THE DONBASS WAR OF 2021?

07.04.2021 

The Donbass War Of 2021?

Written by J.Hawk exclusively for SouthFront.

Ever since assuming office, the Biden Administration has been probing countries it designated as America’s enemies for weaknesses through a variety of provocations. So far this approach has not had any successes. China plainly told Biden’s SecState Blinken to go packing, Iran is showing no eagerness to kowtow to Washington under new management, and Russia itself has stayed the course, brushing off verbal attacks and promising either in-kind or asymmetrical responses to any new chicaneries from Washington or Brussels.

That does not mean that Washington has acknowledged defeat. Unwilling to concede, it is liable to escalate a crisis situation elsewhere. Since Navalny’s perennial “poisonings”, “hunger strikes”, and “leg pains” have not had the desired effect on Western governments and his life and health are moreover quite secure in a Russian prison, so the prospect of a new war in Eastern Ukraine is back on the agenda, and the opponents of Nord Stream 2 now have two things to pray for: Aleksey Navalny’s death and a Russia-Ukraine war.

Zelensky on the Spot

The Russian government has made it clear on numerous occasions that it is adhering to the Minsk Agreements, will not abandon the Donbass, but at the same time will not escalate the situation out of the desire to minimize the damage to all concerned. In practical terms it means a continuation of “coercive diplomacy”. Russian military force will be used only if Ukraine attempts to create facts on the ground through offensive action. For that reason it is unlikely in the extreme that Russia will be the one to escalate first. It is worth remembering that both the summer 2014 campaign and the winter 2014/15 campaign were initiated by Kiev which first sent troops and bombers to suppress the then-peaceful protests against the Maidan and referenda to secede, and then to hope to quickly resolve the stalemate. Both operations ended in failure through the efforts of the hastily assembled and armed militias of the breakaway republics, with some “Northern Wind” military support that decimated Ukrainian forces.

Poroshenko survived the disasters that shredded the Ukrainian military thanks to the alliances he’s made with the nationalists while preparing for the Maidan. Zelensky’s position is considerably weaker and more vulnerable to the consequences of a military defeat. Having been elected on a promise to end the war in the Donbass, he has already badly disappointed his supporters on that score. But his transformation into a warhawk, perhaps best characterized by his awkward appearances on the front lines wearing an ill-fitting helmet and a remarkably short armor vest, has not earned him even grudging respect from the nationalists and neo-Nazis on whose shoulders much of Ukraine’s war effort rests. While Poroshenko could get out of many a tight spot with his “Cynical Baderite” jacket, Zelensky is now a very lonely person in Kiev, a hostage to the decisions of Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council whose decisions he automatically signs, in contrast with Poroshenko who often simply ignored them.

In practice it means that Zelensky might be in process of being a scapegoat for Ukraine’s all-but-inevitable defeat at the hands of Russian forces hastening to aid the republics in the event of Ukraine’s military scoring early victories. Blackmail might be playing a role in Zelensky’s calculus too. There were persistent reports in March of an imminent release of a documentary implicating Zelensky’s office in the failure of Ukrainian intelligence operation to lure Wagner associates to Ukraine in order to imprison and try them. At the same time, if Zelensky sends his military to a defeat, his reputation will be gravely damaged, possibly to the point of forcing him to resign and even endangering his life. His nervous activity of the first week of April, including a total non-sequitur of a visit to NATO headquarters in order to plead for Ukraine’s quick admission to the alliance, is indicative of a man in a tight spot with no easy ways out.

Resistible Force Meets Immovable Object

Zelensky might be in a less anxious mood if he had a reliable military instrument to wield. The Ukrainian Armed Forces are not that instrument. While the Russian military entered 2014 rather unprepared for the prospect of high-intensity land warfare thanks to the Serdyukov reforms that made the brigade the main tactical unit, since that time much lost ground has been recovered through the reactivation of several divisions and armies, such as the First Guards Tank Army, and modernization of Land Forces’ equipment. Russia’s military today is a considerably more impressive force than it was seven years ago.

Meanwhile Ukraine’s armed forces stagnated. Unmodernized T-64 remains its most numerous main battle tank while production of light armored vehicles proceeds at a trickle. Considering that artillery has been the most active arm in the years of static warfare along the line of separation, Ukraine’s “god of war” remains in poor shape and is suffering from ammunition shortage. In the last decade, Ukraine has suffered seven major ammunition depot explosions, in addition to the tremendous expenditure of munitions during the 2014 and 2015 battles and the occasional escalations of shelling since. Since Ukraine is a failing state that cannot even maintain its crumbling civilian infrastructure, it is little wonder that it has failed to establish domestic munitions manufacture. It did receive some supplies of weapons and munitions from NATO member states which have stores of Soviet-pattern weapons themselves, most notably Bulgaria, but little in the way of heavy artillery munitions. Since Ukraine also does not manufacture artillery pieces, specifically the technology-intensive barrels, for either its tanks or howitzers, the existing artillery park is being gradually used up, and every shell fired not only diminishes existing reserves but also adds to the wear and tear of the artillery pieces. An effort to provide cheap indirect fire capabilities by procuring 120mm “Molot” mortars manufactured in a factory owned by Poroshenko did not live up to expectations. There have been several cases of these mortars bursting during live fire exercises, with dire consequences for their crews. And if a simple technology of a mortar cannot be mastered by Ukraine’s defense industry, what success can it have attempting more challenging tasks?

Nor is the human factor any better. To borrow Wellington’s characterization of his own soldiers, UAF rank and file are “scum of the earth, enlisted to drink.” Military service remains highly unpopular and attracts only those who cannot find lucrative employment in the civilian economy—or abroad. Draft evasion and bribery of military recruitment officials is widespread, leading the Rada to drastically increase penalties for such activities to include lengthy prison terms. Even if such measures do not result in an exodus of able-bodied males out of the country, they are hardly likely to fill the ranks with motivated recruits. In the first week of April 2021 alone, Ukrainian forces have lost on average one soldier a day to non-combat causes, which included alcohol and drug overdoses, careless handling of weapons, suicide, and murder. The single greatest killer of Ukrainian soldiers, however, are their own minefields, which have killed 57 soldiers and injured 126 between July 27, 2020 (the beginning of the last ceasefire) and April 3, 2021, a statistic indicating a very low level of training and discipline.

Units themselves remain understrength. Some of the brigades are short of 60% of enlisted personnel and 30% of officers. Troops’ low morale translated into not only irregular and erratic training but also into poor equipment maintenance habits. An inspection of the 59th Brigade whose results fell into the hands of Novorossia intelligence services revealed that as of March 2020, some 60% of the brigade’s heavy weapons and vehicles were either greatly behind their maintenance schedule or were altogether unserviceable. The brigade has not held any maneuvers because the fuel supplies delivered to its logistics units never made it to the actual tactical subunits, suggesting theft by brigade’s leadership.

Cossack Mace

For all of the above reasons, a Ukrainian military operation, even a limited one, seems unlikely in the immediate future. The very visible Ukrainian troop movements meant that no element of surprise could be achieved. The aim appears to have been to relocate sizable formations to the Donbass so as to provide them with an ability to launch a quick, almost no-warning attack in the future, after Novorossia’s vigilance has been dulled by months of alerts and provocations.

Unless other events intervene, the period of greatest danger will be the Cossack Mace exercise held during the summer of 2021. The aim of the exercise which will take place under British leadership is to practice repelling a “Russian invasion” and then launching an offensive to secure the Ukraine-Russia border which would mean the end of Novorossia.

The fact of British leadership is particularly worrisome, since that country seems to have undertaken the task of “dirty tricks” on Washington’s behalf. In this instance, the “dirty trick” could be using the exercise to rehearse invasion of the Donbass immediately prior to its execution or, equally plausibly, the exercise itself might turn into an invasion. Foreign command of the invasion would be consistent with the Ukrainian trend of slipping under direct control by Western powers, and reminiscent of the role of the Military Professional Resources Incorporated (MPRI) in the planning and execution of Croatia’s Operation Storm in 1995.

One can’t even rule out direct British participation in such an operation, since a British-supported Ukrainian offensive against Novorossia forces would not be an offensive against Russia. The Defence Review released in March 2021 stated that the British Army would stand up four so-called “ranger regiments”, or battalion-sized formations whose aim would be to train “indigenous forces” and, if need be, actually go to battle with them in order to pursue British interests as part of the “Global Britain” project. An addition of professional British soldiers, in conjunction with British planning and execution of the operation, would provide a morale boost to the UAF and increase the chances of at least moderate success. Once embedded within Ukrainian forces, British troops would also serve as a deterrent against a direct Russian intervention.

An Ounce of Prevention

It may well be that the sudden Russian troop movements, the reinforcement of Crimea, and even Belarus’ deployment to the border of Ukraine, indicate contingency planning to launch an enveloping counteroffensive that would trap Ukrainian forces in a giant cauldron between the Dnepr River and Novorossia itself. At the very least, their presence forces Ukraine to divert forces away from its offensive grouping on the Donbass toward the border with Russia and even Belarus. It is also possible that the snap deployment was intended to pre-empt Ukraine’s increasingly obvious moves to mount an offensive during the summer, an offensive with direct foreign military employment. Russia’s pre-emption may also include a changed status of the Donbass. President Putin’s declaration that the rights of 600,000 holders of Russian passports in Novorossia has become a priority for him. An official recognition of Novorossia, combined with the placement of a Russian peacekeeper force, would stop the Ukrainian offensive dead in its tracks and moreover render any British participation unsustainable, though at certain diplomatic cost due to the withdrawal from the Minsk Agreements it would entail. The forceful Russian response has already had the effect of knocking not only Ukraine but, judging by the panicky demands for Russia to “explain” its troop movements, all of NATO. It communicated that under no circumstances will Ukraine enjoy tactical, operational, or strategic surprise. Now the question is whether Russia and major European powers can craft a diplomatic solution that will allow Zelensky to back down in a face-saving manner, thus ending the danger of war against the Donbass.

British “ranger regiments” and “greyzone warfare”

Use of NATO forces directly vs. unrecognized republics is no the same as use of NATO forces against Russia. Recognition by Russia would, on the other hand, create an additional layer of deterrence, though associated with risks for Russia.

If LPR/DPR are formally recognized by the Russian Federation which then spreads the umbrella of “extended deterrence” which, it should be noted, is backed by a potent nuclear arsenal. It would also mean Russia’s formal rejection of Minsk Agreements and of the Normandy Four format, creating a legal limbo fraught with unpredictability. NATO countries which committed themselves to preserving Ukraine’s “sovereignty and integrity” could hardly be expected to ratify this move.

Major minelaying operations by Ukrainian forces, which may be part of the offensive preparations. The greater the extent and intensity of mines on a certain sector of the front, the greater the ability to concentrate forces on other sectors—suggesting that whichever  sectors of the front are not seeing a minelaying operations are being reserved as corridors for future assault, making them eligible for DPR/LPR defensive minelaying.

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Navalny Whines About Petushinsky Corrective Colony #2 (Ruslan Ostashko)

Navalny Whines About Petushinsky Corrective Colony #2 (Ruslan Ostashko)

March 26, 2021

Translated by Sasha and subtitled by Leo.

The rubber duckie führer’s shaved head photo appeared on his Instagram page. Navalny’s picture is accompanied by a lengthy whining wherein the penal colony in Petushinsky district near the city of Vladimir is called a ‘concentration camp’. However, if you read closely the outpourings of the mum’s revolutionaries leader’s PR team, it becomes clear that the corrective colony #2 simply has strict discipline which the unemployed devotee of monthly foreign holidays isn’t used to.

The previous information that Navalny had already been transported to the penitentiary institution was a false start. The reason was that the appeal deadline to the sentence for insulting a WWII veteran had not yet run out. Which means that by law, Navalny had to remain in the remand centre. His defense team still insists that the rubber duckie führer must not be transported to the corrective colony yet. Nevertheless Navalny has now been dispatched as prescribed. The fact of his transportation to the corrective colony #2 was confirmed by his lawyer Olga Mikhailova.

Komsomolskaya Pravda: “Mikhailova and the lawyer Vadim Kobzev visited Navalny, who is held in a quarantine cell with five other prisoners. ‘Navalny has no complaints about violations. He is cheerful and lively,’ Mikhailova told the journalists.”

No complaints about violations. But woe to that fighter against the regime who doesn’t complain at all. After all, if an infantile does not complain, he stops feeling he’s alive. And so it is no surprise that the same day Navalny’s Instagram page featured an extensive whining material. Internet is under ban in the colony so it’s doubtful that the führer of FBK (Anti-Corruption Fund – Soros-funded NGO) himself could post his photo and supply it with a text. But he definitely could dictate it over the telephone or during his meeting with the lawyers was fully possible. Let’s read what was scribbled in Navalny’s name by those who administer his social medias so that the mum’s revolutionaries did not forget about their führer.

Aleksei Navalny’s Instagram: “Three things don’t fail to amuse me. The starry sky above us, a categorical imperative within us and a wonderful feeling when I stroke my freshly shaven head with the palm of my hand. Hello to all from the ‘Heightened Control Sector A’. I must admit that the Russian penitentiary system managed to surprise me. I did not imagine that it was possible to set up a real concentration camp 100 km away from Moscow.”

Inflating own misfortunes to the scale that refers to Hitler’s escapades is a standard trick of mum’s oppositionists. They regularly devalue the suffering of those who got under the Nazis’ steamroller by pointing out their own oppression and comparing themselves to the prisoners of the concentration camps, appealing to the yellow stars of David and other paraphernalia connected to Hitlerism.

Their resonant from empty heads are never visited by a lonely thought that such comparisons are sacrilegious. Have a look at what the video blogger who is used to boarding at foreign resorts regards as a concentration camp.

Aleksei Navalny’s Instagram: “I have not seen any violence or even a hint of it so far, although, judging by the tense poses of the convicts who stand at attention, afraid to turn their heads, I easily believe that here, in Corrective Colony #2 ‘Pokrov’, very recently people were beaten half dead with wooden hammers. The methods have changed now and I must honestly say I don’t recall a place where everyone speaks so politely and in some way affably.”

Oh, so they don’t beat up anyone, they don’t make them stand for hours at attention with hands outstretched, they don’t make you wear wooden shoes that grind your feet to the bone, they don’t pour water on you in the frost? I am listing the real tortures by the SS men which were documented in the memoirs of the Soviet POWs who went through the concentration camps. So what does make it a concentration camp then? Here’s what.

Aleksei Navalny’s Instagram: “The regime, the regulations, the order of day. The literal following of the endless rules. Curse and slang words are banned. And this ban is strictly adhered to. Can you imagine a prison where nobody curses? It’s a scary case.”

*3:59 – Chart on the right appears* Quotes of great oppositionists:

Mahatma Gandhi: “Overcome hatred with love, falsehood – truth, violence – patience.”

Nelson Mandela: “We must use time wisely and remember: the just cause can be started at any moment.”

Aleksei Navalny: “They brought this c**t from ‘Kirovles’ (state enterprise Navalny embezzled from), this Larisa Gennadivna and that lousy stupid old lady auditor. Dang.”

What a nightmare! You can’t curse… This is of course a torture for a man used to comparing his own supporters to domestic animals and to cursing at those whose actions hindered his efforts in defrauding others’ money. For a liberal idler who has never had a regular job, never adhered to a day regimen and lived for years indulging his every vice, discipline is unbearable. On top of that there is control, just like in the West that the liberals laud so strongly.

“Video surveillance is everywhere. Everyone is watched and smallest violations are reported. I feel that someone at the top read Orwell’s ‘1984’ and said: ‘Aha! Cool! Let’s do this – re-education via dehumanization. But if to look at all of this with a sense of humour, life is alright. So overall, everything is good for me.”

Orwell is obsolete. Why take a cue from him who wrote about Britain, by the way, not about the USSR, if there is much more recent experience. It is enough to read or watch documentaries about any American prison in order to realize: the Russian authorities have finally built a local ‘Feel Yourself In Guantanamo Resort’ attraction for people unwilling to live by the law, only with no torture. What are you, liberals, against implementing the best Western practices? After all, the unceasing surveillance of citizens is 100% American.

Navalny wanted it like in America? Here you go. It is in this format that he will spend the next few years. And let him rejoice the fact that tolerance hasn’t prevailed here. Because this gives him a good chance to avoid proctological procedures, even while doing time in Petushinsky District.

Do these countries really want to be respected?

February 28, 2021

Do these countries really want to be respected?

Did they expect us to treat them with any respect?
Roger Waters (The Final Cut)

Long ago, I learned the hard way that what I call “professional ideologues” count every damn penny and I sure do NOT want you to post a full article of theirs, lest they threaten me with lawsuits (already happened twice): to them, money is far, far, more important than propagating any truths, believe me.  So I won’t post the full thing here, just a link to it.  You can read it there:

https://www.politico.eu/article/nord-stream-2-pipeline-has-damaged-the-west-enough-time-to-put-an-end-to-it/

What I do want to ask you, dear readers, do you think that these two clowns want their country to be treated with respect, or do they simply don’t care at all about things like dignity, respect, or honor?  How about the people who voted for these kind of governments?  Can’t they see how utterly pathetic it makes them look?

I met a lot of Poles and Ukrainians in my life and, if anything, I tend to find them mostly completely irrational about things pertaining to their national pride.  The Ukies, apparently, even rather die than accept a Russian-made vaccine (ask yourself, in the Soviet era, how many bad vaccines did the USSR export to eastern European countries?  The answer? Zero).  As for the Poles, they fancy themselves as the future “Intermarium superpower”!  And then they ask Trump to build them a US base for which they are even willing to pay for the military presence from a country which tries hard to blackmail Poland into paying for “Holocaust reparations”!

Dignity anybody?

And now this: their foreign ministers get together to beg Uncle Shmuel to protect them from North Stream 2.  Just look at this great quote from the said article:

We call on U.S. President Joe Biden to use all means at his disposal to prevent the project from completion“. (but do read the full thing, it is quite amazing).

Also, notice a typical “Polish wisdom”: seek out the protection of a (already agonizing) “ally” located thousands of miles away overseas, but do go directly against your two most powerful neighbors.  Genius!  Pure Polish genius!

To be fair, this could be seen as “progress”.  After all, the biggest Polish hero, Jozef Pilsudski, was hoping to occupy Moscow with Nazi Germany.  Asking Joe Biden for help against the accursed Russians is probably a tad smarter than asking Adolf Hitler.  But not by much, not by much…  (the outcome will be the same though).

The Polish and Ukrainian government have tried to turn total prostitution into a form of “resistance” against a “resurgent Russia”.  Don’t they know how that makes them look in the eyes of the Russian people (most of whom don’t even want to use the Russian military to liberate Novorussia, nevermind “invading” 3B+PU!)?

To be honest, this further convinces me that Russia should simply forget about both these countries and deal with the many mentally sane countries on this planet (I explained that in some details here).  On a personal level, I find most Poles very nice people, and I still do wish them (and the non-Nazi Ukrainians) well, but I also want my country to stop wasting *any* time, effort, energy, resources or patience with these countries.  They want to be left alone?  Great!  I agree.

The Ukraine is a different problem: most Ukrainians are, basically southern Russians, and it is pretty clear that those in the East and the South will have to, sooner or later, liberate themselves from the (truly) Nazi Banderastan which came to power in 2014.  I do believe, firmly, that Russia owes the Russian people of the Ukraine protection.  But once the East and the South are free again, Russia should simply reduce her diplomatic presence in the Ukraine and Poland and bring to the absolute minimum, or even terminate, all deals, agreements, treaties, etc.

Oh sure, Russia will loose some markets and some money.  Not that much though, not compared with the riches Russia has found in the South, the East and the North.  Furthermore, if you look at the benefit/liability ratio from a Russian point of view, it is the entire “West” which is not worth the effort, especially the spineless and clueless EU.  The USA, being a nuclear superpower, will remain an important interlocutor for Russia, agreed.  But the rest of them?  The UK?  Canada?

I say, let Russia begin with the 3B+PU, sever ties with them first.  Then, if Germany caves in and blocks the completion of NS2, I would server ties between Russia and Germany too.  I would keep ties with southern European countries like Italy, Spain, Serbia, but even those really ought to be conditional on some kind two-way mutually beneficial outcome for both parties.

Bottom line: Russia owes nothing to her neighbors or, for that matter, to any country on the planet.  She needs to always remember that.

I realize that the above might seem excessive to some, but judging by this interview of Lavrov (see below), I am inclined to think that even the most moderates of moderates are getting mighty fed up with the Europe, old and new.

The Saker

 ***

source

Vladimir Solovyov: Good afternoon, Mr Lavrov. Why was the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell “buried?”

Sergey Lavrov: Nobody “buried” Mr Borrell. He carried out the will of the EU member states. They determine EU policy. This is a lengthy and controversial process. On several occasions, some EU member states have told us in private that they are against sanctions and that they do not believe that Russia should be “punished” with sanctions. They know this is futile, but they act out of “solidarity,” or the consensus principle. I have said several times that as far as I understand it, the principle of consensus means that if someone disagrees, that means there’s no consensus. So far, I haven’t received an answer to this question.

Back to Mr Borrell, he was visiting us mindful of the complex environment surrounding his plans. Many were against his visit and publicly stated that he should not be going to Russia unless we “put right the wrongs.” In the end, they agreed upon the approaches that Mr Borrell was supposed to make known to us.

This is not the first time – and this applies not only to Mr Borrell, but to his predecessors as well (before him there was Federica Mogherini, and before her there was Catherine Ashton), they were unable to discuss things. When Mr Borrell read out the position regarding Mr Navalny, I put forward our counterarguments. The EU’s position is that we have made him a political prisoner, and this is unrelated to accusations against him. And that all of that constitutes a violation of human rights and Russia, as a party to numerous conventions on human rights, including the European Convention on Human Rights, must release him and respect his rights. But Russia has laws that must be respected. By the way, I notified the High Representative that if he presents this matter from this angle during a news conference, I will respond by mentioning the Catalans sentenced to 12 years or more in prison for organising the referendum on Catalonia’s independence. We were accused of organising this referendum, but no one presented a single piece of evidence, nothing even remotely close to the facts. So it happened.

With regard to human rights, I reminded Mr Borrell that we expressed our willingness to conduct a substantive dialogue on this matter a long time ago. However, first, it must be based on facts and, second, it needs to be a two-way street. If human rights are a recognised topic without borders, and states cannot hide behind their borders when discussing human rights, let’s agree on what human rights are. There’s a list of these rights, which are primarily socioeconomic rights. The right to life is the most important one. But the West strongly opposes the idea of discussing socioeconomic rights.

Vladimir Solovyov: Why do you deny Navalny and his brother the right to rip off the French company Yves Rocher?

Sergey Lavrov: This is what I told High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell. I said that we did not pledge to protect those who did commercial damage to an EU company, Yves Rocher. There is factual information about this, about how the French company was lured to accept transportation and logistics services at 30 percent above the prices it had paid before, and how this was done by a one-man firm, which hired a subcontractor and transferred the money to the accounts of another company whose stakeholders are well known.

Vladimir Solovyov: And he did not give any response to that? Was he pretending not to understand you?

Sergey Lavrov: Mr Josep Borrell definitely has a clear understanding of the matter. But I would like to repeat that the High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, however serious his title may sound, has no room for manoeuvre. He is acting within very tight limits.

Vladimir Solovyov: Did he make any positive suggestion, or was it just a call for surrender?

Sergey Lavrov: We ultimately found a constructive agenda. The High Representative himself proposed focusing on the subjects where we can help each other and find a balance of interests. These subjects are climate change, protecting the interests, economies and population of our countries to the best of our ability in the context of this natural hazard, as well as the issues of healthcare, science and technology. I believe that this is enough to make headway. I reminded him that we have been marking time for over two years on the extension of the Russian-EU intergovernmental agreement on cooperation in science and technology. The problem is that the EU wants the agreement to mention that Crimea is not part of the Russian Federation. The choice is between addressing the current aspects of our economic relations and promoting cutting-edge technology, and being stuck on this problem.

Vladimir Solovyov: Why has Europe decided that it can pose as a moral leader with a right to lecture us? Have they forgotten about the tragedy of Yugoslavia? And, speaking about Navalny, we can remind them about Julian Assange whom nobody is discussing any longer. You mentioned the three political prisoners in Spain, to which they have replied arrogantly that there are no political prisoners, only imprisoned politicians in Spain. Immediately after that, Carles Puigdemont remarked that there are not three but nine of them in Spain.

Sergey Lavrov: Incidentally, when all this happened, Carles Puigdemont and his associates were in Belgium, and several others were in Germany. The Belgian and German law authorities said the charges brought against them were politically motivated, but the Spanish authorities replied that they have their own laws, which must be respected. When I cited this argument during the meeting with High Representative Borrell, adding that we have our own laws as well, he started saying again that Navalny had been sentenced illegally, for political reasons, and that his rights had been infringed upon. We also talked about the rallies which Navalny and his team members, who are currently living abroad, organised actively and with provocative goals. Mr Borrell complained that a thousand people have been detained and many of them have been prosecuted, and that the right to peaceful protest is being rudely trampled on in Russia. He was especially concerned about the three expelled diplomats. His team told him about them while we were having lunch.

Vladimir Solovyov: He didn’t express his concern immediately, did he?

Sergey Lavrov: He told me when we were leaving the room that he was seriously concerned.

Vladimir Solovyov: Did you know that the diplomats were being expelled?

Sergey Lavrov: Yes, we knew this.

Vladimir Solovyov: It was not timed for Mr Borrell’s visit?

Sergey Lavrov: No, of course not. The decision was made when the identities of the diplomats who took part in protest rallies were established. And then they started wailing that the diplomats, who were just doing their job and carrying out their professional duty, had been detailed illegally and accused of what they did not do, that is, that they did not take part in the illegal rallies. We reminded them that the rally was not just unapproved and uncoordinated, but that its organisers did not even plan to request permission for it. Moreover, Leonid Volkov said publicly many times that they would not request permission but would simply take to the streets. In itself, this is more than just a breach of the law; it is an action designed to humiliate the state. If you believe that taking to the streets in this situation is your professional duty, you are not diplomats but provocateurs.

Vladimir Solovyov: Plus, no one has canceled the pandemic restrictions yet.

Sergey Lavrov: International conventions, including Vienna conventions of 1961 and 1963 on diplomatic and consular relations, bilateral conventions and, by all means, our conventions with Estonia and Sweden, firmly stipulate the fundamental truth that diplomats enjoy immunity and privileges, but must respect the host country’s laws and rules. The law was violated in the first place when the permit to hold a rally was not requested. The rules were violated as well since there is a presidential executive order and Moscow Mayor Sergey Sobyanin’s order on epidemiological restrictions that remain in effect. The same restrictions apply in St Petersburg and other cities. That is, both laws and rules have been violated.

Vladimir Solovyov: You also gave them a USB flash drive to keep them in the loop of what’s happening in Europe, didn’t you?

Sergey Lavrov: This flash drive can be updated literally daily. There’s a wave of protests in Poland now that are being brutally suppressed with batons and water cannons. The EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy said that he did not have the chance to watch the contents of the flash drive before his talks in Moscow, but promised to do so afterwards.

Vladimir Solovyov: Did you send it to him before the talks?

Sergey Lavrov: Yes, a couple of days in advance. I’m sure they watched it. The fact that he declined to discuss it saying he didn’t watch it goes to show that they realised they didn’t stand a chance in a candid dialogue with us. This awkward narrative from an arrogant standpoint, which was imposed on Mr Borrell in order for him to let it be known here, is being put into a certain philosophical and political context of the same geopolitical dimension. This is what happened when Josep Borrell was reporting back to the European Parliament and came up with the statements that Russia failed to live up to the expectations, a modern democratic society failed, economic ties with the EU collapsed, and we do not respect human rights and the like.

Vladimir Solovyov: Well, they are demanding that sanctions be imposed on us, aren’t they?

Sergey Lavrov: Yes, they are.

Vladimir Solovyov: I’m one of those who they want to see included on the sanctions list.

Sergey Lavrov: You are in good company.

Vladimir Solovyov: A good company, indeed. I will be the first journalist in history to be sanctioned against.

Sergey Lavrov: Not necessarily. That depends on what you call sanctions. RT and Sputnik correspondents cannot get an accreditation in Paris. I found out recently that one of our media outlets filed a lawsuit against the state for not being allowed to attend a news conference by President Vladimir Putin. Their argument was that, according to the law, if all the requirements are met, the accreditation must be provided. I’m not aware of these subtleties, but I know that this year’s news conference is being held in compliance with the pandemic requirements. It’s a fact that, without any coronavirus, RT and Sputnik, despite direct requests to the French government, were denied access to the Elysee Palace. Of course, we should also bear in mind the situation with Sputnik in Estonia, where criminal cases were opened against the journalists.

Vladimir Solovyov: Yes, our guys find it hard to work in the United States as well. Recently, White House press secretary Jennifer Psaki came up with a boatload of god-knows-what…

Sergey Lavrov: Yes, but getting back to the allegation that we disappointed the EU, failed to live up to their expectations and are moving away from Europe, having adopted a deliberate course on self-isolation… Well, this is some kind of a kingdom of crooked mirrors.

