A possible strategy for peace

September 28, 2022

Source

by Gav Don

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

They would probably include:

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

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

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

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

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

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

The popular will in the occupied territories

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

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

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

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

Clear evidence that the Kharkiv success is a one-off

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

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

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

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

The economic price of resistance

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Popular rejection of support for the war

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

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

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

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

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

American guns and money

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A possible strategy for peace

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

‘If not me, who?’: Mikhail Gorbachev ended Cold War and saved the world, but failed to save Soviet Union FEATURE

30 Aug, 2022

It is hard to imagine that anyone could have dismantled the Soviet Union from the inside faster or more comprehensively than Mikhail Gorbachev, a man who had no such intention. Its crumbling is both Gorbachev’s singular achievement and his personal tragedy.

It is also the most important moment in history since 1945.

Popular perceptions have transformed the former Soviet leader into a kitschy icon, remembered as much for starring in an advert for no-crust pizza, as for picking up a Nobel Peace Prize.

But in the demise of ‘The Evil Empire’ he was no naïf, nor a catalyst for generic historic inevitabilities. Almost every single event in the countdown to the fall of communism in Russia and beyond is a direct reflection of the ideals, actions and foibles of Mikhail Gorbachev and those he confronted or endorsed.

This is the story of a farm mechanic who managed to penetrate the inner sanctum of the world’s biggest country, an explanation of what drove him once he reached the top, and an attempt to understand whether he deserves opprobrium or sympathy, ridicule or appreciation.

First president of the Soviet Union Mikhail Gorbachev before a parade marking the 69th anniversary of the victory in the Great Patriotic War.
RIA Novosti.
The first president of the USSR Mikhail Gorbachev signs autographs during the presentation of his new book “Alone with Myself” in the Moskva store.
RIA Novosti.

If not me, who? And if not now, when?
— Mikhail Gorbachev

CHILDHOOD

Growing up a firebrand Communist among Stalin’s purges

Born in 1931 in a Ukrainian-Russian family in the village of Privolnoye in the fertile Russian south, Mikhail Gorbachev’s childhood was punctuated by a series of almost Biblical ordeals, albeit those shared by millions of his contemporaries.

His years as a toddler coincided with Stalin’s policy of collectivization – the confiscation of private lands from peasants to form new state-run farms – and Stavropol, Russia’s Breadbasket, was one of the worst-afflicted. Among the forcible reorganization and resistance, harvests plummeted and government officials requisitioned scarce grain under threat of death.

Gorbachev later said that his first memory is seeing his grandfather boiling frogs he caught in the river during the Great Famine.

Yet another grandfather, Panteley – a former landless peasant — rose from poverty to become the head of the local collective farm. Later Gorbachev attributed his ideological make-up largely to his grandfather’s staunch belief in Communism “which gave him the opportunity to earn everything he had.”

Panteley’s convictions were unshaken even when he was arrested as part of Stalin’s Great Purge. He was accused of joining a “counter-revolutionary Trotskyite movement” (which presumably operated a cell in their distant village) but returned to his family after 14 months behind bars just in time for the Second World War to break out.

Just in time for the Second World War to break out. For much of the conflict, the battle lines between the advancing Germans and the counter-attacking Red Army stretched across Gorbachev’s homeland; Mikhail’s father was drafted, and even reported dead, but returned with only shrapnel lodged in his leg at the end of the war.

Although Sergey was a distant presence in his son’s life up to then and never lived with him, he passed on to Mikhail a skill that played a momentous role in his life — that of a farm machinery mechanic and harvester driver. Bright by all accounts, Mikhail quickly picked up the knack — later boasting that he could pick out any malfunction just by the sound of the harvester or the tractor alone.

But this ability was unlikely to earn him renown beyond his village. Real acclaim came when the father and son read a new decree that would bestow a national honor on anyone who threshed more than 8000 quintals (800 tons or more than 20 big truckloads) of grain during the upcoming harvest. In the summer of 1948 Gorbachev senior and junior ground an impressively neat 8888 quintals. As with many of the agricultural and industrial achievements that made Soviet heroes out of ordinary workers, the exact details of the feat – and what auxiliary efforts may have made it possible – are unclear, but 17-year-old Gorbachev became one of the youngest recipients of the prestigious Order of the Red Banner of Labor in its history.

Having already been admitted to the Communist Party in his teen years (a rare reward given to the most zealous and politically reliable) Mikhail used the medal as an immediate springboard to Moscow. The accolade for the young wheat-grinder meant that he did not have to pass any entrance exams or even sit for an interview at Russia’s most prestigious Moscow State University.

With his village school education, Gorbachev admitted that he initially found the demands of a law degree, in a city he’d never even visited before, grueling. But soon he met another ambitious student from the countryside, and another decisive influence on his life. The self-assured, voluble Raisa, who barely spent a night apart from her husband until her death, helped to bring out the natural ambition in the determined, but occasionally studious and earnest Gorbachev. Predictably, Gorbachev rose to become one of the senior figures at the university’s Komsomol, the Communist youth league — which with its solemn group meetings and policy initiatives served both as a prototype and the pipeline for grown-up party activities.

STAVROPOL

Party reformist flourishes in Khruschev’s Thaw

Upon graduation in 1955, Gorbachev lasted only ten days back in Stavropol’s prosecutor’s office (showing a squeamishness dealing with the less idealistic side of the Soviet apparatus) before running across a local Komsomol official. For the next 15 years his biography reads like a blur of promotions – rising to become Stavropol region’s top Komsomol bureaucrats, overseeing agriculture for a population of nearly 2.5 million people before his 40th birthday.

All the trademarks of Gorbachev’s leadership style, which later became famous around the world, were already in evidence here. Eschewing Soviet officials’ habit of barricading themselves inside the wood-paneled cabinets behind multiple receptions, Gorbachev spent vast swathes of his time ‘in the field’, often literally in a field. With his distinctive southern accent, and his genuine curiosity about the experiences of ordinary people, the young official a struck chord as he toured small villages and discussed broken projectors at local film clubs and shortages of certain foodstuffs.

His other enthusiasm was for public discussion, particularly about specific, local problems – once again in contrast with the majority of officials, who liked to keep negative issues behind closed doors. Gorbachev set up endless discussion clubs and committees, almost quixotically optimistic about creating a better kind of life among the post-war austerity.

POLITBURO

Cutting the line to the throne

By the 1970s any sign of modernization in Soviet society or leadership was a distant memory, as the country settled into supposed “advanced socialism”, with the upheavals and promises of years past replaced by what was widely described as ‘An Era of Stagnation’ (the term gained official currency after being uttered by Gorbachev himself in one of his early public speeches after ascending to the summit of the Soviet system).

Without Stalin’s regular purges, and any democratic replacement mechanisms, between the mid-1960s and 1980s, almost the entire apparatus of Soviet leadership remained unchanged, down from the increasingly senile Leonid Brezhnev, who by the end of his life in 1982 became a figure of nationwide mockery and pity, as he slurred through speeches and barely managed to stand during endless protocol events, wearing gaudy carpets of military honors for battles he never participated in. Predictably, power devolved to the various factions below, as similarly aged heavyweights pushed their protégés into key positions.

The Kremlin Palace of Congresses (now the State Kremlin Palace). The XXV Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (Feb. 24-March 5, 1976). CPSU Central Committee General Secretary Leonid Brezhnev delivering speech.
RIA Novosti.

Mikhail Andreyevich Suslov, CPSU CC Politbureau member, CPSU CC secretary, twice Hero of Socialist Labor.
RIA Novosti.Leonid Brezhnev, left, chairman of the USSR Supreme Soviet Presidium and general secretary of the CPSU Central Committee, with Alexei Kosygin, chairman of the USSR Council of Ministers, on Lenin’s Mausoleum on May 1, 1980.
RIA Novosti.The Soviet Communist Party’s politburo member Konstantin Chernenko and central committee member Yury Andropov attend the Kremlin Palace of Congresses’ government session dedicated to the 60th anniversary of the USSR.
RIA Novosti.Yuri Andropov (1914-1984), General Secretary of the CPSU Central Committee (since November 1982).
RIA Novosti.

With a giant country as the playground, the system rewarded those who came up with catchy programs and slogans, took credit for successes and steered away from failures, and networked tirelessly to build up support above and below. Gorbachev thrived here. His chief patrons were Brezhnev himself, purist party ideologue Mikhail Suslov, who considered Stavropol his powerbase, and most crucially the hardline head of the KGB, Yuri Andropov. The security chief referred to the aspiring politician as ‘My Stavropol Rough Diamond’ — another rejoinder to those seeking to paint Gorbachev as a naïve blessed outsider, a Joan of Arc of the Soviet establishment.

After being called to Moscow in 1978 to oversee Soviet agriculture — an apocryphal story suggests that he nearly missed out on the appointment when senior officials couldn’t find him after he got drunk celebrating a Komsomol anniversary, only to be rescued by a driver at the last moment — Mikhail Gorbachev was appointed to the Politburo in 1980.

The Politburo, which included some but not all of the ministers and regional chiefs of the USSR, was an inner council that took all the key decisions in the country, with the Soviet leader sitting at the top of the table, holding the final word (though Brezhnev sometimes missed meetings or fell asleep during them). When Gorbachev became a fully-fledged member he was short of his 50th birthday. All but one of the dozen other members were over sixty, and most were in their seventies. To call them geriatric was not an insult, but a literal description of a group of elderly men – many beset by chronic conditions far beyond the reach of Soviet doctors – that were more reminiscent of decrepit land barons at the table of a feudal king than effective bureaucrats. Even he was surprised by how quickly it came.

Brezhnev, who suffered from a panoply of circulation illnesses, died of a heart attack in 1982. Andropov, who was about to set out on an energetic screw-tightening campaign, died of renal failure in 1984. Konstantin Chernenko was already ill when he came to leadership, and died early in 1985 of cirrhosis. The tumbling of aged sovereigns, both predictable and tragicomic in how they reflected on the leadership of a country of more than 250 million people, not only cleared the path for Gorbachev, but strengthened the credentials of the young, energetic pretender.

Leonid Brezhnev’s funeral procession at Vladimir Lenin’s mausoleum.
RIA Novosti.

The decorations of General Secretary of the CPSU Leonid Brezhnev seen during his lying-in-state ceremony at the House of Unions.
RIA Novosti.Mikhail Gorbachev, the first and the last Soviet president (second left in the foreground) attending the funeral of General Secretary of the CPSU Central Committee Konstantin Chernenko (1911-1985) in Moscow’s Red Square.
RIA Novosti.The funeral procession during the burial of Leonid Brezhnev, general secretary of the CPSU central committee, chairman of the Presidium of the USSR Supreme Soviet.
RIA Novosti.The funeral of Yuri Andropov, General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, Chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR. The coffin is placed on pedestal near the Mausoleum on Red Square.
RIA Novosti.The funeral procession for General Secretary of the CPSU Konstantin Chernenko moving towards Red Square.
RIA Novosti.General Secretary of the Central Comittee of CPSU Mikhail Gorbachev at the tribune of Lenin mausoleum during May Day demonstration, Red square.
RIA Novosti.

On 11 March 1985, Gorbachev was named the General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the USSR.

REFORMS NEEDED

Overcoming economic inefficiency with temperance campaigns

As often in history, the reformer came in at a difficult time. Numbers showed that economic growth, which was rampant as Russia industrialized through the previous four decades, slowed down in Brezhnev’s era, with outside sources suggesting that the economy grew by an average of no more than 2 percent for the decade.

The scarcity of the few desirable goods produced and their inefficient distribution meant that many Soviet citizens spent a substantial chunk of their time either standing in queues or trading and obtaining things as ordinary as sugar, toilet paper or household nails through their connections, either “under the counter” or as Party and workplace perks, making a mockery of Communist egalitarianism. The corruption and lack of accountability in an economy where full employment was a given, together with relentless trumpeting of achievement through monolithic newspapers and television programs infected private lives with doublethink and cynicism.

A line of shoppers outside the Lenvest footwear shop.
Ria Novosti.

But this still does not describe the drab and constraining feel of the socialist command economy lifestyle, not accidentally eschewed by all societies outside of North Korea and Cuba in the modern world. As an example, but one central to the Soviet experience: while no one starved, there was a choice of a handful of standardized tins — labeled simply salmon, or corned beef — identical in every shop across the country, and those who were born in 1945 could expect to select from the same few goods until the day they died, day-in, day-out. Soviets dressed in the same clothes, lived in identical tower block housing, and hoped to be issued a scarce Lada a decade away as a reward for their loyalty or service. Combined with the lack of personal freedoms, it created an environment that many found reassuring, but others suffocating, so much so that a trivial relic of a different world, stereotypically a pair of American jeans, or a Japanese TV, acquired a cultural cachet far disproportionate to its function. Soviets could not know the mechanisms of actually living within a capitalist society — with its mortgages, job markets, and bills — but many felt that there were gaudier, freer lives being led all around the world.

And though it brought tens of millions of people out of absolute poverty, there was no longer an expectation that the lifestyles of ordinary Soviets would significantly improve whether a year or a decade into the future, and promise of a better future was always a key tenet of communism.

Several wide-ranging changes were attempted, in 1965 and 1979, but each time the initial charge was wound down into ineffectual tinkering as soon as the proposed changed encroached on the fundamentals of the Soviet regime — in which private commercial activity was forbidden and state control over the economy was total and centralized.

Moscow, Russia. Customers at the Okean [Ocean] seafood store. 1988.
Ria Novosti.

Gorbachev deeply felt the malaise, and displayed immediate courage to do what is necessary — sensing that his reforms would not only receive support from below, but no insurmountable resistance from above. The policy of Uskorenie, or Acceleration, which became one of the pillars of his term, was announced just weeks after his appointment — it was billed as an overhaul of the economy.

But it did not address the fundamental structural inefficiencies of the Soviet regime. Instead it offered more of the same top-down administrative solutions — more investment, tighter supervision of staff, less waste. Any boost achieved through rhetoric and managerial dress-downs sent down the pyramid of power was likely to be inconsequential and peter out within months.

His second initiative, just two months after assuming control, betrayed these very same well-meaning but misguided traits. With widespread alcohol consumption a symptom of late-Soviet decline, Gorbachev devised a straightforward solution — lowering alcohol production and eventually eradicating drinking altogether.

Doctor Lev Kravchenko conducting reflexotherapy session with a patient at the Moscow Narcological Clinical Hospital #17.
RIA Novosti
Stolichnaya vodka from the Moscow Liqueur and Vodka Distillery.
RIA Novosti.

“Women write to me saying that children see their fathers again, and they can see their husbands,” said Gorbachev when asked about whether the reform was working.

Opponents of the illiberal measure forced Russian citizens into yet more queues, while alcoholics resorted to drinking industrial fluids and aftershave. Economists said that the budget, which derived a quarter of its total retail sales income from alcohol, was severely undermined. Instead a shadow economy sprung up — in 1987, 500 thousand people were arrested for engaging in it, five times more than just two years earlier.

More was needed, and Gorbachev knew it.

PERE­STROIKA

“We must rebuild ourselves. All of us!”

Gorbachev at his zenith

Gorbachev first uttered the word perestroika — reform, or rebuilding — in May 1986, or rather he told journalists, using the characteristic and endearing first-person plural, “We must rebuild ourselves. All of us!” Picked up by reporters, within months the phrase became a mainstay of Gorbachev’s speeches, and finally the symbol of the entire era.

Before his reforms had been chiefly economic and within the existing frameworks; now they struck at the political heart of the Soviet Union.

The revolution came from above, during a long-prepared central party conference blandly titled “On Reorganization and the Party’s Personnel Policy” on January 27, 1987.

In lieu of congratulatory platitudes that marked such occasions in past times, Gorbachev cheerfully delivered the suspended death sentence for Communist rule in the Soviet Union (much as he didn’t suspect it at the time).

“The Communist Party of the Soviet Union and its leaders, for reasons that were within their own control, did not realize the need for change, understand the growing critical tension in the society, or develop any means to overcome it. The Communist Party has not been able to take full advantage of socialist society,”
said the leader to an audience that hid its apprehension.

“The only way that a man can order his house, is if he feels he is its owner. Well, a country is just the same,” came Gorbachev’s trademark mix of homely similes and grand pronouncements.” Only with the extension of democracy, of expanding self-government can our society advance in industry, science, culture and all aspects of public life.”

“For those of you who seem to struggle to understand, I am telling you: democracy is not the slogan, it is the very essence of Perestroika.”

Gorbachev used the word ‘revolution’ eleven times in his address, anointing himself an heir to Vladimir Lenin. But what he was proposing had no precedent in Russian or Soviet history.

The word democracy was used over 70 times in that speech alone.
The Soviet Union was a one-party totalitarian state, which produced 99.9 percent election results with people picking from a single candidate. Attempts to gather in groups of more than three, not even to protest, were liable to lead to arrest, as was any printed or public political criticism, though some dissidents were merely subjected to compulsory psychiatric care or forced to renounce their citizenship. Millions were employed either as official KGB agents, or informants, eavesdropping on potentially disloyal citizens. Soviet people were forbidden from leaving the country, without approval from the security services and the Party. This was a society operated entirely by those in power, relying on compliance and active cooperation in oppression from a large proportion of the population. So, the proposed changes were a fundamental reversal of the flows of power in society.

