Syria Sitrep: Joint Statement by the Representatives of Iran, Russia and Turkey

Syria Sitrep:  Joint Statement by the Representatives of Iran, Russia and Turkey

JULY 08, 2021

Joint Statement by the Representatives of Iran, Russia and Turkey on the 16th International Meeting on Syria in the Astana Format, Nur-Sultan, 7-8 July 2021
https://www.mid.ru/en/foreign_policy/news/-/asset_publisher/cKNonkJE02Bw/content/id/4809709

The representatives of the Islamic Republic of Iran, the Russian Federation and the Republic of Turkey as guarantors of the Astana format:

Reaffirmed their strong commitment to the sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity of the Syrian Arab Republic as well as to the purposes and principles of the UN Charter and highlighted that these principles should be universally respected and complied with;

Expressed their determination to continue working together to combat terrorism in all forms and manifestations and stand against separatist agendas aimed at undermining the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Syria as well as threatening the national security of neighboring countries. Condemned the increasing terrorist activities in various parts of Syria which result in loss of innocent lives including the attacks targeting civilian facilities. Agreed to continue their cooperation in order to ultimately eliminate DAESH/ISIL, Al-Nusra Front and all other individuals, groups, undertakings and entities associated with Al-Qaeda or DAESH/ISIL, and other terrorist groups, as designated by the UN Security Council, while ensuring the protection of civilians and civilian infrastructure in accordance with international humanitarian law. Expressed serious concern with the increased presence and terrorist activity of “Hayat Tahrir al‑Sham” and other affiliated terrorist groups as designated by the UN Security Council that pose threat to civilians inside and outside the Idlib de-escalation area;

Reviewed in detail the situation in the Idlib de-escalation area and highlighted the necessity to maintain calm on the ground by fully implementing all agreements on Idlib;

Discussed the situation in the northeast of Syria and agreed that long-term security and stability in this region can only be achieved on the basis of preservation of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the country. Rejected all attempts to create new realities on the ground, including illegitimate self-rule initiatives under the pretext of combating terrorism. Reaffirmed their determination to stand against separatist agendas in the east of the Euphrates aimed at undermining the unity of Syria as well as threatening the national security of neighboring countries. Expressed concern, in this regard, with the increasing hostilities against civilians. Reiterated their opposition to the illegal seizure and transfer of oil revenues that should belong to the Syrian Arab Republic;

Condemned continuing Israeli military attacks in Syria which violate the international law, international humanitarian law, the sovereignty of Syria and neighboring countries, endanger the stability and security in the region and called for cessation of them;

Expressed their conviction that there could be no military solution to the Syrian conflict and reaffirmed their commitment to advance viable and lasting Syrian-led and Syrian-owned, UN-facilitated political process in line with the UN Security Council Resolution 2254;

Emphasized the important role of the Constitutional Committee in Geneva, created as a result of the decisive contribution of the Astana guarantors and in furtherance of the decisions of the Syrian National Dialogue Congress in Sochi;

Expressed the need for the early holding of the 6th round of the Drafting Commission of the Syrian Constitutional Committee in Geneva. In this regard, reaffirmed their determination to support the Committee’s work through continuous interaction with the Syrian parties to the Constitutional Committee and the UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Syria Geir O. Pedersen, as facilitator, in order to ensure its sustainable and effective functioning;

Expressed the conviction that the Committee in its work should respect the Terms of Reference and Core Rules of Procedure to enable the Committee to implement its mandate of preparing and drafting for popular approval a constitutional reform as well as achieving progress in its work and be governed by a sense of compromise and constructive engagement without foreign interference and externally imposed timelines aimed at reaching general agreement of its members;

Reiterated grave concern at the humanitarian situation in Syria and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, which presents a profound challenge to all Syria’s health system, socio-economic and humanitarian situations. Rejected all unilateral sanctions, which are in contravention of international law, international humanitarian law and the UN Charter, particularly in the face of the pandemic.

Emphasized the need to increase humanitarian assistance to all Syrians throughout the country without discrimination, politicization and preconditions. In order to support the improvement of the humanitarian situation in Syria and the progress in the process of the political settlement, called upon the international community, the United Nations and its humanitarian agencies, to enhance the assistance to Syria, inter alia by developing early recovery projects, including the restoration of basic infrastructure assets – water and power supply facilities, schools and hospitals as well as the humanitarian mine action in accordance with the international humanitarian law;

Highlighted the need to facilitate safe and voluntary return of refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs) to their original places of residence in Syria, ensuring their right to return and right to be supported. In this regard, called upon the international community to provide the necessary assistance to Syrian refugees and IDPs and reaffirmed their readiness to continue interaction with all relevant parties, including the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and other specialized international agencies;

Welcomed the successful operation on mutual release of detainees on 2 July within the framework of the Working Group on the Release of Detainees / Abductees, Handover of Bodies and Identification of Missing Persons. The operation confirmed the willingness of Syrian parties to strengthen the mutual trust with the assistance of the Astana guarantors. It also reaffirmed the determination of the Astana guarantors to increase and expand their cooperation within the Working Group.

Took note with appreciation the participation of delegations of Jordan, Iraq and Lebanon as observers of the Astana format as well as representatives of the United Nations and the ICRC;

Expressed their sincere gratitude to the Kazakh authorities for hosting in Nur-Sultan the 16th International Meeting on Syria in the Astana format;

Decided to convene the 17th International Meeting on Syria in the Astana format in Nur-Sultan before the end of 2021 taking into consideration the pandemic situation. Also recalled the Joint Statement of 1 July 2020 to hold the next Tripartite Summit in the Islamic Republic of Iran as soon as conditions permit.

NATO at UNSC Sheds Tears Only for Al Qaeda Terrorists in Idlib

 MIRI WOOD 

Al Qaeda HTS Hayat Tahrir Sham Nusra Front Jabhat Nusra terrorists in Idlib, Syria - NATO Turkey

June 25 was the most recent gathering of the NATO junta at the UNSC during which the western supremacists lie about Syria and wail over al Qaeda terrorists still occupying parts of Idlib. The neo Sykes-Picot assemblage has either become more arrogant in flinging lies, or has grown weary of engagement in the same monkey dung-flinging; statements and tweets from US, UK, and France were so off-kilter from the UN’s synopsis page as to make a researcher need to clarify if there was one, or two, anti-Syria meetings on that date.

Boots on, the author will try to wade through the morass of chaos, and try to find some coherence, beginning with the curious title the UN website gave to the meeting: “Amid Little Forward Movement, Warring Parties in Syria Must Take Concrete Steps on Potential Common Ground Issues, Special Envoy Says.”

Al Qaeda HTS Hayat Tahrir Sham Nusra Front Jabhat Nusra terroristsin Idlib, Syria - NATO Turkey
One might wonder at the ‘common ground’ Geir O. Pedersen might find with similarly armed terrorists in his neighborhood.

UN Special Envoy for Syria, Geir Pedersen actually claimed the possibility “common ground” exists between armed savages who kidnap, behead, bomb, slaughter intellectuals, turn cancer university hospitals into rubble, if only “mutual and reciprocal actions could begin to make a positive difference for Syrians, and give impetus to a political process.”

Envoy calls for common ground between terrorists and civilized persons.
Which NATO country would claim common ground between terrorists and civilized human beings?

To better grasp Pedersen’s special diplomacy, a glimpse at some of his recent tweets may be useful.

On 3 June, he reported on meeting with the ISSG Humanitarian Task Force in Geneva, though the media chose not to report on it. The Syria-less, International Syria Support Group — not to be confused with the rotten, secret diplomatic meeting that launched a UN frenzy against Syria in early 2018 — made international headlines throughout 2016; details on its colonialist goals for the SAR are found in The Devil is in the Detail. Given the discussion was to have been on al Hol (administered by SDF terrorists under the protection of American military illegals), Rukban, (administered by the ISIS-offshoot terrorists, Maghawir Thawra, under the protection of American illegals), and that water, Syrian, is never discussed in the UN, it might have required a follow-up tweet, statement, or even a NATO news report.

On 14 June, he tweeted his followers to read his full statement of condemnation of an alleged bombing of an alleged hospital in Afrin, Syria. He did not mention that the bombing was part of an ongoing firefight between NATO Turkey terrorists and NATO SDF terrorists. The photos of the alleged incident involved the White Helmets, of in the genre of CGI and an empty, messy, building, with a wall having been used for target practice. According to OCHA’s propaganda Reliefweb site, this unhospital in Afrin is [illegally] run by the CIA, the State Department, and the always illegally in Syria and always embedded with terrorists, SAMS (it is not to be confused with the unhospital of the same name in Idlib, run by a Brit terrorist).

Pederson made no follow-up condemnations at the UNSC meeting; as noted in Syria News above hyperlinked report, “this will pose a bit of a dilemma for the NATO klan at the UN, as the tripartite aggressors support Turkey in all of its atrocities against Syria, and simultaneously support the SDF in all of its atrocities against Syria. There may also be a bit of a problem given the UN only holds meetings to condemn the bombings of unhospitals to blame Syria, and is deaf, dumb, blind when the terrorists the klan supports turn to rubble actual hospitals.”

Meek ‘strong condemnation’ as SDF terrorists also NATO-owned.

The Spec. diplomat’s briefing was of the standard anti-Syria, western savior imperialism. He called for the release of alleged ”detainees” (though the UN synopsis did not quote him as demanding the right to inspect Syrian prisons, as he has in the past), again called for what is tantamount to another unilateral cessation of hostilities, which is imperialist speak for letting the savages continue to decimate the Syrian Arab Republic.

Where was the concern of the UN humanitarian bastards when terrorists abducted dozens of Syrian children in the aftermath of the massacre in al Rashidin? Where was that righteous concern when hundreds of Syrian waited in the Faiha Stadium for the release of over 3,000 kidnapped Syrians, who were exchanged for arrested terrorists?

Did the NATO junta ruling the UN even feign any interest in the thousands of Syrians found in mass graves in areas liberated from the terrorists, of which only some have been identified through forensic studies?

Look upon these vermin and their works, and despair; these are the filth which with the UN Special Envoy dares to suggest civilized human beings should find ”common ground.”

Jolani oversees kidnapping of children in Idlib
Kidnapped child comforting other kidnapped children after being FX’d for a White Helmets production, in Idlib.
US ISIS terrorists in Syria: Sweida, Quneitra, Daraa, Deir Ezzor
victims of un backed terrorists
UN silent when terrorists killed soldiers and al Kindi hospital blown up.
Eleven soldiers of the al Kindi University Cancer Hospital about to be slaughtered by NATO supported FSA freedom fighter terrorists, 21 December 2013. How did NATO stenography journalists report on their kidnappings and murders?
Terrorist in Idlib 'feed' head of murdered Syrian soldier.
al-Qaeda necrophiliacs in Idlib, supported by the US and ignored by NATO stenographer journalists
Idlib 2013, when Jolani was put in charge of the human garbage.
Idlib 2013. The FSA terrorist grilled the severed head of a Syrian soldier. What degenerate normalizes such atrocities?
Terrorists call for bombing bakery.
Jolani and his humanitarian resistance
Mom butchered so unborn baby could be carved out and used as war porn by NATO supported terrorists.
ISIS terrorists child recruits were made to murder 25 soldiers in 2015.
ISIS child recruits were made to murder 25 soldiers in 2015.
UN expects Syria to find common ground with psychotic terrorists.
White Helmets humanitarians on the corpses of murdered Syrian soldiers whose boots have been stolen.

Study these heinous photos of the savages dressed in human bodies, and of their atrocities. Consider that this filth is what savior Pedersen demands civilized society find common ground.

Then, marvel at his follow-up threats that there are simultaneously “worrying signs that Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh) may be strengthening and noting that other listed groups remain at large” — though this threat is nothing new. Our treasonous Strangelove’s at the Pentagon threatened to revive ISIS in September 2019; the recent war criminal bombings of Syria and Iraq, by the aggregate Biden-Pentagon-Harris-State Department-Dr. Jill-Nance presidency suggests that the genocidal revival is about to go live.

Is it possible to get more sadistic and arrogant than this?

NATO armed, funded, and facilitated the transportation of the world’s human garbage into Syria. The NATO junta that has destroyed the UN has supported the human vermin as ‘freedom fighters.’ NATO US founded both al Qaeda and ISIS terrorists.

The pro tempore Security Council presidents are permitted to invite celebrity guests to address Security Council meetings. They are always part of the NATO clique, though presented as independent persons who just happen to be on the exact page of the rabid hyenas of the UN.

Poor little Estonia finally got its turn and was forced to draw from some very slim pickins.’ unlike the glamourous fake physician about whom a fake documentary that was nominated for a 5th columnist Oscar, that the US ambassador presented to the junta meeting.

The poor little temporary president was stuck with a somebody that nobody knows. Even the US Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield confused her women’s group with another women’s group that has appeared to have been created by the NATO clique of the UN.

‘Abeer Hussein’ was introduced as “a member of the Syrian Women’s Political Movement.” Not to be confused with the UN-created “Syrian Women’s Advisory Board” — as was done by Thomas-Greenfield — this alleged Syrian women’s group was founded in Paris, France, in October 2017 and then did not even make the US 501(c) fake charity status, to give it some veneer of legitimacy. Nonetheless, the ‘founding document’ — written in perfect English though the meeting was in France — sounded as though written by our Strangelove friends at the US State Department.

‘Hussein’ is not on the list of the alleged 28 ‘Syrian’ women founding sisters, in France, which is not Syria (though the French imperialists have never forgiven Syrians for Evacuation Day).

She functioned as the anticipated Charlie McCarthy routine to the NATO terrorists-supporting junta’s ventriloquism (marionette wiring was not required): She whined that 2254 has not yet been imposed, bleated for a Sykes-Picot — “transitional’ — governance, demanded the release of jailed criminals (as the NATO war criminals and their media propagandists have told us since 2011, the SAR is that paradoxical Utopia, where nobody is a criminal, yet the jails are overflowing), bleated a smidgeon about controlling some armed groups (not “terrorists;” never “terrorists”), condemned the fact that mostly foreign terrorists were not permitted to vote in the election; of course declared “the election is a fraud`,” because only western supremacists who collectively are responsibly for genocide against sovereign countries have the tyrannical right to dictate which elections are fair and which are not (and the allegedly fair ones merely coincidental in friendship to NATO).

Syrian Women’s Political Movement first — and only? — meeting was in Paris, France.

Syrian Women’s Political Movement first — and only? — meeting was in Paris, France.

Thomas-Greenfield confused one NATO Syrian women’s group with another.
UN brought in the NATO Syrian Women’s Advisory Board.
NATO Syrian women’s groups either are not Syrian, or are amenable to stabbing their Syrian sisters in the back.

This anemic celebrity claimed to be “an eyewitness to what women suffer.”

How, then, has she — like other allegedly Syrian women brought to tap dance for the junta at the UN — been blind to the kidnappings of real Syrian women and their children, to their public executions, to the slaughter of their husbands, sons, daughters, grandchildren, physicians, and friends?

How do these ”Syrian women” align themselves with the terrorists who commit femicide, who blow up children, who keep women prisoners, who commit the most unspeakable of horrors — including carving late term fetuses from their mothers’ wombs to use propaganda photo opportunities — of the kind that would make Satan blush in envy?

These terrorists are criminally insane and should be incarcerated for the rest of their lives. The only creatures worse than these violent degenerates are the filthy scum in fine clothing, the fraudulent diplomats who hold allegiance to other unindicted war criminals and who sully the UN with cheap filthy liars.

Take a good look at the following album of Syrian women who were kidnapped, brutalized, murdered, whose children were butchered. Make especial note to compare the face of the young woman abducted in al Sweida, after the massacre by the terrorists so beloved by the utter filth that the UN NATO klan brings into the former bastion of peace and security.

image-International Women's Day
Terrorists kidnapped women & their kids & Channel 4 cheered the terrorists as saviors.
Terrorists kidnapped women & their kids & Channel 4 cheered the terrorists as saviors.
Syrian women are invisible in Idlib. This is what the Wahhabi terrorists think of them.
UN brings in fake Syrian women who support terrorist crimes against Syrian women.
international-women's-day
Women and their children held by moderate kidnappers including al Jazeera.
Syrian women put into cages are not considered part of the #MeToo movement.
femicide -Murdered Syrian women's bodies stepped on by NATO moderate opposition members.
Murdered Syrian women’s bodies stepped on by NATO moderate opposition members.
image-Latakia Freed Women and Children with President Assad and First Lady Asma
Latakia Freed Women and Children with President Assad and First Lady Asma
Terrorists bombed Syrian women enjoying a day in the park.
An afternoon in the park was interrupted by moderate mortars. These 2 (or 3) Syrians women were among 8 murdered in Sebil Park, 22 July. Terrorists committed this atrocity.
Professor Dannoun’s legs were blown off when terrorists remotely detonated a bomb in her car.
Syrian woman murdered by foreign-armed, foreign terrorists in Idlib, 2015, for ‘adultery.’ Ignoring this act of femicide, MSM used her to whitewash other factions of al-Qaeda.
Congress dogs of war silent.
Near-term fetus carved from mother’s womb. Congress silent.
How did a White Helmet come into possession of a dead fetus & why does this pervert play with the body?
Terrorist massacred, kidnapped Syrian women in al Sweida
Sweida: Some of the 14 captives; UN silent.
NATO junta was silent over terrorists the massacre.
Thawrwat Fadel Abou Ammar. Her nose was broken before she was murdered.
Terrorists murdered Yousef walking home from school.
Yousef was killed by NATO terrorists sniper, while walking home from school.
Yousef’s mom collapsed when given the news that terrorists murdered her baby. What fraud ever marketed by the UN ever grieved with her?
syrian-democratic-forces
The face of dignified grief. Syrian mom, Souri Habib Ali holds the names of her 6 children killed while defending their country from NATO-backed terrorists.
utterly repulsive dalmatian
Utterly repulsive Dalmatian, friend of terrorists who commit femicide of Syrian women, dared to talk about their ‘rights.’
Criminally lying women brought into UN ignore brutality against Syrian women by western-owned terrorists.
Mother of Syrian Journalist Martyr Khalid Al Khatib carrying his coffin. Murdered by NATO terrorists.
Journalist Yara Abbas, assassinated May 2013 by the terrorists still supported on the occasion of International Women’s Day.
Syrian superstar star Raghda to the right in a pro Syrian government rally. Her father to the left kidnapped by FSA terrorists forced-dressed him with their flag before they tortured him to death.
international-women's-day
Dr. Bouthaina Shaaban, advisor to President al Assad
Syrian Vice President, Dr. Najah al Attar
Syrian Vice President, Dr. Najah al Attar.
international-women's-day
How dare these uppity Syrian women decide on their own president? Don’t they know elections are only valid if overseen by US colonialists?
femicide Syrian women voting, 3 June 2014.
Syrian women voting, 3 June 2014.
Our First Lady is always surrounded by love. How dare the West demand regime change?
femicide - Latakia Freed Women and Children with President Assad and First Lady Asma
Latakia Freed Women and Children with President Assad and First Lady Asma

The P3 mobsters engaged in their standard echolalia, followed by the repetition compulsion of the usual UN House Servants. In imperial fashion, the French, US, and UK saviors of the Syrian Arabs declared their presidential vote to be null and void — the antithesis of its patriotic meaning — that only a new election under their noblesse oblige would be recognized by them.

Western terrorists supports don't have leaders who can safely walk among their citizens.
We ask the NATO junta that supports terrorists in Syria, when any of their leaders were safe among their citizenry.

These tripartite aggressors renewed their collective fantasy for what is tantamount to a new Sykes-Picot to be imposed on the SAR, ignored their countries dumping of terrorists into the Levantine republic, ignored their illicit “sanctions” as the causation of humanitarian needs, and continued to demand their supremacist right to invade the country via the forced openings of fraudulent “humanitarian corridors.” Additionally, the junta hypocritically demanded full access to prisons in Syria (the US has the largest number of incarcerates in the western world; the UK has unlawfully detained Julian Assange for more than one year; France’s incarceration rate is over capacity (and of course, we shall never forget the Macron regime’s mass enucleation and other maiming campaign against the Gilets Jaunes).

As already noted, US Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield confused two NATO dummy women’s groups, and later issued a statement that had little relationship to the UN synopsis. France’s Nicolas de Riviere viciously played stick and carrot, suggesting illicit sanctions would be removed were Syria to suddenly relinquish its sovereignty via the “political settlement” with the terrorists, even while claiming the country “has becoming a breeding ground” for said terrorists (countless numbers of which are of French origin).

The UK’s James Paul Roscoe stood in for Barbara Woodward, who was apparently occupied in giving an interview to the House of Saud’s al Arabiya, during which she added ten million to the census of Syrians living under al Qaeda and assorted other terrorists gangs (many of British origin, which of course was not mentioned). Roscoe cheered the “vital work” of the previously unknown women’s group, also yakked about imaginary detainees, and demanded that “medical professionals” — likely chosen by the NATO junta, and of the ilk of the criminal who sadistically chuckled that he criminally performed surgeries without anesthetics — enter Syrian jails (British incarceration has dropped, as the UK dumped a few thousand of its criminals into society at large, because of COVID, making a bit of room for anti-lockdown detainees, and also accounting for the increase in violent crimes, particularly knifings.).

H.E. Nebenzia continues to be a rare voice of sanity, in a swamp of unindicted war criminals.
UK’s ‘diplomat’ needs a new course in Syria’s census. Here she lies that 13.5 million live under terrorists.

His Excellency Bassam Sabbagh addressed the Security Council, maintaining pristine diplomatic language, despite having to address the criminals ruling the UN, the criminals who have destroyed, and continue to destroy his country.

He reminded the NATO junta controlling the United Nations that the “constitutional entitlement” of Syrian Arabs to raise their voices to the world in the re-election Dr. Bashar al Assad as their president — rejecting terrorists including American and Turkish criminals. He emphatically stated that”there is no link between the elections and Resolution 2254,” and that Syria continues to fulfill its obligations to the Constitutional Committee.

He decried the “deceptive slogans” of the P3 (and their underlings) and condemned their violations of the principles of International Law, and of the UN Charter. He reminded the NATO klan of the Erdogan regime’s ongoing ethnic cleansing of Syria, of its Turkification process within parts of his country. He denounced the ongoing aggression by the US, Turkey, and Israel, specifically, all of which violate Syria’s national sovereignty.

He denounced the silence of this gang of thugs, regarding the US regime’s criminal entry into his country, “like thieves,” but with the impunity of traveling “from New York to New Jersey,” last month.

Ambassador Sabbagh condemned support for terrorists against his country.
H.E. Bassam Sabbagh condemned the breach of International Law in ‘some members’ support of terrorists against his country.

Excellency Sabbagh was referring to the US illegal delegation led by Acting Secretary of State, Joey Hood — whose very name sounds like mafioso schivoso out of a mobster movie — went into Syria to meet with SDF terrorists. These American criminals flaunted their supremacy in announcing their criminality and sheer contempt for Syrian Arabs, on its official website (this is the same criminal US that pretends to want to put an end to domestic, systemic racism, whose criminal media run non-stop reports on this synthetic endeavor, while stretching its colonial wingspan and attempting to crush complex thought that all forms of racism are the bastard offspring of imperialism).

Continuing to throw pearls before swine, Mr. Sabbagh reminded all that while the NATO klan bray about “detainees” they ignore the thousands of Syrian Arabs who have been abducted, and are still missing, and of the general amnesty decrees issued by President Assad.

The Syrian diplomat noted that his country will be presenting a bill to the criminal Americans, for the theft of Syrian food grains, for the looting of Syria’s oil, for the destruction of Syria’s infrastructure, and for compensation to Syrian Arabs maimed, and family survivors of Syrian Arabs slaughtered by US-sponsored terrorists.https://www.youtube.com/embed/47HMLtv6J0I?start=1&feature=oembedhttps://www.youtube.com/embed/71PBlU-ftEE?start=19&feature=oembed

We remind the NATO tyrants ruling the UN that President Assad promised his people that “every inch” of the Syrian Arab Republic will be liberated from the terrorists unleashed by this vile klan that defames the noble principles of the United Nations Charter.

— Miri Wood

Postscript:

The exaggerated incoherence of the 25 June UNSC meeting may have been caused by it being a haphazard, anti-Syria postscript to the 23 June gathering in support of the NATO humanitarian hyenas addressed by SG Guterres — to not only renew UNSCR 2533 (2020), but also return to UNSCR 2165 (2014). As the unhooded klansmen and their stenographers lie that Russia is responsible for making Syrians go hungry, we hyperlink the statements of Excellencies Vassily Nebenzia and Bassam Sabbagh. Compare to the UNSC phony ‘debate’ on the humanitarian corridor to Gaza.

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Article by Sergey Lavrov, Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs, “The Law, the Rights and the Rules”, Moscow, June 28, 2021

Article by Sergey Lavrov, Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs, “The Law, the Rights and the Rules”, Moscow, June 28, 2021

June 27, 2021

https://www.mid.ru/en/foreign_policy/news/-/asset_publisher/cKNonkJE02Bw/content/id/4801890

The frank and generally constructive conversation that took place at the June 16, 2021 summit meeting between presidents Vladimir Putin and Joseph Biden in Geneva resulted in an agreement to launch a substantive dialogue on strategic stability, reaffirming the crucial premise that nuclear war is unacceptable. The two sides also reached an understanding on the advisability of engaging in consultations on cybersecurity, the operation of diplomatic missions, the fate of imprisoned Russian and US citizens and a number of regional conflicts.

The Russian leader made it clear, including in his public statements, that finding a mutually acceptable balance of interests strictly on a parity basis is the only way to deliver …The Russian leader made it clear, including in his public statements, that finding a mutually acceptable balance of interests strictly on a parity basis is the only way to deliver on any of these tracks. There were no objections during the talks. However, in their immediate aftermath, US officials, including those who participated in the Geneva meeting, started asserting what seemed to be foregone tenets, perorating that they had “made it clear” to Moscow, “warned it, and stated their demands.” Moreover, all these “warnings” went hand in hand with threats: if Moscow does not accept the “rules of the road” set forth in Geneva in a matter of several months, it would come under renewed pressure.

Of course, it has yet to be seen how the consultations to define specific ways for fulfilling the Geneva understandings as mentioned above will proceed. As Vladimir Putin said during his news conference following the talks, “we have a lot to work on.” That said, it is telling that Washington’s ineradicable position was voiced immediately following the talks, especially since European capitals immediately took heed of the Big Brother’s sentiment and picked up the tune with much gusto and relish. The gist of their statements is that they are ready to normalise their relations with Moscow, but only after it changes the way it behaves.

It is as if a choir has been pre-arranged to sing along with the lead vocalist. It seems that this was what the series of high-level Western events in the build-up to the Russia-US talks was all about: the Group of Seven Summit in Cornwall, UK, the NATO Summit in Brussels, as well as Joseph Biden’s meeting with President of the European Council Charles Michel and President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen.

These meetings were carefully prepared in a way that leaves no doubt that the West wanted to send a clear message: it stands united like never before and will do what it believes to be right in international affairs, while forcing others, primarily Russia and China, to follow its lead. The documents adopted at the Cornwall and Brussels summits cemented the rules-based world order concept as a counterweight to the universal principles of international law with the UN Charter as its primary source.

In doing so, the West deliberately shies away from spelling out the rules it purports to follow, just as it refrains from explaining why they are needed. After all, there are already thousands of universal international legal instruments setting out clear national commitments and transparent verification mechanisms. The beauty of these Western “rules” lies precisely in the fact that they lack any specific content.When someone acts against the will of the West, it immediately responds with a groundless claim that “the rules have been broken” (without bothering to present any evidence) and declares its “right to hold the perpetrators accountable.” The less specific they get, the freer their hand to carry on with the arbitrary practice of employing dirty tactics as a way to pressure competitors. During the so-called “wild 1990s” in Russia, we used to refer to such practices as laying down the law.