The problems between us and the EU began a long time ago. They were testing our patience and good will. When the Baltic states and other East European countries were admitted to the EU in 2004, we asked them if they were sure those countries were mature enough to be admitted as responsible members of this progressive association. We were told that, of course, they still have some holdover phobias from their past in the Soviet Union, but rest assured that as soon as they become EU and NATO members, they will calm down and no longer have reasons for these phobias. Nothing of the kind. The exact opposite happened and they became the most zealous Russophobes and are pushing the EU to adopt Russophobic positions. On many issues, the EU position dictated by solidarity is determined by an aggressive Russophobic minority.

Vladimir Solovyov: Why did they choose Germany and why Navalny?

Sergey Lavrov: I think he just came their way. It if was not Navalny, it would be something else. Clearly, he was being prepared for that quite seriously, if you think about preparations for the notorious film, which wouldn’t have been possible without the German authorities’ consent.

Vladimir Solovyov: Are you talking about personal data from the Stasi archives and Vladimir Putin’s photograph?

Sergey Lavrov: Yes, that too.

Vladimir Solovyov: But Maria Pevchikh, who had come from London to Moscow to accompany Navalny on his trip, during which she gave him his shirts, as Navalny said, and who allegedly brought back a certain water bottle, later disappeared.

Sergey Lavrov: She brought back more than one water bottle.

Vladimir Solovyov: In the process, they have either forgotten about the bottle or it has grown to the size of a whole water tank. She has openly accused you, saying that even the foreign minister doesn’t know that these documents are available in open access, that it is enough to write a letter.

Sergey Lavrov: She has even said, if I remember correctly, that she has filed such a request.

Vladimir Solovyov: Not so simple. She said that only a German citizen can do this. This makes one wonder who Maria Pevchikh is.

Sergey Lavrov: I have heard debates on this issue on the Rossiya channel.

Vladimir Solovyov: Thanks for watching us.

Sergey Lavrov: I can’t go to sleep otherwise.

Vladimir Solovyov: So much for the secret of ratings: dropping off with your TV set on.

Sergey Lavrov: To begin with, Maria Pevchikh has surrounded herself with mystery. Our German colleagues are helping her to keep up that mystery. First of all, nobody has seen her after she left on board that plane. The Russian Prosecutor General’s Office has bombarded its German colleagues with requests to honour their commitments under the agreements on assistance in legal matters. In particular, we also requested a meeting with Maria Pevchikh, to which our German colleagues replied that they don’t know her whereabouts. However, she wrote herself in social media that she had met with Navalny in Germany.

Vladimir Solovyov: She gave interviews.

Sergey Lavrov: Yes, she did. Navalny had several German security agents with him round the clock. We told the Germans about this, that she had been among the people at Berlin airport who came to see Navalny off before his flight to Moscow on January 17, 2021. But they don’t even allow us to talk with the doctors who provided medical treatment to Navalny and found traces of toxic agents in his samples.

Vladimir Solovyov: But the doctors didn’t find anything.

Sergey Lavrov: No, I mean the Bundeswehr doctors. They are doctors as well. We have pointed out on numerous occasions that if the Omsk doctors did not find anything, and the Charité doctors didn’t either, then the Charité doctors can also be accused of concealing evidence of Navalny’s poisoning.

A great deal has been said about the Bundeswehr. This does no credit to Germany as a country with a responsible attitude to its international commitments. First, they said there was one water bottle, and the request of the Prosecutor General’s Office mentioned it. Suddenly, they forgot about the bottle and started talking about clothing. Then they brought up the bottles again, this time three of them, claiming that traces of a toxic agent had been found on two of them. But the Germans, just as the French and Swedish experts who were allegedly asked to double check the results of German tests, and the Technical Secretariat of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) have not provided any information to us. They have refused to do this.

Vladimir Solovyov: I have read the OPCW’s report. It said plainly that they did not find any traces of a toxic agent but only “biomarkers of the cholinesterase inhibitor” in Navalny’s samples, which are not identical but “have similar structural characteristics” with certain toxic chemicals. And the report further says that this cholinesterase inhibitor is not on the list of toxic agents. Why do they keep saying “Novichok” and “toxic agent” then? The OPCW report doesn’t say so.

Sergey Lavrov: We have been told since the Skripal case that only the Soviet Union, and hence Russia, has the Novichok production technology. They completely disregard the facts which we provide and which are available in open access to the effect that over a hundred inventions related to the so-called Novichok formula have been registered in the United States.

Vladimir Solovyov: If I remember correctly, Hillary Clinton has confirmed this.

Sergey Lavrov: Yes, of course.

Vladimir Solovyov: This has also been confirmed by the Czech President.

Sergey Lavrov: True. Moreover, during the story with the Skripals’ poisoning, Germany was one of those who pointed the finger at us, saying that no other country could have the Novichok production technology. When the Bundeswehr found the traces of a substance similar to Novichok in Navalny’s samples, we asked them how they had been able to determine this if they told us themselves that they had never conducted such research. No reply.

Just note that the point at issue is not Navalny. This is not just a coordinated Western campaign of deterring Russia, but a campaign of aggressive deterrence.

Vladimir Solovyov: Why?

Sergey Lavrov: Because they don’t like it that we have our own views on global developments and that we openly express them and take practical actions to uphold them, unlike a huge number of other countries who have their own views as well but keep mum. I have talked with many ministers and other officials, as well as with members of civil society, who say that they don’t like what the West is doing.

Vladimir Solovyov: Are they afraid to say so?

Sergey Lavrov: Of course, they are. They are tied to the dollar, investments, and the children whose studies abroad are paid for with the money they keep there. It is a major damper on the elite’s ability to speak their minds. But we have no right to remain silent. Our history, our ancestors and our genetic blueprint do not allow us to stomach insults or unilateral attempts to dominate all and everything.

Vladimir Solovyov: I’m aware of what you personally think about this, so I can imagine your indignation caused by Navalny’s behaviour in court with regard to the veteran and this act of bullying … But the West turned a blind eye to this, too. After all, their emissaries were sitting in the courtroom and watching their underling do his thing.

Sergey Lavrov: Representatives of the embassies of Great Britain and France attended this particular court session. They were our allies during World War II. I will not even comment on this. Any decent person can clearly see what is going on. Returning to why it’s Navalny and not anything else, this “case,” in today’s parlance, is a deliberate act. The date of his return and the date of releasing the film make it all too obvious. But, look, now that there’s a wave of attacks on Russia, no one is talking about the “poisoning.” What they are saying is that Navalny has been illegally convicted and must be set free.

Vladimir Solovyov: This has already become imprinted in the public consciousness. This is a lie that has already taken root, same as with the Skripals.

Sergey Lavrov: That is why we will keep asking them questions. Recently, I received an open letter from Mr Kozak, a researcher, a biologist who lives in Switzerland. I answered him.

Literally today, we will be sending an official inquiry to the OPCW, Germany, France and Sweden with a request for them to comment on his findings made on the basis of the publications substantiating and analysing what happened to Navalny, the biomaterials that were obtained from him and tested in the West. From a purely scientific standpoint, he raises a number of questions related to biological and chemical science.

Vladimir Solovyov: I have read Mr Kozak’s papers and your answer. Interestingly, the Lancet documents show a blood test with lithium in it. I started looking closely at various papers on lithium and talked with the professionals. Interestingly, there have been several studies reporting the effect of excess lithium intake on cholinesterase inhibitors. It’s complicated. I’m not even talking about the diseases that are treated with lithium. Clearly, we need to consult psychiatrists about this. However, the complete silence from the other side is surprising. I don’t think Germany is a random choice. At one time, George Friedman from Stratfor wrote that the alliance between Russia and Germany represented an existential threat to the United States. The goal is to prevent an improvement in relations between our two countries. No one expected Germany to be part of this direct attack on Russia. After all, Navalny wasn’t taken to Porton Down in the UK. Germany was their first choice.

Surprisingly, this film, if we are talking about Gelendzhik, managed not to tell a single word of truth. Everything is 3D imagery. But the West got infected with this lie. They are doing their best not to see this debunked.

Sergey Lavrov: I’m sure that the United States does not need us to have good relations with Germany. The same goes for European countries. Britain doesn’t need this either. Just like the West didn’t need a united Germany at one time. The Soviet Union was the main proponent of a unified Germany.

Vladimir Solovyov: First, the preservation of Germany.

Sergey Lavrov: Yes. I’m already talking about modern times. The West was very worried back then and reluctantly agreed on reunifying Germany. We operated on the belief that the German people have the right to be one nation which is its historical destiny as a nation. Here’s something (which is funny) about double standards. When I mentioned this at the Munich Security Conference in 2015 and said that we were doing it then deliberately, understanding the German people’s aspirations, and stressed that it would be important for other countries to treat Crimea’s reunification with Russia in about the same vein – as a manifestation of the people’s will. There was a referendum in Crimea, but there was no referendum in Germany. The audience had a fit of hysterics. The German deputies yelled things like “How dare you compare these things!?” I can see this arrogance on the part of the Germans in recent years. You know, there is such a subtext. They are not saying it out loud, but the message is clear: “Dear friends, we have paid our bills, and we owe nothing to anyone anymore.”

Vladimir Solovyov: Hence, the revision of WWII outcomes and the attempt to equate the Soviet Union to Nazi Germany.

Sergey Lavrov: That’s true. A fairly large portion of their elite is pursuing this policy. There are people who want Germany to lose its every chance to enjoy normal cooperation with us. At the same time, there are still voices of sanity there. Recently, President of the Federal Republic of Germany Frank-Walter Steinmeier said it was always better to discuss things, to be mindful of the future and to operate based on national interests when tackling the most challenging issues. So far, he has been the only foreign politician to mention our past. He said that 2021 marked 80 years since Nazi Germany’s invasion of the Soviet Union. This is nothing short of political courage in modern Germany.

There are a number of public organisations, such as Potsdam Meetings, or the St Petersburg Dialogue forum. This date cannot go unnoticed. When Vladimir Putin was elected President for the first time, we declared the historic reconciliation of our nations. Now, when they are trying to pit us against each other (there are people who want to do so within Germany and outside it), this date could serve as an important psychological message to the effect that confrontational logic must be abandoned and everything should not be seen as an opportunity to impose more sanctions on Russia.

Speaking in the Bundestag, my German colleague Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said that Nord Stream 2 must be preserved, but only in order to have a lever to control Russia. Here again comes the logic of “who has an influence on whom.” It seems to me that the Soviet and Russian energy projects in Europe have always been a material foundation for positive interdependence. It’s always good when the countries depend on each other in terms of the economy. It makes overcoming many other issues easier. Mr Maas then said that Germany should consider sanctions against Russia over the case of Navalny, and “it’s okay” that they failed to achieve their goal earlier. Most importantly, a signal would be given that Moscow’s actions would not go unnoticed. Sanctions are imposed in order to feel satisfaction from the act of meting out “punishment.” But sanctions lead nowhere and cannot result in a change in our course on upholding our national interests.

Vladimir Solovyov: They lead to consolidation of our society.

Sergey Lavrov: What I’m saying is that they are not conducive to achieving the goals that the West has set for us.

Vladimir Solovyov: They do not understand our logic, our society. For example, Yulia Navalnaya suddenly flies to Germany, despite the coronavirus restrictions.

Sergey Lavrov: I’ve read about it. We could ask the Germans if they know anything about the special rules created for her. But they won’t answer. I think there is no need to ask until this story acquires a dimension that affects our legitimate requirement of the Germans to explain what exactly they found in Alexey Navalny’s tests.

Vladimir Solovyov: They do not even bother to enter into a dialogue with us.

Sergey Lavrov: They have no arguments, but we will not leave it at this.

Vladimir Solovyov: In this whole situation, I am most concerned about Donbass. Russia, as one of the guarantors of the Minsk Agreements, has no other choice but to maintain dialogue with our German and French colleagues. Apparently, they have lost sight of their role in this dialogue, and no longer know why they are even there. The war in Donbass has been going on for seven years. This is not a direct function of the Russian Foreign Ministry, but it’s a tragedy for those people. And you have to look your colleagues in the eye all this time. They don’t seem to want anything there, just waiting for a change of government in Russia. They think we are oblivious to it, and will play their game.

Sergey Lavrov: This is a sad story, and every day it is taking on a more and more perverse nature. Paris and Berlin now almost unquestioningly demand that issues be resolved in the Normandy format only, which means without Donbass. We argue that the Minsk agreements say that the Contact Group formed under those agreements should resolve issues directly between Kiev, Donetsk and Lugansk. They tell us no, the Contact Group plays a supporting role, while everything will be decided in the Normandy format, and Donetsk and Lugansk will be given ready-made solutions. It is a lousy position with regard to the people who were declared terrorists, although they never attacked anyone. They are still considered terrorists only because they have expressed dissatisfaction with what was happening in Kiev, and declared its moves unconstitutional, and asked to be left alone. They were actually attacked by the illegal regime that came to power as a result of a coup d’etat.

The West stomached it all: the coup itself, and its instigators’ new Russophobic approach to the Russian language in Ukraine, or their banish-everything-Russian-from-Crimea rhetoric. In response to this, the people revolted, on a political plane. Donbass said it wanted to be independent, and later agreed to negotiations, and Crimea voted for reunification with Russia. The Russophobic wave that brought with it the geopolitical changes in Ukraine and Crimea had been approved by the West, or at least the West did not object to it and even encouraged it to a certain extent. But Russia has been punished for it.

Vladimir Solovyov: But we put up with this for some reason. For some reason, we cannot just tell them that if they are not going to fulfil the Minsk agreements, then we will decide the fate of the Russian people there. It is our legitimate right to protect the interests of our compatriots.

Sergey Lavrov: We are protecting them. Not only in Ukraine, but also in the Baltics, and in other countries. This is not even helplessness on the part of the EU. I think it is a conscious policy of turning a blind eye to Russians being persecuted, be it the media or the Russian-speaking population. In the Baltics, they are denied access to information in their native language, contrary to what is guaranteed under the local laws and international conventions. This attitude to the Russian language problems in the European Union, as well as their stories that they have their own mechanisms and will use them to influence the situation, it is all lies. They will not do anything, will not lift a finger to bring the Baltics to their senses and make them stop their Russophobic hysteria. I could not even imagine this.

But let’s go back to Ukraine. We are interested in keeping the Minsk agreements on the table. They were approved by the UN Security Council and contain arrangements that are very difficult to abandon.

Vladimir Solovyov: They are not complying.

Sergey Lavrov: They are not. This means that Donbass is living the way it does now. As you may recall, with regard to the Minsk agreements and the compliance mechanism in the Contact Group and the Normandy format, we have repeatedly accepted a compromise, such as the Steinmeier formula. Originally, the Minsk agreements required that Donbass be given a special status and then the election be held. The Steinmeier formula stipulates gradual provision of this status.

Vladimir Solovyov: Why go meet them halfway if they take it for granted and never reciprocate? I know you are a diplomat, and I’m a proponent of forceful solutions.

Sergey Lavrov: I’ll give you an example. Take, for instance, the repeated and gross violation of the UN Charter by the United States and its allies. However, no one is suggesting that we leave the UN and tear up our signature under the UN Charter. If there’s a completely “unkillable” document and someone is trying to justify their non-compliance with ludicrous assurances, we benefit from it diplomatically.

Vladimir Solovyov: We can stay. But maybe we need to act in a completely different way.

Sergey Lavrov: How? Life takes its own course. Donbass has learned to live in a situation of illegitimate blockade, which the French and the Germans “refuse to see.” Instead, they pester us with a demand to open two more checkpoints. But this is not about lifting the blockade. The Minsk agreements are not talking about the checkpoints, but complete unblocking of economic ties.

Vladimir Solovyov: Why talk to them at all? They themselves do not decide anything. We need to talk directly with the Americans.

Sergey Lavrov: I think it would be the wrong thing to do. We exchanged views with the Americans on Ukraine when they had a special representative for this conflict. I don’t think we should call on the United States to influence their “underlings” and say that we have no use for the Minsk agreements.

Vladimir Solovyov: They themselves do not decide anything. There’s even no point in memorising the name of yet another of their foreign ministers.

Sergey Lavrov: The process that we are now observing with it being mandatory that the Minsk agreements are kept on the table means that the discrediting of the Ukrainian leadership is in full swing.

Vladimir Solovyov: You are playing chess with them, and they are playing checkers with you.

Sergey Lavrov: We are not playing chess with them. We are not talking to them altogether. Here are the Minsk agreements. Go ahead and comply with them. Period.

Vladimir Solovyov: I like that. No extra motions. What if they don’t comply?

Sergey Lavrov: Let them explain to their own public why they are not doing so.

Vladimir Solovyov: In their own country, they explain that it is normal to close three channels, with sanctions imposed on one of their own citizens, a deputy of the Verkhovna Rada.

Sergey Lavrov: The Americans said that this was the right thing to do. Europe mumbled something (sorry for this non-diplomatic term) to the effect that they will look into it. What is there to look into? Freedom of speech is either there or it is not.

Vladimir Solovyov: There is no freedom of speech.

Sergey Lavrov: Ukraine wants the Minsk agreements to cease to exist. Let them say so themselves. President Zelensky says that the Minsk agreements are bad, but they help keep sanctions on Russia in place. We are telling the Germans and the French: you wrote down that you would resume normal communication with Russia once it fulfilled the Minsk agreements, even though there’s no mention of us there. They talk only about Kiev, Donetsk and Lugansk. So, if they keep intact their five principles requiring Moscow to fulfil the Minsk agreements, President Zelensky will respond that way. He is not doing anything. They say Russia must comply, but the sanctions remain in place which makes him happy.

Frankly, I’m even happy with that sanctions situation. Not fully yet, but we have realised that we must rely only on ourselves. No, we do not want to self-isolate. We want to take advantage of the international division of labour, but if someone is saying that there will be competition, but we will be “cut off” here, here and also there… As Minister Maas put it, they will impose sanctions just to make sure our actions don’t go unnoticed. What kind of a reliable partner are you then?

Vladimir Solovyov: This phrase hurt their feelings.

Sergey Lavrov: First, we said this not one year ago, but a couple of years ago, when the sanctions were being imposed and import substitution was discussed. Then, they began to wail about why we were responding to the sanctions, meaning that they had good reasons to impose them, while we didn’t. It was stunning to see them act like schoolchildren rather than politicians.

I read excerpts from the foreign press. The German Süddeutsche Zeitung wrote a couple of days ago that it is necessary to think twice before acting emotionally and imposing “sanctions for the sake of sanctions,” because the punishing side must understand that they also pose a threat to it, as it ceases to be a reliable partner. So, we are not alone in drawing such conclusions, which I put my name down for.

Vladimir Solovyov: Are we heading for a breach with the EU?

Sergey Lavrov: We believe we would be ready for this. We are neighbours. Speaking collectively, they are our largest trade and investment partner. Many EU companies operate here; there are hundreds or even thousands of joint ventures. When a business benefits both sides, we will continue. I am sure that we have become fully self-sufficient in the defence sphere. We must also attain the same position in the economy to be able to act accordingly if we see again (we have seen this more than once) that sanctions are imposed in a sphere where they can create risks for our economy, including in the most sensitive areas such as the supply of component parts. We don’t want to be isolated from the world, but we must be prepared for this. If you want peace, prepare for war.

Vladimir Solovyov: It should be said that our coronavirus vaccine has come as a blow to them. They never expected this to happen. It turns out that they don’t know anything about Russia and don’t understand it. They are shocked to see that our economy is not in tatters, and that we have [advanced] research and scientists.

Sergey Lavrov: It was Barack Obama who said that Russia’s economy was in tatters. They haven’t learned from others’ mistakes. And it appears that they are unable to learn from their own mistakes either.

Vladimir Solovyov: Will you miss President Donald Trump?

Sergey Lavrov: He is an outstanding person. I remember my two meetings with him, once when I was on a visit to Washington, and also the talks he had with President Vladimir Putin, which I attended.

Donald Trump is a remarkable politician acting from his own experience. Where there is benefit, everything must be done to maximise it; where there is no benefit, let things take their course.

As for respect for our, Spanish or American laws, I am shocked by the impeachment proceedings. The charges brought against him… You can watch and listen to Trump’s video addresses again and again…

Vladimir Solovyov: And find nothing criminal in them?

Sergey Lavrov: Yes. Just compare them to what Leonid Volkov or Vladimir Ashurkov are saying. As many people say, have they ever urged young people and children to take to the streets? No, they have not. But I have heard them say, “What’s wrong with this?”

Vladimir Solovyov: Right. This is exactly what Volkov said.

Sergey Lavrov: They believe that if children want to join a protest rally, there is nothing wrong with it. This means that they are becoming part of civil society.

Vladimir Solovyov: During his meetings with foreign secret agents, Vladimir Ashurkov asked for $10-$20 million and offered to share information about a Russian bank [allegedly involved in corruption].

Sergey Lavrov: We have exposed this. But it’s like talking to a brick wall. The West doesn’t see this, just as it pays no attention to our arguments on the alleged poisoning at this point. They just want our repentance.

Vladimir Solovyov: But we have changed as well, haven’t we? We no longer react as nervously as we did before. I am concerned about you. The newly appointed US Secretary of State Antony Blinken is the ninth US Secretary of State you will be working with. You said that you have to recite the history of Russian-US relations to every new appointee.

Sergey Lavrov: This reminds me of an old phrase, “You are my first.” I have had a conversation with Antony Blinken. I believe it was a normal conversation. We agreed that there are many problems between us.

Vladimir Solovyov: Have you agreed not to agree?

Sergey Lavrov: Yes, we can hardly agree on the majority of these problems. But it is clearly inevitable that we must continue our dialogue on strategic stability and try to mend the damage done by the “disarmament experts” of the previous US administration. An agreement has been reached on extending the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START).

Vladimir Solovyov: But our position remained unchanged, didn’t it? It was the Americans who hesitated, not us?

Sergey Lavrov: Yes, it is unchanged.

As to how our foreign policy activities are being covered by some media, a few neoliberal journalists wrote that as soon as US President Joe Biden snapped his fingers, Russian President Vladimir Putin immediately signed a deal to extend the New START Treaty. The problem was resolved that same day, although before that, the Russian Foreign Ministry had said that it required a lengthy procedure under our laws (several weeks). So it was all a lie, they concluded.

I will not reveal any big secrets. I will just say we hoped common sense would prevail with the President of the United States Joe Biden. A few weeks before his inauguration, we made all the preparations required under our legislation to conclude an agreement to extend the New START Treaty.

Vladimir Solovyov: Joe Biden said last summer that this was one of his top priorities.

Sergey Lavrov: It was not 100 percent guaranteed.

Vladimir Solovyov: But he talked about it.

Sergey Lavrov: In other words, we simply prepared beforehand for an optimistic scenario to avoid time trouble. It is just that sometimes our commitment to extension of the Treaty is shown in a perverse way – like they say, Joe Biden proposed it, and Vladimir Putin agreed.

Vladimir Solovyov: Care for a conspiracy theory?

Sergey Lavrov: Go on.

Vladimir Solovyov: How about Vladimir Putin helped replace Donald Trump with Joe Biden because Trump did not agree to extend the New START?

Sergey Lavrov: Possibly. I am sure this is what happened. I can say just one thing to all those who are looking for an intrigue in who is more important, or whether Russia is doing America’s or someone else’s bidding. In fact, Russian President Vladimir Putin does not really care who will take all the credit later. If we reach an agreement that will be good, useful, and important for us and for the whole world – be it on disarmament or on something else – it’s our pleasure.

Vladimir Solovyov: Mr Lavrov, where does your freedom end? And where does it begin? The Constitution says that the President determines the country’s foreign policy.

Sergey Lavrov: My freedom ends where another’s begins. This is not from the Constitution, though.

Vladimir Solovyov: How free are you in foreign policy matters?

Sergey Lavrov: There’s the Foreign Policy Concept of the Russian Federation which was updated several years ago. It was approved by the President. We have doctrinal documents covering regional geographic areas. They are classified, just like in any other country, but are based on the publicly available Foreign Policy Concept.

In addition to geographical areas, whose doctrinal documents are also approved by the President, there are areas such as strategic stability, arms control, etc. This is also reported to the President collectively by all departments involved, such as security services, the Defence Ministry and the Security Council. Once a common policy is coordinated, that’s what guides action.

Vladimir Solovyov: Your every step isn’t supervised?

Sergey Lavrov: No. The President trusts me. If we have a directive that he approved, be it in foreign policy or elsewhere, you must act independently to achieve the goals it sets. Whether you succeed or not is a separate matter.

In case of unconventional situations that are not covered by the established approaches, we have weekly, or more frequent, meetings of the Security Council permanent members where we openly discuss these matters. It is always a collegial decision.

Vladimir Solovyov: Is there enough time for FC Spartak?

Sergey Lavrov: The winter pause is about to come to an end… I miss it.

Vladimir Solovyov: Do you still play football?

Sergey Lavrov: Yes, on Sundays. Last Sunday, we played outdoors despite the fact that it was 15 degrees below zero.

Vladimir Solovyov: Did you score?

Sergey Lavrov: I’m embarrassed to say … yes! But I like assists better.

Vladimir Solovyov: Like Lionel Messi?

Sergey Lavrov: Messi is a great scorer too.

Vladimir Solovyov: Yes, but he also likes to pass the ball.

Sergey Lavrov: True.

Vladimir Solovyov: Rafts? Rafting?

Sergey Lavrov: Well, not in winter… In summer, yes.

Vladimir Solovyov: Poetry?

Sergey Lavrov: Honestly, no real poetry for a very long time now. For now, I make do with epigrams for my friends’ birthdays. The elevated stuff isn’t coming as easily.

Vladimir Solovyov: The current Russian Government has a quite a few talented writers.

Sergey Lavrov: Do they write poetry? Or…

Vladimir Solovyov: Poetry. Not writing each other up.

Sergey Lavrov: I didn’t know that. I know that Arkady Dvorkovich wrote poetry when he worked in the Government, and he continues to write, probably. Prime Minister Mishustin wrote lyrics for many popular pieces of music. It’s a romantic way to escape. However, it shouldn’t create the impression that we are romantics in practical matters. We are realists.

Vladimir Solovyov: Hard-nosed?

Sergey Lavrov: You could say that. A healthy dose of cynicism has never been a bad thing in politics.

Vladimir Solovyov: Do you prepare your memorable quips in advance? Or do they just come out on their own and “kill” on the spot? Some have become legendary, although you deny authorship.

Sergey Lavrov: The words were accurate but a different order. If you are thinking what I’m thinking.

Vladimir Solovyov: You said to former British Foreign Secretary David Miliband: “Who are you to lecture me?”

Sergey Lavrov: Well, how do you prepare jokes in advance? I’m not saying that I take after Viktor Chernomyrdin, who never prepared his jokes in advance. With him it was like a force of nature. No, I do not prepare my jokes in advance.

Vladimir Solovyov: Do you ever make friends with your international colleagues when you feel like you get each other?

Sergey Lavrov: There are quite a few of them. I am afraid to list them.

Vladimir Solovyov: So they won’t be hounded?

Sergey Lavrov: Many of them hold very high posts in the European Union. They are good guys. I don’t want to give them up.

Vladimir Solovyov: Has it really become that bad?

Sergey Lavrov: I think so. We are “toxic” after all. I mean for them.

Vladimir Solovyov: Us? I think it’s the other way round: we are the only ones who follow their principles.

Sergey Lavrov: They think we are “toxic” but we don’t care. If they want cordial working relationships (President of Russia Vladimir Putin and the Foreign Ministry have said this many times), the foundation has to be mutual respect, not interfering in each other’s internal affairs, and cooperating on issues of mutual interest. Striking a balance between our interests is the only possible outcome of such talks, not merely our consent to their proposals.

Vladimir Solovyov: Do the personal attacks, insults and attempts to smear your family members get to you?

Sergey Lavrov: I don’t read about it myself. Sometimes, a well-meaning person will draw my attention to it. For example, six or seven months ago I was shown a report (anonymously sourced as always) about an illegitimate son of mine who works in the Foreign Ministry’s facilities department.

Vladimir Solovyov: What a pleasant surprise!

Sergey Lavrov: But he doesn’t come to see his dad. Apparently, he makes good money.

Vladimir Solovyov: You are really fortunate to be able to take such a light and ironic attitude to it all. So, they don’t succeed because you don’t let it get to you?

Sergey Lavrov: I don’t think any member of the Government, not to mention the Foreign Minister, should let themselves get rattled. To be honest, I find it easy to deal with. But those who take it harder must keep their perfectly justified feelings to themselves.

As the old Hollywood saying goes, “Never let them see you sweat.”

Vladimir Solovyov: Thank you, Mr Lavrov.

Sergey Lavrov: Thank you for a very interesting conversation.

Navalny Is A NATO Agent, But Not All Unauthorized Protesters Are Foreign Proxies

By Andrew Korybko

Source

Navalny Is A NATO Agent, But Not All Unauthorized Protesters Are Foreign Proxies

Recent statements from President Putin, spy chief Naryshkin, and Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Zakharova confirm that anti-corruption blogger Alexei Navalny is a NATO agent, but that doesn’t mean that all unauthorized protesters who previously gathered in his support are foreign proxies since many of them are simply being misled as part of a newly invigorated push by hostile forces to provoke a Color Revolution against the democratically elected and legitimate Russian government.