General Secretary of the CPSU Central Committee Mikhail Gorbachyov making his report “October and perestroika: the revolution continues” in the Kremlin Palace of Congresses at a joint session of the CPSU Central Committee and the USSR Supreme Soviet, devoted to the 70th anniversary of the Great October Socialist Revolution.
RIA Novosti.

Between Gorbachev’s ascent and by the end of that year, two thirds of the Politburo, more than half of the regional chiefs and forty percent of the membership of the Central Committee of Communist Party, were replaced.

Gorbachev knew that democracy was impossible without what came to be known as glasnost, an openness of public discussion.

“We are all coming to the same conclusion — we need glasnost, we need criticism and self-criticism. In our country everything concerns the people, because it is their country,”
said Gorbachev, cunningly echoing Lenin, at that January forum, though the shoots of glasnost first emerged the year before.

From the middle of 1986 until 1987 censored Soviet films that lay on the shelves for years were released, the KGB stopped jamming the BBC World Service and Voice of America, Nobel Peace Prize winner nuclear physicist Andrei Sakharov and hundreds of other dissidents were set free, and archives documenting Stalin-era repressions were opened.

A social revolution was afoot. Implausibly, within two years, television went from having no programs that were unscripted, to Vzglyad, a talk show anchored by 20 and 30-somethings (at a time when most Soviet television presented were fossilized mannequins) that discussed the war in Afghanistan, corruption or drugs with previously banned videos by the Pet Shop Boys or Guns N’ Roses as musical interludes. For millions watching Axl Rose, cavorting with a microphone between documentaries about steel-making and puppet shows, created cognitive dissonance that verged on the absurd. As well as its increasing fascination with the West, a torrent of domestic creativity was unleashed. While much of what was produced in the burgeoning rock scene and the liberated film making industry was derivative, culturally naïve and is now badly dated, even artifacts from the era still emanate an unmistakable vitality and sincerity.

Rock for Peace concert in Moscow, 1988.
RIA Novosti.

“Bravo!” Poster by Svetlana and Alexander Faldin. Allegorically portraying USSR President Mikhail Gorbachev, it appeared at the poster exposition, Perestroika and Us.
RIA Novosti.Mikhail Gorbachev, General Secretary of the CPSU Central Committee and Chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR, talking to reporters during a break between sessions. The First Congress of People’s Deputies of the USSR (May 25 — June 9, 1989). The Kremlin Palace of Congresses.
RIA Novosti.

Many welcomed the unprecedented level of personal freedom and the chance to play an active part in their own country’s history, others were alarmed, while others still rode the crest of the wave when swept everything before it, only to renounce it once it receded. But it is notable that even the supposed staunchest defenders of the ancien régime — the KGB officers, the senior party members — who later spent decades criticizing Perestroika, didn’t step in to defend Brezhnev-era Communism as they saw it being demolished.

What everyone might have expected from the changes is a different question — some wanted the ability to travel abroad without an exit visa, others the opportunity to earn money, others still to climb the political career ladder without waiting for your predecessor die in office. But unlike later accounts, which often presented Gorbachev as a stealthy saboteur who got to execute an eccentric program, at the time, his support base was broad, and his decisions seemed encouraging and logical.

As a popular politician Gorbachev was reaching a crescendo. His trademark town hall and factory visits were as effective as any staged stunts, and much more unselfconscious. The contrast with the near-mummified bodies of the previous General Secretaries — who, in the mind of ordinary Soviet citizens, could only be pictured on top of Lenin’s Mausoleum during a military parade, or staring from a roadside placard, and forever urging greater productivity or more intense socialist values — was overwhelming.
Gorbachev was on top — but the tight structure of the Soviet state was about to loosen uncontrollably.

USSR President Mikhail Gorbachev in Sverdlovsk Region (25-28 April, 1990). Mikhail Gorbachev with the people of Sverdlovsk at the Lenin Square.
RIA Novosti.

USSR president Mikhail Gorbachev visits Sverdlovsk region. Mikhail Gorbachev visiting Nizhnij Tagil integrated iron-and-steel works named after V.I. Lenin.
RIA Novosti.CPSU Central Committee General Secretary, USSR Supreme Soviet Presidium Chairman Mikhail Gorbachev in the Ukrainian SSR. Mikhail Gorbachev, second right, meeting with Kiev residents.
RIA Novosti.

COLD WAR ENDS

Concessions from a genuine pacifist

In the late 1980s the world appeared so deeply divided into two camps that it seemed like two competing species were sharing the same planet. Conflicts arose constantly, as the US and the USSR fought proxy wars on every continent — in Nicaragua, Angola and Afghanistan, with Europe divided by a literal battle line, both sides constantly updated battle plans and moved tank divisions through allied states, where scores of bases housed soldier thousands of miles away from home. Since the Cold War did not end in nuclear holocaust, it has become conventional to describe the two superpowers as rivals, but there was little doubt at the time that they were straightforward enemies.

“The core of New Thinking is the admission of the primacy of universal human values and the priority of ensuring the survival of the human race,” Gorbachev wrote in his Perestroika manifesto in 1988.

At the legendary Reykjavik summit in 1986, which formally ended in failure but in fact set in motion the events that would end the Cold War, both sides were astonished at just how much they could agree on, suddenly flying through agendas, instead of fighting pitched battles over every point of the protocol.

“Humanity is in the same boat, and we can all either sink or swim.”

General Secretary of the CPSU Central Committee Mikhail Gorbachev (left) and U.S. President Ronald Reagan (right) during their summit meeting in Reykjavik.
RIA Novosti.

Landmark treaties followed: the INF agreement in 1987, banning intermediate ballistic missiles, the CFE treaty that reduced the military build-up in Europe in 1990, and the following year, the START treaty, reducing the overall nuclear stockpile of those countries. The impact was as much symbolic as it was practical — the two could still annihilate each other within minutes — but the geopolitical tendency was clear.

President Reagan: Signing of the INF Treaty with Premier Gorbachev, December 8, 1987

Mikhail Gorbachev, General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union and the US president Ronald Reagan.
RIA Novosti.
Mikhail Gorbachev (left) and the US president Ronald Reagan signing an agreement in the White House. Mikhail Gorbachev, General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union on the official visit to the USA.
RIA Novosti.

Military analysts said that each time the USSR gave up more than it received from the Americans. The personal dynamic between Reagan — always lecturing “the Russians” from a position of purported moral superiority, and Gorbachev — the pacifist scrambling for a reasonable solution, was also skewed in favor of the US leader. But Gorbachev wasn’t playing by those rules.

“Any disarmament talks are not about beating the other side. Everyone has to win, or everyone will lose,” he wrote.

The Soviet Union began to withdraw its troops and military experts from conflicts around the world. For ten years a self-evidently unwinnable war waged in Afghanistan ingrained itself as an oppressive part of the national consciousness. Fifteen thousand Soviet soldiers died, hundreds of thousands more were wounded or psychologically traumatized (the stereotypical perception of the ‘Afghan vet’ in Russia is almost identical to that of the ‘Vietnam vet’ in the US.) When the war was officially declared a “mistake” and Soviet tanks finally rolled back across the mountainous border in 1989, very few lamented the scaling back of the USSR’s international ambitions.

Last Soviet troop column crosses Soviet border after leaving Afghanistan.
RIA Novosti.

Driver T. Eshkvatov during the final phase of the Soviet troop pullout from Afghanistan.
RIA Novosti.Soviet soldiers back on native soil. The USSR conducted a full pullout of its limited troop contingent from Afghanistan in compliance with the Geneva accords.
RIA Novosti.The convoy of Soviet armored personnel vehicles leaving Afghanistan.
RIA Novosti.

In July 1989 Gorbachev made a speech to the European Council, declaring that it is “the sovereign right of each people to choose their own social system.” When Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceausescu, soon to be executed by his own people, demanded — during the 40th anniversary of the Communist German Democratic Republic in October 1989 — that Gorbachev suppress the wave of uprisings, the Soviet leader replied with a curt “Never again!”

“Life punishes those who fall behind the times,” he warned the obdurate East German leader Erich Honecker. Honecker died in exile in Chile five years later, having spent his dying years fending off criminal charges backed by millions of angry Germans.

Russian tanks did pass through Eastern Europe that year — but in the other direction, as the Soviet Union abandoned its expensive bases that were primed for a war that neither side now wanted.

Graffitti at the Berlin Wall.
RIA Novosti.
East German citizens climb the Berlin Wall at the Brandenburg Gate after the opening of the border was announced early November 9, 1989. REUTERS/Herbert Knosowski BEST QUALITY AVAILABLE.
Reuters.
A big section of the Berlin Wall is lifted by a crane as East Germany has started to dismantle the wall near the Brandenburg Gate in East Berlin, February 20, 1990.
Reuters.

By the time the Berlin Wall was torn down in November, Gorbachev was reportedly not even woken up by his advisors, and no emergency meetings took place. There was no moral argument for why the German people should not be allowed to live as one nation, ending what Gorbachev himself called the “unnatural division of Europe”. The quote came from his 1990 Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech.

ETHNIC TENSIONS

Smoldering ethnic conflicts on USSR’s outskirts flare up

Ethnic tensions on the outskirts of the empire lead to full-scale wars after USSR’s collapse. Towards the end of his rather brief period as a Soviet leader, Mikhail Gorbachev had to face a problem many thought of as done and dusted; namely, ethnic strife, leading to conflict and death.

By the mid-1980s, the Soviet Union was officially considered by party ideologists to be one multi-ethnic nation, despite it being comprised of 15 national republics and even more internal republics and regions, with dozens of ethnic groups living there in a motley mixture. The claim was not completely unfounded as the new generation all across the country spoke Russian and had basic knowledge of Russian culture along with Marxist philosophy. In fact, the outside world confirmed this unity by calling all Soviet citizens “Russians” — from Finno-Ugric Estonians in the West to the Turkic and Iranian peoples of Central Asia and natives of the Far East, closely related to the American Indians of Alaska.

Demonstration on Red Square. The International Labor Day. “Long live the brotherly friendship of the peoples of the USSR!” reads the slogan under the USSR national emblem surrounded by flags of 15 of the Union republics carried at a May Day demonstration in 1986.
RIA Novosti.

At the same time, the concept of the single people was enforced by purely Soviet methods — from silencing any existing problems in the party-controlled mass media, to ruthless suppression of any attempt of nationalist movements, and summary forced resettlement of whole peoples for “siding with the enemy” during WWII.

After Gorbachev announced the policies of Glasnost and democratization, many ethnic groups started to express nationalist sentiments. This was followed by the formation or legalization of nationalist movements, both in national republics and in Russia itself, where blackshirts from the “Memory” organization blamed Communists and Jews for oppressing ethnic Russians and promoted “liberation.”

Neither society nor law enforcers were prepared for such developments. The Soviet political system remained totalitarian and lacked any liberal argument against nationalism. Besides, the concept of “proletarian internationalism” was so heavily promoted that many people started to see nationalism as part of a struggle for political freedoms and market-driven economic prosperity. At the same time, the security services persisted in using the crude Soviet methods that had already been denounced by party leaders; police had neither the tools nor the experience for proper crowd control.

As a result, potential conflicts were brewing all across the country and the authorities did almost nothing to prevent them. In fact, many among the regional elites chose to ride the wave of nationalism to obtain more power and settle old accounts. At the same time, the level of nationalism was highly uneven and its manifestations differed both in frequency and intensity across the USSR.

In February 1988, Gorbachev announced at the Communist Party’s plenum that every socialist land was free to choose its own societal systems. Both Nationalists and the authorities considered this a go-ahead signal. Just days after the announcement, the conflict in the small mountain region of Nagorno-Karabakh entered an open phase.

Nagorno-Karabakh was an enclave populated mostly, but not exclusively, by Armenians in the Transcaucasia republic of Azerbaijan. Relations between Armenians and Azerbaijanis had always been strained, with mutual claims dating back to the Ottoman Empire; Soviet administrative policy based purely on geography and economy only made things worse.

In spring 1989, nationalists took to the streets in another Transcaucasian republic — Georgia. The country was (and still is) comprised of many ethnic groups, each claiming a separate territory, sometimes as small as just one hill and a couple of villages, and the rise of nationalism there was even more dangerous. Georgians marched under slogans “Down with Communism!” and “Down with Soviet Imperialism.” The rallies were guarded and directed by the “Georgian Falcons” — a special team of strong men, many of them veterans of the Afghan war, armed with truncheons and steel bars.

“Down with Communism!”

“Down with Soviet Imperialism.”

This time Gorbachev chose not to wait for clashes and a Spetsnaz regiment was deployed to Tbilisi to tackle the nationalist rallies. Again, old Soviet methods mixed poorly with the realities of democratization. When the demonstrators saw the soldiers, they became more agitated, and the streets around the main flashpoints were blocked by transport and barricades. The soldiers were ordered to use only rubber truncheons and tear gas, and were not issued firearms, but facing the Georgian Falcons they pulled out the Spetsnaz weapon of choice — sharp shovels just as deadly as bayonets.

At least 19 people were killed in the clashes or trampled by the crowd that was forced from the central square but had nowhere to go. Hundreds were wounded.

Soviet tanks are positioned on April 9, 1989 in front of the Georgian government building where pro-independence Georgians were killed as paratroopers moved in to break up a mass demonstration. An anti-Soviet demonstration was dispersed on April 9th by the Soviet army, resulting in 20 deaths and hundreds of injuries. In independent Georgia “April 9” is an annual public holiday remembered as the Day of National Unity.
AFP PHOTO.

Moscow ordered an investigation into the tragedy and a special commission uncovered many serious mistakes made both by the regional and central authorities and party leaders. However, at the May Congress of People’s Deputies, Gorbachev categorically refused to accept any responsibility for the outcome of the events in Tbilisi and blamed the casualties on the military.

Further on, the last Soviet leader persisted in the kind of stubbornness that inevitably must have played a part in his fall. In February 1990, the Communist Party’s Central Committee voted to adopt the presidential system of power and General Secretary Gorbachev became the first and last president of the USSR. The same plenum dismantled the Communist Party’s monopoly of power, even though the country had no grassroots political organizations or any political organizations not dependent on the communists save for the nationalists. As a result, the urge for succession increased rapidly, both in the regional republics and even in the Soviet heartland — the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic.

In 1990, the Republic of Lithuania was the first to declare independence from the Soviet Union. Despite his earlier promises, Gorbachev refused to recognize this decision officially. The region found itself in legal and administrative limbo and the Lithuanian parliament addressed foreign nations with a request to hold protests against “Soviet Occupation.”

In January 1991, the Lithuanian government announced the start of economic reforms with liberalization of prices, and immediately after that the Supreme Soviet of the USSR sent troops to the republic, citing “numerous requests from the working class.” Gorbachev also demanded Lithuania annul all new regulations and bring back the Soviet Constitution. On January 11, Soviet troops captured many administrative buildings in Vilnius and other Lithuanian cities, but the parliament and television center were surrounded by a thousand-strong rally of protesters and remained in the hands of the nationalist government. In the evening of January 12, Soviet troops, together with the KGB special purpose unit, Alpha, stormed the Vilnius television center, killing 12 defenders and wounding about 140 more. The troops were then called back to Russia and the Lithuanian struggle for independence continued as before.

A Lithuanian demonstrator stands in front of a Soviet Army tank during the assault on the Lithuanian Radio and Television station on January 13, 1991 in Vilnius.
AFP PHOTO.

Vilnius residents gather in front of the Lithuanian parliament following the takeover of the Radio and Television installations by Soviet troops.
AFP PHOTO.An armed unidentified man guards the Lithuanian parliament on January 19, 1991 in Vilnius.
AFP PHOTO.Vilnius residents holding a Lithuanian flag guard a barricade in front of the Lithuanian parliament on January 20, 1991.
AFP PHOTO.Soviet paratroopers charge Lithuanian demonstrators at the entrance of the Lithuanian press printing house in Vilnius. January, 1991.
AFP PHOTO.

Gorbachev again denied any responsibility, saying that he had received reports about the operation only after it ended. However, almost all members of the contemporary Soviet cabinet recalled that the idea of Gorbachev not being aware of such a major operation was laughable. Trying to shift the blame put the president’s image into a lose-lose situation — knowing about the Vilnius fighting made him a callous liar, and if he really knew nothing about it, then he was an ineffective leader, losing control both of distant territories and his own special forces.

The swiftly aborted intervention — troops were called back on the same day — was a disappointment both to the hardliners, who would have wanted Gorbachev to see it through, and to the democratic reformers, horrified by the scenes emerging from Vilnius.

This dissatisfaction also must be one of the main factors that provoked the so-called Putch in August 1991 — an attempt by die-hard Politburo members to displace Gorbachev and restore the old Soviet order. They failed in the latter, but succeeded in the former as Gorbachev, isolated at his government Dacha in Crimea, returned to Moscow only because of the struggles of the new Russian leader Boris Yeltsin. When Gorbachev returned, his power was so diminished that he could do nothing to prevent the Belovezha agreement — the pact between Russia, Belarus and Ukraine that ended the history of the Soviet Union and introduced the Commonwealth of Independent States. All republics became independent whether they were ready to or not.

This move, while granting people freedom from Soviet rule, also triggered a sharp rise in extreme nationalist activities — the stakes were high enough and whole nations were up for grabs. Also, in the three years between Gorbachev’s offering of freedom and the collapse of the USSR, nothing was done to calm simmering ethnic hatred, and with no directions from Moscow or control on the part of the Soviet police and army, many regions became engulfed in full-scale civil wars, based on ethnic grounds.