To the participants in the G7, NATO and US-EU summits, this series of high-level events signalled the return by the United States into European affairs and the restored consolidation of the Old World under the wing of the new administration in Washington. Most NATO and EU members met this U-turn with enthusiastic comments rather than just a sigh of relief. The adherence to liberal values as the humanity’s guiding star provides an ideological underpinning for the reunification of the “Western family.” Without any false modesty, Washington and Brussels called themselves “an anchor for democracy, peace and security,” as opposed to “authoritarianism in all its forms.” In particular, they proclaimed their intent to use sanctions to “support democracy across the globe.” To this effect, they took on board the American idea of convening a Summit for Democracy. Make no mistake, the West will cherry pick the participants in this summit. It will also set an agenda that is unlikely to meet any opposition from the participants of its choosing. There has been talk of democracy-exporting countries undertaking “enhanced commitments” to ensure universal adherence to “democratic standards” and devising mechanisms for controlling these processes.

The revitalised Anglo-American Atlantic Charter approved by Joseph Biden and Boris Johnson on June 10, 2021 on the sidelines of the G7 Summit is also worth noting. It was cast as an updated version of the 1941 document signed by Franklin D. Roosevelt and Winston Churchill under the same title. At the time, it played an important role in shaping the contours of the post-war world order.

However, neither Washington, nor London mentioned an essential historical fact: eighty years ago, the USSR and a number of European governments in exile joined the 1941 charter, paving the way to making it one of the conceptual pillars of the Anti-Hitler Coalition and one of the legal blueprints of the UN Charter.

By the same token, the New Atlantic Charter has been designed as a starting point for building a new world order, but guided solely by Western “rules.” Its provisions are ideologically tainted. They seek to widen the gap between the so-called liberal democracies and all other nations, as well as legitimise the rules-based order. The new charter fails to mention the UN or the OSCE, while stating without any reservations the adherence by the Western nations to their commitments as NATO members, viewed de facto as the only legitimate decision-making centre (at least this is how former NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen described NATO’s role). It is clear that the same philosophy will guide the preparations for the Summit for Democracy.

Labelled as “authoritarian powers,” Russia and China have been designated as the main obstacles to delivering on the agenda set out at the June summits. From a general perspective, they face two groups of grievances, loosely defined as external and internal. In terms of international affairs, Beijing is accused of being too assertive … Russia stands accused of adopting an “aggressive posture”in a number of regions. This is the way they treat Moscow’s policy aimed at countering ultra-radical and neo-Nazi aspirations in its immediate neighbourhood, where the rights of Russians, as well as other ethnic minorities, are being suppressed, and the Russian language, education and culture rooted out. They also dislike the fact than Moscow stands up for countries that became victims to Western gambles, were attacked by international terrorists and risked losing their statehood, as was the case with Syria.

Still, the West reserved its biggest words to the inner workings of the “non-democratic” countries and its commitment to reshape them to fit into the Western mould. This entails bringing society in compliance with the vision of democracy as preached by Washington and Brussels. This lies at the root of the demands that Moscow and Beijing, as well as all others, follow the Western prescriptions on human rights, civil society, opposition treatment, the media, governance and the interaction between the branches of power. While proclaiming the “right” to interfere in the domestic affairs of other countries for the sake of promoting democracy as it understands it, the West instantly loses all interest when we raise the prospect of making international relations more democratic, including renouncing arrogant behaviour and committing to abide by the universally recognised tenets of international law instead of “rules.” By expanding sanctions and other illegitimate coercive measures against sovereign states, the West promotes totalitarian rule in global affairs, assuming an imperial, neo-colonial stance in its relations with third countries. They are asked to adopt the democratic rule under the model of the Western choosing, and forget about democracy in international affairs, since someone will be deciding everything for them. All that is asked of these third countries is to keep quiet, or face reprisals.

Clearheaded politicians in Europe and America realise that this uncompromising policy leads nowhere, and are beginning to think pragmatically, albeit out of public view, recognising that the world has more than just one civilisation. They are beginning to recognise that Russia, China and other major powers have a history that dates back a thousand years, and have their own traditions, values and way of life. Attempts to decide whose values are better, and whose are worse, seem pointless. Instead, the West must simply recognise that there are other ways to govern that may be different from the Western approaches, and accept and respect this as a given. No country is immune to human rights issues, so why all this high-browed hubris? Why do the Western countries assume that they can deal with these issues on their own, since they are democracies, while others have yet to reach this level, and are in need of assistance that the West will generously provide.

International relations are going through fundamental shifts that affect everyone without exception. Trying to predict where it will take us is impossible. Still, there is a question: messianic aspirations apart, what is the most effective form of government for coping with and removing threats that transcend borders and affect all people, no matter where they live? Political scientists are beginning to compare the available toolboxes used by the so-called liberal democracies and by “autocratic regimes.” In this context, it is telling that the term “autocratic democracy” has been suggested, even if timidly.

These are useful considerations, and serious-minded politicians who are currently in power, among others, must take heed. Thinking and scrutinising what is going on around us has never hurt anyone. The multipolar world is becoming reality.Attempts to ignore this reality by asserting oneself as the only legitimate decision-making centre will hardly bring about solutions to real, rather than farfetched challenges. Instead, what is needed is mutually respectful dialogue involving the leading powers and with due regard for the interests of all other members of the international community. This implies an unconditional commitment to abide by the universally accepted norms and principles of international law, including respecting the sovereign equality of states, non-interference in their domestic affairs, peaceful resolution of conflict, and the right to self-determination.

Taken as a whole, the historical West dominated the world for five hundred years. However, there is no doubt that it now sees that this era is coming to a close, while clinging to the status it used to enjoy, and putting artificial brakes on the objective process consisting in the emergence of a polycentric world. This brought about an attempt to provide a conceptual underpinning to the new vision of multilateralism. For example, France and Germany tried to promote “effective multilateralism,” rooted in the EU ideals and actions, and serving as a model to everyone else, rather than promoting UN’s inclusive multilateralism.

By imposing the concept of a rules-based order, the West seeks to shift the conversation on key issues to the platforms of its liking, where no dissident voices can be herd. This is how like-minded groups and various “appeals” emerge. This is about coordinating prescriptions and then making everyone else follow them. Examples include an “appeal for trust and security in cyberspace”, “the humanitarian appeal for action”, and a “global partnership to protect media freedom.” Each of these platforms brings together only several dozen countries, which is far from a majority, as far as the international community is concerned. The UN system offers inclusive negotiations platforms on all of the abovementioned subjects. Understandably, this gives rise to alternative points of view that have to be taken into consideration in search of a compromise, but all the West wants is to impose its own rules.

At the same time, the EU develops dedicated horizontal sanctions regimes for each of its “like-minded groups,” of course, without looking back at the UN Charter. This is how it works: those who join these “appeals” or “partnerships” decide among themselves who violates their requirements in a given sphere, and the European Union imposes sanctions on those at fault. What a convenient method. They can indict and punish all by themselves without ever needing to turn to the UN Security Council. They even came up with a rationale to this effect: since we have an alliance of the most effective multilateralists, we can teach others to master these best practices. To those who believe this to be undemocratic or at odds with a vision of genuine multilateralism, President of France Emmanuel Macron offered an explanation in his remarks on May 11, 2021: multilateralism does not mean necessity to strike unanimity, and the position of those “who do not wish to continue moving forward must not be able to stop … an ambitious avant-garde” of the world community.

Make no mistake: there is nothing wrong with the rules per se. On the contrary, the UN Charter is a set of rules, but these rules were approved by all countries of the world, rather than by a closed group at a cosy get-together.

An interesting detail: in Russian, the words “law” and “rule” share a single root. To us, a rule that is genuine and just is inseparable from the law. This is not the case for Western languages. For instance, in English, the words “law” and “rule” do not share any resemblance. See the difference? “Rule” is not so much about the law, in the sense of generally accepted laws, as it is about the decisions taken by the one who rules or governs. It is also worth noting that “rule” shares a single root with “ruler,” with the latter’s meanings including the commonplace device for measuring and drawing straight lines. It can be inferred that through its concept of “rules” the West seeks to align everyone around its vision or apply the same yardstick to everybody, so that everyone falls into a single file.

While reflecting on linguistics, worldview, sentiment, and the way they vary from one nation or culture to another, it is worth recollecting how the West has been justifying NATO’s unreserved eastward expansion towards the Russian border. When we point to the assurances provided to the Soviet Union that this would not happen, we hear that these were merely spoken promises, and there were no documents signed to this effect.There is a centuries-old tradition in Russia of making handshake deals without signing anything and holding one’s word as sacrosanct, but it seems unlikely to ever take hold in the West.

Efforts to replace international law by Western “rules” include an immanently dangerous policy of revising the history and outcomes of the Second World War and the Nuremberg trials verdicts as the foundation of today’s world order. The West refuses to support a Russia-sponsored UN resolution proclaiming that glorifying Nazism is unacceptable, and rejects our proposals to discuss the demolition of monuments to those who liberated Europe. They also want to condemn to oblivion momentous post-war developments, such as the 1960 UN Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples, initiated by our country. The former colonial powers seek to efface this memory by replacing it with hastily concocted rituals like taking a knee ahead of sports competitions, in order to divert attention from their historical responsibility for colonial-era crimes.

The rules-based order is the embodiment of double standards. The right to self-determination is recognised as an absolute “rule” whenever it can be used to an advantage. This applies to the Malvinas Islands, or the Falklands, some 12,000 kilometres from Great Britain, to the remote former colonial territories Paris and London retain despite multiple UN resolutions and rulings by the International Court of Justice, as well as Kosovo, which obtained its “independence” in violation of a UN Security Council resolution. However, if self-determination runs counter to the Western geopolitical interests, as it happened when the people of Crimea voted for reunification with Russia, this principle is cast aside, while condemning the free choice made by the people and punishing them with sanctions.

Apart from encroaching on international law, the “rules” concept also manifests itself in attempts to encroach on the very human nature. In a number of Western countries, students learn at school that Jesus Christ was bisexual. Attempts by reasonable politicians to shield the younger generation from aggressive LGBT propaganda are met with bellicose protests from the “enlightened Europe.” All world religions, the genetic code of the planet’s key civilisations, are under attack. The United States is at the forefront of state interference in church affairs, openly seeking to drive a wedge into the Orthodox world, whose values are viewed as a powerful spiritual obstacle for the liberal concept of boundless permissiveness.

The insistence and even stubbornness demonstrated by the West in imposing its “rules” are striking. Of course, domestic politics is a factor, with the need to show voters how tough your foreign policy can get when dealing with “autocratic foes” during every electoral cycle, which happen every two years in the United States.

Still, it was also the West that coined the “liberty, equality, fraternity” motto. I do not know whether the term “fraternity” is politically correct in today’s Europe from a “gender perspective,” but there were no attempts to encroach on equality so far. As mentioned above, while preaching equality and democracy in their countries and demanding that other follow its lead, the West refuses to discuss ways to ensure equality and democracy in international affairs.

This approach is clearly at odds with the ideals of freedom. The veil of its superiority conceals weakness and the fear of engaging in a frank conversation not only with yes-men and those eager to fall in line, but also with opponents with different beliefs and values, not neo-liberal or neo-conservative ones, but those learned at mother’s knee, inherited from many past generations, traditions and beliefs.

It is much harder to accept the diversity and competition of ideas in the development of the world than to invent prescriptions for all of humanity within a narrow circle of the like-minded, free from any disputes on matters of principle, which makes the emergence of truth all but impossible. However, universal platforms can produce agreements that are much more solid, sustainable, and can be subject to objective verification.

This immutable truth struggles to make it through to the Western elites, consumed as they are with the exceptionalism complex. As I mentioned earlier in this article, right after the talks between Vladimir Putin and Joseph Biden, EU and NATO officials rushed to announce that nothing has changed in the way they treat Russia. Moreover, they are ready to see their relations with Moscow deteriorate further, they claimed.

Moreover, it is an aggressive Russophobic minority that increasingly sets the EU’s policy, as confirmed by the EU Summit in Brussels on June 24 and 25, 2021, where the future of relations with Russia was on the agenda. The idea voiced by Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron to hold a meeting with Vladimir Putin was killed before it saw the light of day. Observers noted that the Russia-US Summit in Geneva was tantamount to a go-ahead by the United States to have this meeting, but the Baltic states, siding with Poland, cut short this “uncoordinated” attempt by Berlin and Paris, while the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry summoned the German and French ambassadors to explain their governments’ actions. What came out of the debates at the Brussels summit was an instruction to the European Commission and the European Union External Action Service to devise new sanctions against Moscow without referring to any specific “sins,” just in case. No doubt they will come up with something, should the need arise.

Neither NATO, nor the EU intend to divert from their policy of subjugating other regions of the world, proclaiming a self-designated global messianic mission.The North-Atlantic Treaty Organisation is seeking to proactively contribute to America’s strategy for the Indo-Pacific Region, clearly targeted at containing China, and undermining ASEAN’s role in its decades-long efforts to build an inclusive cooperation architecture for Asia-Pacific. In turn, the European Union drafts programmes to “embrace” geopolitical spaces in its neighbourhood and beyond, without coordinating these initiatives even with the invited countries. This is what the Eastern Partnership, as well as a recent programme approved by Brussels for Central Asia, are all about. There is a fundamental difference between these approaches and the ones guiding integration processes with Russia’s involvement: the CIS, the CSTO, EurAsEC and the SCO, which seek to develop relations with external partners exclusively on the basis of parity and mutual agreement.

With its contemptuous attitude towards other members of the international community, the West finds itself on the wrong side of history.

Serious, self-respecting countries will never tolerate attempts to talk to them through ultimatums and will discuss any issues only on an equal footing.

As for Russia, it is high time that everyone understands that we have drawn a definitive line under any attempts to play a one-way game with us. All the mantras we hear from the Western capitals on their readiness to put their relations with Moscow back on track, as long as it repents and changes its tack, are meaningless. Still, many persist, as if by inertia, in presenting us with unilateral demands, which does little, if any, credit to how realistic they are.

The policy of having the Russian Federation develop on its own, independently and protecting national interests, while remaining open to reaching agreements with foreign partners on an equal basis, has long been at the core of all its position papers on foreign policy, national security and defence. However, judging by the practical steps taken over the recent years by the West, they probably thought that Russia did not really mean what it preached, as if it did not intend to follow through on these principles. This includes the hysterical response to Moscow’s efforts to stand up for the rights of Russians in the aftermath of the bloody 2014 government coup in Ukraine, supported by the United States, NATO and the EU. They thought that if they applied some more pressure on the elites and targeted their interests, while expanding personal, financial and other sectoral sanctions, Moscow would come to its senses and realise that it would face mounting challenges on its development path, as long as it did not “change its behaviour,” which implies obeying the West. Even when Russia made it clear that we view this policy by the United States and Europe as a new reality and will proceed on economic and other matters from the premise that we cannot depend on unreliable partners, the West persisted in believing that, at the end of the day, Moscow “will come to its senses” and will make the required concessions for the sake of financial reward. Let me emphasise what President Vladimir Putin has said on multiple occasions: there have been no unilateral concessions since the late 1990s and there never will be. If you want to work with us, recover lost profits and business reputations, let us sit down and agree on ways we can meet each other half way in order to find fair solutions and compromises.

It is essential that the West understands that this is a firmly ingrained worldview among the people of Russia, reflecting the attitude of the overwhelming majority here. The “irreconcilable” opponents of the Russian government who have placed their stakes on the West and believe that all Russia’s woes come from its anti-Western stance advocate unilateral concessions for the sake of seeing the sanctions lifted and receiving hypothetical financial gains. But they are totally marginal in Russian society. During his June 16, 2021 news conference in Geneva, Vladimir Putin made it abundantly clear what the West is after when it supports these marginal forces.

These are disruptive efforts as far as history is concerned, while Russians have always demonstrated maturity, a sense of self-respect, dignity and national pride, and the ability to think independently, especially during hard times, while remaining open to the rest of the world, but only on an equal, mutually beneficial footing. Once we put the confusion and mayhem of the 1990s behind us, these values became the bedrock of Russia’s foreign policy concept in the 21st century. The people of Russia can decide on how they view the actions by their government without getting any prompts from abroad.

As to the question on how to proceed on the international stage, there is no doubt that leaders will always play an important role, but they have to reaffirm their authority, offer new ideas and lead by conviction, not ultimatums. The Group of Twenty, among others, is a natural platform for working out mutually acceptable agreements. It brings together the leading economies, young and old, including the G7, as well as the BRICS and its like-minded countries. Russia’s initiative to form a Greater Eurasian Partnership by coordinating the efforts of countries and organisations across the continent holds a powerful consolidating potential. Seeking toEfforts to bring more democracy to international relations and affirm a polycentric world order include reforming the UN Security Council by strengthening it with Asian, African and Latin American countries, and ending the anomaly with the excessive representation of the West in the UN’s main body.

facilitate an honest conversation on the key global stability matters, President Vladimir Putin suggested convening a summit of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council that have special responsibility for maintaining international peace and stability on the planet.

Regardless of any ambitions and threats, our country remains committed to a sovereign and independent foreign policy, while also ready to offer a unifying agenda in international affairs with due account for the cultural and civilisational diversity in today’s world. Confrontation is not our choice, no matter the rationale. On June 22, 2021, Vladimir Putin published an article “Being Open, Despite the Past,” in which he emphasised: “We simply cannot afford to carry the burden of past misunderstandings, hard feelings, conflicts, and mistakes.” He also discussed the need to ensure security without dividing lines, a common space for equitable cooperation and inclusive development. This approach hinges on Russia’s thousand-year history and is fully consistent with the current stage in its development. We will persist in promoting the emergence of an international relations culture based on the supreme values of justice and enabling all countries, large and small, to develop in peace and freedom. We will always remain open to honest dialogue with anyone who demonstrates a reciprocal readiness to find a balance of interests firmly rooted in international law. These are the rules we adhere to.

Gaza Fails to Get UNSC Humanitarian Corridors Reserved for al Qaeda in Idlib

 MIRI WOOD 

Israel Jewish terrorist settlers lynch Palestinians in Palestine

Gaza was at the center of the special United Nations Security Council VTC meeting on Sunday, 16 May, to debate the “senseless cycle of bloodshed” [in a vacuum] and other forms of “destruction between Israel, Palestinians in Gaza.” The NATO junta controlling that bastion of peace and security engaged in collective shedding of its infamous crocodile tears, expectedly reaffirmed support for Israel’s ‘right to self defense,’ and made a few sotto voce sounds about humanitarian access. This junta has again shown that its double standards are part of its imperial geopolitical goals, as the klan has never been reserved in its demands for al Qaeda to have such corridors in Idlib.

The arrogant false equivalency of a country with a full army, air force, and navy, and an occupied peoples struggling against what Professor Francis Boyle once described as “slow genocide,” was not unexpected; nor was the mealy-mouthed humanitarian concerns voiced at the UN Forum on the Question of Palestine, two days later.

UNSC held special meeting on false equivalency of Israel and Palestinians.

As is the tendency of the NATO junta to use asymmetrical language to cover obvious bias, virtually all members of the debate team called for an immediate ceasefire, in lieu of the accurate cessation of hostilities.

His Excellency, UN Secretary-General Antonio Gutteres addressed the “open debate” quite somberly, found the both sides “senseless cycle of bloodshed, destruction between Israel and Palestinians in Gaza” “utterly appalling,” and demanded — with somber face –they immediately stop, lest there be a humanitarian crisis and destabilization of the region, and an end to the [non-existent] negotiation for a two-state solution.

Tor Wennesland is the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process. He stated that: Unnamed “military operations” (IDF bombing of civilian areas) had caused the “humanitarian and security situation in the densely populated Gaza Strip” to become increasingly dire every day; that 34,000 have been internally displaced; that forty UNRWA supported schools have been turned into shelters for the displaced (who have been bombed out of their homes); that “As a result of the [Israeli] military [bombing] operations, seven factories40 schools, and at least four hospitals sustained complete or partial damage;” that “At least 18 buildings including 4 high rise towers [apartment homes?] including one housing international media outlets, have been destroyed, and over 350 buildings damaged [by Israeli bombings] [emphases added].” As part of the NATO junta, Wennesland dutifully reported that “[a]ccording to the IDF, these buildings contained Hamas military installations.”

He did not mention that forced displacement, including bombing people’s homes, that destroying schools, and that destroying hospitals are war crimes. Wennesland’s blase census of bombed schools, forced displacement, and the obliteration of actual hospitals in Gaza, might be compared to the countless, war criminally lying, anti-Syria NATO klan-led meetings before the Security Council, particularly those involving fake hospitals, unhospitals, staged hospitals where kidnapped Syrian children have been painted by moulage trauma artists, alleged hospitals where the unlicensed Mengele’s brag about performing surgeries without anesthesia.

Truly utterly appalling was SG Gutteres’ ongoing false equivalency as he shed his hypocritical and crocodile tears over the phony “both sides” narrative, utilizing his western supremacy to ignore Israel’s blatant war crimes, and also his acute amnesia over his obsessive demand for various borders to be opened against Syria’s will, in order to ensure humanitarian corridors for al Qaeda in Idlib, a convenient amnesia that caused him to negligently state that such corridors be opened for the suffering, newly homeless, internally displaced, and hospital-less civilians of Gaza.

Only al Qaeda counts, not homeless and hungry and displaced people of Gaza.

Border crossings for al Qaeda in Idlib a frequent demand by Gutteres — via UNSCR 2165 (2014) — who did not mention humanitarian corridors should be opened for people in Gaza.

Utterly appalled, but not enough to demand humanitarian corridors be opened for Gaza, as the SG has many times demanded they be opened for al Qaeda in Idlib.
“Utterly appalling” “[F]ighting must stop.”
Though he did not use the words, SG Guterres appeared ‘utterly appalled’ when he arrived at the impoverished Caribbean island to lecture St. Lucians about cyclical sargassum and climate.
His Excellency SG Guterres has never mentioned being ‘utterly appalled’ that Tony Blair has never been indicted for war crimes.
Appalment likely assuaged when ‘former’ Portuguese colony with Portuguese name, East Timor, separated from Indonesia.
Bat Yam, not Gaza, but Guterres didn't speak of being utterly appalled by the rabid mob
SG Guterres did not voice being utterly appalled by the brutalization by rabid mob of Palestinian man in Bat Yam.

Syria News will also take a short look at other NATO klan members and their various House Servants, but given that the ridiculous collective script that the new round of war crimes perpetrated by Israel against Palestinians, with special focus on death, forced displacement, destruction of schools and hospitals in Gaza, and that — somehow — deadly hostilities magically erupted, from a vacuum, possibly related to an emotion called hate, we shall first share a few videos to demonstrate actual causation.

On 2 May, Eastern Orthodox Palestinian Christians attempting to celebrate Easter at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, were not only turned away by IDF, mishtara, and assorted other Israeli police, but were brutally beaten, knocked to the ground, hit with batons.

Such an immoral and brutal attack — missed by the NATO junta at the UN — was followed by a series of home evictions with phony religious, true psychopaths in blasphemous breach of the mitzvot of Torah seen throwing Palestinians out of their homes in Sheikh Jarrah (with the help of Israeli police, in many cases), and bragging about stealing these homes, then followed by Netanyahu unleashing rabid savages to invade more homes, beat and murder the people living there, mobs of psychotics beating a Palestinian man nearly to death — all of which Antonio Gutteres and his gang completely missed.

Then there was the inconsequential incident of the attempt to torch Al Aqsa Mosque, while Israeli men watched and danced and cheered in the nearby Kotel. Israeli media actually claimed that it was a tree that somehow caught fire, and that the degenerates looking in the direction of the flames did so by pure coincidence, as they were actually there honestly celebrating Shavuot.

Let us not omit the following video — that SG Gutteres should have found “utterly appalling,” were he not part of the NATO klan of the UN. It contains the Israeli killer wannabe who sped up his car to run over Palestinians, jumping the concrete Jersey barrier to hit them, and who was then protected by the IDF or militarized police; the zaftig gentleman with the NYC accent who graciously explains to the Palestinian woman why he has the right to have stolen her home; a Palestinian George Floyd dragged from his home; a group of women being battered by the Israeli cops who learned the wrong things from the Nazis (slight paraphrase from a comment in a petition of Jews to the then Mayor of Jerusalem, condemning the massive demolition of Palestinian homes. One signatory commented he was a child of the shoa, then added: “Natzi schmatzi! You learned the wrong thing!”); IDF’ers shooting tear gas, shock grenades, and other deadly projectiles into al Aqsa mosque, filled with worshippers.

Civilized human beings are horrified at the brutality, the home invasions and thefts, the military storming of a house of worship, and the firing of weapons by an armed military inside such a sacred place (who, in his or her right mind would consider sending the military to fire shock grenades and other weapons into St. Peter’s Basilica because of large numbers of worshippers on Christmas Eve?)

Along with the other NATO junta members who have taken over the United Nations, Wennesland ignored all of the above videos of various forms of atrocity, ethnic cleansing, indecency, and prattled on about phony equivalency. He gave perfunctory lip service regarding the deaths of generic “Palestinian families stuck inside their homes,” while bringing us emotionally closer to “a five-year-old Israeli boy in Sderot, and a father and daughter in Lod.” He normalized IDF wounding and murdering of flag-waving demonstrators in Lebanon as somehow a legitimate response to rockets allegedly fired from Lebanon into the sea.

UN NATO klansman normalized atrocities as “clashes,” normalized Israeli military storming a house of worship because of Ramadan.
Spec. UN NATO klansman Wennesland normalized IDF wounding and killing flag wavers in Lebanon.
Not Gaza, nor the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.
Imagine a military firing weapons into St. Peter’s Basilica because of extra worshippers revering Christmas Eve services.

One after the other, the ruling tripartite aggressors of the P3 ruling junta of the United Nations, feigned concern over Gaza again being bombed to rubble, ignored all of the evidence seen in the above videos, and demonstrated their double-standards which condemn Syria for defending its citizenry, laud Israel’s right to self-defense (which every country inherently and per Geneva Agreement of 1949, has), and inferred that persons living under brutal occupation have the same military ability as the occupier.

In addition to France’s overflowing crocodile tears, French media subsequently made an absurd claim that the US ”vetoed” its draft resolution, kept hidden from all, despite the fact that UNSC resolutions must be submitted to the Security Council, and afforded a vote, before any resolution can be vetoed (this author has no idea what kind of geopolitical shade France may attempt to throw).

None demanded that a humanitarian corridor be opened by Israel, to bring in medical supplies, and foodstuffs to the besieged people of Gaza, though the unsubstantiated claim was made that Israel was ‘forced’ to close such a corridor because of ‘sniper fire.’

The US Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield — who practically brought in MGM casts of thousands to lie about fraudulent hospitals in Syria and wail about humanitarian corridors to feed al Qaeda in Idlib, while ignoring America’s criminal sanctions, including the phony Caesar Psyop Act, finally passed by stuffing it into the renewal of the fascist NDAA, in March and in April — showed her concern over bombed hospitals and hungry people in Gaza, via her singular tweet on the UN “debate.”

The UN NATO klansmen “open debate” was followed two days later by the imperialist-named UN Forum on the Question of Palestine, led by former US ambassador to the UN, Rosemary DiCarlo, and the diplomat notorious for “hearing voices” and being caught in outright lies at anti-Syria meetings, Mark Lowcock (those interested in knowing exactly what Lowcock said may follow the hyperlink, below. Those interested in his war propaganda history against Syria can follow the tag in the Syria News search engine.).

DiCarlo has addressed the UN during previous anti-Syria meetings, and has always been forceful in her demands for foreign entities to forcefully open humanitarian corridors for al Qaeda in Idlib, forceful in her support of hospitals that do not exist in terrorist-controlled areas of the SAR, forceful in her demands for the imposition of a new Constitution on Syria. In her imperial address on 18 May, she burped up some useless words such as “regrettably,” “both sides,” “tragic reminder,” “unprecedented,” and barely found the energy to cluck that “humanitarian needs are bound to rise considerably, particularly in Gaza, where the situation was already desperate…”.

Not surprisingly, she did not mention the cause of the desperation, nor did she demand Israel open ”humanitarian corridors,” nor did she demand a constitution (despite the creation of Israel being contingent upon a constitution — among other trivialities — 70 years later, it still does not have one).