Anti-corruption blogger Alexei Navalny is deceitfully misportrayed by Western governments as a viable contender for the Russian Presidency despite the Levada Center — a polling company registered as a foreign agent over receiving Western funding in the past — recently finding that only 5% of Russians trust him. He was sentenced earlier this month to two and a half years in prison for violating his parole from a previous case where he was found guilty of embezzling 30 million rubles from two companies. Navalny surprisingly returned to Russia in late January following several months of treatment in Germany after being poisoned in a botched assassination attempt that he publicly blamed on the Russian authorities. His latest sentencing served as a trigger event for some people to participate in unauthorized and violent protests throughout Russia.

The sequence of events removes all doubt that Russia is being targeted by hostile forces in a newly invigorated push to provoke a Color Revolution against its democratically elected and legitimate government ahead of parliamentary elections in September. I explained how this process works in detail in a chapter from my 2015 book on Hybrid Warfare about “The Color Revolution Model: An Exposé of the Core Mechanics” which should be read by those who are unfamiliar with this concept. According to my model, Navalny is a core operative surrounded by a close circle of cohorts who help him carry out the attempted destabilization of his homeland. Their efforts, including the debunked video about President Putin’s alleged “palace”, are aimed at attracting sympathizers misled into supporting their campaign.

While those who participate in unauthorized and especially violent protests are unquestionably breaking the law, it’s unfair to describe them all as foreign proxies even though those who’ve misled them definitely are. They’re responsible for their actions and should face justice accordingly, but their crimes are of a completely different caliber than their leaders’. Recent statements from President Putin, spy chief Naryshkin, and Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Zakharova confirm that Navalny is actually a NATO agent. The Russian President first hinted at this in mid-December during his year-end review when telling the nation in response to a question asked of him on this topic that “this patient of a Berlin clinic has the support of the special services, those of the United States in this particular case.”

The FSB’s release earlier this month of surveillance footage recorded in the early 2010s showing one of Navalny’s close associates asking a suspected British spy in Moscow for cash and intelligence might just be the tip of the iceberg showing how far back his collusion with foreign governments goes. This was followed by Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Zakharova saying on 9 February that Navalny and his ilk shouldn’t be described as members of the so-called “opposition” but as “agents of influence” after openly coordinating online with several foreign governments in an event organized under the NATO umbrella. Spy chief Naryshkin then chimed in to say that “The Russian Foreign Ministry is not wrong or exaggerating in its comments” that some anti-government individuals conspire with the special services of hostile foreign governments.

President Putin added on Sunday that “This figure is used right now, exactly at the point when in all countries in the world – ours included – people are growing tired and accumulate irritation and discontent about their living conditions and the level of their incomes.” The Russian leader also clarified, however, that “irritation is accumulating [in the society]: there are lots of problems and scarce funds. People can be understood.” This latter remark can be interpreted as expressing sympathy with people’s frustrations over the past year since the onset of World War C, my term for referring to the full-spectrum paradigm-changing processes catalyzed by the world’s uncoordinated efforts to contain COVID-19. Like I also wrote in March 2018 following President Putin’s address to the federal assembly, “It’s Okay To Constructively Criticize Russia, Even President Putin Does It!

Those of his compatriots who are increasingly dissatisfied with the difficult conditions of the modern day aren’t doing anything wrong by making their feelings known, but they mustn’t break the law by participating in unauthorized and especially violent protests after being misled by foreign-backed Color Revolution demagogues such as Navalny. This is a pragmatic stance by the Russian President since it acknowledges the objectively existing reality that the situation is far from perfect in Russia today (just like everywhere across the world), that there’s nothing wrong with talking about it or feeling frustrated, but that these sentiments mustn’t be exploited by anti-state forces for illegal regime change ends. With the upcoming parliamentary elections in a little over half a year’s time, Russians can peacefully and responsibly make their voices heard at the polls instead.

Those that accuse others of being “foreign proxies” just because they don’t express complete satisfaction with the current state of affairs are committing a serious disservice that might even inadvertently further radicalize some at-risk members of the population. This also includes folks misled into joining unauthorized and especially violent protests. Contrary to Western claims, Russia is indeed a democracy even though it implements its own national variant of this governing model. Everyone has the right to peacefully and responsibly share their views about anything so long as they follow the law while doing so, and if President Putin of all people can constructively criticize the state of affairs in the country that he himself leads, then so too can everyone else living there as well. Legal dissent is allowed, but illegal participation in unauthorized and violent protests isn’t.

What makes Navalny so dangerous isn’t that he’s a “pro-Western liberal, anti-migrant nationalist, or political opportunist” like RT described him, but that he’s attempting to mislead dissatisfied people — and increasingly even children — into breaking the law by exploiting their frustrations with the state of affairs. The content of his political platform isn’t as bad as the means through which he’s seeking to implement it. This NATO agent is manipulating people for the purpose of provoking a Color Revolution, hoping that the authorities’ legally justified but sometimes forceful response to his illegal protests can be decontextualized, misreported, and then weaponized to incite a self-sustaining cycle of unrest. That’s why President Putin’s latest words are so wise since he showed that he sympathizes with the dissatisfied but informed them of how they’re being misled.

FM Sergey Lavrov gave an extensive interview to the RBK Media Holding – Communication between Brussels and Moscow has completely fallen apart

Source

FM Sergey Lavrov gave an extensive interview to the RBK Media Holding – Communication between Brussels and Moscow has completely fallen apart

February 20, 2021

A good sub-title for this interview could be “Lavrov Unplugged”.

A quote from the transcript (which incidentally was available faster than any other transcript from the The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation ):

“… when it became clear that Russia did not want to live in the house of “a self-appointed boss,” all these complications began to emerge.

….

All this started when this signal was not perceived (to be more precise, Russia was seen again as a “hoodlum” in the world arena and they were again going to teach it “good manners”). In any event, the West began its ideological preparations, for its current actions, at that time.”

Video in Russian without subtitles or English voiceover as yet.

Question: There is a feeling that the West is very annoyed by the appearance of the Russian Sputnik V vaccine. At first, they were very aggressive and wouldn’t let it go. When I talked with Minister of Trade and Industry Dmitry Manturov, he called it “the vaccine war.” Now the opinion has changed. Is this about the quality of the vaccine or is politics involved in this?

Sergey Lavrov: I think it is possible to use the logic of the Russian proverb that can be translated into English as “love it so but mother says no.” Western experts know that the Sputnik V vaccine is definitely one of the best, if not the very best. Otherwise, there would not be such a stream of requests for it, which is growing geometrically.

On the other hand, they realise that the spread of Sputnik V and other Russian vaccines that will soon enter the international market, will enhance our authority and status in the world. They do not want this to happen. But they have come to realise that their first response was simply outrageous in the context of the facts and medical science. When President Vladimir Putin announced the development of the vaccine in August 2020, the offensive was completely undiplomatic. Their response just betrayed their irritation, you are perfectly right.

And now many countries (the Czech Republic and others) are saying they can’t wait for the certification of the vaccine by the European Medicines Agency. In Hungary, they believe they are ready to start vaccination and supplies are now underway. The number of requests from Europe is steadily on the rise. Just the other day, Prince Albert II of Monaco sent a request for the vaccine for the entire population of his principality.

After independent agencies published their scientific evaluations, the West had to admit that the vaccine was good. Yet, attempts to discredit it continue.

Just yesterday I read a somewhat ambiguous statement by President of France Emmanuel Macron. He put us and the Chinese into the category of those who are trying to gain advantages in the world arena at the expense of their medical achievements. The day before yesterday, President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen spoke with an emphatically negative connotation about the supplies of the Russian vaccines to foreign countries.

We must follow the correct position of principle, first voiced by President of Russia Vladimir Putin, notably, that we were the first to develop the vaccine, and we will continue to increase its production. This is not easy, we do not have enough capacities, and this is why we are negotiating with India, South Korea and other countries. At the same time, he said we are open to the broadest possible cooperation.

There is one more important point. When this issue was discussed at the UN the other day, Secretary-General Antonio Guterres urged the countries that have this vaccine or have the money to buy it, not to forget about the poor. In the meantime, attempts are being made to accuse us of trying to gain geopolitical favour by supplying it abroad. This is an obvious discrepancy. It is clear that the West is poorly prepared for this discussion.

Question: So, it’s about the same as when President Putin said at the Davos Forum that the world cannot continue creating an economy that will only benefit the “golden billion,” and we are actually accused of supplying the vaccine for the benefit of the “golden billion.” Still, are they talking about the vaccine like this just because it was made in Russia?

Sergey Lavrov: I don’t see any other reason, because no one even tried to conduct a medical or a scientific test. They just said right away that it was impossible just because it’s impossible, meaning that “no one can do this that quickly.” It was only in October 2020, when the West said they would be able to report on their achievements. President Putin announced in August that the Russian-made vaccine was ready for rollout.

Unfortunately, I often see that the response to everything we do, say or offer is, at best, questioned right off the bat. Usually, they say that “the Russians are playing their geopolitical games again.”

Question: EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell, who was here recently and met with you, said that Russia is distancing itself from the West. At the same time, Presidential Press Secretary Dmitry Peskov said we are open to cooperation with Europe. You said we are ready to break up, but we are not breaking off our relations. What really stands in the way of normal relations between the EU and Russia?

Sergey Lavrov: A biased attitude, by and large. I worked with EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell, a good colleague of mine, when he was Spanish Foreign Minister. Now many, in an attempt to give a controversial dimension to the High Representative’s visit to Russia, forget how it all began. In May 2019, Mr Borrell said: “Our old enemy, Russia, says again ‘here I am,’ and it is again a threat.” We then asked his protocol service to confirm what he said. We were told that it was a figure of speech and that he was misunderstood. However, this attitude shows.

We are seen as a stranger. In my interview with Vladimir Solovyov, replying to his question as to whether we are ready to break off with the EU, I gave an affirmative answer because there are no relations to talk about. As former US President Barack Obama once said (although he said it about the Russian economy), relations have been “torn to shreds.”

Indeed, the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement [between the EU and Russia] entered into force in 1997. It contained a number of declarative goals for moving towards common economic, humanitarian and cultural spaces. For many years, we used a mechanism of summits, which were held every six months in Russia and in the EU alternately. In fact, our entire Government held annual meetings with the European Commission to discuss the participants’ responsibilities in the context of over 20 sector-specific dialogues. We were building four common spaces and roadmaps for each of them. These were 100 percent substantive and specific projects. It was all destroyed, just like the Partnership and Cooperation Council, within which the Russian Foreign Minister and the High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy reviewed the entire range of relations. This disappeared long before the Ukraine crisis.

Many in our country are just waiting for a chance to pounce on the Russian Government’s foreign policy. We are being asked how we can say that we are ready to break off with the EU when it is our largest trade and economic partner. If we take the EU as a collective partner, it is our largest partner in terms of gross trade. For example, in 2013 (before the Ukraine events) Russia became a WTO member. From that moment, our trade relations were built on the principles advocated by that organisation rather than the EU’s principles. As a single trade bloc, the EU also participated in the WTO. We traded with member countries based on WTO guidelines. If you think the EU is a valuable trade and economic partner, here are some statistics for you: in 2013, the United States was the EU’s biggest trading partner with about $480 billion, followed by China with $428 billion and Russia with $417 billion. That is, these numbers are of the same order of magnitude. Where do we stand now? In 2019, EU’s trade with the United States stood at $750 billion, with China $650 billion, and with Russia at about $280 billion. In 2020, it was $218 billion, if counting with Great Britain, and $191 billion without it.

The reason? It’s the sanctions imposed by our “valued” and largest economic partner for reasons that have never relied on any facts whatsoever. At least, no facts have ever been presented to us. We understand Crimea. We understand Donbass as well. It’s just that the EU admitted its inability, or perhaps, unwillingness, to prevent the anti-constitutional coup with an open Russophobic slant and chose to turn things upside down. Brussels shifted the blame to us and imposed sanctions on Russia rather than the putschists, who, by and large, spat on the guarantees of the European Union, which signed the corresponding agreements, totally ignoring, as I said, the fact that the actions of the government, which they supported, were openly and violently anti-Russian.

Question: Without the events in Ukraine, would our relations with the West have sunk to where they are now?

Sergey Lavrov: It is difficult for me to talk about this. After all, later there were other events linked with the accusations of “the poisoning in Salisbury.” No facts were presented. We were not allowed to meet with our citizens. No evidence was offered. Everything was similar to what is happening now with the alleged poisoning of Alexey Navalny.

Question: It seems the West is looking for a pretext to spoil our relations.

Sergey Lavrov: They are looking but there are many pretexts: it’s always possible to use something as an excuse to put the relationship on the required track. But it’s not that they want to spoil relations. I don’t think this is their main goal. They want to bolster their self-esteem. Now they are starting to act like the US, revealing the mentality of an exclusive group of states. I quoted German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas. When asked why they continue discussing sanctions against Russia and what goals they had achieved by imposing sanctions, he replied that he didn’t believe sanctions should be used for any purpose. What matters is that they don’t leave any action by the Russian Federation unpunished.

The concealment of facts that could somehow confirm accusations against us started long before the crisis in Ukraine. We can recall 2007 – the poisoning of Alexander Litvinenko in the hospital. There was a coroner’s inquest. Later this trial was declared “public.” In George Orwell’s logic, in Britain this means a “secret trial” during which no inquisitorial procedures of the secret services may be presented. You know, these are system-wide problems.

I listed what we used to have in our relations with the European Union. Nothing is left now, not even sporadic contacts on some international issues. As regards the Iran nuclear programme, we are taking part in the work of the collective group of countries, which are trying to somehow put this programme back on track. This is not part of our relations with the EU proper. In the Middle East, we have a Quartet of mediators consisting of Russia, the US, the EU and the UN. In other words, this is multilateral cooperation rather than our relations with just the EU.

With regard to who is taking steps to prevent our relations from further decline, at least a little, we were thinking about that when Josep Borrell, High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, was getting ready to visit Moscow. He suggested cooperating in healthcare and vaccines. We have already discussed this here. As a Brussels institution, the EU will hardly be allowed to contact Russian agencies or companies independently regarding the vaccines. We would sooner cooperate directly with the producers of AstraZeneca, as this is already taking place.

On the eve of Mr Borrell’s visit, we invited his experts to make a joint statement on the Middle East by the Foreign Minister of the Russian Federation and the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy. Our positions are nearly identical on the matter and we thought it would be appropriate to urge the Quartet to resume its activities and call for direct Palestinian-Israeli talks, respect for the relevant UN resolutions, and so on.

We gave them a page and a half text that was easy to approve after the first reading. Several days prior to his arrival, we were told that “it did not work out.” I will reveal a secret because this is a blatant example. I asked Mr Borrell at the negotiating table: “What about this statement? Why didn’t it work out?” He started turning his head all around. It was clear from his reaction, and he confirmed this later, that nobody had even told him about it. These are the people that deal with what some of our liberals call “relations with the EU.”

Question: Concluding this theme, I’d like to say that as a man born in the USSR, I understand that during the Soviet-Western confrontation we had different ideologies, economies and so on. Later, I thought that everything was the same on both sides. They were for democracy and we were for democracy; they had a market economy and we had a market economy. So what are the differences? Why do we fail to find a common language to this day? I thought we found it in the 1990s? Why did we find it then?

Sergey Lavrov: We found it at that time because nobody in the Russian Federation disputed the answer to the question of who was ruling the show. President of Russia Vladimir Putin has talked about this many times. We decided that was it – the end of history. Francis Fukuyama announced that from now on liberal thought would rule the world. Now there are attempts to push this liberal thought to the fore again in a bid to gain international influence. But when it became clear that Russia did not want to live in the house of “a self-appointed boss,” all these complications began to emerge.

Initially, having become President, Vladimir Putin and his team tried to convey this message through diplomatic signals that educated and smart people would be bound to understand. But nobody listened. Then the explanations had to be made politely but openly in the Munich speech. All this started when this signal was not perceived (to be more precise, Russia was seen again as a “hoodlum” in the world arena and they were again going to teach it “good manners”). In any event, the West began its ideological preparations, for its current actions, at that time.

Question: Regarding the sanctions. Bloomberg posted a news item today that new sanctions against Russia are planned concerning the Nord Stream 2, however, they are not going to be tough but rather “soft.” On the other hand, they report that the Americans want to thwart the Nord Stream project but without irritating Germany. Where are we in this situation?

Sergey Lavrov: We are a country that completely complies with the contractual obligations undertaken by our companies that are part of the project, along with the EU companies that joined it. The current situation is largely due to a decision taken by what we call the European Union, a decision that proves beyond doubt what sort of alliance it is. A few years ago, when the Poles, and others sharing their attitude, attempted to impede the Nord Stream project, the Legal Service of the European Commission was asked for legal advice, official opinion. The service presented a document which stated in no uncertain terms that the investment project had been launched long before amendments were made to the EU’s gas directive, the Third Energy Package. That’s it. Period. This issue should be closed for any person who has respect for the law. But no, the European Commission took this opinion and launched its own quasi-legal procedure which resulted in the conclusion that the project had indeed been launched much earlier, yet it fell under this third energy package and the gas directive. That’s what kind of a partner we have in this “relationship.”

This is about how we can “pounce” on them and express readiness to break relations with them when they are our main economic partner – that’s what kind of a partner they are. Meanwhile, now Germany alone is fighting for the project.

And in fact, Joe Biden’s administration will not cancel anything which was done by Donald Trump except for leaving the World Health Organisation (WHO). The Democrats are returning there now.

The NATO defence ministers meeting has just ended. But there was no let-up in US demands to pay 2 percent of a country’s GDP for defence needs, i.e. for purchasing US weaponry. There was no backing off the demands on Europe regarding Nord Stream 2 – to stop participating in some matters that undermine European security. They see it better from across the ocean, right? This is about who is the boss. Europe also wants to run the house but it was taken down a peg. The situation around Nord Stream 2 is straightforward.

For now they are saying publicly that bargaining is underway and possible agreements between Washington and Berlin are being discussed, including that the Nord Stream 2 pipeline may be allowed to be completed and even start operating. However, if at the same time gas transiting via Ukraine is going to be falling, then Nord Stream 2 must be shut off. I cannot decide for Germany, however, it is obvious to me that this proposal is humiliating. As Russian President Vladimir Putin said at his meeting with parliamentary party leaders, this is yet further evidence that they want Russia to pay for their Ukraine geopolitical venture.

Question: Do we have to pay for this geopolitical project?  Why do they think we have to pay for it?

Sergey Lavrov: Because they don’t feel like lashing out on it. They need the Ukrainian regime for the sole purpose of constantly irritating Russia and finding new reasons to support their Russophobic policy. They want to weaken anything around us – Belarus, Central Asia, and now also the South Caucasus, as they got nervous after Russian President Vladimir Putin’s successful mediation mission between Armenia and Azerbaijan: why was this done without them? They are now trying to infiltrate this region and step up their activities there. All of that has nothing to do with the Cold War-era ideology of a showdown between the two systems you talked about a few minutes ago. It has to do with the fact that our Western partners are unwilling, unprepared and unable to speak on an equal footing, whether with Russia, China, or whoever. They need to create a system where they will be the boss regardless. This is why they are taking an increasing dislike to the United Nations since they cannot have total control of it.

Question: Do you see the EU as a monolith, or as something more loose, with certain processes unfolding inside and some countries, no matter what, starting to talk about their willingness to be friends with Russia? In the case of the sanctions, the key figures behind them are, strange as it may seem, the Baltic States, which do not play a prominent role in the EU but, for some reason, everyone is listening to them.

Sergy Lavrov: It sounds inappropriate to refer to the EU as a monolith a mere couple of months after Brexit. This “monolith” is not the same as before. If you mean a monolith in a figurative sense, my answer is no. Quite a few countries are maintaining relations with Russia. The visit of Josep Borrell was the first trip by an EU official of this level to Russia in three years. In the same three years, about two dozen ministers from European Union member countries have visited Russia. We are having a great dialogue, without wasting too much time on confrontation and moralising. Indeed, all of them do have their assignments – a couple of sheets of paper from which they read a script approved by the “party committee” in Brussels.

Question: Do you mean they bring a notebook with instructions with them?

Sergey Lavrov: Certainly. They do not dare to veer off course. This, for example, goes for Alexey Navalny, or the Skripals as in the previous case, or human rights. Now scientist Yury Dmitriyev from Karelia is in the spotlight. They flatly refuse to accept evidence of his involvement in crimes, like pedophilia. They read from their notebook and I would adduce my arguments to the contrary and describe our vision of this or that situation and wonder why we cannot obtain evidence on the Navalny case or the Skripal case. In response they simply read again from their notebook. Apart from this discipline induced by the bloc member states’ solidarity, we discuss things normally. Yes, the EU sets the terms on which [its member countries] participate in the World Trade Organisation (WTO), while we are trading with these countries in the WTO on the terms that were agreed on for Russia to join this organisation. But the EU has nothing to do with this cooperation in trade and investment activity, except for its attempts to restrict trade and economic ties with the sanctions.

You mentioned the Baltic States. Indeed, they run the show in this respect to a great extent. I have talked to your colleagues about this on more than one occasion. When in 2004 there were hectic activities to drag them into the EU, Russia and Brussels maintained a very frank dialogue. The President of the European Commission at the time was Romano Prodi. In 2005, the objective was set to move to visa-free travel.

Question: Nobody has any memories of this today.

Sergey Lavrov: We remember this when we reply to those who ask how we dare say that we are ready to break relations with the EU. You mentioned the Baltic States. We had long been negotiating an updated version of the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement between Russia and the EU, which the EU terminated in 2014. It was expected to go a bit beyond the boundaries of the WTO rules and allow us to negotiate additional trade preferences. At one time there was an objective to establish a free trade zone, but this has long since fallen into oblivion. However, there were plans to update the agreement in order to liberalise trade even more, in addition to the WTO rules. In 2014, they ceased to exist – another example of breaking down our relations.

A visa-free travel agreement was also finalised back in 2013. We had met all of the EU requirements: we agreed that only people with biometric passports would be eligible for visa-free travel and that those who violated EU entry rules or any other EU rules while in an EU country during a visa-free period would be subject to readmission. We signed the relevant agreement. Everything they asked for, and that suited us, was done. Later, when it was time to sign the agreement and then ratify it, the EU said: “Let’s wait.” It did not take us long to learn why they had said this, all the more so as they did not try to conceal their motives. This Brussels team decided that it was politically incorrect to approve a visa-free travel agreement with Russia prior to offering it to Georgia, Ukraine and Moldova.

Question: In other words, Russia was made dependent on other countries?

Sergey Lavrov: It sure was, at the Baltic States’ initiative. This is also important for understanding the nature of our relations. This is an attitude from people who decided that they were European, which is not at all the case. Russia sees Europe in all its diversity. If the “party committee” in Brussels does not like it, we cannot force them to.

Question: Europe stretches at least to the Urals.

Sergey Lavrov: Correct. In 2009, when Jose Manuel Barroso was President of the European Commission, we held a Russia-EU summit in Khabarovsk. Our European colleagues arrived later in the day. We went out for a walk along the embankment. We were showing them around the city and Mr Barroso said: “It’s amazing. It took us 13 hours to get here from Brussels, and it’s still Europe.” This is the key message behind the slogan “Europe from the Atlantic to the Pacific.”

Question: I’m going to ask you about one other country, Belarus. There will be a presidential summit on February 22. President Lukashenko will come to Russia. Recently, Foreign Minister of Belarus Vladimir Makei gave an interview to the RBC media holding and mentioned Belarus’ multi-directional foreign policy. Do you think we have managed to work well with Minsk on integration? What should we expect from these talks?

Sergey Lavrov: The term “multi-directional” should not be used as a profanity. Most normal states want it. Russia, too, has used a multi-directional approach as the basis of its foreign policy since 2002. In our understanding, a multi-directional approach is possible only if based of equality, respect and a balance of interests, as well as mutual benefit. This is the only way it can work.

First, they threaten us with sanctions, and then the same people are saying that we “had it coming” and impose unilateral restrictions on us, and then say that we are “bad” because “we are looking to the East.” Everything has been turned upside down.

Russia is a Eurasian country. We have close contacts with Europe, which have been cultivated for centuries, before anyone even thought of a European Union, and the Europeans fought and competed against each other. By the way, we often helped them achieve peace and fair outcomes in wars.

Question: We even saved the monarchies?

Sergey Lavrov: Yes, and they are aware of it. The republic in the United States, too, to a certain extent.

However, our European neighbours have severed almost all of our ties and left only sporadic contacts on international crises that are of interest to the EU in order to keep a profile on the international arena. In many ways, the EU is driven by a desire to be seen as an important operator in Syrian and other matters. If we are not welcome here, we will simply continue to work with our other neighbours who are not prone to whims like that.

Objectively, our trade with the EU is almost half of what it was in 2013. Our trade with China has doubled over the same period.

Question: Back to Minsk. What can we expect from talks between President Putin and President Lukashenko on February 22?

Sergey Lavrov: There are some who want to interpret Minsk’s words about the multi-directional nature of its foreign policy as proof of its “unreliability” as a partner and ally. I do not think so.

In the Council of Europe, of which Belarus is not a member yet, we advocate the CoE establishing relations with Minsk. We supported the accession of Minsk to a number of Council of Europe conventions. We have always been in favour of Belarus enjoying normal relations with its western neighbours. I’m not sure what the CoE will do next. Russophobia has swept over most of the EU countries, and the most “violent” ones are in charge of the agenda.

I read the remarks by President Lukashenko (not all his interviews, but they were cited) to the effect that he sees no obstacles to deepening integration. Progress will depend on how President Vladimir Putin and President Lukashenko agree on things.

There are two more days to go before the talks. I don’t think we should be speculating on the outcome of the summit. We will know everything soon.

Question: Recently, US President Joseph Biden said the United States will no longer be “rolling over in the face of Russia’s aggressive actions” (ostensibly, Donald Trump did this). How can we build our relations now? Are there subjects we can discuss with Washington? Are they ready to talk with us?

Sergey Lavrov: These comments on who is rolling over or will be rolling over in the face of someone’s actions illustrate a very deep split in US society. It reached a level of personal enmity that is aggressive and contrary to American political culture. The politicians did not particularly mince their words during previous presidential campaigns or prior to elections to Congress, but I don’t remember anything comparable to what is being said now.

Our liberal media promote a tough pro-Western line. In looking for objects of criticism in Russia, they are infringing on the threshold of decency and getting personal. They are very crude, and behave not like journalists but like inveterate propagandists, accusing others of propaganda.

The fact that the New Start Treaty was extended in time is a very positive step. This shouldn’t be overrated, but it shouldn’t be underrated, either. In his election speeches Joseph Biden mentioned his willingness to extend it, but these were election speeches after all. His promise could be interpreted differently later, but he extended this important document for five years without any conditions, like we suggested. If this had not happened, there would not have been a single instrument of international law, not only in Russian-US relations but in the entire range of multilateral ties, that contained any restrictions in the sphere of disarmament, arms control and nuclear weapons non-proliferation.

It is very important that just a few days prior to February 5, 2021, the date the treaty was extended for five years, President of Russia Vladimir Putin and US President Joseph Biden reaffirmed their intention to promote talks on strategic stability in these new conditions, in their first telephone conversation after the US presidential election. The situation has changed substantially since 2010: We and the Americans have acquired new weapons some of which are covered by the treaty. We announced this last year. We said that they must be taken into account. Some other weapons are not covered by the treaty – they are basically very different because of their physical characteristics.

Question: Are you talking about hypersonic weapons?

Sergey Lavrov: Yes, the United States also has such weapons. Hypersonic weapons are partly covered by the New START Treaty, if these are ballistic missiles.

The New START Treaty already covers some weapons systems, so we now have to include these weapons systems in the Treaty for the next five years and see how all this will be verified. But it does not cover some weapons.

The United States has developed a new system called the Prompt Global Strike (PGS). By the way, this system implies a non-nuclear strike. We have suggested negotiating all issues without exception that have an impact on strategic stability and the legitimate interests of the contracting parties.

Question: Did they agree to this? Are they ready?

Sergey Lavrov: In October 2020, we submitted draft joint understandings to the Trump administration. This rough outline shows how we can sit down and start negotiating the agenda. We have received no reply from them. Instead of addressing this matter, Marshall Billingslea, the Special Presidential Envoy for Arms Control, mostly made vocal statements that the United States was all for it but that the Russians did not want to do this.

When I spoke with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, I reminded him that Russia had submitted its proposals to the Trump administration, which dealt with this matter and many other issues, including cybersecurity and concerns over interference in each other’s domestic affairs. We would like to get back to them, and to hear the Biden administration’s opinions in this regard. We realise that they now need some time to settle down in the White House and the Department of State. I hope that this will not take too long.

There are still some questions on disarmament, for example, the lineup of participants in the disarmament process. The US position on China, approved by Donald Trump, remains unchanged; the same concerns a number of other matters.

Regarding multilateral talks, first of all, this should not annul Russian-US agreements because we have several times more nuclear weapons than other nuclear countries. Second, if we make this a multilateral process, then all prospective participants, primarily the five nuclear powers, should reach a voluntary agreement. We will never try to persuade China. We respect the position of Beijing, which either wants to catch up with us or proposes that we first reduce our arsenals to China’s levels and then start on the talks. All circumstances considered, if this is a multilateral process, then we will get nowhere without the United Kingdom and France. The Trump administration insisted that China should take part and at the same time said about its allies that they were the good guys, literally. This sounds funny. Apart from the complicated and lengthy disarmament process, we do not have so many promising spheres where we can cooperate constructively.