Things turned especially nasty in Tajikistan, where fighting between Iranian-speaking Tajiks and Turkic-speaking Uzbeks very soon led to ethnic cleansing. Refugees had to flee for their lives to Afghanistan, which itself witnessed a war between the Taliban and the Northern Alliance.

Government soldiers aim at positions of armed opposition groups in the border area of Afghanistan 08 June 1993. The civil war between pro-communist forces and the opposition has left thousands dead and turned hundreds of thousands of people into refugees in the last year.
AFP PHOTO.

Two fighters of the Tajik pro-Communist forces engage in a battle with pro-Islamic fighters 22 December 1992 in a village some 31 miles from the Tajik capital of Dushanbe.
AFP PHOTO.Tajik women cry over the dead body of a soldier 29 January 1993. The soldier was killed during fighting between Tajikistan government troops and opposition forces in Parkhar.
AFP PHOTO.

The long and bloody war in Georgia also had a significant ethnic component. After it ended three regions that were part of the republic during Soviet times — Abkhazia, Adzharia and South Ossetia – declared independence, which was enforced by a CIS peacekeeping force. At some point, Georgia managed to return Adzharia but when Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili, backed and armed by Western nations, attempted to capture South Ossetia in 2008, Russia had to intervene and repel the aggression. Subsequently, Russia recognized South Ossetia and Abkhazia as independent nations.

YELTSIN’S CHALLENGE

New star steals limelight

As Stalin and Trotsky, or Tony Blair and Gordon Brown could attest, your own archrival in politics is often on your team, pursuing broadly similar — but not identical aims — and hankering for the top seat.

But unlike those rivalries, the scenes in the fallout between Mikhail Gorbachev, and his successor, Boris Yeltsin played out not through backroom deals and media leaks, but in the form of an epic drama in front of a live audience of thousands, and millions sat in front of their televisions.

The two leaders were born a month apart in 1931, and followed broadly similar paths of reformist regional commissars – while Gorbachev controlled the agricultural Stavropol, Yeltsin attempted to revitalize the industrial region of Sverdlovsk, present-day Yekaterinburg.

Yet, Yeltsin was a definitely two steps behind Gorbachev on the Soviet career ladder, and without his leg-up might have never made it to Moscow at all. A beneficiary of the new leader’s clear out, though not his personal protégé, Yeltsin was called up to Moscow in 1985, and the following year, was assigned the post of First Secretary of the Moscow Communist Party, effectively becoming the mayor of the capital.

Yeltsin’s style dovetailed perfectly with the new agenda, and his superior’s personal style, though his personal relationship with Gorbachev was strained almost from the start. Breaking off from official tours of factories, the city administrator would pay surprise visits to queue-plagued and under-stocked stores (and the warehouses where the consumables were put aside for the elites); occasionally abandoning his bulletproof ZIL limo, Yeltsin would ride on public transport. This might appear like glib populism now, but at the time was uncynically welcomed. In the first few months in the job, the provincial leader endeared himself to Muscovites — his single most important power base in the struggles that came, and a guarantee that he would not be forgotten whatever ritual punishments were cast down by the apex of the Communist Party.

Boris Yeltsin, First Secretary of the Soviet Communist Party’s Moscow City Committee, at the official meeting celebrating the 70th anniversary of the October revolution.
RIA Novosti.

Boris Yeltsin, left, candidate member of the Politburo of the CPSU Central Committee, at lunch.
RIA Novosti.Voters’ meeting with candidate for deputy of the Moscow Soviet in the 161st constituency, First Secretary of the CPSU Moscow Town Committee, Chairman of the USSR Supreme Soviet, Boris Yeltsin, centre.
RIA Novosti.People’s deputy Boris Yeltsin. Algirdas Brazauskas (right) and chairman of the Presidium of the USSR Supreme Council Mikhail Gorbachev on the presidium.
RIA Novosti.

But Yeltsin was not just a demagogue content with cosmetic changes and easy popularity, and after months of increasing criticism of the higher-ups, he struck.

During a public session of the Central Committee of the Communist Party in October 1987, the newcomer delivered a landmark speech.

In front of a transfixed hall, he told the country’s leaders that they were putting road blocks on the road to Perestroika, he accused senior ministers of becoming “sycophantic” towards Gorbachev. As his final flourish, Yeltsin withdrew himself from his post as a candidate to the Politburo — an unprecedented move that amounted to contempt towards the most senior Soviet institution.

The speech, which he later said he wrote “on his lap” while sitting in the audience just a few hours earlier, was Yeltsin in a nutshell. Unafraid to challenge authority and to risk everything, with a flair for the dramatic, impulsive and unexpected decision (his resignation as Russian president in his New Year’s speech being the most famous).

Footage shows Gorbachev looking on bemused from above. He did not publicly criticize Yeltsin there and then, and spoke empathetically about Yeltsin’s concerns, but later that day (with his backing) the Central Committee declared Yeltsin’s address “politically misguided”, a slippery Soviet euphemism that cast Yeltsin out into the political wilderness.

Gorbachev thought he had won the round — “I won’t allow Yeltsin anywhere near politics again” he vowed, his pique shining through — but from then on, their historical roles and images were cast.

Gorbachev, for all of his reforms, now became the tame, prissy socialist. Yeltsin, the careerist who nearly had it all, and renounced everything he had achieved at the age of 54 and re-evaluated all he believed in. Gorbachev, the Politburo chief who hid behind the silent majority, Yeltsin the rebel who stood up to it. Gorbachev, the politician who spoke a lot and often said nothing, Yeltsin, the man of action.

Historically, the contrast may seem unfair, as both were equally important historical figures, who had a revolutionary impact for their time. But stood side-by-side, Yeltsin — with his regal bearing and forceful charisma — not only took the baton of Perestroika’s promises, but stole the man-of-the-future aura that had hitherto belonged to Gorbachev, who now seemed fidgety and weaselly by comparison.

While he was stripped of his Moscow role, Yeltsin’s party status was preserved. This had a perverse effect. No one stopped Yeltsin from attending high-profile congresses. No one prevented him from speaking at them. It was the perfect situation — he had the platform of an insider, and the kudos of an outsider. Tens of deputies would come and criticize the upstart, and then he’d take the stage, Boris Yeltsin vs. The Machine.

On June 12, 1990 Russia declared sovereignty from the USSR. A month later, Yeltsin staged another one of his dramatic masterclasses, when he quit the Communist Party on-stage during its last ever national congress, and walked out of the cavernous hall with his head held high, as loyal deputies jeered him.

In June 1991, after calling a snap election, Yeltsin became the first President of Russia, winning 57 percent — or more than 45 million votes. The Party’s candidate garnered less than a third of Yeltsin’s tally.

By this time Gorbachev’s position had become desperate. The Soviet Union was being hollowed out, and Yeltsin and the other regional leaders were now actively colluding with each other, signing agreements that bypassed the Kremlin.

The Communists and nationalists — often one and the same — had once been ambivalent about Gorbachev’s reforms, and anyway had been loath to criticize their leader. But inspired by Gorbachev’s glasnost, and with the USSR’s long term prospects becoming very clear, they now wanted their say as well. A reactionary media backlash started against him, generals pronounced warnings of “social unrest” that sounded more like threats, and some had begun to go as far as to earnestly speculate that Gorbachev was working for the Cold War “enemy.”

USSR IMPLODES

Failed coup brings down faded leader of fractured country

The junta that tried to take power in the Soviet Union on the night of August 18th is one of the most inept in the history of palace coups.

On August 18, all phones at Gorbachev’s residence, including the one used to control the USSR’s nuclear arsenal, were suddenly cut off, while unbeknownst to him, a KGB regiment was surrounding the house. Half an hour later a delegation of top officials arrived at the residence in Foros, Crimea, walked past his family to his office, in their briefcases a selection of documents for Gorbachev to sign. In one scenario, he would simply declare a state of emergency, and proclaim control over all the rebel republics, in another he would hand over power to his deputy Gennady Yanaev, due to worsening health.

Genuinely angry at their disloyalty, the Soviet leader called them “chancers”, and refused to sign anything, saying he would not have blood on his hands. He then showed them out of the house with a lengthy tirade — clearly recollected by all present in their memoirs — in which he crowned the plotters a “bunch of cocks.”

The plotters were not prepared for this turn of events. Gathering once again back in Moscow, they sat around looking at their unsigned emergency decree, arguing and not daring to put their names on the typewritten document. As midnight passed, and more and more bottles of whisky, imported from the decadent West they were saving the USSR from, was brought in, the patriots found their courage, or at least persuaded Yanaev to place himself at the top of the list of signatories. The Gang of Eight would be known as the State Committee on the State of Emergency. Accounts say that by the time they were driven to their dachas — hours before the most important day of their lives — the plotters could barely stand. Valentin Pavlov, he of the unpopular monetary reform, and the prime minister, drank so much he had to be treated for acute alcohol intoxication, and was hospitalized with cardiac problems as the events of the next three days unfolded.

But orders were issued, and on the morning of the 19th tanks rolled into Moscow. While news suggested that nothing had gone wrong — and at this point it hadn’t — the junta made it seem as if everything had. Not only were there soldiers on street, but all TV channels were switched off, with Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake iconically played on repeat. By four o’clock in the afternoon, most of the relatively independent media was outlawed by a decree.

But for all their heavy-handed touch the putsch leaders did nothing to stop their real nemesis. Unlike most coups, which are a two-way affair, this was a triangular power struggle – between Gorbachev, the reactionaries, and Yeltsin. Perhaps, like Gorbachev, stuck in their mindset of backroom intrigue the plotters seemed to underrate Yeltsin, and the resources at his disposal.

Russia’s next leader had arrived in Moscow from talks with his Kazakhstan counterpart, allegedly in the same merry state as the self-appointed plotters. But when his daughter woke him up with news of the unusual cross-channel broadcasting schedule, he acted fast, and took his car straight to the center of Moscow. The special forces soldiers placed around his dacha by the conspirators were not ordered to shoot or detain him.

Yeltsin’s supporters first gathered just a few hundred yards from the Kremlin walls, and then on instruction marched through the empty city to the White House building, the home of the rebellious Russian parliament. There, in his defining moment and as the crowd (although at this early hour it was actually thinner than the mythology suggests) chanted his name, Yeltsin climbed onto the tank, reclaimed from the government forces, and loudly, without the help of a microphone, denounced the events of the past hours as a “reactionary coup.” In the next few hours, people from across Moscow arrived, as the crowd swelled to 70,000. A human chain formed around the building, and volunteers began to build barricades from trolleybuses and benches from nearby parks.

Military hardware in Kalininsky prospect after imposition of a state of emergency in August 1991.
RIA Novosti.
Muscovites block the way for military weaponry during the GKChP coup.
RIA Novosti.

Moscow residents building barricades next to the Supreme Soviet during the coup by the State EmergencyCommittee.
RIA Novosti.Thousands of people rallying before the Supreme Soviet of Russia on August 20, 1991.
RIA Novosti.

Though this seemed as much symbolic, as anything, as the elite units sent in by the junta had no intention of shooting, and demonstrated their neutrality, freely mingling with the protesters. Their commander, Pavel Grachev, defected to Yeltsin the following day, and was later rewarded with the defense minister’s seat. The Moscow mayor Yuri Luzhkov also supported Yeltsin.

Russian President Boris Yeltsin waves from the balcony of the Russian Parliament to a crowd of demonstrators protesting against the overthrow of Soviet President Gorbachev during the brief coup in August 1991, in Moscow August 20, 1991. The result, ironically, was the dissolution of the Soviet Union. REUTERS/Michael Samojeden IMAGE TAKEN AUGUST 20, 1991.
Reuters.

Realizing that their media blackout was not working, and that they were quickly losing initiative, the plotters went to the other extreme, and staged an unmoderated televised press conference.

Sat in a row, the anonymous, ashen-faced men looked every bit the junta. While Yanaev was the nominal leader, he was never the true engine of the coup, which was largely orchestrated by Vladimir Kryuchkov, the KGB chief, who, with the natural caution of a security agent, did not want to take center stage. The acting president, meanwhile, did not look the part. His voice was tired and unsure, his hands shaking — another essential memory of August 1991.

From left: the USSR Interior Minister Boris Pugo and the USSR Vice-President Gennady Yanayev during the press conference of the members of the State Committee for the State of Emergency (GKCP).
RIA Novosti.
From left: Alexander Tizyakov, Vasily Starodubtsev, Boris Pugo, Gennady Yanayev, and Oleg Baklanov during the press conference of the State of Emergency State Committee (GKCP) members at the USSR Foreign Ministry.
RIA Novosti.

In another spectacularly poor piece of communications management, after the new leaders made their speeches, they opened the floor to an immediately hostile press pack, which openly quoted Yeltsin’s words accusing them of overthrowing a legitimate government on live television.

Referring to Gorbachev as “my friend Mikhail Sergeevich,” Yanaev monotoned that the president was “resting and taking a holiday in Crimea. He has grown very weary over these last few years and needs some time to get his health back.” With tanks standing outside proceedings were quickly declining into a lethargic farce in front of the whole country.

Over the next two days there was international condemnation (though Muammar Gaddafi, Saddam Hussein and Yasser Arafat supported the coup) the deaths of three pro-Yeltsin activists, and an order by the junta to re-take the White House at all costs, canceled at the last minute. But by then the fate of the putsch had already been set in motion.

Meanwhile, as the most dramatic events in Russia since 1917 were unfolding in Moscow, Gorbachev carried on going for dips in the Black Sea, and watching TV with his family. On the first night of the coup, wearing a cardigan not fit for an nationwide audience, he recorded an uncharacteristically meek address to the nation on a household camera, saying that he had been deposed. He did not appear to make any attempt to get the video out of Foros, and when it was broadcast the following week, it incited reactions from ridicule, to suspicions that he was acting in cahoots with the plotters, or at least waiting out the power struggle in Moscow. Gorbachev likely was not, but neither did he appear to exhibit the personal courage of Yeltsin, who came out and addressed crowds repeatedly when a shot from just one government sniper would have been enough to end his life.

On the evening of August 21, with the coup having evidently failed, two planes set out for Crimea almost simultaneously from Moscow. In the first were the members of the junta, all rehearsing their penances, in the other, members of Yeltsin’s team, with an armed unit to rescue Gorbachev, who, for all they knew, may have been in personal danger. When the putschists reached Foros, Gorbachev refused to receive them, and demanded that they restore communications. He then phoned Moscow, Washington and Paris, voiding the junta’s decrees, and repeating the simple message: “I have the situation under control.”

But he did not. Gorbachev’s irrelevance over the three days of the putsch was a metaphor for his superfluousness in Russia’s political life in the previous months, and from that moment onward. Although the putschists did not succeed, a power transfer did happen, and Gorbachev still lost. For three days, deference to his formal institutions of power was abandoned, and yet the world did not collapse, so there was no longer need for his dithering mediation.

Gingerly walking down the steps of the airstair upon landing in Moscow, blinking in front of the cameras, Mikhail Gorbachev was the lamest of lame duck leaders. He gave a press conference discussing the future direction of the Communist Party, and inner reshuffles that were to come, sounding not just out-of-touch, but borderline delusional.

Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev addresses the Extraordinary meeting of the Supreme Soviet of Russian Federation in Moscow in this August 23, 1991 file photo.
Reuters.
Russian President Boris Yeltsin and Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev touch hands during Gorbachev’s address to the Extraordinary meeting of the Supreme Soviet of Russian Federation in Moscow, August 23, 1991. REUTERS/Gennady Galperin (RUSSIA).
Reuters.

Gorbachev resigned as the President of the Soviet Union on December 25, 1991.

“The policy prevailed of dismembering this country and disuniting the state, which is something I cannot subscribe to,” he lamented, before launching into an examination of his six years in charge.

“Even now, I am convinced that the democratic reform that we launched in the spring of 1985 was historically correct. The process of renovating this country and bringing about drastic change in the international community has proven to be much more complicated than anyone could imagine.”

“However, let us give its due to what has been done so far. This society has acquired freedom. It has been freed politically and spiritually, and this is the most important achievement that we have yet fully come to grips with.”

AFTERMATH

Praised in West, scorned at home

“Because of him, we have economic confusion!”

“Because of him, we have opportunity!”

“Because of him, we have political instability!”

“Because of him, we have freedom!”

“Complete chaos!”

“Hope!”

“Political instability!”

“Because of him, we have many things like Pizza Hut!”

Thus ran the script to the 1997 advert that saw a tableful of men argue loudly over the outcome of Perestroika in a newly-opened Moscow restaurant, a few meters from an awkward Gorbachev, staring into space as he munches his food alongside his 10 year-old granddaughter. The TV spot ends with the entire clientele of the restaurant getting up to their feet, and chanting “Hail to Gorbachev!” while toasting the former leader with pizza slices heaving with radiant, viscous cheese.

The whole scene is a travesty of the momentous transformations played out less than a decade earlier, made crueler by contemporary surveys among Russians that rated Gorbachev as the least popular leader in the country’s history, below Stalin and Ivan the Terrible.

The moment remains the perfect encapsulation of Gorbachev’s post-resignation career.

To his critics, many Russians among them, he was one of the most powerful men in the world reduced to exploiting his family in order to hawk crust-free pizzas for a chain restaurant — an American one at that — a personal and national humiliation, and a reminder of his treason. For the former Communist leader himself it was nothing of the sort. A good-humored Gorbachev said the half-afternoon shoot was simply a treat for his family, and the self-described “eye-watering” financial reward — donated entirely to his foundation — money that would be used to go to charity.