Macron’s unsuccessful attempt to censor protesters against the attacks on Gaza , the theft of homes in Sheikh Jarrah, and criminal invasion of al Aqsa.
Thomas-Greenfield tweets undisturbed by Israel’s bombing of Gaza.
Rosemary DeCarlo’s 18 May statement of concern was a bit rote.
Touching symbol of UN hypocrisy

After intentionally failing Gaza, will the UNSC klan dare again to demand humanitarian corridors to al Qaeda, in Idlib?

— Miri Wood

APPENDIX

The tripartite aggressors ruling the UN — France, US, UK, the world’s leaders in war crimes and genocide — along with their House Servants, have a very long history of ignoring the crimes of their welfare queen whose job is to destabilize the Levant, and surrounding areas of the African continent. They have ignored every atrocity perpetrated by their apartheid regime.

Baseem Abu Rahme was a pro two-state Palestinian living in the other open air prison, Bilin. He was at every weekly demonstration against the encroaching apartheid wall. On 17 April 2009, the IDF shot him in the chest with a tear gas cannister used as a projectile, and he died immediately from the physiological shock.

Chava Keller lost all of her family to the Nazi camps. At the age of 14, she spent a night in frigid water, hiding from the Nazis, before making her way to then-Palestine, where she subsequently lost her “Zionist dream.” At the age of 77, the IDF shot her in the arm while she attended a demonstration against the occupation. The photograph taken in June 2006 was outside the Defense Ministry, in Tel Aviv, where hundreds gathered to condemn the massive bombing campaign against the people of Gaza.

Roni Bornat had attended a demonstration in Ramallah, where the IDF shot him in the neck with a live bullet, which made him a permanent quadriplegic. He also attended the weekly Bilin demonstrations, joined by various Israeli activists. In the third photo, Israelis Michaela and Limor Goldstein walk with him to fence ‘protected’ by the IDF and mishtara.

These two Israelis assisted this writer who was protected from physical injury of a shock grenade, by the huge boulder seen in the fifth photograph; assistance was mostly in helping to reorient temporarily scrambled brains from the shock.

Less than two months later, the IDF entered deep into Bilin, threatening both Palestinians and their Israeli supporters, and shooting into the crowd of unarmed demonstrators. The IDF shot Limor in the head with a rubber ball, on 8 August 2006. Video included, here. Michaela is seen pouring water on Limor’s head, and is heard screaming for an ambulance.

The UN klan also ignore various rabbis opposed to the Israeli occupation of Palestinians, and to the very apartheid wall.

Baseem Abu Rahme was killed when IDF used a tear gas cannister as projectile and fired it into his chest, Friday 17 April 2009, Bilin.
Chava Keller at a hundreds-strong demonstration at the Defense Ministry in Tel Aviv, June 2006.
Israelis joined Palestinians in Bilin against the apartheid wall.
Rani Bornat.
IDF occupiers fire tear gas at unarmed demonstrators. Bilin, June 2006
Israeli apartheid inflicted on Palestinians of Gaza and the ‘West Bank.’

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China Sitrep: Comments on Palestine and Gaza

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China Sitrep:  Comments on Palestine and Gaza

May 20, 2021

China has the chair in the UNSC this month, while the catastrophe against the Palestinians and in Gaza continue.  China made a proposal for a cease fire. That was stopped by the US.  There have been further ceasefire proposals and the US has scuppered all of them.  This contains a few comments from Zhao Lijian.  He is a Chinese politician and the deputy director of the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs Information Department as well as a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson.

The purpose of this short Sitrep is to demonstrate that China is not quiet.

The mask of “liberal democracy” falls with a bang

May 17, 2021

The mask of “liberal democracy” falls with a bang

By Pepe Escobar for The Saker Blog and thereafter widely distributed

Nakba, May 15, 2021. Future historians will mark the day when Western “liberal democracy” issued a graphic proclamation: We bomb media offices and destroy “freedom of the press” in an open air concentration camp while we forbid peaceful demonstrations under a state of siege in the heart of Europe.

And if you revolt, we cancel you.

6 members of the same family assassinated at this bombing in Beit Lahia

Gaza meets Paris. The bombing of the al-Jalaa tower – an eminently residential building which also housed the bureaus of al-Jazeera and AP, among others – by “the only democracy in the Middle East” is directly connected to the verboten order carried out by Macron’s Ministry of Interior.

For all practical purposes Paris endorsed the occupying power’s provocations in East Jerusalem; the invasion of al-Aqsa mosque – complete with tear gas and stun grenades; racist Zionist gangs harassing and crying “death to Arabs”; armed settlers aggressing Palestinian families threatened with expulsion from their homes in Sheikh Jarrah and Silwan; a campaign of carpet bombing whose lethal victims – on average – are 30% children.

Paris crowds were not intimidated. From Barbes to Republique, they marched in the streets – their rallying cry being Israel assassin, Macron complice. They instinctively understodood that Le Petit Roi – a puny Rothschild employee – had just firebombed the historical legacy of the nation that coined the Déclaration Universelle des Droits de L’Homme.

The mask of “liberal democracy” kept falling again and again in a loop – with imperial Big Tech dutifully canceling the voices of Palestinians and defenders of Palestine en masse, in tandem with a diplomatic kabuki that could fool only the already brain-dead.

On May 16, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi chaired a United States Security Council (UNSC) debate via video link that had been stalled by Washington, non-stop, throughout the week. China presides the UNSC throughout May.

The UNSC could not even agree on a mere joint statement. Once again because the UNSC was blocked by the – cowardly – Empire of Chaos.

It was up to Hua Liming, former Chinese ambassador to Iran, to break it all down in a single sentence:

“The US doesn’t want to give the credit of mediating the Palestine-Israel conflict to China, especially when China is the president of the UNSC.”

The usual imperial procedure is to “talk”, “offer you can’t refuse” Mafia-style, to both sides under the table – as the combo behind Crash Test Dummy, an avowed Zionist, had already admitted on an appalling White House tweet “reaffirming” its “strong support for Israel’s right to defend itself”.

Liming emphasized, correctly, “this is the key reason why any solution or ceasefire between Israel and Gaza or other forces in the region would be temporary.”

The whole Global South is incessantly bombarded by the imperial “human rights” rhetoric – from convicted crook Navalny to fake reports on Xinjiang. Yet when there is a real human rights catastrophe unleashed by the settler colonialist ally’s carpet bombing, Liming pointed out how “the hypocrisy and double standards of the US have been exposed again”.

One phone call can stop it

Amos Yadlin is the former IDF Military Intelligence Directorate chief, and also former Israeli military attaché to the US.

In a meeting with South African Zionists, he admitted the obvious: the Zionist carnage against Gaza can be stopped by Crash Test Dummy – who happens to be, what else, a Zionist puppet.

Yadlin claimed that the Crash Test Dummy administration, rather the combo behind it, was getting “impatient” and he would be “not surprised if this will all stop in 48 hours.” And once again he had to reinforce the obvious: “When the Egyptians ask Israel to stop, Israel doesn’t want to stop. But if the Americans will ask Israel to stop, Israel will have to listen.”

The Empire practices trademark doublespeak when referring to the “international community” – which in theory gathers at the UN. The concomitant 24/7 propaganda barrage applies only to the motley crew of partners in crime, minions, lackeys, poodles and vassals, imperially ignoring and/or pissing on the heads of over 80% of the planet. Confronted with the reality of Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Ukraine and others, “rules-based international order” does not even qualify as a joke for retards.

So next time you see some sub-zoology specimen deploying the “Israel has the right to defend itself” Maximum Stupidity argument, the only possible response is to unleash facts as missiles.

Every sentient being with a conscience knows Palestine faces a racist settler colonialism project boasting an armed-to-the-hilt-military and several nuclear bombs, specialized in practicing state terrorism.

Gaza though is a particularly horrifying case. Population: nearly 2 million people. One of the top densely populated areas on the planet. A de facto open air concentration camp where no less than 50% are children, one in ten stunted to a great extent because of food shortages provoked by the Israeli blockade. The official Israeli military plan is to allow just enough food in so the whole population barely survives. 50% of the population depends on food aid.

No less than 70% of families are refugees, who were ethnically cleansed from what is now southern Israel: there are roughly 1.46 million refugees out of a population of 1.9 million.

Gaza has 8 refugee camps – some being bombed as we speak. Never forget that Israel ruled Gaza directly from 1967 to 2005 and did less than zero to better their appalling conditions.

There are only 22 health centers, 16 social services offices and 11 food distribution centers, serving roughly 1 million people. No airport or port: both destroyed by Israel. The unemployment rate is 50% – the highest on the whole planet. Clean water is available to only 5% of the population.

But then there’s the Resistance. Elijah Magnier has shown how they have already pierced Israel’s pre-fabricated aura of invulnerability and “prestige” – and there’s only one way to go, as the speed, accuracy, range and potency of rockets and missiles can only improve.

In parallel, in a wise strategic move, Hamas and Islamic Jihad have made it very clear they prefer that Hezbollah does not get itself directly involved – for now, thus allowing the whole Global South to be focused on the carnage perpetrated against Gaza.

“A landscape of iron and desolation”

Sociologie de Jerusalem, by Sylvaine Bulle, is a short but quite illuminating book showing how the battle for East Jerusalem is as imperative for the future of Palestine as the tragedy in Gaza.

Bulle focuses on the “internal racism” in Israel directly linked to the hegemony of extreme-right Zionist “elites”. A key consequence has been the “peripherization” and marginalization of East Jerusalem, thrown into a situation of “forced dependence” of Westernized West Jerusalem.

Bulle shows how East Jerusalem only exists as “a landscape of iron and desolation”, through a juxtaposition of ultra-dense and totally abandoned zones. Palestinians who live in these areas are not regarded or respected as citizens.

Beit Lahia – the horrifying detail

It got much worse after 2004 and the construction of The Wall – which prevented the daily mobility of Palestinians living in the occupied territories and the Palestinians in Jerusalem. That was an extra fracture, with parts of East Jerusalem isolated on the other side of the wall and a lot of people now living in a real no man’s land. Very few across the “liberal democratic” West have any idea how does that feel in practice.

Palestinians in East Jerusalem don’t have Israeli nationality. Most have Jordanian passports. Yet now even Palestinians with Israeli nationality are rebelling – in most cases in very poor towns in the center of the country. Young generations simply have no reason to believe they belong in Israel.

As for Israeli secular leftists, they have been “neutralized” and carry no political power, as they were incapable of integrating the working masses, which in turn were completely captured by hardcore religious extremists.

Bulle’s conclusion, expressed with way too much diplomacy (this is France, after all), is inevitable: the state of Israel is more and more Jewish and less and less democratic, a de facto Zionist regime. She believes it might be possible to rebuild the link between Jewish national identity and democracy, including the rights of Palestinian minorities.

Sorry, but that’s not gonna happen, as the current tragedy, which started in East Jerusalem, graphically shows.

The Via Dolorosa continues – as we all watch in horror. Just imagine the inter-galactic Western levels of hysteria if Russia or China were bombing, firing shells and missiles and killing children in residential areas. No wonder the Empire of Chaos – and Lies, posing as a “liberal democracy” while enabling the murderous Zionist project, is firmly flirting with the dustbin of History.


Pepe Escobar’s new book is Raging Twenties. Follow him on VKTelegram and Instagram.

Remarks by Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov

May 07, 2021

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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.

The Vienna shadowplay

The Vienna shadowplay

April 27, 2021

None of the actors can admit that revival of JCPOA pales compared with the real issue: Iranian missile power

by Pepe Escobar and first posted at Asia Times

Few people, apart from specialists, may have heard of the JCPOA Joint Commission. That’s the group in charge of a Sisyphean task: the attempt to revive the 2015 Iran nuclear deal through a series of negotiations in Vienna.

The Iranian negotiating team was back in Vienna yesterday, led by Deputy Foreign Minister Seyed Abbas Araghchi. Shadowplay starts with the fact the Iranians negotiate with the other members of the P+1 – Russia, China, France, UK and Germany – but not directly with the US.

That’s quite something: after all, it was the Trump administration that blew up the JCPOA. There is an American delegation in Vienna, but they only talk with the Europeans.

Shadowplay goes turbo when every Viennese coffee table knows about Tehran’s red lines: either it’s back to the original JCPOA as it was agreed in Vienna in 2015 and then ratified by the UN Security Council, or nothing.

Araghchi, mild-mannered and polite, has had to go on the record once again to stress that Tehran will leave if the talks veer towards “bullying”, time wasting or even a step-by-step ballroom dance, which is time wasting under different terminology.

Neither flat out optimistic nor pessimistic, he remains, let’s say, cautiously upbeat, at least in public: “We are not disappointed and we will do our job. Our positions are very clear and firm. The sanctions must be lifted, verified and then Iran must return to its commitments.”

So, at least in the thesis, the debate is still on. Araghchi: “There are two types of U.S. sanctions against Iran. First, categorized or so-called divisional sanctions, such as oil, banking and insurance, shipping, petrochemical, building and automobile sanctions, and second, sanctions against real and legal individuals.”

“Second” is the key issue. There’s absolutely no guarantee the US Congress will lift most or at least a significant part of these sanctions.

Everyone in Washington knows it – and the American delegation knows it.

When the Foreign Ministry in Tehran, for instance, says that 60% or 70% has been agreed upon, that’s code for lifting of divisional sanctions. When it comes to “second”, Araghchi has to be evasive: “There are complex issues in this area that we are examining”.

Now compare it with the assessment of informed Iranian insiders in Washington such as nuclear policy expert Seyed Hossein Mousavian:  they’re more like pessimistic realists.

That takes into consideration the non-negotiable red lines established by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei himself. Plus non-stop pressure by Israel, Saudi Arabia and the UAE, who are all JCPOA-adverse.

But then there’s extra shadowplay. Israeli intel has already notified the security cabinet that a deal most certainly will be reached in Vienna. After all, the narrative of a successful deal is already being constructed as a foreign policy victory by the Biden-Harris administration – or, as cynics prefer, Obama-Biden 3.0.

Meanwhile, Iranian diplomacy remains on overdrive. Foreign Minister Javad Zarif is visiting Qatar and Iraq, and has already met with the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim al Thani.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, virtually at the end of his term before the June presidential elections, always goes back to the same point: no more US sanctions; Iran’s verification; then Iran will return to its “nuclear obligations”.

The Foreign Ministry has even released a quite detailed fact sheet once again stressing the need to remove “all sanctions imposed, re-imposed and re-labeled since January 20, 2017”.

The window of opportunity for a deal won’t last long. Hardliners in Tehran couldn’t care less. At least 80% of Tehran members of Parliament are now hardliners. The next President most certainly will be a hardliner. Team Rouhani’s efforts have been branded a failure since the onset of Trump’s “maximum pressure” campaign. Hardliners are already in post-JCPOA mode.

That fateful Fateh

What none of the actors in the shadowplay can admit is that the revival of the JCPOA pales compared to the real issue: the power of Iranian missiles.

In the original 2015 negotiations in Vienna – follow them in my Persian Miniatures e-book – Obama-Biden 2.0 did everything in their power to include missiles in the deal.

Every grain of sand in the Negev desert knows that Israel will go no holds barred to retain its nuclear weapon primacy in the Middle East. Via a spectacular kabuki, the fact that Israel is a nuclear power happens to remain “invisible” to most of world public opinion.

While Khamenei has issued a fatwa clearly stating that producing, stockpiling and using weapons of mass destruction – nuclear included – is haram (banned by Islam), Israel’s leadership feels free to order stunts such as the sabotage via Mossad of the (civilian) Iranian nuclear complex at Natanz.

The head of Iran’s Parliament Energy Committee, Fereydoun Abbasi Davani, even accused Washington and London of being accomplices to the sabotage of Natanz, as they arguably supplied intel to Tel Aviv.

Yet now a lone missile is literally exploding a great deal of the shadowplay.

On April 22, in the dead of night before dawn, a Syrian missile exploded only 30 km away from the ultra-sensitive Israeli nuclear reactor of Dimona. The official – and insistent – Israeli spin: this was an “errant”.

Well, not really.

Here – third video from the top – is footage of the quite significant explosion. Also significantly, Tel Aviv remained absolutely mum when it comes to offering a missile proof of ID. Was it an old Soviet 1967 SA-5? Or, rather more likely, a 2012 Iranian Fateh-110 short range surface-to-surface, manufactured in Syria as the M-600, and also possessed by Hezbollah?

A Fateh family tree can be seen in the attached chart. The inestimable Elijah Magnier has posed some very good questions about the Dimona near-hit. I complemented it with a quite enlightening discussion with physicists, with input by a military intel expert.

The Fateh-110 operates as a classic ballistic missile, until the moment the warhead starts maneuvering to evade ABM defenses. Precision is up to 10 meters, nominally 6 meters. So it hit exactly where it was supposed to hit. Israel officially confirmed that the missile was not intercepted – after a trajectory of roughly 266 km.

This opens a brand new can of worms. It implies that the performance of the much hyped and recently upgraded Iron Dome is far from stellar – and talk about an euphemism. The Fateh flew so low that Iron Dome could not identify it.

The inevitable conclusion is this was a message/warning combo. From Damascus. With a personal stamp from Bashar al-Assad, who had to clear such a sensitive missile launch. A message/warning delivered via Iranian missile technology fully available to the Axis of Resistance – proving that regional actors have serious stealth capability.

It’s crucial to remember that when Tehran dispatched a volley of deliberately older Fateh-313 versions at the US base Ayn al-Assad in Iraq, as a response to the assassination of Gen Soleimani in January 2020, the American radars went blank.

Iranian missile technology as top strategic deterrence. Now that’s the shadowplay that turns Vienna into a sideshow.

Huge Explosion in Al-Quds, Israel Bombs Syria, Syria Bombs Israel, Israel Stunned

ARABI SOURI 

Explosion in Al Quds, Israel Bombs Syria, Syria Bombs Israel

A huge explosion in the occupied Palestinian capital Al-Quds (Jerusalem) took place in the afternoon, half a day later Israel bombs targets near Damascus, Syria retaliates by bombing near Israel’s Dimona nuclear reactor not from the borders with Egypt, Israel bombs again near Damascus wounding 4 Syrian Army soldiers and issues all conflicting reports, Israelis are stunned.

The massive explosion was in a company linked to the Israeli war ministry that Israeli officials claimed was a controlled explosion which neither the company nor the Israeli officials bothered to inform their public about who obviously panicked.

What could be more plausible is an Iranian retaliation avenging numerous Israel sabotaging and assassinations against the Iranian nuclear program hurting Israel where it’s trying to make some advances to catch up with the successful Iranian satellite launching project, especially that Israel is copying a ready satellite missile

The videos is also on YouTube and BitChute.

‘Mr. Security’, this is what the embattled Israeli PM Netanyahu calls himself, wants a cover-up for this incident, Israel’s own media not buying the story of a ‘controlled explosion’, imagine the other side.

At 1:38 am, Israel fired missiles from over the occupied Syrian Golan towards some targets near the Syrian capital Damascus. Syrian Army’s air defense units shot down most of the incoming missiles, 4 Syrian Army soldiers were wounded and the bombing caused material damage, a Syrian military spokesperson stated to SANA.

Syria fired a missile that crossed all Israel defenses from the north to the south and lands near the Israeli nuclear reactor in Dimona, and yes, Israel has a military nuclear program which it sentenced its own scientist who exposed it for a lengthy-term in prison but that didn’t cause the international nuclear watchdog or the UNSC to bother themselves to inspect, Israel is part of the NATO and stooges alliance dominating the UNSC.

The Syrian missile blew up in a target about 30 kilometers from the Dimona reactor, most observers see this as a message to Israel especially that Russia had already warned Israel that Syria may lose patience toward the Israeli attacks.

After that silence, Israel stunned, new rules of engagement are established.

Moscow Warns Israel on Repeated Bombing: Syria May Lose Patience

https://syrianews.cc/moscow-warns-israel-about-repeated-aggression-syria-may-lose-patience/embed/#?secret=NYPYL2KArs

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So Who Wants a Hot War?

So Who Wants a Hot War?

April 17, 2021 

by Pepe Escobar and cross-posted with Strategic Culture Foundation

It’s not by accident that the Hegemon is going no holds barred to harass and try to smash Eurasian integration by all means available.

It’s a scorpion battle inside a vortex of distorted mirrors inside a circus. So let’s start with the mirrors in the circus.

The non-entity that passes for Ukrainian Foreign Minister traveled to Brussels to be courted by US Secretary of State Blinken and NATO secretary-general Stoltenberg.

At best, that’s circus shadowplay. Much more than NATO advisers in a frantic revolving door in Kiev, the real shadowplay is MI6 actually working very close with President Zelensky.

Zelensky’s warmongering script comes directly from MI6’s Richard Moore. Russian intel is very much aware of all the fine print. Glimpses were even carefully leaked to a TV special on the Rossiya 1 channel.

I confirmed it with diplomatic sources in Brussels. British media also got wind of it – but obviously was told to further distort the mirrors, blaming everything on, what else, “Russian aggression”.

German intel is practically non-existent in Kiev. Those NATO advisers remain legion. Yet no one talks about the explosive MI6 connection.

Careless whispers in Brussels corridors swear that MI6 actually believes that in the case of a volcanic but as it stands still preventable hot war with Russia, continental Europe would burn and Brexitland would be spared.

Dream on. Now back to the circus.

Oh, you’re so provocative

Both Little Blinken and NATO straw man Stoltenberg parroted the same script in Brussels after talking to the Ukrainian Foreign Minister.

That was part of a NATO “special meeting” on Ukraine – where some Eurocrat must have told a bunch of extra clueless Eurocrats how they would be carbonized on the spot by Russian TOS-1 Buratino’s terrifying explosive warheads if NATO tried anything funny.

Listen to the sound of Blinken yappin’: Russian actions are “provocative”.

Well, his staff certainly did not hand him a copy of Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu examining step by step the deployment of the annual US Army DEFENDER-Europe 21: “The main forces are concentrated in the Black Sea and Baltic region.”

Now listen to the sound of Stoltenberg yappin’: We pledge “unwavering support” to Ukraine.

Woof woof. Now go back to play in your sandboxes.

No, not yet. Little Blinken threatened Moscow with “consequences” whatever happens in Ukraine.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitri Peskov’s infinite patience is nearly Daoist. Sun Tzu’s Art of War, by the way, is a Daoist masterpiece. Peskov’s answer to Blinken: “It is simply not necessary for us to go around forever proclaiming: ‘I am the greatest!’ The more one does this sort of thing, in fact, the more people doubt it…”

When in doubt, call the irreplaceable Andrei Martyanov – who always tells it like it is. The Crash Test Dummy gang in D.C. still does not get it – although some Deep State pros do.

Here’s Martyanov:

As I am on record constantly – the United States never fought a war with its Command and Control system under the relentless sustained fire impact and its rear attacked and disorganized. Conventionally, the United States cannot win against Russia in Europe, at least Eastern part of it and Biden Admin better wake up to the reality that it may, indeed, not survive any kind of escalation and, in fact, modern Kalibrs, 3M14Ms, as a matter of fact, have a range of a 4,500 kilometers, as well as 5,000+ kilometer range of X-101 cruise missiles, which will have no issues with penetrating North American airspace when launched by Russia’s strategic bombers without even leaving the safety of Russia’s airspace.

The Patrushev effect

The circus went on with the phone call from “Biden” – that is, Crash Test Dummy with an earpiece and a teleprompter in front of the phone – to President Putin.

Call it the Patrushev effect.

In his stunning interview to Kommersant, Triple Yoda Patrushev mentioned a very civilized late March phone call he had with US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan. Of course there’s no smokin’ gun, but if anyone would come up with the face-saving idea of a Biden-Putin phone call that would have been Sullivan.

The spin from Washington and Moscow is only slightly divergent. The Americans highlight that “Biden” – actually the deciding combo behind him – wants to build “a stable and predictable relationship with Russia, consistent with US interests.”

The Kremlin said that Biden “expressed interest in normalizing bilateral relations.”

Away from all this fog, what really matters is Patrushev-Sullivan. That has to do with Washington telling Turkey that US warships would be transiting the Bosphorus towards the Black Sea. Sullivan must have told Patrushev that no, they won’t be “active” in Donbass. And Patrushev told Sullivan, OK, we won’t incinerate them.

There are absolutely no illusions in Moscow that this putative Biden-Putin summit in a distant future will ever take place. Especially after Daoist Peskov had made it very clear that “no one will allow America to speak with Russia from a position of strength.” If that sounds like a line straight out of Yang Jiechi – who made shark fin’s soup out of Blinken-Sullivan in Alaska – that’s because it does.

Kiev, predictably, remains stuck in circus mode. After getting sharp messages from Mr. Iskander, Mr. Khinzal and Mr. Buratino, they changed their mind, or at least pretend to, and are now saying they don’t want war.

And here comes the intersection between circus and the serious stuff. The “Biden” combo never said, explicitly, on the record, that they don’t want war. On the contrary: they are sending those warships to the Black Sea and – circus again! – designating an envoy, Ministry of Silly Walks-style, whose only job is to derail the Nord Stream 2 pipeline.

So the cliffhanger – like a teaser for Snowpiercer – is what happens when Nord Stream 2 is completed.

But before that, there’s something even more momentous: next Wednesday, on his speech to the Russian Security Council, President Putin will lay down the law.

It’s Minsk 2, stupid

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister, Sergei Ryabkov, has struck a much less Daoist note than Peskov: “The United States is our enemy, doing everything to undermine Russia’s position in the international arena, we do not see other elements in their approach to us. These are our conclusions”.

That’s stone to the bone realpolitik. Ryabkov knows the Hegemon’s “non agreement-capable” mindset inside out. So an added dimension to his observation is its direct connection to the only solution for Ukraine: the Minsk 2 agreements.

Putin reiterated Minsk 2 on his live teleconference with Merkel and Macron – and certainly to “Biden” in their phone call. The Beltway, the EU and NATO are all aware of it. Minsk 2 was signed by Ukraine, France and Germany and certified by the UN Security Council. If Kiev violates it, Russia – as a member of the UNSC – must enforce it.

Kiev has been violating Minsk 2 for months now; it refuses to implement it. As a faithful Hegemon satrapy, they are also not “agreement-capable”. Yet now they are seeing the – firepower – writing on the wall if they as much as think of starting a blitzkrieg against Donbass.

The open secret in the whole Ukraine/Donbass wilderness of mirrors under the circus tent is of course China. Yet Ukraine, in a sane world, would not only be part of a Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) corridor, but also part of the Russian Greater Eurasia project. China specialist Nikolai Vavilov recognizes the importance of BRI, but is also certain Russia is above all defending its own interests.

Ideally, Ukraine/Donbass would be inserted in the overall revival of the Silk Roads – as in internal Central Eurasian trade based and developed taking into consideration Eurasia-wide demand. Eurasia integration – in both the Chinese and Russian vision – are all about interconnected economies via inter-regional trade.

So it’s not by accident that the Hegemon – on the verge of becoming an irrelevant player across Eurasia – is going no holds barred to harass and try to smash the continental integration by all means available.

In this context, manipulating a failed state to meet its own doom is just (circus) business.

SAA Kills and Injures 16 Turkestan Islamist Party Terrorists North of Hama

ARABI SOURI 

Turkestan Islamist Party terrorist group - Syria - الحزب الاسلامي التركستاني

The Syrian Arab Army (SAA) killed and injured 16 terrorists of the Turkestan Islamist Party in the northwestern countryside of Hama, central Syria.

The army units spotted a group of anti-Islamic Turkestan Islamist Party terrorists in the Al-Ghab Valley heading to their makeshift posts to attack Syrian Army posts in the area and targeted them with a guided-missile.

Local sources confirmed the killing of 7 terrorists at least and the injury of 9 others at the time of writing this report.

Turkish Madman Erdogan imported tens of thousands of radical terrorists from regions where his Muslim Brotherhood global radicalization groups operate, mainly in Central Asian countries all the way to the Chinese Xingyang Province of Muslim majority. The Turkestan Islamist Party is one of the backbones of these terrorist groups the Turkish pariah Erdogan uses in his regional influence spreading which spans from west China to Germany and from the Caucasus to north and western African countries.

