radical Islam. However, Turkey feels left out of the lucrative gas deals, and envious of its neighbors in the eastern Mediterranean.

Turkey is trying to disrupt energy exploration. Meanwhile, it is the babysitter of the Al Qaeda terrorists in control of Idlib and determined to maintain the status quo in Idlib.

While Russia has been in the Syrian port of Tartus for decades, it was in 2015 that they were invited to Syria militarily in the darkest days of terrorist expansion.  The Russians have a long and bloody experience with Radical Islamic terrorists on Russian soil. With Syria laying on the southern front of Russia, it was seen as a national security threat to allow an Islamic state to be proclaimed in Damascus, even if it was only the Muslim Brotherhood politicians supported by the US and housed in hotels in Istanbul.

The Russians felt they could either defeat the terrorists in Syria or wait and fight them on the streets of Moscow. Radical Islam is neither a religion, nor a sect, but a political ideology that is very difficult to deal with once US weapons are placed in their hands.

In 2012, F. William Engdahl wrote a prophetic article Syria, Turkey, Israel and a Greater Middle East Energy War. He wrote, “The battle for the future control of Syria is at the heart of this enormous geopolitical war and tug of war. Its resolution will have enormous consequences for either world peace or endless war and conflict and slaughter.”

Engdahl theorized that Syria would ultimately be a major source for Russian-managed gas flows to the EU.

In late 2015, Pepe Escobar, a journalist with Asia Times, wrote a groundbreaking article Syria: Ultimate Pipelineistan War”.

Escobar wrote, “Syria is an energy war. With the heart of the matter featuring a vicious geopolitical competition between two proposed gas pipelines, it is the ultimate Pipelinestan war.”

In the article, he takes you back to 2009 when Qatar proposed to Damascus the construction of a pipeline traversing Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Syria to Turkey, to supply the EU.

However, in 2010 Syria chose a competing project, the $10 billion Iran-Iraq-Syria pipeline. That choice set into motion what the western media terms as the Syrian civil war, but in reality was never civil, and was a classic US ‘regime-change’ project which featured a cast of thousands, and among the supporters were the heads of state from most of the civilised world.

After 10 years of war, Syria may finally be approaching the endgame. President Assad’s government is looking to post-war recovery and reconstruction, which will need foreign and domestic investments. The energy sector is crucial. Syria’s oil exports accounted for 30% of pre-war revenue, and the prospect of gas output was revealed just as the war ramped up. US and EU sanctions will make foreign investment difficult, but the world is watching Russia in the waters off Syria.

Steven Sahiounie is an award-winning journalist and political commentator.

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RUSSIA AND DAMASCUS AGAINST “TERRORIST DEMOCRACY” IN GREATER IDLIB

07.04.2021 

South Front

In Syria’s Greater Idlib, Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham continues its attempts at rebranding, all the while keeping up its usual militant activity.

As per the Russian Reconciliation Center, militants in Greater Idlib shelled the surrounding areas 32 times on April 6th.

Another al-Qaeda affiliated militant group in Greater Idlib, Ansar al-Islam, posted photographs of its activities in Idlib province. The footage showed the work of terrorist snipers targeting the Syrian Arab Army. This is more than likely a tool to show that the Damascus government cannot impede their activities, and serves as a recruitment method.

The Russian Aerospace Forces continue responding to all violations by striking militant positions. On April 6th, an air raid was carried out near the settlement of Basankul in Idlib.

In spite of the Damascus Government and Russia’s attempt to deter the militants, the United Nations sent 88 trucks of humanitarian aid to Syria’s Idlib. The aid is supposed to be distributed among the needy people in Idlib and its surrounding areas. It is more likely that it is being used by Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham and other militant groups to consolidate their grip on the region.

In addition to countering the activities of the Greater Idlib factions, the Syrian Arab Army, with its Russian support is containing ISIS in the central region.

In the 72 hours leading into April 6th, the Russian Aerospace Forces killed at least 29 ISIS terrorists in their strikes. A large number were heavily wounded. These attacks were centered on the Hama province, and stretched all the way to the border of the Deir Ezzor province.

Still, limited ISIS operations continue. On April 6th, one civilian was killed, several were injured and a large number of citizens were abducted in the town of al-Sa’an in the eastern countryside of the Al-Salamiyah region in Hama.

The terrorists ambushed government forces who were protecting the civilians. In total 19 were abducted, out of them 11 were civilians.

ISIS minefields also remain, and need to be cleared sometime in the future. On April 5th, a civilian was killed and another injured in a blast, at the Bowera site on the Jabal Abu Rajmein road, north of Palmyra.

The United States profits from chaos, wasting no time in smuggling resources away from the local population.

On April 5th, according to Syrian media, US forces smuggled out a convoy of trucks loaded with wheat stolen from the silos of Tal Alou in Yarubiyah in the northeastern countryside of Hasaka.

Additionally, on the very next day, Washington’s troops smuggled out a further convoy of 34 tanks and trucks carrying stolen quantities of oil and wheat also from the Syrian al-Jazeera region into northern Iraq.

Every party involved in Syria is fighting tooth and nail for their own interests  and any small opportunity is being exploited, as is clear to see.

RUSSIAN SU-24 BOMBERS DESTROYED HTS CAMP, VEHICLES IN GREATER IDLIB

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Yemen’s Blood Is on US Hands, and Still the US Lies about the War

Yemen’s Blood Is on US Hands, and Still the US Lies about the War

4/4/2021

By William Boardman – Towards Freedom

Six years ago, on March 26, 2015, the US green-lighted and provided logistical support for the Saudi bombing of Yemen that continues on a daily basis. The US/Saudi war, which includes as allies the several members of the Gulf Cooperation Council, is an undeclared war, illegal under international law, and an endless crime against humanity. The US and the Saudis have dropped cluster bombs on Yemen since 2009. Yemen has no air force and no significant air defenses. Two years ago, even the US Congress voted to end US involvement in the war, but President [Donald] Trump vetoed the resolution.

In 1937 the Nazis, in support of Franco in Spain, bombed the defenseless northern Spanish town of Guernica, massacring hundreds of civilians gathered in the town on market day. Pablo Picasso’s painting Guernica, a shriek of protest against the slaughter, is one of the world’s best known anti-war works of art. Yemen has had more than 2000 days of Guernicas at the hands of the US and Saudis, but no Picasso.

On February 4, 2021, President [Joe] Biden got a whole lot of good press when he announced that the US would be “stepping up our diplomacy to end the war in Yemen.” Biden also promised that the US would be “ending all American support for offensive operations in the war in Yemen.” Biden gave no specific details. The six-year bombing continues. The six-year naval blockade of Yemen continues. The humanitarian crisis continues, with the threat of famine looming. In effect, Biden has participated in war crimes since January 20, with no policy in sight to end the killing.

On March 1, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken acknowledged that:

The humanitarian crisis taking place in Yemen is the largest and most urgent in the world. Twenty million people, including millions of children, desperately need help. The United States is committed to doing our part, both to provide aid and to help address the obstacles standing in the way of humanitarian access.

That sounds a whole lot better than it is. Blinken did not acknowledge the US role in the air war on Yemen. Blinken did not acknowledge the US role in the naval blockade preventing food and fuel from reaching those 20 million Yemenis. Those obstacles to humanitarian access remain unchanged. The US has the power to remove either one unilaterally, just as it unilaterally chose to impose them. Blinken called on “all parties” to allow unhindered import and distribution of food and fuel, as if the US played no role in blocking both.

Blinken wasn’t done inventing a reality to fit US policy. He pledged support for “the well-being of the Yemeni people” but singled out the Houthis for pressure, even though the Houthis represent a large proportion of the Yemeni people. He called on the Houthis “to cease their cross-border attacks,” even though those attacks are a response to the US/Saudi undeclared war. And then he offered an analysis that would be hilarious if it weren’t so grotesque:

… the Saudis and the Republic of Yemen Government are committed and eager to find a solution to the conflict. We call on the Houthis to match this commitment. A necessary first step is to stop their offensive against Marib, a city where a million internally displaced people live, and to join the Saudis and the government in Yemen in making constructive moves toward peace.