As for the impact of Gorbachev’s career in advertising on Russia’s reputation… In a country where a decade before the very existence of a Pizza Hut near Red Square seemed unimaginable, so much had changed, it seemed a perversely logical, if not dignified, way to complete the circle. In the years after Gorbachev’s forced retirement there had been an attempted government overthrow that ended with the bombardment of parliament, privatization, the first Chechen War, a drunk Yeltsin conducting a German orchestra and snatching an improbable victory from revanchist Communists two years later, and an impending default.

Although he did get 0.5 percent of the popular vote during an aborted political comeback that climaxed in the 1996 presidential election, Gorbachev had nothing at all to do with these life-changing events. And unlike Nikita Khrushchev, who suffered greater disgrace, only to have his torch picked up, Gorbachev’s circumstances were too specific to breed a political legacy. More than that, his reputation as a bucolic bumbler and flibbertigibbet, which began to take seed during his final years in power, now almost entirely overshadowed his proven skill as a political operator, other than for those who bitterly resented the events he helped set in motion.

Other than in his visceral dislike of Boris Yeltsin — the two men never spoke after December 1991 — if Gorbachev was bitter about the lack of respect afforded to him at home, he wore it lightly. Abroad, he reveled in his statesmanlike aura, receiving numerous awards, and being the centerpiece at star-studded galas. Yet, for a man of his ambition, being pushed into retirement must have gnawed at him repeatedly.

After eventually finding a degree of financial and personal stability on the lecture circuit in the late 1990s, Gorbachev was struck with another blow — the rapid death of Raisa from cancer.

A diabetic, Gorbachev became immobile and heavy-set, a pallor fading even his famous birthmark. But his voice retained its vigor (and accent) and the former leader continued to proffer freely his loquacious opinions on politics, to widespread indifference.

Gorbachev’s legacy is at the same time unambiguous, and deeply mixed — more so than the vast majority of political figures. His decisions and private conversations were meticulously recorded and verified. His motivations always appeared transparent. His mistakes and achievements formed patterns that repeated themselves through decades.

Yet for all that clarity, the impact of his decisions, the weight given to his feats and failures can be debated endlessly, and has become a fundamental question for Russians.

Less than three decades after his limo left the Kremlin, his history has been rewritten several times, and his role bent to the needs of politicians and prevailing social mores. This will likely continue. Those who believe in the power of the state, both nationalists and Communists, will continue to view his time as egregious at best, seditious at worst. For them, Gorbachev is inextricably linked with loss — the forfeiture of Moscow’s international standing, territory and influence. The destruction of the fearsome and unique Soviet machine that set Russia on a halting course as a middle-income country with a residual seat in the UN Security Council trying to gain acceptance in a US-molded world.

Others, who appreciate a commitment to pacifism and democracy, idealism and equality, will also find much to admire in Gorbachev, even though he could not always be his best self. Those who place greater value on the individual than the state, on freedom than on military might, those who believe that the collapse of the Iron Curtain and the totalitarian Soviet Union was a landmark achievement not a failure will be grateful, and if not sympathetic. For one man’s failure can produce a better outcome than another’s success.

RAISA

Passion and power

The history of rulers is littered with tales of devoted wives and ambitious women pulling strings from behind the throne, and Raisa was often painted as both. But unlike many storybook partnerships, where the narrative covers up the nuances, the partnership between Mikhail and Raisa was absolutely authentic, and genuinely formidable. Perhaps the key to Mikhail’s lifelong commitment, and even open deference to his wife, atypical for a man of his generation, lay in their courtship.

Raisa Gorbacheva, wife of the General Secretary of the CPSU Central Committee and Chairman of the USSR Supreme Soviet Mikhail Gorbachev, in Paris during their official visit to France. Ria Novosti.

In his autobiography, Gorbachev recollects with painful clarity, how his first meeting with Raisa, on the dance floor of a university club, “aroused no emotion in her whatsoever.” Yet Gorbachev was smitten with the high cheek-boned fellow over-achiever immediately, calling her for awkward dorm-room group chats that went nowhere, and seeking out attempts.

— Raisa Gorbacheva
“We were happy then. We were happy because of our young age, because of the hopes for the future and just because of the fact that we lived and studied at the university. We appreciated that.”

It was several months before she agreed to even go for a walk through Moscow with the future Soviet leader, and then months of fruitless promenades, discussing exams at their parallel faculties. With candor, Gorbachev admits that she only agreed to date him after “having her heart broken by the man she had pledged it to.” But once their relationship overcame its shaky beginnings, the two became the very definition of a Soviet power couple, in love and ready to do anything for each other. In the summer vacation after the two began to go steady, Gorbachev did not think it below him to return to his homeland, and resume work as a simple mechanic, to top up the meager university stipend.

The two were not embarrassed having to celebrate their wedding in a university canteen, symbolically, on the anniversary of the Bolshevik Revolution on November 7, 1953. Or put off when the watchful guardians of morality at Moscow State University forbid the newlyweds from visiting each other’s halls without a specially signed pass. More substantial obstacles followed, when Mikhail’s mother also did not take to her daughter-in-law, while Raisa agreed to a medically-advised abortion after becoming pregnant following a heavy bout of rheumatism. But the two persevered. Raisa gave birth to their only child in 1955, and as Gorbachev’s star rose, so did his wife’s academic career as a sociologist. But Raisa’s true stardom came when Gorbachev occupied the Soviet leader’s post.

Soviet President and General Secretary of the Soviet Communist Party’s Central Committee, Mikhail Gorbachev, 2nd right, and Soviet First Lady Raisa Gorbacheva, right, at the meeting with British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, left, at the Soviet Embassy in London.
RIA Novosti.

Raisa Gorbacheva, the wife of the Soviet leader (left), showing Nancy Reagan, first lady of the U.S., around the Kremlin during U.S. President Ronald Reagan’s official visit to the U.S.S.R.
RIA Novosti.General Secretary of the CPSU Central Committee Mikhail Gorbachev (center left) and his spouse Raisa Gorbacheva (second from left) seeing off US President Ronald Reagan after his visit to the USSR. Right: The spouse of US president Nancy Reagan. The Hall of St. George in the Grand Kremlin Palace.
RIA Novosti.Raisa Gorbacheva (left), wife of the general secretary of the Soviet Communist Party, and Barbara Bush (right), wife of the U.S. president, attending the inauguration of the sculptured composition Make Way for Ducklings near the Novodevichy Convent during U.S. President George Bush’s official visit to the U.S.S.R.
RIA Novosti.Soviet first lady Raisa Gorbacheva meets with Tokyo residents during Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachyov’s official visit to Japan.
RIA Novosti.The meeting between Mikhail Sergeyevich Gorbachev, President of the USSR and the heads of state and government of the seven leading industrial nations. From left to right: Mikhail Sergeyevich Gorbachev, Norma Major, Raisa Maksimovna Gorbacheva and John Major.
RIA Novosti.Soviet president’s wife Raisa Gorbacheva at the 112th commencement at a female college. The State of Massachusetts. Soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev’s state visit to the United States.
RIA Novosti.

In a symbol as powerful as his calls for international peace and reform at home, the Communist leader was not married to a matron hidden at home, but to an urbane, elegantly-dressed woman, regarded by many as an intellectual equal, if not superior to Mikhail himself. Gorbachev consulted his wife in every decision, as he famously told American TV viewers during a Tom Brokaw interview. This generated much ill-natured mockery throughout Gorbachev’s reign, but he never once tried to push his wife out of the limelight, where she forged friendships with such prominent figures as Margaret Thatcher, Nancy Reagan and Barbara Bush.

Raisa was there in the Crimean villa at Foros, during the attempted putsch of August 1991, confronting the men who betrayed her husband personally, and suffering a stroke as a result. It was also Raisa by Gorbachev’s side when they were left alone, after the whirlwind settled in 1991. Despite nearly losing her eyesight due to her stroke, Raisa largely took the lead in organizing Mikhail’s foundation, and in structuring his life. In 1999, with his own affairs in order, not least because of the controversial Pizza Hut commercial, and Russians anger much more focused on his ailing successor, Gorbachev thought he could enjoy a more contented retirement, traveling the world with his beloved.

CPSU Central Committee General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev and his wife Raisa at Orly Airport, France.
RIA Novosti.

Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev (center), Soviet first lady Raisa Gorbacheva (right), Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev and Kazakh first lady Sara Nazarbayeva during Gorbachev’s working visit to Kazakhstan.
RIA Novosti.General Secretary of the CPSU Central Committee Mikhail Gorbachev (left) and his spouse Raisa Gorbachev (center) at a friendship meeting in the Wawel Castle during a visit to Poland.
RIA Novosti.Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev and his wife Raisa during his official visit to China.
RIA Novosti.An official visit to Japan by USSR President Mikhail Gorbachev. He with wife, Raisa Gorbachev, and Japanese Prime Minister Toshiki Kaifu near a tree planted in the garden of Akasaka Palace.
RIA Novosti.Mikhail Gorbachev (center), daughter Irina (right) and his wife’s sister Lyudmila (left) at the funeral of Raisa Gorbachev.
RIA Novosti.Last respects for Raisa Gorbacheva, spouse of the former the USSR president in the Russian Fond of Culture. Mikhail Gorbachev, family and close people of Raisa Gorbacheva at her coffin.
RIA Novosti.Mikhail Gorbachev at the opening of the Raisa exhibition in memory of Raisa Gorbacheva.
RIA Novosti.

— Raisa Gorbacheva
“It is possible that I had to get such a serious illness and die for the people to understand me.”

Then came the leukemia diagnosis, in June of that year. Before the couple’s close family had the chance to adjust to the painful rhythm of hope and fear that accompanies the treatment of cancer, Raisa was dead. Her burial unleashed an outpouring of emotion, with thousands, including many of her husband’s numerous adversaries, gathering to pay their sincere respects. No longer the designer-dressed careerist ice queen to be envied, resented and ridiculed, now people saw Raisa for the charismatic and shrewd idealist she always was. For Gorbachev it made little difference, and all those around him said that however much activity he tried to engage in following his wife’s death, none of it ever had quite the same purpose.

“People say time heals. But it never stops hurting – we were to be joined until death,” Gorbachev always said in interviews

For the tenth anniversary of Raisa’s death, in 2009, Mikhail Gorbachev teamed up with famous Russian musician Andrey Makerevich to record a charity album of Russian standards, dedicated to his beloved wife. The standout track was Old Letters, a 1940s melancholy ballad. Gorbachev said that it came to him in 1991 when he discovered Raisa burning their student correspondence and crying, after she found out that their love letters had been rifled through by secret service agents during the failed coup.

The limited edition LP sold at a charity auction in London, and fetched £100,000.

Afterwards, Gorbachev got up on the stage to sing Old Letters, but half way through he choked up, and had to leave the stage to thunderous applause.

Mixed Bag June 22

June 22, 2022

Please visit Andrei’s website: https://smoothiex12.blogspot.com/
and support him here: https://www.patreon.com/bePatron?u=60459185

أرقام مرعبة لواشنطن حول تدفق المليارات النفطية و الغازية على الخزانة الروسية

Briefing by the Russian Ministry of Defence on the current results of the special military operation in Ukraine

March 25, 2022

Speech of the Russian Defence Ministry Spokesman, Major General Igor Konashenkov

▫️On February 24, 2022, the Russian Armed Forces launched a special military operation in Ukraine.

▫️I want to emphasize that the special military operation is carried out strictly according to the approved plan.

▫️The absolute priority of the actions of the Russian Armed Forces during the operation is the exclusion of unnecessary civilian casualties.

▫️High-precision weapons selectively and accurately destroy Ukraine’s military infrastructure, equipment and weapons, ammunition stores and material assets of the troops.

▫️From the first days of the operation, when planning any action, special attention has been given to saving civilian infrastructure and civilians in Ukraine.

▫️Before we move on to the current results of the operation, I want to show you once again the originals of the secret cipher telegrams of the 4th brigade of the National Guard of Ukraine captured by Russian servicemen.

▫️This is the original of the secret order of the commander of the National Guard of Ukraine, Colonel General Balan, dated January 22, 2022.

▫️The document is addressed to the heads of the northern Kiev, southern Odessa and western territorial administrations of the National Guard of Ukraine.

▫️The order details a plan for the preparation of one of the strike groups for offensive actions in the zone of the so-called “joint forces operation” in the Donbass.

▫️I especially want to draw your attention. All measures of the nationalists’ combat coordination are ordered to be completed by February 28. In order to start performing combat missions as part of the Ukrainian “joint forces operation” in the Donbass in March 2022.

▫️Since February 2022, Ukrainian troops have multiplied artillery attacks on Donbass with prohibited large-caliber artillery weapons.

▫️Against the background of false statements about the desire for peace, Kiev has begun large-scale artillery preparations for the offensive of a shock group of troops drawn to the east of Ukraine with the support of aviation and missile systems.

▫️The special military operation launched by the Russian Armed Forces on February 24 thwarted a large-scale offensive by shock groups of Ukrainian troops on the Lugansk and Donetsk People’s Republic, which are not controlled by Kiev. This made it possible to save tens, if not hundreds of thousands, of Donbass civilians, whom the Kiev regime has been methodically shooting with large-caliber and rocket artillery for the past 8 years, driving the elderly, women and children into basements.

▫️I would like to emphasize that the Russian servicemen taking part in the operation are courageously and selflessly fulfilling their military duty.

▫️By now, more than 3.5 thousand servicemen of the Armed Forces have been awarded high state awards for their heroism in performing combat tasks during a special military operation.

▫️The Armed Forces of the Russian Federation will continue to carry out the special military operation until all the tasks are completed.

▫️At the end of today’s briefing, I note that the Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation will continue to regularly and through all available channels to bring truthful information to the public about the progress and results of the ongoing special military operation in Ukraine.

▫️We can see that despite the lowered “iron curtain” of information boycott by Western countries towards the Russian Federation, the truth about what is happening in Ukraine successfully overcomes these artificial obstacles. Because truth is power.

(Documents can be downloaded at this link:  https://t.me/mod_russia_en/403)


There were further statements that are not as yet available formally.  IntelSlava reports:

🇷🇺🇺🇦⚡️Russian Defense Ministry: at the suggestion of the Ukrainian leadership, the country has become a haven for 6,595 foreign mercenaries and terrorists from 62 states, they are not subject to the rules of war, they will be ruthlessly destroyed.

🇷🇺🇺🇦⚡️Ukraine has no organized reserves left – Russian General Staff

🇷🇺🇺🇦⚡️Ukrainian air force and air defense system have been almost completely destroyed, the country’s Navy has ceased to exist — Russian Defense Ministry

🇷🇺🇺🇦❗️The main tasks of the first stage of the Russian operation in Ukraine have been completed, the combat potential of the Ukrainian troops has been significantly reduced – RF Ministry of Defense

🇷🇺🇺🇦⚡️ LPR liberated 93% of the territory of the republic, DPR – 54%, battles in Mariupol continue – Russian Defense Ministry

🇷🇺🇺🇦 The number of foreign mercenaries in Ukraine is declining, not a single one has arrived in a week – General Staff of the Russian Federation

🇷🇺🇺🇦⚡️All captured weapons and military equipment are being transferred to the LPR and DPR, 113 tanks and 138 Javelin anti-tank systems have already been transferred, the Russian Defense Ministry reports

🇷🇺🇺🇦❗️As of March 25, 2022, 1,351 servicemen were killed, 3,825 were injured” – Ministry of Defense

The danger of American bio laboratories

March 24, 2022

Source

By Batko Milacic

We are living in a world where stories are published without actual facts. Such stories are published in order to refute the real-world challenges. The most recent example is related to US biolab activities in 30 countries. In light of the Russian intervention in Ukraine, US-run biolabs in Ukraine have allegedly been used to develop bio-agents capable of selectively targeting certain ethnic groups.

The US officials’ statements have made the international community even more concerned. White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki called out Russian claims that the US is secretly researching chemical and biological weapons in Ukraine as a disinformation campaign. In the meantime, Undersecretary of State on Political Affairs Victoria Nuland during testimony in the US Congress confirmed that “Ukraine has biological research facilities.”

The formal explanations by US authorities on dozens of biolabs operations in Ukraine and more than 300 biolab activities around the world are not matching the real situation on the ground. There are many facts, and the most important ones are as follows.

A few days ago high-profile Bulgarian journalist Dilyana Gaytandzhieva, who has been conducting an inquiry into the work of American bio laboratories across the world, has publicised the results of her recent investigation in connection with Ukraine.(1) After Russian troops entered Ukraine a number of high-ranking Russian military commanders reported the existence of biological weapons laboratories on the territory of Ukraine. Shortly after, the White House acknowledged the presence of biological weapons research facilities on the Ukrainian territory and, most importantly, expressed concern over the possibility of Russia getting hold of research samples and results. A question arises why the United States is playing along with Russia. This kind of concern means that these centers store data which can damage the US national security or even compromise Washington in the eyes of its allies.

The answers to these questions are easily available in open sources. However, in the light of what the Kremlin and the White House said, they need appropriate interpretation. In recent years, American specialists supported by a number of Ukrainian research centers, have been looking into the possibility of disseminating life-threatening viruses with birds. Some of the researchers became ornithologists studying bird routes. This is confirmed by reports on the funds allocated for this research by American government sites, and by some posts which have been published by scientists and which have been analyzed by the journalist, Dilyana. What is yet more important is that American researchers were granted free access to all Ukrainian centers, whereas Ukrainian inspectors were denied access to American laboratories. The Kyiv authorities issued official resolutions to this effect.