Question: Does this mean that their vision of the issue is entirely different or that they are reluctant to negotiate?

Sergey Lavrov: They think that they are the boss, and this mentality is still here and it determines the perception of their enemies. So far, they have not designated China as an enemy, but they have called us an enemy a couple of times. Democrats have an additional motivation for expanding this policy. Their position is that, supposedly unlike with Donald Trump, they will be “no Russian tail wagging the dog.”

Question: Don’t you think that Democrats have come to power with the intention of taking revenge against Russia, and that they will implement Donald Trump’s anti-Russia plans that he failed to accomplish in four years.

Sergey Lavrov: They made such statements during the election campaign. Joe Biden and his supporters said openly that the Trump administration had gone soft, that it was constantly making advances and working for the Russian intelligence. Donald Trump said that he was conducting the toughest policy with regard to Russia. He said that he liked Vladimir Putin, but he introduced more sanctions than all of his predecessors taken together.

We are also witnessing a cowboy-style showdown there. But this is normal for US politics, especially today. Disagreements between liberals who considered liberalism an irreversible trend have become aggravated to the greatest possible extent. Donald Trump, who did not like liberal principles and approaches, suddenly took over. He tried to think more about the basic interests of the American founders, the people who moved there (and it has always been a nation of immigrants), and who accepted its laws. So, the big question is whether people should remain loyal to the country that has accepted them, or do they want to erode its principles?

Question: Should they try to fit in?

Sergey Lavrov: Yes, and they want to be the boss. Everything boils down to this once again.

Question: Karabakh, the subject of that. Fortunately, the war is over and a peace agreement has been inked. We covered extensively the role Russia and Azerbaijan played. I have a question to do with Turkey. I was in Azerbaijan during the war and heard many people say that the Azerbaijanis are supportive of the Great Turan idea (a state that covered the territory from Turkey to Central Asia). Is Moscow concerned by Turkey becoming a stronger state?

Sergey Lavrov: This opinion is entertained by a portion of the society. I’m not going to give a percentage of how many people support this idea. I’m not sure many of those who informed you about this really know what “Great Turan” is all about.

The relations between Turkic-speaking peoples have become an integral part of cooperation between Turkey and the corresponding countries, including Azerbaijan and a number of Central Asian states.

There is the Cooperation Council of the Turkic-Speaking States, in which we participate as observers. A number of our republics are interested in contacts with it and are promoting their specific projects.

There is TURKSOY  ̵  the International Organisation of Turkic Culture. There’s also the Parliamentary Assembly of Turkic-Speaking Countries. All of them have been functioning for a long time now. They draft their own plans and hold functions. Their cooperation is mainly based on cultural, linguistic and educational traditions.

Speaking about the Great Turan as a supranational entity in a historical sense, I don’t think that this is what Turkey is after. I don’t see how former Soviet and now independent countries can be supportive of this idea in any form. On the contrary, their foreign policies and practices focus on strengthening their national states.

Turkey has its interests which include its fellow tribesmen who speak the same language. We also want the Russian World to communicate. We have created an extensive network of organisations of our compatriots living abroad; we are opening Russian World centres at universities in different countries with purely linguistic, educational and scientific goals.

The Centre for the Russian Language and Culture created by the Russkiy Mir Foundation was recently closed in Krakow. This is an obvious step for Poland, as well as for the Baltic States, which are fighting everything that is Russian. Ukraine followed in their footsteps and shut down several media outlets and imposed a language ban. We are well aware of all this. We will keep raising this matter at the OSCE, the Council of Europe and the corresponding UN agencies. One cannot pretend that this comes with the “growth” and the “coming of age” of the Ukrainian nation, which, as they say, is an “ill-fated” one. The Ukrainians claim that they are the descendants of Alexander the Great. In that case, they should be responsible for the orders they introduce. The EU, and Germany and France as the Normandy format participants, avoid performing their duties when it comes to “educating” Ukraine in terms of making it comply with the Minsk agreements, and this has become a chronic behaviour pattern which does not reflect well on Germany or France.

Question: It was announced that Ukraine was recognised an unfriendly state. How will this affect relations between us?

Sergey Lavrov: This is just a descriptive attribute. What’s friendly about it? Russian schools are being closed, customers and shop assistants are not allowed to speak their native language, and the Nazis are burning Russian flags.

Question: This is reminiscent of the Baltic States 20 to 30 years ago.

Sergey Lavrov: Back when the Baltic States were about to be admitted to the EU, we asked the Brussels bureaucrats, the Eurogrands, whether they were sure they were doing the right thing. The problems that are at odds with the membership criteria persist, including non-observance of the rights of the Russian-speaking minorities in Latvia and Estonia. We were told that the Baltic States are phobic of Russia (war, the so-called occupation, etc.), the EU will bring it into its fold, it will calm down and ethnic minorities will be happy and contented. Things turned out the other way round. The Russians were not granted any rights, and statelessness is still there.

Question: Let’s go back to Turkey: Ankara’s stronger position, its active role in the Nagorno-Karabakh war, President Erdogan’s visit to Northern Cyprus (which a Turkish leader has not done for quite a while). What does Moscow think about it?

Sergey Lavrov: As far as Turkey and Northern Cyprus are concerned, we see it as Ankara’s relations with its “fellow countrymen.” I have not heard about Turkey refusing to honour the UN obligations accepted by the conflicting parties. These obligations include seeking a mutually acceptable solution and creating a bicommunal bizonal federation. There is a discussion of whether the federation will be strong or weak. But there is no disagreement about the fact that it must be one state. Although not so very long ago, it was the common opinion that the entire project would fail and they would have to create two states. We understand that Ankara is interested in Cypriot Turks living in equality and their rights being observed. We support the idea that the same motives with which Turkey explains its actions in the Eastern Mediterranean, including with respect to hydrocarbons, should determine its dialogue with Greece and Turkey.

On February 17, 2021, I spoke with Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias who told me that on January 25, 2021, he had had a probing conversation with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu. They did not iron out all issues. But it is good news that a dialogue was established. They agreed to continue it. On February 18, 2021, I spoke with Mevlut Cavusoglu. We continued sharing opinions following the telephone conversations between President Putin and President Erdogan on Syria, Libya, Nagorno-Karabakh and our bilateral relations. New power units of a nuclear power station are under construction; the TurkStream project is ongoing. There is much common ground between our countries when it comes to energy.

In October 2019, the first Russia-Africa Summit in history was held in Sochi. A record number of heads of state and heads of government attended. In the course of the preparations for the summit, we reviewed the development of our relations with African countries and the current state of affairs, including from the perspective of expanding our presence on the continent which political scientists consider to be the most promising in the long term. We reviewed other countries’ presence in Africa. Since 2002, the number of Turkish embassies in Africa has increased from 12 to 42. Turkey’s trade with the region is estimated at around 20 billion dollars a year and Russia’s trade is around 15 billion dollars. This is to say that Turkey has an eye for potential.

Question: Perhaps Turkey is disappointed with the EU because nobody accepted it?

Sergey Lavrov: I believe it could partially be the case. In its contacts with the EU, Ankara continues to insist that the EU promised it accession. Turkey is spreading its wings and gaining weight despite the existing economic problems at home. Turkey mainly goes on by accumulating its national debt but this model is widely common around the world.

Question: 2020 is the year of the pandemic. During such times, countries should join forces and help each other. Do you think that this was the case? Or did the world fail to put aside disagreements and rally together even when it came to the COVID-19 infection?

Sergey Lavrov: Now this conversation is back to square one. There are no ideologies anymore. But this ideology-based, politicised perception of the Russian vaccine was not a very good signal. The Sputnik V vaccine was announced in August 2020, many months after the G20 summit (March 2020) where Vladimir Putin strongly advocated cooperation in vaccine production. Even then, we were ready to create joint scientific teams. But Western countries and their companies, unwilling to help competitors, did not respond to that proposal. So much for unification in this purely medical field.

There is also the humanitarian sphere. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, and UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet made calls during the pandemic to suspend all unilateral sanctions in fields directly affecting food, the supply of medicine and medical equipment, in order to alleviate the suffering of the population in countries that were under unilateral sanctions (regardless of their reasons). There was no reaction from the initiators of those sanctions (primarily the US and the EU). Also, there was no response to President Vladimir Putin’s proposal, at the G20 summit, to create ‘green corridors’ for the period of the pandemic, to move goods under the most relaxed rules – without tax, duties, tariffs, delays, or special customs inspections.

We are all in the same boat, and it’s not so big. Some forecasts say this situation will continue for a long time, and the coronavirus will be a seasonal infection, and it is not at all the same as the flu or other diseases, so we will have to use precautions permanently, use PPE. This realisation should somehow prod countries to more open cooperation, especially those that up until recently had some doubts.

True, there have been some good shifts. One of them is the United States’ return to the World Health Organisation (WHO). Some hotheads in Washington believe that, now that they have returned, they will make others do their bidding. There are fewer than 50 Chinese people in the WHO Secretariat, 25 Russians, over 200 Americans, and more than 2,000 NATO representatives. The past US administration said China was manipulating the WHO. That is not true. Otherwise, we are admitting the complete helplessness of 2,000 NATO members who should be the majority in the WHO Secretariat.

Nevertheless, there are some positive results though. This problem has been recently considered at the UN General Assembly and the Security Council. It is important now to focus on equitable collaboration within the WHO. Besides the attempts at carrying out “soft coups” and establishing their own rules in the organisation, hardly based on consensus, an idea has been suggested to move the main decision-making on global health policies outside the universal organisation. We have been pointing out this tendency for some time now – the one to replace international law with a rules-based world order. As it turns out in reality, those rules boil down to working out all decisions in a circle of those who agree with you rather than in a group with universal representation where you have to argue your case and search for balances and compromises. And then you just present the decision as ‘the ultimate truth’ and demand that everyone respect it.

This underlies the Franco-German initiative for a new multilateralism and some limited partnerships in the West. For example, Paris has launched an International Partnership Against Impunity for the Use of Chemical Weapons. Under this non-universal, non-UN partnership, the EU creates the so-called ‘horizontal’ regime of sanctions to be imposed on anyone that France-initiated partnership points at. A similar sanctions regime is being created for cybersecurity. Instead of any open-ended discussion, the French are promoting some partnership to defend freedom in cyberspace. This is another example of rules on which ‘order’ will be based.

There are attempts to start similar groups outside the WHO. But people’s health is not a field where one can play geopolitics. Unless there is a conspiracy behind this to reduce the population of the Earth. Many are now starting to develop such theories and concepts.

Russia holds the key to German sovereignty

Russia holds the key to German sovereignty

February 17, 2021

A more sovereign Germany closer to Russia and China may be the straw that breaks the US hegemon’s back

By Pepe Escobar with permission and first posted at Asia Times

Last week we traced the necessary historical and geopolitical steps to understand Why Russia is driving the West crazy.

And then, last Friday, right before the start of the Year of the Metal Ox, came the bombshell, delivered with customary aplomb by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.

In an interview with popular talk show host Vladimir Solovyov – with the full transcript published by the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs – Lavrov said Moscow “must be ready” for a possible “break with the European Union.”

The ominous break would be a direct result of new EU sanctions, particularly those “that create risks for our economy, including in the most sensitive areas.” And then, the Sun Tzu-style clincher: “If you want peace, prepare for war.”

Kremlin spokesperson Dmitri Peskov, afterwards, made sure to explain that Lavrov was taken out of context: the media, predictably, had seized on a “sensational” headline.

So Lavrov’s full, nuanced answer to a question about rocky EU-Russia relations must be carefully examined:

“We believe we would be ready for this. We are neighbors. Speaking collectively, they are our largest trade and investment partner. Many EU companies operate here; there are hundreds or even thousands of joint ventures. When a business benefits both sides, we will continue. I am sure that we have become fully self-sufficient in the defense sphere. We must also attain the same position in the economy to be able to act accordingly if we see again (we have seen this more than once) that sanctions are imposed in a sphere where they can create risks for our economy, including in the most sensitive areas such as the supply of component parts. We don’t want to be isolated from the world, but we must be prepared for this. If you want peace, prepare for war.”

It’s quite clear that Lavrov is not stating that Russia will unilaterally cut off relations with the EU. The ball is actually in the EU’s court: Moscow is stating that it will not exercise a first-strike option to break relations with the Brussels eurocracy. And that in itself would also be quite different from breaking relations with any of the 27 EU member-states.

The context Peskov referred to is also clear: EU envoy Josep Borrell, after his disastrous trip to Moscow, had raised the issue that Brussels was weighing the imposition of further sanctions. Lavrov’s response was clearly designed to drum some sense into the thick heads of the European Commission (EC), run by notoriously incompetent former German defense minister Ursula von der Leyen and her foreign policy “chief” Borrell.

Earlier this week, Peskov was forced to come back incisively to the volcanic saga: “Regrettably, Brussels keeps talking about sanctions, so does the United States with maniacal persistency. This is something we will never welcome. It is something that we do not like at all.”

Talk about diplomatic euphemism.

So the stage is set for a raucous – to say the least – meeting of EU foreign ministers next Monday, where they will discuss – what else? – possible new sanctions. Those most probably would include travel bans and asset freezes on selected Russians, including people very close to the Kremlin, blamed by the EU to be responsible for the jailing earlier this month of right-wing blogger and convicted fraudster (a scam against Yves Rocher) Alexei Navalny.

The overwhelming majority of Russians see Navalny – with a popularity rate of 2% at best – as a lowly, expendable NATO asset. The meeting next week will pave the way for the summit of member state leaders at the end of March, where the EU could – and that’s the operative word – formally approve new sanctions. That would require a unanimous decision by the EU’s 27 member states.

As it stands, apart from the stridently Russophobic usual suspects – Poland and the Baltics – it doesn’t appear Brussels is aiming to shoot itself in the back.

Remember Leibniz

EU observers obviously have not been observing how Moscow’s pragmatic view of Brussels has evolved in the past few years.

Russia-EU trade will continue, no matter what. The EU badly needs Russian energy; and Russia is willing to sell it, oil and gas, pipelines and all. That’s strictly business. If the EU doesn’t want it – for a basket of reasons – no problem: Russia is developing a steady stream of businesses, energy included, all across East Asia.

The always relevant Valdai Discussion Club, a Moscow-based think tank, for instance, is carefully tracking the trade aspect of the Russia-China strategic partnership:

“US policy will continue to seek a split between China and Russia. Europe remains an important partner for Moscow and Beijing. The situation in Central Asia is stable, but it requires the building up of Russian-Chinese cooperation.”

Putin, laterally, also weighed in on the EU-Russia saga, which is a subtext of that perennial battle between Russia and the West: “As soon as we began to stabilize, to get back to our feet – the policy of deterrence followed immediately… And as we grew stronger, this policy of deterrence was being conducted more and more intensely.”

I hinted last week at the intergalactic-distant possibility of a Berlin-Moscow-Beijing axis
Media and telecoms analyst Peter G. Spengler in a lengthy email to me elegantly qualified it as belonging to Robert Musil’s sense of possibility, as described in his masterpiece The Man Without Qualities.

Peter Spengler also called attention to Leibniz’s Novissima Sinica, and particularly to an essay by Manfred von Boetticher on Leibniz and Russia, represented by Tsar Peter the Great, in which the role of Russia as a bridge between Europe and China is emphasized.

Even though Leibniz, in the end, never met Peter the Great, we learn that “it was always Leibniz’s goal to get practical application for his theoretical findings. Throughout his life, he was looking for a ‘great potentate’ who was open to modern ideas and with whose help he could realize his ideas of a better world. In the age of absolutism, this seemed to be the most promising perspective for a scholar for whom the progress of science and technology as well as the improvement of education and economic conditions were urgent goals.”

“Tsar Peter, who was as powerful as he was open to all new plans and whose personality fascinated him anyway, must therefore have been an extraordinarily interesting contact for Leibniz. Since Western Europe had come into closer contact with China through the Jesuit mission and Leibniz had recognized the importance of the millennia-old Chinese culture, he also saw in Russia the natural link between the European and Chinese cultural spheres, the center of a future synthesis between the Orient and the Occident. With the emerging upheavals in the Russian Empire, his hopes seemed to be fulfilled: Full of expectation, he followed the changes in Russia, as they were emerging under Peter I.”

Yet to evoke Leibniz at this stage is to dream of heavenly spheres. The pedestrian geopolitical reality is that the EU is an Atlanticist institution – de facto subordinated to NATO. Lavrov might want to behave like a Daoist monk, or even pull a Leibniz, but it’s hard when you’re forced to deal with a bunch of dummies.

It’s all about sovereignty

Rabid Atlanticists argue that non-entity Navalny is directly related to Nord Stream 2. Nonsense: Navalny was built (italics mine) by the usual suspects as a battering ram to undermine Nord Stream 2.

The reason is that the pipeline will consolidate Berlin at the core of the EU’s energy policy. And that will be a major factor in the EU’s overall foreign policy – with Germany, at least in theory, exercising more autonomy in relation to the US.

So here’s the “dirty” secret: it’s all a matter of sovereignty. Every geopolitical and geoeconomic player knows who does not want a closer Germany-Russia entente.

Now imagine a hegemonic Germany in Europe forging closer trade and investment ties with not only Russia but also China (and that’s the other “secret” inbuilt in the EU-China trade-investment deal).

So whoever is lodged in the White House, there’s nothing else to expect from the US Deep State apart from the “maniacal” push towards perennial, accumulated sanctions.

The ball is actually in Berlin’s court, much more than in the court of eurocratic nightmare Brussels, where everyone’s future priority amounts to receiving their full, fat retirement pensions tax-free.

Berlin’s strategic priority is more exports – within the EU and most of all to Asia. German industrialists and the business classes know exactly what Nord Stream 2 represents: increasingly assertive German sovereignty guiding the heart of the EU, which translates as increased EU sovereignty.

An immensely significant sign has been recently delivered by Berlin with the approval granted for imports of the Sputnik vaccine.

Is Musil’s sense of possibility already in play? It’s too early to tell. The hegemon has unleashed a no-holds-barred hybrid war against Russia since 2014. This war may not be kinetic; roughly, it’s 70% financial and 30% infowar.

A more sovereign Germany closer to Russia and China may be the straw that breaks the hegemon’s back.

Russia Needs To Realize That EU Diplomacy Is Based On Deception

By Andrew Korybko

Source

Russia Needs To Realize That EU Diplomacy Is Based On Deception

Russia was left embarrassed after EU foreign policy chief Borrell suddenly flipped the script on his views about bilateral relations upon returning back to the bloc after what Foreign Minister Lavrov had previously thought was his constructive visit to Moscow just days earlier, though this incident might hopefully provide the long-overdue impetus for Russia to finally realize that EU diplomacy is based on deception and that no remarks from any of its representatives should ever be accepted at face value even if they were considered to be “candid” ones made behind closed doors.

Russia’s learning a much-needed and long-overdue lesson after being embarrassed by EU foreign policy chief Borrell following the surprise comments that he made after his visit to Moscow that Foreign Minister Lavrov had previously considered to have been a constructive exchange of ideas. Borrell flipped the script on what he had earlier implied during the press conference with his Russian counterpart just days prior by writing on his blog that he now believed that Moscow has no desire to improve relations with Brussels. The Russian Foreign Ministry responded by noting that he “had all opportunities to immediately deliver (his) personal evaluation” during the press conference, “No one restricted him either in time or in format”, but that “Perhaps, the EU foreign policy chief received explanations upon his arrival to Brussels on how to lay emphases, but in this case, it only proves who and how is shaping up the EU policies in reality.”

In other words, Russia feels deceived since it sincerely thought that its diplomatic counterparts’ views were sincere, especially those comparatively “candid” ones that were shared behind closed doors as is the norm in this profession. Nothing that Borrell said in public or private made Lavrov or his deputies think that he was giving them the runaround. After all, his public playing down of sanctions over Navalny and praise of Sputnik V were impressive goodwill gestures that they assumed he wouldn’t have done if he wasn’t sincere in his desire to improve bilateral relations. It therefore naturally follows that his remarks behind closed doors were probably very similar in spirit to the ones that he shared in public since it wouldn’t make sense for him to give them a tongue-lashing in private only to flip the script in public for the global audience’s sake. Russia’s diplomats are world-class and this is how they expect their counterparts to conduct their honorable profession.

Be that as it may, Russian diplomats were played for fools by Borrell, though they didn’t realize it until he returned back to the bloc and started blogging. There’s no doubt that the visit went smoothly, both in public and in private as was explained, so they had no reason to suspect any foul play until he surprised them with his online remarks. It might comfort Russia and/or help it “save face” to think that someone in Brussels or perhaps even further abroad pulled Borrell’s strings, but the argument being made in this analysis is that he was the one trying to pull theirs. To be absolutely clear, Russia did everything by the book during his visit and there wasn’t anything else that they should have done at the time considering all the positive signals that they received from him in public and in private, but at the end of the day, he seems to have just been faking them out. An analysis of his provocative blog post hints at what he might have been thinking at the time.

Borrell claims that his interactions with Lavrov were sometimes very intense even though he didn’t show it during their press conference. About that, he described it as “aggressively staged” and condemned the expulsion of some EU diplomats who violated their professional code of conduct by joining in unauthorized pro-Navalny rallies, though if that’s truly how he felt, then he did an excellent job disguising it. In hindsight, he should have made his feelings known right then and there in order to clear up any ambiguity created by his positive press conference with Lavrov. For some reason, despite Russia repeatedly — and in the eyes of some of its most passionate supporters abroad, almost embarrassingly — reminding its European counterparts of its deep-seated desire to enter into a rapprochement and reset their relations back to their pre-2014 halcyon days, Borrell wrote how convinced he now is that “Russia is progressively disconnecting itself from Europe”.

Truth be told, many Non-Russian Pro-Russians (NRPR) have publicly pleaded on the internet for years that this is exactly the course of action that Russia should have commenced seven years ago, with many expressing their frustration every time that Moscow obsequiously talks about what it still continues to this day to describe as its so-called “Western partners”. Instead, the learning experience of the past week taught by none other than Borrell himself should imbue Russian strategists with a fresh impetus to accelerate the “recalibration” of their Great Power’s “balancing” act towards China after its recent high-profile diplomatic disagreements with India, double down on its “Ummah Pivot” to Muslim-majority countries, and comprehensively expand relations with Africa. That doesn’t mean that they should abandon the Western vector of their diplomatic outreaches, but just that it mustn’t continue to take precedence over all others like it hitherto has.

As interesting of an observation as it may be, non-Western diplomats still tend to practice diplomacy in the classical way that it’s intended unlike their Western counterparts. The former are more sincere behind closed doors than the latter are, as proven by the embarrassing Borrell episode. The EU is trying to humiliate Russia by manipulating its diplomats’ professional expectations in order to turn them into fools on the world stage, something that Russia’s non-Western partners aren’t interested in doing. The bloc is doing this because of the power trip that it’s been on with American backing over the past seven years, believing (whether accurately or not) that Russia needs them more than the reverse since it’s always Moscow that’s requesting (or as critics claim, begging for) a rapprochement and never Brussels. Moscow was just practicing diplomacy in its classical way, but Brussels misinterpreted it as political desperation that it subsequently sought to exploit at every turn.

There’s truth to the Russian perception that the EU is mostly controlled by the US, but the former’s diplomats mustn’t rely any longer on that train of thought as an excuse for dismissing every blatantly disrespectful action that the latter’s commit. It’s time for Russia to recognize that the EU must take responsibility its actions, including its willingness to continue remaining mostly controlled by the US. Blaming America might score some rhetorical points with at home and among Western dissidents, but clinging to that belief and actually acting upon it by looking the other way whenever the EU diplomatically slaps Russia around risks leading to a loss of respect for this proud Great Power. Thankfully, Moscow’s recent expulsion of EU diplomats hints that it’s regaining its self-respect and belatedly recognizing that the bloc isn’t its friend. It can only be hoped that this is followed up by Russia confirming Borrell’s worst nightmare and finally distancing itself from the West.

Why Russia is driving the West crazy

Why Russia is driving the West crazy

February 10, 2021

by Pepe Escobar with permission and first posted on Asia Times

Future historians may register it as the day when usually unflappable Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov decided he had had enough:

We are getting used to the fact that the European Union are trying to impose unilateral restrictions, illegitimate restrictions and we proceed from the assumption at this stage that the European Union is an unreliable partner.

Josep Borrell, the EU foreign policy chief, on an official visit to Moscow, had to take it on the chin.

Lavrov, always the perfect gentleman, added, “I hope that the strategic review that will take place soon will focus on the key interests of the European Union and that these talks will help to make our contacts more constructive.”

He was referring to the EU heads of state and government’s summit at the European Council next month, where they will discuss Russia. Lavrov harbors no illusions the “unreliable partners” will behave like adults.

Yet something immensely intriguing can be found in Lavrov’s opening remarks in his meeting with Borrell: “The main problem we all face is the lack of normalcy in relations between Russia and the European Union – the two largest players in the Eurasian space. It is an unhealthy situation, which does not benefit anyone.”

The two largest players in the Eurasian space (italics mine). Let that sink in. We’ll be back to it in a moment.

As it stands, the EU seems irretrievably addicted to worsening the “unhealthy situation”. European Commission head Ursula von der Leyen memorably botched the Brussels vaccine game. Essentially, she sent Borrell to Moscow to ask for licensing rights for European firms to produce the Sputnik V vaccine – which will soon be approved by the EU.

And yet Eurocrats prefer to dabble in hysteria, promoting the antics of NATO asset and convicted fraudster Navalny – the Russian Guaido.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the Atlantic, under the cover of “strategic deterrence”, the head of the US STRATCOM, Admiral Charles Richard, casually let it slip that “there is a real possibility that a regional crisis with Russia or China could escalate quickly to a conflict involving nuclear weapons, if they perceived a conventional loss would threaten the regime or state.”

So the blame for the next – and final – war is already apportioned to the “destabilizing” behavior of Russia and China. It’s assumed they will be “losing” – and then, in a fit of rage, will go nuclear. The Pentagon will be no more than a victim; after all, claims Mr. STRATCOM, we are not “stuck in the Cold War”.

STRATCOM planners could do worse than read crack military analyst Andrei Martyanov, who for years has been on the forefront detailing how the new hypersonic paradigm – and not nuclear weapons – has changed the nature of warfare.

After a detailed technical discussion, Martyanov shows how “the United States simply has no good options currently. None. The less bad option, however, is to talk to Russians and not in terms of geopolitical BS and wet dreams that the United States, somehow, can convince Russia “to abandon” China – US has nothing, zero, to offer Russia to do so. But at least Russians and Americans may finally settle peacefully this “hegemony” BS between themselves and then convince China to finally sit as a Big Three at the table and finally decide how to run the world. This is the only chance for the US to stay relevant in the new world.”

The Golden Horde imprint

As much as the chances are negligible of the EU getting a grip on the “unhealthy situation” with Russia, there’s no evidence what Martyanov outlined will be contemplated by the US Deep State.

The path ahead seems ineluctable: perpetual sanctions; perpetual NATO expansion alongside Russia’s borders; the build up of a ring of hostile states around Russia; perpetual US interference on Russian internal affairs – complete with an army of fifth columnists; perpetual, full spectrum information war.

Lavrov is increasingly making it crystal clear that Moscow expects nothing else. Facts on the ground, though, will keep accumulating.

Nordstream 2 will be finished – sanctions or no sanctions – and will supply much needed natural gas to Germany and the EU. Convicted fraudster Navalny – 1% of real “popularity” in Russia – will remain in jail. Citizens across the EU will get Sputnik V. The Russia-China strategic partnership will continue to solidify.

To understand how we have come to this unholy Russophobic mess, an essential road map is provided by Russian Conservatism , an exciting, new political philosophy study by Glenn Diesen, associate professor at University of Southeastern Norway, lecturer at Moscow’s Higher School of Economics, and one of my distinguished interlocutors in Moscow.

Diesen starts focusing on the essentials: geography, topography and history. Russia is a vast land power without enough access to the seas. Geography, he argues, conditions the foundations of “conservative policies defined by autocracy, an ambiguous and complex concept of nationalism, and the enduring role of the Orthodox Church” – something that implies resistance to “radical secularism”.

It’s always crucial to remember that Russia has no natural defensible borders; it has been invaded or occupied by Swedes, Poles, Lithuanians, the Mongol Golden Horde, Crimean Tatars and Napoleon. Not to mention the immensely bloody Nazi invasion.

What’s in a word? Everything: “security”, in Russian, is byezopasnost. That happens to be a negative, as byez means “without” and opasnost means “danger”.

Russia’s complex, unique historical make-up always presented serious problems. Yes, there was close affinity with the Byzantine empire. But if Russia “claimed transfer of imperial authority from Constantinople it would be forced to conquer it.” And to claim the successor, role and heritage of the Golden Horde would relegate Russia to the status of an Asiatic power only.

On the Russian path to modernization, the Mongol invasion provoked not only a geographical schism, but left its imprint on politics: “Autocracy became a necessity following the Mongol legacy and the establishment of Russia as an Eurasian empire with a vast and poorly connected geographical expanse”.

“A colossal East West”

Russia is all about East meets West. Diesen reminds us how Nikolai Berdyaev, one of the leading 20th century conservatives, already nailed it in 1947: “The inconsistency and complexity of the Russian soul may be due to the fact that in Russia two streams of world history – East and West – jostle and influence one another (…) Russia is a complete section of the world – a colossal East West.”

The Trans-Siberian railroad, built to solidify the internal cohesion of the Russian empire and to project power in Asia, was a major game-changer: “With Russian agricultural settlements expanding to the east, Russia was increasingly replacing the ancient roads who had previously controlled and connected Eurasia.”

It’s fascinating to watch how the development of Russian economics ended up on Mackinder’s Heartland theory – according to which control of the world required control of the Eurasian supercontinent. What terrified Mackinder is that Russian railways connecting Eurasia would undermine the whole power structure of Britain as a maritime empire.

Diesen also shows how Eurasianism – emerging in the 1920s among émigrés in response to 1917 – was in fact an evolution of Russian conservatism.

Eurasianism, for a number of reasons, never became a unified political movement. The core of Eurasianism is the notion that Russia was not a mere Eastern European state. After the 13th century Mongol invasion and the 16th century conquest of Tatar kingdoms, Russia’s history and geography could not be only European. The future would require a more balanced approach – and engagement with Asia.

Dostoyevsky had brilliantly framed it ahead of anyone, in 1881:

Russians are as much Asiatics as European. The mistake of our policy for the past two centuries has been to make the people of Europe believe that we are true Europeans. We have served Europe too well, we have taken too great a part in her domestic quarrels (…) We have bowed ourselves like slaves before the Europeans and have only gained their hatred and contempt. It is time to turn away from ungrateful Europe. Our future is in Asia.

Lev Gumilev was arguably the superstar among a new generation of Eurasianists. He argued that Russia had been founded on a natural coalition between Slavs, Mongols and Turks. The Ancient Rus and the Great Steppe, published in 1989, had an immense impact in Russia after the fall of the USSR – as I learned first hand from my Russian hosts when I arrived in Moscow via the Trans-Siberian in the winter of 1992.

As Diesen frames it, Gumilev was offering a sort of third way, beyond European nationalism and utopian internationalism. A Lev Gumilev University has been established in Kazakhstan. Putin has referred to Gumilev as “the great Eurasian of our time”.

Diesen reminds us that even George Kennan, in 1994, recognized the conservative struggle for “this tragically injured and spiritually diminished country”. Putin, in 2005, was way sharper. He stressed,

the collapse of the Soviet Union was the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the century. And for the Russian people, it was a real drama (…) The old ideals were destroyed. Many institutions were disbanded or simply hastily reformed…With unrestricted control over information flows, groups of oligarchs served exclusively their own corporate interests. Mass poverty started to be accepted as the norm. All this evolved against a background of the most severe economic recession, unstable finances and paralysis in the social sphere.

Applying “sovereign democracy”

And so we reach the crucial European question.

In the 1990s, led by Atlanticists, Russian foreign policy was focused on Greater Europe, a concept based on Gorbachev’s Common European Home.

And yet post-Cold War Europe, in practice, ended up configured as the non-stop expansion of NATO and the birth – and expansion – of the EU. All sorts of liberal contortionisms were deployed to include all of Europe while excluding Russia.

Diesen has the merit of summarizing the whole process in a single sentence: “The new liberal Europe represented a British-American continuity in terms of the rule of maritime powers, and Mackinder’s objective to organize the German-Russian relationship in a zero-sum format to prevent the alignment of interests”.

No wonder Putin, subsequently, had to be erected as the Supreme Scarecrow, or “the new Hitler”. Putin rejected outright the role for Russia of mere apprentice to Western civilization – and its corollary, (neo) liberal hegemony.

Still, he remained quite accommodating. In 2005, Putin stressed, “above all else Russia was, is and will, of course, be a major European power”. What he wanted was to decouple liberalism from power politics – by rejecting the fundamentals of liberal hegemony.

Putin was saying there’s no single democratic model. That was eventually conceptualized as “sovereign democracy”. Democracy cannot exist without sovereignty; so that discards Western “supervision” to make it work.

Diesen sharply observes that if the USSR was a “radical, left-wing Eurasianism, some of its Eurasian characteristics could be transferred to conservative Eurasianism.” Diesen notes how Sergey Karaganov, sometimes referred to as the “Russian Kissinger”, has shown “that the Soviet Union was central to decolonization and it mid-wifed the rise of Asia by depriving the West of the ability to impose its will on the world through military force, which the West had done from the 16th century until the 1940s”.

This is largely acknowledged across vast stretches of the Global South – from Latin America and Africa to Southeast Asia.

Eurasia’s western peninsula

So after the end of the Cold War and the failure of Greater Europe, Moscow’s pivot to Asia to build Greater Eurasia could not but have an air of historical inevitability.

The logic is impeccable. The two geoeconomic hubs of Eurasia are Europe and East Asia. Moscow wants to connect them economically into a supercontinent: that’s where Greater Eurasia joins China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). But then there’s the extra Russian dimension, as Diesen notes: the “transition away from the usual periphery of these centers of power and towards the center of a new regional construct”.

From a conservative perspective, emphasizes Diesen, “the political economy of Greater Eurasia enables Russia to overcome its historical obsession with the West and establish an organic Russian path to modernization”.

That implies the development of strategic industries; connectivity corridors; financial instruments; infrastructure projects to connect European Russia with Siberia and Pacific Russia. All that under a new concept: an industrialized, conservative political economy.

The Russia-China strategic partnership happens to be active in all these three geoeconomic sectors: strategic industries/techno platforms, connectivity corridors and financial instruments.

That propels the discussion, once again, to the supreme categorical imperative: the confrontation between the Heartland and a maritime power.

The three great Eurasian powers, historically, were the Scythians, the Huns and the Mongols. The key reason for their fragmentation and decadence is that they were not able to reach – and control – Eurasia’s maritime borders.

The fourth great Eurasian power was the Russian empire – and its successor, the USSR. A key reason the USSR collapsed is because, once gain, it was not able to reach – and control – Eurasia’s maritime borders.

The US prevented it by applying a composite of Mackinder, Mahan and Spykman. The US strategy even became known as the Spykman-Kennan containment mechanism – all these “forward deployments” in the maritime periphery of Eurasia, in Western Europe, East Asia and the Middle East.

We all know by now how the overall US offshore strategy – as well as the primary reason for the US to enter both WWI and WWII – was to prevent the emergence of a Eurasian hegemon by all means necessary.

As for the US as hegemon, that would be crudely conceptualized – with requisite imperial arrogance – by Dr. Zbig “Grand Chessboard” Brzezinski in 1997: “To prevent collusion and maintain security dependence among the vassals, to keep tributaries pliant and protected, and keep the barbarians from coming together”. Good old Divide and Rule, applied via “system-dominance”.

It’s this system that is now tumbling down – much to the despair of the usual suspects. Diesen notes how, “in the past, pushing Russia into Asia would relegate Russia to economic obscurity and eliminate its status as a European power.” But now, with the center of geoeconomic gravity shifting to China and East Asia, it’s a whole new ball game.

The 24/7 US demonization of Russia-China, coupled with the “unhealthy situation” mentality of the EU minions, only helps to drive Russia closer and closer to China exactly at the juncture where the West’s two centuries-only world dominance, as Andre Gunder Frank conclusively proved , is coming to an end.

Diesen, perhaps too diplomatically, expects that “relations between Russia and the West will also ultimately change with the rise of Eurasia. The West’s hostile strategy to Russia is conditioned on the idea that Russia has nowhere else to go, and must accept whatever the West offers in terms of “partnership”. The rise of the East fundamentally alters Moscow’s relationship with the West by enabling Russia to diversify its partnerships”.

We may be fast approaching the point where Great Eurasia’s Russia will present Germany with a take it or leave it offer. Either we build the Heartland together, or we will build it with China – and you will be just a historical bystander. Of course there’s always the inter-galaxy distant possibility of a Berlin-Moscow-Beijing axis. Stranger things have happened.

Meanwhile, Diesen is confident that “the Eurasian land powers will eventually incorporate Europe and other states on the inner periphery of Eurasia. Political loyalties will incrementally shift as economic interests turn to the East, and Europe is gradually becoming the western peninsula of Greater Eurasia”.

Talk about food for thought for the peninsular peddlers of the “unhealthy situation”.

The Headless Chicken and the Bear

THE SAKER • FEBRUARY 9, 2021 

Introducing the headless chicken

The EU has a major problem: it is run by a comprador class which is entirely dependent on the United States. Okay, that by itself is not the problem I am referring to. The problem I am referring to is one we could call the problem of the decapitated chicken: a decapitated chicken can run without a head, but it sure does not know where it is running or why. This happens to all comprador classes when their beloved masters suddenly vanish. This is exactly what happened to the European ruling classes when Trump came to the White House: they “lost their head” and they began running all over the place, obviously achieving nothing. Now that the Neocons gave Trump the boot, the EU rulers are desperate to show the new US leaders that they only hated Trump, not the US, and what better way to show your complete submission than by barking at the Asiatic Mordor of the East known as “Russia”?

This latest PSYOP was apparently organized in the US last fall, while Trump was still in power, at least nominally. This makes sense, just like the huge “Patriot Act” was carefully prepared months, if not years before 9/11 happened. This time around, some US intelligence agency (probably the CIA) then passed the baby to the German BND which was supposed to act as an intermediary to give the US “plausible deniability”. The big problem is that the Germans apparently screwed things up, and the plan was a flop: the latest sacral victim failed to die (again!). As for Putin, he used his executive power to allow Navalnyi (who was on parole) to immediately fly to Germany for treatment as soon as the Russian medics stabilized him. From there on, everything went south and Navalnyi’s curators scrambled to save whatever could be saved.

They produced a movie about Putin’s palace in Crimea, only to have Russian reporters film the location and prove that this movie was a total fake. Then they sent Navalnyi back to Russia figuring that if the Russian authorities arrested him huge protests would follow or, alternatively, if the Russians did nothing, Navalnyi would be able to create chaos during an important election year in Russia. This resulted in another flop, not only were the crowds in Russia small, their behavior was deeply offensive and even frightening to most Russians who have seen enough Maidans and color revolutions to know how this stuff ends. As for Navalnyi, he was arrested immediately upon landing, and his parole was revoked.

Of course, all this was reported very differently in what I call Zone A, but while this made it possible for the authors of this PSYOP to conceal the magnitude of their failure, in the rest of the world and, especially, in Russia, it was pretty clear that this ridiculous buffoonery had failed. That outcome presented the EU headless chicken with a major problem: on one hand, we protest about “Putin murdering his own people with combat gasses” while on the other we are about to complete North Stream 2 (NS2), which we need to remain competitive; if we continue, we will lose NS2 and we will alienate Russia even further, but if we stop acting like an idiot on suicide watch, our overseas masters will make us pay. EU leaders obviously failed agree on a plan so, just like a headless chicken, they ran in all directions at the same time: they publicly protested, but also sent as top official, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice President of the European Commission Josep Borrell, to try to appease the Russians. Borrell actually did a decent job trying to placate the Russians, but this time something went very wrong. Not only was Foreign Minister Lavrov very blunt in his public comments, the Russians also expelled 3 EU diplomats for participating in the demonstrations even while Borrell and Lavrov were talking. This is when the proverbial bovine excreta hit the fan, at least in EU whose “watchdog media” (here I use the term “watchdog” as meaning “immediately barking at anybody daring to stray from the official propaganda line”) went crazy and accused Borrell of caving in to the Russians. Some even demanded Borrell’s resignation. As for Borrell himself, he did what all western officials do after a visit to Moscow: he changed his tune as soon as he came back home. Finally, Maria Zakharova, the spokeswoman for the Russian Foreign Ministry, added that “The task [of Borrell] was to carry out a public flogging, which, I think, they planned very carefully, it was a cascade of topics: talks about rallies, talks about journalists, and making [Alexey] Navalny the main theme of the discussion”. According to Zakharova, this plan failed because Russia insisted on discussing the “real issues“.

Interestingly, the Russians did not expel any US diplomats (at least not yet) in spite of the fact that these officials all agreed that the origin of the PSYOP was from overseas and in spite of the quasi-certainty that US officials must have been present, at least in the Moscow and Saint Petersburg protests. To its credit, the US embassy in Moscow did recommend to all US citizens that they stay away from illegal demonstrations. This is an ongoing crisis and by the time this analysis is posted, things might have changed dramatically. My purpose today is not to look at the US or the EU, but at what I believe is a major shift in Russian policy.

At this point, we should not see the expulsions of the 3 EU diplomats as anything more than just a “shot across the bow”, a way to indicate that the winds have changed. But these expulsions are not big enough to qualify as a real, painful, retaliation. Why?

Because the real slap in the collective face of the EU was the press conference of Lavrov and Borrell in which Lavrov was truly uniquely direct and candid. For example, Lavrov bluntly said ” We are proceeding from the assumption that the EU is not a reliable partner, at least at the current stage. I hope that in future strategic attention will be given to the EU’s fundamental interest in its closest neighbours and that the talks we have held today will promote movement to a more constructive trajectory. We are ready for this“.

Translated from diplospeak into plain English, this means 1) we are fed up with you and 2) we don’t need you.

This blunt statement is what triggered all the subsequent hysterics in Brussels about Borrell being ill treated by the Russians and Borrell’s subsequent declaration that “Russia does not want a constructive dialog” and that the EU must now decide if it still wants to get closer to Russia or if it wants to distance itself from a country slipping into authoritarianism.

In western parlance the degree of “democratism” or “authoritarianism” is solely defined by the willingness of a country to be a satrapy of the Empire. Under this definition, all sovereign countries are “dictatorships” and all AngloZionist satrapies are paragons of democracy.

Has the Russian bear had enough?

Just two weeks ago I wrote that With “Biden” in the White House, the Kremlin Now Needs to Change Gear and I believe that this is exactly what we are seeing today. Here is my evidence:

  • The tone of the Russian has changed and is much more direct and blunt
  • The fact that the three EU diplomats were expelled while Borrell was in Moscow was a very deliberate slap in the EU’s collective face
  • The tone of the Russian media has also changed, journalists and experts are all expressing their utter disgust with the EU and are calling for less words and more actions
  • The NS2 lobby in Russia (who advocated a policy of total non-confrontation at least until NS2 was completed) is rather absent from the public discourse. This might mean that this lobby has thrown in the towel or, alternatively, that the block I call “Eurasian sovereignists” does not consider NS2 as vital for Russia (they are correct, by the way) and that putting the squeeze on the EU is much more important (again, I agree with them here too).
  • The EU’s other anti-Russian vendetta, I am referring to the recent attempt at overthrowing Lukashenko, has also failed. However, this PSYOP was so rude and crude, and the EU acted with such arrogance that it really gave Russia no other option than to take action, not only by flying Tu-160s along the Belarussian border or by selling S-400s, but also by using highly symbolic diplomatic countermeasures.
  • The Russian Aerospace Forces (2 Su-24M, 2 Su-27s and 2 Su-30SM) have conducted mock missile strikes against USN ships as soon as they entered the southern waters of the Black Sea. Note: the same day Chinese aircraft conducted a mock attack on a US carrier in the Pacific.
  • Russia has now deployed both the Bal and even the formidable Bastion coastal missile defense systems. This, combined with the formidable capabilities of the Southern Military District and the Black Sea Fleet which turns the entire Black Sea into a shooting range and any hostile ship into an easy target for the Russians. Clearly, the Russians are fed up with the arrogance of the USN.
  • Defense Minister Shoigu has just announced a major increase in the production of high-precision and hypersonic weapons.

These are just a few examples of a much longer list of changes which are taking place before our eyes.

So far, the EU did not get the message at all. At least officially. But witnessing the infighting taking place not only over Borrell’s trip, but also about what to do about vaccines (The Lancet has just posted a major article entitled “Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccine candidate appears safe and effective” which basically said that all the western nonsense about Sputnik-V being BOTH 1) unsafe AND 2) ineffective were lies) I can clearly see that the EU rulers are seriously worried. Right now it sure looks like the EU is losing the “COVID propaganda war” and that all these russophobic states (except the hardcore nutcases of 3B+PU) will have to now ask Russia for her vaccines. So far the only official EU reaction was to expel 3 Russian diplomats and somewhat protest. But these are clearly the opening shots of a much longer confrontation between Russia and the EU.

The crucial factor to consider here is this: while the aggregate power of the US+NATO+EU+5EYES is bigger than Russia’s, the mental paralysis of the EU leaders makes the EU alone already much weaker than Russia. Of course, since Biden’s administration is a who’s who of the most hysterical russophobes imaginable, chances are that the US will interfere and attempt to back the anti-Russian factions in the EU. Considering the tone used by Russian officials over the latest USN provocations in the Black Sea and the Sea of Japan, I don’t doubt the Kremlin’s determination to act both in words and with actions.

And then there are the subtle threats which the general public is rarely exposed to. The latest example is a highly specialized article entitled “Rationale for the combat use of aviation to disrupt an integrated massive air strike during a multi-domain operation of the enemy” which explains how Russia could disrupt and defeat a NATO attack. I won’t go into all the (very interesting) details here, but I will just say that the authors declare that Russia can go from a policy of deterrence by nuclear forces to a policy of (conventional) deterrence by having the means to “inflict comprehensive defeat (upon NATO countries) using all types of weapons within the deterrence of inflicting an unacceptable complex defeat on it with all types of weapons within the framework of preventive actions under the conditions of the danger of local war threatening the Russian Federation“. In truth, this is not the only Russian specialized article discussing the future of warfare, and what makes this one truly unique is that RT, of all places, decided to post an article about it entitled “Russian Air Force experts publish plan to neutralize NATO forces in all-out war with bombing strikes“. This really looks like the Kremlin wanted to make absolutely sure that western politicians (as opposed to western military analysts who read that stuff on a daily basis anyway) would think long and hard about what US military plans for NATO really would mean for the EU.

Then there is the outcome of the Polish military command staff exercise Winter-20 which resulted in, I kid you not, Russia completely defeating the Polish military in 5 days only! (For details, see herehere or here). Again, there is nothing really new here, the US and/or NATO have conducted plenty of exercises which had the “Russian hordes” defeating the “forces of democracy and progress”. And, again, the real difference was in the Russian coverage of this news: for the first time the Russians openly made fun of NATO and of the (always paranoid and insanely russophobic) Poles. In truth, the Russians always knew that the Polish military is as good on pompous ceremonies and parades as it is inept on the battlefield, but that kind of open contempt is something new, at least from the state supported media.

So far, the EU clearly is not coming to terms with this new reality. The latest (breathtakingly stupid) EU plan to try to scare “Putin” (here “Putin” is the collective Kremlin boogeyman, not necessarily VVP): Svetlana Tikhanovskaia has appealed to the wife of Navalnyi, Iulia, to become the “she president of Russia”. Yes, seriously. Iulia Navalnaia as President of Russia!

As for Navalnyi’s supporters in the EU, they have decided to create a Russian government in exile. Again, this is not a joke. By the way, the “Minister of Foreign Affairs” of this “Russian Government in Exile”, Leonid Volkov, initially declared that the illegal riots should be halted, only to be told otherwise by his handlers. He immediately made a required 180 and declared that protests will resume. This is how Maria Zakharova bluntly, and very officially, reacted on Facebook to his “change of mind”: (minimally fixed machine translation)

NATO doubles down

On February 4, 2021, Volkov declared that the protests in Russia were canceled and will resume in the spring and summer. “We will not hold a rally next weekend…The wave of protest must end at a high point. Because if we continue to decline, it will be terribly demotivating and frustrating for everyone… We will prepare well and hold something big both in the spring and in the summer. We will never give up our demands.” Then, on February 9, 2021, Volkov changed his mind and announced that the campaign will continue in February. “We’ll make it much trickier” he added. What happened between February 4 and 9 and forced the “opposition” to radically change tactics? Everything is quite simple – on February 8, 2021, an online meeting with Volkov and Ashurkov took place at the Permanent Mission of Poland to the EU in Brussels, in which EU countries, the United States, and Britain took part. And in fact-this was a meeting of the NATO countries. The NATO members instructed the “opposition”, and in fact their agents of influence, how to continue “more cunning” to conduct subversive work. Too much money and resources have already been invested by the West in this story to wait until spring. They clearly understand: in the spring, the information campaign pumped up by Westerners will be blown away. They can no longer juggle the topic of “chemical weapons” without presenting the facts – they are pinned to the wall. So they double down.

As for Navalnyi and his supporters, Zakarova was even more direct, saying “stop calling them opposition, they are NATO agents!”.

As I have explained many times, western politicians double down not when they feel strong, they double down when they feel weak and when they place their hopes in the willingness of the other side not to seriously further escalate.

And, just to make sure that the Empire can win the battle for the “hearts and minds” of the Russian people, the Brits are now counting (again) on Pussy Riot to release a song in support of protests. Again, while this does sound like a joke, it is not.

Now comes the best part: there are a lot of signs that the EU will, again under the pious pretext of “solidarity” follow the 3B+PU politicians and, if not recognize such a government in exile, at least treat its members as real officials. That is also supposed to also terrify the Kremlin, I guess. But if that is the best the EU can come up with, VVP and the people of Russia, can sleep in peace.

So where do we go from here?

Making predictions is a tricky thing when dealing with both 1) countries with limited agency/sovereignty and 2) countries led by incompetent/delusional politicians. The many theories of deterrence out there all assume what is called a “rational actor” and a truly sovereign state. What is certain is that the Empire and its EU protectorates will only increase what I call “petty harassment measures” to try to offend and humiliate Russia (stuff like this crap). In response to such “ankle biting” Russia will do two things: drop any pretense of diplomacy and denounce these “ankle bites” for what they are (provocations) and further turn to Zone B (aka “reliable partners”) for partnerships. Russia will also bluntly spell out to the Europeans the risks they are taking with their ill-conceived sabre rattling along the Russian border. Sadly, this probably means that, just as the Chinese Navy recently, the Russian Aerospace Forces and Navies will have order to engage any aircraft or vessel threatening Russia (so far these are only rumors, but they are persistent and seem to have strong backing in the Duma). This is a very dangerous development as western politicians, being primarily ideological (and, therefore, delusional) creatures will always prefer to play a game of (headless) chicken hoping that the other guy will back down. The fact that the “other guy” (both Russian and Chinese) in the past did, indeed, back down and show restraint only further encourages western politicians to double down forever no matter what. For these reasons I would call the probability of an actual military clash between US/NATO and/or Russia/China as “likely in 2021”. As for the future of NS2, I always assumed that EU politicians can count their Euros and realize that the EU needs that project way more than Russia. Frankly, I am not so sure now: counting on the mental abilities of a headless chicken is probably not a good idea! Neither is counting on the courage of the type of politicians whom Boris Johnson once called “supine invertebrate protoplasmic jellies“.

It appears that Russia and the EU are on a direct collision course. Frankly, I welcome it, in spite of the obvious dangers. Why? Because nothing except a real confrontation can bring EU politicians down to the real world back from the La-La land they currently live in. The Russian bear needs to smack down the headless chicken. Hard.

Compare, Contrast and Analyze – Mr Lavrov and Mr Borrell

Source

February 08, 2021

Compare, Contrast and Analyze – Mr Lavrov and Mr Borrell

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s remarks and answers to media questions at a joint news conference following talks with High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice President of the European Commission Josep Borrell, Moscow, February 5, 2021 – https://www.mid.ru/en/foreign_policy/news/-/asset_publisher/cKNonkJE02Bw/content/id/4553286

Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen.

I had a substantive discussion with High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice President of the European Commission Josep Borrell.

We reviewed in detail the state of relations between Russia and the EU. Clearly, they are going through a rough period, partly related to the unilateral illegitimate restrictions imposed by the EU under far-fetched pretexts. We expressed this openly today.

Importantly, both sides confirmed their interest in maintaining and expanding our dialogue, including on matters where our positions differ, which are numerous. We noted a mutual willingness to maintain pragmatic cooperation in areas of common interest that may be beneficial for both parties.

We share the opinion that further degradation of our ties may lead to negative and unpredictable consequences. We hope that during the strategic review of relations with Russia at the next EU summit scheduled for March 2021, its participants will opt for constructive, professional and pragmatic interaction. Our differences may not go away, but it is better to have as few as possible. We are neighbours and we are responsible for maintaining stability on our common European, or rather Eurasian continent, for ensuring most comfortable lives for our citizens in this vast geopolitical space. Russia and the European countries share common centuries-old history, culture and people-to-people contacts. We have a lot in common in the economy, although trade is almost half of what it was in record-high 2012 and 2013. We are witnessing a positive trend now where the EU remains our largest trade and economic partner. EU businesses are the biggest, or at least among the biggest, foreign investors in the Russian economy. Despite the pandemic, the bilateral trade numbers continue up. Our relationship, especially energy interdependence, must be used for the benefit of both sides. We have an understanding that we will look for other areas to apply our joint efforts as part of building renewed relationships.

Today, we covered healthcare, climate change, science and education as areas in which the experts and ministers from both sides can come up with significant agreements. We will do our best not to delay this effort if our European colleagues are ready for it. At least, we heard them say they were, during the talks.

We want to continue the political dialogue. Today’s talks are proof that it is useful regardless of everything else. There are preliminary agreements to expand cooperation in a number of promising areas, including combating terrorism and the drug threat that continues to come from Afghanistan, and other areas.

We paid special attention to the situation in the Middle East and North Africa. We also discussed the settlement of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. We see eye to eye on the need to resume the activities of the Quartet of international mediators, given that the new administration in Washington is disposed favourably to this idea. We both realise the need to use the Quartet’s capabilities to create conditions for resuming direct dialogue between the Palestinians and the Israelis in order to help the parties find a solution that will fit into the two-state formula approved by the UN and as part of the Arab Peace Initiative.

We discussed other crisis-ridden regions, including Syria and Libya. We understand that continuing instability continues to weigh down the situation in Europe, including in the context of the inflow of migrants and refugees to the EU. We believe it is necessary to overcome the existing problems, but not to forget about the events that preceded everything that we are now witnessing. Clearly, there would be much fewer of the problems had many Western states refrained from reckless geopolitical gambles in the Middle East and North Africa.

We will continue implementing the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) on settling Iran’s nuclear programme. A critical moment is coming. We hope that in this area, too, the US administration that held the talks and signed the JCPOA, will decide to what extent it will be ready to return to this major international document that is acknowledged as an achievement of multilateral diplomacy and shows what efforts must be made to ease tensions in various hot spots and to consolidate the nuclear arms non-proliferation regime.

We are willing to cooperate on other conflicts as well and regional issues in general. We will continue to inform each other on the approaches that are taking shape in the European Union and the Russian Federation.

I would like to express our regret that during the coronavirus pandemic when it would seem that all countries in the world should unite and act as one, some forces in the EU have used this issue to accuse Russia of disinformation. Russia has proved by deeds its willingness to help all of its interested colleagues, including in the EU, to counter this dangerous virus. If we really want to stop these information wars and false rumours, we must agree with the European Union to create one more channel and to buttress our talk about disinformation with facts that will allow us to consider mutual grievances at the professional level. Our proposal remains valid.

We are willing to discuss issues linked to the EU’s plans on the post-Soviet space (the South Caucasus and Central Asia) in which the EU displays substantial interest. We hope that in drafting its policy, the European Union will consider Russia’s lawful interests near its borders and in its relations with its next door neighbours and allies. It would be right to agree on principles that would include commitments not to interfere in the affairs of sovereign states, be it in the post-Soviet space, West Balkans or anywhere else.

This was an honest discussion. We did not conceal our differences but were motivated to discuss them in the open rather than harbour a grudge against each other. At the same time, we tried to promote our contacts wherever it was beneficial to both sides. We are ready for this. Today, we heard assurances that the same opinion is forming in the EU.

I would like to thank Josep Borrell and his team for the good talks.

Question (addressed to Josep Borrell): A third meeting of the Joint Cuba-EU Council, which you co-chaired, took place recently. What can you tell us about EU-Cuba relations today? Can this format help reduce the differences between Cuba and the US?

Question (to Sergey Lavrov): What can you tell us about current EU policy towards Cuba?

Sergey Lavrov (speaking after Josep Borrell): Josep, I see no surprise in that you were asked about Cuba. When I travel to various countries, I am always asked about Ukraine. You were asked about Cuba because you have fairly obvious and important relations with this state. I think this is a positive example of being guided by common sense, avoiding unilateral unlawful pressure, not to mention any form of blockade or embargo.

We have the same approach with the European Union: international partners must resolve their problems exclusively through dialogue. Power pressure, ultimatums, sanctions and penalties through exterritorial restrictions on those who want to develop normal relations are methods and instruments from a colonial past.

Unfortunately, the European Union increasingly resorts to these instruments, which are a US invention. This is sad. I hope upcoming international events, including the UN Security Council Permanent Members’ summit, which was proposed by President of Russia Vladimir Putin and supported by others (President of France Emmanuel Macron reaffirmed his willingness to take part in it yesterday), and other conferences will be used to figure out what king of world we are building. Will it be a multipolar world that ensures equality for all major actors, including the EU, or will it be a so-called multilateral world which is a cover to justify the methods of a unipolar world arrangement?

Today, we have started talking about the nature of genuine multilateralism and I hope we will continue this discussion. We are convinced that this is a format in which all states are represented. In other words, the United Nations. When initiatives on effective multilateralism are proposed, for example, by France and Germany, we begin to look into this slogan. It appears that the European Union is assumed to be an ideal of multilateralism, while others must follow in its wake.

These are philosophical issues, but they are related in practice to real politics. I am happy that today we talked honestly about them as well as about the questions that our European colleagues have for the Russian Federation. I believe this is the only constructive approach.

The example of Cuba graphically reveals the malignity of unilateral approaches and the need to revise them.

Question (retranslated from English): Regarding shared interests that can bring together the European Union and Russia rather than divide them, I want to ask you if you see the Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine as a tool for rapprochement or as the opposite influence that will sow even more seeds for discord between the two blocs?

Sergey Lavrov: We are not talking about whether the Sputnik V vaccine might play a positive role but about establishing cooperation between all vaccine producers on an equal footing.

When Russian President Vladimir Putin announced that the Sputnik V vaccine had been created, this news received a negative response – opinions varied from the skeptical “it is too early and nobody knows anything as yet” to “the Russians have rushed it for geopolitical advantages.” However, as the vaccine started to be given, the perception of it has changed, largely because at the very beginning Russian President Vladimir Putin, while announcing this achievement by Russian scientists, called for the broadest possible cooperation in this field with our foreign partners.

Yesterday, during the conversation with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken we talked about the Sputnik V vaccine. Mr Blinken congratulated us on the vaccine being effective. We agreed to promote contacts between our laboratories, scientists and producers and see if there is the potential for cooperation in this area.

We are maintaining contact with our European colleagues on a wide scale regarding this issue. A number of countries are interested in buying and producing the vaccine domestically. In her recent telephone conversation with Russian President Vladimir Putin, German Chancellor Angela Merkel supported the idea to see if there is a possibility for cooperation between Russia and Germany.

The Gamaleya National Research Center of Epidemiology and Microbiology has established contact with AstraZeneca to see if a mixed version of the vaccine that combines the positive effects of both vaccines might be produced.

I believe that not only can cooperation in this area play a positive role but it is already doing so. We welcome this in every way.

Question: You said a revision in the European Union’s attitude towards Russia is in the offing but for now, as I see it, the EU is proceeding from the five principles of Federica Mogherini. Does Russia have principles we are guided by in building our relations with the EU? I must also ask you about the videos that were given to High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell and your Swedish colleague Ann Linde earlier. Doesn’t this move remind you of the old Soviet joke: “And you are lynching Negroes”?

Sergey Lavrov: I have expressed my view on “the five principles of Federica Mogherini” more than once. I’ll just mention one principle, the one that says relations with us will be normalised as soon as Russia fulfils the Minsk Agreements. In parallel, President of Ukraine Vladimir Zelensky says he doesn’t like the Minsk Agreements but will have to keep them because this will allow him to maintain the sanctions against Russia. This trap into which the EU has put itself is indicative. We have asked Berlin and Paris, as the co-authors of the Minsk Agreements in the Normandy format, what they think about such statements by President Zelensky but our questions remain unanswered. Any more or less sensible person will understand that this condition is absolutely artificial.

Therefore, I would rather not invent counter principles but suggest relying on international law, the norms and principles of the UN Charter, the Helsinki Final Act and other OSCE documents adopted at top level. These documents provide for respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity, non-interference in each other’s internal affairs and free access to information (something we do not see being ensured by our Western colleagues). They also envisage many other principles, such as equitable dialogue, mutual respect and the search for a balance of interests. These principles underlie any dialogue that is aimed at achieving results rather than deriving some geopolitical advantage. Of course, reciprocity is a must. You recalled the Soviet saying “And you are lynching Negroes.” But this is not the point. This is just a witty interpretation of the principle of reciprocity.

If you are so concerned about human rights and the treatment of protesters, it is necessary to also look at the images we gave our Swedish colleagues as well as to Brussels on the eve of the current visit. Look at them. They show how a policeman drives his jeep over the demonstrators lying on the ground and many other things. The entire world saw footage how a young woman was squeezed against the wall by a stream of water from a fire hose in the Netherlands, after which she left the place covered in blood.

We had nothing like this. The police were repeatedly attacked during the recent demonstrations in Russia but did not use any special force. Demonstrators used teargas against the police.

Yesterday I talked with US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken. He mentioned the situation around Alexey Navalny and the demonstrators. I asked him if he had any information that would clear up the location of those who were detained during the events at the US Capitol. In some estimates, there are about 400 people. Several dozens of them are charged with attacking the police. Under US law, this is punishable by a term in prison from one to 20 years. There were numerous attacks against the police during the recent demonstrations in Russia and all of them are documented. These facts are being processed now.

There are many cases in Europe where the courts are suspected of passing politicized verdicts. I would like to draw your attention to what has never been mentioned in our public statements, notably, the case of three prisoners in Spain who were sentenced to 10 and more years in prison for organising referendums in Catalonia, something we were accused of provoking without any evidence. I recall this because our court was accused of passing a politicised verdict. The judicial authorities in Germany and Belgium urged the Spanish leaders to revoke the sentences for these three Catalonians. This is what Spanish government authorities replied: “You know, we have our own judicial system. Don’t even think of calling into doubt the decisions that we adopt in our courts under our laws.” This is exactly what we want from the West as regards reciprocity.

As for transparency in our relations, we have simply become stuck on an issue that the West is trying to push into the background for some reason, drawing all attention to the protests and demonstrations in the Russian Federation. I am referring to the issue of finding the truth of what happened with Navalny, when and where. I have spoken about this many times. Neither Russian nor civilian German doctors have found what supposedly went into his body. This was discovered only by German military doctors. This is a tell-tale fact. Our numerous requests to receive the results of these tests from Germany, France, Sweden or the OPCW Technical Secretariat, which has become so tame and obedient, have remained unanswered. They simply do not answer our questions. All they say is “You know everything yourselves.” But this is simply disrespectful, to put it mildly.

I think this arrogance on behalf of a supposedly cultured Europe is absolutely unacceptable and inadmissible. But if our partners believe that we do not deserve to have information that would confirm their accusations against Russian leaders, let this be on their conscience. We favour honesty and transparency. No need to count these principles again. A mathematical approach is unnecessary. I think we all understand what we are talking about.

Question (for Josep Borrell): Which messages did you convey to Mr Lavrov regarding the sentence against Alexey Navalny and the repression of the peaceful demonstrations? Do you think it is possible that the European Union will adopt in the near future sanctions against the eight people named in the list of oligarchs elaborated by [Alexey] Navalny?

Sergey Lavrov (speaking after Josep Borrell): I have already spoken about this issue. I will not speak at length about Navalny, the demonstrations and protest rallies or, most importantly, about the double standards when it comes to the media coverage of these events. Western media outlets mostly report on police response without showing what they were responding to, whereas their coverage of demonstrations in the West is focused on the riotous behaviour of protesters.

We believe that there must be double standards here. It seems they are beginning to hear us. However, the EU countries’ allied collective stand is that no facts are provided to us. We understand that this stand is formulated in Berlin. It has decided that this should be so from the very beginning and has announced this decision to the others.  It was followed by France and Sweden. I am not surprised by this, considering the EU’s principle of solidarity. I am sure that the majority of European politicians are aware of the absurdity of this stand. This is obvious, provided there is respect for international law. Roman law, which has survived in a large degree and is applied in Europe, says that “the burden of proof rests on who asserts, not on who denies.” This is exactly what we want.

As for sanctions, we regard them as an internal affair of the European Union. We have grown used to Brussels applying unilateral sanctions without any legal substantiation more and more often. We are proceeding from the assumption that the EU is not a reliable partner, at least at the current stage. I hope that in future strategic attention will be given to the EU’s fundamental interest in its closest neighbours and that the talks we have held today will promote movement to a more constructive trajectory. We are ready for this.

In conclusion I would like to say a few words to journalists. This concerns the problem, or the deadlock created by the results of the tests made in Germany, France and Sweden. I am surprised that journalists, who often show interest in less significant events, making them part of their reports and the questions they put to politicians, have been incredibly passive this time. I cannot understand the reason for this. I hope that the intrinsic features of journalists – inquisitiveness and a desire to get to the truth – will prevail, after all.

Maybe you will conduct a journalistic inquiry (not an investigation). Has it ever happened anywhere in the past that a politician, or someone claiming to be one, called on foreign states to adopt sanctions against his homeland?  If any journalist looks into this matter, this will produce an interesting brief, which all of us will accept with interest.

As it is said in media circles, good news don’t sell; everyone needs a scandal. However, we can offer you positive results in the spheres we have mentioned, that is, healthcare, science, education and climate change. These issues are of fundamental interest for large neighbouring players on the Eurasian continent. There is no doubt that we will try to translate these interests into practical agreements, which will help address global problems in a way that is comfortable for all participants.

I would like to thank Josep Borrell and his team once again.


Josep Borrell, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy / Vice-President of the European Commission – My visit to Moscow and the future of EU-Russia relations – https://eeas.europa.eu/headquarters/headquarters-homepage/92722/my-visit-moscow-and-future-eu-russia-relations_en

Short Extract – please read on the site itself from the link provided.

“I have just returned from a very complicated visit to Moscow, on which I had embarked to discuss the fraught state of EU-Russia relations. They have been  low for a number of years, and deteriorated even further after recent developments linked to the poisoning, arrest, and sentencing of Alexei Navalny as well as the related mass arrests of thousands of demonstrators. The purpose of this mission was to express directly the EU’s strong condemnation of these events and to address, through principled diplomacy, the process of a rapid worsening of our relationship with Russia, and to help prepare the forthcoming European Council discussions on EU-Russia relations.

“The Russian authorities did not want to seize this opportunity to have a more constructive dialogue with the EU. This is regrettable and we will have to draw the consequences.”

The West uses trustfulness of Russians

The Saker

The West uses trustfulness of Russians

The Russians should hate their state, their authorities, and then Russia will sink into chaos and become weaker. It seems the Russians had to develop an antidote against such a primitive approach.

original text by Petr Akopov
translated for the Saker blog by Olga
source: https://m.vz.ru/opinions/2021/1/20/1080946.html

Among the loud and quite predictable campaign in the West in response to detention of Alexei Navalny – with declaring him a “prisoner of conscience”, demands to free him immediately b threats of sanctions – the most indicative is this one: “Kremlin attacks on Navalny is not simply violation of human rights? It’s an insult of the people of Russia, who want their voice to be heard/

This is the statement by Jack Sallivan who becomes an advisor on national security for POTUS. This is the core of Western policy towards Russia.

Here is what they sell us: “friends of Russian people” (the most russophobic-minded western politicians always specify that their claims are not to the people, but to the authorities, and the poor people moan under the yoke of authorities) want to convince the people of Russia that they give them a helping hand. It’s not necessary to be an expert in history in relationships between Russia and the West, not necessary even to know Russian history to see this endlessly repeated approach – “tyranny regime” in Russia is dangerous for the world and its own citizens and is seeking to suppress all neighbouring people and oppresses its own people, only true heroes challenge it, so the West helps them with all means in their hard but noble struggle/

This is such a stable structure that it doesn’t change for many centuries. And it is considering that during the last 104 years in Russia there were three absolutely different forms of government and ideological patterns of power. That is to believe that Russian authorities threatened the world and its own people under the tzars, under bolshevics and under Putin the person should be either typical russophobe or typical idiot.

We won’t remind the times of Ivan Groznyi or Peter the Great – at that time they also tried to frighten the children but media and communications didn’t allow to address to “suffering Russian people” directly. However, the last two hundred years they apply this very pattern – “Russian authorities do not express the opinion of the people, so we will speak on his behalf” – we mean the West.

Yes, the is here because nor Herzen, nor Lenin, nor white immigrants, nor Solzhenitsyn were of any interest for our western “friends”. That is their real views, aspirations, struggles, tosses, and searches – all of it is just the pretext to confirm the simple propaganda thesis: the authorities in Russia have nothing to do with people, the power is a tyrany and it’s occupational that’s why the people should (no – they dream of!) to overthrow it and we’ll help them with the best of our abilities. All this structure serves absolutely pragmatic geopolitical interests of deterrence or even submission of Russia. That’s why the help to Russian people in its nature always turns out to be a military intervention and sometimes is limited to information war.

Russians should hate their authorities, their state (even better – their history). And then Russia will sink in unrest and become weaker. It seems Russians should develop an antidote against such a primitive method long ago. But there is a problem – one of the main our qualities is very strong self-reflection, empathy, doubt in everything and everybody. Together with our civilizational pursuit of justice it makes us exceptionally trusting nation. It isn’t gullibility of fools. It is trustfullness of honest people searching for truth and considering every person who speaks about fairness to be an honest and good man.

Many times it backfired us, but the main deterring factor was always the same – reasonable and responsible authorities. Though only till the moment when in authority and elite in general there was no critical mass (not the majority, even some minority) of people who had no experience of working through the consequences of imposing “starry-eyed dreams”. Then there happened a division during which the most irresponsible and adventurous part of elite took over speculating on people’s aspirations. The country fell into unrest, division and nearly perished.

But how much the West loved and praised it! What praises to “people’s authority” were sung by the “friends of Russian people” – both after February 1917 and August-December 1991. At last Russian people threw off the tzar (communist) yoke, at last the best people came to power! Now Russia will become a part of civilized world which gladly will hold it in its arms!

These were the moments when Russia fell apart and perished and its geopolitical rivals divided it into spheres of influence and bought its treasures cheap. But when Russia began to restore that very moment it was declared a threat to humanity and its authorities were claimed tyranny and anti-popular. This fairy tale is old enough – it’s time to repeat it?

US Hostility Toward Russia Unchanged Under Biden

Image result for Stephen Lendman

by Stephen Lendman

Source

US war by hot and/or other means rages against all nations free from its control — notably against China, Russia and Iran.

During his Thursday address, Biden signaled continued US dirty business as usual against invented enemies — not a new course toward cooperative relations with other countries.

He falsely accused China and Russia of “advancing authoritarianism…to damage and disrupt our ‘democracy (sic),’ ” adding:

“(T)he days of the United States rolling over in the face of Russian aggressive actions (sic), interfering with our elections (sic), cyberattacks (sic), poisoning its citizens (sic) are over.”

“We will not hesitate to raise the cost on Russia and defend our vital interests and our people, and we will be more effective in dealing with Russia when we work in coalition and coordination with other like minded partners.”

Aggression and other dirty tricks reflect how US ruling regimes operate.

Under Vladimir Putin, Russia is governed by higher standards, ones the US and its imperial partners long ago abandoned.

The same goes for China, Iran, and other nations the US seeks to transform into pro-Western vassal states.

The more forcefully it tries, the more greatly its decline is hastened, the sooner it arrives in history’s dustbin where it belongs.

It’s long past time for the Kremlin to abandon diplomatic outreach to hegemonic USA that’s hellbent for eliminating its sovereign independence.

Toughness is the only language the US understands. 

Giving it a taste of its own medicine is the only way to counter its hegemonic rage for dominating other nations.

On Friday, Moscow acted properly by declaring German, Polish and Swedish “diplomats” persona non grata for support of and participation in violent po-Navalny/anti-Russia rallies on January 23, a Foreign Ministry statement saying:

“In compliance with the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations of April 18, 1961, ‘diplomats’ who took part in unauthorized rallies have been declared persona non grata.” 

They’re hostile toward Moscow and “must leave Russia as soon as possible.”

Revoking their credentials requires their swift departure.

“The Russian side expects that” these nations and officials respect Russia’s sovereign rights and the rule of law.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova called on these and other nations to cease “meddl(ing) in the internal affairs of a sovereign state.”

Sweden’s Foreign Ministry’s said it “considers this entirely unjustified (sic), which we have also conveyed to the Russian side.” 

“The ministry regrets Russia’s actions and reserves the right to take appropriate measures in response.”

Poland’s Foreign Ministry said it “reserves the right to take adequate steps,” in response — vowing to expel a Russian diplomat.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel falsely called Russia’s action “a step away from the rule of law,” suggesting a retaliatory action to follow.

Russia’s Foreign Ministry slammed what it called a “coordinated global campaign to contain Russia and interfere in its internal affairs.”

Suggesting US dirty hands behind it, Zakharova said Moscow intends having “a serious talk” with Biden regime officials on the issue.

Separately, Sergey Lavrov slammed fake news claims about Navalny’s alleged poisoning by novichok, a bald-faced Big Lie, stressing:

“Today we simply bogged down in a topic that for some reason the West is now trying to sideline, focusing all of its attention on protests and demonstrations in the Russia.” 

“I am referring to the topic of finding the truth about what happened to Navalny and when and where it happened.”

Despite “numerous requests” by Russia to Germany, France, Sweden and the OPCW for information they have on Navalny’s illness, “(t)hey just won’t give us any answers,” said Lavrov — calling their behavior “categorically unacceptable.”

In response to Biden’s hostile rhetoric toward Russia, Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the following:

“This is very aggressive and unconstructive rhetoric, to our regret.”

“We have already said that we will not heed such statements, which are some kind of mentoring lectures.”

US hostility toward Russia and other nations free from its control is unbending, diplomatic outreach by their ruling authorities to their US counterparts a waste of time.

Throughout the post-WW II period, the US waged endless wars by hot and/or other means on nations unwilling to subordinate their sovereign rights to its interests.

Looking ahead under Biden/Harris and whatever US regimes succeed them, no evidence remotely suggests a new leaf turned for cooperative relations with these countries over endless confrontation.

A few basic comments on the Navalnyi PSYOP

A few basic comments on the Navalnyi PSYOP

February 03, 2021

The Saker

Dear friends,

Today I will begin by referring you to a post by my friend Andrei Martyanov about this Navalnyi nonsense which Andrei aptly named “I Wouldn’t Even Post About It“.  Heck, that was also what I decided since, frankly, the entire western narrative about him is so false, so totally out of touch with reality, that my first inclination was to “flush my mental toilet” and deal with most pressing issues.  I have very little to add to what Andrei wrote, other than restating a few basic facts:

  • If “Putin”, or the Kremlin, or the FSB or any other entity in Russia wanted to kill Navalnyi, they could have easily done it.
  • The notion that Navalnyi was infected with a biowarfare agent and that nobody except him was affected, including the people right next to him in an aircraft, is simply laughable.  As is the notion that a Soviet/Russian biowarfare agent apparently very rarely kills.
  • Navalnyi himself is a petty crook who skipped bail.  What just happened is that since he skipped bail he now will have to spend the remaining of his sentence (minus the time he spent in house arrest) behind bars.  In other words, he was not sentenced to anything.  In fact, during his hearing, Navalnyi told the court “I don’t give a hoot about your rules“.
  • Notice that the Kremlin chose to ignore Navalnyi skipping bail and even let him fly abroad for treatment.  What would have happened in the good old US of A?  You tell me 🙂
  • His support in Russia is close to zero.  A few thousand people in various cities for a country which has 145 million people is sub-pathetic for a person trying to impersonate a public figure (rock stars get bigger crowds).
  • The EU is, as always, trying really hard to please their AngloZionist masters.  The sole fact that the EU is even considering cancelling a crucial multi-billion dollar energy contract which is vital for its future tells you all you need to know about how mediocre and lacking any agency the EU as become.
  • My personal opinion about all this: it is a poorly designed and poorly executed PYSOP.  As for Navalnyi himself, he strikes me as the ultimate fake (he used to try to impersonate a nationalist) and a typical narcissistic crook.  The fact that the Empire had to use him as a Russian version of Neda really shows how desperate the AngloZionists are.

Okay, enough about all that.

To repeat, just like Martyanov, from now on I also will ignore this topic which is, yet again, something which is presented as something important and big in Zone A, but is a non-story is Zone B.  Frankly, my blog is not aimed at those mentally stuck in Zone A, so why bother anyway?

If you absolutely feel compelled to comment about Navalnyi, please do that under this post and do not pollute the rest of the blog with this non-issue about a non-entity.  Thank you!

Hugs and cheers,

The Saker

PS: a friend from France just emailed me to let me know that the program most watched in France this evening was entitled “Navalny peut-il faire tomber Poutine…” (Can Navalnyi overthrow Putin).  My God, they obviously are truly as dumb and clueless as they appear to be 🙂

The People Vs Navalny: Russia Draws Red Lines To Foreign Meddling In Its Sovereign Affairs

South Front

The flag-bearer of Western influence and globalists in Russia, Alexey Navalny, has been sentenced to 2 years and 8 months in prison for grossly disregarding the terms of his suspended sentence.

The initial sentence was for 3.5 years, but he has already served a part of that term under house arrest. The absurdity of the situation is that his initial sentence was related to corruption – something he allegedly fights against.

Despite claims by MSM and Western diplomats that Navalny is subject to political persecution, his proven and known ties to Western Intelligence were not part of the case.

Just recently, on February 1st, videos were released online showing the joyful cooperation between Navalny’s team and foreign intelligence services. To put it plainly – Navalny’s team requested information from British Intelligence. It planned to employ that “dirt” to hinder Russia’s interests, both internal and external. His Anti-Corruption Foundation, furthermore, promised to work against Russian business, and to promote British companies. For that, these would be paid hefty sums when he, ultimately, somehow managed to come to power. To achieve that, Navalny’s people vowed to stage mass protests, spread propaganda and strike behind the scenes deals with the elites. It can’t be corruption, if it’s for a “good cause”, right?

As further evidence of this foreign support and pressure, at least 20 diplomats from various countries, including the US, made an appearance when Navalny’s case came up in the Moscow Court hoping to pressure the court in his favour thereby meddling in Russian internal affairs. The massive media propaganda campaign was also plain to see.

For proven in court criminal offenses involving embezzlement of funds on a massive scale, dozens of violations of the terms of his suspended sentence, contempt of court, his active and public work in the interests of foreign states against the Russian nation Navalny faced slightly more than 2.5 years in jail. For any neutral observer, this was an expected outcome and the only concern would be the soft punishment that he received. This can be partly explained by Russia once again showing itself to be a stronghold of tolerance and democracy and also by the fact that the decision of the court is related to the violations of the suspended sentence only and it did not review other ‘achievements’ of the anti-Russian clique operating under the Navalny brand.

Following the court decision, Western leaders and diplomats further publicly meddled in internal Russian affairs by calling for violence to demand the release of the self-proclaimed anti-corruption activist. This will also likely be used as a pretext for increasing pressure on Russia, including new sanctions. The remaining Western-funded network inside the country already tried to stage violent protests in Moscow and other big cities. Nonetheless, their attempts failed largely due to a low turnout and to the successful actions of the authorities. There are no doubts that foreign efforts in this field will continue as opponents of Russia need violence on the streets and casualties to push forward their destabilization campaign. At the same time, recent events demonstrated that the hardcore pro-Western opposition has close to no real support among the general Russian population. Therefore, help from Western special services will likely focus on creating pinpoint provocations to escalate the violence and to create some sacred sacrifice. If the government acts successfully to contain these provocations and avoid the escalation of violence, anti-Russian forces will likely focus on keeping up the pressure and some level of instability in the larger cities for the next months. A new round of major provocations can be expected in the runup to the Russian general election in September 2021.

Actions of the global establishment show that hopes for a ‘reconciliation with the West’ demonstrated by the ‘liberal part’ of the Russian elites are largely baseless. Therefore, Russia should be ready for the further confrontation with the so-called ‘Democratic world’, which has for a long time forgotten what the words ‘democracy’ and the ‘rule of law’ really mean.

Related Video

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The Navalny Protests Charade: More Western Interference & Disinfo on Russia


 By Eva Bartlett 

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-Eva K Bartlett, January 30, 2021, Moscow

Western mass media and hypocritically-indignant Western representatives are again busily claiming Russian peaceful protesters have been brutalized by police in demonstrations across Russia on January 23.

The sloganeers demand the release of the unpopular petty criminal and Western flunkey, Alexei Navalny, arrested upon returning to Russia for having broken Russian law.

The CBC recently glorified him as, “a 44-year-old lawyer turned anti-corruption crusader,” while the BBC laughably referred to the felon as “President Putin’s most high-profile critic.”

Yet, Navalny at best has an insignificant modicum of popularity among Russian teens perhaps persuaded by Tiktok videos or by Soros and NED recipients’ propaganda, and otherwise from Western regime-change type pundits of the sort who have steadfastly whitewashed al-Qaeda in Syria, promoted the Venezuelan Navalny (Guaido), and generally don’t miss an opportunity to toe Washington’s line.

Mass media and Western talking heads omit Navalny’s criminal record, and his extremist views.

In his January 19, 2021, article, Finian Cunningham wrote:

“Navalny is a convicted felon, found guilty of fraud and embezzlement by a Russian court in 2014. But his jail sentence had been suspended with the condition that he report regularly to Russia’s prison authorities. A normal condition.

For nearly five months, however, he had sojourned out of the country as a de facto guest of German authorities. That’s a brazen breach of his parole conditions. And the Russian prison service was right in issuing him a warning at the end of last month that violation of his suspended jail term risked the sentence being converted into detention behind bars.

It’s a sovereign matter of Russian laws that on returning to Russia at the weekend Navalny was arrested and is now in custody awaiting court proceedings in coming weeks on whether to revoke his suspended sentence.

There are good grounds to believe the Russian blogger-cum-media-activist is funded and directed by Western intelligence services. Everything about his gadfly campaigning smacks of orchestration as an agent provocateur.

The way that Navalny has coordinated closely with Western media and intelligence outfits like Bellingcat to peddle the story that he was allegedly poisoned with Soviet nerve agent Novichok is strong evidence of his provocateur function. And the way that Western media routinely “report” the alleged poisoning as if it is fact is demonstration of how such media are totally dominated by propaganda service to geopolitical agenda.

When Navalny was treated in a Russian hospital after apparently becoming suddenly ill on August 20 onboard a flight to Moscow from Siberia, the doctors found no poisons in his system. The medics said the apparent illness was due to metabolic shock from possible misuse of his own medicines for diabetes, depression and perhaps excess alcohol.

Conspicuously, days later after he was airlifted for further hospital treatment in Berlin, then the German authorities announced they had detected poisoning with nerve agent.

No evidence has ever been presented by the German authorities or other NATO laboratories in such a way that is independently verifiable.

Russia has been denied access to any of their alleged data in order to verify, yet Moscow is condemned for not carrying out a criminal investigation into the alleged poisoning….”

Off Guardian, on January 22, highlighted the timing around Navalny’s return to Russia and the new Biden administration, noting:

“…three days before Biden’s inauguration, Alexei Navalny (having supposedly only just survived the poison the FSB placed “in his underpants”), returned to Russia. Where he was promptly arrested for violating the terms of his bail.

He knew he would be arrested if he returned to Russia, so his doing so was pure theatre. That fact is only underlined by the media’s reaction to his 30 day jail sentence.

Yes, that’s thirty DAYS, not years. He’ll be out before spring. Even if he’s convicted of the numerous charges of embezzlement and fraud, he faces only 3 years in prison.

Nevertheless, already the familiar Russia-baiters in the media are comparing him to Nelson Mandela.

…On the same day as Biden’s inauguration, the European Parliament announced that Russia should be punished for arresting Navalny, by having the Nordstream 2 pipeline project closed down. (Closing this pipeline down would open up the European market to buy US gas, instead of Russia. This is a complete coincidence).

It doesn’t stop there, already Western pundits and Russian “celebrities” are trying to encourage street protests in support of Alexei Navalny…”

It has to be stressed that Navalny does not have any strong support to speak of in Russia, contrary to screaming Western headlines.

A September 2, 2020, Off Guardian article noted:

“Alexei Navalny has never held any elected office, his political party doesn’t have a single MP in the Duma, and he polls at roughly 2% support with the Russian people.”

The article went on to note the utter absurdities of the claims that Russia had poisoned Navalny. It and  another Off Guardian article are excellent counters to the evidence-free claims emanating from Western hypocrites.

That the January 23 protests occurred speaks more to Western interference in Russian affairs, with the clear goal of fomenting unrest in Russia, than any massive support for a failed, would-be, opposition figure.

Police Brutality?

On the day of the protests, I went to Pushkinskaya Square, the site of the planned Moscow pro-Navalny protest, arriving two hours before the 2 pm start time, and standing roughly five hours in the cold until after police had slowly cleared most of the square.

Arriving by metro just after 12 noon, I waited for the protest to begin and scrolled Twitter to see what was being said about the matter.

In doing so, I came across a 12:16 pm tweet by BBC correspondent Kriszta Satori claiming that the police had sealed all of the metro exits into Pushkin square nearly two hours prior to the unsanctioned protest (though she even got the protest start time wrong seemingly believing the protest started at 1 pm).

As I had just arrived to the square by metro, I knew the BBC correspondent, a “senior broadcast journalist with over 30 years of experience” (!), was lying, unsurprisingly.

So, I went back down into the metro, filming the doors where people exited the metro proper into the underground passages, and then filming two of the open exits into the square, with more people arriving via those non-closed exits.

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Video 1.  Video 2.  Video 3.

Back again in Pushkinskaya Square, waiting in the cold for the protest start, I observed the growing crowd. It pretty well matched how author and political commentator Dmitry Orlov later described the protest composition in St. Petersburg:

“Here in St. P. about 3000 people showed up to demonstrate yesterday. For a city of 5 million that’s around 0.06% of the population.

Of these, at least 1000 were bloggers, journalists and photographers there to cover the event; at least 500 were undercover police dressed as protesters and there to prevent outbreaks of violence; another 300 or so were street fighters paid through USAid, NED, various Soros-funded NGOs and other foreign sources; another 300-400 were underage schoolkids who showed up because they were told there would be a party by TikTok and YouTube videos; some of the rest were the usual disgruntled idiots who always show up for any sort of protest; and the rest were just random gawkers who had nothing to do on a Saturday.

So, is Navalny really an “Oppositionsführer”, as the Germans insist on calling him? Draw your own conclusions.”

Noting his overview was conjecture, not hard data, Orlov added:

“I put the picture together by listening to Russian cops grouse about not getting the weekend off. The only difference between St. P in Moscow is that in Moscow the crowd was 5k instead 3k, adding up to 0.04% of the population rather than 0.06%.”

The crowd I saw in Pushkinskaya Square indeed was a sea of young self-appointed “citizen journalists”/social media activists, in fluorescent vests, presumably to appear as accredited press, and some older protesters. Many of those not filming or taking selfie videos held red placards which had been handed out to participants (I saw one young man doing so).

Not that that is uncommon in protests anywhere: organizers often bring signs and flags for protesters to hold.

But this had the stink of a Soros-type would-be colour revolution.

Forgive my cynicism, when the West has been for ages attempting to foment unrest in Russia, and Soros and the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) pour money into programs about “Supporting Democratic Institutions” “Leadership Training”, “Media for Civil Society”, “Amplifying Independent Media”, “Independent Video Reporting”…and other colour revolution type interference in Russian affairs.

Before the protest officially began, police milled about, people in the square not visibly perturbed by their presence as they stood nonchalantly close by. Many of the citizen journalists/vest wearers angled to get photos of footage of police in the square. This is something I noticed before the start of an August 10, 2019 protest I observed. More on that later.

Footage I took on August 10, 2019 protest.

At 2 pm (on January 23), authorities began broadcasting a recording announcing the protest was illegal and that people should leave. Beyond that, police took no immediate measures to clear the square.

The protest was held without permission, thus illegal under Russian law. This is not particular to Russia, in most Western countries we need permission to hold protests and are not allowed off the protest route, are flanked by heavy police presence.

That’s if we are allowed to protest, which in the good old democratic West has become illegal in many countries under absurd and unnecessary “Covid measures”. But let’s not talk about that…

It was well over 1.5 hours of lackluster protesting—periodic bouts of politically-unsophisticated and uninspired chanting—before the first police movements to clear the square, which amounted to police locking arms and walking forward, to push people back.

Even then, after the first push it still took until around 4pm before most of Pushkinskaya Square was emptied of protesters.

*Around 4pm, most of Pushkinskaya Square cleared.

Were Israeli or Western tactics used, the square would have emptied fairly quickly under a barrage of tear gas, rubber and live bullets, stun grenades, pepper spray, water canons…much of which I’m familiar with from protests against Israeli land theft and protests against the Israeli siege on Gaza.

Here is a compilation I put together of scenes before and during the protest. Note the intervals when an area has been cleared. Police & protesters stand around in close proximity to one another, police not “attacking” protesters, protesters standing close enough to police to indicate they don’t actually fear “police brutality”.

Watch the body language, laughter even, of some of the protesters. Is that normal in a situation where one fears getting brutalized?  https://www.youtube.com/embed/etqRZOeX0ks?version=3&rel=1&showsearch=0&showinfo=1&iv_load_policy=1&fs=1&hl=en&autohide=2&wmode=transparent

In the August 10, 2019 after-protest I observed (the first was legal, the second was not), when police were clearing the square in Kitai Gorod, the protesters and those filming were so unafraid they also were laughing. Even people being arrested were laughing. Not generally a common reaction to fear of being beaten by police.

At the time, I asked a friend from Moscow about this:

“They are fully aware the police won’t do anything extreme unless they themselves turn to something extreme.”

This person also gave me some personal insight:

“Some of them are paid to protest and antagonize. When I was a student in 2001, there were people who offered something like $15-20 to protest for 2-3 hours in front of the State Duma holding whatever banner they give you.”

Kitai Gorod, August 10, 2019
Kitai Gorod, August 10, 2019

In some localized incidents, police violence apparently did occur in protests on January 23—often, if not usually, with a back story:

-Like the police man who apologized to a woman he had kicked, saying:

“I am sincerely, deeply sorry, ma’am. Please believe me, the situation was very difficult for us. Literally, five minutes before, they poured liquid over my helmet, my visor was still fogged over. I swear to you, when I understood what happened, I was in shock, it’s a tragedy.”

APOL1
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-Or the scene of Russian police beating protesters with batons, where, if you slow down the footage as I did, you can see protesters (or provocateurs) attacking the police first:

However, what I saw in Moscow last week, and also in Moscow on August 10, 2019, in no way merited the screeching and finger wagging of Western pundits and media.

Where Is The Media Outrage And Tears For Western Police Brutality?

I could write pages about Western police brutality against protesters, but for the sake of brevity will give only a few examples.

*From Vanessa Beeley’s article on police brutality against Yellow Vests protesters

In France, yellow vest protesters were routinely met with police brutality, including the use of weapons prohibited for crowd-control operations, resulting in 10s of protesters losing an eye, others losing a hand, and many deaths.

In her February 2019 article on the Gilet Jaunes (Yellow Vests) protests, Vanessa Beeley wrote of:

“…19 GJs who have lost an eye to the “sub-lethal” LBD40 bullet launcher that is being liberally used by security forces during GJ protests across France. The LBD40 is the evolution of the notorious “flashball bullet,” 10 times the velocity of a paintball. The modern LBD40 launcher is a very accurate instrument with a “red-dot” laser pointer sight that ensures pinpoint targeting of civilians.”

…While it is classified as a “sub-lethal” weapon, when used in violation of police regulations, at close range and in unstable crowd environments, it is lethal and capable of terrible damage to a human body — particularly the face, which appears to be a favorite target of the national police in France.

…Previous investigations have revealed that the GLIF4 grenade, or “grenade de desencerclement,” has also been condemned by an internal French police laboratory inquiry and recommendations have been submitted to the Interior Ministry for the banning of their use in crowd-control operations. The GLIF4 contains 25g of TNT, emits 165 decibels, and may contain CS or tear gas in powder form or 10g rubber pellets released upon detonation. These grenades have been responsible for the amputation of hands, hematomas, and the formation of necrotic tissue among the GJ demonstrators.

…Despite all the evidence of the traumatic effects of these weapons upon civilians, the French Council of State ruled that the LBD40 was a necessary instrument of “self-defence” for the forces of “law and order…”

*

There was the recent clear targeting of a woman with a high-velocity water cannon in the Netherlands, leaving her with a fractured skull and needing 15 stitches.


There were the reports of sustained police violence against protesters at Standing Rock in late 2016, including these accounts:

“All of a sudden there were these bright, blinding spotlights, so you could see each other, but you couldn’t see [the police]. Every once in awhile you could hear someone scream who had been hit by a rubber bullet.”

“I was tear gassed over 15 times, which made it hard to breathe and left my face burning for hours,” recalls Cheyenne, a young native woman from Michigan. “I got hosed down with a water cannon in freezing temperatures leaving me hypothermic, and I was slammed into a barbed wire barricade out of panic caused by the police after a flash grenade was thrown and caught fire to a field.”

Another young native man from the Ojibwe nation said “He shot me with a rubber bullet right in the belly button, and when I showed him that he had hurt me, he just smiled and shot both my kneecaps”.

*

And, on the same day as the many protests across Russia, in the heart of the USA, a Tacoma police man drove his SUV into protesters and over at least one man, because he allegedly “feared for his safety”.

But again, what I’ve seen at three different protests in Moscow (two of which were deemed illegal) is considerable police restraint, & crowd control tactics NOT involving: water canons, tear gas, pepper spray, stun grenades, or any of the violent methods employed by Western nations, much less the shoot to maim or to kill tactics of Israel.

Peaceful Protesters?

Although from what I could see the protesters in Moscow were largely peaceful, there were also incidents in the protests where individuals and mobs were violent against other protesters and against police.

Across the square from where I stood, an anti-Navalny protester scaled a lamppost, apparently with a placard against Navalny. He was punched and, to the cheers of protesters, pulled down from the lamppost, then beaten and kicked by at least two among the protesters.

In St. Petersburg, a man punched a police officer, knocking him to the ground.

Protesters attacked police in Vladivostok.

And in Moscow, protesters snowballed then mobbed a security services car, breaking into it and gouging the driver’s eye out.

And this:

“Peaceful protesting women. January 23, 2021 Moscow, intersection of Strastnoy Boulevard and st. Bolshaya Dmitrovka.”

peace
peace2

Of the violence in January 23 protests, 39 law enforcement officers were reportedly injured.

Media Tactics 2019 and 2021: A Protest or a “Walk”?

In the few protests I’ve observed here, aside from the nature of the protesters, protests and police, I’ve noticed some repeatedly deployed media tactics. I mean, aside from the predictable glaring hype, hysteria, and framing of police before protests even began.

The 2019 protests had been occurring over the issue of the Moscow Duma election, an issue so gripping that vast numbers of youths came out to stand in the square together quietly, save the periodic and short-lived chants which quickly dissipated.

While reading about the protest later on Twitter, I came across this thread.

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It certainly helps explain the apparent apathy I felt among protesters there.

On August 10, having arrived by metro and foot to Sakharov Prospect, long before the (sanctioned) protest was due to begin, I saw the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC)’s resident correspondent Chris Brown and producer Corinne Seminoff among the sea of journalists and fluorescent vested quasi-journalists.

In the second of two protests that day, the latter being deemed as illegal as it was after the protest hours and off the protest route, Brown tweeted footage of Russian police marching toward the square, with the sole word, “intense”.

Which makes me think he either doesn’t get out much or, more likely, he is a fraud.

The CBC decided to run with the explanation that this protest was merely a large group of people taking a walk, and not a protest.

But that isn’t what I saw. I followed people continuing from the sanctioned protest on eventually to Kitai Gorad, chanting and still holding placards, where then riot police arrived and began arresting people.

The funniest thing about Corinne’s tripe was when I later found an interview with her colleague, Chris Brown, who I had noticed standing beside her in the Kitai Gorad square, in which he specifically described the scene as including people holding placards.

Back to the January 23, 2021, protest and that BBC tweet I mentioned at the beginning, claiming metro exits were sealed. That stellar correspondent of 30+ years experience also employed the “walk” lexicon. Clearly a marketing directive from the folks behind team Navalny to paint scenes of Russia police rampaging around arresting pedestrians.

Team Navalny’s propaganda is that shoddy. Actually, it’s worse.

Navalny: Russia’s Guaido

Without even delving deeply into Navalny’s history of extremist views, it is clear he fulfills the same role as the unpopular “opposition” figure (and non-President of Venezuela), Juan Guaido.

Both are propped up by the West as supposedly popular opposition figures; neither are. Both are used by the West to demonize the governments they in no way represent. And both almost certainly receive financial and other favours for their work on behalf of Washington.

When in early 2019, Western media and talking heads’ focus was on Venezuela, alleging chaos in the streets (after US sabotage of Venezuela’s power grid), I went to Venezuela to see for myself.

I walked the streets of Caracas, and with local Venezuelans went to different areas of Caracas, including some of the poorest barrios where—if there’s going to be chaos and food shortages, you’d expect it to be there.

I saw Venezuelans working together to help one another during the power outages, waiting patiently to collect spring water, and even in the hills of the largest slum, Petare, which I visited with a local and a friend on his motorbike, I saw signs for fresh cheese, meat, and produce.

During my few weeks there, I also saw massive protests (video) in support of the government, filled with people who were very politically-aware, and didn’t support Guaido. I spoke with average citizens, including in the poorest areas. They could articulate very clearly what they are fighting and why they support Maduro.

I did try to observe opposition marches, but they never materialized. I even hopped on a motorcycle taxi and spent a few hours going to areas where opposition protests were due to happen and instead found pro-government protests in one district, and a few handfuls of opposition supporters in two others.

I left Venezuela knowing that mass media and Western politicians’ renditions of reality was utterly distorted in favour of backing a puppet to implement America’s destablization plans.

Which is precisely what they’re doing with Navalny.

Navalny’s Piss-Poor Propaganda

The shocking aspect of all of this blatant propaganda (and cheerleading of criminals propped up as valiant opposition figures) is not that it occurs, but how poor team Navalny’s (and Guaido’s) propaganda is.

It has ranged (looking only at the past six months) from lying about being poisoned by Russia (via Novichok in his undies, no less!), to fanfare around his arrest (which he returned to Russia precisely for), to team Navalny’s “peaceful” and “police brutalized” “freedom walks”…to their seminal work, “Putin’s Palace”, their alleged expose of Putin’s grandiose lifestyle.

The latter was such a poorly-constructed propaganda piece it was quickly deconstructed by people spotting the photoshopping, and more recently by people going to the site in question and learning that it is the unfinished construction of a hotel, not a finished and fine palace.

As they have dutifully promoted the Russian “police brutality” narratives, so did journalists and “human rights” pundits gleefully promote the sham exposé, without questioning how Navalny, supposedly ill from poisoninghad the strength and ability to create this lie.

In Conclusion

Given how much air time team Navalny and their lies get in the media, it seems fitting to end with an English-subtitled clip from a video debunking the palace narrative, with thanks to Valentina Lisitsa for subtitling.

The Destructive Plan Behind the Biden Russia Agenda

January 31, 2021

[Note by the Saker: as most of you know, I don’t do reposts (see here why).  This time, however, I decided to make a small exception to this rule and I emailed William and asked him for the permission to repost his excellent article on the hardcore russophobic elements inside Biden’s team.  William has very kindly allowed me to do so, so here it is below]

The Destructive Plan Behind the Biden Russia Agenda

by William Engdahl, reposted by special permission

source: http://www.williamengdahl.com/englishNEO29Jan2021.php

The new Biden Administration has from day one made it clear it will adopt a hostile and aggressive policy against the Russian Federation of Vladimir Putin. The policy behind this stance has nothing to do with any foul deeds Putin’s Russia may or may not have committed against the West. It has nothing to do with absurd allegations that Putin had pro-US dissident Alexei Navalny poisoned with the ultra-deadly Novichok nerve agent. In has to do with a far deeper agenda of the globalist Powers That Be. That agenda is what is being advanced now.

The Cabinet choices of Joe Biden reveal much. His key foreign policy picks–Tony Blinken as Secretary of State and Victoria Nuland as Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs; Bill Burns as CIA head; Jake Sullivan as National Security Advisor ; Avril Haines as Director of National Intelligence—all are from the Obama-Biden Administration and all have worked closely together. As well, all see Russia, not China, as the prime security threat to the United States’ global hegemony.

As candidate, Joe Biden stated this often. His key foreign policy choices underscore that the focus with the Biden Administration, regardless how fit Biden himself is, will shift from the China threats to that of Putin’s Russia. Biden’s CIA head, Bill Burns, is a former Ambassador to Moscow and was Deputy Secretary of State during the Obama CIA coup d’etat in Ukraine in 2014. Notably, when Burns left State in November 2014 he was succeeded by Tony Blinken, now Secretary of State. Blinken reportedly formulated the US State Department response to Russia’s Crimea annexation.

Nuland is key

All Biden choices are uniformly clear in blaming Putin’s Russia for everything from US election interference in 2016 to the recent SolarWinds US government computer hack, to every other claim aired against Russia in recent years, whether proven or not.

In trying to determine what the new Biden Administration and the US intelligence agencies have in store towards Putin and Russia, however, the best indication is the prominent role being given to Victoria Nuland, the person, together with then-Vice President Joe Biden, who ran the political side of the US coup d’etat in Ukraine in 2013-14. She infamously was wire-tapped in a phone call to the US Ambassador in Kiev during the Maidan Square 2013-14 protests, telling the Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt, regarding EU choices for a new Ukraine regime, “F**k the EU.” Her husband, Robert Kagan is a notorious Washington neocon.

On leaving government on Trump’s election in 2016, Nuland became a Senior Counselor at the Albright Stonebridge Group, headed by former Clinton Secretary of State Madeline Albright who is also chairman of the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) affiliate, National Democratic Institute. Nuland also joined the Board of the NED, after 2016, keeping in close contact with NED regime change operations. She is a Russia expert, fluent in Russian and a specialist in toppling regimes.

As Obama Assistant Secretary of State for Eurasian and European Affairs in 2013, Nuland worked closely with Vice President Joe Biden to put into power Arseniy Yatsenyuk in a US-friendly and Russia-hostile Ukraine coup. She fostered months of protest against the regime of the elected President of Ukraine, Victor Yanukovych, to force his ouster after his decision to join the Russian Eurasian Economic Union. Founder of the private intelligence group Stratfor, George Friedman, in an interview just after the February 2014 coup in Kiev, called it “the most blatant coup in (US) history.”

New Initiatives

In a major article in the August, 2020 Foreign Affairs, journal of the New York Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), Nuland outlines what most likely will be US strategy for undermining Russia in the coming months. She complains that, “resignation has set in about the state of US-Russian relations, and Americans have lost confidence in their own ability to change the game.” In other words, she is about “changing the game” with Putin. She charges that in the past 12 years, “Russia has violated arms control treaties; fielded new, destabilizing weapons; threatened Georgia’s sovereignty; seized Crimea and much of the Donbass; and propped up despots in Libya, Syria, and Venezuela. It has used cyber-weapons against foreign banks, electrical grids, and government systems; interfered in foreign democratic elections; and assassinated its enemies on European soil.”

She goes on to say the repeated US economic sanctions on select Russian banks and companies as well as Putin backers have done little to change Russian policy, claiming that, ”US and allied sanctions, although initially painful, have grown leaky or impotent with overuse and no longer impress the Kremlin.”

But Nuland suggests that Putin’s Russia today is vulnerable as never in the past 20 years: “the one thing that should worry the Russian president: the mood inside Russia. Despite Putin’s power moves abroad, 20 years of failing to invest in Russia’s modernization may be catching up with him. In 2019, Russia’s GDP growth was an anemic 1.3 percent. This year, the coronavirus pandemic and the free fall in oil prices could result in a significant economic contraction…Russia’s roads, rails, schools, and hospitals are crumbling. Its citizens have grown restive as promised infrastructure spending never appears, and their taxes and the retirement age are going up. Corruption remains rampant, and Russians’ purchasing power continues to shrink.”

In her CFR article Nuland advocates using, “Facebook, YouTube, and other digital platforms… there is no reason why Washington and its allies shouldn’t be more willing to give Putin a dose of his own medicine inside Russia, while maintaining the same deniability.” She adds that because Russians widely use the Internet and it is largely open, “Despite Putin’s best efforts, today’s Russia is more permeable. Young Russians are far more likely to consume information and news via the Internet than through state-sponsored TV or print media. Washington should try to reach more of them where they are: on the social networks  Odnoklassniki and VKontakte; on Facebook, Telegram, and YouTube; and on the many new Russian-language digital platforms springing up.”

Navalny

Around the time Nuland submitted her July-August Foreign Affairs article, perennial Putin opponent, Alexey Navalny was in Berlin, ostensibly recovering from what he claims was an attempt by Putin’s intelligence to kill him with highly toxic nerve agent, Novichok. Navalny, a US-educated opposition figure who was a Yale University Fellow in 2010 has been trying to gain a strong following for well over a decade, has been documented receiving money from Nuland’s National Endowment for Democracy, whose founder in the 1990s described it as doing, “what the CIA used to do, but privately.” In 2018 according to NPR in the US, Navalny had more than six million YouTube subscribers and more than two million Twitter followers. How many are bots paid by US intelligence is not known. Now, five months after exile in Berlin, Navalny makes a bold return where he knew he faced likely jail for past charges. It was obviously a clear calculation by his Western sponsors.

The US government’s NGO for Color Revolution regime change, the NED, in a piece published on January 25 echoes Nuland’s call for a social media-led destabilization of Putin. Writing about the Moscow arrest of Navalny just three days before the Biden inauguration, the NED states that, “By creating a model of guerrilla political warfare for the digital age, Navalny has exposed the regime’s utter lack of imagination and inability….” They add, “Putin is in a Catch-22: If Putin kills Navalny, it could draw more attention to the problem and exacerbate unrest. If Putin lets Navalny live, then Navalny remains a focus for resistance, whether he is in prison or not… Navalny has very much outmaneuvered Putin at each turn since the poisoning. It’s becoming a bit humiliating for him.”

Since his alleged botched poisoning in August in Russian Far East, Navalny was allowed by the Russian government to fly to Berlin for treatment, a strange act if indeed Putin and Russian intelligence had really wanted him dead. What clearly took place in the intervening five months in exile suggests that Navalny’s return was professionally prepared by unnamed Western intelligence regime change specialists. The Kremlin has claimed intelligence that shows Navalny was directly being tutored while in exile by CIA specialists.

On Navalny’s Moscow arrest January 17, his anti-corruption NGO released a sophisticated YouTube documentary on Navalny’s channel, purporting to show a vast palace alleged to belong to Putin on the Black Sea, filmed with use of a drone, no small feat. In the video Navalny calls on Russians to march against the alleged billion dollar “Putin Palace” to protest corruption.

Navalny, who clearly is being backed by sophisticated US information warfare specialists and groups such as the NED, is likely being told to build a movement to challenge United Russia party candidates in the September Duma elections where Putin isn’t a candidate. He has even been given a new tactic, which he calls a “smart voting” strategy, a hallmark NED tactic.

Stephen Sestanovich, New York Council on Foreign Relations Russia expert and former board member of the NED, suggested the likely game plan of the new Biden team. On January 25 Sestanovich wrote in the CFR blog, “The Putin regime remains strong, but nationwide protests in support of Alexei Navalny are the most serious challenge to it in years. Opposition leader Alexei Navalny is showing a political creativity and tactical skill that Putin has not previously faced. If the protests continue, they could reveal vulnerabilities in his decades-long hold on power.” This was two days after Russia-wide protests demanding Navalny’s release from jail. “With his bold decision to return to Moscow and the release of a widely viewed video purporting to expose regime corruption, Navalny has shown himself to be a capable and imaginative political figure—even from jail, perhaps the most formidable adversary Putin has faced,” he wrote. “The strategic sophistication of Navalny’s team is underscored both by its video release and, before that, by its exposé of the Federal Security Services (FSB) personnel who poisoned him last summer.”

The clear decision of the Biden team to name a former Moscow ambassador to head the CIA and Victoria Nuland to No. 3 position at the State Department, along with his other intelligence choices indicate that destabilizing Russia will be a prime focus of Washington going forward. As the NED gleefully put it, “Navalny’s arrest, three days before Biden’s inauguration former US ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul says, has all the makings of “Biden’s first foreign policy crisis. Whatever was in their transition documents, this is now front and center for them.”

The reason however is not because of domestic corruption by Putin’s inner circle, true or not. Biden could care less. Rather it is the very existence of Russia under Putin as an independent sovereign nation that tries to defend that national identity, whether in military defense or in defense of a traditionally conservative Russian culture. Ever since the US-backed NED destabilization of the Soviet Union in 1990 during the Bush Administration, it has been NATO policy and that of the influential financial interests behind NATO to break Russia into many parts, dismantle the state and loot what is left of its huge raw materials resources. The globalist Great Reset has no room for independent nation states like Russia is the message that the new Biden team will clearly convey now.
——-
F. William Engdahl is strategic risk consultant and lecturer, he holds a degree in politics from Princeton University and is a best-selling author on oil and geopolitics, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”

American Hypocrisy Towards Unauthorized & Violent Protests Must End

By Andrew Korybko

Source

American Hypocrisy Towards Unauthorized & Violent Protests Must End

Whenever American administrations change, usually only the heads of various agencies and a few folks below them are replaced. Sometimes this is substantive, other times it’s only cosmetic, but the fact of the matter is that the vast majority of the members of its military, intelligence, and diplomatic bureaucracies (“deep state”) remain the same.

The Biden Administration is following in the footsteps of the former Trump one by exercising hypocrisy towards unauthorized and violent protests. Both his and Trump’s condemned the violent storming of the US Capitol earlier this month, yet neither has any compunctions about endorsing similar destabilizations whenever they happen in Hong Kong or Russia. The former administration gleefully supported unauthorized and violent protests in China’s Special Autonomous Region against its national security legislation, while the present one is doing the exact same thing regarding imprisoned anti-corruption blogger Alexei Navalny.

That individual was recently detained for probation violations upon his return to Russia from Germany where he was receiving treatment after being mysteriously poisoned over the summer. He and some Western governments accuse the Russian one of attempting to assassinate him using the banned chemical weapon Novichok, a charge which Moscow vehemently denies. Navalny called for his compatriots to protest nationwide on Saturday in response to his detainment, which several tens of thousands of them did. Approximately three thousand people were detained for participating in these unauthorized protests, which quickly turned violent.

In the run-up to those riots, the Russian government strongly criticized its American counterpart for publishing the locations and times of unauthorized protests on its embassy website. It later slammed embassy spokeswoman Rebecca Ross for describing the security services’ response as a “concerted campaign to suppress free speech [and] peaceful assembly.” It should be noted that Russian media has shared footage of some participants attacking police and even beating up counter-demonstrators. Russia was also shocked that the unauthorized protests were being advertised to minors through social media.

It’s very disappointing that the Biden Administration is picking up where its predecessor left off, albeit by directing weaponized protests against Russia instead of China like Trump’s did, at least for now. America is further sacrificing its already dwindling soft power standing across the world through such blatant displays of hypocrisy. It cannot condemn similar manifestations of violence disguised as protest at home while enthusiastically supporting such instances abroad. In addition, the Biden Administration’s demand to unconditionally release Navalny and the protesters is a textbook example of meddling in another state’s affairs.

Nevertheless, this shouldn’t be all that surprising for observers. Whenever American administrations change, usually only the heads of various agencies and a few folks below them are replaced. Sometimes this is substantive, other times it’s only cosmetic, but the fact of the matter is that the vast majority of the members of its military, intelligence, and diplomatic bureaucracies (“deep state”) remain the same. This in turn ensures policy continuation in the strategic sense, though it can of course be altered depending on the political will that the president at the time has to do so, like how Trump pulled out of the Iranian nuclear deal for example.

Evidently, President Biden and his team had no such will to stop their predecessor’s plans to support — and arguably even organize to a certain extent — this latest anti-Russian destabilization. They’re notorious Russophobes in the political sense who wouldn’t ever consider the pragmatism of easing pressure on Russia or the soft power benefits inherent in having a consistent stance towards unauthorized and violent protests. This is the absolutely wrong policy to practice since there’s never any excuse for violating international law. It also further erodes the country’s image abroad and could lead to unintended international consequences.

Whether someone’s protesting against national security legislation, allegedly rigged elections, or for the release of a detained blogger, they must always do so peacefully and follow the law. Illegally assembling and committing acts of violence against the security services and counter-protesters, especially while encouraging impressionable youth to de facto function as human shields, is absolutely unacceptable. It’s all the worse when a foreign power is politically supporting these events and even publicly organizing them through its embassy website. If President Biden is serious about change, then he must immediately stop these double standards.

With “Biden” in the White House, the Kremlin now needs to change gear

ٍSource • JANUARY 27, 2021

First, a clarification. When I speak of “Biden” I don’t mean the fungus (to use Tom Luongo’s apt expression) which was recently planted in the White House, I am referring to the “collective Biden” which I defined here https://thesaker.is/terminology/ . With this caveat, now let’s see why Russia might want to change gears in 2021.

First, let’s begin by the basics:

Russians often say that US politicians change, but US policies don’t. There is much truth to that, we saw that very clearly with Obama and Trump: both promised sweeping changes and both pretty much continued the policies of their predecessors, at least on the foreign policy front. In a way, you could argue that this is normal and even desirable. A shill for the regime would say something along the lines that “well, that is normal, US national security priorities don’t change with each administration, so all this proves is that no matter what any candidate promises during his campaign, once in office he/she becomes aware of the hard realities of this words and then act on it just like their predecessors did“. This argument is deeply flawed, however, because it completely ignores the will of the US people (who, let’s not forget that, voted for change every time they got a chance to, be it with Obama or with Trump) and it assumes that only those “in the know” realize and know what they have to do. This kind of “logic” is typical for the elitism of the US ruling classes.

It also ignores the fact that US Presidents are really puppets, figureheads, even if during their campaign they pretend otherwise. As for the elections, every four years in the US, they are nothing but a grand brainwashing show whose sole purpose is to give the illusion of people power. They could have presidential elections every 2 years, or even every year, none of that would change the fact that the US is a plutocratic dictatorship with much less people power than any other state in the collective West.

In fact, the argument above is just a tiny fig leaf trying to conceal the undeniable fact that the US are not ruled by a person, but are ruled by a class, in the Marxist sense of this world. Personally, I call this ruling class the “US Nomenklatura“. And while both Obama and Trump pretended to want real change, they both lost that chance (assuming they ever wanted this is the first place, which I doubt) when they did not do what Putin did when he came to office: crush the Russian oligarchs as a class (some fled abroad, some died, some lost it all, and some agreed to play by Putin’s new rules). Obama, being the vapid and spineless car salesman that he, is probably never even contemplated any real move against the US Nomenklatura. As for Trump, being the pompous narcissist that he is, he might have even entertained some thoughts of showing “who is boss”, but that lasted only 1 month, until the US Nomenklatura forced Trump to fire Flynn (after that, it was all freefall…).

Anyway, the point is that we should not expect immense, sweeping changes from any administration. Since the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior, we should assume that mostly we will get “more of the same, maybe even worse”. What am I talking about here? Here is a (partial) list of these “more of the sames”:

  1. Further vilification of Russia, Russians and everything Russian by the entire western media (which is even less diverse and more uniformly lying than anything Goebbels or Suslov could ever had dreamed up!). You can think of it as “full spectrum russophobia”.
  2. Even more “sanctions” against all Russian interests (economic, political, etc.) worldwide. The US sees this as a pure zero-sum game, any loss by Russia, no matter how marginal and puny is a victory for the AngloZionist Empire.
  3. A return to Obama-era style military missile and air strikes. Probably not on Russian targets (yes, Hillary advocated that, but now this would be much more dangerous than 5 years ago), but definitely on Russian allies like Syria (including attacks on Iranian and Venezuelan vessels on the high seas).
  4. A return to Obama-era petty harassment of Russian diplomats and citizens. The goal here is not to achieve anything meaningful, but rather it is to show that “Russia is weak and cannot prevent us from treating her like a 3rd rate power”. There is nothing the US could do which would really hurt Russia, so Uncle Shmuel will turn his rage on those few diplomats and even civilians it can kidnap, jail, expel, sanction, extort, threaten etc.
  5. Even more sabre-rattling all along the Russian borders. I fully expect that US forces will be deployed in the Baltic statelets on a permanent basis (not on a rotation basis). USAF aircraft and USN ships will continue to harass Russian defenses under the pretext of “innocent passage”, “freedom of navigation” and the like.
  6. Since the Biden Admin is a “who’s who” of Jewish and Ukrainian extremists (some combo!), and since Biden is personally implicated in the Ukraine (along with Hunter), we can also expect a rapid degradation of the political situation in the Ukraine and even more provocations than under Trump. As they say, these folks will “fight Russia down to the last Ukrainian”.

None of that will have any direct impact on Russia (for a detailed discussion, see here). However, this does not mean that Russia should continue to pretend like this is “business as usual” and take blow after blow after blow. Why? For a number of reasons:

  1. There is plenty of evidence that the Russian people are getting fed-up with what they see is a rather weak, if not lame, attitude of Russian officials, especially against the constant flow of petty harassment measures against Russian interests. Folks in the West are never told this (after all, informing is not the mission of the corporate media), but the “patriotic” opposition to the Kremlin is much more dangerous than the hopelessly discredited pro-western “liberal” one (more about that below). The calls for a much more energetic “push-back” are now regularly heard, including from rather mainstream politicians.
  2. There is also plenty of evidence that the “Biden gang” will want not only to fully resume Obama-era policies towards the Ukraine (trigger more violent incidents & support for the Ukie Nazis) but that these policies will now also be extended towards Belarus. The fact that these policies are unlikely to succeed does not mean that Russia’s best response to them is to maintain a “wait and see” position. It is pretty self-evident that any form of restraint by Russia is immediately explained away as “weakness” by the western propaganda machine. Any more such “restraint” will only make things more dangerous and more difficult for Russia and Putin personally. In other words, at this point in time, “restraint” only invites more aggression.
  3. Furthermore, 2021 is an election (Parliament) year in Russia. Now, irrespective of anything Russia does, no matter how transparent or un-falsifiable Russian elections are, the West will use that opportunity to try to get violent riots in the streets of Russia before the elections and, after the election, the West will declare that the Russian elections were “undemocratic” and go on about “supporting the just democratic aspirations of the Russian people” (especially Russian homosexuals, of course!) and the like.
  4. Finally, it is pretty clear that the Biden Cabinet brings together the crème de la crème of Zionist russophobes from the US deep state. These people are characterized by the following and very dangerous characteristics: narcissistic and messianic racist self-love, a “God ordained” racist hatred for all of mankind, a personal/family history of hatred for Russia, deep involvement in many Ukie corruption schemes, an almost total failure to understand that consequences and nature of war combined with a delusional belief in invulnerability and impunity (while the former is false, the latter has been true, at least so far), etc. This is a very dangerous combination, to say the least!

The truth is that pseudo-liberals are amongst the most dangerous creatures out there. Yes, their current “geopolitical toolkit” (the US and the AngloZionist Empire) is weak, but that does not mean that Russia (or the rest of the world) can simply ignore these dangerous psychopaths.

The good (or even excellent!) news is that Trump gave Russia four more years to prepare for what is coming next, and that the Russia+China tandem is in much better shape today than it was 4 years ago. For example, the Russian internal security situation is now the best ever, as witnessed to by the fact that the Russian federal “wanted list” does not include a single Chechen national; the self-styled “last Emir of the Caucasus”, Aslan Byutukayev, was killed on January 20th, which made it possible for Ramzan Kadyrov to “declare a total victory over terrorism” in Russia). In plain English this means that every single Chechen who has ever committed an act of terrorism in Russia has been identified and is now either dead (most of them) or jailed (only a few). Despite these achievements, I am not sure sure about the “total victory over terrorism” because there are still violent groups in several regions Russia. Besides, if the “Axis of Kindness” (US/Israel/KSA, sometimes joined by the country many Russians think of as “Puny Britain”) special services decide to reignite an insurgency in Russia, they might have at least some success, especially initially. The FSB/FSO better not let their guard down, especially in Dagestan, the Far East, Crimea and the Moscow region!

In purely military terms, Russia is completely “out of reach” for the United States armed forces, even with the EU/NATO thrown in. I have written a lot about that, and I won’t repeat any of this here. Suffice to say that Russia now has the best armed forces she has had in decades while the US has an immense, truly grotesquely bloated, military, but not one that can get anything done other than killing (and, at that, mostly civilians). Even if we look just at nuclear strategic forces of Russia they are at least a decade, if not more, ahead of the West. This is the first time since WWII that Russia is that powerful, and now she can reap the many advantages of being militarily secure.

All this being said, I have personally always defended what I called the Kremlin’s “restraint” for the simple reason that when I look at the aggregate power (not just military!) of Russia and the AngloZionist Empire I still see the latter as much stronger. However, I have do admit that the trend of this relationship is a positive one, that is to say that over the past decade or so Russia has become much, much, stronger while the US and the Empire have become much, much, weaker. Under Biden, this trend will only accelerate.

The time has now come for Russia to adapt her own policies to this new reality.

And the very first thing the Kremlin ought to change is its language, its rhetoric. Yes, “restraint” is good, especially when escalation into a full-scale war is amongst the possible outcomes of any crisis, but “restraint” cannot be a goal in itself. For example, while the US+NATO does, objectively, represent a major anti-Russian threat (if only because they are weak and can only count their on nukes to protect them!). Likewise, the ugly “Banderastan” which the Ukronazis turned the good old Ukraine into is not a threat to Russia whatsoever. So why not seriously turn down a few economic screws to make the Ukronazis feel that their never ending stream of insults and (empty) threats can have consequences?

Next, the Kremlin needs to mix strong words with strong actions!

Just this Sunday, January, the 24th, the US Embassy in Moscow was involved in openly coordinating the (small, but violent and illegal!) riots in Moscow, just the same way the NEXTA Telegram channel has done in Belarus. So what did the Kremlin do in response? The Russian Foreign Ministry did order US diplomats to the MID building and… … gave them a note of firm protest.

And that’s it?!

I don’t think anybody in the US Embassy in Moscow gives a damn about Russian protests. If anything, US “diplomats” probably get a good laugh each time they get such protests. And everybody knows that, including the Russian diplomats. So why do they hold to such a lame “communications line”?

The Russian Navy recently gave a very good example of how a good word can have much more effect when backed with some good action: remember when (of all names!) the USS John McCain recently breached the Russian maritime border? The Russian Navy did tell the McCain to withdraw, but it added that the Russian large antisubmarine ship (a “destroyer” in western terminology) Admiral Vinogradov would “ram” the McCain if his warnings were not heeded. Needless to say, the McCain got out really fast (the USN already has experienced this kind of situation in the past, see here). The problem with ramming, at least for the USN, is that you can hardly reply by opening up with your weapons, which would be truly suicidal inside Russian waters and near the (heavily fortified) Russian coastline. As for the Russians, they are “crazy” enough to do that, even when their ship is smaller (ask any US sailor who served in the US submarine force, they know!). The simple truth is that the Russian sailors “mean business” (the one of defending their motherland) whereas the US sailors, well, how shall I put it? They do very much want to “show the flag” and “defend principles”, but not if they might get seriously hurt. That’s just a fact. From the Russian point of view, joining the military means accepting that pain and death come with the territory. 1000 years of warfare have truly imprinted that on the Russian collective psyche.

By the way, a lot of US Americans love to repeat these famous words by General Patton: “No bastard ever won a war by dying for his country. He won it by making the other poor dumb bastard die for his country“. This is a neat aphorism, and it very much caters to a typically US view of warfare. It is also almost perfectly wrong, as any Russian, Iranian or Hezbollah fighter could tell you – that is not how you win wars. In fact, this is how you lose them. And this is why putative “dumb bastards” beat the crap out of US forces over and over again…

At the very least, it is high time to reduce the number of US officials in Russia: I am talking about diplomats, of course, but also the entire menagerie of “volunteers”, “NGOs” and, most definitely, US “journalists” accredited in Russia. Reducing their numbers will also make it easier for the FSB/FSO to keep an eye on the rest of them.

Next, I would also show a large number of EU “guests” to the door: after all, why keep them in this nightmarish Putin’s Mordor? Let’s send them back to the “freedom” they, apparently, care for so much (at least when in Russia; when in Paris, Berlin or Rotterdam – not so much).

Frankly, they EU rulers have gone completely insane. Now the EU is seriously considering cancelling the almost completed North Stream 2 over the Navalnyi nonsense! Sacrificing a multi-billion dollar project crucial to the EU economy over the fate of one particularly uninspiring and fake pseudo-dissident whose support in Russia is less than one percent (as shown by the miniscule crowds which violently rioted on is behalf). What the EU leaders fail to appreciate is that Russia needs NS2 much less than the EU does, as Russia’s main gas plans are fully focused on China. There is a good Russian expression about the kind of threats the EU makes: to “try to scare a hedgehog with a naked bottom!”. The EU really needs to be placed on a suicide watch, imho.

Frankly, this entire western “fauna” has become accustomed to living in Russia while making a living hating on Russia. They mostly got away with it in the 80s, they totally got away with it in the 90s, and for the past twenty years the Kremlin has done precious little to change this. I think that the “message” (westerners love “messages”) from the Kremlin should be simple: living and working in Russia is not a right, it is a privilege. If you can’t behave, then you have overstayed your welcome. In the current context, the West has much more to lose from this kind of policy than Russia (especially since Russian diplomats were already expelled, and Russian consular buildings illegally closed).

Next, Russia needs to respond to the US zero-sum-game, but not by accepting such a logic for herself. The main problem with the zero-sum-game mindset is that it is extremely wasteful: the side engaging in it has to spent a lot of time and efforts trying to deny any victory, or even mildly positive development, to the other side. What Russia should do instead, is define a list of vulnerable and important targets/goals of the Empire, and then focus her resources and energy denying them to the US. Such a fully focused effort is much more efficient than the kind of “full spectrum pestering” the US typically engages in. The good news, at least for Russia, is that the US is both vulnerable and weak, economically, militarily, culturally, socially – you name it. As for the Empire, it has been dead for a while already: it simply ceased to operate as an empire a while ago already. Again, this reality is carefully hidden in what I call “Zone A“, but in Zone B everybody knows it, even if they pretend otherwise.

The perfect place for Russia to really make a difference would be Iran. Though the Iranians are extremely sophisticated players, both their diplomats and their military, they badly need Russian help, especially in such fields as early warning systems, targeting, over the horizon radars, air defenses (ground and air based), antisubmarine warfare, coastal defenses, etc. – you name it! Iran is, by far, the most important country in the Middle-East and Iran is therefore constantly under threat by the “Axis of Kindness”. Russia has not, so far, taken the strategic decision to give Iran the means to be safe, at least in part to be able to put pressure on Tehran when needed (Russian and Iranian goals in Syria are similar in some ways, but also distinct in others).

Finally, the Kremlin needs to become much more attuned to the arguments of the “patriotic opposition”. For one thing, many of the arguments of this patriotic opposition are correct, so listening to them is simply common sense. Second, some of these arguments are flawed, but they cannot be ignored: these arguments need counter-arguments. Simply assuming that the Russian people will always support the Kremlin no matter what is delusional and dangerous. Finally, some of these arguments are based on fallacies and only serve the interests of the US/EU/NATO block. The fact that some Russians sincerely repeat them is a dangerous sign of how susceptible some segments of the Russian society still are to US PSYOPs. For all these reasons, the Kremlin has to change its PR policies which are, frankly, becoming stale and sometimes even toxic.

Right now, there are three basic kind of opposition in Russia: the fake opposition in the Duma, which talks a lot, but basically supports the Kremlin, the non-systemic pro-US/EU opposition which probably speaks for about one percent of the Russian people, and the non-systemic “patriotic” opposition, which is also rather small, but which really needs to be represented in the Duma and become “part of the system of institutions” (as opposed to the current “one man show”) of Russia.

I am in no way suggesting that Russia should become confrontational or provocative. All that is needed is for Russia to be less “diplomatic” and much more forceful in the defense of her interests. That in turn means two things: Russian officials need to change their rather demure tone when dealing with western imperialists and, second, Russian officials needs to back their words with real, measurable, actions.

Conclusion: learn from your mistakes

Russian history is filled with cases when diplomats simply wasted the efforts and successes achieved by the Russian military. This is why the Russian military has a saying “the blood of some is spilled because of the incompetence of others” (another version: “some had to become heroes to undo that which cowards did“). Finally, if there is one thing which Russian history has shown beyond any doubt it is that the internal enemy is much, much more dangerous than the external one.

I have always maintained that the Empire and Russia have been at war since at least 2014. This is not the purely military WWIII, of course, but a war which is 80% economic, 15% informational and only 5% kinetic. This is, nonetheless, a total/existential war which will end with only one side standing, the other will vanish. For Russia, this is a war for the survival of the Russian civilizational realm, hardly a minor matter. Besides, this 80/15/5 percent war could quickly turn into a 0/0/100 kinetic one. Thus Russia needed to be very careful indeed. Now, roughly seven or eight years later, we can see that Russia has been winning, which is very good. But this war is far from over, such processes are very slow, and Russia simply cannot assume that “more of the same” from her will be enough to be victorious. All in all, the Russian policy towards the collective West has been both sound and very effective, but now the time has come for meaningful change. Should the Kremlin ignore these changing circumstances, then Russia might, yet again, be forced to solve with her military that which the diplomats failed to protect and preserve. God willing, Putin will heed the lessons taught by the history of Russia.

Dress Rehearsal Of Color Revolution In Russia

South Front

Anti-government protests under the pretext of the detention of the notorious Russian opposition leader Navalny took place in various cities across the country.

They were characterized by underwhelming attendance, claims of grandeur and awkward attempts at spreading violence. Protests were immediately endorsed by the Washington establishment. Notably, the United States Embassy in Moscow published detailed times and locations of unsanctioned rallies. Some Western leaders have made direct calls for an escalation of violence.

The entire situation resembled a staged performance that took place just days after the US President Joe Biden was inaugurated. The Russian scare narrative has already been pushed by the US Democrats and the US MSM for a long time. It is expected that the new Administration policy regarding Moscow will become even more hawkish. The detention of Alexey Navalny will be simply used as a justification for further aggressive actions against Russia. It fits perfectly with the Washington concept of cultivating an image of an unpredictable and irreconcilable foreign enemy to American values and democracy in general.

It is quite evident that Alexey Navalny, his sponsors, teammates and supporters were fully aware that he would get arrested when he returned to Russia. This could have been entirely avoided if he simply returned a bit earlier. He would thus meet the terms of his suspended sentence over the corruption and bribery in Russia. But then there would be no reason to protest.

Navalny even published a dramatic address saying that he had no desire to kill himself, to avoid any potential scenarios and being used as a sacrifice for the greater neo-liberal good.

As the hubs of the neo-liberal agenda in Russia, Moscow and Saint Petersburg hosted the largest protests. Protests in other regions were much smaller. However, there were even those protesting in extreme temperatures, showing that there is a motivated and unrelenting core.

The protest attendance, against the entire population of the cities, however, pales and shows an unimpressive turnout.

Reports of attendance vary, with some claiming at least 40,000 gathered in Moscow, with the authorities putting the number at merely 4,000. Others claimed that the numbers somewhere in the middle.

In Saint Petersburg, Kommersant reported that there was an attendance of about 5,000.

Other cities with a significant protest presence include Yekaterinburg, Novosibirsk, Vladivostok and Nizhny Novgorod.

The Russian branch of the BBC said that protests took place in 122 towns and cities across the country.

It appears that there was little friction among the general population. A notable part of protesters were likely paid. The core consisted of various unemployed idlers, young city hipsters, liberals and different minorities. A significant presence was seen from youths and minors, who were subjected to a large-scale social media campaign.

Many videos were released claiming police violence. Every video showed the same situation – an individual rushing towards police and attempting to assault the officers, and then getting detained in return.

There were no casualties, however, not from the side of the authorities, nor from the protesters. Evident attempts at causing casualties, by involving minors and youths, were obviously made, but they failed.

Fake news also became the integral part of this anti-government campaign. They were mostly dedicated to alleged killings and incredible numbers of arrests by the authorities. These messages were actively endorsed by mainstream social media, including the Chinese-operated TikTok. While Washington, which prefers to see the Russian statehood destroyed, Beijing is also not averse to use the situation for getting additional leverage on the Kremlin to strengthen its own position in joint projects. As a result, the narrative is being constructed as a “political persecution”.

The side shouting “witch hunt” the most, is the United States, whose administration referred to half of its population of Trump supporters as “domestic terrorists”, and “fascists” for not supporting the establishment of the neo-liberal agenda.

Despite the lack of success in the protests, this was simply a dress rehearsal. It is used to pave the way for a large-scale campaign to undermine Russia’s stability and compromise its statehood.

It seems that the ramping up of the destabilization attempts is scheduled for September 2021, – the period of the Russian general election that will include the next legislative election and the election of 11 governors. The liberal opposition has already proven that it is ready to even sacrifice children in order to achieve the ambitions of its sponsors. If the Russian government does not employ preventive measures, these people will easily find large support from Russia’s geopolitical opponents. Next time staged anti-government protests can ‘accidentally coincide’ with industrial disasters, cyberattacks, and even terrorist attacks.

Biden supports the overthrow of Vladimir Putin, and lean years between the two sides await بايدن يؤيّد الإطاحة بفلاديمير بوتين وسنوات عجاف بين الطرفين بانتظار العالم

**Please scroll down for the English Machine translation**

بايدن يؤيّد الإطاحة بفلاديمير بوتين وسنوات عجاف بين الطرفين بانتظار العالم

باريس – نضال حمادة

 مشروع أميركيّ لتغيير النظام في روسيا بدأ يظهر مع عودة الناشط السياسي أليكسي نافالني إلى موسكو، ويبدو أنّ خطة الغرب في صناعة نافالني من شخص غامض إلى نجم خلال الأشهر الماضية وصلت الى نهايتها وانتقلت الى مرحلة المواجهة والتنفيذ، وذلك مع توقيت وصول المعارض الروسي إلى موسكو على متن طائرة آتية من ألمانيا قبل أيام من وصول إدارة بايدن الى الحكم في واشنطن، وكانت موسكو قد حذرت من أنه سيتمّ احتجازه للاستجواب لكونه على قائمة المطلوبين.

من المقرّر إجراء الانتخابات الرئاسية في روسيا في آذار/ مارس 2024، وسيكون العامان المقبلان حاسمين لسياسة الكرملين. السؤال الكبير هو ما إذا كان الرئيس فلاديمير بوتين سوف يسعى إلى فترة ولاية أخرى مدّتها ست سنوات أم لا… يترك بوتين الأمر للوقت من دون إعطاء أيّ جواب او إبداء أية إشارة في هذا الأمر في وقت لا تتوقف فيه شعبيته عن الاستمرار في الارتفاع، وهو يمكنه البناء على سجل قويّ من الإنجازات في تعزيز القوة الوطنية الشاملة لروسيا، وقيادة عودة روسيا الى المسرح العالمي وتحسين مكانتها الدولية وضمان التوازن الاستراتيجي العالمي.

شكّل بوتين قارب النجاة لروسيا منذ وصوله إلى الحكم وقد أعادها خصماً قوياً للولايات المتحدة بعد غياب عشر سنوات، ويتوقع المحللون الروس أن يحاول بايدن تحويل المثلث الأميركي ـ الروسي ـ الصيني لصالح واشنطن من خلال إشراك الصين وعزل روسيا.

 في الأساس، من وجهة نظر بايدن العالمية، تعتبر الصين منافساً، لكنها واقعية ومنفتحة على عقد الصفقات، وستظلّ محايدة في المواجهة الأميركية مع روسيا.

وبشكل عام، فإنّ بايدن والمسؤولين الذين يشكلون فريق الأمن القومي الخاص به وغالبيتهم كانوا معه في عهد أوباما متأصّلون في اعتقادهم أنّ حساب السلطة في روسيا هشّ بطبيعته. من هذا المنظور، تصبح عودة نافالني إلى روسيا عملية اختبار لمدى إمكانية حصوله على شعبية أم لا.

من الناحية الدبلوماسية، فإنّ اعتقال نافالني في موسكو أصبح مادة خبريّة في الغرب في وقت تعمل فيه أوروبا على استقلالها الاستراتيجيّ تجاه الولايات المتحدة، وقد رفضت ألمانيا الضغط الأميركي لإفشال مشروع خط أنابيب الغاز ستريم 2. من هنا يبدو أنّ التقارب الألماني الروسي لا يسير وفق رغبة أميركا وبريطانيا، وقد تكون قضية نافالني الذريعة التي يتمّ من خلالها إيقاف التقارب الروسي الألماني.

الاتحاد الأوروبيّ سوف يناقش يوم 25 قضية توقيف نافالني في روسيا.

لطالما قادت وكالة المخابرات المركزية الأميركية السياسة الأميركية تجاه روسيا. وللمرة الأولى، سيترأس الدبلوماسي السابق ويليام بيرنز، وهو من المناهضين لروسيا من ذوي الخبرة، الوكالة داخل إدارة بايدن. وقد انتقد روسيا علناً وكتب «نحن في الأساس نواجه روسيا لاعباً كبيراً جداً في العديد من القضايا المهمة التي لا يمكن تجاهلها. إن اهتمامها بلعب دور القوة العظمى خارج حدودها قد يتسبّبان أحياناً في مشاكل كبيرة».

يتبنّى بيرنز موقفاً متشدّداً من روسيا مع قليل من العقلانية، وننقل هنا ما قاله حرفياً عن العلاقة مع روسيا: إنّ إدارة العلاقات مع روسيا ستكون لعبة طويلة، تلعب ضمن نطاق ضيّق نسبياً من الاحتمالات. إنّ الإبحار في مثل هذا التنافس العظيم يتطلب دبلوماسية دقيقة – المناورة في المنطقة الرمادية بين السلام والحرب؛ إظهار فهم حدود الممكن؛ زيادة النفوذ؛ استكشاف الأرضية المشتركة، حيث يمكننا العثور عليها؛ وندفع إلى الوراء بحزم وثبات حيث لا يمكننا… يجب أن نسير من خلاله من دون أوهام، وأن ندرك مصالح روسيا وحساسياتها، من دون عذر لقيمنا، وان نكون واثقين من قوتنا الدائمة. يجب ألا نستسلم لبوتين – ولا نتخلى عن روسيا خلفه.

باختصار، يرى بيرنز العلاقة المضطربة مع روسيا على أنها شيء تجب إدارته بدلاً من تعزيزه أو رعايته، وهو متشائم للغاية بشأن احتمالات التحسين طالما ظلّ بوتين في السلطة. يمكن للمرء أن يتخيّل أنّ بايدن يشارك أيضاً مثل هذا المنظور، وأحد الاعتبارات الرئيسية من بين أمور أخرى في قراره بتعيين بيرنز كرئيس لوكالة المخابرات المركزية هو أنّ الدبلوماسية الأميركية في الفترة المقبلة ستمرّ بمرحلة مضطربة في العلاقة مع روسيا، حيث تكمن المصالح الأميركية في تشجيع تغيير النظام في الكرملين، والذي سيعتمد بالطبع في المقام الأول على مدى نجاح العمليات السرية لوكالة التجسّس في زعزعة استقرار روسيا.

زعم مسؤولون كبار في الكرملين في سبتمبر/ أيلول الماضي أنّ موسكو لديها معلومات محدّدة تفيد بأنّ عملاء وكالة المخابرات المركزية كانوا يعملون مع نافالني في ألمانيا. إذا كان الأمر كذلك، فإنّ نافالني أداة استراتيجية لن تتنازل عنها وكالة المخابرات المركزية بسهولة. لكن كلّ شيء يشير إلى أنّ موسكو تعمل أيضاً على المدى الطويل. وأنّ وزير الخارجية الروسي سيرغي لافروف قد وبّخ شركاء روسيا الغربيين وحثهم على «التحلي بالأدب واستبعاد أساليب الفظاظة الدبلوماسية والوفاء بالتزاماتها الدولية في الوضع» المتعلق بنافالني.

من هنا يبدو أنّ وكالة الاستخبارات الأميركية مستعدة للقيام بخطوة افتتاحية شديدة العدوانية ضدّ روسيا على أمل أن تنجح في عملية استخدام نافالني للإطاحة بفلاديمير بوتين.

انتظروا عودة الانقلابات الأميركية حول العالم…

Biden supports the overthrow of Vladimir Putin, and lean years between the two sides await

Paris – Nidal Hamadeh

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A U.S. project to change the regime in Russia began to appear with the return of political activist Alexei Navalny to Moscow. The West’s plan in the making of Navalny  from a mysterious person to a star during the past months has come to an end and moved to the stage of confrontation and implementation, with the timing of the arrival of the Russian dissident to Moscow on a plane from Germany days before the biden administration came to power in Washington. Moscow had warned that he would be detained for questioning for being on the wanted list.

Russia’s presidential election is scheduled for March 2024, and the next two years will be crucial to Kremlin policy. The big question is whether President Vladimir Putin will seek another six-year term… Putin leaves it to time without giving any answer or any indication of this at a time when his popularity continues to rise, and he can build on a strong record of achievements in strengthening Russia’s overall national strength, leading Russia’s return to the world stage, improving its international standing and ensuring global strategic balance.

Putin has been Russia’s lifeboat since his accession to power, and he has brought it back as a strong opponent of the United States after a 10-year absence. Russian analysts expect that Biden will try to transform the US-Russian-Chinese triangle in favor of Washington by involving China and isolating Russia.

Basically, from Biden’s global point of view, China is a competitor, but it is realistic and open to deals, and will remain neutral in the U.S. confrontation with Russia.

In general, Biden and his national security team, the majority of whom were with him under Obama, are deeply rooted in  their belief that Russia’s power is fragile.

Diplomatically, Navalny’s arrest in Moscow has become a news item in the West at a time when Europe is working on its strategic independence toward the United States, and Germany has rejected U.S. pressure to thwart the Stream II gas pipeline project.

The EU will discuss on 25 th case of Navalny’s arrest in Russia.

The CIA has long led U.S. policy toward Russia, but for the first time, former diplomat William Burns, an experienced anti-Russian, will lead the agency within the Biden administration. Burns publicly criticised Russia, writing, “We are basically facing Russia with many important issues that cannot be ignored. Russia’s interest in playing the role as superpower outside its borders may sometimes cause major problems.

Burns takes a hard line on Russia with a bit of rationality, and we quote here literally what he said about the relationship with Russia: Managing relations with Russia will be a long game, playing within a relatively narrow range of possibilities. Navigating such great rivalry requires delicate diplomacy – manoeuvring in the gray zone between peace and war; Demonstrate an understanding of the limits of the possible; Influence increase; Explore the common ground, where we can find it; We are pushing back firmly and steadily where we cannot … We must walk through it without illusions, realise Russia’s interests and sensitivities, without an excuse for our values, and be confident of our permanent strength. We must not give in to Putin – and let us not abandon Russia behind him.

In short, Burns sees the troubled relationship with Russia as something to be managed rather than nurtured, and is very pessimistic about the prospects for improvement as long as Putin remains in power. One can imagine that Biden  also shares such a perspective, and one of the key considerations in his decision to appoint Burns as CIA chief is that U.S. diplomacy in the coming period will go through a turbulent period in the relationship with Russia, where U.S. interests lie in promoting regime change in the Kremlin, which will, of course, depend primarily on how successful the spy agency’s covert operations are in destabilising Russia.


Senior Kremlin officials claimed in September that Moscow had specific information that CIA agents were working with Navalny in Germany. If so, Navalny is a strategic tool that the CIA will not give up easily. But everything indicates that Moscow is also working in the long term. And that Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov rebuked Russia’s Western partners and urged them to “display politeness, exclude methods of diplomatic rudeness and fulfil its international obligations in the situation” related to Nafalni.

The CIA therefore seems ready to take a very aggressive opening step against Russia in the hope that it will succeed in using Navalny  to overthrow Vladimir Putin.

Wait for the return of U.S. coups around theworld…

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