The Syrian Arab Army and the Russian Aerospace Forces have increased their levels of readiness recently and resumed targeting the posts of terrorist groups sponsored by Turkey and the USA in Idlib and Hama provinces especially after the latest deadly attacks by ISIS and its affiliates against buses in the region. In the past week, the Russian Aerospace Forces carried out successful strikes against command centers, tunnels, and weapons depots in northern Idlib countryside, while the SAA targeted terrorist gatherings in the southern countryside of the province.

Terrorist groups designated as such by the United Nations Security Council are not included in the Moscow, Astana, and Sochi ceasefire agreements in which the Turkish regime of Erdogan is a signatory and he has not only failed to meet his commitments as per these agreements for the past 2 years, he has instead beefed up the terrorist groups operating under his command in northern Syria regions and sent thousands of Turkish army soldiers to serve as human shields between his terrorists and the Syrian Army units on Syrian territories.

Worth noting that Mike Pompeo, Donald Trump’s secretary of state delisted the Turkistan Islamist Party from the US list of terrorist groups last November 2020, despite the UNSC maintaining them as one of the most dangerous terrorist organizations with terrorist activities in a number of countries.

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Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s opening remarks at the 28th Assembly of the Council on Foreign and Defence Policy, Moscow, December 10, 2020

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Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s opening remarks at the 28th Assembly of the Council on Foreign and Defence Policy, Moscow, December 10, 2020
File Photo

11 December 202000:22

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s opening remarks at the 28th Assembly of the Council on Foreign and Defence Policy, Moscow, December 10, 2020

Colleagues, friends,

Fyodor Lukyanov spoke about the role of the Council on Foreign and Defence Policy. Who would have thought at the time when the Council was created, and I was invited to join in as a co-founder, that the Council would live to this day. The experience gained over the decades of its functioning is instrumental in our work and makes it possible to bounce ideas off the expert community, which is deeply versed in international matters and is keenly interested in them. This is important.

This year was truly challenging and pivotal. Humanity was unprepared for the differences and mixed trends that had been piling up on the agenda over years and exacerbated confusion in international affairs. The habitual way of life of hundreds of millions of people and states, as well as ordinary citizens, has been upended, many sectors of the economy found themselves on the verge of collapse, business activity has significantly decreased, global cooperation chains were disrupted and the unemployment rates went up. Closed borders abruptly reduced the chances for maintaining multifaceted contacts between the countries and the people.

The scale and inertia of the events that we are witnessing in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic make it impossible to say when life will get back to normal. I hope Mr Lukyanov was right when he confidently stated, albeit with reservations, that we will be able to meet in person in the spring. So far, humanity and its best representatives in the person of healthcare professionals are just trying to understand where we are and when this might end. Many people are saying that this will never end, and we will have to live with it just like the annual flu, but with much more severe consequences. One of the key lessons of the pandemic is that no one can secure themselves against these cross-border threats.

The pandemic affected literally everyone. Clearly, this kind of global cataclysm can only be overcome by uniting and rising above fleeting differences. President Putin has repeatedly stated this firm position adopted by Russia. Unfortunately, a number of countries, primarily the United States and its allies, are trying to take advantage of this situation in their geopolitical interests and ignore the needs that are common to humanity.

The term “common to humanity” does not at all mean an average, consensus-based or accommodating understanding of how the inter-civilisational diversity should be respected. This manifests itself in way too many areas of modern international life, including the interpretation of multilateralism energetically promoted and propagated by our Western colleagues. This is also happening in connection with the coronavirus pandemic, despite the fact that people in America and Europe are suffering from COVID-19 as badly as people in other countries.

The need for conducting a mutually respectful dialogue and rejecting artificially created confrontational schemes is nowhere to be seen. Just think of the indiscriminate accusations against China regarding the spread of the disease. There was an attempt to blame the PRC for everything that happened. This undermined the efforts to achieve unity, including of the research capacities, in order to come up with effective responses. In addition to healthcare aspects, we must take a closer look at the international bodies in charge of the health and well-being of the people. The WHO-related developments are quite telling in his regard. Ideas are being put forward to create some non-governmental institutions mandated to determine the international community’s policy. This is a clear attempt to sideline the World Health Organisation. These developments are reminiscent of neo-colonial approaches and habits and show the attempts to restrain the formation of new global centres and to punish those who pursue an independent foreign policy. This can also be seen in the “vaccine race.” We are well aware of attempts to oppose the new concept of the so-called rules-based international order to everything that has been created after establishing the UN and forming a large block of universal international legal instruments.

Russia believes it is imperative to look for ways to unite countries and governments, to look for a constructive agenda relying on the principles of collegiality and equality, which should contribute to de-escalating international tensions and ensuring the predictability of global processes. Later, we will discuss the initiatives that Russia has been promoting to this end. A CSTO summit and a Collective Security Council meeting took place on December 2. Among other decisions, the participants adopted a statement by the heads of state on forming a just and sustainable international order. Among other initiatives, this document proposes setting up a meeting of authorised representatives of the CSTO, the CIS, the SCO, the OSCE, NATO and the EU and seeing if these organisations can sit down and form a common agenda, jointly identify problems and, ideally, outline ways to overcome them. This is not something radically revolutionary. In 1999, the Platform for Co-operative Security was adopted at the OSCE Summit in Istanbul. It proclaimed the unification of the efforts of the OSCE and other sub-regional organisations in the Euro-Atlantic space. Some time ago, before the pandemic, we told our Western partners that it would be nice to take advantage of that consensus and try to build bridges between these organisations, instead of watching them build up confrontational potential, but our Western colleagues chose to step aside. Cooperative security and engagement of the bodies created in the post-Soviet space were important in the 1990s (in this case, in 1999), when the West still hoped that we would follow the path charted by the winners of the Cold War. Now, we have officially submitted a proposal on behalf of the CSTO heads of state. Let’s see how the West will respond to it.

Our goal is clear. We seek stability, fair opportunities for all states, including, of course, Russia. Gunboat diplomacy or democratic or any other sort of messianism is hardly an option if we want to accomplish this. I mentioned the rules which the West wants to base the international order on. There’s an “effective multilateralism” initiative which is openly opposed to multilateralism within the UN. There’s a tendency to interpret it as the need to return to Euro-Atlantic solidarity without exemptions. We are seeing this. I believe that more positive and sustainable results can be achieved through joining efforts based on the observance of the norms and principles of the UN Charter. We are upholding this consistently. President Putin’s initiative to hold a summit of the UN Security Council’s permanent members is part of our policy. It is imperative that they realise their responsibility under the UN Charter and act upon this responsibility. We must do our best to defuse this tension acting together. Heads of all UN Security Council permanent member states gave their consent. The coronavirus pandemic thwarted our efforts to agree on specific dates. However, we are working on it and agreeing on the concept and the potential outcomes of this summit.

We realise that the UN is not a static structure. It needs reform, including the reform of the UN Security Council. Our position is absolutely clear and consistent. It is necessary to increase the representation of the developing countries of Asia, Latin America and Africa if we want to make this body more representative. Only this approach will add value to reforming the UN Security Council. Everything else is up for discussion, but it is unlikely that an increase in Western representation on the Security Council will add diversity of opinions to this central body, which is in charge of peace and security on the planet. In any case, it is necessary to strive for the broadest possible agreement between the member states, so everything will depend on compromises. We are ready to discuss these compromises based on a balance of interests. In principle, this is the key to what needs to be accomplished if we want to ensure stability and harmony in the world inasmuch as this harmony is possible.

We believe that respect for the cultural and civilisational specifics of the modern world and refusal to impose one development model and values on everyone is an absolutely necessary step if we want to calm down the current situation. We see that this approach is shared by the overwhelming majority of participants in international communication. We disagree with the Western attempts to portray Russia as a country in isolation or a geopolitical loner. The viewpoint of our Western colleagues whereby everyone who disagrees with them is a lonely state probably has the right to exist.

However, we can see how the positions that we share are promoted within BRICS, the SCO, the CSTO and the CIS. The EAEU is actively working to align its plans with China’s Belt and Road Initiative. There is the G20. It has been in existence for quite a while, but was brought to the highest level and its meetings were made regular after the 2008 crisis. At first they met twice a year, then once a year. The G20 is the recognition of the fact that the G7 (and even the G8 in its old format) is not capable of resolving all international problems. The G20 includes the G7, the BRICS countries and a number of other like-minded states. The recognition that the G20 is necessary in order to develop generally acceptable approaches based on the balance of interests is a highly symptomatic trend.

Reviewing peace problems should not be driven by ideology, but rather be approached on the basis of equality. President Putin’s initiative to form a Greater Eurasian Partnership is going in the same vein. The partnership is supposed to unite continental efforts with the participation of the EAEU, the SCO and ASEAN and be open to all countries of our vast continent, including the EU states in the long run. This is a long process, but it is crucial to set this goal.

Russia’s proposals regarding strategic stability, arms control and European security are indicative of our constant readiness to achieve mutual understanding. You are aware of our position on renewing the Strategic Offensive Arms Treaty (START), a moratorium on deploying ground-based intermediate and shorter-range missiles and de-escalating tensions along the Russia-NATO contact line. We came up with a proposal to agree on an arrangement that the exercises on both sides are conducted at a distance from the contact line, and also agree on the minimum distances that may not be violated by military aircraft and warships of Russia or NATO.

Conceptually, we came up with a proposal a long time ago (and failed to see any reciprocity on the part of the United States) to confirm, in the statement made by our countries, and perhaps in the Russia-NATO format, the unacceptability of nuclear war. Many of you have probably seen the recent remarks by US Special Presidential Envoy for Arms Control Marshall Billingslea, where he almost ridiculed our proposal and called on any future US Administration to never agree with the statement on the unacceptability of nuclear war.

We believe that implementing these initiatives or, at least, a professional straight-to-the-point and substantive discussion of the subject, possibly along with other steps, would help improve the overall atmosphere in Russia-West relations.  Dialogue itself on these matters would improve it. But so far these ideas have been hanging in the air.

Leaving behind almost everything that has been achieved so far, including our proposals, Mr Billingslea puts forward confrontational ideas, including sanctions against all buyers of military products from Russia and China. This is a fairly telling philosophy, which, unfortunately, has not met any serious opposition in Washington so far.

If we take a close look at what we have heard from the North Atlantic camp so far, we can come to a conclusion that it has consciously opted for not just a policy of containment, but confrontation. Perhaps this approach underlies its unwillingness to admit that the world must change. We are now witnessing two opposite trends in Europe. French President Emmanuel Macron is strongly promoting the EU’s strategic autonomy. The trend embodied by Germany is based on the assumption that defending Europe without the United States is impossible. We have already asked about whom they want to defend it from, but haven’t received a clear answer yet. Given this, multipolarity, which Yevgeny Primakov foresaw many years ago, has shown its objective nature. In an effort to stop it, they are doing whatever it takes in order to minimise the number of potential poles that have the strength and courage to uphold national interests.

One of Washington’s primary goals is to make the EU lose its strategic independence and return to the fold of Euro-Atlantic unity, where everyone is aware of who pays the piper and calls the tune.

Despite the above, we are open to an equal dialogue. Most importantly, our counterparts must be willing to engage. We will keep the communication channels open until they are. Our proposals and initiatives remain on the negotiating table. They have been reiterated many times. It is enough for our partners to know that they remain valid. However, in order to move ahead, we need our Western colleagues to respond to them.

Keeping open the channels for a dialogue on all matters, we will continue to work on the newly available opportunities in the economy, culture, science and people-to-people contacts. We do not fence ourselves off from this. Those who want to impose their agenda on us and ignore our status of a subject in international affairs must understand that we are not going to either make excuses or seek approval for our actions. Threats, sanctions or attempts to come up with other punishments are absolutely pointless and counterproductive. It is strange that the West has not realised this so far.

We do not need interaction with the West any more than the West needs Russia and what it has to offer. If our Western colleagues prefer to stick to certain rules and concepts that they themselves invented when they talk with each other, this is up to them. They can build a dialogue with other participants in international life, including Russia, solely on the basis of a generally accepted code of conduct. You can call it the rules enshrined in the UN Charter, namely, respect for the sovereign equality of states, the principle of non-interference in each other’s internal affairs and the peaceful settlement of disputes.

We are pursuing our own foreign policy, which has taken shape over the past two decades. It is aimed at ensuring the country’s security and creating the most favourable external environment for achieving our internal development goals. We are aware that the goal of the West is to prevent us from creating this particular external environment that is beneficial for our internal development. Everything that is being done to contain Russia is clearly done to this end. Attempts to destroy external opportunities that can be used to promote Russia’s growth continue unabated, but, in any case, there’s more to the world than the West. In the 1990s, after the collapse of the Soviet Union, we wanted to become part of something, but we now realise that there isn’t much we can become part of. At least, the West is not building anything of its own. Indeed, President Macron has come up with a proposal to conduct an analytical and philosophical dialogue about whether modern capitalism can meet the needs of the people and resolve related problems.

If we take Western development models, we have no place to fit in. The coronavirus, as if everything else wasn’t enough, showed it very convincingly. We need to build something ourselves. This is a fairly ambitious and complex goal, but it calls for immediate action.

Dr. Bashar Al-Jaafari’s Statement During the Security Council Session on the Political and Humanitarian Situation in Syria Bashar al-Jaafari at the Security Council 11/25/2020

Posted by INTERNATIONALIST 360° on 

Al-Jaafari: countries hostile to Syria, particularly the US and Turkey, support terrorist organizations and separatist militias

25 November، 2020
New York, SANA

Syria’s permanent representative to the UN, Dr. Bashar al-Jaafari, said that countries hostile to Syria, on top of them the US and Turkey, continue their violations of the international law, UN conventions and Security council resolutions relevant to the crisis in Syria through supporting the terrorist organizations, separatist militias and perpetrating crimes against the Syrian people and looting their resources.

“The US occupation and its tools of separatist militias continue their practices aiming at looting the Syrian State resources, furthermore, the US occupation forces have lately excavated the antiquities in Hasaka and stolen large quantities of treasures and gold in the presence of French and Israeli experts at archaeological site in al-Malkiyah city and unearthed 12 historic tombs dating back to the Roman era,” al-Jaafari added in a statement to the UN Security council through video on the situation in Syria.

He added that the stolen priceless antiquities which date back to thousands of years are being smuggled through northern Iraq and Turkey in a preparation for transporting them to other destinations, stressing that these crimes are part of continued ones being perpetrated by the terrorist organization of Daesh with the aim of securing the financial resources for its terrorist acts.

Al-Jaafari reiterated that the political process, facilitated by the UN, is possessed and led by the Syrians and that making the work of the Committee for Discussing the Constitution a success entails respecting its principles being agreed upon, in addition to refusing any external interferences and any attempts by some states to impose timetables, adding that only the Syrian people have the right to determine their destiny.

He also renewed Syria’s condemnation, in the strongest terms, the visit of the US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, to the Israeli settlements in the Occupied Syrian Golan and the West Bank on Nov 19th, referring that this visit emphasizes the absolute bias of the current US administration until the very end of its mandate to the Israeli occupation Entity.

Regarding the International Conference on the return of Syrian Refugees recently held in Damascus on 11th and 12th of November, al-Jaafari affirmed that it has constituted a significant step to the efforts of Syrian State and its allies to ensure the voluntary, safe and good return of the displaced to their areas and their original residences.

Baraa Ali/ Mazen Eyon

Canada, U.S. have ‘selective’ approach toward human rights: lawyer

By Mohammad Mazhari

November 23, 2020 – 10:56

Sari Bashi, a consultant for Democracy in the Arab World Now (DAWN)

TEHRAN – A human rights lawyer says the U.S. and Canada follow double standards toward human rights, noting that they “support human rights selectively”.

In an interview with the Tehran Times, Sari Bashi, a consultant for Democracy in the Arab World Now (DAWN), says that U.S. policy in terms of human rights is not consistent. 

“Unfortunately, the United States and Canada support human rights selectively, and the United States, in particular, has not done nearly enough to call out its allies for human rights abuses,” Bashi points out.

Canada and the U.S. accuse other countries of human rights violations while they themselves sell weapons to tyrannical regimes in West Asia, which are used against defenseless people, especially in Yemen. 

Canada claims a global reputation as a human rights defender, while the Ottawa government has a bad record when it comes to the rights of the indigenous peoples. According to reports revealed by the Human Rights Watch, the Natives are deprived of the right to safe drinking water, and police mistreat and abuse indigenous women and girls.

Bashi also says the U.S. is misusing its influence to allow its allies, such as Israel, to commit crimes.

 The following is the text of the interview:

Q: Certain Western states have a bad record in view of human rights, so are these countries entitled to condemn other countries?

  A: I think the fact that all authorities abuse human rights do not disqualify any particular government from raising human rights issues with others. Certainly, the best way to encourage respect for human rights is to lead by example, and every government in the world that has invested more energy in improving in own human rights record could be more credible to criticize other government who may not be; but at the same time I think it is always legitimate to raise the issue of human rights abuses and we should make sure that we are holding our governments accountable to universal standards of human rights as articulated by international instruments.

“We should make sure that we are holding our governments accountable to universal standards of human rights as articulated by international instruments,” the consultant for Democracy in the Arab World Now (DAWN) says. Q: When it comes to Israeli crimes against Palestinians, why do countries like Canada and the U.S. give full support to Tel-Aviv? How is it possible that Israel wins such support?

A: I think lack of accountability for Israeli violations of human rights and international law against Palestinians reflects a weakness in accountability of the international system.

Unfortunately, the UN Security Council cannot act in the Israel-Palestine case because of the veto power of powerful members, especially the United States, while other mechanisms of accountability such as the International Criminal Court are struggling to have jurisdiction over war crimes committed in Palestine. So we have a lot of work to do in obtaining a stronger mechanism of accountability, and the fact that Israel enjoys such a strong military and financial support from the United States reflects a distorted political system in which the U.S. as a superpower is using its significant influence to allow its allies to commit abuses.

Q: Why is Canada not really concerned about human rights violations when it clinches arms deals with a value of 15 billion dollars with Saudi Arabia? Is it justifiable to say that Canada is not aware that these weapons are used against children and women in Yemen?

A: Canada, like all countries, has a responsibility to ensure that it does not violate human rights or international humanitarian law including in its military deals; so selling weapons to actors who are committing war crimes in Yemen will be a violation of Canada’s obligations and certainly, the Canadian government and the Canadian people have a responsibility to ensure that their foreign policy respects human rights and does not contribute to war crimes. 

Q: Washington has imposed harsh sanctions on Iran that are hampering Iran’s access to medicine. At such a hard time, countries like Canada have been cooperating with Washington in pushing ahead with its unilateral sanctions by refusing to sell humanitarian goods to Iran.  What is your comment?

 A: Unfortunately, the United States and Canada support human rights selectively, and the United States, in particular, has not done nearly enough to call out its allies for human rights abuses. At DAWN, we believe that U.S. policy should be consistent. So the same standard in terms of respecting human rights that are applied towards Iran should also be applied towards Israel and every other country because these are universal standards of how government should treat the people under their control.

Q: Why have Western countries, especially Canada and the U.S., preferred to turn a blind eye to Khashoggi’s murder while they knew that Mohammed bin Salman was directly responsible for that crime? How could Saudis distract attention away from their crimes and influence human rights bodies in the UN?

A: I think the lack of accountability for the murder of Jamal Khashoggi reflects a weakness in the system of international politics and especially the United States, which is selling Saudi Arabia billions of dollars in the arms trade and providing diplomatic cover that allows the Saudi government to act with impunity. The lack of accountability for Jamal Khashoggi’s murder regarding the role of Mohammad Bin Salman indicates that real change is needed. What is encouraging is that in the United States, there is pressure not just from the American people but also in the American Congress seeking accountability, and I remind that the U.S. Congress has required the federal government to provide information about those responsible for Jamal Khashoggi’s murder in the form of a DNI (Director of National Intelligence) report that was to be published last year. Unfortunately, the Trump administration has ignored that mandate and refused to release the report.  The refusal is the subject of litigation in U.S. courts, and we hope that the incoming administration will follow the law and do what Congress has required, which is to reveal what American intelligence services know about the murder of Jamal Khashoggi. 

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“Teacher d’assumption’s statement – Reframing the racism debate”

November 11, 2020

“Teacher d’assumption’s statement – Reframing the racism debate”

By Leo Abina – A concerned World Citizen – for the Saker Blog

Going back as far as I can remember, the story of what my dad’s 1930s primary school teacher would say at the start of every school day has been ingrained in my family’s narrative for half a century. “Whites build locomotives. Negroes can’t produce a needle. Whites are civilized. Negroes are savages.” As he would recount this story, my dad would always add, with a mischievous chuckle, “my few other African classmates in that class would be outraged by this statement; but not me. For me, d’Assumption’s ‘greeting to the class’ became a source of motivation to excel, especially in mathematics and science, just to prove him wrong.” Over the years, teacher d’Assumption’s[1] statement would never fail to ignite passionate debates, emotions, and reactions among family members; me included.

During my childhood, in the 60s and 70s, I lived the life of a privileged West-African boy from a well-to-do family, growing up in multi-racial social networks, attending private schools in Africa and Europe, oblivious to the vicissitudes of both subtle and raw racism. During these early years, teacher d’Assumption’s statement felt like a distant, no longer relevant, piece of nasty colonial history that I did not fully understand but felt needed to just be forgotten.

As a youngster coming of age and completing tertiary education in the 80s and 90s, I lived through the collapse of the Soviet Union, the uninhibited advent of market-driven globalization, and the shift towards finance, rather than ‘goods and services’ -dominated economies. My thoughts about teacher d’Assumption’s statement during those years were that “aspiring to build African locomotives out of pride was wasteful and misguided development strategy.” What would be smarter, I argued, was “investing African capital to own shares in railway manufacturing companies, so as to better facilitate the deployment of railway infrastructure in Africa; while at the same time, striving to build competence in railway technology.’

Then came the beginning of my expat years. My first forays into the ‘real world’ of business, outside the manicured lawns and precious wood paneled walls of US Ivy League campuses. Those years brought my first encounters with the realities of ‘subtle,’ though at times not so ‘subtle,’ corporate double standards. I had up to then bought into the neo-liberal ethos about free and fair markets; only to discover that in reality, most markets, even within the western sphere of influence, were neither free nor fair. Corporate battles within the western world are testimony that strategic technologies are protected; Boeing vs Airbus, Apple vs Microsoft, Siemens vs GE, are but a few legendary examples of this reality. These examples helped me realize that my earlier thoughts about how Africans should use capital in order to play the economic game to their advantage might have been overly naive – state interventions do play a major role in today’s so called ‘free markets’, and the bigger the state, the stronger the interventions. Even in the apparently ‘leveled playing field’ of our modern world, teacher d’Assumption’s worldview seemed as entrenched and relevant as it ever was.

As I look back through the eyes and battle scars of a 50-something, I get an uneasy sense that humanity has remained stuck on this all-important racism issue. On one side of the issue, white folks are conditioned to inherently hold a sense of superiority, backed by centuries of modern western world dominance. While on the other side of the issue, brown folks, no matter where they live in the world, their place in society, or their achievements, feel a sense of injustice, inadequacy, and alienation, in a historical period dominated by the modern western construct; a construct in which they can at best live as ‘acceptable strangers,’ or at worst as victims or rebels.

Taking a closer look at these perspectives on racism might provide a better premise to bring the two main conflicting parties – the white, western European dominant side, and the non-white (brown) global-south side, nearer each other.

Let us begin with the white perspective. Looking at the advent of modern western civilization over the past 300 years, as well as today’s global power dynamics, one can easily understand why a 21st-Century white person might have an innate sense of superiority. Why in our times, even an unaccomplished, hopeless, inept white person of European descent would still feel superior to an accomplished, gifted, and successful brown person.

In a nutshell, this frame of mind stems from the observation that for the past few centuries, the modern western civilization managed to subjugate much of the rest of our world. Through naval supremacy and superior weaponry resulting in tremendous military might, small European nations with tiny territories and lesser populations were able to project power globally and overwhelm much larger, usually brown, peoples. These past conquests still resonate in the psyche of many modern Europeans, and in the view of many, bear witness to the greater ingenuity of the white race. Once the lands of the brown people were subdued and a colonial order was established to channel vast amounts of natural resources from the colonies to the colonial capitals, in the eyes of many Europeans, this exploitative world order was, and is to this day, justified.

For in their narrative, it is Europeans, in the first place, who knew and understood the value of these natural resources. Whereas the brown natives, who might have been sitting on these natural resources for centuries, a. did not have an industrial base to know the value of what was under their feet b. did not have the technology and means to access and exploit these natural resources, and c. did not have the capacity and strength to protect them. Therefore, it is only natural that those who have the knowledge, technology, and power to access natural resources should also have the nature-given right to exploit them.

Then comes the moral aspect, especially as it relates to one of the most gruesome episodes in the long racism saga: the trans-Atlantic slave trade. In public and in the name of political correctness, most white people who only have a passing acquaintance with slavery do feel a sense of guilt about it. However, upon greater scrutiny through which they come to understand the historical context of slavery, and in view of recent south-to-north emigration dynamics, in private, many other white people do not share that sense of guilt.

The rationale here is twofold. First, there is the very controversial observation that during the slave trade, Africa was not occupied; therefore and by-enlarge, it was mostly African chieftains who sold other Africans into slavery. If brown people were ready to sell their own kind into slavery while Europeans needed labor to build ‘the new world in the Americas,’ why should only one of the two parties lose the moral high ground? Second, decades after slavery and colonization, we live in a time of massive south-north migration where millions of brown people are ready to leave their own independent countries and risk their lives across deserts and seas in search of a better life in the white man’s ‘land of milk and honey.’ Isn’t that further testimony of the white man’s more aspirational, and therefore superior, way of life?

This old, profound inter-racial legacy explains why an unaccomplished white person would still feel superior to a gifted brown person. The white indigent person sees brown people parading in fancy clothes, fancy cars, fancy homes, and thinks, “this high life these brown people aspire to and are so fond of, was brought about by us.”

Let us now turn to the brown perspective. The brown person’s experience in today’s modern western civilization is an experience filled with contradictions. On one hand there is an attraction to the outward semblance of freedom, equality and fraternity professed by the West. On the other hand there is a rejection of the inward reality of coercion, double standards, and racism perpetrated by that very same West. In this context, the brown person’s best option often consists in navigating these contradictions as deftly and quietly as possible, with no overt defiance to the established order. I once attended an event where the condition of black Brazilians came up in the discussion; a white Brazilian businessman who was present casually responded; “we do not have a racial problem in Brazil because in Brazil, brown people know their place!”

Besides the cruelty, hurtful meaning, and Brazilian frame of reference of this remark, it basically captured the essence of brown peoples’ lives everywhere in the modern world. No matter where they live, what their personal circumstances are, whether they are conscious of it or not, racism is an integral part of brown peoples’ day-to-day reality. Of course, in the modern era the crude state-sanctioned form of racism that prevailed up to the 1960s has rescinded, but nonetheless racism is still alive and well in today’s world context, albeit in different forms according to different environments.

The western-dominated world order dates back to at least three centuries. Its latest, modern iteration was established at the end of World War II by the victorious powers. On the economic front, western dominance happened de facto through the establishment of the Bretton Woods institutions in 1944 – the World Bank and the IMF. On the political front, the United Nations was founded with the noble mandate to prevent future wars, and a 5-nations Security Council made up of the most powerful nations was formed to protect this mandate, as well as approve or veto United Nations resolutions. In reality, this system and the highly biased, misrepresentative nature of its governing body, the Security Council, has been used outwardly for the benefit of the ‘international community,’ but inwardly for the interests of a tiny, West-led, part of the world. On the cultural front, dominance pretty much occurred by default through the ubiquitous reach of western media, western movies, and western broadcasting power.