Meanwhile, considering the current state of medicine in general and epidemiology in particular, migrating birds can hardly pose a serious threat to humans in terms of transmitting infection. Of all bird and swine flus only one – Covid-19 – has hit the target, though its origin is still a matter of dispute. Officially, Covid-19 outbreak started in a market in Wuhan, where they traded in exotic edible animals. The outbreak paralyzed the global economy for two years and shut freedom of movement for millions across the globe.

Thus, Ms Gaytandzhieva suggests a fairly significant conclusion – viruses, harmless for birds and bats but dangerous for humans, can be a serious weapon. The more so since the main enemy in the conditions of a pandemic is not the disease as such but the panic and poor coordination of action on the part of the authorities. A dangerous virus can easily be used as a weapon – a few outbreaks along bird migration routes may cause panic and undermine the economy of a country. Particularly if the territory of the country in question is so vast that the birds follow their entire migration route over it. There is only one such country, Russia. No wonder then that the Russians felt strongly worried over reports about experiments with infection carrying birds.

History knows no proved cases of epidemics brought by birds. Traditionally, the carriers of infectious diseases are rodents. It was a gopher eaten for gastronomical pleasure by a tourist that triggered the last outbreak of plague, one of the deadliest diseases ever. But there is the first time for everything, so experiments with birds are fully understandable, just as Russia’s wariness – Moscow does not want military operations aggravated with a new pandemic, particularly as the world is still recovering from the previous one!

Despite all this, the US is keeping its mass destruction bioweapons in violation of the international treaties. Bioweapons research and attacks are the US modus operandi for the last 50 years at least.

There is the Biological Weapons Convention which prohibits effectively “the development, production, acquisition, transfer, stockpiling and use of biological and toxin weapons.” This is the first multilateral disarmament treaty banning an entire category of weapons of mass destruction. As stated by the UN, “Biological weapons disseminate disease-causing organisms or toxins to harm or kill humans, animals or plants.” So, US biolabs are not just about the diseases. They’re about the weapons of mass destruction – human, animal and plant.

If the US is a peaceful and peacemaking country and follows democratic principles, it has to be more transparent and open up its biolab operations around the world. Greater transparency will give mankind the opportunity to see beyond the formal explanations of the US and the US might be recognized as a more trusted partner internationally.

  1. https://dilyana.bg/pentagon-contractors-worked-in-ukrainian-biolabs-under-80-million-program/

ما هي النتائج الاستراتيجيّة لحرب أوكرانيا؟

الاربعاء 23 03 2022

 ناصر قنديل

يعتقد الكثير من المتابعين العسكريين والاستراتيجيين خطأ أن تقييم النتائج الاستراتيجية للحروب، غير ممكنة إلا بعد أن تضع الحرب أوزارها، والصحيح أن النتائج التي يمكن استخلاصها على الصعيد الاستراتيجيّ للحروب هي تلك التي تظهر قبل أن تنتهي الحرب، فما تظهره سياقات الحروب من تأثيرات في الجغرافيا السياسية، ومن تبدّلات في مواقع الدول، وحدود الحركة السياسية والعسكرية والاقتصادية لردّات فعلها تجاه تداعيات الحروب، تكون أحياناً أهم من تلك التي يمكن تسجيلها مع نهاية الحروب، وفي الحرب الأوكرانيّة تدور الحرب على ساحة الأفكار والمواقف والعقول بصورة أشدّ شراسة من تلك الدائرة في الميدان. ومن موقع التفوّق الاستثنائي للآلة الغربيّة الإعلاميّة، ولقدرة التحكم بضخ المعلومات والتحليلات والأخبار، نجح الغرب بتوظيف عناصر تفوّقه لتحديد مواضيع النقاش بما يناسب خطته للتعامل مع الحرب، ولذلك يبدو النقاش الذي نجريه خرقاً لهذا السياق السائد. فالغرب عموماً والأميركي خصوصاً يريدان عبر توجيه النقاش نحو تحويل البحث حول سرعة موسكو وبطئها في تحقيق الإنجازات العسكرية من كونه بحثاً تكتيكياً الى عنوان استراتيجي، بل إلى العنوان الاستراتيجي الوحيد الذي يستقطب النقاش.

أولى النتائج الاستراتيجية للحرب هو إظهار معادلة دولية جديدة قوامها، أن دول حلف الناتو المكونة أصلا من أميركا وكندا و29 دولة أوروبية بما فيها تركيا من أصل 48 دولة أوروبية منها روسيا وروسيا البيضاء وعدد من الجزر الصغيرة والفاتيكان وسويسرا والنمسا خارج الحلف، لن تخوض حرباً مع دولة عظمى كروسيا والصين على الأقل إذا تعرضت أية دولة أخرى خارج الحلف لأي عمل عسكري شبيه بالذي تعرّضت له أوكرانيا، التي تمثل بمعيار الأهميّة والقرب الجغرافي من مركز ثقل الحلف في أوروبا، أعلى درجات المخاطر لعدم التدخل، وبالقياس فإن أية دولة خارج الحلف تقع على جوار روسيا والصين، تتعرض لخطر حرب لن تكون تحت مظلة تدخل الحلف الافتراضية. وهذا يعني في الجوار الروسيّ دولاً مثل أوكرانيا هي السويد وفنلندا ومولدوفا وفي جوار الصين دولاً مثل تايوان ولاوس وبورما وتايلاند وفيتنام، والحاصل الاستراتيجيّ لهذه الخلاصة، سيكون حكماً فتح الطريق لإخضاع هذه الدول لمعادلة الاسترضاء للجار القويّ بقوة الردع الذي ينجم عن معادلة الغزو المحتم دون رادع، ولو امتدّت فترة ترقب هذه الدول لما بعد نهاية الحرب، فهي بدأت تقيم حساباتها وتبني استخلاصاتها قبل أن تنتهي الحرب.

ثانية النتائج الاستراتيجية للحرب ثبات حجم التماسك في الحلف الروسي الصيني. والحرب هي أول تجربة جدية ومفصلية يجري خلالها إخضاع هذه العلاقة لامتحان بهذا الوضوح، بوضع الصين بين خياري التعرض للعقوبات أو المشاركة بالعقوبات المفروضة من الغرب على روسيا. وقد صار ثابتاً أن الدولتين تتصرّفان في مواجهة سطوة الغرب الدولية سياسياً واقتصادياً وعسكرياً كحليفين استراتيجيين، يدركان أن أحدهما ركيزة لا غنى عنها لقوة الآخر، وإن استفراد أحدهما ليس إلا مقدمة لاستفراد الآخر، وبالتالي سقوط المعادلة التي صاغها هنري كيسنجر منذ أيام الحرب الباردة تحت عنوان الاستثمار على التنافس الروسي الصيني وتحويله إلى تناقض تأسيسي في المشهد الاستراتيجي، ولهذا الثبات نتائج هائلة على أية قراءة لموازين القوى الدولية السياسية والاقتصادية والعسكرية، فجمع ما تمثله روسيا والصين على هذه الأصعدة، ومن تستطيعان استقطابه للتحالف بينهما، يجعل الحديث عن هيمنة غربيّة على المشهد الدولي حماقة كبرى. وهذا سيجعل الاستقطاب الموضوعي داخل المشهد الدولي محكوماً بظهور متانة هذا الثنائي للمرة الأولى.

ثالثة النتائج الاستراتيجية للحرب أن المكانة المحورية لسوق الطاقة تتغلب على الحسابات السياسية للعداء ومقتضيات الحروب والنزاعات. فموقف أوروبا المتمسّك بالحفاظ على إمدادات النفط والغاز من روسيا، رغم إدراك أن أولى نتائجه تعطيل كل الرهان على فعاليّة العقوبات على روسيا، وأميركا تفتح قنوات تسريع الاتفاق النووي مع إيران، ومثلها رفع الحصار عن فنزويلا أملاً بتسريع انضمامهما إلى سوق النفط والغاز سعياً لتفادي النتائج السلبيّة للعقوبات على روسيا في أسواق الطاقة. وهي تعلم أنها تستجير من الرمضاء بالنار، وتطلق يد قوى تعلم حجم العداء الاستراتيجي الذي يحكم علاقتها بها، وهذا سيفتح عيون الدول المؤثرة في أسواق الطاقة على مكانتها، وخطورة قدرتها على التأثير بعدما تمّ إخضاعها بأكاذيب استغناء العالم عن النفط والغاز، وبدائل موارد الطاقة الجديدة، ويظهر للعرب ودول الخليج خصوصاً، بعد عقود من الكلام عن عدم جواز استخدام النفط كسلاح سياسيّ، أن أصحاب هذا الخطاب يجاهرون بهذا الاستخدام.

رابعة نتائج الحرب على الصعيد الاستراتيجي، ظهور التفكك والارتباك على حلفاء واشنطن في الشرق الأوسط، الذي بدا بوضوح أنه خارج نطاق السيطرة الأميركية، بعد عقود من ظهوره كولاية أميركية منضبطة. فالضغوط التي مورست لضمان التصويت مع مشروع القرار الأميركي لم تحجب حقيقة مشهد التمرّد على المشاركة بالعقوبات على روسيا. والأمر ليس هنا بالحديث عن إيران وسورية ودول كالعراق والجزائر، بل نتحدّث عن تركيا والسعودية والإمارات ومصر و»إسرائيل»، والمعنيون يمثلون وفقاً للقراءة الأميركية وجهات بديلة في السياحة والمصارف لروسيا عن أوروبا، وتحوّل الشرق الأوسط الى خاصرة أميركية رخوة هو بداية مرحلة ستتبلور أكثر مع العودة الأميركية والأوروبية للاتفاق النووي مع إيران، وبدء صعود الحضور الإيراني كقطب جاذب لمعادلات المنطقة، قادر على تشكيل شريك ثالث إقليمي للثنائي الروسي الصيني، ومن أولى النتائج العربية تصدُّر سورية للمشهد كما بدا من زيارة الرئيس السوري بشار الأسد إلى دولة الإمارات قبل أيام قليلة.

فيديوات متعلقة

مقالات متعلقة

Russia: Diseases Spread to Humans Through Bats Studied in Kharkov under US Control 

March 18, 2022

By Staff, Agencies 

The Russian defense ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov revealed on Thursday that “A secret project to study the ways bats can transmit diseases to humans has been carried out under US control at a laboratory in Kharkov, Ukraine for many years.”

“I want to emphasize that according to the documents, these studies [on the ways bats transmit diseases to humans] have been carried out in Kharkov on a systematic basis and under the direct supervision of specialists from the United States for many years,” Konashenkov told reporters.

He further added: “The Russian defense ministry continues to study documents received from employees of Ukrainian laboratories on the implementation of biological warfare programs by the United States and its NATO allies on the territory of Ukraine.”

As part of the project, the Kharkiv State Veterinary Academy studied wild birds as vectors for the transmission of highly pathogenic avian influenza, he said, adding that the conditions were assessed under which the transfer processes can become unmanageable, cause economic damage, and create food security risks.

The spokesman noted that the ministry will present new documents on the export of a large amount of human biomaterials from Ukraine to the UK and other European countries in the near future.

Day 22 – where do we go from here? Two decisions

March 18, 2022

Dear friend

I think that three weeks into this special military operation we can take a few moments to pause and think about where we are and where we go from here.

My first observation is this: there are, roughly, two main groups of people out there, those who “get it” and those who don’t.  In practical terms, this is what this means for me: when I write I am either “preaching to the choir” or I am trying to reach folks who are “unreachable” (being polite here).

For the past three weeks, I have tried to debunk the US PSYOP narrative, alongside folks like Andrei Martyanov at Reminiscences of the Future and Bernhard at Moon of Alabama.  My health does not allow me to sustain such a crazy tempo and I need to enter something of a “temporary rest mode” if I want to avoid being forced into rest by my body.

Yet I still get a daily deluge of questions from those who did not “get it” and, frankly, I am exhausted trying to debunk the same stuff over and over and over again.

So, one last time:

In purely military terms, the picture we see now is simple: the Ukie military as a strategic instrument basically died in the first 24 hours.  Then the Russians used a small force to bypass and block main cities.  With some very notable exceptions (Mariupol) they did not try to enter them.  Why?  For 3 crucial reasons:

  1. they did not have the manpower needed (in Mariupol the force correlation is about 1:1 when it should really be 3-5:1 in favor of the attacker)
  2. they wanted to kill as few Ukrainians as possible and
  3. they did not want to flatten cities only to have to pay for their reconstruction.

So where are the rest of the Russian forces and what are they doing?

They are mostly in their permanent deployment bases and they are ready for a war against the US+NATO.

And if you are the type of believes that “the Russians are running out of manpower” ask yourself why the Black Sea Fleet did not use its elite Naval Infantry, amphibious landing capability or its firepower (I remind you that all the huge damage done to the NATO base in western Ukraine was just a single salvo from one single small vessel (what the Russian call a “small missile ship”), probably with one (land or air based) Iskander to add some specific “punch” where needed.  If the Russian were running out of manpower, would she not use the Black Sea Fleet to the max?  Instead, she is keeping it near Odessa, ready to strike if/when needed, not only at the Ukraine, but at NATO too (ditto for the group of Russian ships in the eastern Mediterranean).

This is why Putin refers to this operation as a “special military operation” and not as a “war” or a “combined arms operation”. 

Again, you either “get it” or you don’t.  It’s that simple, really.

So here is roughly were we are today (yesterday’s Readovka map):

So we are likely to end up with something looking like this:

And I don’t see the point of reporting how we will go from the top map to the projection above blow by blow, town by town.

The real question that comes to my mind looking at the projection above is not “how do we get there?” but “where do we go from there once we make it?”.  Right now this decision time is still probably a couple of weeks into the future.

Whatever may be the case, I have decided to stop posting updates every day (sometimes several times a day) and, instead, alternate analyses days and open thread days.

So from now on, expect analyses only every 2nd day (unless big events happen).

Next, I don’t see any other way to stop the US+UK+PL to intervene other than by means of a Iskander/Kalibr strike not “just” upon any target in the Ukraine, but also strikes on whatever NATO facility is central to the current war preparations by NATO, including locations in Poland , Romania or anywhere else in Europe.

I hope that I am wrong and that the US+UK+PL are not as terminally blinded by their hatred of Russia as to risk an actual full scale war in Europe.

But I have to admit that this hope is small and getting smaller by the day.

It is therefore quite possible, maybe even likely, that in the not too distant future we will see US and Russian military personnel meeting in combat.  If that happens, not only will the risks of a fullscale nuclear war go sharply up, but it would place me personally in an impossible situation: I would be a guest of the USA (“Green Card” – I only have a Swiss Passport) while my country of ethnic origin would be at war with the USA.

I have therefore taken the following decision: if there is a war in Europe, I will continue to cover it until 1) Russian and US soldiers meet in battle and/or 2) a nuclear strike happens anywhere.  If we reach either of these points, then this will not only prove that the Saker blog failed in its main mission (avoid war) but it will also place me personally in an impossible situation.

If either of the two events happen, I will then “freeze” the blog until the war stops.

I don’t like to have to take the two decisions above, in fact I very much regret them both, but things are quickly getting out of hand and I need to prepare, both the blog and my personal life.

Question: remember the Israeli war against Hezbollah in 2006?

Hezbollah won this war by a humongous margin, and the US+Israel had to surrender to Hezbollah terms.  Not only that, but this war made Hezbollah much, much stronger than it was before.  Yet it began by a miscalculation which Hassan Nasrallah himself admitted: Hezbollah never expected to Israelis to go so far overboard and basically hammer Lebanon with everything they had for over a month.

I see a parallel here.

No, I do not think that the Russian military operation has run into any major issues, by and large what happened in these three weeks must be pretty much what the Russian expected.

In economic terms, there is this big debate now about the Russian gold and foreign currency reserves which I am not capable of commenting upon since I am not an economist.  I will let much smarter people than I deal with that.

I also think that the Russians knew in advance what kind of sanctions the West would introduce sooner or later, but I think that the Kremlin was taken by surprise at the speed and scope of the sanctions.  How much of a problem is that?  Well, I generally favor western sanctions against Russia because they force Russia to built a sovereign economy and because they de-couple Russia from the institutions controlled by the Empire of Lies.

Here, again, time will tell and much smarter people then I can offer their insights into this.

However, I think that most people in Russia are stunned by what is a full-scale “hate war” on Russia which we can call the “Cancel Russia war“.  In essence, the West did throw everything it had at Russia short of a overt military aggression and knowing the geniuses in power in the US+UK+PL I would not even put it past them to try to fight Russia directly.

So what began as a special military operation to denazify and disarm Banderastan in a preemptive war turned into a global “Cancel Russia” world war.

How could I blame folks in Russia for not being able to imagine the utter suicidal depravity of the western ruling classes when I, who was born in the heart of Europe and lived all my life in the West could not imagine these ruling classes to be so absolutely out of touch with reality?

Again, to be clear, Russians were not “naive” to “trust” the West about anything, but they indeed assumed that the ruling class of the USA would not decide to blow up the planet economically and even possibly militarily because it would hurt the interests of the US ruling class.  So if anybody is “dumbshit stupid” it is hardly the Russians, but rather the folks who rule over the USA (and, therefore, over the EU too).