The Saudis are so eager to find a solution to the conflict that they maintain their air war and naval blockade, effectively waging war by starvation – a crime against humanity. The “Republic of Yemen Government” is a fiction and a joke. Yemeni president Mansour Hadi, who is 75, was vice president of Yemen from 1994 to 2011, under the late authoritarian president Ali Abdullah Saleh. When Arab Spring protests erupted against Saleh, he stepped aside in favor of Hadi, who was “elected” president in 2012 with no opposition – a “democratic” result imposed by an international cabal. When you read media referring to his “internationally recognized government,” that’s the fiction they’re hiding. Hadi’s term as president ended in 2014, the international cabal extended it for a year, and that’s pretty much the extent of his legitimacy. That and US/Saudi firepower. By any rational calculation, Hadi is not a legitimate president. He also has no legitimate alternative. No wonder Hadi doesn’t feel safe in Yemen and remains in exile in Riyadh. The population in southern Yemen under the “government’s” control has recently attacked the government palace in Aden in protest against the government’s failure to provide sustenance and stability. A recent bomb attack aimed at a Hadi government minister reflects the reality that southern Yemen has long had a separatist movement quite independent of the Houthis in the north, in effect a second civil war. The most constructive move the Hadi government could make toward peace is to abdicate.

-Marib City, the capital of Marib Governorate, is roughly 100 miles northeast of Yemen’s capital in Sanaa. Marib City was established after the 1984 discovery of oil deposits in the region. Covering 6,720 square miles in central Yemen, the Marib Governorate is somewhat smaller than New Jersey. Marib contains much of Yemen’s oil, gas, and electric resources. Marib is the last governorate under the control of the Hadi government, but it has been under increasing attack by the Houthis since early 2020. Before that, Marib was relatively remote from the fighting in Yemen, providing refuge for a million or more Yemenis fleeing the fighting elsewhere. Marib City had a population of about 40,000 when the civil war broke out in 2014. Now the city has an estimated 1.5 million people.

This map of Yemen shows the oil fields of Yemen as well as the projected route [in dotted lines of the Trans-Yemen oil pipeline, protected by Al Qaeda forces, which, when completed will allow Saudi Arabia to avoid possible clashes with Iran at the Strait of Hormuz in the Gulf. Source: The Crash of Flight 3804: A Lost Spy, A Daughter’s Quest, and the Deadly Politics of the Great Game for Oil  by Charlotte Dennett  (Chelsea Green) Map by John Van Hoesen.

The Houthi offensive against Marib has intensified since January 2021. Their offensive has continued in spite of having no air support. For the US Secretary of State to call for the Houthis to stop their offensive is an indication that it’s going their way. By March 8, Houthi forces had breached the northern gates of Marib City. Hadi government forces are supported by the Saudi coalition and local tribes, as well as elements of Al Qaeda and ISIS. [Al Qaeda also fights independently against occupying forces of the United Arab Emirates along the Gulf of Aden coastline.]

Famine has arrived in pockets of Yemen.

Saudi ships blocking fuel aren’t helping.

This was CNN’s headline on March 11, for a story reporting with reasonable accuracy on the very real, years-old humanitarian crisis that the US/Saudi war has brought on the region’s poorest country. CNN quotes a “food insecurity” analysis by the world electronics trade association IPC that predicts that more than 16 million Yemenis (of a total population of about 30 million) are “likely to experience high levels of acute food insecurity” in the first half of 2021. “Out of these, an estimated 11 million people will likely be in Crisis, 5 million in Emergency, and the number of those in Catastrophe will likely increase to 47,000.”

Yemen is an atrocity from almost any perspective. Three US presidents – Obama, Trump, and now Biden – have lied about Yemen while taking the US into an endless nexus of war crimes and crimes against humanity. And for what? To support a Yemeni government that is a fraud? To support a Saudi ally that thought it could win a quick, dirty air war at little or no cost? This abomination, pun intended, never should have happened. So why did it? The formulaic answer in much of the media is usually some variation on this propagandistic patter from Reuters:

A Saudi Arabia-led military coalition intervened in Yemen in 2015 after the Iran-allied Houthi group ousted the country’s government from the capital Sanaa.

This essentially false version of reality in Yemen appears in news media across a wide spectrum, from Al Jazeera to ABC News to this version by CNN:

Saudi Arabia has been targeting Iran-backed Houthis in Yemen since 2015, with the support of the US and other Western allies. It had hoped to stem the Houthis’ spread of power and influence in the country by backing the internationally-recognized government under President Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadi.

The core falsehood in most versions is “the Iran-allied” or “Iran-backed” Houthis. The grain of truth in that characterization is far outweighed by the history on the ground. The Houthis live in Yemen. They are the only combatant force that lives in Yemen, other than elements of the Hadi government and assorted insurrectionists. Yemen is in the midst of a civil war that has flared over decades. The war that is destroying Yemen is waged entirely by outside countries, primarily the US and the Saudi coalition.

The Houthis, who are mostly Shia Muslims, have lived in northwest Yemen for generations and centuries. They fought a civil war against President Saleh and lost. They have long been an oppressed minority in Yemen. When the Hadi government perpetuated the oppression of the Houthis, they rebelled once again. This time, challenging an unpopular and divided government, they were more successful. In 2014 they captured Sanaa, Yemen’s capital, and captured Hadi himself. Then they released him and he fled first to Aden, then to Saudi Arabia, where he is a puppet figurehead.

Before it could become clear what kind of governance the Houthis would provide for their part of Yemen, the US and the Saudi coalition attacked the country. Their publicly stated motivation has always included the imaginary threat from Iran. But the Houthis have a long and independent history that does not rely on Iran for its coherence and force. Iranian support for the Houthis in 2014 was never shown to be significant. The US/Saudi war had had the perverse effect of incentivizing Iranian support for the Houthis, but there’s no evidence that support comes anywhere close to the strength of the US and Saudi coalition forces directed at the Houthis. The US and the Saudi coalition are waging an aggressive war against a country that did none of them any harm. Iran is providing support for an ally unjustly under siege.

The war in Yemen has been brutal on all sides, according to reports by more or less neutral observers. But only the US and the Saudi coalition are invaders, only they are committing international war crimes. The Houthis, as well as all the other sides fighting in Yemen, have also committed war crimes, but on a far lesser scale. Yemeni forces are not the ones waging war by starvation and disease.

Ultimately, the Houthis are the home team, along with other Yemeni factions. The Houthis have nowhere else to go. The only military solution to the Houthis is extermination, genocide, the very course the US and Saudis have been on for years, with the winking hypocrisy of most of the world.

In April 2015, with the Saudis’ saturation bombing already in its third week, the United Nations Security Council unanimously [14-0] passed Resolution 2216, which “Demands End to Yemen Violence.” The Resolution begins with an obscene misrepresentation of reality:

Imposing sanctions on individuals it said were undermining the stability of Yemen, the Security Council today demanded that all parties in the embattled country, in particular the Houthis, immediately and unconditionally end violence and refrain from further unilateral actions that threatened the political transition.

That is the official lie that has publicly defined the war on Yemen since 2015. The UN sees no terror bombing by foreign countries. The UN sees no invasion by foreign troops. The UN sees no terrorist groups in a country that has had little stability for decades. The UN cites only the Houthis for their sins, as if it were somehow the Houthis’ fault that, having no air force and no air defenses, they weren’t getting out of the way of the cluster bombs dropped on their weddings and their funerals.

Crucial interview of Foreign Minister Lavrov (MUST READ!)

Crucial interview of Foreign Minister Lavrov (MUST READ!)

Source

April 02, 2021

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s interview given to Channel One’s Bolshaya Igra (Great Game) talk show, Moscow, April 1, 2021

Vyacheslav Nikonov: The word “war” has been heard increasingly more often lately. US and NATO politicians, even more so the Ukrainian military, have no trouble saying it. Do you have more reasons to be concerned now than ever before?

Sergey Lavrov: Yes and no. On the one hand, the confrontation has hit bottom. On the other, deep down, there’s still hope that we are adults and understand the risks associated with escalating tensions further. However, our Western colleagues introduced the word “war” into the diplomatic and international usage. “The hybrid war unleashed by Russia” is a very popular description of what the West perceives as the main event in international life. I still believe that good judgment will prevail.

Vyacheslav Nikonov: Recently, the United States has ratcheted the degree of confrontation up to never-before-seen proportions. President Joe Biden said President Vladimir Putin is a “killer.” We have recalled Russian Ambassador to the United States Anatoly Antonov.

Sergey Lavrov: He was invited for consultations.

Vyacheslav Nikonov: Hence, the question: How do we go about our relations now? How long will this pause last? When will Mr Antonov return to Washington?

Sergey Lavrov: What we heard President Biden say in his interview with ABC is outrageous and unprecedented. However, one should always see the real actions behind the rhetoric, and they began long before this interview back during the Barack Obama administration. They continued under the Trump administration, despite the fact that the 45th US President publicly spoke in favour of maintaining good relations with Russia, with which he was willing to “get along,” but was not allowed to do so. I’m talking about the consistent degradation of the deterrent infrastructure in the military-political and strategic spheres.

The ABM Treaty has long since been dropped. President Putin has more than once mentioned how, in response to his remark that George W. Bush was making a mistake and there was no need to aggravate relations, the then US President said that it was not directed against Russia. Allegedly, we can take any steps that we deem necessary in response to the US withdrawing from the ABM Treaty. Allegedly, the Americans will not take these actions as directed against them, either. But then they started establishing anti-missile systems in Europe which is the third missile defence position area. It was announced that it was built exclusively with Iran in mind. Our attempts to agree on a transparency format received support during the visit to Moscow by US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and US Secretary of Defence Robert Gates, but were later rejected. We now have a missile defence area in Europe. Nobody is saying that this is against Iran now. This is clearly being positioned as a global project designed to contain Russia and China. The same processes are underway in the Asia-Pacific region. No one is trying to pretend that this is being done against North Korea.

This is a global system designed to back US claims to absolute dominance, including in the military-strategic and nuclear spheres.

Dimitri Simes can also share his assessment of what is said and written in the United States on that account. A steadfast course has now been taken towards deploying intermediate and shorter-range missiles in the Asia-Pacific region.

The INF Treaty was discarded by the Americans on far-fetched pretexts. This was not our choice. In his special messages, President Vladimir Putin suggested agreeing, on a voluntary basis and even in the absence of the INF Treaty, on a mutual moratorium with corresponding verification measures in the Kaliningrad Region, where the Americans suspected our Iskander missiles of violating restrictions imposed by the now defunct treaty, and at US bases in Poland and Romania, where the MK-41 units are promoted by the manufacturer, Lockheed Martin, as dual-purpose equipment.

To reiterate, this rhetoric is outrageous and unacceptable. However, President Putin has reacted to it diplomatically and politely. Unfortunately, there was no response to our offer to talk live and to dot the dottable letters in the Russian and English alphabets. All of that has long since gone hand-in-hand with a material build-up in the confrontational infrastructure, which also includes the reckless eastward advance of NATO military facilities, the transformation of a rotational presence into a permanent presence on our borders, in the Baltic States, in Norway, and Poland. So everything is much more serious than mere rhetoric.

Vyacheslav Nikonov: When will Ambassador Antonov return to Washington?

Sergey Lavrov: It’s up to President Putin to decide. Ambassador Antonov is currently holding consultations at the Foreign Ministry. He has met with the members of the committees on international affairs at the State Duma and the Federation Council of the Federal Assembly. He has had conversations at the Presidential Executive Office as well.

It is important for us to analyse the current state of our relations, which did not get to this point overnight, and are not just because of this interview, but have been going this way for years now. The fact that inappropriate language was used during President Biden’s interview with ABC shows the urgency of conducting a comprehensive analysis. This does not mean that we have just been observers and have not drawn any conclusions over the past years. But now the time has come for generalisations.

Dimitri Simes: Now that I am in Moscow, after a year in Washington, I see a striking contrast between statements by the leaders of the two countries. I think you will agree that when officials in Washington talk about relations with Russia, their pattern is simple and understandable: “Russia is an opponent.” Sometimes, Congressmen are more abrupt and call it “an enemy.” However, political leaders from the administration still call it “an opponent.” They allow cooperation with Russia on some issues that are important to the US, but generally it is emphasised that militarily Russia is “the number one opponent,” while politically it is not just a country with objectionable views but a state that “tries to spread authoritarian regimes throughout the world,” that “opposes democracy” and “undermines the foundations of the US as such.”

When I listen to you and President of Russia Vladimir Putin, I have the impression that in Moscow the picture is more complicated and has more nuances. Do you think the US is Russia’s opponent today?

Sergey Lavrov: I will not go into analysing the lexicon of “opponent,” “enemy,” “competitor” or “rival.” All these words are juggled in both official and unofficial statements. I read the other day that US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that for all the differences with Russia and China, the US does not have anything against these countries. As for what the US is doing, it is simply “promoting democracy” and “upholding human rights.” I don’t know how seriously one can take this description of US policy towards Moscow and Beijing. However, if they are promoting democracy, practice must justify theory.

George W. Bush announced that democracy was established in Iraq in May 2003. Aboard an aircraft carrier, he declared that Iraq’s liberation from its totalitarian regime was completed and democracy was established in the country. There is no point in elaborating. It is enough to mention the toll of the US-unleashed war – hundreds of thousands of people. We should also remember that the “rule” of the notorious Paul Bremer resulted in the birth of ISIS, which was rapidly joined by members of the Baath Party, employees of Saddam Hussein’s secret services, who had lost their jobs. They simply needed to provide for their families. ISIS emerged not because of ideological differences. Relying on US mistakes, the radicals actively used this fact. This is what democracy in Iraq is all about.

“Democracy” in Libya was established by bombs, strikes and the murder of Muammar Gaddafi which was accompanied by Hillary Clinton’s cry of admiration. This is the result: Libya is a black hole; refugee flows bound for the north are creating problems for the EU that does not know what to do about them; illegal arms and terrorists are being smuggled through Libya to the south, bringing suffering to the Sahara-Sahel Region.

I do not wish to describe what the Americans feel towards the Russian Federation. If their statements about us being their “opponent,” “enemy,” “rival” or “competitor” are based on the desire to accuse us of the consequences of their reckless policy, we can hardly have a serious conversation with them.

Dmitri Simes: When officials in Washington, the Joseph Biden administration or Congress, call Russia an opponent and emphasise this, I think they would not agree that it is simply rhetoric. Nor would they agree that it is designed solely for domestic consumption. The Biden administration is saying that the US did not have a consistent policy towards Russia and that former US President Donald Trump let Russia “do everything the Russian Government of Vladimir Putin wanted.” Now a new sheriff has come in and is willing to talk in a way he sees fit without paying much attention to how Moscow will interpret it; and if Moscow doesn’t like it, this is good. This is being done not to evoke discontent, of course, but to show that Russia is finally realising that it cannot behave like this anymore. Is there any chance that this new Biden administration policy will compel Russia to show some new flexibility?

Sergey Lavrov: The policy you mentioned, which is promoted in the forms we are now seeing, has no chance to succeed. This is nothing new: Joseph Biden has come in, started using sanctions against Russia, toughening rhetoric and in general exerting pressure all along the line. This has been going on for many years. The sanctions started with the Barack Obama administration and, historically, even earlier. Like many other restrictions, they have simply become hypertrophied and ideology-based starting in 2013, before the events in Ukraine.

Dimitri Simes: They will tell you, and you know this better than I do, that this policy has not been pursued sufficiently consistently, that it was not energetic enough, and that now they and their NATO allies will get down to dealing with Russia seriously so as to show us that we must change our behaviour fundamentally not just when it comes to foreign policy but also our domestic policy.

Sergey Lavrov: Dimitri, you are an experienced person, you know the United States better than Vyacheslav Nikonov or I do. What else can they do to us? Which of the analysts has decided to prove the practicability of any further pressure on Russia? How well do they know history? This question is for you.

Dimitri Simes: Mr Minister, you probably know that I am not a fervent supporter of the policy of the Biden administration.

Sergey Lavrov: I am asking you as an observer and an independent expert.

Dimitri Simes: In my opinion, the Biden administration still has a sufficient set of tools it can apply against Russia, including new sanctions, the promotion of NATO infrastructure in Europe, a more “harmonised” pressure on Russia together with its allies, the advance of the US policy not closer to the traditional Old Europe (I am referring to Britain and especially to France and Germany) but to Poland, and lastly, the supply of lethal weapons to Ukraine. It is now believed in Washington that it is very important to show Russia that its current policy in Ukraine has no future and that unless Russia changes its behaviour it “will pay a price.”

Sergey Lavrov: My views on the current developments range from an exercise in absurdity to a dangerous play with matches. You may know that it has become trendy to use examples from ordinary life to describe current developments. All of us played outdoors when we were children. Kids of different ages and with different kinds of family upbringing played in the same places. In fact, we all lived as one big family then. There were two or three bad boys on every street; they humiliated other kids, disciplined them, forced them to clean their boots and took their money, the few kopecks our mothers gave us to buy a pie or breakfast at school. Two, three or four years later, these small kids grew up and could fight back. We don’t even have to grow up. We do not want confrontation.

President Putin has said more than once, including after President Biden’s infamous interview with ABC that we are ready to work with the United States in the interests of our people and the interests of international security. If the United States is willing to endanger the interests of global stability and global – and so far peaceful – coexistence, I don’t think it will find many allies for this endeavour. It is true that the EU has quickly towed the line and pledged allegiance. I regard the statements made during the virtual EU summit with Joe Biden as unprecedented. I don’t remember ever hearing such oaths of allegiance before. The things they said publicly revealed their absolute ignorance of the history of the creation of the UN and many other events. I am sure that serious politicians – there are still some left in the United States – can see not just futility but also the absurdity of this policy. As far as I know, the other day 27 political organisations in the United States publicly urged the Biden administration to change the rhetoric and the essence of the US approach to relations with Russia.

Vyacheslav Nikonov: This is unlikely to happen. I believe that your example with “tough guys” on every street is too mild. The United States has gone beyond the pale, let alone the street ethics, which have always been respected. We can see this happening in Ukraine. President Biden is one of those who created modern Ukraine, the Ukrainian policy and the war in Donbass. As I see it, he takes the situation very personally, and he will try to keep it in its current tense state. How dangerous is the situation in Ukraine in light of the ongoing US arms deliveries, the decisions adopted in the Verkhovna Rada on Tuesday, and the statements made by the Ukrainian military, who are openly speaking about a war?  Where do we stand on the Ukrainian front?

Sergey Lavrov: There is much speculation about the documents that the Rada passed and that President Zelensky signed. To what extent does this reflect real politics? Is it consistent with the objective of resolving President Zelensky’s domestic problem of declining ratings? I’m not sure what this is: a bluff or concrete plans. According to the information published in the media, the military, for the most part, is aware of the damage that any action to unleash a hot conflict might bring.

I very much hope this will not be fomented by the politicians, who, in turn, will be fomented by the US-led West. Once again, we see the truth as stated by many analysts and political scientists, including Zbigniew Brzezinski, being reaffirmed. They look at Ukraine from a geopolitical perspective: as a country that is close to Russia, Ukraine makes Russia a great state; without Ukraine, Russia does not have global significance. I leave this on the conscience of those who profess these ideas, their fairness and ability to appreciate modern Russia. Like President Vladimir Putin said not long ago; but these words are still relevant, – those who try to unleash a new war in Donbass will destroy Ukraine.

Vyacheslav Nikonov: The US and Western diplomacy have definitely accomplished one thing: they put Russia and China in one boat. Indeed, we have already become strategic partners in deeds not just in words. You have just come back from China. You go there more often than once a year, for sure. During this trip, was there anything new that you sensed from Chinese leadership, which has recently come under unprecedented and rude attacks from the Americans? How strong are the bonds that are being established between Russia and China? How high is the bar that we can or have already reached in our relationship?

Sergey Lavrov: Like Russians, the Chinese are a proud nation. They may be more patient historically. The Chinese nation’s national and genetic code is all about being focused on a historical future. They are never limited to 4 or 5- year electoral cycles. They look further: “a big journey begins with a small step” and many other maxims coined by Chinese leaders go to show that they appreciate a goal that is not just on the horizon, but beyond the horizon. This also applies to reunifying Chinese lands – incrementally and without haste, but purposefully and persistently. Those who are talking with China and Russia without due respect or look down on us, or insult us are worthless politicians and strategists. If they do this to show how tough they are for the next parliamentary election in a couple of years, so be it.

Winston Churchill famously said that “democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others.” A big debate is underway about which one is more effective. The coronavirus infection has taken the debate up a notch. To what extent the Western democracies have shown themselves capable of opposing this absolute evil and to what extent countries with a centralised, strong and “authoritarian” government have been successful. History will be the judge. We should wait to see the results.

We want to cooperate; we have never accused anyone of anything, or mounted a media campaign against anyone, even though we are being accused of doing this. As soon as President Putin announced the creation of a vaccine, he proposed establishing international cooperation. You do remember what was being said about Sputnik V. At first, they said that it was not true, and then that this was propaganda and the only purpose was to promote Russia’s political interests in the world. We can see the ripple effect of this. On March 30, Vladimir Putin held talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron. We sensed a more realistic commitment to cooperate rather than try to engage in “vaccine discrimination” or “vaccine propaganda.”

Getting back to the heart of the matter, by and large, no one should be rude to other people. But what we see instead is a dialogue with a condescending tone towards great civilisations like Russia and China. We are being told what to do. If we want to say something, we are asked to “leave them alone.” This was the case in Anchorage when the discussion came to human rights. Antony Blinken said that there were many violations in the United States, but the undercurrent was clear – they would sort it out themselves and are already doing so. However, in Xinjiang Uygur, Hong Kong and Tibet, to name a few, things should be approached differently. It’s not just about a lack of diplomatic skills. It runs much deeper. In China, I sensed that this patient nation, which always upholds its interests and shows a willingness to find a compromise, was put in a stalemate. The other day, China’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson made a relevant comment. I don’t remember that ever happening before.

With regard to whether we are being pushed into the arms of China or China is being pushed into our arms, everyone remembers Henry Kissinger’s words that the United States should have relations with China which are better than relations between China and Russia, and vice versa. He saw this historical process and knew which way it could go. Many are writing now that the United States is committing a huge strategic mistake making efforts against Russia and China at a time, thereby catalysing our rapprochement. Moscow and Beijing are not allying against anyone. During my visit to China, Foreign Minister Wang Yi and I adopted a Joint Statement on Certain Issues of Global Governance in Modern Conditions, where we emphasised the unacceptability of violating international law or substituting it by some secretly drafted rules, of interference in other countries’ internal affairs and, overall, everything that contradicts the UN Charter. There are no threats there. The documents signed by the leaders of Russia and China always emphasise the fact that bilateral strategic interaction and multifaceted partnership are not directed against anyone, but focus exclusively on the interests of our peoples and countries. They build on a clear-cut and objective foundation of overlapping interests. We look for a balance of interests, and there are many areas where it has been achieved and is being used for the benefit of all of us.

Vyacheslav Nikonov: Have you noticed any change in China’s position? It is clear that Beijing is in a very tight situation. How far is China willing to go in its confrontation with the United States? It is obvious that they are now responding harshly. Sanctions are being introduced against Beijing, so it responds with tough counter-sanctions, and not only against the United States, but also against its allies, who are also joining the sanctions. Europe has joined this confrontation. Are we prepared to synchronise our policies with China, for example, our counter-sanctions, as we did with Belarus? Do we have a common strategy to counter the increasing pressure from the so-called alliance of democracies?

Sergey Lavrov: There is a general strategy, and I just mentioned it. Along with the Statement signed during my visit to China, a comprehensive Leaders’ Statement was adopted last year. Now we are preparing the next document, which will be signed by Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping, and dedicated to the 20th anniversary of the Treaty on Neighborliness, Friendship and Cooperation. Our strategic treaty will be renewed.

These documents spell out our line of conduct. We are not planning, and will not plan, any schemes to retaliate for what they are doing to us. I do not think that we will synchronise our responses to any new sanction acts against China and Russia.

Our level of cooperation continues to grow qualitatively.

You mentioned military alliances. There is popular speculation out there that Russia and China might conclude a military alliance. First, one of the documents signed at the highest level underscored that our relations are not a military alliance, and we are not pursuing this goal. We regard NATO as an example of a military alliance in the traditional sense, and we know that we do not need such an alliance. NATO clearly breathed a sigh of relief after the Biden administration replaced Donald Trump. Everyone was happy to again have someone to tell them what to do. Emmanuel Macron still occasionally tries to vainly mention the EU’s strategic autonomy initiative, but no one else in Europe even wants to discuss it. It’s over, the boss is here.

That kind of alliance is a Cold War alliance. I would prefer thinking in terms of the modern era where multi-polarity is growing. In this sense, our relationship with China is completely different from that of a traditional military alliance. Maybe in a certain sense, it is an even closer bond.

Vyacheslav Nikonov: The “alliance of democracies” will be created. This is obvious although fewer people in Russia still believe that it’s about democracy. In its election, its attitude towards freedom of the media and opportunities to express opposing views, the US has made it very clear that it has big problems with democracy. Europe also gives examples that compel us to doubt its efforts to promote a strong democratic project. After all, it still holds a position as a player under a big boss.

Vladimir Putin had a conversation with Emmanuel Macron and Angela Merkel via videoconference on March 30 of this year. Without Vladimir Zelensky, by the way. This is the Normandy format minus Ukraine, which resulted in a bitter response from Kiev.

They discussed a broad range of issues. Meanwhile, you have said more than once that our relations with the EU are frozen or absent altogether. Do you mean that we stay in contact or that contact is possible with individual EU members but not with the EU as a whole?

Sergey Lavrov: This is exactly the case, and this was also mentioned during the March 30 talks, and during Vladimir Putin’s conversation with President of the European Council Charles Michel. We are surprised that this assessment offends the EU. This is simply an objective fact.

It took years to develop relations between Moscow and the EU. By the time the state coup in Ukraine took place these relations included: summits twice a year; annual meetings of all members of the Russian Government with all members of the European Commission; about 17 sectoral dialogues on different issues, from energy to human rights; and four common spaces based on Russia-EU summit resolutions, each of which had its own roadmap.

We were holding talks on visa-free travel. It is indicative that the EU broke them off back in 2013, long before the crisis in Ukraine. As some of our colleagues told us, when it came to a decision on signing the proposed agreement, the aggressive Russophobic minority adamantly opposed it: Russia cannot receive visa-free travel status with the EU before Georgia, Ukraine and Moldova do. This is the entire background. What the EU did after that, braking all channels of systematic dialogue was a burst of emotion. They took it out on us because the putschists insulted the West by throwing out the document signed by Yanukovich and the opposition the day before, this despite the fact that Germany, France and Poland had endorsed this document. The first actions of the new authorities were to remove the Russian language from daily life and to expel Russians from Crimea. When Russian-speakers and Russians in Ukraine opposed this and asked to be left alone, a so-called “anti-terrorist operation” was launched against them.

In effect, the EU imposed sanctions on us and broke off all communication channels because we raised our voice in defence of Russian citizens and ethnic Russians in Ukraine, Donbass and Crimea. We try to discuss issues with them when they start making claims against us. They probably understand this; I hope they are still seasoned politicians. But if they understand this but don’t want to consider it in their practical policy, it means that they are being charged with Russophobia or cannot do anything about the aggressive Russophobic minority in the EU.

Dimitri Simes: I believe when we talk about the EU, it’s important to look at what the EU is and to what extent it has changed compared to what it used to be and what it was supposed to be when it was founded. The EU was primarily designed as an organisation for economic cooperation.

No political component was even envisioned at the start. It was about the EU contributing to European economic integration. The possibility was even mentioned of Russia playing some associated role in that process. But then they said the EU should also have some common values. At first, the idea was that those common values were the cement of the EU itself. Then a new idea emerged in Warsaw that it would be nice for those European values ​​(since they are actually universal) to spread to other regions, as well as for Russia to respect them, or even to obey them. When I look at the EU’s approach to Ukraine, the conflict in Donbass and the demands to return Crimea to Kiev, it seems to me that the EU is becoming a missionary organisation. When you deal with crusaders, trying to reckon with them or appealing to their logic and conscience is probably useless. Do you not think that the EU has journeyed to a place where there are limited opportunities for partnership and great potential for confrontation? Or am I being too pessimistic?

Sergey Lavrov: No, I agree with you, absolutely. This is a missionary style – lecturing others while projecting superiority. It is important to see this tendency, as it has repeatedly brought Europe to trouble.

This is actually the case. Established as the Coal and Steel Community, then the European Economic Community – if you look at the EU now, look at their values, they are already attacking their own members like Poland and Hungary, just because these countries have somewhat different cultural and religious traditions. You said it originated in Poland. I actually forget who started this…

Dimitri Simes: I first heard it from Polish delegates at a conference.

Sergey Lavrov: Now Poland itself is facing the consequences of its ideas, only not outside the EU, but within the organisation.

When anyone tries to impose any values on Russia, ​​related, as they believe, to democracy and human rights, we have this very specific response: all universal values ​​are contained in the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights that everyone signed. Any values invented now, which they try to impose on us or other countries, are not universal. They have not been agreed upon by the entire international community. Even inside the EU, look at those street protests! A couple of years ago, they had protests in France in defence of the traditional family, the concepts of “mother,” “father,” and “children.” This lies deep. Playing with traditional values ​​is dangerous.

As to the EU once inviting Russia as an associate member, we never agreed to sign an association document. Now the same is being done with regard to the Eastern Partnership countries – Armenia, Ukraine, and Moldova. As for Russia’s relations with the EU, which Brussels destroyed, only one thing remained – the basic document on the terms of trade and investment. It was indeed the subject of negotiation between the Brussels Commission and the Russian Federation. This is a document that remains valid. We cooperate with individual countries, but not with the EU, because those were the terms agreed upon, and their practical implementation is going through bilateral channels. The only thing the EU is doing in this respect now is imposing sanctions and banning its members from fulfilling some parts of this agreement because they want to “punish Russia.” That’s it, there are no other ties.

We are being told that we are deliberately derailing our relations (although the facts are simply outrageous), trying to shift our ties with Europe to bilateral channels, wanting to “split up” the European Union. We don’t want to split anyone up. We always say that we are interested in a strong and independent European Union. But if the EU chooses a non-independent position in the international arena, as we just discussed, this is their right. We cannot do anything about it. We have always supported its independence and unity. But in the current situation, where Brussels broke off all relations, when certain European countries reach out to us (we have not tried to lure anyone) with proposals to talk, to visit any of the sides and discuss some promising projects in bilateral relations, how can we refuse our partners? It is quite unfair (even a shame) to try to present such meetings as part of a strategy to split up the EU. They have enough problems of their own that split them up.

Dimitri Simes: This is a philosophical issue in Russia’s relations with the EU. When the EU has imposed anti-China sanctions, China made a tough response. This was an unpleasant surprise for the EU and caused indignation. Meanwhile, Brussels does not expect such a response from Russia in the firm belief that Russia has no economic levers to oppose the EU. To my knowledge, Russia has not imposed any serious sanctions on the EU.

This is an interesting situation. Russia supplies Europe with 33 percent of its gas. The figures for oil are about the same. I think during all this time Russia has proved convincingly that it won’t use energy for political leverage in Europe. Understandably, Russia has been interested in this, especially when it comes to the completion of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline. It seems to me that certain people in Europe have forgotten that if Russia does not do something, it doesn’t mean that it cannot do it, or won’t be compelled to do it if the EU’s pressure on Russia crosses a line. Do you think this is possible in theory? Or does Russia completely rule out such actions?

Sergey Lavrov: You are saying (metaphorically) that they either have not read (which is most likely) or have forgotten the epic about Ilya Muromets who slept on the stove while nobody paid attention? This is not a threat. We will never use energy supplies or our oil and gas routes in Europe to this end. This is a position of principle regardless of anything else.

Dimitri Simes: Even of you are disconnected from SWIFT and everything else?

Sergey Lavrov: We will not do that. This is a position of principle for President of Russia Vladimir Putin. We will not create a situation where we force EU citizens “freeze.” We will never do this. We have nothing in common with Kiev that shut down water supplies to Crimea and takes delight in it. This is a disgraceful position in the world arena. Frequently accusing us of using energy as an instrument of influence, as a weapon, the West keeps silence on what Kiev is doing with water supplies to Crimea. I believe the provision of basic needs on which the daily life of common citizens depends, should never be an object of sanctions.

Dimitri Simes: In this case, what do you mean by referring to “the phenomenon” of Ilya Muromets?

Sergey Lavrov: It is possible to respond in different ways. We have always warned that we will be ready to respond. We will respond to any malicious actions against us but not necessarily in a symmetric manner. By the way, speaking about the impact of the sanctions on civilians, look what is taking place in Syria under the Caesar Act. My colleagues in Europe and, incidentally, in the region, whisper that they are horrified by the way this act has eliminated any opportunity to do business with Syria. The goal is clear – to stifle the Syrians to make them revolt and overthrow Bashar al-Assad.

Now a few words about our and China’s responses to the European sanctions. After all, China also avoided suspending economic activity. It simply imposed sanctions on a number of individuals and companies that held certain anti-China positions. We are doing basically the same.

Vyacheslav Nikonov: As we know, Ilya Muromets did not shut down oil and gas supplies. He used other methods that were often symmetrical. I think we also have a solid set of instruments.

Don’t we exaggerate the importance of the EU in the modern world? It has an identity and there are European values. I know this since I have dealt with European MPs and experts for many years.

However, I have the impression that there are two main values: the first one is the euro and the second is LGBT and 60 more letters that describe this notion linked with sexual identity, their presence, absence, or mix.

The EU is undergoing a crisis – Brexit. Britain has left the EU. The economic crisis is very bad. Probably, in Europe it is worse than elsewhere. The economy has dropped by up to 10 percent in many countries. The vaccine-related crisis has shown that Europe cannot counter the virus and adopt a common policy. These problems are emerging at all levels. It cannot draft a common economic policy, migration rules, and so on. Maybe, we are really paying too much attention to Europe? Maybe we can act without looking back at this “falling” structure?

Sergey Lavrov: But where are we paying too much attention to Europe? We have a very simple position that President of Russia Vladimir Putin has set forth many times: we do not feel hurt. As we know, hurt people get the short end of the stick, or as we say in Russia, hurt people are made to carry water, something we are short of in Crimea. We will always be willing to revive our relations, practically to raise them from the ashes, but to do this we must know what the EU is interested in. We will not knock on a locked door. They are well aware of our proposals, just as the Americans know our proposals on strategic stability, cyber security and many other things. We have said to all of them: “Our friends and colleagues, we are ready for this. We understand that you will have some reciprocal ideas but we have not yet heard them. As soon as you are ready, let’s sit down and discuss them, seeking a balance of interests.” Meanwhile, now we are being accused of neglecting policy on the EU, so I don’t think we are courting this alliance or exaggerating its importance. It determines its place in the world itself. We have already talked about this today.

As for European values, we have many ongoing debates. Some people need European price tags more than European values. They want to travel there for shopping, recreation, buy some property and return home. As I said, our common values lie in our history, the mutual influence of our cultures, literature, art and music. They are great.

Vyacheslav Nikonov: As for modern European culture and art, have they really…

Sergey Lavrov: I am referring to our historical roots.

Vyacheslav Nikonov: Because I think today’s Europe is pretty empty in terms of culture.

Sergey Lavrov: There are some funny songs; we can listen to them in the car sometimes.

Dimitri Simes: Speaking of relations with the United States, I would like to ask you a personal question because you lived and worked there for a long time when you were Russia’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations. Of course, you have also been dealing with the US as the Foreign Minister of the Russian Federation. I lived in the US for almost 50 years.

Sergey Lavrov: Why past tense?

Dimitri Simes: I am now in Moscow. When I look at the United States today, I have the impression that it is undergoing a cultural revolution. I think that if many people in the Joseph Biden administration or the Democrats in Congress are told this, they would not feel offended in any way. They will say that a cultural revolution is long overdue, that it is finally necessary to eradicate racism, give equal and not-so-equal prevailing opportunities to sexual orientation minorities because they were also discriminated against and to develop a true democracy that requires that all those who want to vote can vote. In practice, this means that millions of people will have an opportunity to vote without necessarily being US citizens at all. This is why the Democrats emphatically oppose a ban on voting on Sundays. As you know, there was never any voting in the US on Sundays. Sunday is called God’s day. The Democrats wanted Sunday elections so that buses could go to Afro-American churches and take people to the polling stations.

Vyacheslav Nikonov: Why take them by bus? They can vote by mail.

Dimitri Simes: Both options are available.

Sergey Lavrov: Why not put a ballot box right in a church?

Dimitri Simes: Exactly. Do you believe the United States is, in many respects, evolving into a different country and that this is not necessarily an irreversible process, though a momentous one? Also, would you agree that this process is not a purely American internal matter because it goes hand in hand with the emergence of a new revolutionary ideology that requires that American values spread around the world and that these American models should not be resisted as they are now in Russia and China? Can this lead to an existential conflict?

Sergey Lavrov: We will talk about this but, first, let me finish what I was saying about European culture. Here is, in my view, a telling illustration of the state of European culture today. If we talk about revolutions, including a cultural revolution, the Eurovision  contest speaks volumes.  What they are doing now to the Belarusians is repulsive. This is sheer censorship that goes like this: since we – nobody knows who exactly, some anonymous individuals – fancy that we heard some innuendoes in your song, we will not allow you to take part in the contest unless you have another song. But then the same fate befalls another Belarusian song. What does this have in common with art, culture or democracy?

As for a cultural revolution in the United States, I do feel that processes which deserve to be described like this are unfolding there. Everyone probably wants to eradicate racism and, as for us, we have never had any doubt regarding this. We were trailblazers behind the movement to secure equal rights for all people, regardless of the colour of their skin. However, we should beware that we do not slip into another extreme, the one we have observed during the Black Lives Matter events, and into aggression against white people, white US citizens.

The other day we marked an international day designated to increase awareness of this issue and UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, speaking at a General Assembly meeting, said that the previous year had been a year of the most serious and numerous manifestations of white supremacy. I have asked to be given the full text of his speech, as I want to understand what specifically he had in mind. If this is about having a sense of a trend you talked about and the willingness to follow this trend, it is lamentable. This is still the United Nations Organisation and not a venue for promoting US concepts, some US trends.

As for why they need this, yes, they want to spread this to the rest of the world. They have a huge potential to achieve this goal. Hollywood has also started to change its rules, so that everything reflects the diversity of contemporary society, which is also a form of censorship, art control and the way of imposing some artificial restrictions and requirements on others. I have seen black actors perform in Shakespeare’s comedies. The only thing I do not know is when a white actor will play Othello. You see, this is nothing less than absurdity. Political correctness reduced to absurdity will lead to no good.

The other tool is social networks and internet platforms, as well as servers located in the United States. The US flatly refuses to discuss ways of either making internet governance more democratic or establishing common rules regulating social networks for the sake of avoiding the recurrence of the situation with TikTok and other social networks we encountered during the recent events in Russia, including the spread of abominable information, like personal abuse, pedophilia and many other things. We have already approached TikTok and other social networks about the need to establish elementary rules of respect and propriety but the Americans are unwilling to make these types of rules universal.

In Anchorage, US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan and Secretary of State Antony Blinken lectured the Chinese on human rights, ethnic minorities and democracy in China. Indeed, Mr Blinken said they [in the US] also had to address certain issues in this field but they would do it on their own. During talks with the Americans – the same goes for the Europeans – as soon as you start offering to discuss ways of democratising international relations or the supremacy of law on an international scale, they invariably get away from the subject. They want to replace international law with their own rules, which have nothing in common with the supremacy of law globally, on a universal scale. I already talked about large-scale rallies in France in defence of traditional family values. It appears that to secure the rights of one group of people, the rights of another group have to be infringed upon. That is, promoting these values around the world is not an end in itself, but rather a tool for ensuring their dominance.

Dimitri Simes: Richard Nixon once told Nikita Khrushchev that there would be no true harmony or true partnership between the Soviet Union and America unless the Soviet Union stops spreading its ideology. And that was a big problem in the Brezhnev era, I must say, because they discussed a détente while at the same time supporting a continued international class struggle. As I see it, Leonid Brezhnev was doing it without much conviction. But now, things have turned the other way around. Now the collective West is eager to proliferate its ideology and values. And they seem to be doing so with far greater conviction and perseverance than the Soviet Union under Leonid Brezhnev ever tried. Does this pose a risk of collision?

Sergey Lavrov: Under Leonid Brezhnev, the Soviet Union saw no threat to its existence. One can argue whether that stance was far-sighted enough, but that is how it was. Today’s West senses a threat to its dominance. It is a fact. So all those wiggling moves, including the invention of some ‘rules’ – as in the rules-based international order, something the West has come up with to replace the UN Charter – they reflect precisely this tendency.

I agree that we have swapped positions, or rather the Soviet Union and the modern West have. I don’t think this will offend anyone since this is not a big secret. I spoke with Rex Tillerson when he was US Secretary of State. He is a thoughtful and experienced politician and diplomat. It was good to work with him. We disagreed on most things, but we always wanted to continue the dialogue to bring our positions just a little bit closer at least. When he first told me they were concerned about Russia’s interference in some elections, I said they had not proved anything to us yet, and all we heard was accusations. When they began to accuse us of interfering in their elections, we repeatedly proposed using the special channel we had for exchanging information about threats to information networks and organisations. They refused. We had repeatedly offered dialogue even before that, when Barack Obama was president, from October 2016 until Donald Trump’s inauguration in January 2017. They always refused.

I pointed out to Tillerson that they had in fact directly stipulated in legislation that the US State Department should spend $20 million a year to support Russian civil society and promote democracy. That was not even a suspicion on our part as they did it openly (for example, the Ukraine Support Act). There was nothing to prove – they just announced that they would interfere. He told me that was totally different. I asked him why, and he said because we promoted authoritarianism, and they spread democracy. That was it.

Dimitri Simes: And he said it with sincere conviction, didn’t he?

Sergey Lavrov: Yes.

Vyacheslav Nikonov: Mr Lavrov, naturally, this policy leads to a drastic polarisation. The polarisation of international relations is a dangerous thing. We remember the early 19th century, and the early 20th century. It always ended in wars. The Americans, losing their global dominance, will create (they have already announced this) a new ‘alliance of democracies.’ I mean create American and pro-American alliances, compelling everyone else to make their choice. This polarisation will increase. What will this mean for the world and for the alliances where Russia is a member? I mean BRICS (which I think they will try to split up), the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). How far can this go? How dangerous is it?

Sergey Lavrov: This is a deliberate policy and an extension of the agenda we are talking about – about the United States promoting democracy and spreading benefit. The Americans and Europe are very active (but the Americans are especially active) in Central Asia. They are trying to create their own formats such as C5+1. Russia is also part of a 5+1 format in Central Asia, in addition to the SCO, CIS, EAEU and CSTO – one that involves the foreign ministers of five Central Asian countries and your humble servant. That format is useful. True, the volume of economic ties that the US and the EU are now building with Central Asia is still incomparable with our economic interpenetration, but they are pursuing an unambiguous goal to weaken our ties with our allies and strategic partners in every possible way.

The numerous initiatives around the Afghan reconciliation and around the Indo-Pacific region envision Central Asia’s reorientation from its current vector to the South – to help rebuild Afghanistan and at the same time weaken its ties with the Russian Federation.

I could talk for a long time about the Indo-Pacific region and the Indo-Pacific concept. That multi-layered initiative is aimed at hindering China’s Belt and Road Initiative and limiting the Chinese influence in the region, creating constant irritants for that country. There have been some slips about creating an ‘Asian NATO.’ Although in the US interpretation the Indo-Pacific region is described as ‘free and open,’ the chances that positions will be worked out through an equal or open process there are slim. It is already obvious that it isn’t ‘open’. China has not been invited; rather, that country is declared a target for containment. We have not been invited either, which means the attitude to Russia is similar. I would say those are long-term trends. We are talking about this frankly with our neighbours and closest allies. I am confident that they understand all these threats. None of them even considers the possibility of anyone telling them who to talk or not talk to. It is their sovereign right to choose their partners.

The term ‘multi-vector’ has become semi-abusive, but we are not giving up the multi-vector approach. We are open to cooperation and friendship with everyone who is ready for relations based on equality, mutual respect, compromise and balance of interests. That our Western colleagues are clearly abusing this approach, especially in post-Soviet countries, is an obvious fact.

Vyacheslav Nikonov: Is it possible to avoid the actual military scenario in these circumstances? Isn’t it time to create an alliance of free countries given the role reversal that has taken place in the modern world? An alliance, perhaps, of genuine democracies that will oppose the ongoing all-out attack?

Sergey Lavrov: We will not get involved in this kind of political engineering. Russia is committed to the United Nations. When France and Germany put forward the effective multilateralism concept, we asked them what it meant. There was silence followed by joint articles written by the foreign ministers of France and Germany stating that the European Union is an example of effective multilateralism, and everyone needs to adapt to the European processes. Our question why the readily available and universal UN multilateral platform is not a good option remained unanswered. However, the answer is there, and we mentioned it more than once today. They are making up the rules that the international order is supposed to be based on.

Dimitri Simes: Mr Minister, we have taken up much of your time and we appreciate it. But we cannot let you go without asking you one more personal question. What is it like to be Russia’s Foreign Minister in this rapidly changing world?

You have worked in several completely different eras. When you were Russia’s Permanent Representative to the UN in New York, it was a period of Russia’s “romantic infatuation” with the United States, though perhaps not quite on the terms that were beneficial for Russia. In the early 21st century, Russia was in search of partnerships. Well, then we got what we are witnessing now. How do you, a person who, in many ways, is the architect of this era, a witness and a participant of this process, find your work in this very complex role?

Sergey Lavrov: To put it short, I never get bored. That is if we are talking about the different eras in my career. We all lived in these eras, and we have seen these transitions. You asked me earlier whether the United States has changed. It has. A lot.

Dimitri Simes: Have you changed?

Sergey Lavrov: Probably. It’s not for me to say. A person perceives the environment as a constantly evolving process. People grow up, get smarter or dumber, but they have no way of seeing it.

Dimitri Simes: Do you think we have all become disappointed in many ways, but we have grown, too, as a result of these experiences, and, of course, in the first place, a person holding such positions as yours?

Sergey Lavrov: This is true, of course. How can this not influence the formation of a person? The personality never stops to evolve. It is something that lasts until the end of our lives. Those revolutionary developments had a strong influence on me. I believe the 9/11 attacks were the turning point in the American life. I was in Manhattan, in New York, at the time, and I felt that odour. I was having a hard time trying to make a phone call, because the phones went dead. Since then, New York has become a different city. This free city, living its own life around the clock and enjoying it, became wary and started looking over its shoulder to see if there was someone around who could hurt it.

This suspicion then spread deeply into American society. There were probably serious reasons for that. I have to commend the US intelligence services, because since then, apart from the Boston Marathon, which we had warned them about, there have been no other terrorist attacks. However, wariness and aloofness can still be felt. Perhaps, there are people who want to take advantage of this in order to do things that you just mentioned. If 11 million Americans become eligible to vote, welcome to the one-party system, Back in the USSR.

Vyacheslav Nikonov: Mr Lavrov, thank you very much for the interview. Now that we are within the historic walls of the Foreign Ministry’s Mansion on Spiridonovka, a place where history and great diplomacy were made, including the diplomacy of the great powers, I would like to wish us all the return of diplomacy. If it comes back, as President Vladimir Putin is conveying to President Joe Biden, in the form of a live-stream dialogue, then The Great Game will be at your service and at the service of the two presidents.

Sergey Lavrov: Thank you. President Biden has already said that diplomacy has returned to US foreign policy. Your dream has come true.

source: https://www.mid.ru/en/foreign_policy/news/-/asset_publisher/cKNonkJE02Bw/content/id/4662534

China And Russia Are Jointly Leading A Real-Life Justice League

By Andrew Korybko

Source

China And Russia Are Jointly Leading A Real-Life Justice League

Before the world’s eyes, a real-life Justice League is quickly emerging, jointly led by China and Russia.

America loves its superhero films, but fiction is fast transforming into fact as China and Russia aspire to lead a real-life Justice League. The comic book series and film of the same name refers to a collection of superheroes who save the world from evil, which is essentially what those countries are trying to do. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi told his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov on Tuesday during the latter’s two-day visit to the People’s Republic that “We should act as guarantors of justice in international affairs.”

He also added that “China is ready to promote the international system established by the United Nations, protect the world order based on international law, and abide by universal values such as peace, development, justice, democracy, equality and freedom.” This was preceded by Mr. Lavrov’s support the day earlier for their shared Venezuelan partner’s earlier proposal to assemble a worldwide anti-sanctions coalition. He said that “We must form a maximally wide coalition of countries that would combat this illegal practice.”

Russia’s top diplomat also declared on Monday that “We must deviate from the use of the West-controlled international payment systems. We must lower risks of sanctions by means of enhancing our own technical self-dependence, transition to payments in national currencies and international currencies, which are alternative to the [US] dollar.” The two Foreign Ministers then released a joint statement calling for a UN Security Council (UNSC) summit “to resolve humankind’s common problems in the interests of maintaining global stability.”

Before the world’s eyes, a real-life Justice League is quickly emerging, jointly led by China and Russia. These two rising powers are multipolar and strictly ascribe to the principles of the UN Charter. They stand in firm opposition to America’s hegemonic bullying and its doomed philosophy of zero-sum gains. By embracing its foil of win-win cooperation, they hope to inspire the rest of the international community to follow their lead in charting a new era of International Relations with their excellent bilateral ties serving as the perfect example.

It deserves mention that this year also marks the 20th year anniversary of their historic Treaty of Good- Neighborliness, Friendship and Cooperation, which stands in hindsight as a defining moment in International Relations whereby two large and powerful countries proved that it’s possible to put aside their past differences in cooperating to build a better future for all. The resilience and lasting relevance of this pact serves as proof that pragmatic relations are always mutually beneficial and stabilize the international system.

The US should seriously consider China and Russia’s joint call for convening an urgent UNSC summit at the earliest availability. America’s aggression has destabilized the world, made all the worse by the fact that everyone is still struggling to contain the COVID-19 pandemic. Instead of continuing to provoke those two countries, Washington should pragmatically cooperate with them on matters of shared interest such as nuclear non-proliferation, climate change, epidemiological security, cyber security, and reviving the global economy.

In the event that America declines their peaceful proposal, then it’ll finally expose its true intentions once and for all before the eyes of the world. The real-life Justice League jointly led by China and Russia will continue to peacefully promote their new model of International Relations inspired by the shining example of their comprehensive and strategic partnership with the aim of restoring true equality to the global system. The first order of business clearly rests in enhancing victimized nations’ capabilities to resist unilateral sanctions.

America’s policy of economic coercion was long considered to be the ace up its sleeve that it could pull out in lieu of costly military pressure to more easily impose its will onto others, yet that trick is increasingly losing its luster as China and Russia take meaningful steps to neutralize its effectiveness. Their real-life Justice League will inevitably succeed in fulfilling Mr. Wang’s vision of “act[ing] as guarantors of justice in international relations” by restoring the primacy of international law and genuine equality between all nations with time.

Save Sheikh Jarrah: The online campaign giving hope to Palestinian refugees in East Jerusalem

Residents of Karm al-Jaouni live under the threat of forcible eviction that would see them replaced by Israeli settlers

Nabil al-Kurd, a long-time resident of Karm al-Jaouni, stands next to a wall graffitied with “We will not leave” in Arabic (MEE/Aseel Jundi)

By Aseel Jundi in Sheikh Jarrah

Published date: 22 March 2021 16:06 UTC 

At first glance, everything looked seemingly normal in Karm al-Jaouni in the Sheikh Jarrah district, but the clamour of gathering news outlets and legal institutions last week told another story of a neighbourhood in turmoil.

The Sheikh Jarrah district is inhabited by refugees who were expelled from their towns and villages by Zionist militia during the Palestinian Nakba (Catastrophe) in 1948. But due to Israel’s push to populate the area with Israeli settlers, Palestinian residents are now, once again, facing the spectre of expulsion.

In an effort to garner international support, activists launched an online campaign, #SaveSheikhJarrah, in Karm al-Jaouni on Monday to help save the residents, who have lived in the neighbourhood for decades, from forcible removable, which many of their neighbours have already endured. 

Nabil al-Kurd, a 70-year-old Jerusalemite and resident of Karm al-Jaouni, sees the campaign as a glimmer of hope that could help him retain his current home, and avoid reliving the experience of having been forced out of his family house in Haifa in 1948.

Karm al-Jaouni
Israel’s judicial system has repeatedly shown bias toward Israeli settlers (MEE/Aseel Jundi)

“We want to relay our voices to Jordan, the Palestinian Authority, the United Nations and international law organisations because all these parties are involved in our issue, which has certainly reached the level of war crime,” he said.

In 1956, the Jordanian government, together with the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, reached an agreement to settle these families in Jerusalem in return for their UNRWA documents.

Some 28 families were selected and provided with housing units, built by the Jordanian government, for three years, after which the ownership of the property will be automatically theirs. The lease contracts expired in 1959 and the residents became the owners of the property.

‘Their dogs attack us, their trash floods the entrance, they have killed the trees and turned the house into ruins’

– Nabil al-Kurd, resident

However, after the occupation of Jerusalem in 1967, with the eastern part of the city coming under Israeli control, the inhabitants of Sheikh Jarrah district were taken by surprise when two Jewish committees registered their ownership of the 18-dunums of land at the Land Department in 1972.

Thereafter, dozens of judicial cases were raised in Israeli courts, as the 28 nuclear Palestinian families expanded and the number of residents facing eviction in favour of settlers rose to around 600 Palestinians.

In 2019, lawyer Sami Ershied told MEE that Sheikh Jarrah eviction cases are discriminatory because the legal procedures do not take into account that East Jerusalem is an occupied territory.

Under international law, an occupying state cannot forcibly transfer residents of occupied territories because it has an obligation to preserve the demographic composition of the inhabitants.

Another point of contention has been claims made by religious Israelis that a sacred shrine belonging to Shimeon al-Siddiq (founder of the Israelite Tribe of Simeon) is located in the heart of the Karm al-Jaouni district.

Palestinian residents refute this claim, asserting that the shrine is Islamic, and known as the saint Saad al-Din Hijazi, who was buried there 400 years ago, and that “Ottoman maps” prove their narrative.

Relentless harassment

Al-Kurd’s experience with the Israeli occupation is a flagrant example of Palestinians suffering at the hands of settlers.

In 2001, he built a house adjacent to the one he already had, only for Israeli occupation authorities to confiscate the keys to the new house, just four days before he was planning to move in. In 2009, settlers came and occupied the house, turning Kurd’s life into hell. 

At the time, al-Kurd erected a tent at the entrance of the house where Palestinian, European and Jewish activists came to demonstrate their support. Settlers harassed the activists by spraying them with spoiled milk, hitting them with rotten fruits, vegetables, and waste and setting rodents on them while they slept.A decade in, Palestinian family fights on against East Jerusalem eviction

Five years later, the settlers set fire to the tent and burned it down, but the harassment of the family did not stop, even after the sit-in ended.

“Settlers would take their clothes off and stand at the windows overlooking our home. I had to hang a fabric barrier to protect my wife and daughters,” Nabil said. 

“Their dogs attack us, their trash floods the entrance, they have killed the trees and turned the house into ruins.”

Since his retirement several years ago, this elderly Jerusalemite has divided his time between keeping an eye on settlers, lest they suddenly attack his family, and countering the Israeli judicial system.

The Israeli district court has recently issued a verdict giving al-Kurd a grace period to vacate his house before May.

Al-Kurd said that although the settlers lack any proof of ownership of the land, they are adamant to evacuate its residents in accordance with the Judaisation policies in occupied East Jerusalem.

Residents of the neighbourhood, he said, have had no means of defending themselves except resorting to the law, but that avenue has been marred with challenges as the judicial system has repeatedly shown bias toward the settlers.

‘I did not surrender’

The online campaign, which has been trending in both Jordan and Palestine, has given hope to Fawziah al-Kurd, who was forcibly removed from Karm al-Jaouni in 2008, that an international campaign would stop Israel from expelling these refugees for a second time, and allow her to return to her neighbourhood.

Fawziah, who is better known as Um Kamel al-Kurd, said that although it has been 13 years since she was forced to leave, she still visits the place three times a week. 

Fawziah al-Kurd
A 2008 photo shows the tent that Fawziah al-Kurd lived in for a year after she was expelled from her home in Sheikh Jarrah (provided)

She said she passes by her house, which is currently occupied by settlers, as a show of resilience and to reiterate her refusal to abandon it. 

“I lived in the house for 40 years, the last five of which were the hardest because Israelis took half of my house by force before practically throwing me out on the street along with my ailing husband,” Fawziah told MEE. 

“Despite all of this, I did not surrender and I lived in a tent adjacent to my house for a whole year.”

Save Sheikh Jarrah

One of the coordinators of #SaveSheikhJarrah, Karmel al-Qasim, who lives in the area, said that his family was given until early May to vacate their house in which they have been living since 1956.

‘Our one and only demand is to let us live peacefully in our homes just like any normal family anywhere in the world’

– Karmel al-Qasim, resident

He pointed out that the goal behind the campaign is to convey the voice and the suffering of Karm al-Jaouni residents to the whole world and generate international political pressure to stop the displacement and dispersion of its inhabitants, once again.

“Our one and only demand is to let us live peacefully in our homes just like any normal family anywhere in the world, without the threat of eviction and displacement,” Qasim said. 

“Through the #SaveSheikhJarrah campaign, we call upon UNRWA and Jordan to assume their legal and moral responsibilities toward us because we have been living here in compliance with an agreement that both parties reached in the 1950s.” 

Karmel said he will not abandon his right to resist the policy of eviction and will continue to follow in the footsteps of his late mother Amal al-Qasim, a refugee who was expelled from Jaffa in 1948. 

He, along with his brothers and sisters, intend to stand fast in their neighbourhood, which is strategically located near the Old City of Jerusalem.

Aref Hammad, a member of Sheikh Jarrah Refugees Housing Units Committee, told MEE that the Skafi, Qasim, al-Kurd, al-Jaouni, Hammad, al-Daoudi and al-Dijani families are in the process of filing an appeal to the Israeli Supreme Court, in a last push in the legal recourse against the eviction verdicts recently issued by the district court. 

Hammad said that 169 residents of the neighbourhood have received orders to vacate their homes, including 46 children from 12 different families. 

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