In a second phase spanning through the 70s, 80s and 90s, the post-war world order was further reshaped with the formation of a new, dollar-based monetary system (no longer backed by gold), a massive shift in geo-politics with the fall of the USSR, a series of international trade agreements, and the advent of satellite-based communications and information technologies. Last but not least, the West’s military dominance was further strengthened by the eastern expansion of NATO, and the broad deployment of military bases around the world – nearly a thousand for the US alone, with a $900b yearly military budget that is larger than all European countries’ military budgets put together, and 10x Russia’s.

In recent years this unipolar, US-dominated world order is being challenged by a re-emerging modern Russia, and by regional powers such as China, India and Brazil. Nonetheless, western power remains formidable and remains overwhelmingly white. As a result of this reality, for most brown people around the world the real question has not so much been about whether the modern western ethos harbors racism or not. It has been about the extent to which racism affects them directly and experientially, and the extent to which racism limits their opportunity to strive.

Some people in the West find it difficult to conceive of this, but the reality is that even brown people who live in their own countries, under their own government, are affected by racism. Such assertions, as is now the case for any dissenting assertions even backed by forensic evidence, are often dismissed as ‘conspiracy theories.’ Nonetheless, in order to understand how this is possible, it is important to understand that in today’s world order, years after colonization, most brown countries in Latin America, Africa, the Middle East and Asia, are still not free. Sure, these countries are recognized as independent administrative entities, with their own flags, national anthems, and emblems, but in reality, western powers still exercise a tremendous amount of hegemonic political, economic, and cultural power on them.

Recent history around the world has shown that brown leaders who try to defy the status quo and defend the interest of their own people at the expense of western hegemony, do not last long. In order to survive in their positions, most brown leaders have to make political and economic choices that are not favorable to their nation. Although most of the time, leaders in brown countries are quite happy to become stooges of the West, pledge allegiance to their western overlords, and enjoy the monetary benefits that come with that allegiance – often at the expense of their own nation, just like the African chieftains who used to sell fellow Africans into slavery.

In such subservient brown countries, discord often grows between the state and the citizens, repression intensifies, and the leaders find themselves increasingly isolated and paranoid of their own people. The leaders then start trusting and favoring only people from their closest circle, as well as foreigners, more than all other locals. Soon in this process, all significant opportunities in business, in government, and especially the security and intelligence branches of government, become the preserve of a small, predatory clique with foreign and carefully selected local elements. Of course, the various aspects of this scenario play out differently from brown country to brown country, but the general outcome is usually the same; frustration, limited opportunities, and second-class citizenship for the local brown people, in their own country.

For brown people living in the West, the situation is also not ideal, albeit for different reasons. The list of day-to-day racism related life challenges brown people face in western countries is just too long to enumerate here. The worst such challenges such as police brutality, discrimination in the workplace, and the ghettoization of brown communities have been rampant in the West, and have once again become prominent through the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement. In the same vein as the civil rights movement of the 1960s, these recent developments have the merit of exposing the pain and hardships brown people in the West have been experiencing for decades. Huge protests are erupting to demand the downing of statues depicting historical ‘white racist’ figures, to demand that people kneel as a sign of outrage to the George Floyd killing, to demand reparations for the ill treatment brown peoples have endured in the past. Brown peoples’ tempers and frustrations are once again reaching boiling point in front of western oppression and injustice. However, to many well-intended observers, the types of demands brown people in the West are making to correct the situation and hopefully crush the scourge of racism seem superficial, ineffective, and perhaps even naive.

In order to defeat something as entrenched and deep as racism, a different premise might be needed. Perhaps each side of the racism issue, the western, white dominant side, and the global south, brown subjugated side, needs to re-examine its own frame of reference?

Today, as in teacher d’Assumption’s time in the 1930s, modern western civilization remains dominant and continues to exercise disproportionate power on the world; with each of the leading western countries exercising strong influence on specific ‘brown’ regions – the US in Latin America, Eastern Europe, and parts of the Middle East, the UK in Africa, Asia, and other parts of the Middle East, France mainly in its former African territories. That power is still derived from the West’s advances in technology, applied in various, more sophisticated fields of control; be it in surveillance and intelligence (via military satellites and cyber-tracking technology), subversive regime change methods (via color revolutions, co-opted local protests, or mainstream media ‘manufactured consent’ and leader-demonization campaigns), or good old, albeit more targeted, military operations (via drones, bombing campaigns, inter-ballistic missiles, or special ops interventions). On the economic front, the enactment of sanctions on brown countries that do not ‘toe the line’ has been a widely-used tool in recent years; with a flip side to this approach being the granting of western currency-denominated loans, with monies ‘created-out-of-thin-air’ and lent by western Treasury Ministries (or DFIs) to brown countries to ensure debt-driven ‘loyalty.’ On the political side, in a context of outward democracy since the 1980s, the use of data analytics and social media has been used to foster favorable, or at least non western-interest-threatening, electoral outcomes.

In light of all this, a modern-day teacher d’Assumption would say, “whites send satellites into space, blacks can’t make a bicycle. Whites are civilized. Blacks are savages.” The ‘satellites’ versus ‘bicycle’ part of that statement may be partly true, but it also infers important presumptions and omissions that should be brought to light and honored. As for the ‘civilized’ versus ‘savages’ part, it is a plain fallacy that should be exposed as such.

The presumption many westerners have about their technological superiority is that it came about exclusively from the brilliance and higher intellectual order of the white race. In reality, technological advancements truly surfaced in the 1500s in the European West, a period many would consider quite late in the historical process.

Ancient Greece, from which the modern western European civilization is thought to have emerged, learned extensively from ancient Egypt. Ancient Greece scholars in the fields of mathematics, philosophy, and medicine, learned from the ancient Egyptians. In other words, the way today’s scientists and technologists travel to Europe and the US to gain knowledge, is the same way ancient Greeks would travel to Egypt to gain knowledge. The great ’embarrassment’ western tradition has tried to keep under wraps for centuries, has tried to ‘deflate’ through Hollywood misrepresentation, has fought in bad faith in the academic arena, is that the ancient Egyptians were black, and were the real ancestors of modern day Africans, from across the continent and in the diaspora. Today’s core Egyptian population comes from a mix between different successions of historically newcomers to Egypt; notably Turks and Arabs. In the ancient world, black people from Egypt, who became ‘browner’ during the later Pharaonic dynasties after centuries of conquests and ‘métissage/mixing’ with lighter conquered people (we’re seeing the reverse today), dominated the world. This question should be finally settled and taught. Not out of pride to claim some ancient glory, but for humanity to learn and reflect on the lessons of the past, without falsifying the past.

‘Western’ mathematics and in particular algebra, without which modern technology would not have come about, were initiated by the Persians and later developed by the Arabs. To understand the importance of just this contribution, one should just try and write, never mind calculate, 10,354 x 726 in Roman numbers! This fact although it is more widely known and better accepted than the ‘ancient Egypt was black’ cover up, has also been largely ignored and set aside by the modern West. Once again, perpetuating the idea that white western ingenuity solely deserves the credit for the technical advances humanity now enjoys in the modern world, is a criminal cover-up that impairs progress in the racism discussion.

In any case, and perhaps from a more philosophical perspective, scientific and technological advancement should not be boasted over for as long as it hasn’t resolved the ultimate human aspiration, which is the avoidance of death. In our modern times, the dominant West should reflect upon the true extent of its power. As a spiritual leader once declared in the course of an argument with a western materialist, during which the latter was marveling at the supremacy of rationale epistemology, technology and science, “if you’re so smart, don’t die!” It might thus be helpful for today’s dominant group who prides itself for the preeminence of its technology, and thus for the preeminence of its power, to reflect on the reality that despite these advances, despite a particular group living in better material conditions than others, the finality of all humans on this earth has remained the same. It is also perhaps the reason why the ancient Egyptians were so obsessed with immortality; the ultimate frontier of their power. To this day, that frontier has not been reached.

When it comes to the notion that having greater mastery of technology makes a particular group more ‘civilized’ than another, despite the many lessons we have from History on this assertion, most of today’s dominant West appears to not have taken heed. Just looking at recent history, one could reflect on how in the first few months of WW2, the Wehrmacht conquered Europe through its ‘blitzkrieg/lightning war’ and superior military technology. Did those accomplishments make the Third Reich more ‘civilized’ than the rest of Europe? Why then carry this contention that dominance over brown people all over the world by means of higher technology, and thus power, makes one more ‘civilized?’ On the moral and civilizational spectrum, justice administered with crude weaponry will forever remain higher than injustice committed with ballistic missiles and drones.

After all, power, then and now, whatever its source and whatever its form, when it is exercised unjustly for the sake of a few, rather than justly for the sake of many, has a name: it is called tyranny.

On the brown side of the discussion, the re-framing might begin with a sharper sense of reality.

Despite proclamations to the contrary and an urge to lecture the world about freedom, democracy, equality for all, modern western civilization does not practice what it preaches. It likes to act as the victim when it is the aggressor. It co-opts a mainstream press compromised by special corporate and ideological interests. It supports brutal regimes that do its bidding and decries legitimate other regimes that defy the current order. It establishes states through genocide of indigenous populations, tolerates discrimination against second-class minority groups, talks about liberty but expects everyone to conform to western cultural norms. Yet, many brown people the world over, perhaps as a coping mechanism, pretend not to see the huge gap between the outward western assertions on freedom, liberty, and justice, and the inward reality of western power.

Once brown people realize that the modern western world order does function on the basis of quasi- imperial power dynamics with a dominant group and a subjugated group, they might also realize that progress will not happen on the racism question for as long as the technological gap between the parties does not subside. The reason for that comes from the other reality that the opposite of racism is mutual respect. If the West sees itself better than others because of its technological advances and the power that derives from it, while others seem incapable of matching western technology but aspire to the same living standards that this technology provides, there can be no mutual respect. The process of acquiring one’s own technology is essential not just to earn respect, but also to earn one’s real freedom. It is also an endeavor that is hard, complicated, onerous, and at times extremely dangerous. Brown people, just like other non-western Europeans have done, should consider this reality in their re-framing of the racism issue.

Between 1941 and 1945, the Allies, despite adhering to different political ideologies, worked together in order to defeat Nazism and had to catch up with German military technology as a matter of survival; it was an extremely arduous process. In the post-war era, being prevented from political and military autonomy, a humiliated and damaged Japan decided to catch up with western consumer technologies; it was also an extremely arduous process. Today, China is following and perhaps surpassing Japan’s footsteps on not just consumer, but on all commercial technologies. While post-Soviet/post-1990s Russia is doing the same on the military front. None of these countries were given a free pass to ‘catch up’! Nor did they waste time adding insult to injury by turning to others in plea for help and apologies. Brown people then, must learn those lessons and take heed.

A journalist once asked an African father-of-independence leader “what was,” in his view “the worst thing that can happen to a human being?” The old man paused for a short while, and then replied, “losing one’s dignity!”

Being poor and over-powered is not a degrading state to be in and of itself; most peoples at some point in their history have experienced that. However, looking for sympathy and apologies for one’s misfortune, expecting others to relinquish power and provide for one, being unwilling to make sacrifices in order to uplift oneself, is degrading and makes one the laughing stock of the world. In order to regain some respect that will help close the gap in the racism discussion, brown people and leaders in brown countries must make all necessary efforts to ‘catch up’ and regain some dignity. Brown people who pretend not to care for the benefits of modern life tend not to be very genuine and thus not deserving of respect. Brown people who are not prepared to make the efforts and sacrifices needed to ‘catch up,’ but are so keen to flock in and emulate institutions built by others instead of building their own, are also not deserving of respect. Then brown people who do manage to regain some level of power, and who in turn, for the sake of correcting past injustices, themselves become unjust, perpetrate the downward cycle of racism.

Perhaps, through this reframing of the racism issue, primary schoolteachers the world over will one day begin the day with a different statement?

“Satellites, locomotives and bicycles are the result of human ingenuity over the ages. They make our daily lives better and they can be a source of great power. However, these technological and material achievements, however great they maybe, should not make us arrogant or make us think ourselves better than those who have not reached them. They should become a means to bring justice and peace to the entire world.”

  1. Note: my father’s primary school teacher at the Lycée Faidherbe in 1930s St Louis, Senegal. 

US Sanctions: Shooting Blanks Against the Resiliency of Targeted Nations

By Stephen Lendman

Global Research, October 27, 2020

As explained many times before, Security Council members alone may legally impose sanctions on nations, entities and individuals.

When used by countries against others, they breach the UN Charter, how the US, NATO and Israel operate time and again.

The Charter’s Article II mandates all member states to “settle…disputes” according to the rule of law.

US/Western sanctions are weapons of war by other means — used to pressure, bully and terrorize targeted nations into submission.

Though widely used, most often they fail to achieve intended objectives.

US sanctions war and other hostile actions against Cuba for 60 years, Iran for 40 years, Venezuela for 20 years, and against countless other nations largely shot blanks.

Most often, they’re counterproductive.

Hardships imposed on people in targeted nations fuel anti-US sentiment — blaming Washington, not their governments, for what they endure.

Under international law, nations are prohibited from intervening in the internal affairs of others.

Military action against an adversary is only legal in self-defense if attacked — never preemptively for any reasons.

Hardcore US bipartisan policy targets all independent nations unwilling to subordinate their sovereign rights to its interests.

That’s what US hostility toward China, Russia, Iran, and other targeted countries is all about.

Since WW II, no nations threatened the US militarily or politically.

Like all other empires in world history now gone, a similar fate awaits the US — because of its counterproductive geopolitical policies, over time making more enemies than allies, weakening, not strengthening, the state.

Last week in response to US sanctions on Russia’s Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline to Germany, Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the following:

“(T)his unfriendly and destructive policy of constant introduction of various restrictions in relation to us, our economic operators, our economy, unfortunately, this has already become an integral part of unfair competition, undisguised hostile takeover competition on the part of Washington.”

Last month, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova slammed the US, saying:

“We condemn (US) calls for forging a certain coalition against the pipeline, wherein German and other companies have already made multi-billion dollar investments.”

In response to EU sanctions on Russia over the Navalny novichok poisoning hoax, its Foreign Ministry demanded to know “who is behind the anti-Russian provocation,” adding:

“In response, we get aggressive rhetoric and outright manipulation of the facts” — by the EU in cahoots with the US.

Sergey Lavrov slammed Berlin for being in breach of its international obligations for failing to provide Moscow with information it claims to have about the Navalny incident — because none exists.

In mid-October, protesters outside the US embassy in London accused Washington of attempting to “strangle” Cuba’s economy by a virtual blockade on the island state.

The so-called Rock Around The Blockade solidarity campaign called for breaking the illegal action, chanting “Cuba si! Yankee no! Abajo el bloqueo/Down with the blockade!”

Despite annual UN General Assembly measures against US blockade of the island state, it’s been in place for decades without success because of Cuban resiliency.

Trump regime Office of Foreign Assets Control threatened to sue “anyone who trades with Cuba” or has property in the country.

Despite decades of US war on Cuba by other means, aiming to regain imperial control over the island state, policies of Republicans and Dems consistently failed.

US war on China by sanctions and other means widens the breach between both countries.US Sanctions: Weapons of War by Other Means on Targeted Nations

On October 21 in a Foreign Affairs article titled “How China Threatens American Democracy” (sic), Trump regime national security advisor Robert  O’Brien invented nonexistent threats.

Instead of fostering productive bilateral relations with all nations, policies of both right wings of the US one-party state go the other way against nations Washington doesn’t control — how the scourge of imperialism operates.

China fosters cooperative relations with other nations, threatening none — polar opposite longstanding US policy, seeking dominance over planet earth, its resources and populations.

Undeclared US initiated Cold War against China, Russia, and other targeted nations threatens to turn hot by accident or design — especially in East Asia, the Middle East, and near Russia’s borders.

On Sunday, O’Brien expressed frustration, saying:

“One of the problems that we have faced with both Iran and Russia is that we now have so many sanctions against these countries that we have very little (opportunity) to do anything about it,” adding:

“But we are looking at all possible deterrent measures that we can apply to these countries, as well as others…”

Last Thursday, the US Treasury Department announced new sanctions on Iran’s IRGC, its Quds Force, and Bayan Rasaneh Gostar Institute “for having directly or indirectly engaged in, sponsored, concealed, or otherwise been complicit in foreign interference” in US November 3 elections.

Fact: Throughout US history, no evidence showed that any foreign nations ever interfered in its electoral process — a US specialty against scores of nations throughout the post-WW II period.

Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh slammed the hostile action, saying:

Its government “strong(ly) reject(s) baseless and false claims” by the US, adding:

“(I)t makes no difference for Iran who wins the US election.”

On core domestic and foreign policy issues, both right wings of the US one-party state operate largely the same way.

Rare exceptions prove the rule.

On Monday, Pompeo announced more illegal sanctions on Iran — part of longstanding US war on the country by other means.

Tehran’s “Ministry of Petroleum and Minister of Petroleum, the National Iranian Oil Company, the National Iranian Tanker Company, and 21 other individuals, entities, and vessels” were targeted for unjustifiable reasons.

Iran, its ruling authorities, and entities foster cooperative relations with other countries — hostile actions toward none, except in self-defense if attacked, the legal right of all nations.

US imperial policy targets all countries, entities and individuals not subservient to its rage to rule the world unchallenged.

US maximum pressure on Iran and other nations is all about wanting them transformed into vassal states.

Separately on Monday, convicted felon/US envoy for regime change in Iran and Venezuela Elliott Abrams said the following:

“The transfer of long-range missiles from Iran to Venezuela is not acceptable to the United States and will not be tolerated or permitted,” adding:

“We will make every effort to stop shipments of long-range missiles, and if somehow they get to Venezuela they will be eliminated there.”

Was the above threat a possible US declaration of hot war on Venezuela, on Iran as well?

Last week, Pompeo announced new US sanctions on “the State Research Center of the Russian Federation FGUP Central Scientific Research Institute of Chemistry and Mechanics (TsNIIKhM).”

He falsely claimed the research institute conducts “malware attacks (that threaten) cybersecurity and critical infrastructure (sic).”

No evidence was cited because none exists, including alleged Russian malware against “a petrochemical plant in the Middle East,” along with “scann(ing) and prob(ing) US facilities.”

Pompeo falsely accused Russia of “engag(ing) in dangerous and malicious activities that threaten the security of the United States and our allies (sic).”

The above is what the US and its imperial partners do time and again — falsely blaming others for their own high crimes.

The Trump regime also imposed unlawful sanctions on Iran for supplying Venezuela with gasoline — the legal right of both nations to conduct bilateral trade relations.

Last month, former Trump regime acting DNI Richard Grenell met secretly with Venezuelan Vice President for Communications Jorge Rodriguez in Mexico, according to Bloomberg News.

It was a futile attempt to get President Maduro to step down ahead of US November 3 elections, Trump seeking a foreign policy success to tout that failed.

US war on Venezuela by other means, notably by Trump, imposed great hardships on its people alone — failing to achieve regime change.

US-designated puppet-in-waiting Guaido’s involvement in the scheme made him widely despised by the vast majority of Venezuelans.

Separately, Russia’s US embassy responded to unacceptable tightening of visas for its journalists by the Trump regime, creating “artificial barriers (that impede) their normal work,” adding:

“In particular, the limitation of the period of stay for foreign media employees to 240 days (with the possibility of extension up to 480 days) will not allow them to consistently cover local events.”

Journalists “will have to leave the United States for a considerable time to obtain a new visa.”

This new policy flies in the face of what “freedom of speech and equal access to information” is supposed to be all about.

On Monday, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova slammed US accusations of alleged Moscow cybersecurity threats, calling them “unfounded,” adding:

“(T)his time (the US outdid itself) in anti-Russia rhetoric with extremely harsh statements occasionally bordering on bizarre rudeness.”

“Such an approach will not benefit the State Department and is indicative of the fact that they treat the culture and norms of state-to-state communication with disdain.”

Businessman Trump sought improved relations with Russia — the aim thwarted by surrounding himself with Russophobic hardliners.

The same holds for US hostility toward China, Iran, and other countries on its target list for regime change.

*

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

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

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

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.

Featured image is from podur.orgThe original source of this article is Global ResearchCopyright © Stephen Lendman, Global Research, 2020

Russian President Putin Delivers Speech at Valdai Discussion Club -2020 – Update

Source

The Transcript follows.

Update : October 24th

The formal transcript is now complete

Update : October 23rd

Note that it is not quite complete and we are waiting for the Kremlin resources to complete (as usual correct and accurate) the complete transcript.  Yet, most of it is here, and the most interesting details are in the Questions and Answers.  (Settle in, it was a 3 hour session and nobody wanted to let Mr Putin go, even after 3 hours!)

Fyodor Lukyanov: Friends,

Guests of the Valdai Club,

I am delighted to welcome you to the final session of the 17th annual meeting of the Valdai International Discussion Club. It is my special honour and pleasure to welcome our traditional guest for our final meetings, President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin.

President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, colleagues, friends,

Participants of the 17th plenary meeting of the Valdai Club,

Ladies and gentlemen,

I would like to welcome you all to our traditional annual meeting. We are meeting in an unusual format this time; we are videoconferencing. But I can see there are also people in the room. Not as many as usual of course, but nevertheless there are people present, and, apparently, you have had an in-person discussion, and I am delighted that you have.

We are certainly aware, we can see that the coronavirus epidemic has seriously affected public, business, and international affairs. More than that – it has affected everyone’s routine rhythm of life.

Almost all countries had to impose various restrictions, and large public gatherings have been largely cancelled. This year has been challenging for your Club as well. Most importantly, though, you continue to work. With the help of remote technology, you conduct heated and meaningful debates, discuss things, and bring in new experts who share their opinions and present interesting outside-the-box, sometimes even opposing, views on current developments. Such an exchange is, of course, very important and useful now that the world is facing so many challenges that need to be resolved.

Thus, we still have to understand how the epidemic affected and will continue to affect the present and future of humanity. As it confronts this dangerous threat, the international community is trying to take certain actions and to mobilize itself. Some things are already being done as collaborative efforts, but I want to note straight away that this is only a fraction of what needs to be done in the face of this formidable common challenge. These missed opportunities are also a subject for a candid international discussion.

From the onset of the pandemic in Russia, we have focused on preserving lives and ensuring safety of our people as our key values. This was an informed choice dictated by our culture and spiritual traditions, and our complex, sometimes dramatic, history. If we think back to the great demographic losses we suffered in the 20th century, we had no other choice but to fight for every person and the future of every Russian family.

So, we did our best to preserve the health and the lives of our people, to help parents and children, as well as senior citizens and those who lost their jobs, to maintain employment as much as possible, to minimise damage to the economy, to support millions of entrepreneurs who run small or family businesses.

Perhaps, like everyone else, you are closely following daily updates on the pandemic around the world. Unfortunately, the coronavirus has not retreated and still poses a major threat. Probably, this unsettling background intensifies the sense, like many people feel, that a whole new era is about to begin and that we are not just on the verge of dramatic changes, but an era of tectonic shifts in all areas of life.

We see the rapidly, exponential development of the processes that we have repeatedly discussed at the Valdai Club before. Thus, six years ago, in 2014, we spoke about this issue when we discussed the theme The World Order: New Rules or a Game Without Rules. So, what is happening now? Regrettably, the game without rules is becoming increasingly horrifying and sometimes seems to be a fait accompli.

The pandemic has reminded us of how fragile human life is. It was hard to imagine that in our technologically advanced 21st century, even in the most prosperous and wealthy countries people could find themselves defenceless in front of what would seem to be not such a fatal infection, and not such a horrible threat. But life has shown that not everything boils down to the level of medical science with some of its fantastic achievements. It transpired that the organisation and accessibility of the public healthcare system are no less, and probably much more important in this situation.

The values of mutual assistance, service and self-sacrifice proved to be most important. This also applies to the responsibility, composure and honesty of the authorities, their readiness to meet the demand of society and at the same time provide a clear-cut and well-substantiated explanation of the logic and consistency of the adopted measures so as not to allow fear to subdue and divide society but, on the contrary, to imbue it with confidence that together we will overcome all trials no matter how difficult they may be.

The struggle against the coronavirus threat has shown that only a viable state can act effectively in a crisis – contrary to the reasoning of those who claim that the role of the state in the global world is decreasing and that in the future it will be altogether replaced with some other forms of social organisation. Yes, this is possible. Everything may change in the distant future. Change is all around us, but today the role and importance of the state do matter.

We have always considered a strong state a basic condition for Russia’s development. And we have seen again that we were right by meticulously restoring and strengthening state institutions after their decline, and sometimes complete destruction in the 1990s.

Then, the question is: what is a strong state? What are its strengths? Definitely, not total control or harsh law enforcement. Not thwarted private initiative or civic engagement. Not even the might of its armed forces or its high defence potential. Although, I think you realise how important this particular component is for Russia, given its geography and the range of geopolitical challenges. And there is also our historical responsibility as a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council to ensure global stability.

Nevertheless, I am confident that what makes a state strong, primarily, is the confidence its citizens have in it. That is the strength of a state. People are the source of power, we all know that. And this recipe doesn’t just involve going to the polling station and voting, it implies people’s willingness to delegate broad authority to their elected government, to see the state, its bodies, civil servants, as their representatives – those who are entrusted to make decisions, but who also bear full responsibility for the performance of their duties.

This kind of state can be set up any way you like. When I say “any way,” I mean that what you call your political system is immaterial. Each country has its own political culture, traditions, and its own vision of their development. Trying to blindly imitate someone else’s agenda is pointless and harmful. The main thing is for the state and society to be in harmony.

And of course, confidence is the most solid foundation for the creative work of the state and society. Only together will they be able to find an optimal balance of freedom and security guarantees.

Once again, in the most difficult moments of the pandemic, I felt pride and, to be honest, I am proud of Russia, of our citizens, of their willingness to have each other’s backs. And of course, first of all, I am proud of our doctors, nurses, and ambulance workers – everyone, without exception, on whom the national healthcare system relies.

I believe that civil society will play a key role in Russia’s future. So, we want the voice of our citizens to be decisive and to see constructive proposals and requests from different social forces get implemented.

This begs the question: how is this request for action being formed? Whose voice should the state be heeding? How does it know if it is really the voice of the people and not some behind-the-scenes messages or even someone’s vocal yelling that has nothing to do whatsoever with our people and that at times becomes hysterical?

Occasionally, someone is trying to substitute self-serving interests of a small social group or even external forces for a genuine public request.

Genuine democracy and civil society cannot be “imported.” I have said so many times. They cannot be a product of the activities of foreign “well-wishers,” even if they “want the best for us.” In theory, this is probably possible. But, frankly, I have not yet seen such a thing and do not believe much in it. We see how such imported democracy models function. They are nothing more than a shell or a front with nothing behind them, even a semblance of sovereignty. People in the countries where such schemes have been implemented were never asked for their opinion, and their respective leaders are mere vassals. As is known, the overlord decides everything for the vassal. To reiterate, only the citizens of a particular country can determine their public interest.

We, in Russia, went through a fairly long period where foreign funds were very much the main source for creating and financing non-governmental organisations. Of course, not all of them pursued self-serving or bad goals, or wanted to destabilise the situation in our country, interfere in our domestic affairs, or influence Russia’s domestic and, sometimes, foreign policy in their own interests. Of course not.

There were sincere enthusiasts among independent civic organisations (they do exist), to whom we are undoubtedly grateful. But even so, they mostly remained strangers and ultimately reflected the views and interests of their foreign trustees rather than the Russian citizens. In a word, they were a tool with all the ensuing consequences.

A strong, free and independent civil society is nationally oriented and sovereign by definition. It grows from the depth of people’s lives and can take different forms and directions. But it is a cultural phenomenon, a tradition of a particular country, not the product of some abstract “transnational mind” with other people’s interests behind it.

The duty of the state is to support public initiatives and open up new opportunities for them. This is exactly what we do. I consider this matter to be the most important for the government’s agenda in the coming decades – regardless of who exactly will hold positions in that government. This is the guarantee of Russia’s sovereign, progressive development, of genuine continuity in its forward movement, and of our ability to respond to global challenges.

Colleagues, you are well aware of the many acute problems and controversies that have accumulated in modern international affairs, even too many. Ever since the Cold War model of international relations, which was stable and predictable in its own way, began to change (I am not saying I miss it, I most certainly do not), the world has changed several times. Things in fact happened so quickly that those usually referred to as political elites simply did not have the time, or maybe a strong interest or ability to analyse what was really going on.

Some countries hastily ran to divide the cake, mostly to grab a bigger piece, to take advantage of the benefits the end of the cold confrontation brought. Others were frantically looking for ways to adapt to the changes at any cost. And some countries – recall our own sad experience, frankly – just fought for survival, to survive as a single country, and as a subject of global politics, too.

Meanwhile, time increasingly and insistently makes us question what lies ahead for humanity, what the new world order should be like, or at least a semblance of one, and whether we will take informed steps forward, coordinating our moves, or we will stumble blindly, each of us just relying on ourselves.

The recent report of the Valdai Club, your club, reads: “…in a fundamentally changed international setting, the institutions themselves have become an obstacle to building a system of relations corresponding to the new era rather than a guarantee of global stability and manageability.” The authors believe that we are in for a world where individual states or groups of states will act much more independently while traditional international organisations will lose their importance.

This is what I would like to say in this respect. Of course, it is clear what underlies this position. In effect, the post-war world order was established by three victorious countries: the Soviet Union, the United States and Great Britain. The role of Britain has changed since then; the Soviet Union no longer exists, while some try to dismiss Russia altogether.

Let me assure you, dear friends, that we are objectively assessing our potentialities: our intellectual, territorial, economic and military potential. I am referring to our current options, our overall potential. Consolidating this country and looking at what is happening in the world, in other countries I would like to tell those who are still waiting for Russia’s strength to gradually wane, the only thing we are worried about is catching a cold at your funeral.

As a head of state who works directly in an environment that you and your colleagues describe from a position of expertise, I cannot agree with the assumption that existing international structures must be completely rebuilt, if not dismissed as obsolete and altogether dismantled. On the contrary, it is important to preserve the basic mechanisms of maintaining international security, which have proved to be effective. This is the UN, the Security Council and the permanent members’ right to veto. I recently spoke about this at the anniversary UN General Assembly. As far as I know, this position – the preservation of the fundamentals of the international order established after World War II – enjoys broad support in the world.

However, I believe that the idea of adjusting the institutional arrangement of world politics is at least worthy of discussion, if only because the correlation of forces, potentialities and positions of states has seriously changed, as I said, especially in the past 30 to 40 years.

Indeed, like I said, the Soviet Union is no longer there. But there is Russia. In terms of its economic weight and political influence, China is moving quickly towards superpower status. Germany is moving in the same direction, and the Federal Republic of Germany has become an important player in international cooperation. At the same time, the roles of Great Britain and France in international affairs has undergone significant changes. The United States, which at some point absolutely dominated the international stage, can hardly claim exceptionality any longer. Generally speaking, does the United States need this exceptionalism? Of course, powerhouses such as Brazil, South Africa and some other countries have become much more influential.

Indeed, by far not all international organisations are effectively carrying out their missions and tasks. Called to be impartial arbiters, they often act based on ideological prejudices, fall under the strong influence of other states, and become tools in their hands. Juggling procedures, manipulating prerogatives and authority, biased approaches, especially when it comes to conflicts involving rival powers or groups of states, have unfortunately become common practice.

The fact that authoritative international organisations following in the wake of someone’s selfish interests are drawn into politicised campaigns against specific leaders and countries is saddening. This approach does nothing but discredit these institutions, and leads them towards decline and exacerbates the world order crisis.

On the other hand, there are positive developments when a group of interested states joins forces to resolve specific issues, such as the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, which for almost 20 years now has been contributing to the settlement of territorial disputes and strengthening stability in Central Eurasia, and is shaping a unique spirit of partnership in this part of the world.

Or, for example, the Astana format, which was instrumental in taking the political and diplomatic process regarding Syria out of a deep impasse. The same goes for OPEC Plus which is an effective, albeit very complex, tool for stabilising global oil markets.

In a fragmented world, this approach is often more productive. But what matters here is that, along with resolving specific problems, this approach can also breathe new life into multilateral diplomacy. This is important. But it is also obvious that we cannot do without a common, universal framework for international affairs. Whatever interest groups, associations, or ad-hoc alliances we form now or in the future – we cannot do without a common framework.

Multilateralism should be understood not as total inclusivity, but as the need to involve the parties that are truly interested in solving a problem. And of course, when outside forces crudely and shamelessly intervene in a process that affects a group of actors perfectly capable of agreeing among themselves – nothing good can come of that. And they do this solely for the purpose of flaunting their ambition, power and influence. They do it to put a stake in the ground, to outplay everyone, but not to make a positive contribution or help resolve the situation.

Again, even amid the current fragmentation of international affairs, there are challenges that require more than just the combined capacity of a few states, even very influential ones. Problems of this magnitude, which do exist, require global attention.

International stability, security, fighting terrorism and solving urgent regional conflicts are certainly among them; as are promoting global economic development, combatting poverty, and expanding cooperation in healthcare. That last one is especially relevant today.

I spoke in detail about these challenges at the UN General Assembly last month. Meeting them will require working together in a long-term, systematic way.

However, there are considerations of a more general nature that affect literally everyone, and I would like to discuss them in more detail.

Many of us read The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry when we were children and remember what the main character said: “It’s a question of discipline. When you’ve finished washing and dressing each morning, you must tend your planet. … It’s very tedious work, but very easy.”

I am sure that we must keep doing this “tedious work” if we want to preserve our common home for future generations. We must tend our planet.

The subject of environmental protection has long become a fixture on the global agenda. But I would address it more broadly to discuss also an important task of abandoning the practice of unrestrained and unlimited consumption – overconsumption – in favour of judicious and reasonable sufficiency, when you do not live just for today but also think about tomorrow.

We often say that nature is extremely vulnerable to human activity. Especially when the use of natural resources is growing to a global dimension. However, humanity is not safe from natural disasters, many of which are the result of anthropogenic interference. By the way, some scientists believe that the recent outbreaks of dangerous diseases are a response to this interference. This is why it is so important to develop harmonious relations between Man and Nature.

Tensions have reached a critical point. We can see this in climate change. This problem calls for practical action and much more attention on our part. It has long stopped being the domain of abstract scientific interests but now concerns nearly every inhabitant of the planet Earth. The polar ice caps and permafrost are melting because of global warming. According to expert estimates, the speed and scale of this process will be increasing in the next few decades.

It is a huge challenge to the world, to the whole of humanity, including to us, to Russia, where permafrost occupies 65 percent of our national territory. Such changes can do irreparable damage to biological diversity, have an extremely adverse effect on the economy and infrastructure and pose a direct threat to people.

You may be aware that this is very important to us. It affects pipeline systems, residential districts built on permafrost, and so on. If as much as 25 percent of the near-surface layers of permafrost, which is about three or four metres, melt by 2100, we will feel the effect very strongly. Moreover, the problem could snowball into a crisis very quickly. A kind of chain reaction is possible, because permafrost melting will stimulate methane emissions, which can produce a greenhouse effect that will be 28 times (sic!) larger than in the case of carbon dioxide. In other words, the temperature will continue rising on the planet, permafrost will continue melting, and methane emissions will further increase. The situation will spiral. Do we want the Earth to become like Venus, a hot, dry and lifeless planet? I would like to remind you that the Earth has an average surface temperature of 14°C while on Venus it’s 462°C.

Another subject, completely different. I would like to say a few words on a different subject. Let us not forget that there are no longer just geographical continents on Earth. An almost endless digital space is taking shape on the planet, and people are mastering it with increasing speed every year.

The restrictions forced by the coronavirus have only encouraged the development of remote e-technology. Today, communications based on the internet have become a universal asset. It is necessary to see that this infrastructure and all cyberspace operates without fail and securely.

Thus, remote, distance work is not just a forced precaution during a pandemic. This will become a new form of organising labour, employment, social cooperation and simply human communication. These changes are inevitable with the development of technological progress. This recent turn of events has merely precipitated these processes. Everyone appreciates the opportunities and conveniences provided by new technology.

But, of course, there is a reverse side as well – a growing threat to all digital systems. Yes, cyberspace is a fundamentally new environment where, basically, universally recognised rules have never existed. Technology has simply moved ahead of legislation and thus, judicial oversight. At the same time, this is a very specific area where the issue of trust is particularly urgent.

I think that at this point we must return to our historical experience. What do I mean? Let me recall that the established notion of “confidence-building measures” existed during the Cold War. It applied to relations between the USSR and the US, and between the Warsaw Pact and NATO, that is, military-political relations.

That said, let me emphasise that now, competition is usually “hybrid” in character. It concerns all areas, including those that are just taking shape. This is why it is necessary to build confidence in many areas.

In this sense, cyberspace can serve as a venue for testing these measures, like at one time, arms control paved the way for higher trust in the world as a whole.

Obviously, it is very difficult to draft a required “package of measures” in this area, cyberspace. However, it is necessary to start on it. This must be done now.

As you may be aware, Russia is actively promoting bilateral and multilateral cyber security agreements. We submitted two draft conventions on this subject at the UN and established a corresponding open-ended working group.

Recently, I proposed starting a comprehensive discussion of international cybersecurity issues with the United States. We are aware that politicians in the United States have other things to focus on now because of the election campaign. However, we hope that the next administration, whatever it may be, will respond to our invitation to start a discussion of this subject just like other items on the Russia-US agenda such as global security, the future of the strategic arms reduction treaty and a number of other issues.

As you are aware, many important matters have reached the point that they require candid talks, and we are ready for a constructive discussion on an equal footing.

Of course, the times when all important international matters were discussed and resolved by essentially just Moscow and Washington are long gone, lost to the ages. However, we see the establishment of a bilateral dialogue, in this case on cyber security, as an important step towards a much broader discussion involving many other countries and organisations. Should the United States choose not to take part in this work, which would be regrettable, we will still be willing to work with all interested partners, which I hope will not be lacking.

I would like to point out another important aspect. We live in an era of palpable international shocks and crises. Of course, we are used to them, especially the generations which lived during the Cold War, let alone World War II, for whom it is not just a memory, but a part of their lives.

It is interesting that humanity has reached a very high level of technological and socioeconomic development, while at the same time facing the loss or erosion of moral values and reference points, a sense that existence no longer has meaning and, if you will, that the mission of humankind on planet Earth has been lost.

This crisis cannot be settled through diplomatic negotiations or even a large international conference. It calls for revising our priorities and rethinking our goals. And everyone must begin at home, every individual, community and state, and only then work toward a global configuration.

The COVID-19 pandemic, which we have all been dealing with this year, can serve as a point of departure for such a transformation. We will have to reassess our priorities anyway. Trust me, we really will have to do it, sooner or later. All of us are aware of this. Therefore, I fully agree with those who say that it would be better to start this process now.

I mentioned history and the older generations who went through all the trials of last century for a reason. Everything we are discussing today will soon become the responsibility of young people. Young people will have to deal with all of the problems which I mentioned and you discussed today. Speaking about Russia, its young citizens, who are still growing up and gaining experience, will have to do this as soon as in the 21st century. They are the ones who will have to confront new and probably even more difficult challenges.

They have their own views on the past, present and future. But I believe that our people will always retain their best qualities: patriotism, fortitude, creativity, hard work, team spirit and the capacity to surprise the world by finding solutions to the most difficult and even seemingly insoluble problems.

Friends, colleagues,

I touched on a wide range of different issues today. Of course, I would like to believe that despite all the current difficulties the international community will be able to join forces to combat not imaginary but very real problems, and that we will eventually succeed. After all, it is within our power to stop being egoistical, greedy, mindless and wasteful consumers. Some may wonder if this is utopia, a pipe dream.

To be sure, it is easy to wonder if this is even possible considering what some individuals are doing and saying. However, I believe in reason and mutual understanding, or at least I strongly hope that they will prevail. We just need to open our eyes, look around us and see that the land, air and water are our common inheritance from above, and we must learn to cherish them, just as we must cherish every human life, which is precious. This is the only way forward in this complicated and beautiful world. I do not want to see the mistakes of the past repeated.

Thank you very much.

Fyodor Lukyanov: Mr President, thank you for this detailed statement. You have said that COVID-19 can serve as a point of departure for a reassessment. I can see that you are indeed reassessing things, because it is not everyone who speaks now about trust, harmony, the meaning of life and our mission on the planet Earth, and it was rarely so in the past as well.

I would like to say a few things in follow-up to what you have said. Of course, such a rethinking is ongoing, and we are trying to contribute to this process at the Valdai Club. However, the shocking spring developments, when we thought that the world would never be the same again, were followed by a degree of stabilisation. When global politics awoke from the mental torpor, it turned out that the agenda has hardly changed at all: we are facing the same problems, the conflicts are back and their number has even increased. But you continue with your active work despite the strained situation in global politics. Do you think that this shock had any effect on us? Do you feel any change in the sentiments of your counterparts at the top level?

Vladimir Putin: You said that the conflicts resumed when the situation improved a bit. In fact, they never abated. There is much talk about a second wave, and that the situation is back to where we were in the spring. But just look at what is happening in Nagorno-Karabakh: the conflict is still with us. And it is not just the conflicts that matter. I believe that no matter how the necessity to combat the pandemic can rally the international community, we still need to take systemic measures to settle recurring problems. This concerns the Middle East, the Syrian crisis, Libya and a great number of other problems, including terrorism and the environment. In other words, the pandemic will not help us to deal with them.

However, the pandemic is playing into our hands when it comes to raising our awareness of the importance of joining forces against severe global crises. Unfortunately, it has not yet taught humanity to come together completely, as we must do in such situations. Just look at the crises I have mentioned. We have already proposed, at the UN, among other places, that all economic and cultural restrictions be lifted for humanitarian reasons, at least temporarily.

I am not referring now to all these sanctions against Russia; forget about that, we will get over it. But many other countries that have suffered and are still suffering from the coronavirus do not even need any help that may come from outside, they just need the restrictions lifted, at least in the humanitarian sphere, I repeat, concerning the supply of medicines, equipment, credit resources, and the exchange of technologies. These are humanitarian things in their purest form. But no, they have not abolished any restrictions, citing some considerations that have nothing to do with the humanitarian component – but at the same time, everyone is talking about humanism.

I would say we need to be more honest with each other and abandon double standards. I am sure that if people hear me now on the media, they are probably finding it difficult to disagree with what I have just said, difficult to deny it. Deep down in their hearts, in their minds, everyone is probably thinking, “Yes, right, of course.” However, for political reasons, publicly, they will still say, “No, we must keep restrictions on Iran, Venezuela, against Assad.” What does Assad even have to do with this when it is ordinary people who suffer? At least, give them medicines, give them technology, at least a small, targeted loan for medicine. No.

Therefore, on the one hand, it seems like there is a tendency to unite, but, frankly speaking, by and large, I do not see any practical steps to bring it to reality. Although this trend does exist.

As for technology, it is another side of the matter. As for technology, of course, online education, telemedicine and other advanced solutions – all the modern digital technologies that had been increasingly penetrating all spheres, of course, with the pandemic have made a breach in the existing regulatory systems. They are forcing politicians, legal professionals, and administrative regulators, to move towards decision-making at a faster pace than they used to. And this is certainly, definitely changing the world.

Fyodor Lukyanov: Thank you.

Here is one more question related to what you have said.

Speaking about the strategy of combating the epidemic, you clearly and unequivocally stated that people’s life and safety are the main values. This strategy is understandable, but tactics differ. Last spring, the countries that chose a different path were sharply criticised.

For example, Sweden and Belarus did not introduce an economic lockdown or a tight quarantine. There were many pro and contra arguments. Six months later, we can see that the world is largely following in the footsteps of these countries instead of doing what we did in spring. I believe that you also said yesterday that there would not be any economic lockdown.

Does this mean that the balance is changing and that the balance should sometimes change in favour of the economy?

Vladimir Putin: I would say that nothing is changing in our country. I do not know about Sweden. On the other hand, I do know some things, and I will say a few words about them. The same is true about Belarus and other countries, where the decisions are made by their leadership. As for us, nothing has changed: people’s lives and health remain our priorities, without a doubt.

On the other hand, life and health are directly connected to healthcare, which must receive serious support from the federal and other budgets. For these budgets to be replenished, we need a working economy. Everything is closely interconnected. One needs to find a balance. I believe that we found this balance at the very beginning. We took a number of serious steps to support the economy. This support amounted to 4.5 percent of the GDP. Some other countries allocated even more funds for this purpose.

The point is actually not so much the amount of allocated funds but their effective use. I believe (we discussed several related issues with the Government today) that we disposed of these funds quite effectively, in a selective way and using the considerable resources we accumulated in the past years, as well as relying on the macroeconomic health of our economy, macroeconomic indicators and all the other positive achievements of the past years, to support our people, families with children, small and medium-sized businesses, and even large companies and whole industries.

Overall, there is no need in the current situation, at least in Russia, to reintroduce such restrictions as we had in spring, when we sent our people on paid leave and closed down whole enterprises. There is no need for this also because our healthcare system performed quite efficiently. We have also built up reserves, including a reserve of hospital beds, created new medicines and developed treatment guidelines. Our medics have learned how to deal with this disease, they know what and when needs to be done. In other words, we have become confident that we can deal with these problems. This is the first thing I wanted to say.

The second thing. We said from the beginning – I would just like to remind you, keeping in mind the vastness of our territory – that we were handing down a considerable part of authority for decision-making to the level of the constituent entities of the Russian Federation. Incidentally, all major countries, have, in fact, followed this path somewhat later. This has proven to be the right approach.

There is no such need today. The economy is recovering. The processing industry is recovering, the agro-industrial sector is performing quite well and is even growing, exports are recovering… Yes, we have issues that we should target. But look, we have basically acceptable macroeconomic indicators. Russia’s second-quarter economic contraction was 8 percent, and, say, the US economy, declined by 9 [percent], and the Euro zone, if I am not mistaken, by 14.5 – 14.7 [percent].

You have mentioned Sweden that imposed no restrictions, but they also happened to face an economic downturn. At first, they went public with the figure of 8.3 [percent], which was later adjusted to less than 8 [percent] – 7.7 [percent], if my memory serves me correctly. Here we go: they have introduced no restrictions, nor have they done what we have in supporting people and the economy, but their result is the same as ours. The modern world is extremely interconnected. But an economic decline is inevitable, the first thing to do is to take care of the people. This logic is immaculate. I am certain that you will agree on this point.

Now, regarding Belarus. President Lukashenko – I had many conversations with him – is fully aware of the COVID-19 threat. But Belarus has no comparable gold and currency reserves, nor such a diverse economic landscape, and he, as he says, simply had to keep the economy viable. But on the whole, the situation there is not worse, in fact, than in many other countries.

Therefore we face – and faced – no choice of this sort; our priorities are people, health, and life. We are not going to impose tough restrictions, there is no such need. There is no need to close businesses. What is needed is to adjust support for certain sectors, for example, for small and medium-sized businesses. Certain parts of this work require additional support, maybe the extension of tax benefits and some other measures that are due to expire shortly. It is necessary to take a closer look at transportation, the transport sector, and the services. We are aware of all this, we see this, and we will continue to work in these areas, no matter how difficult this might be. As I have repeatedly said, we will get through this difficult period together, with the people’s support and trust.

Fyodor Lukyanov: Colleagues, we are moving on to our traditional conversation. This time the setup of this discussion will be quite complex, since we have people sitting in the audience here, and I am also receiving questions from those who are watching online, and some of our colleagues will be able to ask their questions in person. Therefore, I will try to act as an impartial moderator and manage this conversation, and I apologise for any possible hiccups.

Let us begin. Timofei Bordachev, our colleague from the Valdai Club.

Timofei Bordachev: Good evening, and thank you for this unique opportunity.

Mr President, there has been much talk and debate, in the context of the global economic upheavals, about the fact that the liberal market economy has ceased to be a reliable tool for the survival of states, their preservation, and for their people.

Pope Francis said recently that capitalism has run its course. Russia has been living under capitalism for 30 years. Is it time to search for an alternative? Is there an alternative? Could it be the revival of the left-wing idea or something radically new? Thank you.

Vladimir Putin: Lenin spoke about the birthmarks of capitalism, and so on. It cannot be said that we have lived these past 30 years in a full-fledged market economy. In fact, we are only gradually building it, and its institutions. Russia had to do it from the ground up, starting from a clean slate. Of course, we are doing this taking into consideration developments around the world. After all, after almost one hundred years of a state-planned economy, transitioning to a market economy is not easy.

You know, capitalism, the way you have described it, existed in a more or less pure form at the beginning of the previous century. But everything changed after what happened in the global economy and in the United States in the 1920s and 1930s, after World War I. We have already discussed this on a number of occasions. I do not remember if I have mentioned this at Valdai Club meetings, but experts who know this subject better than I do and with whom I regularly communicate, they are saying obvious and well-known things.

When everything is fine, and the macro economic indicators are stable, various funds are building up their assets, consumption is on the rise and so on. In such times, you hear more and more that the state only stands in the way, and that a pure market economy would be more effective. But as soon as crises and challenges arise, everyone turns to the state, calling for the reinforcement of its supervisory functions. This goes on and on, like a sinusoidal curve. This is what happened during the preceding crises, including the recent ones, like in 2008.

I remember very well how the key shareholders of Russia’s largest corporations that are also major European and global players came to me proposing that the state buy their assets for one dollar or one ruble. They were afraid of assuming responsibility for their employees, pressured by margin calls, and the like. This time, our businesses have acted differently. No one is seeking to evade responsibility. On the contrary, they are even using their own funds, and are quite generous in doing so. The responses may differ, but overall, businesses have been really committed to social responsibility, for which I am grateful to these people, and I want them to know this.

Therefore, at present, we cannot really find a fully planned economy, can we? Take China. Is it a purely planned economy? No. And there is not a single purely market economy either. Nevertheless, the government’s regulatory functions are certainly important. For example, consider major industries such as aircraft construction. Without some regulatory function from the top – or from the left, right, bottom, for that matter, whether this regulatory function is visible or not – without it, it is impossible to operate in this market. And we can see that all the countries that claim respect as aircraft-building powers (contextually, I would say), their governments provide assistance to their aircraft manufacturers, all of them. And there are plenty of support methods.

By the way, the situation is much the same in the automotive industry, and in other industries. We just need to determine for ourselves the reasonable level of the state’s involvement in the economy; how quickly that involvement needs to be reduced, if at all, and where exactly. I often hear that Russia’s economy is overregulated. But during crises like this current pandemic, when we are forced to restrict business activity, and cargo traffic shrinks, and not only cargo traffic, but passenger traffic as well, we have to ask ourselves – what do we do with aviation now that passengers avoid flying or fly rarely, what do we do? Well, the state is a necessary fixture, there is no way they could do without state support.

So, again, no model is pure or rigid, neither the market economy nor the command economy today, but we simply have to determine the level of the state’s involvement in the economy. What do we use as a baseline for this decision? Expediency. We need to avoid using any templates, and so far, we have successfully avoided that. As I have said, the so-called developed economies, in Europe, have seen their GDP plummet by more than 14 percent. How high has unemployment grown in the eurozone? As far as I know, by over 10 percent. Ours has grown, too, but only by 6.3 percent. This is the result of government regulation. Or take inflation. We have been fighting it desperately. Is this not a regulatory function of the state?

Of course, the Central Bank and the Government are among the most important state institutions. Therefore, it was in fact through the joint efforts of the Central Bank and the Government that inflation was reduced to 4 percent, because the Government invests substantial resources through its social programmes and national projects and has an impact on our monetary policy. It went down to 3.9 percent, and the Governor of the Central Bank has told me that we will most likely keep it around the estimated target of around 4 percent. This is the regulating function of the state; there is no way around it. However, stifling development through an excessive presence of the state in the economy or through excessive regulation would be fatal as well. You know, this is a form of art, which the Government has been applying skilfully, at least for now.

Fyodor Lukyanov: Mr President, since you mentioned greed, I have to ask you the following. A lively discussion began the other day on the Finance Ministry’s proposal to reduce the staff at security-related agencies and to adjust their salaries and pensions. Is this a good time for this proposal? Or is it that the crisis is forcing us to cut expenses?

Vladimir Putin: The Finance Ministry regularly makes such proposals, crisis or no crisis. It is always in favour of reducing expenditure. In general, nearly all finance ministries in other countries do this as well. There is nothing unique in the proposal of the Russian Finance Ministry.

We do not envisage making any decisions yet. We have no term reduction or extension plans. It was just one of the Finance Ministry’s proposals. It has not even been reported to me yet. It is still at the level of discussion among Government agencies. When we need to make a final decision, I will take into account the economic realities and the real situation regarding people’s incomes, including in the security and military spheres, and a comparison of the levels of income in the country’s military and civilian sectors. There are many factors we need to take into account to prevent an imbalance on the labour market, and so on. I would like to repeat that these issues have not been discussed on the practical level. These discussions are ongoing within the framework of the Government.

Fyodor Lukyanov: Great. Our meeting has produced at least one result: the military can breathe out.

I would like to give the floor to our long-time friend who has been helping the Valdai Club a lot. Please meet Sam Charap from Washington, D.C. Usually, we had him here, but now he is at his workplace. We can get him on air now.

Sam, please.

Sam Charap: Hello, Mr. President,

I would like to return to your initiative to restore trust in cyberspace, which you mentioned in your remarks. Many argue whether there is trust in the outcome of the talks or the premises for holding them. It is not only about the election campaign, but the firm belief of many in Washington (and outside of it) that Russia is actively interfering in this area, and so on.

Can we ponder some kind of truce in this sphere in order to create proper grounds for talks and a minimum level of trust as a prerequisite for achieving more during ensuing talks? How do you think such a digital truce, so to say, may look like?

Vladimir Putin: Listen, as far as cybercrime is concerned, it always went hand in hand with digital technology and will probably always be there just like other offences. However, when we talk about relations between states, it is no coincidence that in my opening remarks I mentioned the dialogue on limiting offensive arms between the Soviet Union and the United States.

We agreed among ourselves to keep these weapons at a certain level. We propose reaching agreements in the sphere that is taking shape now right before our eyes and which is extremely important for the entire world and our countries. We need to discuss these matters in a broad context and come up with solutions.

I am not quite sure what kind of truce you are talking about. I believe it is already in place. You said that Russia is actively interfering. But I say: “We are not interfering in anything.” Moreover, the official probes conducted in the United States, including with the involvement of a special counsel, did not bring any results. They led to admitting the fact that there was no evidence of Russia’s interference. Therefore, I believe there is no need to set any preliminary conditions for us to start this dialogue. We must immediately sit down and talk. What is wrong with that approach? We are not proposing anything that does not meet our partners’ interests. If someone thinks that someone else is interfering in their affairs, well, let us come up with some general rules and develop verification tools to monitor compliance. Frankly, I do not understand where this persistence is coming from.

During the last months of President Obama’s presidency, his administration sent us a message to the effect that, indeed, it had taken them a while to review this matter, but they are now ready for a dialogue. Unfortunately, this ended quickly, and another president came to office. We started from centre-field with the new administration. Again, almost four years later now, we have not accomplished much.

I strongly hope that when the elections are over, our partners will return to this issue and respond positively to our proposals.

Fyodor Lukyanov: Thank you.

Fyodor Voitolovsky, Director of IMEMO, our flagship institute of international relations. Please.

Fyodor Voitolovsky: Mr President, in your statement today you mentioned one of the most burning issues of global politics, arms control. During the Cold War and especially at its final stage, the Soviet Union and the United States both applied a huge amount of efforts to create a network of treaties and a system of confidence-building measures, which limited the quantitative growth of their arsenals and reduced the risk of a conflict. Over the past 20 years, our American partners have consistently and very easily dismantled this system: first the ABM Treaty, and then the INF and Open Skies treaties. As of now, there are problems with extending the New START Treaty. Hence my question. Do you think the arms control system has a future? What new moves can be taken in this sphere?

Thank you.

Fyodor Lukyanov: I would like to add that we have a great number of questions about strategic offensive arms and especially the latest initiative advanced two days ago, and also a great deal of bewilderment over what this may mean and whether Russia has made excessive concessions.

Vladimir Putin: You asked if such arms control treaties have a future. I think that the world will have no future unless limits are put on the arms race. This is what all of us should think about, and this is what we are urging all of our partners to think about.

All of us are well aware of the problem, and you have mentioned this just now: withdrawal from the ABM Treaty, the INF Treaty and the Open Skies Treaty (the United States has not officially pulled out of it yet, but it has stated that it had launched the withdrawal process). Why? What is the reason for this decision? They do not even try to explain. They simply do not explain. Our European colleagues tell us, “Let them withdraw, but you should not do the same.” I reply, “All of you are NATO members, and so you will make flights and forward the data you collect to the Americans, while we will be unable to do this because we will remain committed to the Treaty. Let us not play dumb. Let us be honest with each other.” In fact, as far as I am aware, the United States’ European partners would like it to remain a member of the Open Skies Treaty, to keep it intact.

With regard to the INF Treaty, we have spoken about it many times, and I do not want to go over it again. When withdrawing from the ABM Treaty, the United States acted openly, directly and bluntly, but honestly. Here, though, they came up with an excuse and accused Russia of some violations, and then withdrew from the Treaty. If this were the case, if everything were just like our American partners are saying, they could also go ahead and violate it without much ado. Who was stopping them? Instead, they took this step publicly for everyone to see.

Just do not tell me that they are white and fluffy goody two-shoes who are not into underhand dealings. We are aware of what is happening with verification, in the sphere of nuclear weapons among other thing, where they weld the lids or tamper with the aircraft. They get away with it and do not let us in there. Okay, we keep quiet, but the experts know what I am talking about. They just made it a point to take these steps, and to do so publicly, with broad coverage. Clearly, they are pursuing a political goal. I just do not see any military purpose here. But the best solution is for the verification and monitoring to be implemented by all contracting parties, so that our agreements are reliably protected by these monitoring systems.

Now, START-3.We took account of all the problems when we were negotiating these issues. Only one thing was left out. It is what Russia acquired in response to the United States withdrawing from the ABM Treaty. Precisely in response to the withdrawal. I am referring to our innovative high-precision hypersonic weapons. Indeed, neither the United States nor other countries have access to such weapons, although they are working on it, and someday they will have them as well. They are telling us, “You have it, we do not, so we must take this into account.” Well, we do not mind, let us take it into account. Both regarding the number of carriers and the number of warheads. We do not mind.

There are other issues that we can discuss. But what choice do we have? The treaty expires in February. After all, my proposal is very straightforward. It lies on the surface. Nothing will happen if we extend this agreement, without any preconditions, for one year and persistently work on all the issues of concern both to us and the Americans. We will work on it together and look for solutions.

After all, the trick is that we have had hardly any constructive discussions about this so far. Our partners, to put it bluntly, shied away from a direct and substantive professional discussion. The treaty will expire in February 2020, and that is all we have left now.

Question: What is better: to preserve the current treaty as it is, to start discussing it in detail and try to find some compromise during the year or to lose it altogether and leave us, the US and Russia, and the entire world practically without any legal foundation that limits the arms race? I believe the second option is much worse than the first.

I think it is simply unacceptable but I have said, and I want to emphasise it once again, that we are not holding on to this treaty. If our partners decide it is not necessary – all right, let it be, there is nothing we can do to prevent them. Our security, Russia’s security will not be damaged by this, especially because we have the latest weapons systems. This is the first part.

The second part boils down to making these agreements multilateral by including our Chinese friends in them. But are we against this? Russia is not against this but just do not shift on us the responsibility of making this treaty multilateral. If someone wants to do this, it is fine to try to achieve this. We do not object to this. Are we an obstacle on this road? No.

But the arguments quoted by our Chinese friends are very simple. China is an enormous country, a great power with an enormous economy and 1.5 billion people. But the level of its nuclear potential is almost twice, if not more lower than that of Russia and the US. They are asking a lawful question, “What will we limit? Or will we freeze our inequality in this area?” What can you reply to this? It is the sovereign right of a 1.5 billion strong nation to decide on the best way of building its policy on ensuring its own security.

Of course, it is possible to turn this into a subject of an argument or discussion and simply block any agreement. But may I ask why would only China be pressed to be involved in this process and in signing this treaty? Where are the other nuclear powers? Where is France that, as the press reports, has just tested another submarine-launched cruise missile? Great Britain is also a nuclear power. There are other nuclear states that are not officially recognised as such, as it were, but the whole world knows that they have nuclear arms. So, are we going to behave like ostriches? Hide our heads in the sand and pretend that we do not understand what is going on? What we need is not a checkerboard pattern on our car. We need to drive it, therefore we need to ensure security. So, let us get them involved as well. Let us do it. We are not against this. The only question is whether there is any reason for this, a goal to strive for, whether there is any positive example to follow such as the agreements between the US and Russia? Or is there nothing at all?

We are ready to work from scratch, from centre-field, fine. If you ask about our position, I believe it is better not to lose what was achieved before, to move forward from the positions that have already been reached by previous generations, by the leaders of our countries. However, if our partners decide on something different, we are willing to work in any format and on any of these tracks.

Fyodor Lukyanov: Thank you.

Anatol Lieven, another one of our veterans, who could not come to this meeting but is taking part in it via videoconference. Please.

Anatol Lieven: Thank you very much, Mr President, for speaking to us. And I would also like to thank you personally for your very strong statement on climate change and the environment.

My question, however, relates to the new outbreak of conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh. Russia, like other members of the international community, has been trying very hard to bring about a peaceful solution to this conflict, but so far these efforts have failed. If they continue to fail, given Russia’s old historic links and given Russia’s military alliance with Armenia, will it be necessary in the end for Russia to take sides against Azerbaijan and Turkey?

On the other hand, could this perhaps provide a positive opportunity for Russia, given the increasing confrontation which we see between France and Turkey over Turkey’s claims in the Eastern Mediterranean? Could this perhaps be an opportunity for a rapprochement between Russia and France and other West European countries? Thank you.

Vladimir Putin: I did not quite understand the last part of the question. What does the [Nagorno-Karabakh] conflict have to do with this?

Fyodor Lukyanov: Maybe he meant the possibility of rapprochement with France and Europe, since Turkey is now opposed to both them and, to a degree, to us?

Vladimir Putin: I see.

Let us begin at the beginning, with Nagorno-Karabakh and who to support in this conflict. You said that Russia has always had special relations with Armenia. But we have also always had special ties with Azerbaijan as well. There are over 2 million Armenians and some 2 million Azerbaijanis living in Russia, both those who have come to Russia in search of jobs and those who live here permanently. They send billions of dollars to their families back home. All these people have stable and close ties with Russia at the humanitarian level, person-to-person, business, humanitarian and family ties. Therefore, Armenia and Azerbaijan are both equal partners for us. And it is a great tragedy for us when people die there. We would like to develop full-scale relations with both Armenia and Azerbaijan.

Yes, there are some individual elements in each case, and some things in our relations with one partner differ from our relations with the other partner. In the case of Armenia, it is Christianity. But we also have very close ties with Azerbaijan in other spheres.

Speaking about religion, I would like to point out that nearly 15 percent of Russian citizens are Muslims. Therefore, Azerbaijan is not an alien country to us in this sense either.

But what we certainly cannot forget is what happened in the destiny of the Armenian people, the Armenian nation during World War I. This is an enormous tragedy for the Armenian people, This is the second part.

The third part is based on the fact that this conflict broke out not just as an interstate conflict or struggle for territories. It started with ethnic confrontation. Regrettably, it is also a fact that violent crimes against the Armenian people were also committed in Sumgait and later in Nagorno-Karabakh. We must consider all this in a package.

At the same time, we understand that a situation where Azerbaijan has lost a substantial part of its territory cannot continue. Over the years, we have suggested many diverse options for settling this crisis with a view to stabilising the situation in the long-term historical perspective.

I will not go into detail at this point but believe me, this was intensive work on bringing the positions of the parties closer. Sometimes it seemed like a bit more effort, another small step and we would find the solution. Regrettably, it did not happen, and today we are seeing the worst-case scenario in this conflict. The death of people is a tragedy. There are heavy losses on both sides. According to our information, there are over 2,000 dead on either side. The total number of victims is already approaching 5,000.

Let me emphasise that the Soviet Union, the Soviet army lost 13,000 people during the ten years of war in Afghanistan. Now the toll is almost 5,000 in such a short span of time. And how many are wounded? How many people, how many children are suffering? This is why it is a special situation for us.

Yes, the Minsk Group was established, I believe, in 1992. As its co-chairs, Russia, France and the US are responsible for organising the negotiating process. It is clear, and I am 100 percent confident of this, that all participants in the process are sincerely striving to settle the situation. That said, nobody is interested in this as much as Russia is, because this is a very sensitive issue for us. This is not just happening before our eyes, but in a broad sense, it is happening with our people, our friends and our relatives. This is why we are in a position that allows us to be trusted by both sides and play a substantial role as a mediator on the rapprochement of positions in settling this conflict. I would very much like to find a compromise here.

As you may be aware, I maintain close contacts with both President Aliyev and Prime Minister Pashinyan. I speak to them on the phone several times a day. Our respective foreign ministers, defence ministers and heads of special services are constantly in contact. Foreign ministers of both countries came to us again. Today, or rather on October 23, they will have a meeting in Washington. I strongly hope that our American partners will act in unison with us and promote a settlement. Let us hope for the best. This covers the first part.

The second part concerns disputes within NATO between Turkey and France. We never take advantage of frictions between other states. We have good and stable relations with France. I would not say they are full-fledged, but they hold a lot of promise and, in any case, have a good track record.

Our cooperation with Turkey is expanding. Turkey is our neighbour, and I can tell you in more detail how important interaction between our states is for both Turkey and Russia.

I do not think anyone needs our mediation. Turkey and France are perfectly capable of regulating relations between themselves. No matter how tough President Erdogan’s stance may look, I know that he is a flexible person, and finding a common language with him is possible. Therefore, I hope the situation will get back to normal here as well.

Fyodor Lukyanov: Mr President, a follow-up if I may, since it is a hot topic.

Still, Turkey’s much more active role than ever before is what makes the current crisis in the South Caucasus different. You said President Erdogan is flexible. That may well be the case as you spent a lot of time with him. However, many experts believe that Erdogan’s policy is actually about expanding his zone of influence to the borders of the former Ottoman Empire. These borders stretched far and wide, as we know, and they enclosed a lot of territory, including Crimea, which was part of it at some point. It was a long time ago, but nonetheless.

Should we not fear that if this becomes a consistent policy, we would have certain differences with Ankara?

Vladimir Putin: Russia is not afraid of anything. Thank goodness, we are not in a position where we should be afraid of anything.

I do not know about President Erdogan’s plans or his attitude towards the Ottoman legacy. You should ask him about it. But I know that our bilateral trade exceeds $20 billion. I know that Turkey is really interested in continuing this cooperation. I know that President Erdogan is pursuing an independent foreign policy. Despite a lot of pressure, we implemented the TurkStream project together rather quickly. We cannot do the same with Europe; we have been discussing this issue for years, but Europe seems unable to show enough basic independence or sovereignty to implement the Nord Stream 2 project, which would be advantageous to it in every respect.

As for Turkey, we implemented our project quite quickly, despite any threats. Erdogan, who was aware of his national interests, said that we would do it, and we did it. The same is true of our ties in other areas, for example, our military-technical cooperation. Turkey decided it needed a modern air defence system, and the world’s best is the S-400, a triumph of Russian industry. He said he would do it, and he bought it. Working with such a partner is not only pleasant but also safe.

As for aspirations, regarding Crimea or anything else, I know nothing about them, and I do not care about them because the interests of Russia are reliably protected, take my word for it. I am sure that our other partners are fully aware of this.

Regarding Turkey’s refusal to recognise Crimea as part of Russia, well, we do not see eye to eye on all subjects. For example, we are not always on the same page regarding the situation in the South Caucasus. But we also know about the positions of Europe and the United States. They claim to be true dyed-in-the-wool democrats, but they do not even want to hear about the people of Crimea voting for their future in a referendum, which is the highest form of direct democracy.

As I said, they adopted sanctions against the Crimean people. If Crimea was annexed, then they are the victims. Why are sanctions adopted against the victims? But if they voted freely, it was democracy in action, so why are they being punished for democracy? This is all rubbish and nonsense, but it is also a fact of life. So why point the finger at Erdogan? Just take a look at what is happening in other countries.

This is a consistent stand: he does not recognise Crimea, and he does not recognise Nagorno-Karabakh. What should we do? We must continue working with everyone and remain calm. This is exactly what we have been doing: trying to prove that our position is correct, and we will continue to uphold it, and when positions diverge, we look for compromise.

For example, as far as I know, our views on the developments in the South Caucasus do not coincide, because we believe that conflicts should be settled diplomatically at the negotiating table rather than with the use of armed force. Of course, one could say that talks have been ongoing there for 30 years, but to no avail. Well, I do not see this as a reason to start shooting.

Fyodor Lukyanov: Thank you very much.

Of course, Mr Erdogan has been consistent. For example, he recognises Northern Cyprus. But this is perhaps part of the flexibility that you were talking about.

Vladimir Putin: Yes, you are right. I agree. I was supposed to say this but it slipped my mind. But you are correct. Northern Cyprus, yes. However, as far as I know, Turkey does not object to the country finally being unified. The principles of this unification are the problem. But, overall, you are right.

Fyodor Lukyanov: Thank you.

Anatoly Torkunov, President of the Moscow State Institute of International Relations.

Anatoly Torkunov: Mr President,

Although there are still more than two months left in 2020, I think all of us see this year as one of very dramatic and unpredictable events. So of course, there is a joke that goes, if by the end of the year we encounter aliens, nobody will be surprised.

Never mind the aliens, we will see how it goes. My question is, of course, not about them. It is related to the developments around our borders. Thank you for such a detailed and interesting account. As an expert, I was very curious to hear your remarks on the South Caucasus.

But in general, developments around our borders seem to be rather dramatic. Let us take the events in Kyrgyzstan. The elections in that country have always prompted some kind of turbulence, although this year the civil disturbances have been particularly rough. The situation in Belarus is somewhat complicated. There is also the problem of Donbass. I understand that you must be tired of talking about this. We know your firm and consistent stance on this issue.

My question is what are Russia’s current fundamental foreign policy goals in the post-Soviet space, considering that it directly concerns our security and humanitarian links? Today you have stressed several times that these people are not foreigners to us – meaning the Caucasus but also our friends in Central Asia and our friends in Belarus and Ukraine.

Thank you.

Vladimir Putin: You know this better than anyone else, you are a very experienced person and a professional with a capital “P”. Our policy in the post-Soviet space within the CIS framework is the main component of our overall foreign policy. This is obvious because all the countries you listed and every other country with which we have good, very good multilateral relations, as well as those with whom our ties seem to be in a stalemate in some cases – they are not foreign countries to us all the same. These are not remote countries somewhere overseas about which we know little.

It is obvious that we lived in a single country, and not just for many years but for centuries, We have strong ties and very deep cooperation in the economy, humanitarian ties. We all speak a common language. In a sense, to a greater or lesser degree, we are essentially people of the same cultural space, not to mention our history. We have a common history and a common victory over Nazism. Our predecessors – our fathers and grandfathers – validated our special relations with their blood.

Regardless of the current events and today’s political environment, I am sure that this community of interests will eventually pave the way to the restoration of our ties with all these countries, no matter how difficult our ties with them are.

At the same time, and this is also an obvious fact, when our common state, the USSR began disintegrating, the people who dealt with this did not think about the consequences this would lead to, something they should have thought about. But it was clear that our neighbours did not always have identical interests. Sometimes their interests diverged and rope pulling was always possible. I believe we must and will find solutions to complicated issues in any way we can, but we need to avoid fueling or exaggerating anything or emphasising disputed issues. On the contrary, we must look at what can and must unite us and what does unite us. What is this? Our common interests.

Look, with respect to economic integration, who is not interested in this? Only our competitors. And the post-Soviet countries are bound to understand, at least smart people are bound to understand that a concerted effort, considering we have a common infrastructure, common transport and energy system and a common language that unites rather than divides us, etc., is our distinct competitive advantage in achieving the things for which some economic associations and structures have been fighting for decades, while we have received all this from our predecessors. We must use this, and this brings benefits to all of us. It is absolutely obvious that this is simply beneficial.

Look, Ukraine saw a revolution in 2004, and then in 2014 another revolution, a state coup. What happened as a result? Read the statistics published by the Ukrainian statistical services: shrinking production, as if they had more than one pandemic. Some of the local industries, ones the entire Soviet Union and Ukraine itself were proud of – the aircraft industry, shipbuilding, rocket building – developed by generations of Soviet people, from all Soviet republics, a legacy Ukraine, too, could and should be proud of – are almost gone. Ukraine is being de-industrialised. It was perhaps the most industrialised Soviet republic, not just one of them. There was of course the Russian Federation, Moscow, St Petersburg, Siberia, the Urals – all right, but Ukraine still was one of the most industrialised republics. Where is all this now and why is it lost?

It was just the stupidity of those who did it, just stupidity, that is all. But I hope that these common interests will still pave the way for common sense.

You just mentioned Belarus – indeed, we have witnessed these turbulent processes there. But there is something I would like to highlight As you may have noticed, Russia did not interfere in what was happening there. And we expect no one else to interfere either. No one should be stirring up this conflict to promote their own interests and impose any decisions on the Belarusian people. I already said in my opening remarks that nothing introduced from the outside without taking into account the peculiarities, culture and history of the people will ever work for that culture, those people.

The Belarusians themselves should be given the opportunity to calmly handle their situation and make appropriate decisions. The decisions they will make could pave the way for amending the country’s Constitution or adopting a new Constitution. President Lukashenko said this publicly. True, people can say, well, he will just write something for his own benefit, this kind of constitution will have nothing to do with democracy. But, you know, it is possible to slander just about anything, and there are always sceptics. But I already said this, so I will not go into more detail.

But what happened in Belarus compares favourably with what happened on the streets of some big cities in developed democracies, do you see that? There has been some harsh action indeed, I give you that, and maybe even unjustified, but then, those who allowed it should be made responsible. But in general, if you compare and look at the pictures – in Belarus, no one shot an unarmed person in the back, that is what I mean. So let us just calmly deal with this.

The same goes for Kyrgyzstan. I think current developments there are a disaster for Kyrgyzstan and its people. Every time they have an election, they practically have a coup. What does this mean? This is not funny. It means that many of these countries are taking the first steps towards their own statehood and the culture of state development.

I have told my colleagues many times that the post-Soviet countries should be treated with special attention, and we must carefully support these new sprouts of statehood. In no case should we be pressing advice or recommendations on them, and even more so, avoid any interference, because this will destroy the fragile, nascent institutions of sovereignty and statehood in those countries. It is necessary to give these nations the opportunity to carefully build these relations within society leading by example, but not acting like an elephant in a china shop with advice and piles of money to support one or the other side.

I strongly hope that we have helped Kyrgyzstan, as a member of the CSTO and the EAEU, to get on its feet, invested hundreds of millions of dollars to support the Kyrgyz economy and various industries and to help Kyrgyzstan adapt so it can join the EAEU. This also goes for phytosanitary services, customs systems, individual sectors of the economy and enterprises. We have recently implemented projects valued at up to $500 million. I am not even talking about grants that we provide annually in the amount of tens of millions of dollars.

Of course, we cannot look at what is happening there without pity and concern. Please note that we are not pressing our advice or instructions on them. We are not supporting any particular political forces there. I strongly hope that things in Kyrgyzstan will get back to normal, and that Kyrgyzstan will get on the path to progress and we will maintain excellent relations with them.

The same goes for Moldova. We can see the developments related to Moldova, and we know the Moldovan people’s needs for promoting democracy and economy. But who is buying Moldovan wine? Will France buy Moldovan wine? Who needs it in the European markets? They have more than enough of their own. When they ship wine from country to country, even within the European Union, the farmers dump it into ditches just to get rid of the cargo.

This is not just about wine. Other sectors of the economy are so closely tied to Russia that they simply cannot exist without it, at least for now. They can only sell their products in Russia. This is exactly what happened to Ukraine. Therefore, we hope that during the next election in Moldova, the Moldovan people will appreciate the efforts that the current President of the republic is undertaking to build good relations with Russia.

Fyodor Lukyanov: Thank you very much.

Hans-Joachim Spanger has joined us from Frankfurt.

Hans-Joachim Spanger: Mr President,

Allow me to turn to an issue which is connected with a person whose name reportedly is not really used in the Kremlin, at least not in public – Alexei Navalny.

A renowned Russian scholar, Dmitry Trenin, the director of the Carnegie Moscow Center, recently stated, let me quote: “The poisoning of the opposition activist Alexei Navalny has become a turning point in Russo-German relations.” And this, according to him, essentially means that, another quote, “this special role performed by Germany and its Chancellor in recent years is now a thing of the past. From now on, Germany will have the same attitude to Russia as all the other countries in Western Europe.”

My question is whether you share this view that a) there was such a special role of Germany in bilateral German-Russian relations, and b) whether you also detect such a turning point now, and if so, what Russia can do to avoid it happening, or, conversely, to turn the turning point around again? Thank you.

Vladimir Putin: I will start with the first part of your question, about the poisonings. First, we have heard about poisonings here and there many times. It is not the first time.

Second, if the authorities had wanted to poison the person you mentioned or to poison anybody, it is very unlikely they would have sent him for medical treatment to Germany. Don’t you think so? As soon as this person’s wife contacted me, I immediately instructed the Prosecutor General’s Office to see if it was possible to allow him to travel abroad for medical treatment. They could have prohibited it because he was under restrictions due to an investigation and a criminal case. He was under travel restrictions. I immediately asked the Prosecutor General’s Office to allow that. And he was taken to Germany.

Then we were told that they found traces of this infamous Novichok that is known around the world. I said, “Please give us the materials.” Primarily, the biological material and the official report so that we can do more research that can give us official and formal legal grounds for initiating criminal proceedings. What was unusual about this request? Our Prosecutor General’s Office, in keeping with the agreements we have with Germany, has repeatedly forwarded official requests for these materials. Is this unusual? In addition, in a conversation with a European leader, I suggested that our specialists go to Germany and together with French, German and Swedish experts work on site to obtain the necessary materials, which we could use to initiate criminal proceedings and, should this incident prove to be a crime, investigate it. But they would not give us anything. How can you explain why? There is no explanation, there is just no explanation. This all looks strange.

Well, they said that they had found traces of Novichok. Later they passed whatever they had on to the OPCW – the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. Then quite unexpectedly, they said, it is not Novichok – it is something else. So, is it Novichok or not? This has cast doubt on what was said before. Well, let us investigate the incident together. I say, as I have said several times, that if this is really true, we will definitely conduct an investigation. Unfortunately, there have been attempts on the lives of public figures and businessmen in our country. These cases were investigated in Russia, the culprits were found and punished and, what is important, all of them were punished. We are prepared to spare no effort in this case as well.

As for specific individuals, we have quite a few people like Saakashvili, but I do not think that currently these people have influence to speak of… They may also change, why not? They may undergo some transformation – which, in principle, is not bad – and will also get involved in realpolitik instead of making noise in the street. Take Occupy Wall Street – where is it? Where? Where is all the informal opposition in many European countries or the United States, for that matter? There are many parties there. Where are they? Two parties dominate the political stage and that is it. However, look what is going on in the streets.

This is why we are developing the Russian political system and will continue to do so, offering all political forces – seriously-minded, sincere and patriotic ones – the opportunity to work in compliance with the law.

Now, regarding Germany’s role. We have had very good relations with Germany in the post-war years. I think this was largely due to the German Democratic Republic, the GDR, which was the Soviet Union’s key and main ally in Europe, at least during the time that state existed. We have developed very good relations at the personal and political levels, and in the economic sphere. I know there are still a lot of people there now who sympathise with Russia. And we appreciate that.

Incidentally, the Soviet Union did play a decisive role in the reunification of Germany. It was indeed a decisive role. Some of your current allies, allies of Germany, in fact, objected to the unification of Germany, no matter what they said. We know this; we still have it in our archives. While the Soviet Union played this role. I personally believe that it was the right thing to do, because it was wrong to break a single whole into parts, and if the people there really want something, in Germany’s case they wanted unity, reunification, their pursuit should not be contained by force, as it will not do anyone any good. As for building relations between East and West Germany – this should be up to the Germans, of course. Has Germany played any special role, say, as a mediator between Russia and the rest of the world or Russia and the rest of Europe? I do not think so. Russia is a country that does not need intermediaries.

At the same time, we have always had very special economic, and even humanitarian ties with Germany. Why? Because Germany wanted to play a special role? Well, no, I think it had more to do with Germany’s own interests. Even now, Germany is Russia’s second largest trade partner, in gross volume. It used to be the first, by the way, but it is second to China now, as our trade with China is twice the volume it is with Germany. Nevertheless, there are more than 2,000 companies with German capital in our market. We have a fairly large volume of German investment and German businesses are interested in working in Russia. We are happy about this, because we know these are sincere people interested in expanding ties with our country. I regularly meet with representatives of German business; they are all our friends, or I would like to think so, anyway. This cooperation provides millions of jobs in the Federal Republic of Germany as well, because goods produced by German enterprises go to the Russian market; they enjoy demand here, which means jobs there.

Incidentally, many industries have been seeing a high level of cooperation in recent years. All the above are manifestations of the special nature of our relations, of a mutual interest, I would say. Mutual interest is at the heart of this relationship – not an ambition to play some special role. And this mutual interest will not go away, regardless of the current political situation, and we will maintain such relations, no matter what anyone does.

Fyodor Lukyanov: Thank you very much.

We will stay in Europe for now.

Nathalie Tocci from Rome has joined us. Nathalie, please go ahead.

Nathalie Tocci: Thank you, Mr President, for your extremely candid remarks.

You spoke very eloquently about the importance and centrality of the state, but at the same time the importance of international cooperation, and, in particular, highlighted areas like security as well as climate, which I would associate also with energy transition.

Now, when it comes to security, perhaps a follow-up question on the Caucasus and the resumption of war between Armenia and Azerbaijan. At some point, hopefully very soon, there will be a new ceasefire. At the same time, the conflict itself won’t be resolved. Given that the current configuration of the three Minsk Group co-chairs has been unable to deliver a settlement in all these 26 years, does Russia think that this is the setup that should be reconsidered?

And then, perhaps, if I may, a question on climate change and, in particular, energy transition. Now, energy transition requires funding. The European Union, for instance, will dedicate approximately 40 percent of its next-generation new fund to the Green Deal. Now, when it comes to Russia, it is clear that, being a country that has depended quite importantly on its fossil fuel exports, stabilising energy markets is obviously going to be key for Russia in order to obtain the funds to move forward.

In your speech you highlighted the importance OPEC Plus had in that stabilisation of the market, and I think Russia itself played an extremely important role in ensuring that supplies were cut so as to stabilise prices. But at the same time, we are now in a second wave of the pandemic, and we are likely to see demand continuing to be rather sluggish. Would you expect, or would you like to see in 2021, a further cut in supplies to ensure a further stabilisation of prices?

Vladimir Putin: I will start with the first part of your question regarding the Minsk Group negotiation format and whether it should be changed. Unfortunately, Nathalie, I cannot answer your question. This is for a number of objective reasons, not because I want to emphasise Russia’s role, we all understand that Russia is where it is, nearby. These are our neighbours, and we have special relations with these countries and these peoples. The influences are very strong. I have already said that 2.4 million Armenians and about 2 million Azerbaijanis live in Russia. They wire tens of billions of dollars to support their families. But this is just one factor. I am not even mentioning many others, including the use of markets, cultural ties, and so on. That is, in our case, the situation is very different from relations between the United States and Armenia, or the United States and Azerbaijan, or even Turkey and Azerbaijan. Therefore, of course, we bear special responsibility and must be very careful in what we do.

In this context, the support of the United States, France and other members of the Minsk Group – 10 or 12 countries – matters a lot to us. There are European countries there, and Turkey as well. Do we need to change anything in this regard? I am not sure. Maybe the format could be tweaked a little, but it is imperative to find constructive and acceptable compromises for both sides.

To reiterate, for many years we have been looking for these compromises. We have proposed, believe me, very persistently, a variety of compromises, down to minute details and kilometres, to tell you the truth. All sorts of “corridors” were suggested, as well as an exchange of territories. All the things that were suggested… Unfortunately, we were unable to identify a solution, which eventually led to this tragedy. I hope these hostilities will come to an end soon. I agree with those who believe, including you, that the first thing is to immediately stop the hostilities. We, in fact, agreed to this during the meeting in Moscow. Unfortunately, we were unable to avoid this situation. We will continue to strive for this.

Now I would like to say a few words about oil and everything connected with it, the demand for oil and so on. We are working on alternative energy sources ourselves. We are one of the richest countries in hydrocarbons, oil and gas, but this does not mean at all that we should not think about the future. We are thinking about it and about solar energy and hydrogen energy. We are working on this. Moreover, we are working on this with a view to improving the current situation.

You know for sure that we have adopted a decision in line with which in 2022 we must make our 300 largest contaminators, that is, 300 major companies that are the biggest emitters of these gases, switch to the most accessible, latest technology that would minimise emissions into the atmosphere and into the environment in general of any pollutants, and reduce these emissions by 20 percent by 2024. But we understand that by dealing with these 300 companies and 12 cities where most of them are located, we will not drastically improve the situation. Our strategy in this respect is aimed at halving all anthropogenic emissions by 2030. We must move towards this goal. We have set it for ourselves and will pursue it consistently. We will work on it.

That said, I do not think it will be realistic, provided every country wants to be competitive, to abandon hydrocarbons in the near future. I believe the near future embraces several decades: 30, 40 and 50 years from now. This is simply unrealistic.

Therefore, when we hear about European novelties on hydrocarbons and relevant restrictions, I do not know on what basis these proposals, conclusions and decisions are made. Are they explained by domestic political struggle? Later they are followed by restrictions in international trade and cooperation, right? I do not think this will lead to anything good. It is necessary to achieve a result in this respect not through restrictions but through cooperation and a striving to reach common goals.

We have done what we ought to do under the Kyoto agreement. We have fulfilled everything we did. We are active participants in the Paris agreement and intend to do all this. We are not shutting down from it. On the contrary, we think this is the way to go.

I spoke in my opening remarks about the speed at which permafrost is disappearing and the consequences this may have for all humankind. And what about us? We have a lot of transport systems in this zone: oil and gas pipelines and railways. Our residential districts and whole cities are located on this territory. This is a huge problem for us, and that is why we are willing to work and will work, both ourselves and at the international level, for a clean environment and a reduction in anthropogenic emissions. That said, it is impossible to do without hydrocarbons.

But there is also natural gas as a hydrocarbon source. It is actually the cleanest of hydrocarbons. And what about nuclear energy? Despite what anyone says or the scare tactics around nuclear power and nuclear power stations, it is one of the cleanest kinds of energy. So what are we talking about? Take automobiles, what is the primary energy source there? Even now, Europe and the entire world still use coal to produce electricity. Yes, coal’s share is falling but it is still used.

Why should any fiscal constraints be placed on using natural gas and even diesel fuel? By the way, it can be made to be extremely clean with modern purification and usage standards. So what is the point? To give competitive advantages to certain sectors of the economy in this or that country, with politicians standing behind it. That is the only way I can explain it, not as a simple desire to improve the environment. Nevertheless, I hope sound decisions will be taken here and we will be able to find a proper balance between environmental and economic interests.

As for the demand for oil and work within OPEC+, we maintain contacts with all our partners – both the Americans and the Saudis. We do so regularly at the ministerial level. Literally just the other day I spoke to the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, we consult with one another. We believe there is no need to change anything in our agreements as of yet. We will be closely tracking the recovery of the market. You said it was sluggish. It was but is recovering, I will note, it is growing.

The world economy did indeed contract due to the pandemic but consumption is on the rise. That has something to do with our decisions as part of OPEC+. We are of the opinion that nothing needs to change right now. However, we are not ruling out either maintaining existing production limits or not lifting them as soon as we had intended earlier. And if necessary, we will make further reductions. But currently we do not see the need. We have agreed with all our partners that we will closely monitor the situation.

Russia is not interested in higher or lower prices necessarily. Here, our interests overlap with those of our US partners, perhaps primarily with them, because if oil prices drop significantly, shale production will experience great difficulties, to put it mildly. However, although it did not join the OPEC+ deal in a meaningful way, the United States has, in fact, reduced output.

So, almost all market participants, all players have close or overlapping interests, as diplomats say. We will proceed based on the actual situation so as not to make a negative impact on the market. As you are aware, it is important not to impact geological exploration and the preparation of new wells. If we treat the energy sector like a stepchild and keep saying it is not good enough and does nothing but pollute, investment will dry up, and prices will skyrocket.

That is why it is necessary to act responsibly and not politicise this issue or chatter idly, especially for those who know nothing about it, but to act based on the interests of the global economy and their own countries’ interests and find a compromise between protecting nature and growing the economy, so our people can earn enough to support themselves and their families. We will succeed only if we manage to balance these interests. Anything less will lead to ruin.

Fyodor Lukyanov: Mr President, we at the Valdai Club have the pleasure to meet with you regularly and so we have a basis for comparison. If I may say so, I think you have learned something from the pandemic. You sound at peace when you talk about it. I have to ask. You speak so well of Europe, but does it bother you that you are considered almost a murderer there, that those closest to you in government are sanctioned and you are always called on to justify something? And yet I can hear absolution in what you say.

Vladimir Putin: You know, there is little that bothers me, because to a certain extent, when I carry out my official duties, I become the function of protecting the interests of the Russian people and the Russian state. Everything else I try to shut out, so that it does not interfere with the performance of this function. I have had a long time to get used to these attacks, since 2000, when we fought international terrorists in the Caucasus. I heard and saw everything. They portrayed me with fangs and in every other way imaginable. So, it has no effect on me.

Fyodor Lukyanov: Thank you.

Let us jump to the other side. Zhao Huasheng, Shanghai.

Zhao Huasheng: Good afternoon, Mr President.

Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon.

Zhao Huasheng: Thank you very much for this great opportunity.

This year’s theme at this Valdai Club session is The Lessons of the Pandemic and the New Agenda: How to Turn a World Crisis into an Opportunity for the World. I will paraphrase this: how can we turn a world crisis into an opportunity for Sino-Russian relations?

The world is rapidly changing now. Given these conditions, how do you think Sino-Russian relations should develop? I am referring to political and economic ties and regional and international cooperation. What new approaches can be expected? Thank you.

Vladimir Putin: I would give a very brief answer to the question on how to further develop Sino-Russian relations: the same way we have been doing it and are doing it now. Russian-Chinese relations have reached an unprecedented level.

I am not even mentioning the term “specially privileged” relations, etc. What matters is not the name but the quality of these ties. As for the quality, we treat each other with deep trust; we have established durable, stable, and most importantly, effective ties across the board.

My friend – and I have every reason to call him a friend –President of the People’s Republic of China Xi Jinping and I continuously consult each other on what and how things need to be done based on what has already been achieved, but we always find a way to move forward.

You know that we are working together in aviation and nuclear power engineering, as I have just mentioned, and further developing trade ties. Last year, our trade was over 111 billion. This is far from the highest figure that we can achieve. We will certainly achieve more.

We are developing infrastructure, building bridges that unite us in the literal meaning of the word. We are developing humanitarian ties and seeking implementation rather than simply planning large projects in the areas where we supplement each other effectively, including energy.

China is a big shareholder in a number of large Russian projects on gas production, and later, on liquefaction (LNG). Where are these projects carried out? Not on the border with China but in the north of the Russian Federation. We work together in a variety of other areas. And, as we have said many times, there is no doubt that international cooperation is a very important factor in stabilising world affairs; this is absolutely obvious.

To say nothing of our military and defence industry cooperation. We have traditionally maintained relations in this area on a significant scale. I am not only talking about buying and selling, I also mean the sharing of technologies. We hope to maintain this working relationship with our Chinese friends – a friendly relationship based on mutual respect, oriented toward achieving the best results for the people of both China and Russia.

As for Shanghai, it happens to be a sister city of St Petersburg, where I am from. I have been to Shanghai on more than one occasion. It is a magnificent and beautiful city, and I wish the people of Shanghai all the best.

Fyodor Lukyanov: Thank you.

Here is a follow-up question from China to clarify a bit what you just said. Professor Yan Xuetong wants to ask you a very simple and straightforward question: Is it possible to conceive of a military alliance between China and Russia?

Vladimir Putin: It is possible to imagine anything. We have always believed that our relations have reached such a level of cooperation and trust that it is not necessary, but it is certainly imaginable, in theory.

We hold regular joint military exercises – at sea and on land in both China and the Russian Federation – and we share best practices in the build-up of the armed forces. We have achieved a high level of cooperation in the defence industry – I am not only talking about the exchange or the purchase and sale of military products, but the sharing of technologies, which is perhaps most important.

There are also very sensitive issues here. I will not speak publicly about them now, but our Chinese friends are aware of them. Undoubtedly, cooperation between Russia and China is boosting the defence potential of the Chinese People’s Army, which is in the interests of Russia as well as China. Time will tell how it will progress from here. So far, we have not set that goal for ourselves. But, in principle, we are not going to rule it out, either. So, we will see.

Anyway, we are satisfied with the current state of relations between Russia and China in this area. Unfortunately, we have to confront new threats. For example, the intention stated by our American partners to possibly deploy medium- and short-range missiles in the Asia-Pacific Region, of course, raises alarm, and we undoubtedly will have to take reciprocal steps – this fact is self-evident.

Of course, before it comes to that, we have to see what if anything is going to happen, what threats it will pose to us, and, depending on that, we will take reciprocal measures to ensure our security.

Fyodor Lukyanov: Thank you.

Piotr Dutkiewicz from Canada, please.

Piotr Dutkiewicz: Mr President, thank you so much for this unique opportunity to talk to you.

You mentioned in your speech that the youth will have to push the future of Russia, the development of Russia forward. But young people are very unhappy with the world. Look at what is happening in the US, France and Israel. They are saying we have shut the door to a good future for them. According to international opinion polls, over half of young people think they will live worse than their parents do. But they are not impressed by any of this. So, I would like to ask you as the President of the Russian Federation, what you can advise and offer to Russian youth?

Vladimir Putin: I touched on this in my opening remarks, but I can say it again. Of course, the future belongs to the youth, This is the first thing.

Second, young people are usually discontent not with what is happening but with what they have achieved for today, and they want more. And this is right, this is what underlies progress. This is a foundation for the young people to create a better future than the one we have built. And there is nothing surprising or new in this idea. We can understand this from classic Russian literature. Read Fathers and Sons, it is all there.

But what can we offer? We believe we will give young people more opportunities for professional growth and create more social lifts for them. We are building up these instruments and creating conditions for people to receive a good education, make a career, start a family and receive enough income for a young family.

We are drafting an increasing number of measures to support young families. Let me emphasise that even during the pandemic, most of our support measures were designed for families with children. What are these families? They are young people for the most part.

We will continue doing this in the hope that young people will use their best traits – their daring striving to move ahead without looking back at formalities that probably make older generations more reserved – for positive, creative endeavours. Eventually, the younger generation will take the baton from the older generation and continue this relay race, and make Russia stronger.

Fyodor Lukyanov: Thank you.

We have an unusual connection with Australia today. I do not remember anything like this before.

Anton Roux, Please, go ahead.

Anton Roux: Thank you, Mr President, for the opportunity to ask you a question. I really appreciated your insightful, heartfelt and considered remarks during your speech; and I come to you from our second state lockdown in Melbourne, Australia, which is also a sister city to St Petersburg. I embrace also your urging to cast aside silo mentalities.

My question is the following: How do you want to be remembered? What do you want your legacy to be as a world leader and the President of the Russian Federation during the first half of the 21st century? How would you like international historians across the world to write about you and your legacy as a leader, a man and a human being at the end of the 21st century? And how might you shape this any differently during the next phase of your leadership as President of the Russian Federation?

Vladimir Putin: If the translation is correct, you said “who lived in the 21st century.” But, thank God, we are alive and keep living in the 21st century. To be honest, I never think in terms of the areas you mentioned. I do not think about my role in history; those who are interested can decide. I never read a single book about myself.

I just keep working day in, day out, trying to resolve current issues and looking into the future so that these current issues do not stand in the way of achieving our strategic goals. It is, in fact, routine work. I proceed from what I must accomplish today, tomorrow, this year, or in three years given that we plan the budget of the Russian Federation three years in advance.

Of course, as I have said, we do consider strategic goals; this is why we have drafted and continue pursuing national development plans and national projects. But this totally unrelated to any desire to mark my place in history in some way. It is related to something completely different – ensuring the interests of the Russian people, the Russian state, strengthening Russia.

How I will be seen by future generations, I would rather leave to them and their judgment. But then, I do not think I would be interested in these judgments when they are made. In this sense I am a pragmatic person, and I am trying to work not for my image as a world leader, and I do not think I am one (I do not think I am any different from my colleagues – the heads of other states), I work to strengthen my country. This my priority and the meaning of my life.

Fyodor Lukyanov: Thank you. I remember your interview a few months ago, ahead of the constitution referendum, when you openly said that an opportunity to remain in office after 24 years is a guarantee against bureaucratic intrigue, the people around you, so they would not look around in search of a successor.

But if this is true, it is an endless circle; they will always be searching, even while you remain in office.

Vladimir Putin: No, it must definitely end one day, I am perfectly aware of that. And the changes in the Constitution you mentioned are aimed not only at granting the incumbent head of state the right to be elected in 2024 and later, but these amendments are basically aimed at reinforcing the sovereignty of the Russian Federation, outlining our development prospects and building up the fundamental constitutional foundation for progress in the economy, the social sphere and enhancing our sovereignty.

I expect it will all work.

As to what will happen in 2024 or later – we will see when the times comes. Now we all just have to work hard like St Francis, everyone at his or her place.

Fyodor Lukyanov: Thank you.

Alexander Rahr, please.

Alexander Rahr: Mr President, my question is about nostalgia as well. I remember your historical speech at the German Bundestag 20 years ago, where you actually proposed building a common space from Lisbon to Vladivostok. Do you regret that?

Here is my point. The French and the Germans supported the idea. The Eastern Europeans did not. America will not, either. Actually, that keeps us from building our relations with Russia, which, I think, many Europeans would like.

If you had the opportunity to address the Bundestag again, would you also propose working together in the digital sphere or, perhaps, the environment, which would unite Europe and Russia in terms of energy? I think this is a promising idea for the future.

Vladimir Putin: Regarding what I would say if I were speaking there now, here is what happened back then.

At that time (it was 2007, correct?), many of my colleagues told me it was a bit harsh and it was not very good.

What did I actually say? I will refresh your memory. I said it is unacceptable for one country to extend its law beyond its national borders and try to subject other states to its regulations. Something along these lines.

What is happening now? Is it not Western European leaders who are saying that secondary sanctions and extending US jurisdiction to European companies are unacceptable?

If only they had enough guts to listen to what I said back then and to try to at least change the situation, do it carefully, without destroying Atlantic solidarity or the structural arrangement in NATO or elsewhere. I was not talking about that, but about the fact that it is unacceptable and bad for everyone, including those who do this.

Back then, our European partners seemed not to care and everyone looked the other way. Here again, what happened then is happening now. I am saying that this is still bad for everyone, including those who are pursuing or trying to pursue a policy of exceptionalism, because this actually destroys relations and interaction between Europe and the United States, and ultimately causes damage to the United States itself. Why do this?

This fleeting tactical gain that the United States is seeking may lead to negative strategic consequences and the destruction of trust. This is not my business, but since we are having an exchange at the discussion club, I will go ahead and philosophise. This is an absolutely obvious thing.

So, I did not say anything unusual, harmful or aggressive in Munich in 2007. But if I were to speak there now, I would not, of course, say I told you so. I would not do that just out of respect for my colleagues. I am fully aware of the realities back then and today. We do not live in a vacuum, but in real life conditions, our relationships are real and our interdependence is strong.

We understand everything perfectly well, but we need to change things. We are talking about a new world order, so these realities must be taken into account when building modern international relations, which must, of course, be based on consideration for each other’s interests and mutual respect, and respect for sovereignty.

I hope we can build our relations carefully and calmly, without destroying what has been created over previous decades, but while taking into account today’s needs. These relations will meet present requirements and the interests of all participants in international communication.

Fyodor Lukyanov: Alexei Yekaikin. Since we have talked a lot about ecology today, we cannot go without this.

Vladimir Putin: What time is it?

Fyodor Lukyanov: Yes, we are finishing up, Mr President. We feel we have already exceeded our time, but we cannot do without ecology in the end.

Vladimir Putin: No, we cannot. I agree.

Alexei Yekaikin: Thank you, Fyodor.

Good evening, Mr President.

Maybe, this question will seem a bit surprising to you although we have met several times over the years and talked about this. I would like to raise it again. It is about the Antarctic. We spoke about this at the climate session and, in general, this is an anniversary year for us – 200 years since the discovery of the Antarctic.

This is what my question is about. Russia has adopted or is adopting a strategy for developing activities in the Antarctic. A new Vostok station is under construction in the Central Antarctic as part of this strategy. You know this.

It would seem that everything is fine, investment in the infrastructure and the like. So, you may get the impression that we are doing well in the Antarctic. Alas, this is not the case, because the policy is about infrastructure but does not say a word about science. This is a fairly paradoxical situation. I would call it strange because we invest in the infrastructure whereas the main goal for which we need it, that is, science, remains somewhere backstage.

At our Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute, we have prepared a draft federal programme for studying the area around the Vostok station for the next 15 years. It has been drafted in detail. It consists of two main themes. The first is the study of the past climate based on ice core data, and this study is very closely connected with the climate theme. Yes, this is drilling the ice, that is right.

The second theme concerns the subglacial lake Vostok. You also know about this. It is one of the most unique phenomena on the planet.

These are two subjects in which we, Russian scientists, are generally strong; we are not trying catch up with anyone in this respect. We are at the proper level and even ahead of some of our colleagues. Nonetheless, there is no government support for research in the Antarctic. I find this strange.

We sent this draft programme to the Ministry of Natural Resources, our relevant ministry. I do not know where exactly it is now. We do not know what happened to it. My question is very simple: does the Russian Government have the opportunity to support our efforts to study the Antarctic or will this topic go down the drain?

After all, it would be a pity to lose our priority in this area.

Thank you very much.

Vladimir Putin: Alexei, first of all, the fact that your colleagues and you made it to Lake Vostok and made this discovery, got to this water that is thousands of years old and that was not connected in any way with the world, remaining under the ice, this, of course, is of great interest to people like you, researchers, who study what eventually became the Earth and how the climate was changing.

I saw this; they brought me the core samples and the water. It is exciting. However, the fact that the infrastructure is being created means that preparations for research are underway. I do not know the plans regarding the allocation of funds for these purposes. You said that money was allocated for the infrastructure, but not scientific research. I doubt this is a lot of money. If the Ministry of Natural Resources …unfortunately, budget cuts are underway, which are caused by certain economic difficulties.

I am not sure if it was necessary to cut the already small expenses associated with Antarctic research. I promise I will look into it. We will punish anyone who made a mistake.

Fyodor Lukyanov: Mr President, you mentioned in your speech that you do not miss the Cold War. Do you miss anything at all?

Vladimir Putin: My children, I rarely see them.

Fyodor Lukyanov: We at the Valdai Club miss the opportunity to get together in person. With all the great advances in technology that allow us to hold almost complete meetings, we would still very much like to talk in person to you and each other next year.

We have not broken the record; there was a forum where the President spent more time with us, but we are close. We talked with the President of the Russian Federation for almost three hours, for which we are sincerely grateful.

Thank you very much. We will try to quickly get back to our normal schedule, and we look forward to seeing you next year.

Vladimir Putin: Thank you very much for hosting this.

I want to address all members of the Valdai Club, the analysts, politicians and journalists who work with this entity. It is an entity, because it has been operational for many years now. I hope you find it interesting and useful.

I am grateful to you for showing interest in Russia, in our development plans, in us today and in our history. This means that you are engaged, and it is important for us to know your opinion.

I am saying this sincerely, because by comparing what we are doing, by comparing our own assessments of our progress and our economic and political plans, comparing them with your ideas about what is good and what is bad, we find the best solutions and can adjust our plans.

I want to thank you for this and to wish you every success. I also hope for a personal meeting next time.

Good luck to you. Thank you very much.

Fyodor Lukyanov: Thank you very much. Good-bye.

Vladimir Putin: Good-bye.

Short Armenia vs Azerbaijan war update

Short Armenia vs Azerbaijan war update

October 15, 2020

The Saker

As was predicted by many, in spite of the agreement signed in Moscow, thing on the ground in the war between Armenia and Azerbaijan  have escalated: the Armenians have claimed that Azeri drones have attacked Armenian tactical ballistic missiles on Armenian soil and the Azeris have confirmed this, saying that this was both a warning and a preemptive attack to protect Azeri civilians.

Bottom line is this: Azerbaijan has now officially attacked Armenian soil (as opposed to Karabakh soil) and Armenia now has the right to appeal to the CSTO.  So far, the Armenians have not done so, but now they can and, I believe, probably will do so.

Another interesting development is that the USA has accused Turkey of being involved in this war.  This means that by now all three countries Russia, France and the USA are now declaring that the Turks (and or their “good terrorist” proxies from Syria) are involved.  Aliev is outraged and accused everybody of lying.

Finally, Azeri and Turkish outlets have claimed the Kurds are now fighting on the Armenian side.  However, there have been no verifiable sources for this probably false rumor.

As for the Armenian leader Pashinian, he has accused Aliev of being “Hitler”.

What does all this mean?

Well, for one thing, it was inevitable that the very first ceasefire agreement would be broken.  In such situations, they typically are.

The real risk now is that Russia will have to intervene.  There are three most likely scenarios for such an intervention:

Peacekeeping operation: that would only be possible if all sides to the conflict agree to such an operation.  At this point in time, this is still unlikely, but that could change fairly quickly.  However, Russia will only send peacekeepers if the parties agree on a long term political solution to this conflict.  Right now, they prefer fighting down to the last bullet, but this will soon change for both parties.

Peacemaking operation: for this to happen, the UNSC should agree to give a mandate to Russia under Chapter VII of the UN Charter.  While it appears that Turkey currently has no backer in the UNSC, the US and UK hate for everything and anything Russian will probably secure a double veto (with a possible French veto to boot!) just to avoid Russia succeeding at anything, including bringing peace to the region.

CSTO military intervention: in other words, Russia would strike at Azeri forces and assets to stop the Azeri aggression on Armenia.  This is something Russia absolutely will avoid, if at all possible since Russia has absolutely no desire to destroy her excellent partnership with Azerbaijan and her very tenuous and unstable partnership with Turkey (say, in Syria).

It is obvious what Russia will do next: using overt and covert means, she will try to affect the situation on the ground in such a way as to basically force both sides to agree to a Russia-led peacekeeping operation.

The main problem right now is Erdogan who is spending most of his time making inflammatory statements and who is demanding that Turkey be included in any negotiations.  The way the Turks want this is to have Turkey negotiate on behalf of Azerbaijan and Russia negotiate on behalf of Armenia and Nagorno Karabakh.  So far, Russia has categorically refused this option.

So where do we go from here?

Well, things are probably going to get worse before they get better.  Either that, or they will get worse before they get MUCH worse.  I hope for the first option, but if Turkey and/or Azerbaijan continue to strike at Armenia or if Armenia recognizes “Artsakh” then all bets are off.  We better pray that cool heads prevail on both sides and that Russia can make Erdogan an offer he won’t be able to refuse.  For example, the Russians might declare that the Russian contingent in Armenia will now protect the Armenian airspace with Russian air defense systems (ground or air based).  If, for no apparent reason, Azeri and/or Turkish start falling out of the skies, Erdogan might reconsider.

We shall soon find out.

Related Posts

What’s at stake in the Armenia-Azerbaijan chessboard

What’s at stake in the Armenia-Azerbaijan chessboard

October 01, 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How the equation changed

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

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

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

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

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

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

What happened in fact was the July shooting war.

Don’t forget Pipelineistan

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

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

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

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

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

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

It’s always about Turkey

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What’s the point of this war?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Inside Erdogan’s war

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pulling Russia back in

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

No question: the neo-Ottoman sultan never sleeps.

Related

The Netherlands Doubling Down on Harming the Syrian People, for Trump

September 22, 2020 Arabi Souri

The Netherlands wants to prolong and increase the Syrian people suffering
Syrian Refugees in Jordan – The Netherlands wants to prolong and increase the Syrian people’s suffering

The Netherlands, like other NATO member states, is involved in the role-play model passing different tasks among themselves that all result in punishing the Syrian people for resisting to fall prey for the US hegemony through terrorist groups, Syria.

One of the roles assigned to the Netherlands is being activated now, however, it’s either the short memory of NATO officials or simple-brained techniques they expose their moves for its sheer criminality without needing to sugarcoat it anymore, they might be very much depending on the Sheeple nature they turned their people into.

The Netherlands, being the house country for the International Criminal Court was assigned by its higher command in the USA to call for an investigation in crimes against humanity carried out in Syria, and no, not to punish terrorist groups that were assembled from all sides of the planet by the world’s superpowers and super-rich countries and dumped as the human garbage they are onto Syria, nor calling for the investigation and prosecuting of those involved in facilitating the terror acts by these human garbage; the Netherlands wants the ICC to prosecute the Syrian people for defending their homes from the NATO-sponsored terrorists. Goebbels would be so proud of the Netherlands and its officials.

image- Displaced Syrians Refugees in Lebanon - Horrible Conditions
Syrian Refugees in Lebanon – Horrible Conditions

The Netherlands mission at the United Nations informed, as it seems, their colleagues in the Syrian mission at the international body, about their intentions to file a case against Syrian officials involved in the crime of defending their country, they claim that the rights of terrorists killing and maiming Syrian women and children were violated by Syrian officials. Europe cut its ties with the Syrian state and recognized cannibal terrorists as representatives of the Syrian people, hence they have to go through different measures to contact the Syrian state.

The minister of foreign affairs in the Netherlands Stef Blok wrote in a letter to his country’s parliament his government’s intention to hold Syrians accountable for what he alleged are ‘crimes against humanity committed by Syrian officials’, he included ‘torture’ as one of them.

The Netherlands is obviously taking advantage of being the host country of the International Criminal Court, the ICC, Syrian official source slammed the latest step by the European monarchy.

In an almost instant response, a Syrian state official condemned the notion by the Netherlands and reminded the Netherlands officials of Syria’s right to prosecute in all legal methods every individual and party, state and non-state actors who facilitated terror in Syria on the Syrian people. The Syrian state official reminded the Netherlands of its destructive and criminal role by directly funding an assorted number of armed groups with up to 28 million Euros of the Netherland taxpayers money paid to groups designated as terrorist groups by the Netherlands own public prosecution.

Syria is not a signatory to the ICC’s ‘Rome Statute’, hence the Netherlands needs the approval of the United Nations Security Council to refer Syrian officials to the ICC, we can say it’s an impossible task, a futile effort with the certain objection of at least Russia and China at the UNSC, each of which has the Veto power, but this stunt could be used as an additional media campaign against the Syrian people, in addition to everything else they’re facing.

The irony is that the United States of America itself has not only rejected to sign the Rome Statue, it went to the extent of imposing sanctions against the ICC’s prosecutor and still wants to use the ICC through its minions to gain politically in Syria what it couldn’t achieve by creating and sponsoring literally hundreds of terrorist groups in the country throughout the past 9.5 years.

Maybe, the Netherlands, like its other EU accomplices, didn’t have enough Syrian refugees migrating to their country and forcing those who couldn’t make it to Europe into becoming refugees, it’s the western European mentality never changed since the Crusades.

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