There is also this Russian expression: “you should count your chicks in the Fall”.  Let’s see by year’s end who was really dumbshit stupid and who will have prevailed.

Now I think that it is time for all of us, myself included, to let go of the thought “no, they can’t possibly by THAT delusional” and assume that yes, they are really THAT delusional.

I also see another parallel: remember how the USA forced Japan into a war and then wrapped itself in the mantle of an innocent victim and declared “this day shall live in infamy”?

That is exactly what the USA just pulled off in Europe. And the consequences might be just as immense.

But there is a big difference here: Japan could not meaningfully strike at the continental USA.  Russia very much can, with both nuclear and conventional weapons.

Here I will only repeat the quote by Putin which I mentioned the day before the Russian special military operation: “if a fight is inevitable you should strike first“.  In plain English this means that if the Russian come to the conclusion that the US is engaged in a “Desert Shield” type of operation (claim to be only defensive while preparing for months for a fullscale ground invasion) then you can be sure that Russia will strike EU airports, seaports or any other facility used to prepare an attack on Russia.

In fact, if the US/NATO do decide to attack Russia, this will be the final, nuclear, end for the western civilization as such.  After 1000 years of genocidal imperialism, one could be forgiven for thinking that this could be a fitting, just, end” in the “chicken coming home to roost” kind of karmic justice.

Now it is in the hands of the US ruling elites.

Frankly, there is very little Andrei, Bernhard of myself can do about that.  I sure have said all I have to say on this topic and, again, some see it, others don’t – and there is nothing more I can do to affect this ratio.

The future of our planet now depends on whether the traditional western hatred for all things Russian is bigger or smaller than the self-preservation instincts of US ruling class (the Eurolemmings are hopeless).

Only time will tell.  All we can do now is pray and place our trust and lives into God’s hands.

Okay, these are the things I wanted to communicate to you all, my friends and readers.  I still hope for the best, but I have to prepare for the worst, and I want to be fully candid with all of you.

Kind regards

Andrei

Russia Sanctions Biden, Blinken, Dozens of Other Top US Officials

March 16, 2022

By Staff, Agencies

Moscow imposed sanctions on US President Joe Biden, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, and dozens of other top officials, banning them from entering Russia in response to the Biden administration’s “extremely Russophobic policy.”

The Russian Foreign Ministry announced the sanctions on Tuesday, in response to the US sanctions against Russia and its top officials.

The move to introduce the sanctions, which also targeted War Secretary Lloyd Austin, “is the consequence of the extremely Russophobic policy pursued by the current US administration,” the ministry said in a statement.

Among the targeted individuals were Biden’s son Hunter, former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, CIA chief William Burns, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley, and National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan.

The Russian ministry warned that Moscow would soon announce additional sanctions against a range of other “Russophobic” US officials, military officers, lawmakers, businessmen, and media personalities.

But it said that the door remained open for official contacts with the targeted individuals “if they meet our national interests.”

“We do not refuse to maintain formal relations if they meet our national interests, and if necessary, we will solve problems arising from the status of persons who appear on the black list in order to organize high-level contacts,” the ministry said in a statement.

In response to Russia’s military campaign in Ukraine, Washington banned Russian President Vladimir Putin and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov from entering the United States. The US and its European allies also adopted sanctions that have largely cut Russia off financially from the rest of the world.

On Tuesday, the US State Department announced more sanctions on Russia. It published a list of 11 individuals it said operated in the defense sector of the Russian Federation, including Viktor Zolotov, the commander-in-chief of Russia’s National Guard, and Alexander Mikheev, the director-general of Rosoboronexport, a state-controlled company trading in weapons.

The state department also threatened to “impose severe costs” on Russian military leaders in response to “widespread human suffering and casualties, including the deaths of innocent civilians” in Ukraine.

The Kremlin said last week that Washington “has declared economic war on Russia” after Biden announced a ban on Russian oil and other energy imports to “cut the main artery” of Russia’s economy.

Ukraine Is Not A Victim–It is Part of NWO Agenda

Come on, people. What would America do if Russia or China was attempting to build military bases on our Canadian and Mexican borders? What do you think would happen?

 March 12, 2022

By  Jonas E. Alexis, Assistant Editor

By Chuck Baldwin

As a political analyst and more importantly as a spiritually-minded student of the Scriptures, I am absolutely convinced of this: When the major establishments all pounce on one subject, collectively decide who is a victim and who is a villain and beat the same drum every day over and over in total unison, the narrative that is being presented is one hundred percent upside down.

And right now the power establishments have decided to bewitch us with an anti-Russia, pro-Ukraine agenda. But as with all establishment propaganda, the narrative is a big, fat lie.

I begin with Ron Paul’s excellent commentary:

When the Bush Administration announced in 2008 that Ukraine and Georgia would be eligible for NATO membership, I knew it was a terrible idea. Nearly two decades after the end of both the Warsaw Pact and the Cold War, expanding NATO made no sense. NATO itself made no sense.

Explaining my “no” vote on a bill to endorse the expansion, I said at the time:

NATO is an organization whose purpose ended with the end of its Warsaw Pact adversary… This current round of NATO expansion is a political reward to governments in Georgia and Ukraine that came to power as a result of US-supported revolutions, the so-called Orange Revolution and Rose Revolution.

Providing US military guarantees to Ukraine and Georgia can only further strain our military. This NATO expansion may well involve the US military in conflicts unrelated to our national interest…

Unfortunately, as we have seen this past week, my fears have come true. One does not need to approve of Russia’s military actions to analyze its stated motivation: NATO membership for Ukraine was a red line it was not willing to see crossed. As we find ourselves at risk of a terrible escalation, we should remind ourselves that it didn’t have to happen this way. There was no advantage to the United States to expand and threaten to expand NATO to Russia’s doorstep. There is no way to argue that we are any safer for it.

NATO went off the rails long before 2008, however. The North Atlantic Treaty was signed on April 4, 1949 and by the start of the Korean War just over a year later, NATO was very much involved in the military operation of the war in Asia, not Europe!

NATO’s purpose was stated to “guarantee the safety and freedom of its members by political and military means.” It is a job not well done!

I believe as strongly today as I did back in my 2008 House Floor speech that, “NATO should be disbanded, not expanded.” In the meantime, expansion should be off the table.

Hear, hear, Dr. Paul.

I also encourage you to read this terrific column by Attorney John Whitehead entitled Perpetual Tyranny: Endless Wars Are The Enemy Of Freedom.

In this column Whitehead wrote,

As long as America’s politicians continue to involve us in wars that bankrupt the nation, jeopardize our servicemen and women, increase the chances of terrorism and blowback domestically, and push the nation that much closer to eventual collapse, “we the people” will find ourselves in a perpetual state of tyranny.

It’s time for the U.S. government to stop policing the globe.

This latest crisis—America’s part in the showdown between Russia and the Ukraine—has conveniently followed on the heels of a long line of other crises, manufactured or otherwise, which have occurred like clockwork in order to keep Americans distracted, deluded, amused, and insulated from the government’s steady encroachments on our freedoms.

And so it continues in its Orwellian fashion.

Two years after COVID-19 shifted the world into a state of global authoritarianism, just as the people’s tolerance for heavy-handed mandates seems to have finally worn thin, we are being prepped for the next distraction and the next drain on our economy.

Yet policing the globe and waging endless wars abroad isn’t making America—or the rest of the world—any safer, it’s certainly not making America great again, and it’s undeniably digging the U.S. deeper into debt.

War has become a huge money-making venture, and the U.S. government, with its vast military empire, is one of its best buyers and sellers.

What most Americans—brainwashed into believing that patriotism means supporting the war machine—fail to recognize is that these ongoing wars have little to do with keeping the country safe and everything to do with propping up a military industrial complex that continues to dominate, dictate and shape almost every aspect of our lives.

Consider: We are a military culture engaged in continuous warfare. We have been a nation at war for most of our existence. We are a nation that makes a living from killing through defense contracts, weapons manufacturing and endless wars.

The United States is the number one consumer, exporter and perpetrator of violence and violent weapons in the world. Seriously, America spends more money on war than the combined military budgets of China, Russia, the United Kingdom, Japan, France, Saudi Arabia, India, Germany, Italy and Brazil. America polices the globe, with 800 military bases and troops stationed in 160 countries. Moreover, the war hawks have turned the American homeland into a quasi-battlefield with military gear, weapons and tactics. In turn, domestic police forces have become roving extensions of the military—a standing army.

The American Empire—with its endless wars waged by U.S. military servicepeople who have been reduced to little more than guns for hire: outsourced, stretched too thin, and deployed to far-flung places to police the globe—is approaching a breaking point.

Come on, people. What would America do if Russia or China was attempting to build military bases on our Canadian and Mexican borders? What do you think would happen?

Plus, the leader of Ukraine is anything but a hero. He gladly participated in allowing the banks of Ukraine to be used as money launderers for rich businessmen and politicians and for influence peddling in U.S. politics.

Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy (a Zionist Jew) is also accused of barbaric—even genocidal—treatment of the people living in the two breakaway provinces of Donetsk and Lugansk—which have a Natural right under God to separate from Ukraine and who appealed to Russia for protection. (Tell me, did Iraq and Afghanistan invite America to send our military to their countries before we invaded them?) Is it any wonder that Ukraine is looking to Israel for military assistance? After all, Israel is extremely proficient at ethnic cleansing and genocide.

Let’s also not forget that Ukraine is home to over a dozen U.S. biolabs that are sponsored and financed by the Pentagon. In other words, those labs are there for potential military operations. Again, what do you think America would do if Russia had built a dozen military biolabs just across our borders in Canada and Mexico?

Ukraine is NOT a victim. It has been up to its proverbial neck in global (especially anti-Russian) subterfuge, theft, acts of inhumanity and war crimes for years. Ukraine is no friend of freedom or the United States. But it is a friend to corrupt politicians and businessmen.

Whatever is really going on in Ukraine has nothing to do with the narrative being propounded by the major establishments.

1) Let me ask you something: If the United States felt justified in launching preemptive invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan—including long-term occupations—a half a world away from our borders against small backwards nations that posed zero threat to America, how is Russia not justified in launching a preemptive campaign to protect itself from a serious formidable military expansion at its border—especially when its protection is sought from legitimate independent states? (Remember, America was once a breakaway country.) Please read Dr. Paul’s commentary referenced above about why the real villain in this situation is NATO, not Russia. Again, what would we do if we were in Russia’s shoes?

If Russia really wanted to conquer Ukraine, it could easily do so. Ukraine is totally incapable of successfully resisting the Russian military, if Russia truly desired military conquest (which it doesn’t). Russian leader Vladimir Putin told the world exactly why his actions were being taken, what his actions in Ukraine were designed and not designed to do—including NOT occupying Ukraine—and how they would be conducted. I think you should read what he said.

2) Were the U.S. biolabs an important objective? I understand that the labs may have been destroyed early in the operation. If so, that is a VERY GOOD thing.

3) Now that the American people have made it known that they have had it with the phony Covid narrative and the fear factor is totally gone, are the totalitarian elite now using the threat of global war to again consume people’s hearts with fear? As Whitehead said, “Endless wars are the enemy of freedom.” (I’ve been saying that for years.) Fear is also a tool to enslave us. Early in the Covid charade, I brought a message to this regard.

4) Is this a diversion to take our attention away from the National Vaccine Pass (and other attempts by our own central government to trample our liberties) that is being rolled out, supported by both Democrats and Republicans?

5) Is this another manipulation of world affairs from within the backrooms of the CFR and Bilderbergs for the purpose of achieving their overall objective of global governance?

Of course, Scofield futurists are all over the place screaming about “end times prophecy.” What Balderdash! One would think that Christians would start using their brains a little bit and stop listening to these phony prophecy sensationalists who make bank (and fools out of themselves) with false prophecies about the end of the world.

Whatever the real story in Ukraine is, I can tell you this: It is NOT what the major establishments are telling us. And Ukraine is NOT a victim.

Dr. Chuck Baldwin is an American politician and has been involved in at least 12 full-length documentary films. He was the presidential nominee of the Constitution Party for the 2008 U.S. presidential election and had previously been its nominee for U.S. vice president in 2004. He is also a pastor of Liberty Fellowship in Kalispell, Montana.

Related Articles

Ultimatum: China Demands US Account for Bio-Warfare Labs in Ukraine

 March 8, 2022

President Volodymyr Zelensky said that his country intends to abandon its non-nuclear status, that is, to acquire nuclear weapons.

By  VT Editors

VT: Sourced from Russian State Controlled Media

Viktor Medvedchuk, one of the lawmakers demanding the probe, alleged at the time that the creation of a Level 3 lab storing human pathogens may have been an indication of US plans for experimentation on people. The US dismissed these allegations, and Medvedchuk was put under house arrest in 2021, supposedly over an unrelated matter, and accused of “high treason.” The lawmaker reportedly escaped confinement after the start of the Russian military operation in Ukraine in late February.

Sputnik: On Monday, the Russian military revealed that the Pentagon’s Defense Threat Reduction Agency has been involved in the operation of over 30 biological laboratories across Ukraine, engaged in the storage and research into a variety of deadly agents.

China has called on the United States to clarify the extent of its military biological activities across the planet.

“We once again urge the US side to fully clarify its biological militarization activities at home and abroad,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Liijian told reporters in a briefing Tuesday.

The diplomat suggested that the information publicised by the Russian Defence Ministry Monday about US military biological activities in Ukraine could be just the “tip of the iceberg.”

“The US Department of Defense controls 336 biolabs across 30 countries under the pretext of joint work to reduce biosecurity risks and strengthening global health. You heard right – 336,” Zhao said.

Washington has also unilaterally rejected international inspections of these facilities, including the Maryland-based Fort Detrick biolab, the spokesman added.

“What are America’s real intentions? What exactly were they doing?” the spokesman asked.

“For the sake of the health of the people of Ukraine, neighbouring regions and beyond, we call on relevant parties to ensure the safety of these laboratories. The United States, as the party with the most information about these facilities, should disclose the relevant data as soon as possible, including about the viruses held there and the nature of research into them,” Zhao stressed.

MoD’s Revelations

Russia’s Nuclear, Biological and Chemical Protection Troops revealed Monday the existence of a network of over 30 biological laboratories across Ukraine being run by the US military, with some these facilities feared to have engaged in the production of chemical weapons.

In a briefing, NBC Troops commander Lt. Gen. Igor Kirillov said that the United States spent over $200 million on the programme, which is divided into monitoring, research and sanitary-epidemiological work, including the study of potential biological weapons agents with natural foci that can be transmitted to human beings.

The work has reportedly taken place under the purview of the Pentagon’s Defence Threat Reduction Agency, with private contractor Black & Veatch tasked with helping to implement projects.

BIOHAZARD - Sputnik International, 1920, 07.03.2022

Situation in Ukraine

30 Biolabs That Were Commissioned by Pentagon Were Formed in Ukraine – Russian MoD

Yesterday

Citing concrete examples, Kirillov reported on the existence of labs in the western Ukrainian city of Lviv working on infectious agents including plague, anthrax and brucellosis, and labs in the eastern cities of Kharkov and Poltava working with diphtheria, salmonellosis and dysentery.

Between 2020 and 2021, he said, the Pentagon spent $11.8 million on a project known as “Diagnostics, Surveillance and Prevention of Zoonotic Diseases in the Armed Forces of Ukraine.”

During the same period, the German Defence Ministry was said to have conducted research into Congo-Crimean hemorrhagic disease pathogens, leptospirosis, meningitis, and hantaviruses in Ukraine within the framework of a German-sponsored initiative to ‘ensure the biological security’ of countries bordering the European Union.

Additionally, the commander said that thousands of serum samples primarily of “Slavic ethnicity” patients had been sent from Ukrainian labs to the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research in Silver Spring, Maryland under the pretext of testing for COVID-19 treatment methods.

On Sunday, the Russian military publicised documents obtained from biolabs from Poltava and Kharkov of instructions by Ukrainian Health Minister Viktor Liashko instructing lab workers to destroy a broad range of pathogens including anthrax, plague, tularemia, cholera and other deadly diseases.

US Biolabs in Ukraine

The United States has been engaged in the construction, modernisation, operation and funding of biolabs on Ukrainian territory since at least 2005. In 2020, Ukrainian opposition lawmakers asked the government to conduct a probe into these facilities, citing a series of inexplicable outbreaks of dangerous diseases between 2009 and 2017.

Viktor Medvedchuk, one of the lawmakers demanding the probe, alleged at the time that the creation of a Level 3 lab storing human pathogens may have been an indication of US plans for experimentation on people. The US dismissed these allegations, and Medvedchuk was put under house arrest in 2021, supposedly over an unrelated matter, and accused of “high treason.” The lawmaker reportedly escaped confinement after the start of the Russian military operation in Ukraine in late February.

The military special operation of the Russian Federation in Ukraine coincided in time with the planned launch of American military biological laboratories in Kyiv and Odessa, the Octagon found out. Perhaps this particular launch was the deadline for the Kremlin.

Back in 2017-2018, Russian President Vladimir Putin pointed out the danger of developing biological weapons near the borders of the Russian Federation, and also publicly worried about the “purposeful and professional” collection of Russian biomaterials by foreigners.

Then the press actively discussed the possibility of creating a genetic weapon. Genetic technologies in general is a sensitive and topical topic for the president. And these new American-Ukrainian high-tech laboratories specialize in modern biological weapons.

Critical project

The US Department of Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) in October 2021 published an additional agreement on “the fight against especially dangerous pathogens” on the US government procurement website. The document concerns the final stage of work on the launch of two biological laboratories – in Kyiv and Odessa. It deals with equipment, staff training and commissioning of facilities.

The cost of the work is 3.6 million dollars, however, a number of figures in the document are hidden for reasons of secrecy. It also reports more than 90% readiness of laboratories and a seven-month delay in completing the project (we highlighted in red) – from the date of signing the document (July 2021) until the end of February 2022:

The laboratories were built in accordance with the Cooperative Threat Reduction Program. This Pentagon program started in 1991 and is aimed against Russia and the countries of the former USSR. The creation of laboratories was funded under one of the five subprograms – biological (Biological Threat Reduction Program).

Active cooperation between Ukraine and the United States in these areas began after the first Maidan Nezalezhnosti, in 2005.

Two new laboratories are being created on the basis of the Kiev State Research Institute for Laboratory Diagnostics and Veterinary and Sanitary Expertise and the Odessa branch of the Ukrainian civil service for food safety and consumer protection.

The main part of the Ukrainian collection of endemic strains of pathogens of dangerous diseases is kept in Odessa. The buildings of new biological laboratories in Kyiv and Odessa were built back in 2019, but were not put into operation.

The founder of the project is considered to be the former head of the Ukrainian Ministry of Health , Uliana Suprun (a US citizen, therefore she worked in the status of acting), who received the nickname “Doctor Death”.

America expands the geography of biological laboratories

The United States is not just working on the creation of biological weapons, they are involving other countries in this process, said Yury Averyanov, First Deputy Secretary of the Security Council of the Russian Federation. Is Washington preparing for a biological war, where objects with deadly viruses are located and whether it is possible to neutralize a potential threat, Octagon tried to understand.

The work under the contract is carried out by an experienced contractor of the US government – the Jacobs group, more precisely, its division CH2M Hill. The need for an additional agreement is justified by additional costs and delay due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The notice makes it clear that this project is important and urgent for the US government: further potential delays are called unacceptable, and “DTRA requires urgent completion and handover of both laboratories in order to ensure the active and safe implementation of the DTRA mission.”

“Both sites are owned and protected by the government of Ukraine, but neither is currently performing active biological work, as DTRA has asked the Ukrainian authorities not to start work until acceptance and completion work is completed,” the procurement materials say.

It also talks about the risk that Ukrainian virologists may begin to operate and modify laboratories without the knowledge of DTRA.

The Americans fear that “theft or damage to equipment” is possible from Kyiv and Odessa. And, indeed, individual excesses have already arisen. In the summer of 2021, an employee of the aforementioned Kiev research institute took a sample of a dangerous virus (Newcastle bird disease) out of the institution and kept it in a regular refrigerator in her own apartment, intending to sell it .

Third world countries become testing grounds for nanoweapons

In Russian and Ukrainian media, these laboratories were associated with the development of weapons of mass destruction, but the American embassy called such publications a fake.

The fact is that formally such efforts are aimed at “food safety, consumer protection, as well as the secure storage of pathogens and threatening toxins so that they do not fall into the wrong hands and at the same time peaceful research and vaccine development can be carried out.”

The US is also “helping to develop Ukraine’s ability to detect outbreaks caused by dangerous pathogens before they pose a threat to national security,” the State Department justified.

According to experts, today in Ukraine there are 15 (according to other sources, at least 16) biological laboratories associated with the US military department.According to experts, today in Ukraine there are 15 (according to other sources, at least 16) biological laboratories associated with the US military department.Photo: Steven Tucker/ZUMA/TASS

DTRA (established in 1998 on the basis of the Agency for Special Weapons) is officially engaged in the destruction of nuclear, chemical and other types of weapons of mass destruction, their transportation, storage and decommissioning.

For example, from 1991 to 2012, the United States spent $9 billion on institutions that allow work with strains of viruses and bacteria that are deadly to humans and suitable for use as biological weapons in Russia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan and Belarus. The program has numerous critics who point out that it is a cover for obtaining classified information by the Pentagon, and its authors are engaged in nothing more than bioterrorism.

The agreement between the Pentagon and the Ministry of Health of Ukraine on biodevelopment was lobbied by Senator Richard Lugar . In 2005-2009, as the WikiLeaks project reported, strong external pressure was exerted on the authorities of the republic. During the presidency of Viktor Yanukovych , activity in this area began to decline, but resumed again after the coup in the country at the end of 2013.

According to experts, today in Ukraine there are 15 (according to other sources, at least 16) biological laboratories associated with the US military department. Three are located in Kyiv and Lvov, one each in Odessa, Kherson, Ternopil, Uzhgorod, Vinnitsa, Kharkov and Lugansk, two in Dnepropetrovsk.

In Kharkov, where one of the points of American virologists is located, in 2016, strange deaths of dozens of soldiers from swine flu were recorded. By March, the bill had gone into the hundreds.

In 2019, an epidemic of measles and a disease “ similar in symptoms to the plague ” broke out on the border of the Russian Federation and Ukraine.

The Octagon showed the latest DTRA notice regarding these laboratories to a former member of the UN Commission on Biological Weapons, military expert Igor Nikulin . He explained that US military virologists prefer to conduct all dangerous experiments in third world countries:

– We are talking about cooperation between the Ministry of Health of Ukraine and the US Department of Defense (Pentagon). An institution like DTRA has very specific military tasks – testing the latest American developments on a specific gene pool – people, animals and plants.

This refers to the creation of biological agents – bacteria and viruses. It is clear that this is the activity of US military virologists, they work in a gray area. The Americans do not conduct such dangerous experiments on their territory, but [do it] where they have good positions, where the authorities are corrupt and under their control. And this document only confirms all this.

Igor Nikulin: “The Secret War of Poisons Continues”

The Octagon talked about the problems of chemical warfare agents with the former adviser to the UN Secretary General Kofi Annan on the problems of biological weapons, military expert Igor Nikulin.

Nikulin believes that the current Russian military special operation could stop the DTRA program in Ukraine:

I hope that due to recent events, these plans will have to be postponed both in Kyiv and Odessa. The documentation states that due to covid, the deadlines for completing work are shifted.

In general, the Americans have already spent more than $2 billion on such programs in Ukraine alone, and there are also Georgia, Kazakhstan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Uzbekistan. All this is very serious.

I hope that during the special operation all this activity will stop and at the same time evidence will be obtained that the United States is violating the 1972 Convention on the Non-Proliferation of Biological Weapons. I very much look forward to it.

The COVID-19 epidemic fueled conspiracy suspicions

Indeed, American activity regarding “biological threats” is not limited to Ukraine. A similar laboratory was set up by the United States in Georgia after Mikheil Saakashvili came to power in 2004 . In addition, DTRA announced related projects in Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan , Moldova. In Armenia, 12 such organizations have been established to study tularemia outbreaks.

Back in the 1980s, American specialists worked out scenarios for a possible biological attack on an enemy city: 16 simultaneous attacks by yellow fever-infected mosquitoes from the ground and air and an attack with a spray of a tularemia pathogen.

Laboratory samples sometimes leak, and in 2012 an anthrax outbreak broke out in the Gegharkunik region of Armenia, where one of the laboratories is located. And in Georgia, human trials were carried out using ticks and Asian tiger mosquitoes – carriers of various fevers.

In 2014, a special project Sand Fly (“Sand Fly”) was developed in the republic, and a year later insects attacked Tbilisi and Dagestan. In Kazakhstan and Tajikistan, DTRA studied the transmission of viruses from camels to humans.

Moreover, two years ago, biolaboratories in Armenia, financed by the Pentagon, were engaged in the study of the Armenian genotype. However, in an interview with Octagon, a well-known American drug and vaccine developer from Boston, professor, president of CureLab Oncology, Inc. Alexander Schneider pointed out that it is very difficult to create a genetic bioweapon against Russia because of the heterogeneous composition of the population.

CH2M Hill is a major contractor for such projects in the post-Soviet space. The organization has collaborated with the CIA, biosecurity specialists, anthrax researchers and virologists to assess the threat of aerosol toxins and Burkholderia pseudomallei bacteria (which cause melioidosis in humans and animals), a possible tool for bioterrorism.

According to a military expert, the current Russian military special operation could stop the DTRA program in Ukraine.According to a military expert, the current Russian military special operation could stop the DTRA program in Ukraine.Photo: Markiian Lyseiko/Ukrinform/ZUMA/TASS

Leaders of various left-wing organizations from around the world have repeatedly spoken out in favor of the elimination of American military biological laboratories, calling them death factories .

One of the petitions states that 1,495 laboratories and facilities of the third degree of protection were created under the Pentagon’s programs alone, which are not accountable to the governments of the countries where they work, and their activities are not transparent.

In such institutions, according to the authors of the appeal, new strains of aggressive killer microbes (offensive killer germs) resistant to vaccines are being created. There are also questions about the Ebola epidemic in West Africa, where the Pentagon’s military laboratories were also located, as well as about the strange infection of agricultural plants and animals.

Russia’s Chief Sanitary Doctor Anna Popova also made claims against the Pentagon’s biolaboratories . Speaking to the participants of the meeting of the heads of security councils of the CIS countries in 2019, she drew attention to the outbreaks of previously unknown infections in places where facilities were opened under the control of military virologists from the United States.

And last April, Secretary of the Security Council of the Russian Federation Nikolai Patrushev admitted that biological weapons could be developed in US military laboratories near the borders of Russia and China.

Indeed, American biologists do not publicly demonstrate any scientific achievements, and the results of their research are not published in open sources.

In Russia, such institutions were closed back in 2012.

Recently, American scientists, together with colleagues from the Pentagon, have been studying coronavirus and other infectious diseases. In January, the organization dedicated a separate video to Russian journalists in response to the criticism.

Washington denies all accusations and states that their goal is to prevent the leakage of microorganism strains into the environment in the states of the post-Soviet space, as well as to minimize the chances of a biological attack on America.

The Ukrainian authorities are also determined and are considering the possibility of using prohibited “special equipment”. As Octagon reported on February 23, the Ukrainian leadership was studying the issue of equipping unmanned aerial vehicles purchased in Turkey with biological and / or chemical weapons.

It asked the manufacturer of the Bayraktar UAV whether it would be possible to place an “aerosol spraying system/mechanism with a capacity of more than 20 liters” on the device.

On February 19, at the annual international security conference in Munich, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said that his country intends to abandon its non-nuclear status, that is, to acquire nuclear weapons.


https://octagon.media/vojna/specoperaciya_rf_sovpala_s_zapuskom_voennyx_laboratorij_ssha_na_ukraine.html

VT Editors

VT Editors is a General Posting account managed by Jim W. Dean and Gordon Duff. All content herein is owned and copyrighted by Jim W. Dean and Gordon Duff


A briefing on the medico-biological US activity in Ukraine (MUST SEE!)

March 08, 2022

Please press on the “cc” button to see the English subtitles!

Nikita Mikhalkov: BesogonTV.

This needs to be watched with Telegram.

The subtitles are excellent.

https://telegram.org/js/telegram-widget.js?16

About 3,000 US ‘volunteers’ arriving in Ukraine to fight Russia

March 6, 2022

Source: Agencies + Al Mayadeen Net

By Al Mayadeen Net 

US volunteers are set to arrive in Ukraine to fight Russia, including army veterans who fought in Iraq and other regions around the world.

3,000 US volunteers are ready to arrive in Ukraine.

Ukrainian news agency Ukrinform reported that 3,000 US volunteers are ready to arrive in Ukraine, amid Russia’s ongoing military operation in the country.

The agency quoted the Ukrainian Armed Forces’ press service via Telegram as saying that “the volunteers are ready to repel Russia as part of an international battalion.”

Among the US volunteers are army veterans “with combat experience gained in Iraq and other hotspots around the world.”

Ukrinform reiterated that more than 16,000 foreign fighters are heading to Ukraine to fight Russia.

It claimed that “Ukraine is creating an International Legion of Territorial Defense consisting of foreigners who are willing to join Ukraine’s resistance and protect global security.”

US to give more than $1B in assistance to Ukraine

It is noteworthy that during US President Joe Biden’s first state of the union address delivered on Tuesday, he reaffirmed plans to continue supporting Ukraine against Russia while providing multiple forms of assistance worth $1 billion.

Although Ukraine will be receiving hefty assistance, Biden ruled out any present or future military participation in the conflict. 

“Let me be clear, our forces are not engaged and will not engage in conflict with Russian forces in Ukraine,” Biden claimed.

Ukrainian Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Maliar announced Saturday that more than 100,000 volunteers have already registered to join the force.

Last Wednesday, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba announced that mercenaries from 16 countries are on their way to the country, and announced that Kiev had obtained weapons from 19 countries.

On February 24, Moscow launched a special military operation in Ukraine, responding to calls from the people’s republics of Donetsk and Lugansk for help in countering the aggression of Ukrainian forces, which has been ongoing since 2014.

The Russian Defense Ministry confirmed that the special operation is targeting Ukrainian military infrastructure only and the civilian population is not in danger.

Rallies in Serbia in support of Russia

March 05, 2022

Rally in Support of Russia Takes Place in Serbia’s Belgrade

Source

© Sputnik / Фото Руслана Кривобока

BELGRADE (Sputnik) – The activists of several patriotic associations in the Serbian capital of Belgrade are holding a rally in support of Russia, a Sputnik correspondent reported on Friday.

The demonstrators gathered in the evening at the monument to Russia’s Nicholas II, across the street from the residence of Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic in Belgrade’s city center. Members of Obraz, a Serbian far-right political party, bikers from the motorcycle club Night Wolves Serbia, members of patriotic movements and numerous citizens joined the rally.

According to reports, the participants blocked the street of King Milan and unfurled a nearly 20-meter-long Russian tricolor flag. The demonstrators, with a total number exceeding 1,000 people, chanted “Russia, Serbia.”

The anthems of the two countries were played from loudspeakers installed at the monument. The rally is reported to be peaceful, without police interference.

Earlier on Monday, a group of Serbian nationalists held a rally in Montenegro to support Russia and its operation in Ukraine. Nearly 100 people participated in the demonstration in front of an Orthodox church in the central city of Niksic.

The Serbian authorities refused to object to Russia’s operation in Ukraine, with President Vucic saying that Belgrade would not back Western sanctions against Russia. He stressed that imposing sanctions against any state does not suit Serbia’s political and economic interests.

Vucic also claimed that there are no plans to alienate the property of Russian companies in the country amid rising sanctions pressure on Moscow and its economy……

Related Videos

Related News

The “relatively civilized” people should ally themselves with the “uncivilized” ones

March 04, 2022

Source

By Aram Mirzaei

The Western psyops is truly at its full capacity right now. As the Saker has reported himself for many days now, they’ve targeted Russia everywhere and in every way possible. They’ve completely taken control of the narrative and are basically on a witch hunt for those deemed “deviant”. The Western media is rampant with “reporting” and “analyses” where all these “experts” are competing in the ‘trash-talking Russia” challenge. Some say Putin has gone mad and has “lost touch with reality”, while others claim that he has a master plan to conquer all of the former Eastern Bloc countries. But in the end they all agree that he is evil, that he should be killed and/or overthrown. The other day, I saw two journalists interviewing a man who had volunteered to travel to Ukraine to fight Russians, as they were wishing him “all the best.” You’d think this is a joke if you didn’t live through it yourself.

A friend of mine from a European country told me the other day: “I feel like a criminal these days, carrying a deep dark secret, because I’ve committed something worse than murder… I support Russia! In this extremely Russophobic country, the pharmacies have run out of iodine pills, because people have stocked up on them, expecting a nuclear strike by “big bad Putin” any day now. People are hurrying to the ATMs for cash and preparing shelters for WWIII.” This is how the West and its powerful media have created fear among the Western people.

We’re being bombarded day and night by lies, lies and more lies about the ongoing conflict. The Saker is correct in his argument that Russia has been defeated in the information war. There are probably differing opinions on why this happened and one could argue that Moscow was probably a bit surprised to see the extent of the psyop. Foreign Minister Lavrov himself said that “Russia was ready for Western sanctions but that it did not expect the West to target its athletes, journalists and representatives of the cultural sector.”

He isn’t exactly lying here. Never in my life have I seen such hatred spewed on a mass level, as if the entire world has gone crazy. Such a coordinated campaign cannot have been executed without thorough planning, which I believe they’ve been doing for months, if not years.
In any case, the Western media have been quick to proclaim that the “international community” has condemned Russia for its “invasion” of Ukraine. We all know by now that the “international community” includes only the “civilized” and perhaps some “relatively civilized” countries. I’ll come back to the term “relatively civilized” later.

So what about the average person in the West then? I can mostly speak about the country I currently reside in, but so far, judging from what I’ve seen, the “civilized” Westerners have unequivocally condemned and showed their hatred for president Putin and Russia, because, of course, they take a moral stance against “unacceptable Russian imperialism.” Such things belong to the “20th century” and “countries these days don’t just invade other countries”. The other day, I heard co-workers say that they don’t fear soaring gas and oil prices due to the sanctions, because they’d “rather go back to horse and chariot, than miss out on the chance to put those damn Russians in their place.”

This is the hatred that they have against Russia, a people they consider to be “relatively civilized”, just like they consider Ukrainians to be the same. This is why Moscow’s policy of appeasement is useless. It is Moscow that should take lessons from history and look at Munich 1938, not the Westerners, as some silly pundits claim. They should also take lesson from the Islamic Republic’s tough stance against the West, despite being a much smaller country than Russia, and vastly behind in terms of economic, military, industrial and technological advancements and achievements.

The Islamic Republic has never even had the chance to be part of SWIFT system, a tool that the Westerners have used against Russia recently, supposedly a “disaster for Russian economy” now that they have “kicked Russia out.” Iran has been forced to do trades through the black market and the use of cash in suitcases and bags for decades! This is what “maximum pressure” forced Tehran into. Why shouldn’t Russia survive this? It is after all “relatively civilized” compared to the “uncivilized” Muslim Iranians.

The phrase “relatively civilized” was, as most people know, recently used in an interview by a correspondent of one of the American media channels. Note the words “the Ukrainians are relatively civilized”, which simply means that in the eyes of the Americans, Ukrainians are still “relatively civilized” and not fully “civilized”.
This means that Iraqis are Afghans dying is not strange, because they’re not civilized anyway. The “stupid Muslims” in Iraq, Syria and Yemen whose blood don’t matter and killing them en masse is permissible because they are subhuman.

The Western people (save for a very small minority) do not give a damn about the fact that the US occupies Syria and Iraq, that it has waged illegal wars across West Asia and Afghanistan, and slaughtered millions in their path. Washington is partaking in a starvation campaign against millions of Yemenis, does anyone care about that?

Did anyone sanction the US when it invaded Iraq illegally? Even with facts about the total fabrication of evidence for Iraq’s WMD possession, facts that are acknowledged by Western governments and pundits today, and yet nobody says a thing. Did anyone cancel, let alone even condemn the US when it downed an Iranian passenger flight, killing some 300 people and then gave medals to those troops who fired the missile?

For God’s sakes, at least the Iranians had the decency to apologize when they accidentally downed the Ukrainian-bound passenger flight in 2020. They didn’t humiliate the victims by giving the troops medals, instead, they actually charged them with criminal neglect and incompetence. But Iranians are the “uncivilized” people here, of course.

In my opinion, Moscow has tried too hard the diplomatic way, over the Donbass conflict. I’m sure the people in Moscow already know this, but negotiations with the West is useless. If anything the failure of the JCPOA and Washington’s shameless withdrawal should be a lesson for Moscow, that Washington and its band of dogs are liars, they are unreliable and won’t stand by their words and promises. The West has proven time and time again that it only understands the language of force.

I believe as several other analysts have already stated, that Washington’s goals have been to draw Russia into a war, which it succeeded in doing, and the second goal has been to kick Russia out of Europe-Washington has been pretty successful with this endeavour too, for now.

So Moscow must now look to those who will not view Russia and Russians as “relatively civilized.” The “uncivilized” world, save for those affected by the brain disease that exposure to Western media results in, mostly support Moscow’s operation in Ukraine. They recognize Moscow’s legitimate security concerns over NATO’s expansion to Russia’s borders. Moscow’s challenge and resistance to the US empire is important for the countries or the “uncivilized” world too, because it offers them a way out of the West’s stranglehold over them. Moscow has used its military might for fighting terrorists, first in Chechnya, then Syria and now in Ukraine, helping the people achieve freedom from Western backed terrorists. This has not just passed by the “uncivil” peoples of the world.

Many countries in the so called Global South have refused to condemn and sanction Russia. Not even NATO member Turkey, or Brazil’s anglophile president went through with the sanctions. Tehran and Beijing (both super uncivilized) have blamed the West for the crisis and  Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei has personally mentioned Washington’s cancerous role in the conflict, describing Washington as “both creating crises and feeding off of them.”

So what can we learn from this conflict? Moscow, and hopefully Tehran as well as Beijing should learn that just like in Ukraine, where there are those who believe that its a privilege to be called “Westerner” and “European”, there are such people in all three of these countries as well. The governments of Russia, Iran and China must now figure out ways to block these psyops from affecting their own peoples, or elschine they’ll be facing the same threats. One such way is to counter the “Western unity” by showing “Eastern unity” in this time of crisis. They must show the world that Western sanctions don’t affect them, and that the “international community” is nothing but the US empire of lies and its vassals.

Let’s hope that this truly was Russia’s final review of relations with the West and that Moscow now fully turns to the “uncivilized” East.

Andrei Martyanov’s March 3rd report

MARCH 03, 2022

Please visit Andrei’s website: 

https://smoothiex12.blogspot.com/
and support him here: 

https://www.patreon.com/bePatron?u=60459185

Space War: Russia Stops Deliveries of Rocket Engines to US

March 3, 2022 

By Staff, Agencies

Russia’s space agency “Roscosmos’” head – Dmitry Rogozin-announced Thursday that his country will stop deliveries of rocket engines to the United States.

“Not only are we refusing to supply these engines [RD-180], but we are also refusing maintenance of the remaining engines. We are talking about 24 more engines”, Rogozin stated.

Since the mid-1990s, 122 RD-180 engines for Atlas missiles have been delivered to the United States, 98 of them have been used.

Rogozin additionally announced that Russia will end cooperation on experiments at the International Space Station [ISS] with Germany.

“Considering the completely unacceptable actions of our German colleagues, primarily the German Centre for Aviation and Cosmonautics, I turned off one of the telescopes of our space observatory ‘Spektr-RG’, which is located at a distance of 1.5 million kilometers from Earth at the La Grange point L2. This is a completely civilian international mission to explore the starry sky,” Rogozin elaborated, saying that Russia has all the essential resources to conduct the experiments by itself.

According to the space agency head, Russia’s space program will face some corrections.

He further explained that the country will focus on creating satellites in line with the interests of both Roscosmos and the Russian Defense Ministry.

He stressed the Russian space agency will make certain that the satellites it creates will have a “dual purpose” given the “conditions that our country is in now”.

Roscosmos is among the many entities that have faced a wave of anti-Russian sanctions in the wake of Moscow’s military operation in Ukraine. Earlier in the day, the space agency revealed that the last 56 Russian employees had left the space center in French Guiana after Roscosmos suspended its cooperation with the European Union in response to the sanctions.

Iran Opposes War in Ukraine: Ready to Assist with Relief Efforts

March 3, 2022 

By Staff, Agencies

Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian renewed on Wednesday the call for a political settlement of the conflict pitting Russia against Ukraine, saying Tehran is ready to cooperate with the International Red Cross in providing humanitarian assistance.

In a phone call on Wednesday, Amir Abdollahian and President of the International Committee of the Red Cross [ICRC] Peter Maurer discussed aid delivery in border areas of Ukraine and the humanitarian situation in Yemen and Afghanistan as well as ways to boost bilateral relations.

The Iranian foreign minister stressed the importance of resolving the Ukraine crisis politically and said, “War is not a solution.”

Right after the conflict broke out, Iran began making efforts to support its citizens in Ukraine and set up a special committee in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to improve the humanitarian situation, he said.

The top Iranian diplomat called for strengthening cooperation between the ICRC and the Iranian Red Crescent Society [IRCS] in this regard.

Maurer, for his part, briefed the Iranian foreign minister on his talks with the Russian and Ukrainian officials about the dispatch of humanitarian aid, the exchange of dead soldiers and the provision of access to prisoners of war.

The ICRC president said Ukraine is grappling with a tough and critical situation.

Amir Abdollahian and Maurer agreed that medical and relief teams of the IRCS and the ICRC would be deployed in border areas to help the displaced.

Meanwhile, Iran’s Permanent Ambassador to the United Nations Majid Takht Ravanchi explained why Tehran abstained from voting on an anti-Russian UN General Assembly resolution.

“We believe that the current text of the resolution before the General Assembly lacks impartiality and realistic mechanisms for resolving the crisis through peaceful means. Furthermore, not all member states of the United Nations were given the opportunity to engage in negotiations on the text of the resolution,” Takht Ravanchi said on Wednesday.

Takht Ravanchi said Iran is pursuing the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine with grave concern and reiterated Tehran’s principled stance on the need for a peaceful settlement of disputes in accordance with international law and for all parties to fully respect the well-established provisions of the UN Charter and international humanitarian law.

“We emphasize that sovereignty and territorial integrity of all states must be fully respected and safety and security of all civilians must be guaranteed,” the Iranian diplomat said.

He stressed the importance of addressing the root causes of such crises in order to find long-term and sustainable solutions to them, saying, “We note that the current complexities in the fragile region of Eastern Europe have been exacerbated by the provocative actions and decisions of the US and NATO. The security concerns of Russia must be respected.”

Related Videos

Related Articles

«الكراهية الأوروبية» أشعلت النزاع: مواصلة المعركة حتى اجتثاث «النظام الإجرامي»

 الأربعاء 2 آذار 2022

الوفد الروسي راض على طريقة مفاوضات الإثنين (من الويب)

موسكو | تواصلت العملية العسكرية الروسية الخاصة لحماية دونباس، في يومها السادس، بانتظار عودة الوفدين الروسي والأوكراني إلى طاولة المفاوضات بعد التشاور مع عاصمتيهما، خلال اليومين المقبلين، وفقاً لما أعلنته وزارة الخارجية البيلاروسية.الأخبار 

وفيما تحفَّظ الطرفان، الروسي والأوكراني، عن كشف ما جرى تداوله في المفاوضات، إلّا أنّ مطالب روسيا معروفة، وهي تتمثّل في نزع سلاح أوكرانيا، وحيادية هذا البلد، إضافة إلى اجتثاث “النازية” من النظام القائم في كييف، وهي شروط يعتبر الوفد الأوكراني المفاوِض أنّها صعبة جداً.

وعبّر عضو الوفد الروسي المفاوض، رئيس لجنة العلاقات الدولية في مجلس الدوما، ليونيد سلوتسكي، عن رضا الوفد على الطريقة التي سارت فيها المفاوضات، أول من أمس، بشكل جزئي، موضحاً في تصريحات لصحيفة “إزفيستيا” الروسية، أنّ سيتم خلال الجولة الثانية اتخاذ قرارات مهمّة. إلّا أنّ سلوتسكي أبدى خشيةً من أن لا تُترجم بعض النتائج المتّفق عليها إلى واقع عملي على الأرض، ويُقصد بذلك التزام كييف بما سيجري التوصّل إليه في المفاوضات.
بدوره، رجّح مدير البرامج في نادي “فالداي”، أوليغ بارابانوف، أن لا تنجح المفاوضات بسرعة، لأنّ “طلبات الطرفين غير متطابقة”. ولفت إلى أنّ “استراتيجية كييف ستكون إطالة أمد المفاوضات، لإظهار أنّ روسيا غير قادرة على التفاوض، لا أكثر”. وقال إنّ كييف لم تضع هدفاً لها يمكن الوصول إليه في المفاوضات، معتبراً أنّها “تلعب بالنار لآخر دقيقة، إلى أن يشعروا أنهم هزموا عسكرياً. عندها سيضعون أهدافاً منطقية للتسوية”.

وفي سياق متصل، أكّد وزير الخارجية الروسي، سيرغي لافروف، أنّ هدف العملية العسكرية الروسية، هو “نزع السلاح من النظام النازي في أوكرانيا”، مشدّداً على أنّ “الحكومة النازية في كييف لا تمثّل شعبها أبداً”، وأنّ “مأساة أوكرانيا هي نتيجة تواطؤ الرعاة الغربيين مع النظام الإجرامي الذي تشكّل هناك”.

واتهم لافروف “الكراهية الأوروبية” تجاه روسيا، بأنها “الدافع وراء مدّ الاتحاد الأوروبي أوكرانيا بالأسلحة”. وقال إنّ “أوكرانيا ما زالت لديها تكنولوجيا نووية سوفياتية، ولا يمكننا ألا نستجيب لهذا الخطر”، مجدِّداً التأكيد أنّ “روسيا لا تقبل بوجود الأسلحة النووية الأميركية في أوروبا. ولقد حان الوقت لإعادتها إلى الوطن”. ومن هذا المنطلق، دعا لافروف واشنطن إلى “الوفاء بالتزاماتها بعدم تعزيز الأمن على حساب الآخرين”.

على الصعيد العسكري، أكّد وزير الدفاع الروسي، سيرغي شويغو، أنّ القوات المسلّحة الروسية في أوكرانيا ستُواصل العملية العسكرية هناك حتى تحقيق أهدافها، موضحاً أنّ “حماية روسيا من تهديد عسكري غربي، هي المهمة الرئيسية للعملية الخاصة في أوكرانيا”.

وفيما كشف أنّ الجيش الروسي اتخذ كافة الإجراءات للحفاظ على أرواح المدنيين وسلامتهم، مؤكّداً أنّ الضربات تستهدف فقط المنشآت العسكرية وتنفَّذ باستخدام أسلحة عالية الدقّة فقط، فقد اتّهم النظام الأوكراني باستخدام المدنيين كدروع بشرية جراء الاشتباكات والأعمال القتالية.

تريليون روبل من الصندوق السيادي لشراء أسهم في الشركات الروسية المعاقَبة


وفي الأثناء، واصلت القوات الروسية عملية تطويق كييف وخاركوف، وأطبقت الحصار على مدينة ماريوبول على بحر آزوف في جنوب شرقي أوكرانيا. وشدّد الخبراء الروس، في هذا السياق، على أنّ الضربات الجوية الروسية عرقلت عمل التشكيلات العسكرية الأوكرانية ووضعتها في موقف صعب. ولفت الخبير العسكري، فلاديسلاف شوريغين، إلى أنّ “محاولة اقتحام المدن لن تكون سهلة، وذلك يتطلّب عملاً كبيراً لسلاح الطيران المسير”. كذلك، أوضح أنّ الجيش الروسي يستخدم حصرياً أسلحة عالية الدقة ومباشرة، مشيراً إلى أنّ هذه الكفاءة العالية “تمنح الجيش تفوّقاً كبيراً، وثانياً، تشير إلى أنّنا نجري بالفعل عملية خاصة، وليس حرباً كبيرة قاسية”.

ويأتي ذلك فيما جدّدت الولايات المتحدة و”الناتو” تخلّيها عن كييف، عبر ردّهما على طلب الرئيس الأوكراني بفرض منطقة حظر جوي فوق بلاده، باستحالة تحقيق ذلك. وهو الموقف عينه الذي أشارت إليه لندن بقولها إنّ فرض منطقة حظر طيران غير متاح حالياً في أوكرانيا.

في غضون ذلك، برز موقف مهم، على الصعيد الاقتصادي، لنائب رئيس مجلس الأمن الروسي، ديمتري ميدفيدف، الذي وجّه رسالة لفرنسا، بقوله إنّ “الحروب الاقتصادية غالباً ما تحوّلت إلى حروب حقيقية”، في موقف بالغ الأهمية مع تزايُد الضغوط الغربية على بلاده.

ووجّهت الحكومة الروسية وزارة المالية بتوفير تريليون روبل (نحو 10 مليارات دولار) من الصندوق السيادي الوطني، لشراء أسهم في الشركات الروسية الخاضعة للعقوبات الغربية. كما كشف رئيس الوزراء الروسي، ميخائيل ميشوستين، أنّه جرى “إعداد مشروع مرسوم رئاسي لفرض قيود مؤقتة على خروج قطاع الأعمال الأجنبي من الأصول الروسية”.
وتأتي هذه الخطوة استكمالاً للإجراءات التي بدأتها موسكو، وتحديداً المرسوم الخاص الذي أصدره الرئيس فلاديمير بوتين، لاتخاذ إجراءات اقتصادية خاصة على خلفية العقوبات الغربية. ومن أبرز بنود المرسوم، البند القاضي بإلزام المقيمين المشاركين في النشاط الاقتصادي الأجنبي، بالبيع الإجباري للعملة الأجنبية بنسبة 80% من ودائعهم، اعتباراً من 1 كانون الثاني 2022 إلى البنوك المرخصّة، على أساس عقود التجارة الخارجية المبرمة مع غير المقيمين، وذلك في مدّة لا تتجاوز 3 أيام من بدء سريان المرسوم. ويهدف المرسوم، في المقام الأول، إلى منع تدفّق رأس المال إلى خارج روسيا واستقرار سعر صرف الروبل.

ووفقاً للخبراء الروس، فإنّ حجم الصادرات الروسية سنوياً يبلغ نحو 500 مليار دولار، بالتالي فإنّ نسبة 80% التي تحدث عنها المرسوم الرئاسي، من شأنها أن تساعد البنك المركزي في اتخاذ إجراءات والتحكّم في سوق العملات بشكل فعّال، حتى في ظلّ ظروف الحجب الجزئي لاحتياطيات البنك المركزي.

وعلى رغم تأكيد عضو أكاديمية العلوم الروسية، ألكسندر شيروف، وجود احتياطات هائلة لدى موسكو مقارنة بما يمكن تخيّله، حتى في أكثر السيناريوات فظاعة، وأنّ هناك الكثير من السيولة لدى الحكومة الروسية، إلّا أنّ رئيس معهد الاقتصاد التابع لأكاديمية العلوم الروسية، ألكسندر دينكين، أشار إلى أنّه جرى حساب الآثار قصيرة المدى للعقوبات، وأنّ الحكومة قد تعلّمت التعامل مع مثل هذه الأزمات، محذّراً من أنّه على المدى المتوسّط هناك مخاطر أكبر بكثير على الاقتصاد.

من ملف : الدب الروسي لا يتزَحزح

فيديوات متعلقة

مقالات متعلقة

%d bloggers like this: