Speech by the President of Russia at an expanded meeting of the SCO Heads of State Councila Plus Press Conference (ENG Subtitles)

SEPTEMBER 17, 2022

President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr President, colleagues,

https://thesaker.is/speech-by-the-president-of-russia-at-an-expanded-meeting-of-the-sco-heads-of-state-council/I fully share the statements made by my colleagues and their positive assessments of the work of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation and its growing prestige in international affairs. Indeed, the SCO has become the largest regional organisation in the world. As previous speakers have pointed out, over half of the world’s population lives in SCO member states, which account for about 25 percent of global GDP and have a powerful intellectual and technological potential and a considerable part of global natural resources.

At the same time, the SCO is not marking time but continues to develop and build up its role in addressing international and regional issues and maintaining peace, security and stability throughout the vast Eurasian space. Colleagues, this is especially important in the current complicated international situation, about which we have talked in detail during our restricted-attendance meeting.

However, I would like to repeat that global politics and economy are about to undergo fundamental and irreversible changes. The growing role of new centres of power is coming into sharp focus, and interaction among these new centres is not based on some rules, which are being forced on them by external forces and which nobody has seen, but on the universally recognised principles of the rule of international law and the UN Charter, namely, equal and indivisible security and respect for each other’s sovereignty, national values and interests.

It is on these principles, which are devoid of all elements of egoism, that the joint efforts of SCO member states are based in politics and the economy. This opens up broad prospects for continued mutually beneficial cooperation in politics, the economy, culture, humanitarian and other spheres.

Fighting terrorism and extremism, drug trafficking, organised crime and illegal armed formations remains a priority of our cooperation. Other key areas include providing assistance in the political and diplomatic settlement of conflicts along our external borders, including in Afghanistan.

Strengthening economic cooperation has traditionally been a critical part of the SCO’s activities. Our joint efforts are designed to expand trade and investment exchanges, carry out mutually beneficial business projects in various industries, and to increase the volume of settlements in national currencies.

As noted above, including by the President of Kazakhstan, we are open to working with the whole world. The SCO is a non-bloc association. We help addressing the energy and food problems that are growing globally as a result of certain systemic errors in the world’s leading economies in the field of finance and energy. Our policy is not selfish. We hope that other participants in economic cooperation will build their policies on the same principles and stop using the tools of protectionism, illegal sanctions and economic selfishness to their own advantage.

The European Commission’s decision to lift sanctions on Russian fertilisers is a vivid example of such selfish behaviour. We are aware of the fertilisers’ important role in overcoming the food problem. Of course, we welcome the decision to lift the sanctions. But it turns out that, in accordance with the clarification of the European Commission of September 10, these sanctions were lifted only for EU countries. It turns out that they are the only ones who can purchase our fertilisers. What about the developing poorest countries around the world?

Taking advantage of the presence of UN Under-Secretary-General [Rosemary] DiCarlo, I would like to ask the UN Secretariat – I discussed this matter with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres the day before yesterday – to use its influence on the European Commission’s decision not in word, but in deed and to demand that they, our colleagues from the European Commission, lift these clearly discriminatory restrictions on developing countries and provide access for Russian fertilisers to their markets.

Also, the day before yesterday I apprised Secretary-General Guterres of the fact that 300,000 tonnes of Russian fertilisers are stocked at the EU seaports. We are ready to make them available to developing countries for free.

I would also like to note that Russia is increasing its grain exports to international markets. This year, it is going to be 30 million tonnes, and next year it will be 50 million tonnes with 90 percent of our food exports going to the markets of Asia, Africa and Latin America.

Undoubtedly, the ongoing summit’s decisions and documents to improve the efficiency of international transport corridors, to expand intraregional, to advance industrial and scientific and technical cooperation, and to introduce high-tech solutions in agriculture and healthcare will promote further development of business ties within the SCO.

It is also important to advance cultural and humanitarian cooperation within the SCO.

Agreements and memorandums on cooperation in tourism and museology that will be signed during today’s meeting will serve as the next step forward on this path.

It appears that opportunities are good for stepping up sports cooperation and potentially holding major sporting events with SCO sponsorship. To do this, we could think about creating an association of sports organisations under our association.

Friends,

It was noted earlier today during the restricted-attendance meeting that the SCO states focus on expanding cooperation with countries that seek to establish an open and equal dialogue with our organisation and are interested in joining it. In this context, Russia, no doubt, favours the earliest possible accession of the Islamic Republic of Iran to the SCO, which is what the documents and the memorandum that will be signed today are designed to accomplish. We are convinced that Iran’s full-fledged participation will be beneficial for the association, as that country plays an important role in the Eurasian region and the world at large.

We also fully stand behind the decision submitted for approval by the Heads of State Council to start the process of admitting the Republic of Belarus as an SCO member. Let me be clear that we have always advocated that Belarus, which is Russia’s strategic partner and closest ally, should participate fully in the SCO. This will undoubtedly improve our ability to advance unity in politics, the economy, security and humanitarian matters.

Of course, we welcome the granting of SCO dialogue partner status to Egypt, Qatar and Saudi Arabia, as well as the commencement of the procedure for obtaining this status by the Kingdom of Bahrain, the State of Kuwait, the Republic of Maldives, the Republic of the Union of Myanmar, and the United Arab Emirates. Notably, there are more countries desirous of cooperating with the SCO in various capacities, and applications from other states and international associations deserve our utmost attention and favourable consideration.

In closing, I would like to thank President Shavkat Mirziyoyev for the hospitality and excellent organisation of our work, and to congratulate Uzbekistan on its successful SCO chairmanship. I would also like to wish every success to our Indian friends who are taking over the chairmanship today.

Thank you for your attention.

Press Conference (ENG Subtitles)

This video was translated and subtitled by Michael Rossi Poli Sci
Please support him on this Patreon channel: https://www.patreon.com/MichaelRossiPoliSci

‘Samarkand Spirit’ to be driven by ‘responsible powers’ Russia and China

The SCO summit of Asian power players delineated a road map for strengthening the multipolar world

September 16 2022

Photo Credit: The Cradle

By Pepe Escobar

Amidst serious tremors in the world of geopolitics, it is so fitting that this year’s Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) heads of state summit should have taken place in Samarkand – the ultimate Silk Road crossroads for 2,500 years.

When in 329 BC Alexander the Great reached the then Sogdian city of Marakanda, part of the Achaemenid empire, he was stunned: “Everything I have heard about Samarkand it’s true, except it is even more beautiful than I had imagined.”

Fast forward to an Op-Ed by Uzbekistan’s President Shavkat Mirziyoyev published ahead of the SCO summit, where he stresses how Samarkand now “can become a platform that is able to unite and reconcile states with various foreign policy priorities.”

After all, historically, the world from the point of view of the Silk Road landmark has always been “perceived as one and indivisible, not divided. This is the essence of a unique phenomenon – the ‘Samarkand spirit’.”

And here Mirziyoyev ties the “Samarkand Spirit” to the original SCO “Shanghai Spirit” established in early 2001, a few months before the events of September 11, when the world was forced into strife and endless war, almost overnight.

All these years, the culture of the SCO has been evolving in a distinctive Chinese way. Initially, the Shanghai Five were focused on fighting terrorism – months before the US war of terror (italics mine) metastasized from Afghanistan to Iraq and beyond.

Over the years, the initial “three no’s” – no alliance, no confrontation, no targeting any third party – ended up equipping a fast, hybrid vehicle whose ‘four wheels’ are ‘politics, security, economy, and humanities,’ complete with a Global Development Initiative, all of which contrast sharply with the priorities of a hegemonic, confrontational west.

Arguably the biggest takeaway of this week’s Samarkand summit is that Chinese President Xi Jinping presented China and Russia, together, as “responsible global powers” bent on securing the emergence of multipolarity, and refusing the arbitrary “order” imposed by the United States and its unipolar worldview.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov pronounced Xi’s bilateral conversation with President Vladimir Putin as “excellent.” Xi Jinping, previous to their meeting, and addressing Putin directly, had already stressed the common Russia-China objectives:

“In the face of the colossal changes of our time on a global scale, unprecedented in history, we are ready with our Russian colleagues to set an example of a responsible world power and play a leading role in order to put such a rapidly changing world on the trajectory of sustainable and positive development.”

Later, in the preamble to the heads of state meeting, Xi went straight to the point: it is important to “prevent attempts by external forces to organize ‘color revolutions’ in the SCO countries.” Well, Europe wouldn’t be able to tell, because it has been color-revolutionized non-stop since 1945.

Putin, for his part, sent a message that will be ringing all across the Global South: “Fundamental transformations have been outlined in world politics and economics, and they are irreversible.” (italics mine)

Iran: it’s showtime

Iran was the guest star of the Samarkand show, officially embraced as the 9th member of the SCO. President Ebrahim Raisi, significantly, stressed before meeting Putin that “Iran does not recognize sanctions against Russia.” Their strategic partnership will be enhanced. On the business front, a hefty delegation comprising leaders of 80 large Russian companies will be visiting Tehran next week.

The increasing Russia-China-Iran interpolation – the three top drivers of Eurasia integration – scares the hell out of the usual suspects, who may be starting to grasp how the SCO represents, in the long run, a serious challenge to their geoeconomic game. So, as every grain of sand in every Heartland desert is already aware, the geopolitical pressure against the trio will increase exponentially.

And then there was the mega-crucial Samarkand trilateral: Russia-China-Mongolia. There were no official leaks, but this trio arguably discussed the Power of Siberia-2 gas pipeline – the interconnector to be built across Mongolia; and Mongolia’s enhanced role in a crucial Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) connectivity corridor, now that China is not using the Trans-Siberian route for exports to Europe because of sanctions.

Putin briefed Xi on all aspects of Russia’s Special Military Operation (SMO) in Ukraine, and arguably answered some really tough questions, many of them circulating wildly on the Chinese web for months now.

Which brings us to Putin’s presser at the end of the summit – with virtually all questions predictably revolving around the military theater in Ukraine.

The key takeaway from the Russian president: “There are no changes on the SMO plan. The main tasks are being implemented.” On peace prospects, it is Ukraine that “is not ready to talk to Russia.” And overall, “it is regrettable that the west had the idea to use Ukraine to try to collapse Russia.”

On the fertilizer soap opera, Putin remarked, “food supply, energy supply, they (the west) created these problems, and now are trying to resolve them at the expense of someone else” – meaning the poorest nations. “European countries are former colonial powers and they still have this paradigm of colonial philosophy. The time has come to change their behavior, to become more civilized.”

On his meeting with Xi Jinping: “It was just a regular meeting, it’s been quite some time we haven’t had a meeting face to face.” They talked about how to “expand trade turnover” and circumvent the “trade wars caused by our so-called partners,” with “expansion of settlements in national currencies not progressing as fast as we want.”

Strenghtening multipolarity

Putin’s bilateral with India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi could not have been more cordial – on a “very special friendship” register – with Modi calling for serious solutions to the food and fuel crises, actually addressing the west. Meanwhile, the State Bank of India will be opening special rupee accounts to handle Russia-related trade.

This is Xi’s first foreign trip since the Covid pandemic. He could do it because he’s totally confident of being awarded a third term during the Communist Party Congress next month in Beijing. Xi now controls and/or has allies placed in at least 90 percent of the Politburo.

The other serious reason was to recharge the appeal of BRI in close connection to the SCO. China’s ambitious BRI project was officially launched by Xi in Astana (now Nur-Sultan) nine years ago. It will remain the overarching Chinese foreign policy concept for decades ahead.

BRI’s emphasis on trade and connectivity ties in with the SCO’s evolving multilateral cooperation mechanisms, congregating nations focusing on economic development independent from the hazy, hegemonic “rules-based order.” Even India under Modi is having second thoughts about relying on western blocs, where New Delhi is at best a neo-colonized “partner.”

So Xi and Putin, in Samarkand, for all practical purposes delineated a road map for strengthening multipolarity – as stressed by the final  Samarkand declaration  signed by all SCO members.

The Kazakh puzzle 

There will be bumps on the road aplenty. It’s no accident that Xi started his trip in Kazakhstan – China’s mega-strategic western rear, sharing a very long border with Xinjiang. The tri-border at the dry port of Khorgos – for lorries, buses and trains, separately – is quite something, an absolutely key BRI node.

The administration of President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev in Nur-Sultan (soon to be re-named Astana again) is quite tricky, swinging between eastern and western political orientations, and infiltrated by Americans as much as during the era of predecessor Nursultan Nazarbayev, Kazakhstan’s first post-USSR president.

Earlier this month, for instance, Nur-Sultan, in partnership with Ankara and British Petroleum (BP) – which virtually rules Azerbaijan – agreed to increase the volume of oil on the Baku-Tblisi-Ceyhan (BTC) pipeline to up to 4 million tons a month by the end of this year. Chevron and ExxonMobil, very active in Kazakhstan, are part of the deal.

The avowed agenda of the usual suspects is to “ultimately disconnect the economies of Central Asian countries from the Russian economy.” As Kazakhstan is a member not only of the Russian-led Eurasia Economic Union (EAEU), but also the BRI, it is fair to assume that Xi – as well as Putin – discussed some pretty serious issues with Tokayev, told him to grasp which way the wind is blowing, and advised him to keep the internal political situation under control (see the aborted coup in January, when Tokayev was de facto saved by the Russian-led Collective Security Treaty Organization [CSTO]).

There’s no question Central Asia, historically known as a “box of gems” at the center of the Heartland, striding the Ancient Silk Roads and blessed with immense natural wealth – fossil fuels, rare earth metals, fertile agrarian lands – will be used by the usual suspects as a Pandora’s box, releasing all manner of toxic tricks against legitimate Eurasian integration.

That’s in sharp contrast with West Asia, where Iran in the SCO will turbo-charge its key role of crossroads connectivity between Eurasia and Africa, in connection with the BRI and the International North-South Transportation Corridor (INSTC).

So it’s no wonder that the UAE, Bahrain and Kuwait, all in West Asia, do recognize which way the wind is blowing. The three Persian Gulf states received official SCO ‘partner status’ in Samarkand, alongside the Maldives and Myanmar.

A cohesion of goals

Samarkand also gave an extra impulse to integration along the Russian-conceptualized Greater Eurasia Partnership  – which includes the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) – and that, just two weeks after the game-changing Eastern Economic Forum (EEF) held in Vladivostok, on Russia’s strategic Pacific coast.

Moscow’s priority at the EAEU is to implement a union-state with Belarus (which looks bound to become a new SCO member before 2024), side-by-side with closer integration with the BRI. Serbia, Singapore and Iran have trade agreements with the EAEU too.

The Greater Eurasian Partnership was proposed by Putin in 2015 – and it’s getting sharper as the EAEU commission, led by Sergey Glazyev, actively designs a new financial system, based on gold and natural resources and counter-acting the Bretton Woods system. Once the new framework is ready to be tested, the key disseminator is likely to be the SCO.

So here we see in play the full cohesion of goals – and the interaction mechanisms – deployed by the Greater Eurasia Partnership, BRI, EAEU, SCO, BRICS+ and the INSTC. It’s a titanic struggle to unite all these organizations and take into account the geoeconomic priorities of each member and associate partner, but that’s exactly what’s happening, at breakneck speed.

In this connectivity feast, practical imperatives range from fighting local bottlenecks to setting up complex multi-party corridors – from the Caucasus to Central Asia, from Iran to India, everything discussed in multiple roundtables.

Successes are already notable: from Russia and Iran introducing direct settlements in rubles and rials, to Russia and China increasing their trade in rubles and yuan to 20 percent – and counting. An Eastern Commodity Exchange may be soon established in Vladivostok to facilitate trade in futures and derivatives with the Asia-Pacific.

China is the undisputed primary creditor/investor in infrastructure across Central Asia. Beijing’s priorities may be importing gas from Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan and oil from Kazakhstan, but connectivity is not far behind.

The $5 billion construction of the 600 km-long Pakistan-Afghanistan-Uzbekistan (Pakafuz) railway will deliver cargo from Central Asia to the Indian Ocean in only three days instead of 30. And that railway will be linked to Kazakhstan and the already in progress 4,380 km-long Chinese-built railway from Lanzhou to Tashkent, a BRI project.

Nur-Sultan is also interested in a Turkmenistan-Iran-Türkiye railway, which would connect its port of Aktau on the Caspian Sea with the Persian Gulf and the Mediterranean Sea.

Türkiye, meanwhile, still a SCO observer and constantly hedging its bets, slowly but surely is trying to strategically advance its own Pax Turcica, from technological development to defense cooperation, all that under a sort of politico-economic-security package. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan did discuss it in Samarkand with Putin, as the latter later announced that 25 percent of Russian gas bought by Ankara will be paid in rubles.    

Welcome to Great Game 2.0

Russia, even more than China, knows that the usual suspects are going for broke. In 2022 alone, there was a failed coup in Kazakhstan in January; troubles in Badakhshan, in Tajikistan, in May; troubles in Karakalpakstan in Uzbekistan in June; the non-stop border clashes between Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan (both presidents, in Samarkand, at least agreed on a ceasefire and to remove troops from their borders).

And then there is recently-liberated Afghanistan – with no less than 11 provinces crisscrossed by ISIS-Khorasan and its Tajik and Uzbek associates. Thousands of would-be Heartland jihadis have made the trip to Idlib in Syria and then back to Afghanistan – ‘encouraged’ by the usual suspects, who will use every trick under the sun to harass and ‘isolate’ Russia from Central Asia.

So Russia and China should be ready to be involved in a sort of immensely complex, rolling Great Game 2.0 on steroids, with the US/NATO fighting united Eurasia and Turkiye in the middle.

On a brighter note, Samarkand proved that at least consensus exists among all the players at different institutional organizations that: technological sovereignty will determine sovereignty; and that regionalization – in this case Eurasian – is bound to replace US-ruled globalization.

These players also understand that the Mackinder and Spykman era is coming to a close – when Eurasia was ‘contained’ in a semi-disassembled shape so western maritime powers could exercise total domination, contrary to the national interests of Global South actors.

It’s now a completely different ball game. As much as the Greater Eurasia Partnership is fully supported by China, both favor the interconnection of BRI and EAEU projects, while the SCO shapes a common environment.

Yes, this is an Eurasian civilizational project for the 21st century and beyond. Under the aegis of the ‘Spirit of Samarkand.’

The views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of The Cradle.

Asia’s future takes shape in Vladivostok, the Russian Pacific

September 08, 2022

by Pepe Escobar, posted with the author’s permission and widely cross-posted

Sixty-eight countries gathered on Russia’s far eastern coast to listen to Moscow’s economic and political vision for the Asia-Pacific

The Eastern Economic Forum (EEF) in Vladivostok is one of the indispensable annual milestones for keeping up not only with the complex development process of the Russian Far East but major plays for Eurasia integration.

Mirroring an immensely turbulent 2022, the current theme in Vladivostok is ‘On the Path to a Multipolar World.’ Russian President Vladimir Putin himself, in a short message to business and government participants from 68 nations, set the stage:

“The obsolete unipolar model is being replaced by a new world order based on the fundamental principles of justice and equality, as well as the recognition of the right of each state and people to their own sovereign path of development. Powerful political and economic centers are taking shape right here in the Asia-Pacific region, acting as a driving force in this irreversible process.”

In his speech to the EEF plenary session, Ukraine was barely mentioned. Putin’s response when asked about it: “Is this country part of Asia-Pacific?”

The speech was largely structured as a serious message to the collective west, as well as to what top analyst Sergey Karaganov calls the “global majority.” Among several takeaways, these may be the most relevant:

  • Russia as a sovereign state will defend its interests.
  • Western sanctions ‘fever’ is threatening the world – and economic crises are not going away after the pandemic.
  • The entire system of international relations has changed. There is an attempt to maintain world order by changing the rules.
  • Sanctions on Russia are closing down businesses in Europe. Russia is coping with economic and tech aggression from the west.
  • Inflation is breaking records in developed countries. Russia is looking at around 12 percent.
  • Russia has played its part in grain exports leaving Ukraine, but most shipments went to EU nations and not developing countries.
  • The “welfare of the ‘Golden Billion’ is being ignored.”
  • The west is in no position to dictate energy prices to Russia.
  • Ruble and yuan will be used for gas payments.
  • The role of Asia-Pacific has significantly increased.

In a nutshell: Asia is the new epicenter of technological progress and productivity.

No more an ‘object of colonization’ 

Taking place only two weeks before another essential annual gathering – the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit in Samarkand – it is no wonder some of the top discussions at the EEF revolve around the increasing economic interpolation between the SCO and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

This theme is as crucial as the development of the Russian Arctic: at 41 percent of total territory, that’s the largest resource base in the federation, spread out over nine regions, and encompassing the largest Special Economic Zone (SEZ) on the planet, linked to the free port of Vladivostok. The Arctic is being developed via several strategically important projects processing mineral, energy, water and biological natural resources.

So it’s perfectly fitting that Austria’s former foreign minister Karin Kneissel, self-described as “a passionate historian,” quipped about her fascination at how Russia and its Asian partners are tackling the development of the Northern Sea Route: “One of my favorite expressions is that airlines and pipelines are moving east. And I keep saying this for twenty years.”

Amidst a wealth of roundtables exploring everything from the power of territory, supply chains and global education to “the three whales” (science, nature, human), arguably the top discussion this Tuesday at the forum was centered on the role of the SCO.

Apart from the current full members – Russia, China, India, Pakistan, four Central Asians (Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan), plus the recent accession of Iran – no less than 11 further nations want to join, from observer Afghanistan to dialogue partner Turkey.

Grigory Logvinov, the SCO’s deputy secretary general, stressed how the economic, political and scientific potential of players comprising “the center of gravity” for Asia – over a quarter of the world’s GDP, 50 percent of the world’s population – has not been fully harvested yet.

Kirill Barsky, from the Moscow State Institute of International Relations, explained how the SCO is actually the model of multipolarity, according to its charter, compared to the backdrop of “destructive processes” launched by the west.

And that leads to the economic agenda in the Eurasian integration progress, with the Russian-led Eurasia Economic Union (EAEU) configured as the SCO’s most important partner.

Barsky identifies the SCO as “the core Eurasian structure, forming the agenda of Greater Eurasia within a network of partnership organizations.” That’s where the importance of the cooperation with ASEAN comes in.

Barsky could not but evoke Mackinder, Spykman and Brzezinski – who regarded Eurasia “as an object to be acted upon the wishes of western states, confined within the continent, away from the ocean shores, so the western world could dominate in a global confrontation of land and sea. The SCO as it developed can triumph over these negative concepts.”

And here we hit a notion widely shared from Tehran to Vladivostok:

Eurasia no longer as “an object of colonization by ‘civilized Europe’ but again an agent of global policy.”

‘India wants a 21st Asian century’

Sun Zuangnzhi from the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS) elaborated on China’s interest in the SCO. He focused on achievements: In the 21 years since its founding, a mechanism to establish security between China, Russia and Central Asian states evolved into “multi-tiered, multi-sector cooperation mechanisms.”

Instead of “turning into a political instrument,” the SCO should capitalize on its role of dialogue forum for states with a difficult history of conflicts – “interactions are sometimes difficult” – and focus on economic cooperation “on health, energy, food security, reduction of poverty.”

Rashid Alimov, a former SCO secretary general, now a professor at the Taihe Institute, stressed the “high expectations” from Central Asian nations, the core of the organization. The original idea remains – based on the indivisibility of security on a trans-regional level in Eurasia.

Well, we all know how the US and NATO reacted when Russia late last year proposed a serious dialogue on “indivisibility of security.”

As Central Asia does not have an outlet to the sea, it is inevitable, as Alimov stressed, that Uzbekistan’s foreign policy privileges involvement in accelerated intra-SCO trade. Russia and China may be the leading investors, and now “Iran also plays an important role. Over 1,200 Iranian companies are working in Central Asia.”

Connectivity, once again, must increase: “The World Bank rates Central Asia as one of the least connected economies in the world.”

Sergey Storchak of Russian bank VEB explained the workings of the “SCO interbank consortium.” Partners have used “a credit line from the Bank of China” and want to sign a deal with Uzbekistan. The SCO interbank consortium will be led by the Indians on a rotation basis – and they want to step up its game. At the upcoming summit in Samarkand, Storchak expects a road map for the transition towards the use of national currencies in regional trade.

Kumar Rajan from the School of International Studies of the Jawaharlal Nehru University articulated the Indian position. He went straight to the point: “India wants a 21st Asian century. Close cooperation between India and China is necessary. They can make the Asian century happen.”

Rajan remarked how India does not see the SCO as an alliance, but committed to the development and political stability of Eurasia.

He made the crucial point about connectivity revolving around India “working with Russia and Central Asia with the INSTC” – the International North South Transportation Corridor, and one of its key hubs, the Chabahar port in Iran: “India does not have direct physical connectivity with Central Asia. The INSTC has the participation of an Iranian shipping line with 300 vessels, connecting to Mumbai. President Putin, in the [recent] Caspian meeting, referred directly to the INSTC.”

Crucially, India not only supports the Russian concept of Greater Eurasia Partnership but is engaged in setting up a free trade agreement with the EAEU: Prime Minister Narendra Modi, incidentally, came to the Vladivostok forum last year.

In all of the above nuanced interventions, some themes are constant. After the Afghanistan disaster and the end of the US occupation there, the stabilizing role of the SCO cannot be overstated enough. An ambitious road map for cooperation is a must – probably to be approved at the Samarkand summit. All players will be gradually changing to trade in bilateral currencies. And creation of transit corridors is leading to the progressive integration of national transit systems.

Let there be light

A key roundtable on the ‘Gateway to a Multipolar World’ expanded on the SCO role, outlining how most Asian nations are “friendly” or “benevolently neutral” when it comes to Russia after the start of the Special Military Operation (SMO) in Ukraine.

So the possibilities for expanding cooperation across Eurasia remain practically unlimited. Complementarity of economies is the main factor. That would lead, among other developments, to the Russian Far East, as a multipolar hub, turning into “Russia’s gateway to Asia” by the 2030s.

Wang Wen from the Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies stressed the need for Russia to rediscover China – finding “mutual trust in the middle level and elites level”. At the same time, there’s a sort of global rush to join BRICS, from Saudi Arabia and Iran to Afghanistan and Argentina:

“That means a new civilization model for emerging economies like China and Argentina because they want to rise up peacefully (…) I think we are in the new civilization age.”

B. K. Sharma from the United Service Institution of India got back to Spykman pigeonholing the nation as a rimland state. Not anymore: India now has multiple strategies, from connecting to Central Asia to the ‘Act East’ policy. Overall, it’s an outreach to Eurasia, as India “is not competitive and needs to diversify to get better access to Eurasia, with logistical help from Russia.“

Sharma stresses how India takes SCO, BRICS and RICs very seriously while seeing Russia playing “an important role in the Indian Ocean.” He nuances the Indo-Pacific outlook: India does not want Quad as a military alliance, privileging instead “interdependence and complementarity between India, Russia and China.”

All of these discussions interconnect with the two overarching themes in several Vladivostok roundtables: energy and the development of the Arctic’s natural resources.

Pavel Sorokin, Russian First Deputy Minister of Energy, dismissed the notion of a storm or typhoon in the energy markets: “It’s a far cry from a natural process. It’s a man-made situation.” The Russian economy, in contrast, is seen by most analysts as slowly but surely designing its Arctic/Asian cooperation future – including, for instance, the creation of a sophisticated trans-shipment infrastructure for Liquified Natural Gas (LNG).

Energy Minister Nikolay Shulginov made sure that Russia will actually increase its gas production, considering the rise of LNG deliveries and the construction of Power of Siberia-2 to China: “We will not merely scale up the pipeline capacity but we will also expand LNG production: it has mobility and excellent purchases on the global market.”

On the Northern Sea Route, the emphasis is on building a powerful, modern icebreaker fleet – including nuclear. Gadzhimagomed Guseynov, First Deputy Minister for the Development of the Far East and the Arctic, is adamant: “What Russia has to do is to make the Northern Sea Route a sustainable and important transit route.”

There is a long-term plan up to 2035 to create infrastructure for safe shipping navigation, following an ‘Arctic best practices’ of learning step by step. NOVATEK, according to its deputy chairman Evgeniy Ambrosov, has been conducting no less than a revolution in terms of Arctic navigation and shipbuilding in the last few years.

Kniessel, the former Austrian minister, recalled that she always missed the larger geopolitical picture in her discussions when she was active in European politics (she now lives in Lebanon): “I wrote about the passing of the torch from Atlanticism to the Pacific. Airlines, pipelines and waterways are moving East. The Far East is actually Pacific Russia.”

Whatever Atlanticists may think of it, the last word for the moment might belong to Vitaly Markelov, from the board of directors of Gazprom: Russia is ready for winter. There will be warmth and light everywhere.”

Russian engineers make it alone and confirm it’s technological progress

September 05, 2022

Source

by Batko Milacic

Saki gas combined heat and power plant of the KRYMTETS company in Crimea

From August 26 to 30, a group of international journalists had the opportunity to visit Crimea and see how the European Union sanctions affect Crimea. The author of this article was among that group of international journalists. As a reminder, Crimea became part of Russia again in 2014. In March of that year, a referendum was held in Crimea, where the absolute majority of citizens were in favor of unification with Russia. This is not surprising considering that even while Crimea was part of Ukraine, the majority of citizens were pro-Russian and spoke Russian.

When in Kiev during the Maidan revolution, the legitimate government was overthrown and a new anti-Russian government was brought in power with the logistics of Washington, the local population in Crimea did not accept it!(1) As people in Crimea say: ’’ We have been waiting for a long time to come back to our motherland Russia’’. This is exactly how the return of Crimea to Russia began.

However, after the return of Crimea to Russia, the harsh sanctions of the European Union against Crimea immediately followed. In short, the Crimean sanctions by European Union consists of a complete import and investment ban for the area of Crimea and Sevastopol the black sea fleet port.

And this is where we come to the key question, how did the sanctions affect Crimea? Based on everything I’ve seen, I can safely say that the sanctions have had a positive effect on Crimea.

In Crimea, wine production is increasing every year. A huge amount of money has been invested in new wineries as well as in the quality of the wine. Today, Crimean wine is better than most European wines. Sanctions had a positive effect on wine production, as the large Russian market, plus the Asia Pacific region, was opened up to Crimean wineries. Notable Crimean winemakers today include: ‘’Alma Valley’’, ’’Massandra’’, ‘’Inkerman’’, ‘’Gold beam’’, “Koktebel”, “Magarach”, “Suter”, “Novyi Svit”, “Legend of Crimea”.

Apart from wine, which has been produced in Crimea for more than 2000 years, I could see that other areas are rapidly developing in Crimea. This primarily refers to Crimean agriculture, the results of which are visible to everyone. Also, Crimea is developing technologically, so today batteries for electric cars are produced in Crimea. With those batteries, electric cars will be supplied all over Russia, and in the coming years, exports outside of Russia will also begin. Certainly, tourism has a very important place in the economy of the Russian Republic of Crimea. What can be immediately noticed when arriving in Crimea on the new highway that was built and which is excellent is the huge number of tourists. Also, works on new roads and renovation of old ones, which were not invested in during the Ukrainian rule, are visible everywhere.

Pilot period of operation of the first made-in-Russia turbines completed at Saki gas-fired power plant

At the Saki gas combined heat and power plant of the KRYMTETS company, the Republic of Crimea, we could see that a two-year experimental period of operation of the gas turbine units, made in Russia for the first time by domestic specialists, was 100% completed without using of imported components and specifically for this project.

The need of creating such a natural gas-fired power station arose 8 years ago. After Crimea returned to Russia, Ukraine abruptly cut off the power supply of the peninsula by blowing up of the main power lines. Crimea being 80% energy dependent on mainland plunged into darkness. The peninsula was urgently provided with mobile power systems and began to actively build new, local generation facilities.

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During the visit at Saki gas-fired power plant

A complication during this process was by sanctions as it was impossible to bring imported equipment to Crimea, and almost all generation facilities in Russia were built with the use of Siemens and General Electric’s equipment. At the time Russian manufacturers developed and produced exclusive equipment specifically for the Saki gas-fired power plant. Therefore, all the turbines, boilers and other generating equipment of plant have factory set serial numbers, starting from the first one.

Saki natural gas-fired power plant with its total capacity of 120 megawatts (MW) was built in a year – a record-breaking time for such kind of objects. Usually it takes at least 2.5 years. In the same time, the plant was built without attracting of any budgetary funds, solely by the investor – the KRYMTETS company.

After the launch of the new gas-fired power plant, all the attention of specialists was riveted to the operation of the equipment – no one knew for sure how it would behave in operation. But now the pilot project of the first Russian gas-fired power plant based on Russian equipment and Russian software has been completed after two-year tests in the conditions of increased loads of the Crimean region have proved that Russian equipment works with high efficiency and has proven itself better than imported ones. Such a result determined that the turbines used at the Saki gas-fired power plant are recommended for installation at other natural gas-fired power stations of the Russian Federation, and also, after meeting domestic demand, they will be exported to friendly countries. In the same time, the Saki gas-fired power plant will become a training ground and a learning center for specialists who will operate this equipment at their power plants in other regions and countries.

In addition, this year the first virtual power plant in Russia was put into commercial operation on the basis of the Saki gas-fired power plant. This is a digital twin of a real power plant and is a prototype of the plant’s existing production facilities: turbines, boilers, auxiliary equipment, electrical installations, etc. The digital model helps to change the parameters of the equipment and make improvements much faster and safer than working in manual mode. The created software product is a domestic development as well and was created from scratch by Russian specialists.

And now the management of all the processes at the Saki gas-fired power plant is carried out only with the use of Russian software.

Currently, representatives of the largest Russian energy supply companies regularly visit Saki gas-fired power plant to get acquainted with the operation of equipment in industrial conditions and prepare for its implementation at their facilities.

Putin’s speech at the Eastern Economic Forum

September 07, 2022

President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Friends, Mr Min Aung Hlaing, Mr Pashinyan, Mr Oyun-Erdene, Mr Li Zhanshu, ladies and gentlemen,

I am delighted to greet all participants and guests of the Eastern Economic Forum. Russia and Vladivostok are again hosting a forum of business leaders, experts, politicians, public figures and members of government from dozens of countries across the world.

As per tradition, the programme of the Eastern Economic Forum includes discussions on the projects and initiatives that are extremely important for the development of the regions in Russia’s Far East and for strengthening Russia’s cooperation and production ties with Asia Pacific countries, both our old, traditional partners and countries that are only developing dialogue with Russia in a broad range of areas and business projects.

Of course, this meeting in Vladivostok is a good opportunity to once again review the situation in the global economy and to exchange views on its main trends and risks.

Last year, the Eastern Economic Forum was held after a long pause caused by the coronavirus pandemic. At that time, the majority of experts agreed that global business activity was beginning to recover and that it would normalise soon after the lifting of the coronavirus restrictions, However, the pandemic has given way to new challenges, global ones that are threatening the world as a whole. I am referring to the Western sanctions frenzy and the open and aggressive attempts to force the Western mode of behaviour on other countries, to extinguish their sovereignty and to bend them to its will. In fact, there is nothing unusual in that: this policy has been pursued by the “collective West” for decades.

The waning dominance of the United States in the global economy and politics, as well as the stubborn unwillingness or even inability of the Western elites to see, let alone recognise objective facts, acted as a catalyst for these processes.

I have already mentioned that the entire system of international relations has recently undergone irreversible, or should I say, tectonic, shifts. Emerging states and regions around the world, primarily, of course, in the Asia-Pacific region, now play a substantially bigger role. Asia-Pacific countries emerged as new centres of economic and technological growth, attracting human resources, capital and manufacturing.

Despite all that, the Western countries are seeking to preserve yesterday’s world order that benefits them and force everyone to live according to the infamous “rules”, which they concocted themselves. They are also the ones who regularly violate these rules, changing them to suit their agenda depending on how things are going at any given moment. At the same time, other countries have not been forthcoming when it comes to subjecting themselves to this dictate and arbitrary rule, forcing the Western elites, to put it bluntly, to lose grip and take short-sighted, irrational decisions on global security, politics, as well as economics. All these decisions run counter to the interests of countries and their people, including, by the way, the people in those Western countries. The gap separating the Western elites from their own citizens is widening.

Europe is about to throw its achievements in building up its manufacturing capability, the quality of life of its people and socioeconomic stability into the sanctions furnace, depleting its potential, as directed by Washington for the sake of the infamous Euro-Atlantic unity. In fact, this amounts to sacrifices in the name of preserving the dominance of the United States in global affairs.

Back in spring, many foreign corporations rushed to announce their withdrawal from Russia, believing that our country will suffer more than others. Today, we see one manufacturing site after another shutting down in Europe itself. One of the key reasons, of course, lies in the severed business ties with Russia.

The competitive ability of European companies is in decline, for the EU officials themselves are essentially cutting them off from affordable commodities and energy, as well as trade markets. It will come as no surprise if eventually the niches currently occupied by European businesses, both on the continent and on the global market in general, will be taken over by their American patrons who know no boundaries or hesitation when it comes to pursuing their interests and achieving their goals.

More than that, in an attempt to obstruct the course of history, Western countries have undermined the pillars of the global economic system, built over centuries. It is in front of our eyes that the dollar, euro and pound sterling have lost trust as currencies suitable for performing transactions, storing reserves and denominating assets. We are taking steps to shed this dependence on unreliable and compromised foreign currencies. By the way, even allies of the United States are gradually reducing their dollar assets, as we can see from statistics. Step by step, the volume of transactions and savings in dollars is diminishing.

I want to note here that yesterday, Gazprom and its Chinese partners decided to switch to 50/50 transactions in rubles and yuan with respect to gas payments.

I want to add that with their short-sighted actions, Western officials have triggered a global inflation. In many developed economies, the inflation rate has reached a record-high level that had not been seen in many years.

Everybody is aware of this but I will reiterate: as of late July, inflation in the United States reached 8.5 percent. Russia has just over 14 percent (I will speak about this further) but it is declining, unlike in Western economies. The inflation there is on the rise, and in our country it is declining. I believe that as of the end of the year, we will have around 12 percent and, as many of our experts think, in the first quarter or by the second quarter of 2023, we will most likely reach the target inflation rate. Some say it will be 5–6 percent. Others say it will go down to 4 percent. We will see. In any case, the trend is positive. Meanwhile, what is happening with our neighbours? The inflation in Germany has reached 7.9 percent, in Belgium 9.9 percent, in the Netherlands 12 percent, Latvia 20.8 percent, Lithuania 21.1 percent and Estonia 25.2 percent. And it is still on the rise.

Rising prices in the global markets can be a real tragedy for most of the poorest countries, which are facing shortages of food, energy, and other vital goods. I will cite a few figures that underline the danger: while in 2019, according to the UN, 135 million people in the world were facing acute food insecurity, their number has soared by 2.5 times to 345 million by now – this is just horrible. Moreover, the poorest states have completely lost access to the most essential foods as developed countries are buying up the entire supply, causing a sharp increase in prices.

Let me give you an example. Most of the ships – you all know very well how high passions have been running, how much has been said about the need to facilitate the export of Ukrainian grain at all costs, to support the poorest countries. And we certainly had no other choice but to respond, despite all the complicated developments taking place around Ukraine. We did everything to ensure that Ukrainian grain was exported, and we certainly assumed – I met with the leaders of the African Union, with the leaders of African states and I promised them that we would make every effort to uphold their interests and would facilitate the export of Ukrainian grain.

Russia did it together with Turkiye. We did it. And I would like to report the result to you, colleagues: if we exclude Turkiye as an intermediary, all the grain exported from Ukraine, almost in its entirety, went to the European Union, not to the developing and poorest countries. Only two ships delivered grain under the UN World Food Programme – the very programme that is supposed to help countries that need help the most – only two ships out of 87 – I emphasise – transported 60,000 tonnes out of 2 million tonnes of food. That’s just 3 percent, and it went to the developing countries.

What I am saying is, many European countries today continue to act as colonisers, exactly as they have been doing in previous decades and centuries. Developing countries have simply been cheated yet again and continue to be cheated.

It is obvious that with this approach, the scale of food problems in the world will only increase. Unfortunately, to our great regret, this could lead to an unprecedented humanitarian disaster, and perhaps, exporters need to think about limiting their exports of grain and other food to this destination. I will certainly consult with President of Turkiye, Mr Erdogan, because together with him we were the ones who developed a mechanism for the export of Ukrainian grain, primarily, I repeat, to help the poorest countries. But what happened in practice?

I would like to stress once again that this situation has been caused by the reckless steps taken by the United States, the UK and the European Union, which are obsessed with illusory political ideas. As for the wellbeing of their own citizens, let alone people outside the so-called golden billion, they have been pushing it to the backburner. This will inevitably lead Western countries into a deadlock, an economic and social crisis, and will have unpredictable consequences for the whole world.

Colleagues,

Russia is coping well with the economic, financial and technological aggression of the West. I am talking about a real aggression; there is no other word for it. Russia’s currency and financial market has stabilised, inflation is going down, as I have already mentioned, and the unemployment rate is at an all-time historical low of less than 4 percent. The assessments and forecasts of our economic performance, including by businesspeople, are more optimistic now than in early spring.

I would like to say that our economic situation has stabilised overall, but we also see a number of problems in some sectors, regions and individual enterprises, especially those that relied on supplies from Europe or supplied their products there.

It is important to continue working with businesses to take prompt decisions and launch effective targeted support mechanisms. I would like to ask the Government Commission to Increase the Sustainability of the Russian Economy under the Sanctions to keep track of the situation. It is true that we are doing this almost on a daily basis. Nevertheless, despite the evidence of stabilisation I have mentioned, we are also aware of the risks and so we must keep an eye on them.

Russia is a sovereign state. We will always protect our national interests while pursuing an independent policy, and we also appreciate this quality among our partners, who have demonstrated their reliability and responsible attitude in the course of our trade, investment and other types of cooperation over many years. I am referring, as you are aware, to our colleagues from the Asia Pacific countries.

An absolute majority of Asia Pacific countries reject the destructive logic of sanctions. Their business relations are focused on mutual advantage, cooperation and the joint use of our economic capabilities to the benefit of our countries’ citizens. This adds up to a huge competitive advantage of the regional countries and a guarantee of their dynamic long-term development, which has been growing faster than the world’s average for a long time.

You are aware of this, but I would like to remind everyone that over the past 10 years Asian countries’ GDP has been increasing by approximately 5 percent every year, while the figure is 3 percent in the world, 2 percent in the US and 1.2 percent in the EU. But it is even more important that this trend persists. What will this ultimately lead to? As a result, the share of Asian economies in global GDP will grow from 37.1 percent in 2015 to 45 percent in 2027, and I am sure that this trend will persist.

It is important for Russia that the economy of the Russian Far East grows together with Asia Pacific economies, that this region provide modern living conditions, boost people’s incomes and well-being, and that it create high-quality jobs and cost-effective production facilities.

We have already tested unique national tax, administrative and customs privileges in the Far East. They help implement landmark projects, even by global standards, in such fields as natural gas conversion and the shipbuilding sector, bioengineering technologies and clean energy.

In the past seven years, industrial production volumes in the Far East have increased by about 25 percent. This exceeds nationwide levels by one third. I want to stress this: growth rates of industrial production in the Far East greatly exceed similar nationwide growth rates.

We will continue to promote the priority development of the Far Eastern regions by using new advanced state support measures and by creating the best and highly competitive business environment. For example, we intend to continue adjusting the mechanism of priority development areas for modern and joint projects with other countries, to create the best possible business climate for attracting the most advanced technologies to Russia and for manufacturing high value-added goods in the Far East.

Events of this year confirm the special significance of such a factor as accessible and affordable raw materials without which it is impossible to organise any production process or to set up co-production chains. Russia is just about the only country that is completely self-sufficient in terms of natural resources, and the Far East plays a substantial role here. This region is a highly important supplier of crude oil and natural gas, coal, metals, timber and marine biological resources to the domestic market and our foreign partners.

We are staking on the prudent and rational development of Russia’s natural riches under the most stringent environmental standards. First of all, we will refine all extracted raw materials domestically as much as possible. We will also use these raw materials to strengthen the sovereignty of this country, to ensure industrial security, to raise incomes and to develop the regions.

We have already protected the resource extraction industry from unfriendly actions. From now on, only companies with Russian jurisdiction have the right to develop natural resources in Russia.

The Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment together with the Ministry of Industry and Trade and leading business associations has determined the national economy’s demand for strategic raw materials. This information will become the foundation of the revised Strategy for the Development of Russia’s Mineral Resources Base with an extended planning horizon up to 2050.

At the same time, special focus should be placed on geological exploration and processing of rare raw materials (such as titanium, manganese, lithium, and niobium), which are used in metallurgy, medical and chemical industries, microelectronics, aircraft manufacturing and other industries, as well as in new energy storage and transmission technologies.

I would like to separately ask the Government to have a look at the bioresources harvesting sphere, where we have a mechanism of investment quotas. Here, it is important to achieve balanced growth and full utilisation of production capacities, as well as to ensure the harmonious development of the regions’ infrastructure.

I would like to stress that the funds the state receives from the utilisation of water bioresources must above all be allocated for developing the infrastructure of rural areas, employment support, and increasing incomes of local residents. I ask the Government to take specific measures on this. We have discussed this many times.

Next, over the past years Russia has implemented big plans for the development of transport infrastructure, railways and roads, seaports and pipelines. These timely decisions have made it possible for businesses to quickly rebuild logistics in today’s conditions, and redirect cargo flows to those countries that are ready and willing to trade with Russia and prefer civilised and predictable business relations.

It is noteworthy that despite the attempts of external pressure, the total cargo of Russian seaports has only slightly decreased over the seven months of this year; it has remained at the same level as a year earlier, which is about 482 million tonnes of cargo. Last year there were 483 million, so the figure is practically the same.

At the same time, Far Eastern ports are seeing a real logistics boom. The volume of cargo transhipment and container handling is such that specialists are working 24/7 to handle the workload. In a word, no matter how much someone might like to isolate Russia, it is impossible to do it, as we have always said so. It is enough just to look at the map.

We will use natural competitive advantages to build up our further transport capabilities, expand the road and railway network, build new access roads to sea terminals and expand their capacity.

I mentioned earlier that our focus is on building the eastward infrastructure and developing the North-South international corridor and ports of the Azov-Black Sea basin which we will keep working on. They will open up more opportunities for Russian companies to enter the markets of Iran, India, the Middle East and Africa and, of course, for reciprocal deliveries from these countries.

The total volume of freight and cargo transportation along these routes and arteries will be able to grow by about 60 percent by 2030. We are absolutely realistic about our predictions, and this is how it will be. To achieve these numbers, the Government has drafted specific “roadmaps” in the three areas I outlined earlier, which will enable us to make this work consistent, consolidate and coordinate our efforts in terms of deadlines and capacity to break up the bottlenecks and upgrade border checkpoints and related infrastructure.

In addition to our plans to expand transport corridors, it is important to put in place new rolling stock and railway traction vehicles, to provide Russian shipyards with orders for modern high-quality tankers, dry cargo ships and container vessels, including ice-class ships, for the further expansion of the Northern Sea Route as a potent transport corridor of national and global importance with, I want to stress this, year-round navigation. The state-of-the-art icebreakers that we are designing and building make it possible for us to do this already now.

This year, a container vessel made its first run between Murmansk and Kamchatka along the Northern Sea Route to reaffirm the reliability and safety of shipping operations in the Arctic zone.

Notably, the point is not just about authorising the passage of ships in the Arctic or simply connecting two destinations. What we need to do is make sure that ships are properly serviced and cargo is properly handled at each port along the route, and the traffic schedule is sustainable, predictable and reliable. Then, every Northern Sea Route waypoint and region will benefit from the logistics corridor. That is what we should be striving for.

The Government has approved a development plan for the Northern Sea Route until 2035 with plans to allocate 1.8 trillion rubles from various sources to implement it. As forecasted, the cargo traffic along this corridor will go from the current 35 million tonnes per year to the targeted 220 million tonnes per year.

The availability of freight vehicles is certainly a key factor in the transportation of goods to and from the Russian Far East. This means we need to offer economically justified and competitive freight rates. I am asking the Government to study all these issues carefully.

Aviation is a special issue for the Far East. Here, the availability of flights from the European part of Russia to the Far East is not the only issue, but connectivity between the Far Eastern regions themselves also matters – air services should cover as many destinations, cities and regions of the Far East as possible.

That is why we have established a single Far Eastern airline. It offers almost 390 destinations, some of them subsidised by the state. In the next three years, this airline’s traffic should increase, and the number of destinations will exceed 530. And as we could see after those flights were opened, these destinations are in great demand.

To implement these plans, we need to expand the company’s fleet, to make sure it has modern aircraft, including small aircraft. A decision has been made in this regard, and I ask the Government to strictly implement it.

I would like to note that in general, Russian air carriers will soon be thoroughly re-equipped. Our airlines, including Aeroflot, have placed the largest order package in modern history, for about 500 Russian-made mainline aircraft. By the way, as far as I know, the United Aircraft Corporation and Aeroflot have signed a respective agreement on the sidelines of this Eastern Economic Forum, and the figures in there are quite impressive – over a trillion, I think.

This high demand should become a powerful incentive for aircraft factories and design bureaux, for many related industries, including electronics and aircraft components, and, of course, for the schools training professional personnel including engineers and skilled blue-collar workers in the aviation industry.

I would like to add that a decision has been made on another sensitive issue for the Far East. I am referring to the development of air medical services and increasing the availability of medical care for people living in remote areas. Starting next year, we will more than double federal funding for these purposes, which means that the number of flights will also increase, and there will be faster and better provision of healthcare in the region.

Friends, colleagues,

All our decisions involving the economy and social sphere, all the mechanisms that we are implementing in the Far East have the same important purpose – to make this region a truly attractive place for living, studying, working, for starting families, to ensure that more children are born.

Several important initiatives in this regard have been included in the package of measures that the Government is now considering. One of them is to create an up-to-date environment for living, to improve the local cities and towns.

Let me remind you that at the last forum, we set a task to develop master plans for the development of the largest Far Eastern cities. These include all administrative centres of the regions, and cities with a population of over 50,000 people, as well as Tynda and Severobaikalsk, the key stations on the Baikal-Amur Mainline railway.

We had in mind an integrated approach to the development of communities, where plans for the modernisation of infrastructure, social facilities, and creation of public spaces and so on would be combined competently and conveniently, and economic and industrial projects would rely on thoroughly calculated business models.

In all cities, the initial task was to make strategic development plans. Master plans are already being actively developed on the basis of those strategic plans in 17 cities and metropolitan areas. One of them has to do with the development of the Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky urban area, and the day before yesterday, we discussed this issue with our colleagues on the spot. Once again, I ask the Government to provide maximum assistance in implementing this and other master plans in order to have them unconditionally implemented.

Here, among other things, it is important to use tools such as the Far Eastern concession, the government’s infrastructure loans and infrastructure bonds. It is necessary to determine target limits for the Far East in these programmes. The funds should be used for urban development and improvement, and of course, for infrastructure, including the upgrade of existing networks and connections to utilities.

I would like to add that at the recent St Petersburg Economic Forum, I instructed the Government to allocate an additional 10 billion rubles annually for improvement projects in Russian cities. I think it would be right to channel half of this financing, that is, 5 billion a year, towards upgrading Far Eastern cities and towns with populations below 250,000.

Separate resources should also be allocated under all our main infrastructure development programmes for projects to modernise Far Eastern cities. I have already given such an instruction, and I ask you to ensure its implementation as quickly as possible. Target limits should be stipulated in the federal budget for the next three years.

Something else I would like to stress – we need to increase the volume of housing construction in the Far East, while also widely applying the most advanced ‘green’ and energy-efficient construction technologies.

This year, the Far Eastern Quarters programme was launched. Under this programme, developers will be able to take advantage of priority development areas, including tax and infrastructure benefits, which will reduce the cost of flats and the price of finished housing. This will increase the availability of housing for people. The plan is to build about 2.5 million square metres of housing by 2030 using this cost-reduction mechanism. I ask the regional authorities and the Ministry for the Development of the Russian Far East to hold the first tenders by the end of the year, to select developers and start designing and developing the residential buildings.

Next, the Far Eastern residents are entitled to special, preferential mortgage terms. As many as 48,000 families have already purchased new housing using mortgages with a rate of 2 percent. This year, we have expanded the Far Eastern mortgage programme so that doctors and teachers, regardless of their age, can apply for it along with young Far Easterners.

Let me remind you that the programme is planned until 2024. But given the demand and efficacy – and this programme is working effectively – I propose extending it until at least 2030. I hope that the Far Eastern residents will also appreciate this.

(Applause.)

A separate decision concerns the support of young professionals who come to the Far East or graduate from local educational institutions, get a job and consider local accommodation. As many as 10,000 rental apartments will be built for them. The rental rate will be significantly below the market level due to subsidies from the regional and federal budgets. The Government has already envisaged such a measure. I ask you to work out all the details in order to start building rental housing for young professionals without delay. And I would like to specifically point out that the location of this housing should be included in the development master plans for Far Eastern cities, which means all the necessary infrastructure should be available – in short, such accommodation should be convenient and enjoy demand.

I would like to note that the Far Eastern regions, like many other regions of the Russian Federation, are experiencing a shortage of workers today. We will also take several important steps to intensify personnel training in key competencies. Over 900 modern workshops will be opened in Far Eastern colleges by 2030, and in the near future, until the end of 2025, we will launch 29 production and educational clusters. In addition, businesses will receive compensation for employing young workers.

Another important area is improving the quality of higher education in the Russian Far East. The goal is to attract qualified instructors, upgrade facilities and equipment in higher education institutions, and provide grants to stimulate academic research and prospective developments in the crucial areas of the technological agenda.

There are network programmes for Far Eastern universities that connect education institutions in the region with the country’s leading universities such as St Petersburg State Marine Technical University, Moscow Aviation Institute and others. We will undoubtedly support this area of cooperation.

Finally, branches of the Russian Institute of Theatre Arts (GITIS), the National State Gerasimov Institute of Cinematography (VGIK) and the Boris Shchukin Theatre Institute will open in 2025 in the Russian Far East to train cultural and art workers. I would like to ask the Government to provide all necessary assistance.

I would like to note that the Far Eastern regions offer their own professional development initiatives. For example, the Agency for Strategic Initiatives in the Sakhalin Region supports a pilot project called Earning Money Together. Participants in the project will be able to undergo free additional training, receive career guidance and get help with starting a business. Based on the outcome of these pilot projects we will think about scaling up.

I also want to mention a training programme for a new generation of managers in the Far East. The programme focuses on cultivating a local pool of talent, and on integrating study programmes and internships in public offices and development institutions. This programme is already running and I suggest that the heads of all regions in the Far Eastern Federal District get involved.

Colleagues, I want to conclude my remarks by stressing once again that the modern global economy and the entire system of international relations is going through challenges. However, I believe that the logic of cooperation, aligning the potentials and mutual benefits that our countries and our friends in the region adhere to, will prevail no matter what. By reasonably taking advantage of the competitive sides and strengths of the Asia-Pacific countries, by creating constructive partnerships we will open new colossal opportunities for our peoples. We are ready to work together for the sake of a successful future. And we are grateful to our partners for participating in this work.

Thank you.

Doctrine-Mongering (Andrei Martyanov)

August 29, 2022

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Russian political thinker Alexander Dugin’s daughter assassinated

August 21, 2022

Source: Agencies

By Al Mayadeen English 

Political commentator Darya Dugin, 30, is assassinated in a massive explosion about 20 km from Moscow following her departure from her father’s lecture.

A large explosion tore into an SUV on a highway 20 km away west of Moscow, instantly killing its driver, who was identified as political commentator Darya Dugina, Russian political analyst and thinker Alexander Dugin’s daughter. Dugin the father is an influential veteran political commentator, also known as one of the Kremlin’s “ideological masterminds”, and an occasional contributor to Al Mayadeen English.

The assassination was carried out at 21:35 Moscow time. Witnesses divulged that the explosion happened in the middle of the road, where debris and metal wreckage scattered in the air right before the car crashed into a fence, according to photos and videos.

According to emergency services, there was only one person inside the car, and it was a female body burned beyond recognition. 

The identity of the victim is yet to be confirmed by authorities – however, multiple Russian media sources and Telegram channels have reported that the victim was Darya Dugina, 30. According to videos circulating social media, her father arrived at the scene just after the explosion, devastated. 

As for the cause of the explosion, preliminary reports suggest that a homemade explosive device may be involved, however, investigators have not yet confirmed it. 

On Saturday evening, Dugin was giving a lecture in Moscow on “Tradition and History” at a traditional family festival in Moscow; Dugina attended the event as a guest. Reports are claiming that Dugin planned to leave the festival with his daughter, but instead took a separate car. Darya took her father’s Toyota Land Cruiser Prado.

Darya, in July 2022, was placed on the UK sanctions list. Her father in 2014 and 2015 was sanctioned by the EU, US, and Canada. 

More details are to unfold.

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An Alternative Open Letter to Western Politicians

August 15, 2022

Source

by Asia Teacher

Dear western politicians!

Leaving aside the usual sycophantic nonsense, which applauds your continuing efforts to bring freedom and democracy to the Middle East with missile attacks, trying to change the earth’s climate using beliefs, promising an unknown source of ‘green’ energy whilst promoting vaccines to save us from certain death from a dose of flu, here’s an alternative open letter.

As a UK citizen now retired, having recently returned to the UK after over a decade of living and working in Asia and the Far East I’m stunned by the stupification around me. Have I inadvertently fallen down an alternative universe Alice in Wonderland rabbit hole, or is there a hidden factory somewhere mass-producing stupid politicians?

As yet another British Prime Minister resigns following the resignations of two others before him producing a failing economy, soaring inflation, sky-high taxes, an energy crisis and a falling pound … The indoctrinated cheer on men with beards wearing dresses and it’s left to a dwindling minority to explain why carrots don’t grow on trees in a socially engineered ideological dystopia! The consequences of which you blame on the Russians, or the Chinese depending on who the US has currently fallen out with.

As you sit in your elitist tax payer funded ivory towers, let’s briefly detail the chaos and mayhem you’ve produced.

Did you think the outside world believed you were trying to bring freedom and democracy to the Middle East and not trying to control the world’s major oil producers who just all happened to have abandoned the petrodollar? How many millions lost their lives in that failed adventure?

How many of you swooned over a 16-year-old autistic Swedish school drop out with Asperger’s syndrome, OCD and selective mutism whose mother said she had “special eyes” that could see carbon rising from a dying planet? As a self-inflicted energy crisis looms and both Britain and Germany re-open coal-fired power stations, are you still cheering for mentally ill Greta and her windmills?

How can you keep a straight face whilst telling millions that if they didn’t have the Covid vaccine they’d be passing on the flu they didn’t have onto others? How much of the vaccine scam profit disappeared into the pockets of pharmaceuticals, lobbyists and your own pockets? The whole country could hear the cash tills ringing as shares in the pharmaceuticals producing vaccines went through the roof amid crony contracts awarded to favoured companies. Are you listening former British Health Secretary Matt Hancock who resigned after being caught with his nose in the trough.

Predictably, as the manufactured hysteria wore off and attention spans waned, the advice from the British National Health Service was to open our windows and let the virus out. Apparently, it had been hiding in our homes the whole time? Moreover, the experiment of a “new normal” locked down muzzled population also failed, together with the attempt to introduce Covid passports as hundreds of thousands took to the streets in Britain and throughout Europe in mass demonstrations to protest against the implementation of virtual house arrest and freedom of movement. After this, what comes next, a climate change lock down?

Moving on, Russia, who just by coincidence is another major energy producer surrounded by NATO missile bases and sanctioned hoping its economy collapses and produces another “regime change.” Why does that produce a feeling of déjà vu? How long did you believe a nuclear power would tolerate an aggressive US led NATO advancing towards its border? The last time western armies gathered on Russian borders was in 1941 and that didn’t end well.

Oh the irony, as you cheer for the same Nazis your grandfathers fought against and vilify the Russians who are now having to fight them again. How many of you condemned the previous eight years of ethnic Russian murders in the Crimea and Donbass by Nazi militias who you helped arm and train, but turned a blind eye to the consequences. No crocodile tears and outraged comments from you when Russian civilians were being killed. Make no mistake, in another era the majority of you would be sitting in the same Nuremberg dock as the previous psychopaths!

For the last quarter century you are without doubt the most useless, corrupt and destructive political class in British history. In one generation you have dumbed down the British population to an idiocracy in your ‘Woke’ eagerness to remove the cultural traditions and values of centuries. As suicide statistics soar, mental health issues reach an all-time high and drugs become a lifestyle choice for many to block out the horror of reality, it’s not a diverse and equality multicultural utopia you’ve produced, it’s a nightmare!

And you, the US demagogues and liberal fascist European Commissioners; in two decades your ideologically warped quest for power has not only failed to make the world a safer place, you have brought us to the verge of a nuclear conflict. Between you, you’ve managed to wreck our economies, brought terrorism to our streets and created the worst energy crisis since the 1970s – whilst becoming fabulously wealthy yourselves. Yes, we have noticed. The sooner you’re removed from power, the sooner both we the western populations and the outside world can have a rest from your incompetence and murderous activities!

Meanwhile, as I write from England, outside my window another car with exhaust baffles removed and the window wound down emitting ear-splitting decibels of rap ‘music’ drives past, whilst on the pavement a silent E-scooter carrying a bald middle-aged man with expressionless eyes in short trousers and tattooed legs races by.

Asia Teacher is a UK citizen, retired teacher of English plus Social and Political Science.

Russia Warns of Severing Ties with US If It Brands Moscow Terror Sponsor

August 14, 2022

By Staff, Agencies

Moscow has warned its diplomatic ties with Washington could be broken off should the US brand Russia a “state sponsor of terrorism.”

If the US Senate acts on announced plans to single out Russia as such, it would mean Washington has crossed the point of no return, badly damaging – and possibly severing – ties, said the head of Russian Foreign Ministry’s North American department.

Alexander Darchiyev said Friday if the Senate passes a legislation designating Russia as a state sponsor of terrorism, it would cause “the most serious collateral damage for bilateral diplomatic relations, to the point of downgrading and even breaking them off.”

“The American side has been warned,” Russia’s official Tass news agency cited the senior Russian as saying.

Two US senators seeking to pass such legislation visited Ukraine’s capital last month to discuss the bill with the country’s President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Meanwhile, lawmakers in Russia’s neighboring country of Latvia passed a bill Thursday designating Russia as a state sponsor of terrorism over the persisting war in Ukraine, calling on its Western sponsors to impose more comprehensive sanctions against Moscow.

Late last month, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken also warned against the Senate’s push to declare Russia as a sponsor of terrorism over the conflict in Ukraine after the senators unanimously approved a nonbinding resolution calling on Blinken to designate Russia as such.

Blinken, however, responded noncommittally to the request, saying any decision must be based on existing legal definitions.

“The costs that have been imposed on Russia by us and by other countries are absolutely in line with the consequences that would follow from designation as a state sponsor of terrorism,” Blinken said. “So the practical effects of what we’re doing are the same.”

Over the course of the war in Ukraine, the US and its Western allies have imposed unprecedented sanctions against Russia and supplied billions of dollars worth of weaponry to Ukraine.

Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov also warned last month that designating Russia as a state sponsor of terror would have “negative consequences” for the already fractured bilateral ties.

Zelensky, meanwhile, issued a fresh call on Friday for European Union member nations to impose a visa ban on Russian nationals, accusing them of being potential “killers or accomplices of state terror.”

“There must be guarantees that Russian killers or accomplices of state terror not use Schengen visas,” he said in a nightly address, referring to visas granting the holder access to the border-free Schengen Area that spans several EU states.

“Secondly, we must not destroy the very idea of Europe – our common European values,” he added. “Europe must therefore not be transformed into a supermarket where it is not important who walks in and where the main thing is that people just pay for their goods.”

Zelensky’s appeal was strongly slammed by Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, who emphasized that “any attempt to isolate Russians or Russia is a process that has no prospects.”

The comedian-turned-president then went on to say that his proposal did not apply to Russians who needed help for risking their freedom or their lives by resisting Kremlin leader Vladimir Putin’s policies.

Zelensky initially called for a visa ban earlier in the week during an interview with the US-based Washington Post daily, insisting that Russians should live in their own world until they changed their philosophy.

His unprecedented demand, however, has yet to win support from the EU’s major players, according to European media outlets, though he praised the support of three ex-Soviet Baltic States and the Czech Republic, which currently serves as EU’s rotating president. Finland has also backed the idea.

Going to Samarkand

July 31, 2022

By Pepe Escobar, posted with the author’s permission and widely cross-posted

The SCO and other pan-Eurasian organizations play a completely different – respectful, consensual – ball game. And that’s why they are catching the full attention of most of the Global South.

The meeting of the SCO Ministerial Council  in Tashkent this past Friday involved some very serious business. That was the key preparatory reunion previous to the SCO summit in mid-September in fabled Samarkand, where the SCO will release a much-awaited “Declaration of Samarkand”.

What happened in Tashkent was predictably unreported across the collective West and still not digested across great swathes of the East.

So once again it’s up to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov to cut to the chase. The world’s foremost diplomat – amidst the tragic drama of the American-concocted Era of Non-Diplomacy, Threats and Sanctions – has singled out the two overlapping main themes propelling the SCO as one of the key organizations on the path towards Eurasia integration.

  1. Interconnectivity and “the creation of efficient transport corridors”. The War of Economic Corridors is one of the key features of the 21st
  2. Drawing “the roadmap for the gradual increase in the share of national currencies in mutual settlements.”

Yet it was in the Q@A session that Lavrov for all practical purposes detailed all the major trends in the current, incandescent state of international relations. These are the key takeaways.

How comfortable are you with the US dollar?

Africa: “We agreed that we will submit to the leaders for consideration proposals on specific actions to switch to settlements in national currencies. I think that everyone will now think about it. Africa already has a similar experience: common currencies in some sub-regional structures, which, nevertheless, by and large, are pegged to Western ones. From 2023, a continental free trade zone will start functioning on the African continent. A logical step would be to reinforce it with currency agreements.”

Belarus – and many others – eager to join the SCO: “There is a broad consensus on the Belarusian candidacy (…) I felt it today. There are a number of contenders for the status of observer, dialogue partner. Some Arab countries show such interest, as do Armenia, Azerbaijan and a number of Asian states.”

Grain diplomacy: “In regard to the issue of Russian grain, it was the American sanctions that did not allow the full implementation of the signed contracts due to the restrictions imposed: Russian ships are prohibited from entering a number of ports, there is a ban on foreign ships entering Russian ports to pick up export cargo, and insurance rates have gone up (…) Financial chains are also interrupted by illegitimate US and EU sanctions. In particular, Rosselkhozbank, through which all the main settlements for food exports pass, was one of the first to be included in the sanctions list. UN Secretary General A. Guterres has committed to removing these barriers to addressing the global food crisis. Let’s see.”

Taiwan: “We do not discuss this with our Chinese colleague. Russia’s position on having only one China remains unchanged. The United States periodically confirms the same line in words, but in practice their ‘deeds’ do not always coincide with words. We have no problem upholding the principle of Chinese sovereignty.”

Should the SCO abandon the US dollar? “Each SCO country must decide for itself how comfortable it feels to rely on the dollar, taking into account the absolute unreliability of this currency for possible abuses. The Americans have used this more than once in relation to a number of states.”

Why the SCO matters: “There are no leaders and followers in the SCO. There are no situations in the organization like in NATO, when the US and its closest allies impose one line or another on all other members of the alliance. In the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, the situation that we are currently seeing in the EU does not arise: sovereign countries are literally being ‘knocked out’, demanding that they either stop buying gas or reduce its consumption in violation of national plans and interests.”

Lavrov was also keen to stress how “other structures in the Eurasian space, for example, the EAEU and BRICS, are based and operate on the same principles” of the SCO. And he referred to the crucial cooperation with the 10 member-nations of ASEAN.

Thus he set the stage for the clincher: “All these processes, in interconnection, help to form the Greater Eurasian Partnership, which President Vladimir Putin has repeatedly spoken about. We see in them a benefit for the entire population of the Eurasian continent.”

Those Afghan and Arab lives

The real big story of the Raging Twenties  is how the special military operation (SMO) in Ukraine de facto kick-started “all these processes”, as Lavrov mentioned, simultaneously leading towards inexorable Eurasia integration.

Once again he had to recall two basic facts that continue to escape any serious analysis across the collective West:

Fact 1: “All our proposals for their removal [referring to NATO-expansion assets] on the basis of the principle of mutual respect for security interests were ignored by the US, the EU, and NATO.”

Fact 2: “When the Russian language was banned in Ukraine, and the Ukrainian government promoted neo-Nazi theories and practices, the West did not oppose, but, on the contrary, encouraged the actions of the Kyiv regime and admired Ukraine as a ‘stronghold of democracy.’ Western countries supplied the Kyiv regime with weapons and planned the construction of naval bases on Ukrainian territory. All these actions were openly aimed at containing the Russian Federation. We have been warning for 10 years that this is unacceptable.”

It’s also fitting that Lavrov would once again put Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya in context: “Let us recall the example of Afghanistan, when even wedding ceremonies were subjected to air strikes, or Iraq and Libya, where statehood was completely destroyed, and many human lives were sacrificed. When states that easily pursued such a policy are now making a fuss about Ukraine, I can conclude that the lives of Afghans and Arabs mean nothing to Western governments. It’s unfortunate. Double standards, these racist and colonial instincts must be eliminated.”

Putin, Lavrov, Patrushev, Madvedev have all been stressing lately the racist, neocolonial character of the NATOstan matrix. The SCO and other pan-Eurasian organizations play a completely different – respectful, consensual – ball game. And that’s why they are catching the full attention of most of the Global South. Next stop: Samarkand.

Europe hypnotized into war economy

July 29, 2022

By Jorge Vilches

Thirty two years ago Germans enthusiastically took down the Berlin wall. Now, captured by cunning Anglo-Saxon global elites, Germans are helping other European “useful idiots” to erect a much higher and thicker wall to cut themselves off from Russia leading them into a war economy. But as Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has warned… “the approach has clearly failed — sanctions have backfired — and our car now has 4 four flat tires” … Question: vehicles don´t carry more than 2 spare tires on them, do they? So, one quick and innocent way to explain such unfathomable European miscalculation is to assume the EU leadership is immersed in a deep hypnotic trance and just blindly following US-UK instructions under Stoltenberg-Johnson war-mongering policies. Per “The Telegraph” Ref #1 https://www.rt.com/news/559682-johnson-uk-nato-ukriaine Ref #2 https://www.rt.com/news/559785-orban-eu-gas-war-economy/

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suicidal non-supply

The supply lines that up to 2022 successfully linked Europe and Russia took decades of very hard work to develop. This now means that almost all of such over-abundant contracts necessarily have no effective substitute because (a) no other vendors have such high quality at low price plus decades of vetting and proven experience + (b) the un-replaceable short freight distance and shipping time from nearby Russia. So, by definition, both (a) + (b) mean that today no equivalent supply lines could ever be found no matter how much Europe tried simply because it would be either too soon or too far …and always too hard and too pricey. So short cuts will be taken and corners rounded-off…. Been there, done that, got the T-shirt. The impact of the above cannot be overstated though as the now-broken Euro-Russian supply lines were essential for the Just-In-Time strategy that Europe and world markets still require and cannot wait years to develop and iron out. Logistics 101: proven experience and performance with excellent price plus quick delivery from nearby sources cannot be substituted fast enough, or possibly ever. On purpose, Europe´s worst enemies couldn´t have inflicted worse harm than what a US-UK mesmerized Europe (what else ?) is doing to itself.

So EU sanctions are now cutting off dozens of key and highly varied Russian produce without which Europe as we know it will cease to exist. This involves foodstuffs, minerals of every sort, energy re oil & gas & coal & refined products thereof, etc., etc., plus key technologies and products from space rocket engines to nuclear fuels. Even Roscosmos announced that Russia will withdraw from the International Space Station (ISS) project with the West after 2024 while by that time with an orbital station of its own. At any rate, the new European vendor problems for hundreds of products include each and every aspect of sales & procurement, sourcing & logistics, negotiations, pricing, contract terms, payment, banking procedures, sampling and testing, delivery pathway coordination, additional trucking, roads, vessels and inland waterways for shut down pipeline delivery, on-the-fly solutions for new problems, railroads, loading and unloading yards, ports, process alignment & upgrade, synchronization, scheduling, building and adapting key infrastructure, insurance, guarantees, new administrative matters, buffer storage, vendor vetting, multiple regulatory compliance, etc., etc. So the most efficient and swift Euro-Russian trade routines have today turned into logistical and management nightmares. Europe now and for the near future — in most unfavorable circumstances — needs to run unexpected risks to re-do all such hard work in a hurry and for every banned Russian product, not just coal & oil & nat-gas. And it is not a “plug & play” process either. It takes time. Tons of changes have to be made even after finding a trustworthy vendor. It is costly, cumbersome, and prone to project creep & fatigue. All fully unnecessary and chaotic.

No country in the EU is anywhere ready for any of the above, let alone all of Europe at the very same time with the very same deadline. Furthermore, an impaired Germany would mean a very different Europe something which at this late stage cannot be avoided even if Germans wanted to get their feet wet in a hurry. Jim Rickards now says that “Almost everything you heard about the war in Ukraine from U.S. media over the course of March, April, and May was a lie.” Furthermore, the Western news regarding the impact of the Ukraine war contained very few truths that can confuse just as much. Per Rickards “The economies of the U.S. and the EU are in or very near to recession. Inflation is out of control in the West and commodity shortages will lead quickly to food shortages and more empty shelves in supermarkets… as economic sanctions have backfired ”. And now labor unions add fuel to the fire fully knowing they have the leverage to worsen inflation which is the hottest political topic nowadays. So they now demand better working conditions “with protests turning up at all spots in the global supply chain, including railways, trucking, warehouses, and ports…” At any rate, today Russia is taking full control and will probably retain for itself what up until 2022 were Ukraine´s best assets. That includes its industrial core, its enormously large and specialized natural resources, a most fertile land reminiscent of the Argentine Pampas, and all the ports and the major rivers with Russian territory unscathed. No wonder Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán wants plain “out” of the current European non-strategy despite that Euroclear is raking in dozens of millions in profits from seized Russian bank accounts.

Ref #3 https://www.rt.com/russia/558846-us-uk-eu-sanctions/

Ref #4 https://news.antiwar.com/2022/07/24/hungarys-orban-says-us-russia-peace-talks-needed-to-end-ukraine-war/

Ref #5 https://dailyreckoning.com/needless-death-and-misery/

Ref #6 https://www.zerohedge.com/markets/labor-has-leverage-protesting-supply-chain-workers-threaten-worsen-worlds-inflation-crisis

Ref #7 https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2022-07-24/world-s-key-workers-threaten-to-hit-economy-where-it-will-hurt?sref=6uww027M

Ref #8 https://www.rt.com/business/559647-eurozone-profits-frozen-russian-assets/

Ref #9 https://www.rt.com/russia/559598-jens-stoltenberg-calls-allies-pay/

add a low Rhine…

The Rhine River directly affects trade and industrial logistics of several key European countries namely, Austria, Switzerland, Germany, France, and the Netherlands while indirectly affecting many others or, in some cases, all the others. In particular, the über-important German inland transportation system – and therefore its entire supply chains network – depends upon normal levels of Rhine River waters. Because it´s not only a matter of sourcing the right quality, quantity and price of any produce. It is just as important to receive it Just-In-Time at process destinations such as refineries or power plants as explained later. Simultaneously, all European stakeholders are competing with each other tooth and nail struggling to find, contract and retain exactly the same resources in order to solve the same unexpected problems all at once and by the same date. And it´s not only coal or oil or natural gas — and many other raw materials in and of themselves — but also for the means required to transport, deliver and process all of them.

So everybody and his sister would now in Europe be modifying the same things at the same time with the same resources by the same date. For example, looking for the very first – and certainly bad – resource, namely trucking fleets of every size and type and humongous amounts of EU-certified drivers thereof. This additional heavy truck traffic would require upgrading newer roads and building new ones. Also, the different processes required for these different commodities also require all-around modifications at refineries, new-feedstock power plants, petrochemical plants, etc., etc., etc. Furthermore, there were no plans for any of this nor for the abundant technical human resources required and/or vetted management staff. Managerially speaking, this is not a contingency. It is a fully unexpected European-wide revolution with a terribly demanding time frame and critical failures as the most probable result. This involves strategic value-chain upstream items with EU captive consumers cascading into multiple supply chain failures thru lack of nat-gas, rare earths, inert gases, potash, sulfur, uranium, palladium, vanadium, cobalt, coke, titanium, nickel, lithium, plastics, glass, ceramics, pharmaceuticals, ships, inks, airplanes, polymers, medical and industrial gases, sealing rings & membranes, power transmission, transformer and lube oils, neon gas for microchip etching, etc., etc.

Thousands of yet unknown people are needed to execute all of these projects with yet to be defined job descriptions, yet to be interviewed, hired, trained, teams put together, deployed, etc. Many oldies will be called back from retirement

For many good reasons – mostly obvious — roads & trucks many times cannot compete with seaborne or internal water-ways freight either by volumes shipped or final destination delivery requirements. Furthermore, the supply lines/production system is already set up in a given way and any change introduced to previous logistics is fully unforeseen. For instance, high-load storage facilities and high-consuming processing plants, refineries, power stations and the like are conveniently located for vessel access or pipelines or railways, not trucks. So, now with everyone scrambling for ultra-hard-to-find solutions, EU products will require higher transportation costs by, for instance, having to replace sintering ores with concentrates or pellets. And it is unlikely for higher costs to be absorbed by the market under current conditions of falling demand. So profit margins will get yet narrower – or negative – as already under heavy pressure from high energy prices and labor costs in an inflationary vicious cycle. Sooner or later this leads to either very high inflation, or recession… or even depression. Also, a tremendous food problem has arisen as a consequence of the EU sanctions, involving final produce and intermediate outcomes such as fertilizers which in turn affect yields.

hypnotized food

EU sanctions have prevented operations with Russian grain, including insurance and the admission of Russian ships to foreign ports and entry of foreign ships to Russian ports. Russia cannot solve that nor contribute to solving that in any way, shape, or form. Only the EU can solve that problem. What Russia can and will do is to develop its economy by counting on reliable partners instead of Western countries not willing or able to comply with the agreed terms of trade. No (Russian) gas no fertilizers, less (Russian) gas less fertilizers for everyone including Third World economies.

Higher oil prices – or no oil – mean more expensive distillates such as diesel oil required for farming food produce.

In view of less Russian gas, BASF has slashed ammonia production which is an essential component for fertilizers.

Ref #10 https://www.zerohedge.com/commodities/basf-prepares-slash-ammonia-production-germany-amid-worsening-natgas-crunch

hypnotized energy

Up until Jan. 2022, coal (“brown” coal, the dirtiest of them all) was only responsible for 33% of power generation in Germany… but not anymore (more on that later). Let alone the case of oil & gas with ultra simplified door-to-door delivery of excellent, cheap products through quick and clean pipelines. BTW, the case of now badly-needed coal is probably the worst of all, as its complete phase-out was planned for 2030 but now fully reverted with de-commissioned coal-fired power stations most probably returning as Germany´s first line energy suppliers. Less Russian natural gas means less heating, less hot water, less power and less fertilizer among other important things. And the EU cannot print natural gas or Rubles.

“ Despite the aggressive Western sanctions… Russia has been very restrained as far as counter-measures are concerned. So after loudly saying that the EU wants nothing to do with Russian energy or Russian pipelines, the EU should hardly be upset if Russia is tired of laboring not to give them what they asked for, an economic divorce. The problem is Europe is now upset that it’s getting what it acted like it wanted.” – Yves Smith – “Naked Capitalism”

Ref # 11 https://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2022/07/the-end-of-cheap-russian-gas-turning-the-lights-out-in-europe.html

On a recent press conference Russia´s President Vladimir Putin explained that the EU energy security problem is definetly not Russia nor Gazprom. Very simply put: with long winters, less sun, low winds, and EU banks that will not finance fossil fuels investments, plus insurance companies that do not insure them, and local governments that do not allocate land plots for new projects, so then pipelines are not built… while demand keeps growing. Then for political reasons the Ukraine government shuts down a pipeline station. Then the Siemens-Canada problem as, by contract, turbines require regular maintenance and repairs. In sum, the EU has shut-down — on its own — two Russian pipeline routes as Ukraine and Poland effectively cut off the Yamal-Europe pipeline. Ukraine overtly, Poland by refusing to pay under the new gas for roubles scheme. The EU has also sanctioned one turbine while not commissioning North Stream 2, thus completely tying down Gazprom´s hands. Furthermore, the documentation that Gazprom received from Canada and Siemens did not respond to the turbine sanctions-waiver questions. Also, Gazprom is unable to fully use another route as Ukraine has been rejecting its transit applications. In sum, Europe does not have a strategy. Add to that the shut-down of nuclear power stations. And as Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has said, Russia no longer cares to relate to Europe – or the West at large — as it is not “agreement-capable”.

As if all of the above were not enough, many EU members now have to deploy the DE-conversion from natural gas and the RE-conversion into polluting coal. This back-to-coal ´solution´ is (a) very dirty and against Europe´s Green Plan plus other climate pledges and regulations (b) ultra-expensive (c) a major industrial, logistical and social upheaval that would not make it by this coming winter soon knocking on the European doors, and probably not even for next winter 2023-2024. This separate – yet overlapping – set of major madhouse back-to-coal projects also imply enormous logistics risks and major modifications and tight schedules all around, bids, bidders, contract oversight, certification, commissioning, etc., etc., etc for which nobody involved is prepared, neither regulators, nor vendors, nor consultants or engineering firms, nor end users, nor households, nor labor unions, nor the industry at large.

hypnotized renewables

Renewables have various serious problems including their variable power generation limitations. For example, in low wind or low sun seasons such as 2021-2022 which Europe suffers today. Renewables also have very poor optics – “not in my back yard” — plus impact upon bird life with unavoidable and undesirable consequences. And although there is more to be said, let´s conclude with the all-important de-commissioning problem in view of their rather shortish life-span. Furthermore — in order to see the light of day — manufacture of renewables requires humongous loads of nat-gas, oil, coal, minerals and commodities, all of them necessarily sourced in Russia not anywhere else. Unless the problem were to be compounded and worsened on purpose something quite in fashion today in Europe. For instance, manufacturing of wind turbines requires thousands of tons of nickel and rare earth minerals. Also, any such large structures and components thereof are to be transported to temporary and final destinations — and erected — with Russian fossil-powered equipment. Such is also required for the inevitable regular maintenance and end-of-life decommissioning. Solar photovoltaic energy requires humongous amounts of silver beyond belief, a process which also consumes (Russian) fossil fuels in enormous quantities, including the manufacture of the mining equipment required. Furthermore, as soon as renewables in large quantities are added to any electrical grid, costs go up – not down — as they have to be backstopped by fossil-fueled thermal plants that today should also run on Russian fuels. Please understand and accept that the more renewables added, the more natural gas that is needed. People do not accept rolling brown-outs let alone black-outs, so fossil fuel backstops are mandatory. With current existing technologies, promoting fully counter-productive and subsidized renewables expansion as Germany has and continues to do is reckless. EV lithium batteries require lithium mining which in turn has a whole new set of problems to be resolved Ref #12 https://www.zerohedge.com/geopolitical/lighting-gas-under-european-feet-how-politicians-journalists-get-energy-so-wrong

hypnotized toilet paper

Per “Zeit On-Line” the new European hygiene status is now ready to deploy forces into rolling brown-out territory.

Is this another bad result of the hypnotic spell ? Ref #13 https://www.rt.com/business/559698-germans-warned-toilet-paper-shortage/

hypnotized fish´n´chips

Toilet paper orientation - Wikipedia

Russian sanctions would leave British pubs without fish’n’chips.

C:\Users\Jorge Vilches\Desktop\index.jpg

Ref # 14 https://www.rt.com/news/559748-fish-chips-uk-sanctions/

bottom line

Rachel Marsden at RT has summarized it very precisely as follows: “The conflict in Ukraine risks creating the ultimate nightmare for Western elites: an alternative group of allies over which the West has no control, but with the capacity to offer opportunities that are competitive with what their own governments or countries are offering… Western elites are doubling down in Ukraine to save the world order that protects their own selfish interests, thinking that it’s the way to prevent a parallel option from emerging. It’s as simple as that. And they don’t care if it’s the average citizen who has to pay the price”. Ref #15 https://www.rt.com/russia/558490-liberal-world-order-explained/

By banning Russian produce, the EU will bring the European sourcing matrix down on its knees, something which by now has already dawned on the average European also realizing that – at the very best and if not corrupted — their political class is just a bunch of ignorant fools. With these ´Russian sanctions´ EU politicians have unnecessarily set Europe up for hundreds of overlapping, cross-borders, gargantuan projects impossible to fulfill simultaneously, with absurd sequencing and scheduling coordination, plus peremptory timing limitations and deadlines, with countless of well- synchronized engineering specialties and very risky, highly demanding logistics, plus overwhelming legal, political, and environmental aspects. Accordingly, this glorious mismanagement in a decisive decade has the whole EU economy fully at risk with the obvious additional pain of potentially making non-performing rushed and poorly designed modifications everywhere.

Furthermore, Europe will spend a fortune it cannot afford while probably deploying soon-to-fail and trouble full reconversion projects ending up with many half-finished facilities that will not be anywhere ready on time, or ever.

The EU strategy regarding Russian sanctions and arming Ukraine has failed miserably as Europeans are being un-relentlessly ashamed with EU leaders despicably cheating on them and everyone else among other things per non-compliance of the Minsk Accords. Ukraine cannot ever come anywhere close to winning this war, corruption is everywhere rampant and the more weapons Ukraine receives from the West the longer their war will last and the larger territory that Ukraine will lose.

Massive migrations to Club Med countries (mostly PIGS) are highly probable even starting during 2022

Per The Guardian, “…Come October, it’s going to get horrific, truly horrific…a scale beyond what we can deal with”.

Ref #15 https://www.theguardian.com/business/2022/apr/19/energy-chiefs-fear-40-of-britons-could-fall-into-fuel-poverty-in-truly-horrific-winter

additional IMPORTANT references

https://www.dw.com/en/eu-prepares-for-russia-to-cut-off-gas-supply-over-sanctions/a-62493092

https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/IP_22_4608

https://www.zerohedge.com/political/amusing-tales-coal-bottleneck-germany-failure-plan

https://mishtalk.com/economics/amusing-tales-of-a-coal-bottleneck-in-germany-and-the-failure-to-plan

https://www.eurointelligence.com/

https://www.rt.com/business/559561-russia-sanctions-removal-lavrov/

https://www.cnbc.com/2022/06/21/ukraine-war-europe-turns-to-coal-as-russia-squeezes-gas-supplies.html

https://www.france24.com/en/live-news/20220620-dutch-join-germany-austria-in-reverting-to-coal

https://www.rt.com/business/557503-austria-coal-green-energy/

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Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov : Member countries of the African Union

July 29, 2022

Editorial Comment: Mr Lavrov’s visits to Arab states, the Arab League, and African states can only be described as a stunning victory and a complete triumph for diplomacy. A short overview is included in the second part of this Operation Z situation report: http://thesaker.is/sitrep-operation-z-collapses-and-progress/
All of the various transcripts can be read at the MFA site: https://www.mid.ru/en/
Short comments and summaries can be found on the MFA Telegram Channel: https://t.me/MFARussia



Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s statement and answers to the questions during a meeting with permanent representatives of the member countries of the African Union and the diplomatic corps, Addis Ababa, July 27, 2022

Your Excellencies,

Ladies and gentlemen,

Representatives of the media,

Thank you very much for coming here at our invitation. I believed that being in Addis Ababa, it is absolutely important to meet with the African Union members, like I did during all my previous visits. We could not do this at the headquarters for, as far as I understand, scheduling reasons. And I’m glad that you’ve accepted our invitation to come here to the Russian Embassy to discuss issues which are on the top of international agenda.

Many of our Western colleagues try to send the message that the key, if not the only, problem in international relations is the situation around Ukraine. I tend to disagree with such an assertion and during my visit here and  in my previous encounters with my foreign colleagues, I sense a broad understanding that the issue is much more complex and complicated.

What we witness now, especially as the West launches an unprecedented campaign of sanctions, accusations, threats, vis-à-vis Russia and anybody who dares to support Russia or even not to condemn Russia. This campaign indicates that we are living through a very important historical period, a period where we will all be deciding what kind of universe we are going to have and to leave for our children and grandchildren. The universe which is based on the United Nations Charter, which says that the United Nations is founded on the principle of sovereign equality of states, or we will have the world where the right of force, the right of the strongest dominates.

Actually, what it is all about can be described on the following example. Is it our choice to have the world where we have the so-called collective West, totally subordinated to the United States and feeling free, feeling that it has the right to decide when and how to promote its own interests without following the international law, without any respect to the sovereign equality of states?

When our American colleagues felt in the past that there was a threat to their interests, tens of thousands kilometers from the American coast, be it Yugoslavia in 1999, be it Iraq in 2003, be it Libya in 2011, and many other occasions, without any hesitation, without explaining anything to anybody, very often on false pretexts, they just started military operations levelling cities, killing hundreds of thousands of civilians, like it happened in Iraq in the city of Mosul which was literally levelled. The same happened to Raqqa in Syria, where dozens and hundreds of corpses have been lying for weeks unattended and I don’t recall the progressive civilized community raising any big noise about that situation.

When the Russian Federation, not just overnight, but for the last ten long years has been drawing the attention of the United States and its allies to the unacceptable policy which they have been promoting on Ukraine, building Ukraine as a stronghold to contain Russia, pumping more and more modern arms in Ukraine, planning to build naval and military bases in that country and encouraging in all possible ways Russophobic policies of its leaders; when in 2014 we categorically protested to the West that in spite of its guarantees, the opposition in Ukraine staged a bloody coup and when they came to power, the first thing they did was to demand to cancel the status of the Russian language which has been the historical language of Ukraine from the very beginning. They also demanded the Russians to get out of Crimea. They sent armed groups to storm the Parliament of Crimea and then the eastern part of Ukraine protested against the coup.

The putchists called them separatists, terrorists and started a full-fledged military operation against them. And the West as I’ve said, which had guaranteed only a few days before that – guaranteed a peace deal between the former president and the opposition, the deal which provided for creation of a government of national unity and early elections, – this deal was disrupted overnight and the opposition bragged that they created the government of the winners.

See the difference: the government of national unity and the government of the winners. This was an invitation for the civil war because the opposition called part of its own citizens “losers” while the opposition became “winners”.

So when this all started we managed, together with some other countries, to stop it in February 2015 – Minsk Agreements were signed – keeping Ukraine one-piece.

The eastern territories of Ukraine that originally after the coup declared independence were persuaded not to insist on independence and to agree to stay inside Ukraine by these Minsk Agreements, provided they are given a special status. First of all, the right to use the Russian language.

This was endorsed by the Security Council and this was systemically and totally ignored and sabotaged by the Kiev regime with the encouragement of the West.

There was no direct dialogue between Kiev and those territories in spite of the fact that this was directly demanded from the Ukrainian regime by the Security Council.

And few weeks ago the former President of Ukraine P.Poroshenko who signed the Minsk Agreements, proudly stated to the media that “When I was signing it, I never intended to implement it. We just needed more time to get more weapons from the West in order to enable us to resolve the problem of Ukrainian East by the use of force.” Very honestly.

But this is totally neglected by the West. So we have been knocking on the door of our Western colleagues at least since 2013, telling them that this is absolutely a red line when you create a direct threat to the Russian Federation just on our borders. When you create a Russophobic state, which during all these years, managed to pass series of laws, prohibiting – physically, literally, – the use of Russian language in education, in culture, in media, and even in day-to-day life.

And at the same time, legislation was passed to legalize neo-Nazi theories and practices. Neo-Nazi battalions with swastikas and insignias of Waffen-SS, have been mushrooming in Ukraine and becoming the cornerstone of the Ukrainian Army.

It’s a very radicalized country. They glorify the collaborators of Hitler condemned by the Nuremberg Tribunal and all this is being done with silent encouragement by the United States and the European Union. And the process which I’ve described was accompanied by the Western attempts, not attempts – policy – to pull Ukraine into NATO.

Dozens of military exercises of NATO with Ukraine were held on Ukrainian territory with an obvious anti-Russian dimension. The efforts of Russia during all these years – it was not just, you know, we say today that this is a threat and excuse us, but we need to remove this threat. It has been happening for at least ten years.

When we’ve told our Western colleagues, “Guys, why are you pulling Ukraine to NATO? You know that this is a hostile organization vis-a-vis Russia, they were telling us, ‘Don’t worry, it will not be detrimental to your security.’”

Russia, as any other self-respectful country has the right to determine itself what is good for its security and what is not. In that case, NATO members led by the United States, opted to decide for us what is good for the Russian Federation.

We reminded them that many years ago in 2010, they all signed up a declaration saying that the Organization of Security and Cooperation in Europe will be based on the principle of equal and indivisible security, which means that any country can choose alliances, but no country has the right in choosing alliances to increase its security at the expense of the security of other countries. And that no single organization in Europe can pretend to dominate the security space.

NATO is doing exactly this. And NATO, of course, is strengthening the security of its own at the expense of the security of the Russian Federation, because the borders of NATO have been moved just to the borders of Russia.

So we told them, “Guys, political commitments to which your presidents and prime ministers put the signatures don’t work. Let’s make this principle that the security is indivisible and must be equal for all, let’s make it legally binding.”

And we suggested to them respective treaties several times. First, back in 2009 and the last attempt was in December of 2021. And they told us, “Look gentlemen, first there would be no legally binding security guarantees except for NATO members. And second, as regards Ukraine, the relations between NATO and Ukraine are none of your business.” And that was the end of it.

And parallel with this absolute rejection of constructive efforts we have been undertaking for many, many years, parallel to this the Ukrainians, in violation of the Minsk Agreements, started to accumulate huge military force on the line of contact with the eastern part of the country where the two republics have been under siege, basically. They intensified radically the shelling and bombing of those territories.

When we understood that there would be no agreement on security guarantees in Europe which would be equal, when we understood that there would be no implementation of the Minsk Agreements because the Ukrainian leadership publicly renounced this, and when we understood that the only way to save the people in the east of Ukraine was to recognize these two republics, we did so.

We signed the Treaty on Mutual Assistance with them and at their request, we are now exercising a special military operation aimed at saving lives of the citizens of the Donbass and removing any possibility for Ukrainian territory to be used to threaten the security of the Russian Federation.

I am sure that you have been following the events. I know that the Western media presents the situation in a totally distorted manner. If only to mention the so-called food crisis, as if nothing was of concern before February this year.

If you read the reports of the World Food Programme and the Food and Agriculture Organization, you will refresh your memory and establish the fact that the problems in the world food market started at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, when in an attempt to fight this virus and the pandemic consequences the US, the EU and Japan have made an emission for eight trillion dollars’ worth without any economic substantiation, and they use this empty money to buy food and all other goods which they believe would be necessary in case pandemic takes long and there will be closure of countries.

Then there were, of course, increases, long ago, of the price of fertilizers because of the reckless policy of the Western countries on the so-called Green Transition, because the energy supplies, the classical energy resources were more or less discriminated and all this has brought the price of fertilizers high, which of course affected the price of food, and so on and so forth. And then there were not very conducive climate conditions for a couple of years.

And yes, the situation in Ukraine did affect, additionally, negatively affected food markets. But not because of the Russian special operation, rather due to the absolutely inadequate reaction of the West, which announced sanctions, undermining the availability of the food on the markets.

When we explain this to them, they say, “Food and fertilizers are not covered by sanctions”. Yes, but you know, half-truth is worse than a lie. And the truth is that the list of sanctions does not contain an item saying “food”, but what it does contain is prohibition for the Russian ships to call to the ports in the Mediterranean, prohibition for the foreign ships to call on the Russian ports, to pick up food and other cargo, prohibition to insure the Russian ships, because of which insurance prices quadrupled overnight. And of course, prohibition for the main Russian bank, Russian Agricultural Bank, which has always served the payments for Russian food exports – it was listed in the European Union sanctions.

So the latest attempt by our Turkish friends and the Secretary General of the United Nations resulted in a deal between Russia and the United Nations, whereby Secretary General Guterres committed himself to press the Western countries to lift those restrictions, which I just quoted. We’ll see whether he can succeed.

And the same deal as you know, provided for Ukraine an obligation to demine its coastal line for the ships which have been locked there, I think 70 ships from 16 countries since February, to allow them out of the Ukrainian territorial waters, after which Turkish and Russian fleet will ensure their safe travel to the straits and then to the Mediterranean.

So those were the agreements, which could have been announced long, long ago, if not for the Western stubbornness in insisting that they are always right, and all those who don’t agree with them, of course, are always wrong.

A similar situation is taking place with the energy markets. Many years ago, before February this year, the West started discriminating Russian energy projects. First, the project called Nord Stream 1 was limited by 50% of its capacity for no good reason at all. Europe deprived itself of 50% of Russian cheap, accessible gas.

Then Nord Stream 2 was blocked by absolutely illegal action when the legal committee of the European Union ruled that the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline was built and financed and invested, fully aligned with the existing European norms.

But after that, the European Commission changed the rules retrospectively and applied the new rules to the investment which took place legally several years ago.

So Nord Stream 2 is also not available. Poland, several months ago, stopped taking gas from a direct pipeline from Russia. Ukraine stopped one of the two transit lines through its territory from Russia. And there was some hassle with that turbine which went for maintenance to Canada, then Canada didn’t want to bring it back.

I listed five or six factors which immediately negatively affected gas supplies to Europe volume-wise. And, of course, the less you buy from Russia through a pipeline, which is a price established for long-term, the more expensive prices on the spot.

It reached yesterday, I think, $2,200 for a thousand cubic meters. So the attempts to blame us for everything which goes wrong is an attempt with not very clean purposes and intentions.

What is my point? My point is that it’s a period of history where we will have to choose either to go down the current, which the West tries to move, saying that the world must be run not by international law, but by the rules.

They coined an expression “rules-based world order”. And if you analyze the behavior of our Western colleagues in the international arena, you will understand that these rules differ from case to case. There is no single criteria. There is no single principle, except one. If I want something, you have to obey. If you don’t obey, you would be punished.

This is the picture for the future offered to us by the rules-based world order promoted by the West. Basically, this is the unipolar world where the United States, which subordinated to its own will everybody else in the European Union and allies in Asia… This is the offer. Not even an offer, it is an ultimatum actually.

The alternative to this, and I’m sure that the overwhelming majority of the world countries do not want to live as if the colonial times came back, that the vast majority of the states want to be independent, want to rely on their own tradition, to rely on their own history, to rely on their old friends, don’t want to betray their old friends.

And this is basically evident from the fact that except two or three developing countries, no one else in Africa, Asia or Latin America joined the illegal American and European sanctions.

And back to the United Nations Charter. I believe, when we speak about more just, more democratic world order, we don’t need to invent anything. Once again, I quote the Charter which says that the United Nations is based on the principle of sovereign equality of states.

And to recognize that each state is independent, each state has the right to determine how it wants to live, what kind of economic, social, political system it wants to choose on the basis of the will of its people. And I have no slightest doubt that any normal state wants to be like this. Nobody wants to have enemies. This is also an absolute truth. Neither Russia nor any other country present in this hall – I have no doubt.

But if countries, like we witness now the behavior of the West, if they do want to have enemies, as they publicly declared in their doctrines, in the decisions of the latest NATO summit in Madrid – they do want enemies, they appoint enemies, they appoint the order in which they handle these enemies. Now Russia is the first, China is earmarked as the existential challenge for the long term. And all this manifests in renewed thinking about how the world economy and the world system operates.

If the US and the European Union – under the demand of the US – decided to freeze the Russian reserves – and now they seriously start a legal process to prepare the basis to confiscate the Russian money – who knows… If they become irritated by somebody else tomorrow or the day after, they might do the same.

In other words, the reliance on dollar as the instrument supporting the world economy is not very promising, frankly speaking. And it is not by incident that more and more countries are shifting to using alternative currencies, shifting to use national currencies more and more, and this process will be gaining momentum.

This is not to say that we are suggesting some kind of revolution against the dollar, against the United States – this is to state the obvious: the West created a system which was based on certain principles – free market, fair competition, sanctity of private property, presumption of innocence, and something else. All these principles have been thrown down the drain when they needed to do what they believe is to punish Russia.

And I don’t have the slightest doubt that, if need be, they will not hesitate to do the same in relation to any other country which would irritate them one way or another.

I mentioned China as the next target. It’s a very interesting example of how the Americans consider fair competition in practice. Actually, China developed into the number one world economy – everybody recognizes this – and China did so, China achieved those results, working and acting on the basis of the rules established by the West. The IMF, the World Bank, the World Trade Organization, the rules to settle disputes, competition and the stuff. China accepted those rules in developing its own economy and China defeated the West, economically and trade-wise, investment-wise, on its own turf, on the basis of the rules invented by the West.

And what happened next? Already a couple of years ago, the Secretary of Treasury of the United States and some other officials started saying, “We need to reform the Bretton Woods Institutions, we need to reform the WTO and we need to organize this reform between the US and Europe not to allow anybody else to participate in developing new rules.”

Guys, it is absolutely obvious, how they want this world to be operated. And I believe, as long as it is not too late, we would be ready to talk to our Western friends when they come back to their senses about how they think they should live together with all of us in the future. But this conversation can only be made on full equality, with full respect to the legitimate interests of all of us.

If I took too long of your time, I apologize. And I understand there might be a couple of questions, right?

Question: Your Excellency, Sergey Lavrov, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation,

On behalf of the people of South Sudan, the Government and on my own behalf, I wish to take this opportunity to express my personal gratitude to the Embassy of the Russian Federation in Ethiopia for inviting me and my delegation here.

We are grateful that our two countries, the Russian Federation and the Republic of South Sudan enjoy cordial bilateral relations, dating back to the day of our declaration of independence, where the Russian people and their Government were among those who recognized our statehood on July 9, 2011. Since then Your Excellency, the people and the governments of two countries have stood with the people and the Government of South Sudan in many ways.

The people of South Sudan wish to express their gratitude for your immense support in the UNSC, the Human Rights Council in Geneva and other activities where you supported us. First of all, as you explained, Your Excellency, you outlined your view on sanctions. Now we know what’s really going on.

On the current political situation in my country I would like to inform Your Excellency the Minister that the signed revitalized peace agreement of 2018 is holding despite the challenges that you have mentioned. These include numerous sanctions by Western countries and their allies, and an arms embargo. Other factors of concern are natural disasters, such as heavy rains…

Sergey Lavrov: I apologize, can you pass on this text? Because it would be useful and more polite to the others. Ok? Please, pass it. Thank you!

Just one remark. We are against those sanctions which are intended to punish people. And don’t forget that the initiators of these sanctions against you are exactly the same countries who wanted to create South Sudan out of Sudan.

Question: Thank you very much for giving a very detailed and covering all important aspects in your briefing. A short question: How the hegemony of dollar can be controlled by international community because right now the countries like Pakistan and many developing countries are suffering from huge debt that continues to grow. The problem is getting worse. I would like you to clarify the situation.

Sergey Lavrov: I am not an expert in monetary affairs. What I said was it’s an obvious feeling by many countries that the dollar is not reliable, because the capricious behavior could be aimed at anyone in the future.

I know that you can feel this on yourself, if you compare the situation of 20-30 years ago and now. So, it’s life. It’s life. And nobody wants to go to war because of the dollar and I believe this is crazy.  But people want to have some insurance as regards the reliability of their economic and trade relations with their partners. And there are examples, including the use of national currencies, including barter, including clearing mechanisms. Some might say this is going back to the past instruments of conducting trade. But there would be digital currencies, I don’t have the slightest doubt, which are already being developed in China, for example, in Venezuela, in Iran.

We are thinking about this as well. It’s the beginning of a process. Now we have accumulated the elements of the problem and we know that it must be addressed.

Question: With an approach of winter during which gas importations increase. How does Russia going to export its gas and circumvent the sanctions imposed? 15 African countries import more than 50% of their grain from Russia. The situation also affected the exports from African countries to Russia. How does Russia intend to manage trade relations with Africa?

Sergey Lavrov: I think I addressed both issues in my remarks. I hope you listened to me. Antonio Guterres personally promised to make sure that the US and EU remove any obstacles to the export of Russian grain. If you add your noble voice to his efforts, I think it would be useful.

And on gas prices – I also explained how Europe systemically, during the last almost ten years, was creating barriers on the way of bringing to European countries cheap and accessible Russian gas.

I listed five or six specific decisions which were cutting more and more of Russian exports, vacating the room in Europe for much more expensive LNG from the United States, just like, you know, the US insists that Europe sends all its weapons to Ukraine, vacating the arms market in Europe for the import of American weapons. It’s “nothing personal, it’s business.”

As regards your country (Algeria), the Europeans are now thinking of alternative sources of supply. They have suffocated themselves with their own hands the pipeline routes from Russia. Now they are  looking for alternatives. And I know that the Mediterranean, including Algeria, is one of those sources.

They would be asking you to help, and it’s up to your companies to decide, it’s up to your government to decide.

In our case, according to our experiences that when we had long-term contracts with Europe, these long-term contracts protected our interests. But, a few years ago, Europe started cutting long-term contracts saying, “Let’s shift to the spot market”. And the spot market does not guarantee that you will have a long-term investment justified.

So, what we see now is not a scientific, not a responsible approach to the energy markets – it’s a hectic search for something which can save you this winter, with the green agenda shelved for the time being.

The coal is coming back, polluting the atmosphere – it’s a mess, if you take a look at the energy and environment policy that Europe is promoting. I am sorry to say this. We are not getting any happiness or joy from what Europe is experiencing, but they have been doing this to themselves for quite some time already.

Ladies and gentlemen, I have to apologize because the minister – my colleague from Ethiopia – is   waiting for me for the next event. Once again I want to thank you whole-heartedly for accepting our invitation. I hope it was not a waste of time. I tried to be as frank as I can, and we would be ready to promote dialogue with the African Union.

Unfortunately, we could not meet at the headquarters. And we would be ready for a dialogue on all these and any other issues of interest and of importance with you bilaterally. With all of you we have good relations and channels of communication.

I wish you all the best and keep healthy. Thank you very much.

Is Russia a Terror State?

July 25, 2022

Note: our “friends” from Commentary Magazine show their true agenda 🙂  It is quite comical to see US Zionists pointing fingers are others for “terrorism” when the USA is by far the biggest supporter and user or terrorists organizations on the planet, from Gladio to al-Qaeda…
Andrei
*******

Is Russia a Terror State?
by Noah Rothman

source: https://www.commentary.org/noah-rothman/is-russia-a-terror-state/

“The security situation throughout Ukraine continues to be violent and unpredictable due to ongoing military attacks by Russia,” the U.S. State Department warned on July 14. “Avoid large gatherings and organized events as they may serve as Russian military targets anywhere in Ukraine, including its western regions.” This was not the first time the American diplomatic mission in Kyiv warned civilians to avoid “gatherings and organized events,” but the atrocity that forced State to reissue this alert was horrific enough to take the admonition seriously.

Earlier that day, Russia fired three submarine-launched cruise missiles at targets in the Western Ukrainian city of Vinnytsia, though it is unclear what the intended targets might have been. Those missiles fell on a populated shopping center, a dance studio, and a wedding venue, instantly killing 23 and wounding another 71 while burying scores more beneath the rubble. Some speculated that Russia’s intended target was a Ukrainian officer’s club, but the dubious military value of that target and the likelihood of collateral damage given the density of the city around it don’t do much to absolve Russia. Indeed, it is hard to avoid the conclusion that collateral damage is deliberate and that terrorizing the Ukrainian public is the desired outcome.

If the United States has concluded that Moscow is deliberately targeting civilian “gatherings,” that should make academic any debate over whether to deem Russia a state sponsor of terrorism. And yet, the debate rages on.

According to Politico last week, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi issued an ultimatum to Secretary of State Antony Blinken: Either you label Russia a terror state, or we will. Resolutions that would brand Moscow a terrorist actor have been circulating in both federal legislative chambers since the spring, but Congress has not acted in deference to the Biden White House. Pelosi said the designation is “long overdue,” but the administration has been dragging its feet. The State Department insists the existing suite of sanctions against Russia is sufficient to isolate Moscow and reduce its capacity to project force in Ukraine. Additionally, the “secondary” sanctions a terrorism designation would trigger against nations and individuals with business ties to Russia could perversely weaken the existing sanctions regime.

“The sanctions we have in place and have taken are the same steps that would be entailed by the designation of a state sponsor of terrorism,” State Department Spokesman Ned Price insisted. But given that the State Department is in effect alleging that Moscow is prosecuting a campaign of terror, Congress may not accept this rationale much longer. Indeed, evidence of Russia’s wartime atrocities mounts by the day.

A Human Rights Watch report published this weekend alleged that Russian forces have engaged in a systematic campaign of torture. Detainees have been electrocuted, burned, and had their ribs and teeth broken. Reporting from occupied areas of Ukraine is replete with allegations of summary executions and forced abductions. Many thousands of Ukrainians have been “evacuated” to Russia where they are re-educated in “filtration camps.” Although Moscow and Kyiv reached a tentative deal to once again allow the export of grain through the country’s Black Sea ports, which would relieve some of the pressure this war has put on global food prices, a Russian cruise missile strike on the port city of Odessa’s shipping infrastructure this weekend calls into question Moscow’s commitment to humanitarianism.

The U.S. government does not deny that these atrocities are occurring. Indeed, officials warn that the worst is yet to come. Moscow intends to annex into the Russian Federation the territory it presently occupies in Ukraine, at which point it can proceed unmolested toward the goal of this war: breaking and eliminating the very idea of a Ukrainian identity.

Meanwhile, Russia proper has become intensely repressive and militaristic. Any expression of dissent against the war in Ukraine has been criminalized. Academics and journalists have been arrested. The number of “foreign agents” subject to punitive legal measures has exploded. Ominously, Jewish organizations can now count themselves among the many “foreign agents” Russia seems set on persecuting. “Multiple Jewish organizations in Russia have received threatening letters in recent weeks from the Russian Justice Ministry regarding their work,” the Jerusalem Post reported. The writing on the wall is legible from orbit.

The Biden administration has valid reasons for wanting to avoid the complications that would follow designating Russia a terrorist state, but Russia’s terroristic actions are rendering the White House’s resistance untenable. The administration’s hand may soon be forced. If so, it will be Russia, not Congress or the community of democratic nations, that forced it.

Five months into the Special Military Operation – a summary

July 23, 2022

On the Future of Europe: A Proposition from 1 January 2023

Note: after three months away (mostly) from the blog, it is a real pleasure for me to come back. Simply put – I missed you and I missed writing analyses. Thus I am truly delighted to be back and I want to once again thank all those who patiently waited for me to recharge my batteries. Your support means the world to me! Thank you for everything!
Andrei

***

Five months ago, on February 24th, Russia began what she called a “special military operation” (SMO). In very simple terms, this is what Russia has achieved so far: Ukraine has lost about 20% of its territory, about 3 thousand towns and villages, half of the gross national product, and a third of coal production. It completely lost access to the Sea of Azov, and traffic through the Black Sea ports froze due to fighting and mining of waterways. The number of refugees has reached 7 million (source).

But these factoids don’t even begin to tell the full story. There would be many ways that this story could be told, but to begin I want to list a few elements of the official western narrative which have now faceplanted and nobody sane would take seriously. I will present a few them in no specific order (and I will ignore the most idiotic ones, including that Putin is dying of cancer or very sick (check here for 50 headlines about this!) – he is not, to the great chagrin of the CIA –  or that Shoigu wants to overthrow him).

“Russia is losing the war, was defeated by the Ukronazis near Kiev, she is running out of ammunition and supplies and is about to collapse”.

First, if you look at the size of the Russian force which took the Antonov airport near Kiev (one airborne regiment) and the size of the force which moved by land towards that airport, you can easily convince yourself that this force was not intended to attack or invade Kiev. This force did exactly what it was intended to do, it forces the Ukronazis to move forces to protect Kiev and, thereby, it pinned them down just long enough to establish air superiority, attack and cut off the forces near and in the Donbass, destroy the Ukrainian C4I and almost the entire Ukrainian air force. This took just a few days and once that mission was completed, these forces withdrew as they had literally nothing to gain by staying in place. If anything it is the Ukrainian side which is running out of weapons, supplies and soldiers (more about that later). The Russians have all the firepower they need for many years ahead.

“Russia had to change her plans and tactics because of the heavy losses suffered by the Russian military early in the operation”

Actually, there is a grain of truth here, but not the correct explanation. As I have mentioned several times, the special military operation is “special” because it is an operation which is not a regular combined arms operation. The Russians began the SMO with fewer soldiers than the opposing side, and they privileged maneuver and long range strikes over the taking and holding of towns and cities. Most crucially, the Russians very deliberately tried all they could to minimize Ukrainian casualties and to preserve the Ukrainian civilian infrastructure (unlike the “democratic” countries out there who first destroy power plants, bridges, water stations, etc. to inflict the maximum of “shock and awe” on the civilian population!). The Russians could have easily turned, say, Kiev into Baghdad or Belgrade under US/NATO bombs, but they deliberately chose to save as many lives and civilian infrastructure as possible, even at the cost of lives of Russian soldiers).

[Sidebar: a prefect example is the small town of Avdeevka, near Donetsk, which is heavily fortified and from which the Ukronazis shell not only Donetsk, but also other towns such as Makeevka killing people and destroying the civilian infrastructure every day.  The Russians could use their TOS-1A “Solntsepyok”, airborne FAE, FAB-3000 bombs, heavy mortars and plenty of other weapons to simply turn all of Avdeevka into a lifeless desert.  But here is the problem: Avdeevka is full of civilians, including relatives of LDNR combatants.  Furthermore, if Russia used such weapons, it would only feed the Anglo-Zionist propaganda to create a “victastar” city à la Sarajevo or even accuse the Russians of a Srebrenica-like “genocide”.  The precedent of Bucha is something which limits the Russians in two major ways: first, it makes it almost impossible to retreat, now that we know that the Ukronazis will massacre all the “collaborators” in the area left by Russian forces and, second, it means that any major strike, no matter how militarily justified, will be turned into a “massacre” just like in Bosnia, Kosovo or Syria.

What apparently did take the Russians by surprise is the willingness of the Ukrainian forces in some towns to attack the Russian columns even though the local authorities seemed to have indicated to the Russians that, like in, say, Kherson, their city would not resist. Simply put, they chose the Mariupol model rather than the Kherson model. This choice was mainly dictated by the very powerful Nazi death squads who would at best arrest anybody negotiating with Russia and, at worst, simply shoot them on the spot. The Russians found plenty of bodies of executed Ukrainian soldiers.

But this does not tell the full story either.

The truth is that by the laws of warfare the Ukraine lost the war in less than a week.

What is my evidence for such an apparently outlandish and over-the-top statement? Simple: since the beginning of the SMO, the Ukrainians failed to execute a single operational level attack or counter-attack. At most they were able to execute small, tactical level attacks, the vast majority of which almost instantly failed, a few were defeated in a few days, and, crucially, not a single one gave the Ukrainian side the operational initiative. Not once.

So what happened?

If Kiev had any agency and if the Ukrainian leadership cared about their country and people, they would have immediately sued for peace. But Kiev never had any agency and the buffoons in power do not give a damn about the Ukrainian people.

Instead, it was the US that told the Ukrainians to never surrender or pull back, even if that meant huge losses in both manpower and firepower. The West, which despises and hates the Ukrainians almost as much as it hates the Russians were delighted to see the hated Ukrainians and the hated Russians killing each other (well, mostly Russians doing the killing). Furthermore, being military incompetent, the leaders of the West apparently believed that supplying weapons, money, instructors, and special forces to the Ukrainians could, if not turn the tide, slow down Russia enough to create fear, uncertainty, and doubts in the Russian public opinion. That plan also spectacularly failed, Putin is as popular as ever, the 5th column and the 6th columns in Russia are in despair (many emigrate) and the SMO has the full support of the Russian nation.

As for the much talked about “Russian plans”, which nobody has seen, they are not like the plan for a building. They are not fixed, but highly flexible and reactive and, in fact, they are constantly adjusted and refined in response to the developments on the ground. So while the Russians did have hopes that much/most of the eastern Ukraine would follow the “Kherson model” they were quick to adapt to the reality that the US and its Nazi agents in the Ukrainian military would force the eastern Ukraine to follow the “Mariupol model”. So yes, operational plans are like water in a stream, depending on the obstacles encountered, they can go left or they can go right to bypass that obstacle, but in either case, they are going down towards the ocean. The fact that armchair strategists declared that Russia “changed plans” simply proves that they don’t understand how operational planning works.

[Sidebar: most people in the West think of military operations as something similar to US football: there are “lines/fronts” which are defended and most forces are facing each other along these lines. This is not so. Modern warfare is much more similar to European soccer, where each player is “attached” to an opposing player and these players constantly maneuver and regularly engage each other. For example, modern warfare does not really have a “front” and a “rear” as we can see from the Russian strikes deep inside the western Ukraine. Finally, modern warfare deeply relies on coordinated actions. That is to say that even if side A has, say, five subunits (say companies) you cannot add them up and count them as a regiment or brigade because they lack the ability for coordinated operations (nevermind joint or combined ones). Think of your hand, it has five fingers, but these five fingers only become a powerful fist if the five fingers act in unison and become one fist. So when somebody write about, say, 60’000 Ukrainian soldiers in the eastern Ukraine, this describes a X number of platoons, companies, regiments or even “brigades” (I put quotation marks because these are not real brigades with a full table of organization and equipment), these subunits are not capable of coordinating their actions like the Russian military does. There is a lot of talk about “network centric warfare” which is nothing but combined arms operations on steroids, where the level of integration includes a full fusion of all C4ISR data into one common real time picture of the battlefield and a full coordination of all military forces/means. By the way, only Russia has fully developed such a capability (though the US has also made some serious progress in this field)].

Now let’s address two smaller but nonetheless crucial lies told by some about Russia:

“There are no Atlantic Integrationists or Eurasian Sovereignists in Russia”

If anything, this war has resulted in a major shakeup of the Russian society where some folks suddenly showed their true feelings.  Examples range from Russian journalists standing with an anti-war sign behind a newscaster to those Russians abroad who either agreed to condemn Putin and the SMO or accepted to participate in various events under a neutral or foreign flag, to Dmitri Medvedev now changing his tune 180 degrees and rebranding himself as an ultra-patriot. I listed those examples because they are known in the West, but inside Russia, there are many more such examples, including amongst business executives and elected officials. Finally, even Putin himself mentioned the existence of such internal enemies of Russia. The fact that Russia has now expanded the definition of “treason” means that pro-US agents in Russia now face a major risk for their activities. Some 5th columnists have already been sentenced to jail. As for the 6th columnists, they still hate Putin with a passion and are still chanting their “all is lost” mantra, but (almost) nobody takes them seriously anymore.

The irony is that the US wanted to create a crisis to overthrow Putin but, instead, this crisis gave him yet another boost in popularity, in spite of some very real problems (automotive sector, civilian airliners, etc.).

Next,

“Putin is an Israeli stooge, he works hand in glove with the Israelis”

In reality, it is pretty obvious that the most vociferous Russophobes in the West are overwhelmingly Jews, both inside and outside Israel. Usually, the invoked excuse is that there were anti-Jewish pogroms in Russia. Yet, in reality, all those pogroms happened in what is today the Ukraine, and yet it is pretty clear that Zionist and Jewish organizations are overwhelmingly siding with Kiev (in spite of the regime in power being undeniably Nazi), and only very few individuals side with Russia (but they exist and should never be overlooked). As for the Kremlin, it is getting fed up with the Israeli arrogance in Syria (even if the Israeli airstrikes are ineffective and make no difference for the reality on the ground) and the Russians are now demanding that the Israelis cease their attacks on Syria. The Israelis cannot stop, for internal political and even psychotherapeutic reasons, but one of two things are likely to happen: the Israeli attacks will become even more useless and symbolic, or Russia will shoot down an Israeli aircraft.

But enough about Israel here, this is only a small part of the Anglo-Zionist Empire run by the USA. Now let’s turn to the West’s actions over the past 5 months.

So what about the US/NATO/EU in all this?

First, I want to make it clear that I strongly believe that the Anglo-Zionist Empire died on January 8th, 2020 when it allowed Iran to bomb CENTCOM bases without even a single bullet being fired back. That day the Empire showed the world that it did not even have what it takes to attack Iran. As for the USA, they died on January 6th, 2021.

However, remember my example above contrasting 5 fingers with a fist? While the Empire as we knew it and the USA as we knew it did die, that does not mean that its composing parts all vanished in thin air. Countries and Empires have momentum, just like the Titanic, when they have been mortally wounded. Simply put, the final process of sinking takes time. The Russian Empire died in February of 1917, yet the civil war lasted until 1923 (and I would even argue until WWII).

Second, there are two totally different planes in which the West (well, really the USA) decided to fight Russia:

  • First, it declared total proxy war on Russia, but only total short of a direct war military confrontation with Russia
  • Second, a total #cancelRussia in the PR/propaganda virtual reality. These infantile actions (latest example here) show how frustrated and powerless the West really is.

For years now I have stated many, many times that Russia and the Empire were locked into an existential war from which only one side would walk away. I usually added that this total war was about 80% informational, 15% economic and only 5% kinetic. I hesitate to provide numbers here, but I would say that after a very strong success in the first 2-3 months of the SMO, the informational war initially won by the West is now fizzling out. The economic war massively grew, as did the kinetic one (albeit still by proxy). I am very reluctant to provide numbers here, but very tentatively I would score the current war as maybe 10% informational, 50% economic and maybe 40% kinetic. Again, please don’t focus on these very tentative figures, the key thing is this: as per President “Biden”, the goal of the USA is to inflict a strategic failure on Russia. The same stuff was also spoken by the EU, UK politicians and pretty much everybody in the West.

As for the demented Poles, one of their former Presidents and Nobel Prize winner declared that he wants to reduce the population of Russia down to 50 million. Then there are the Brits, who still want to be “Great” or, at least, relevant, and who speak about “leading the free world” against Russia with such stellar allies as Poland, the 3B statelets and Banderastan.

And yet, let’s look at the outcomes on three levels:

  • Military: the best proxy the USA had in history (the Ukrainian armed forces) is being slowly and inexorably destroyed by about only 8-10 percent of the Russian armed forces.
  • Economic: while some sectors in Russia did suffer from the so-called “sanctions” (they are not sanctions, but acts of war and crude robbery, only the UNSC can impose legal sanctions), all in all, Russia did great, and seems to be set on a path for economic success due to the fact that a) most countries have refused to obey Washington’s demands and b) the Russian economy is powerful and real, not virtual like the western economies. It will take a couple of years for Russia to adapt, but now that this process has begun, it is unstoppable.
  • Propaganda: here the image is pretty clear: on one hand we have the USA and its colonies, then a few countries with comprador elites that are hated by most people, and countries that openly defy Washington. This is best expressed by this map from the Chinese foreign ministry:

One key characteristic of the countries shown in red on the bottom (realistic) map is that all these countries have two crucial factors in common: a) they (mostly) lack real resources (since their civilizations were always built on imperialism, colonialism and plain robbery) b) they hate Russia so much that they are willing to take measures which hurt themselves much more than they hurt Russia. This type of hate-saturated insanity reminds me of an old Soviet joke: “in a small village, a local discovers a bottle and when he opens it, a genie comes out and says: since you have liberated me, I will grant you one wish, the only condition is that your next door neighbor will get double of what you will. Then the man thought for a while and replied: please poke one of my eyes out!”. This is the current mental state of western “leaders”…

That is the core “philosophy” of the USA: fight Russia to the last Ukrainian, prolong the war as long as possible, get as much of the civilian infrastructure of the Ukraine destroyed, subvert the status of the dollar, crash the world economy, let the EU crash and burn economically, socially, and politically, shove the Woke agenda down everyone’s throats, even if that makes them gag and throw up and, last but not least, totally and comprehensively stick your head in the sand and deny reality in all its aspects.

Yes, the West is so soaked in rabid hatred and fear of Russia that it prefers to commit collective suicide rather than accept any type of coexistence with a sovereign Russia.

Hitler’s comparatively vague/ambiguous/oblique slogan of “Drang nach Osten” has now been replaced by a much more candid and unambiguous #cancelRussia slogan. Same idea, just much more “in your face”.

Truth be told, most of the so-called “West” is really run by these three groups, in order of influence:

  1. The US Neocons
  2. The Anglo imperialists
  3. The EU comprador ruling elites

This reminds me very much of an album by Roger Waters called “Animals” in which he separates our modern societies into three archetypes: dogs, pigs and sheep. Needless to say, the dogs and pigs will run the sheep, but as soon as a (Russian) bear shows up, they are powerless against him.

This small image tells the true story about the Ruble “turning into rubble” as “Biden” promised.

This is what we see now and which will probably continue well into 2023. The fact that the economic warfare waged against Russia or the promise of Wunderwaffen has totally failed will never be admitted by these deeply psychopathic and terminally delusional people. And if they cannot double down ad infinitum in their actions, they sure will continue to double down in their rhetoric, just as the orchestra continued to play while the “unsinkable” Titanic was sinking.

Still, at least some of the regular folks in the West are smelling the roses, hence the dismal rating of ALL the western political leaders. The hostility of many US Americans even results in polls that suggest that many of them would want to secede from the other states, in this case Trump voters. Considering that Trump voters are, as a rule, far more patriotic than Woke-soaked US “liberals”, this is very telling. But also ironic: the USA wants to break up Russia and ends up breaking up itself. Karma?

Not only. Let’s look at the map which shows which countries did and did not impose “sanctions” on Russia:

Notice that pretty much the entire green zone is composed of countries that the West has invaded, robbed, devastated, enslaved, subverted, forcibly converted, bombed, economically “sanctioned” with blockades and blackmail (by means so-called “secondary sanctions” which is a euphemism for blackmail and extortion) and, more recently, upon which the full satanic insanity of Wokeness has been imposed (hence the US embassies flying “homopride” flags). The population of these green countries, which I call “Zone B”, knows the true score and they mostly hate and despise the West. And that places all their comprador ruling elites in a very tricky situation: their US masters want them to declare total war on Russia while their population is mostly sympathetic to Russia. In the past, this would have been a no-brainer, Uncle Shmuel with his CIA-run death squads, aircraft carriers and seemingly infinite money printing capability was much more vital to these comprador elites than their own population. But now that death squads have been largely replaced with woked-out fairies which are only good at shooting unarmed civilians, now that US aircraft carriers don’t really frighten even countries like Iran, the DPRK or Venezuela and now that the entire Western-built international economic and financial system is collapsing, these comprador elites have to become much, much more careful lest they end up like the US stooges in Bolivia: out of power and in jail.  Even Colombia seems to be slowly slipping away, as does Brazil.  And I won’t even mention the absolute lack of utility of the likes of Guaido, Tikhanovskaia or the “friends of Syria” gang (Maduro, Lukashenko and Assad or all doing great, thank you!).

The writing is on the wall, and only those who deliberately shut their eyes fail to see it.

This leaves us with the issue of the US Neocons.

What about the western ruling classes, what impact, if any, did the SMO have on them?

First, let’s define our categories. In the EU we don’t really have any real “ruling class”, we only have frontmen (sorry! I meant “frontpersons” of course), puppets, pretend-rulers with no agency whatsoever (Olaf Scholz and Josep Borrell are perfect examples)  . There is no European “defense policy” or any other meaningful evidence of agency on any level.  The EU is dead, clueless and totally in the control of the US Neocons.

Second, in the USA, Neocons rule supreme, having total control of both major parties in the US. And while the GOP base is very different from the Dem’s base, their leaders are mostly interchangeable. So I will consider them as one.

Their mindset and worldview are pretty clear: they are messianic supremacists and sincerely consider themselves racially superior to the rest of mankind. The fusion of Anglo imperialism and Jewish supremacism has yielded the monster we now know as “Neocons”. These folks excel in the art of accumulating power, by hook or by crook. They like to claim that they have superior intelligence, but in reality, what separates these people is not brainpower, but two key aspects of their worldview: a) tribalism and b) drive. Simply put, most other people do not have this tribal “us against them” mindset, and only a subsection of regular people are truly driven to power and influence. Hence, while being a numerically small minority, the US Neocons are in full control of the USA.

Their psychological profile is narcissistic at best, and fully psychopathic in most cases. That also gives them an advantage, especially when dealing with weak, ignorant and easily influenceable people. But when they meet a determined pushback, be it by Russia, Iran, the DPRK or even Hezbollah, they quickly become clueless and helpless. Check the expression of Blinken on the photo above – that is the face of a coward and a loser. He might have become a decent tailor, instead, he was asked to run the foreign policy of the (now former) superpower. No wonder all he ever produced was disasters and abject failures!

Initially, feeling buoyant from their total control over Eltsin and the Russian liberals, the US Neocons celebrated victory. Then something went very wrong and suddenly they were faced with a radically different kind of leader, one with the massive support of the Russian people. Remember here that Putin was an intelligence officer specializing in the West, thus a man who had a very good understanding of his enemies. Furthermore, Putin was patient enough to realize that in the early years of the confrontation with the West, Russia was in no condition to openly defy the West, let alone fight it militarily. This is why he stopped the LDNR forces from moving any further westwards in 2014-2015 even though the Ukrainian military was in disarray.  While he knew that during the time the Ukrainians were in a panic and disorganized, he also knew that Russia could not take on the consolidated West. So between 2014 and 2018 Russia made a gigantic effort to develop the kind of capabilities needed to be able to take on all of NATO and win. By the time of the Russian ultimatum to the West last Fall, Russia was finally ready.

Notice that the Russian ultimatum was not an ultimatum to Kiev as much as it was a direct challenge to the US and NATO. The Neocons, drunk on their bravado and sense of racial superiority, basically told Russia to screw herself and doubled down in their rhetoric. And when Russia moved in, they truly freaked out, hence their suicidal policies towards Russia ever since. These folks mistakenly assumed that while Russia might (maybe!) prevail over the Ukrainian forces, they were confident that Putin would not dare openly defy the consolidated West. And when Putin did just that, they went into full panic mode, hence the nonsense we hear from the western capitals on a daily basis.

But it got even worse. Far from being deterred by western promises of fire and brimstone, the Russian then proceeded to methodically destroy the Ukrainian armed forces. In spite of the Ukrainian military being the best proxy force in US history, in spite of BILLIONS given to the Nazi regime each month, in spite of all sorts of super-dooper Wunderwaffen deliveries, in spite of economic warfare, Russia is now pounding the Ukie+western forces in the Ukraine day after day after day and while the US is ordering the Ukrainians to fight to the end and never withdraw, the many waves of Volkssturm reinforcements have had no impact on Russian warfighting capabilities. The US also ordered its vassal states in eastern Europe to send their large supplies of Soviet era weapons to the Ukraine (over 300 tanks just from Poland!), and Ukrainian-branded Mi-24s, Su-25s and MiG-29s still are seen in the Ukrainian skies almost daily in spite of the fact that almost the entire Ukrainian air force was destroyed in the first 3 days of the war. Helicopters are easy to hide, “Ukrainian” aircraft take off from bases in Poland and Romania, and yet they don’t seem to make a difference: for most of them, it is a one-way mission and they know it. But it is good PR, even if it costs lives (at least that is what Uncle Shmuel thinks). But now that the already low credibility of the legacy corporate media is in freefall, even such PR “victories” yield very little traction:

It is outright comical to hear western countries (Germany, Italy and even the USA) whining about their weapons stores getting depleted while all these truly huge deliveries have not made any difference at all on the ground since the beginning of combat operations.

[Sidebar: does Russia have air superiority over the Ukraine? Yes, absolutely. A few helicopters or fixed wing aircraft on one way missions make no difference here. In fact, a much bigger threat to the Russian Aerospace Forces are the Ukrainian air defenses which, while old, have often been modernized and have the full support of US C4ISR (Command, Control, Communication, Cyber, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance) including surveillance drone, AWACS, satellites, SIGNIT, etc. etc. etc. and yet the Russians have adapted: the close air support aircraft fly low, while their SEAD (suppression of enemy air defenses) fly high with long range anti-radiation missiles on the ready. A quick reminder, while the USAF/USN has often achieved air supremacy over countries without a modern air force or any modern air defenses, it failed to knock out the Serbian air defenses during the Anglo-Zionist wars against the Serbian nation. In fact, the USAF/USN *never* operated in an environment as dangerous as the one currently created over the Ukraine, but the comparatively much smaller Russian Aerospace Force did achieve and maintain air superiority over this huge country.  As for air supremacy (as oppose to superiority), it is only achievable against a very poorly armed adversary: air superiority is the best one can hope to achieve, even theoretically, over any country with serious air defenses]

And yet, the (comparatively small, but more modern) Russian aerospace forces have achieved and maintained air superiority throughout the past 5 months of combat operations. This is an extremely alarming sign for the US and NATO forces. Just imagine what the full might of the Russian armed forces would do to NATO if it was unleashed!

But it gets even worse (for the Empire, that is): there are all the signs and even clear messages that Putin is not “bluffing” at all and that Russia has full escalation dominance over the West. but it is now becoming quite evident that the Kremlin will not stop under any circumstances short of a total victory, and if that means nuclear war, so be it. And the Russian people are overwhelmingly supportive of this stance.

Why?

Because the Russian people have now FINALLY seen the true face of the West, they now understand that this is nothing else but a continuation of WWII and that the very existence and sovereignty of the Russian people are at stake. Again, Putin said it clearly: “if someone makes a decision to destroy Russia, we have every right to fight back. Yes, it would be a global disaster for humanity and for the world, but being a Russian citizen and head of Russia, I want to ask a question, “What’s the point of the world without Russia?“. If these were just empty words, like what Biden reads (with difficulty) from his teleprompter, that would be one thing, but these words need to be remembered in the context of the deployment of Avangards, Poseidons, S-500 and all the other weapons and tactics developed by Russia while the Neocons, drunk with arrogance, slept at the wheel.

So no, while Putin rarely makes threats, he never bluffs.

Bottom line is this: anybody who sincerely believes that Russia will not wipe out the entire West if she is seriously threatened is terminally delusional, knows nothing about history, and does not understand the Russian mindset. They would do so at their own peril.

If there is one message I want to convey to anybody willing to listen it is this: Putin is not bluffing, the West cannot win, and the only variable here is what price the West is willing to pay for its defeat.

By the way, the Chinese are also getting mighty fed up with the crazies in DC, just check out their latest statements.

Will somebody actually take action against the Neocons? I doubt it. If anything, the entire Trump debacle has proven beyond any reasonable doubt that US anti-Neocons are either fakes, or that they have the willpower of a case of jello (that also goes for Tulsi Gabbard, by the way). Will the Neocons realize that if they persist in doubling down, they will personally and physically die? Maybe. At the end of the day, the US can afford to have a comprehensively destroyed Ukraine and a not less comprehensively destroyed EU. Now that the UK has left the EU, the Anglos couldn’t care less, and triggering wars in Europe is a time-honored British tradition anyway.

The real blowback from the Neocons’ arrogance and ignorance is that far from dealing with Russia first and with China as an end goal, they have greatly contributed to a major strengthening of the Russian, Chinese and Indian alliance.

The Neocons could decide to let Europe burn, while they remain in control of the USA which, unlike the EU, has plenty of natural resources and will remain, if not a world hegemon, then at least a powerful nation. In that case, their plan is simple: to continue to push for a maximum confrontation and war in Europe, but short of involving the USA in a nuclear exchange with Russia. The Brits on their island might have similar plans, just on a smaller scale and with the vital need to fully rely on the support of the USA. In the “best” of cases (for them), the UK would be in charge of managing the chaos in Europe on behalf of the USA.

I don’t think that the Neocons give a damn about Israel and the Israeli people either, by the way. Nor do the Anglo ruling “elites” give a damn about the people of the USA or the UK. If there is one lesson we must take from the horror of 9/11 is that these people won’t hesitate to murder thousands of “their own” because, in reality, for all the patriotic or Zionist flag-waving, they only care about themselves and their power.

NATO is a joke, and sooner or later, Russia will denazify all of the EU, either politically and economically, or, if no other option is left, militarily. First, the Ukraine, then the 3B+P crazies will have to be denazified. Next will be the turn of the EU/NATO beginning with Germany. By then, the US will have suffered a massive economic, social and cultural disaster which will probably reformat the current US polity. Where will the Neocons go next? I don’t know and, frankly, I don’t care. The Neocons are only dangerous just like a parasite that invades the brain of a much larger host. Once the host is down, the parasite might as well leave ditch it and find a new host.  By itself, this parasite is weak and universally disliked.

In the meantime, the stupidified Woke-sheep can keep themselves busy wondering if men can give birth or deciding whether a “twerking” senator will solve the USA’s many problems.

So where do we go from here?

Well, at least so far, the leaders of the USA are still in full “double down forever” mode, along with their volunteer slaves in eastern Europe. Their plan for Russia is best visualized with this map: (source)

These wet dreams even include the infamous “Idel Ural” which was denounced by Alexander Solzhenitsyn in his articles against the equally infamous “captive nations law”. In fact, this “law” has its origins from the CIA and Nazi Germany. So we can say that this is nothing but “same old, same old again”. Although not quite, some things have changed.

During WWII the Russian people quickly understood that Hitler was no “liberator”, no more than Napoleon before him, and that he only used that kind of language to try to achieve victory. Then, during the Cold War, it was easy to believe that the enemy of the West was Communism and its idea of universal liberation from the capitalist yoke. Surely, if Russia got rid of the CPSU the West would embrace such a free Russia?

Nope, the exact opposite happened: in spite the “all you can eat” “freedoms” of bluejeans, fast foods, crime and pornography, Russia was plundered and came very very close to totally breaking up (only the 2nd Chechen war with Putin as the Commander in Chief prevented that from happening).  Instead of the promised “democratic heaven” Russia got deeply immersed in the worst kind of capitalist hell imaginable.

Furthermore, the combination of a rather inept Soviet propaganda machine and a much more effective western propaganda gave many Russians the illusion that the West was a group of free and prosperous nations only wanting the best for Russia. The Western-run nightmare of the 90s opened the eyes of some, but not all. As did the apocalypse in the so-called “independent Ukraine”. But the kind of open, direct and absolute hatred for Russia, Putin and everything Russian we all see know has convinced the vast majority of Russians that what the West erally wants is a “final solution” to the “Russian problem” not unlike what the Papist regime of Pavelic during WWII wanted for the Serbs: kill ⅓, expel another ⅓ and “convert” the remaining ⅓.

Some things never change, especially not in the West.  The Muslim are all spot on when they speak of the “modern Crusaders”!

So far, Russia has only been observing with some amazement, and even amusement, how the EU was committing economic, political and social suicide without even trying to improve its fate. For the people of Europe, there is only one thing more important than their imperialistic and racist mindset: their wallets. And that wallet has been hurting pretty badly since the self-defeating “sanctions” against Russia were implemented. In Russia that attitude is referred to as a “kid freezing his own ears to piss off his granny”: infantile, self-defeating and simply stupid. That being said: how many regimes (by that I mean political systems, as opposed to governments which are specific people; for example, if Truss replaces Johnson in the UK, this will be a government change, but not a regime change) are threatened by popular discontent in the EU?

The sad reality is that none. Oh sure, they are immensely unpopular, just like “Biden” is in the USA, but changing the puppet figureheads will do nothing to change the regimes in power (basically US-controlled colonial occupation regimes).

It is therefore likely that Russia will have to turn up the pain dial quite a few notches up before the sheep in the EU or the US come to their senses. Primarily, I think of economic measures, but if the crazies from the 3B+PU do something really stupid Russia will not hesitate to use military power if/when needed. The bottom line is this: Russia needs to denazify all of the European continent, and the more countries are told to join NATO, the more candidates for denazification Russia will have.

It is impossible to predict the future, there are simply too many variables at this point, but I would offer the following tentative suggested steps towards escalation:

  • Russia could gradually either refuse to sell her resources to Europe, not only gas and oil, of course, but everything else which Russia has been selling to the EU in the past for very good prices and which was a key to the wealth of the EU nations. So that would be a full-scale economic counter-attack from Russia against the EU.  As an initial step,  Russia could also demand to only be paid in Rubles for any and all exports to the EU.
  • Russia is already killing scores of Polish, British and other mercenaries (excuse me, “advisors” and “volunteers”) in the Ukraine, but most of these are low-level grunts. Russia could decide to target higher ranks involved in the war against Russia, including targets in Kiev and elsewhere. So far Russia has unleashed only a tiny fraction of her real firepower, but if the US/NATO weapon deliveries and deployment of mercenaries increase, Russia will have little choice but to further turn up the pain dial. And if the Poles, or the Baltic statelets go “full crazy” strikes against targets in these countries will become inevitable (Putin has already warned against that when he mentioned striking the “decision making centers”).
  • Finally, if Russia decides that enough is enough, the first targets of a Russian military response to the US/NATO proxy war would be to attack the US/NATO C4ISR capabilities, including AWACS/JSTARS aircraft, SIGINT centers and satellites.

Right now, these US/NATO aircraft are only flying along the Ukrainian airspace and remain based outside the Ukraine. But if, say, the US/NATO does actively participate in a strike against Crimea or the Crimean Bridge, then all bets will be off and S-400s and various standoff weapons will do the talking.

Imagine for a second that Russia shoots down a US AWACS/JSTARS, what will be the West’s reaction? And I don’t mean expressions of outrage and hatred, they are already at max and really have no effect on Russians. Would the US/NATO try to shoot down a Russian aircraft? And what would the Russian response to that be?

The truth is that the US/NATO simply don’t have the means to wage a land war against Russia. They literally lack everything needed to do that. Oh sure, they have many (mostly old and subsonic) cruise missiles which they could fire at Russia, but here again, this would pose a dilemma for the West: if the strikes are unsuccessful (as they were in Syria), what to do next? And if these strikes are successful, what would the Russians do next? Use their own conventional strategic deterrence capabilities to strike at targets all over Europe and possibly even the USA? And then what?

[Sidebar: airpower and cruise missiles are vastly overrated in the US propaganda. One of my teachers in college was a retired USAF Colonel who worked for the YF-23 program and who taught us a very good course in force planning. One day he said in class “what good does it do to you if you bomb all your targets, shoot down enemy aircraft if by the time you get back your officer’s club is filled with enemy soldiers?!” He was joking, of course, but what he knew is that only “boots on the ground” can win a war. And “boots on the ground” is exactly what neither the US, nor NATO (nor Israel or the KSA by the way) can deploy, especially against a military which has the biggest experience of land warfare on the planet, and by a huge margin!]

The truth is that the choice for the Neocons is binary: either accept defeat in Europe and keep the USA as their prize and host, or die in a major nuclear confrontation that will wipe out millions (which they don’t care about at all), including the Neocons themselves (which they care a lot about).

Try to reason with or convince messianic, narcissistic and delusional racist maniacs is a dangerous and mostly futile task. This is why Russia is turning the pain dial up very very slowly.  Right now, most of the efforts of the Kremlin are not even directed at the West, but at forging the core of the future multilateral world, the BRICS countries and BRICS candidates (possibly including Iran, Argentina, Egypt, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, Mexico, Lebanon and Indonesia in the near future). Russia is also expanding her ties to Africa and Latin America. Last, but not least, Russia, China and India are constantly expanding their ties and even collaboration, especially with China.

In this respect, I would strongly recommend to the Neocons and their puppet regimes to carefully consider the implications of Putin’s words that “We haven’t really started yet anything in earnest yet” (мы ещё всерьёз и не начинали). That is not a threat, but a statement of fact. Whether the West will continue to pretend that Russia is about to collapse, or that Putin is bluffing, will determine what will happen next.

Right now, and exactly as I predicted would happen, Russia has basically totally given up on any form of dialog with the West, since the West has basically severed all its diplomatic ties with Russia. Put differently, Russia is now acting unilaterally without giving the moaning and threats from the West any consideration whatsoever. In fact, the stark reality is that Russia has no need, or use, for the West, especially a West trying to commit collective suicide by a million cuts. Right now, the West is mostly dialing up the pain dial on itself, with little or no Russian assistance. But that does not mean that Russia won’t proactively turn up that dial if/when needed. And if the sheep in the West prefer athletic events or chess tournaments without Russian participation, by all means, let them do it and, in the process, make these events meaningless. The same goes for all the #cancelRussia insanity out there, including the destruction of statues and monuments or sanctioning of Russian musicians. The putatively proud and freedom-loving East Europeans seem to especially relish their “glorious victories” against old Soviet statues and monuments. I say – let them, it just shown their impotence and utter irrelevance.  If they have no respect for themselves, why should anybody else?

As the saying goes, “go woke, go broke”. A fitting epitaph on the West’s gravestone.

As for Russia, her real future lies in the South, East and North. She has no need or use for the West. Almost one thousand years of western imperialism are coming to a shameful and self-inflicted death, one way or another. As I have written many times, that system was neither viable nor reformable. It will either die of its own internal contradictions, or Russia and China will have to cull it. They most definitely has the means to, but won’t act directly unless provoked.

But that, should it happen, is still further down the road. For the time being, we are entering a long phase (many months probably) of gradual pain dial increase. Russia will continue to grind down the NATO forces in the Ukraine and let the economic realities sink into the awareness of the European sheep.

As many observe in Russia: “now russophobia will come at a steep price”.

I couldn’t agree more.

Andrei

PS: the above was kind of a “bird’s eye view” trying to cover the key developments during the five past months.  From now on, I will write shorter, but more frequent, analyses of specific issues.  In this context, if you have questions or want me to address a specific topic in my future analyses, please let me know in the comments section below.  Thank you!

Russia’s top diplomat, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, talks with RT’s editor-in-chief, Margarita Simonyan in an exclusive interview about the challenges Russia faces amid the Ukraine conflict

July 20, 2022

Highlights as seen by Pepe Escobar:

🇷🇺The highlights of Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s interview with Sputnik and RT:

🔹The EU is forced to make amendments to sanctions against Russia as they have exceeded their potential;

🔹Russia is not happy about energy issues that Europe is currently facing, but “will not worry about it too much”;

🔹Western countries are trying to drag UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres into their “games” around Ukrainian grain;

🔹Moscow has sent a signal to Guterres about the need to include a clause on Russian grain in the Istanbul agreements;

🔹It can hardly be in Europe’s interests to fully cut off ties with Russia and switch to liquefied natural gas supplies from the US;

🔹If the EU suddenly changes its position and proposes Russia to restore relations, Moscow needs to decide if this is beneficial to the country;

🔹The geographical area of the special operation has changed and expanded beyond Donbas due to Kiev receiving the US-made HIMARS and other weapons.

Full Transcript now available

Question: You just returned from a trip and are about to leave again soon. This “international isolation” is so tight that you are almost never home.

Here’s a question from our subscribers. At different levels, from the deputies to public officials, our talks with Ukraine are on and off. We say it’s impossible to hold talks now, but the next thing you know someone is saying it would be good to start them. Does it make sense or is it just a diplomatic ritual?

Sergey Lavrov: It doesn’t make any sense given the circumstances. Yesterday, the President touched on this while speaking at the news conference following talks with the leaders of Iran and Türkiye in Tehran.

Vladimir Putin once again made it clear that the Ukrainian leadership asked for talks early on during the special military operation. We didn’t say no. We approached this process honestly, but the first rounds of talks held in Belarus showed that the Ukrainian side didn’t really want to seriously discuss anything. Then, we passed our assessment of the situation over to them noting that if Kiev was serious about the talks, they should give us something “on paper” so we could understand what kind of agreements they had in mind. The Ukrainian side gave us a document that we found agreeable (yesterday the President again cited this fact) and were ready to conclude a treaty based on the principles outlined in it. Building on their logic, we drafted a corresponding document, which we made available to the Ukrainian side on April 15. Since then, we’ve heard nothing from them, but we hear other people such as Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany Olaf Scholz, Boris Johnson (though, not now for obvious reasons), President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen, and High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Chief Diplomat Josep Borrell say that Ukraine must “win on the battlefield” and should not engage in talks, because it has a weak position on the front. First, they need to improve the situation and start dominating the Russian armed forces and the Donetsk and Lugansk militias, and only then start talks “from a position of strength.” I don’t think this approach holds water.

Question: It doesn’t hold water because Ukraine will fail to do so?

Sergey Lavrov: It won’t work. They will never be able to formulate “things” that really deserve people’s time. We understood this. It is no secret that Kiev is being held back from taking any constructive steps, and they are not just flooding it with weapons, but making it use those weapons in an increasingly risky manner. Foreign instructors and specialists are there servicing these systems (HIMARS and others).

With strong support from the Germans, Poles, and Balts, our US and British (Anglo-Saxon) “colleagues” want to make this an actual war and pit Russia against the European countries. Washington and London are sitting far away, across oceans and straits, but will benefit from this. The European economy is impacted more than anything else. The stats show that 40 percent of the damage caused by sanctions is borne by the EU whereas the damage to the United States is less than 1 percent, if you look at the cumulative negative impact of the restrictions.

I do not doubt that the Ukrainians will not be allowed to hold talks until the Americans decide they have created enough destruction and chaos. Then, they will leave Ukraine alone and watch it get out of this mess.

Question: Do you think this plan is actionable? A big war, a clash between Russia and the European countries? In fact, it’s about a nuclear war.

Sergey Lavrov: The Americans are not thinking about this. Ambitious people who want to reach new heights in their careers have come to the White House. I’m not sure how they will try to fulfill these goals as part of this administration. They are acting irresponsibly and building plans and schemes that are fraught with major risk. We are talking about this publicly. We could have told them, but the Americans don’t want to talk to us, and we will not chase them.

The dialogue we had before was not meaningless if only because we could look into each other’s eyes and lay out our approaches. As soon as the special military operation started, the United States tore this dialogue down. I think that Washington hasn’t yet understood that it is playing a dangerous game, but many people in Europe are beginning to realise this.

Question: Is a Russia-US clash, a nuclear war possible in our view?

Sergey Lavrov: We have initiated several statements (Russian-American statement and statement by the leaders of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council) to the effect that there can be no winners in a nuclear war and that it cannot ever be unleashed. This is our position and we will firmly stick to it.

Moreover, we have an endorsed doctrine that clearly explains in what cases Russia will be compelled to use nuclear arms. Our partners, colleagues, rivals or enemies (I don’t know how they refer themselves with regard to us) know this very well.

Question:  We consider Vladimir Zelensky the legitimate representative of Ukraine. Why is that? We say with good reason that everything happening in that country is a result of the coup, a forced change of power. This did not happen under Zelensky, but he became president because of these events. Why did we acknowledge this initially?

Sergey Lavrov: Guided by his own ethical considerations, President of France Emmanuel Macron recently let everyone listen to a recording of his February telephone conversation with President of Russia Vladimir Putin in which the  Russian leader expressed himself clearly. President Macron tried to persuade him not to bother too much with implementing the Minsk Agreements. He said that Donetsk and Lugansk were illegal entities and that it was necessary to work in the context of the suggested interpretations – allegedly Zelensky wanted this. Vladimir Putin replied that Vladimir Zelensky was the product of a state coup and that the established regime hadn’t gone anywhere.

Do you remember how events developed after the coup? The putschists spat in the face of Germany, France and Poland that were the guarantors of the agreement with Viktor Yanukovych. It was trampled underfoot the next morning. These European countries didn’t make a peep – they reconciled themselves to this. A couple of years ago I asked the Germans and French what they thought about the coup. What was it all about if they didn’t demand that the putschists fulfil the agreements? They replied: “This is the cost of the democratic process.” I am not kidding. Amazing – these were adults holding the post of foreign ministers.

Crimeans and the east of Ukraine refused to recognize the results of the coup. In Crimea, this led to the holding of a referendum on reuniting with Russia and in Donbass to a refusal to deal with the new, illegitimate central authorities that started a war. Then Pyotr Poroshenko began a presidential campaign. The election took place in late May, 2014. President of France François Hollande, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and other European leaders tried to persuade the President of Russia to say nothing in advance about his refusal to recognise the results of the Ukrainian elections. Vladimir Putin replied: since Poroshenko is holding the election with the slogans of peace, promises to restore the rights of all Ukrainians, including the residents of Donbass, we will not question the legitimacy of this process.

It turned out that Poroshenko quickly forgot his election promises. He cheated his voters, lied to them and his Western sponsors, and unleashed another round of war that was stopped with great difficulty in February 2015. Later the Minsk Agreements were signed. He recently admitted that he had no intention of fulfilling the agreements and signed them only because Ukraine had to build up its strength economically and militarily to “win back its land,” including Crimea. This is why he concluded these agreements.

Question: We did not realise this, did we?

Sergey Lavrov: Well, I still hoped that some conscience was left there. Poroshenko revealed his true attitude towards the Minsk Agreements: he would not fulfil a document endorsed by the UN Security Council. Thus, he confirmed once again, this time in public, that he was not a legitimate president, one that relies on the foundations of international law.

Vladimir Zelensky came to power with slogans of peace as well. He promised to return peace to Ukraine. He said all citizens of the country who wanted to speak Russian would be able to and nobody would harass them or discriminate against them. Listen to what he is saying now.

In the role of Servant of the People Zelensky played a democrat, a glad-hander, a teacher, one of the people, who defeated the oligarchs and paid off the IMF. The people became free. He dissolved the corrupt parliament and the government. There are video recordings that cannot be hidden. They show how Zelensky upheld the rights of the Russian language and Russian culture…

Question: He is an actor, Mr Lavrov!

Sergey Lavrov: Yes, an actor under the Stanislavsky system – quickly turns coat. He was recently asked about his attitude towards the people of Donbass. Mr Zelensky replied that there are people and there are species. He also said that if people feel Russian, let them go to Russia “for the sake of the future of their children and grandchildren.” This is exactly what Dmitry Yarosh said the first day after the coup in February 2014: “A Russian will never think like a Ukrainian, will not speak Ukrainian and will not glorify Ukrainian heroes. Russians need to leave Crimea.”

The elite that came to power after the coup have already established their national genetic code. Arseny Yatsenyuk “in between” Dmitry Yarosh, Petr Poroshenko and Vladimir Zelensky called the residents of Donbass “subhuman.”

Question: Do you remember Petr Poroshenko saying that Ukrainian children would go to school, while Russian children would sit in basements? He said this to the people he considered to be their own.

Sergey Lavrov: Now they say that they will liberate their lands…

Question: Without any people?

Sergey Lavrov: I don’t know how Kiev is planning to treat these people. They would start an uprising.

Question: What people? They will try to wipe them out in HIMARS strikes. You mentioned conscience, but you can’t judge others by your own standards. If you have a conscience, this doesn’t mean that your “partners” have it as well.

Before you entered the room, we talked with Maria Zakharova about those whom you have described as seemingly serious people. Of course, we poked fun at them, which was bound to happen. Take the recent comment by White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre, who has replaced our beloved Jen Psaki. When asked what President Joe Biden was doing the previous two days, she replied that he was thinking about the American people.

I mean that Western leaders are crumbling. Many of them have symptoms of “limited adequacy” and sometimes even “limited sanity.” They are going to be replaced. Are there grounds to believe that those who will replace them will display fewer symptoms of “limited adequacy”?

Sergey Lavrov: I would put it differently. The current political establishment that has been raised in the West can be said to have “adequate limitations.” They consider themselves to be adequate, but they have limited competence in terms of political experience and knowledge.

Question: Why is that?

Sergey Lavrov: I don’t know, but many people have taken note of this. Henry Kissinger mentioned this recently when speaking about Gerhardt Schroeder and Jacques Chirac. He didn’t put it bluntly, but he clearly hinted at the stark contrast.

There is a tendency towards the average in political processes. You should elect people who are easy to understand and who will focus on simple, banal subjects. They invented the green transition, shouting that everyone will have no air to breathe soon and will die, and that dolphins and fish will disappear, leaving human beings alone in a desert. They have to deal with the effects of the green transition now. President Vladimir Putin explained the details of this mechanism in Western politics and how it has led to a painful flop because of the lack of proper calculations.

I don’t know the reason for their inadequacy. Maybe the absence of strong leaders is convenient for someone?

Question: For whom exactly?

Sergey Lavrov: For the bureaucrats in the European Commission. There are 60,000 of them, which is a lot. They have become a thing-in-itself. It is no coincidence that Poland, Hungary and other countries have asked why they should listen to these people, in particular in the areas where they have no competence. This is really so.

Question: In other words, it is a kind of a “deep state” in Europe, isn’t it?

Sergey Lavrov: Yes, it seems so. But it is not quite a “deep state” but the elite, the European Commission.

Question: Is it a “shallow state” then?

Sergey Lavrov: Yes, and the pendulum is moving away from the side that was associated with rapid integration. The requirements that are being enforced by Brussels, which are not always based on formal arrangements, are becoming annoying and are preventing countries from living in accordance with their own traditions and religious beliefs. Today they are pestering Budapest with their propaganda of non-traditional values, but Hungarians don’t want this, just as we don’t want this and many other nations. The European Commission demands that Budapest must revise its position, or it will not receive the approved funding.  I believe that this is bad for the EU.

Question: But good for us?

Sergey Lavrov: I don’t think so. I believe that we should stay aloof. We cannot be happy that people in Europe will suffer from the cold and lower living standards.

Question: I agree about suffering from the cold. But maybe the Europeans will finally have enough of being forced? Maybe pro-nation politicians will come to power, those who will care about their own people and therefore will not quarrel with Russia? No country can benefit from quarrelling with Russia.

Sergey Lavrov: This is true. It is a proper process of recovery. People are abandoning the illusion that Brussels should decide everything for them, that everything will be the same every day with cheap energy and food, that everything will be fine. This would be in the interests of Europe and European nations, but I don’t know how it will happen.

We will not be happy, but we won’t feel overly concerned either. I believe we should stay aloof. They have created these problems for themselves; they have opted for living in these conditions and for abandoning the natural and beneficial ties, which have been created over decades in energy, logistics and transport links. This is their choice. Love cannot be forced. This process, when they complete it, if at all, because it is incompatible with unilateral profiteering, will cost the subsequent economic development in Europe dearly. They should not ask us to revive agreements. They have been proved unreliable. We cannot rely on such “partners” when planning long-term strategic investment in the development of our country and its foreign ties. We will work with other partners who are predictable. They have always been there for us in the East, in the South and on other continents. Now that the share of the West in our foreign economic ties has been reduced dramatically, the share of our other partners will increase commensurately.

As for trends in Europe, there is also total lack of responsibility when it comes to explaining the reasons for the current crisis to their own people. Chancellor of Germany Olaf Scholz says he has no doubt that there are political rather than technical reasons for Russia’s intention to limit gas deliveries via Nord Stream. He has no doubt! As if the facts, which we have made public on numerous occasions and which President Putin has mentioned, do not prove that Europe has been systematically and consistently reducing the capabilities of Nord Stream 1 and has  suspended Nord Stream 2, and how it retrospectively adopted restrictions on the operation of Nord Stream after all the investments had been made and the financing rules could not be changed. Nevertheless, the European Commission insisted on its decision, and it was adopted. Instead of using the pipeline to its full capacity, we have halved the transit of gas through it.

We are being accused of using hunger as a weapon. Ursula von der Leyen has said this.

Question: Cold and hunger. Do you remember General Frost? Now we have General Grain and General Heating.

Sergey Lavrov: US Secretary of the Treasury Janet Yellen has made a pompous statement that the United States would not allow Russia, China or anyone else to break the international economic order, which has allegedly been approved by the international community. She said that economic integration has been weaponised by Russia. This is going much further than the other rubbish we have been hearing and looks like an agony. They don’t know how else to explain their own failure.

Question: You mentioned the green transition and how they are trying to force the LGBT agenda on some East European countries for which, like for us, it is completely alien. For you, an experienced person who has observed many processes for decades, it must be clearer than for us, the ordinary people. This agenda includes green transition, LGBT, MeToo, BLM, cancelling ballet at Britain’s biggest dance school, the ban on math exams in some schools because the minorities would not be able to learn it, the ban on using the words “breast milk” and “mother”. People are contemplating but cannot understand what the idea is and who benefits from it. Who do you think is behind it?

Sergey Lavrov: We cannot step in their shoes and see why they are doing what they are doing. It is incomprehensible. If a person has some inclinations, why shouldn’t they be left with that? Let them have these inclinations. Why is it necessary to make a movement banner out of it?

Question: Why did the new White House Press Secretary openly declare that she is gay and black?

Sergey Lavrov: I am also interested to see how and where the Western political thought has been evolving. Some progressive philosophers, from the point of view of imperialism and colonialism, believe that the gold billion, or those who lead it and make political decisions, want to reduce the population of the planet because the resources are limited. Too many people, too few resources. As Mikhail Zhvanetsky joked, there should be fewer of us. He said it in Soviet times, when there was not enough food and goods. And now I read this explanation in some Western publications. It is horrifying.

Question: Which is not very logical, because the golden billion is reducing its own ranks this way, while the population in Africa is increasing. In Nigeria, which now wants to be friends with us, there are seven children per woman.

Sergey Lavrov: No, all these ways are constantly promoted there.

Question: It will take some time for them to get there… Look at the Hollywood elite: every second child is transgender or something, or non-binary, and they will have no grandchildren. Yes, it seems that they have started with themselves.

Sergey Lavrov: Maybe it is part of the plan, to reproduce less. I said that I cannot explain this, and shared with you one of the conspiracy theories.

Question: Both before the special military operation and today, people have believed that the West cannot manage without Russia. This is true in many respects, as the fact that they have lifted some of the sanctions clearly shows. What is less clear is whether the new package of sanctions passed this week contains new restrictions or lifts the sanctions adopted earlier. But what if they can manage without Russia after all? What prospects do you see? Can the West do completely without Russian energy carriers in the future, if not during the upcoming winter but in 2023 or 2024? Will it refuse to launch Nord Stream 2 and stop using the resources of Nord Stream 1? Is it possible? What do you think about this?

Sergey Lavrov: The new package of restrictions includes both the sanctions and various exceptions from them because the West has already run out of spheres where it can inflict damage on Russia. Now they have to think about what they have done and how it affects them. As far as I know, the West has now introduced some clarifications, and this will help facilitate Russian food exports. For many months, they told us that Russia was to blame for the food crisis because the sanctions don’t cover food and fertiliser. Therefore, Russia doesn’t need to find ways to avoid the sanctions and so it should trade because nobody stands in its way. It took us a lot of time to explain to them that, although food and fertiliser are not subject to sanctions, the first and second packages of Western restrictions affected freight costs, insurance premiums, permissions for Russian ships carrying these goods to dock at foreign ports and those for foreign ships taking on the same consignments at Russian harbours. They are openly lying to us that this is not true, and that it is up to Russia alone. This is foul play.

Unfortunately, the West has been trying to involve UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres in these games. He became concerned about the food crisis and visited Russia, and he advocated a package deal at a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin. It is necessary to lift the artificial and illegitimate restrictions on Russian grain, and action should be taken to clear mines at Ukrainian ports where Ukrainian grain is stored. Antonio Guterres said that he would persuade Europe and the United States to remove all obstacles hampering Russian grain deliveries, and that Russia would cooperate with them, Türkiye and Ukraine in clearing mines at Black Sea ports, to facilitate grain shipments.  We replied that, in principle, it was possible to demine Black Sea ports without Russia, but that we would be ready to cooperate if they asked us. The UN Secretary-General actively promoted this package.

Last week, our colleagues visited Istanbul in order to coordinate this mechanism. We agreed on the basic principles for exporting Ukrainian grain. However, when members of the Russian delegation reminded those present about the second part of the package deal, the Ukrainian side flatly refused, and the UN delegation simply blushed and kept quiet.

Yesterday, we indicated to the UN Secretary-General that this was his initiative to begin with. In reply, Antonio Guterres proposed first resolving the issue of Ukrainian grain shipments, and said that Russian grain deliveries were next in line. This is foul play. People engaged in big politics should not behave in such a way. This means only one thing: I am convinced that the UN Secretary-General has come under tremendous pressure, first of all, from representatives of the United States and the United Kingdom who have settled in around him in the UN Secretariat in the posts of undersecretary-generals and who are actively using this “privatised” structure in their own interests. This is highly regrettable.

Question: How are they putting pressure on him, exactly? Technically, how do we explain this to people? Do as you’re told, or… what? Go to jail?

Sergey Lavrov: I don’t think they are using any personal methods of blackmail. Just, when the UN General Assembly is voting, they come up to the ambassadors, inform them that an anti-Russia resolution has been put to the vote while reminding them, for example, about their account in Chase Manhattan Bank or their daughter at Stanford. Things like that.

Question: But it’s kind of the same thing.

Sergey Lavrov: It happens. Well, of course, they don’t act with such arrogance here. Members of the UN Secretariat (the majority of them are from Western countries because the number of delegated secretariat seats depends on each state’s contribution) aren’t always neutral, as required by the UN Charter and the Regulations on the Secretariat. That’s life. I can assure you, it has always been like this.

Regarding the second part of your question, I think that Western politicians are now making every effort to avoid showing they have been mistaken. The ruling parties will try to do this by hook or by crook – they have no other way. But the opposition – in Austria, voices are increasingly heard (there’s the Austrian Freedom Party, which Brussels does not favour very much, but it’s a legitimate party). In other countries, the opposition is rising their heads: why are we doing this? Why can’t we just look at things and reach agreement? Many people have questions.

Developing countries don’t view the situation as Russia having crossed some “red line.” They remember what the Americans did in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, and Yugoslavia in 1999. With no notice, no warning that American interests were being infringed on, no calls to do something about it…

Question: No eight years of trying to reach agreement…

Sergey Lavrov: The United States bombed countries located 10,000 kilometres away from its coastline and razed cities to the ground. Europe never even dared to make a sound.

Question: No need to protect large communities of American compatriots living there…

Sergey Lavrov: That’s right. Our situation is totally different. There is a real threat, not something invented in order to spread our imperialist tentacles across the ocean – there’s a threat on our borders. For many years, we have been cautioning the West against turning Ukraine into an anti-Russia, with NATO infiltrating that country, against creating direct military threats to our security. Everyone is perfectly aware of this.

Returning to Europe, I don’t think that it is in European interests to completely cut off all ties with us and switch to LNG, which the Americans are trying to…

Question: …foist on them.

Sergey Lavrov: I wanted to use a less polite term, but foist will do. It will be their choice. Serious scientists write that Germany’s entire economic activity, its prosperity of the past decades was due primarily to Russian energy resources they bought at affordable, reasonable and predictable prices. True, LNG is a more flexible commodity. Gas has to be bought at the “end” of the pipeline, while LNG can be redirected. But this is also a disadvantage. When demand rose in Asia, the Americans sent their LNG there, because it was a better deal. This can lead not only to higher prices, but also to a shortage of supplies at a certain stage. But if they do this, we won’t have any particular problems.

President of Russia Vladimir Putin said that, given what they are doing with Nord Stream 2 (we’re ready to launch it, it is under operating pressure), in the current situation, 50 percent of the volume intended for that pipeline are already reserved for internal consumption: for heating purposes, for the chemical industry and for other industrial projects.

We will redirect supplies without any serious losses. I do not doubt it. We have buyers, we have demand; after all, there are applications within the country too – connecting households and facilities and developing the chemical industry.

Question: And thousands of villages without gas…

Sergey Lavrov: That’s why I mentioned connecting them.

So it will be their choice. I would like to say again: we should not (and, thank God, no one is trying to) invent any solutions implying the possibility, the probability, or even desirability of returning to the situation we had six months ago, where it was possible to restore the old supply chains. I think that they need to be discarded and new ones should be built that will be more reliable. This is what we are doing now, including the North-South corridor from St Petersburg to the Indian Ocean, and from India to Vladivostok. Several projects are already halfway through implementation. If and when, at some stage, Europe suddenly says that they have overreacted and are interested in restoring our economic relations and trade, we shouldn’t push them away. We will see how good the offer is, and only then react.

Question: We say if they duped you once, they’ll do it again. You mentioned the diversification of our areas of cooperation. We have covered the East (China, India) extensively. This time, you are going to Africa, which is south. What are you going to do there? What are your expectations? What should we expect?

Sergey Lavrov: We have long-standing good relations with Africa since the days of the Soviet Union which pioneered and led a movement that culminated in decolonisation. We provided assistance to the national liberation movement and then to the restoration of independent states and the rise of their economies. Hundreds of enterprises were built, which now form the basis of many African economies. At the UN, we led the movement to have decolonisation formalised as an integral part of international law and everyday life.

Then, there was the period when the Soviet Union disappeared and the Russian Federation emerged. We were confronted with major problems, not in Africa, but much closer, in our country.

We have been rebuilding our positions for many years now. The Africans are reciprocating. They are interested in having us. We never engaged in teaching them anything, but helped them overcome their problems so that they could live in their country the way they wanted to.

Question: They think we did teach them something, but in a good sense.

Sergei Lavrov: No. We helped them fulfil their goals. That’s how it was. We never told them not to be friends with America or anyone else. To this day, we are not lecturing them, unlike the Americans who go around Africa telling everyone “do not talk with the Chinese or the Russians. All they care about is their selfish interests, even when they trade with you.”

We visit each other every year. Once a year or every two years, the Foreign Minister visits African countries. We’re trying to cover as many countries as possible in a period of two to three years. This year, it will be Egypt, Ethiopia, Uganda and the Republic of the Congo. We have good traditions and economic foundations in these countries.

Egypt is our number one trade and economic partner in Africa with trade just under $5 billion. The first nuclear power plant is being built. The construction of a Russian industrial area on the banks of the Suez Canal is nearing completion. Our relations with Africa have even brighter prospects now that the African Union decided last year to establish the African Continental Free Trade Area. Specific criteria and tariffs for this area are being agreed upon, which will take some time. This will benefit Russia as Africa’s rising partner in terms of boosting our trade and investment which are quite modest compared to the United States, China and the EU. We must work hard, with our colleagues, to prepare for the second Russia-Africa summit. The first one took place in Sochi in 2019. The second one is planned to be held next year.

Question: Maybe in Odessa?

Sergey Lavrov: No, probably not in Odessa. We will announce the venue later. An economic forum will be held concurrently with the summit with round table discussions on trade, energy, cybersecurity, agriculture, outer space and nuclear energy.

It is important to step up our efforts. Africa has a population of 1.4 billion people, which is comparable to China and India. This is a great portion of the modern world and probably the most promising market. That is why companies and countries with good vision are building long-term strategies with regard to Africa, which is the continent of the future. We have an excellent political foundation underlying our relations and a good mutual understanding based on the fact that thousands of Africans who hold positions in their respective governments have studied in Russia and continue to do so. We need to use this human and political capital to achieve economic advancement.

Question: What kind of relations do we have with our “exes?” (I understand exes are rarely friends, but it still happens occasionally.) Do we have real friends among our exes, including Belarus? What is going on in Kazakhstan with mixed signals coming from there?  Is there a sense that we ourselves are a little to blame for some things, that we let them go and gave them away to Europe, America, and even Türkiye? What do you think?

Sergey Lavrov: There was such a period. The Soviet Union ceased to exist. We signed the Belovezh Accords. Of course, the countries that were not invited to Belovezhskaya Pushcha were hurt. No doubt about it. I understand them. Then, some efforts were made to improve this situation (to make amends, so to speak). A special meeting was held in Alma-Ata in late 1991. But it still left a bad taste in the mouth. Most importantly, it was an event followed by some processes.

Our leadership did little to prevent the cooling of relations with our neighbours, closest allies, and comrades-in-arms during the first years of independence and sovereignty. We have lived together for many hundreds, even thousands of years. I remember that time. I was Deputy Foreign Minister in 1992-1994 before I left for work in New York. My scope of duties included international organisations, but at some point Andrey Kozyrev asked me to take up the CIS matters. I didn’t do it for long, though. The situation did not look too good (clearly, the Foreign Ministry was not the one to decide on building policies in this area, the Presidential Executive Office was). Back then, everyone thought they had no place to go. We lived together all that time and shared the language, the universities and the tastes. So, we thought we’ll just keep on living like that. Of course, over the long decades and centuries, the economy had become intertwined to the point where breaking ties was impossible.

True, the West wasn’t sitting on its hands. And not only the West. If you look at Central Asia now, you’ll see multiple “Central Asia plus partner” formats there, such as Central Asia plus the United States, or “plus the European Union,” or “plus Japan,” “plus China,” “plus Türkiye,” or “plus India.” “Plus Russia” is there as well. Despite the fact that we have the CIS, the EAEU, the SCO, the CSTO, there was no association where all five Central Asian countries and Russia were together. Now there is.

This is how things are, not only in foreign ministries, but in our economic agencies as well. It’s an important process. Water and energy were shared. Our Western “partners” are now trying to infiltrate these particular areas. The EU and the United States are coming up with their own programmes which will tailor the ongoing water and energy use processes that rely on the Soviet legacy to their needs, the needs of external players. Clearly, it makes sense to join efforts in this department which is what we are encouraging our partners to do. They agree, but the West is trying in every possible way to disrupt this natural process and meddle in our dealings with our “exes,” as you put it. Poet Andrey Voznesensky once famously said, “Don’t return to those you once loved.” This is the opening line. However, the poem ends with “Anyway, you have nowhere else to go.”

Question:  A trendy modern poetess Vera Polozkova has the following line, “She is friends with all her exes as if they had never let her down.”

You, and the Foreign Ministry, said that you knew nothing about the special military operation before it began. At least, you knew nothing about it long before it started. Perhaps, this is not true, but that was the impression. May I ask you how you found out about it? What did you feel? I remember well what Tigran Keosayan and I felt at home at night, when we learned about it. I wonder what you felt back then. What do you think about the people who are now called “frightened patriots” who were frightened and left, those who are “ashamed” etc.?

Sergey Lavrov: The time and date of when I found out about it is not my secret.

Question: So, this is not a state secret?

Sergey Lavrov: This is not a state secret, but it is not my secret, either. If I may, I would like to leave it at that.

The sense of inevitability is what I felt when this announcement was made. Not joy. Imminent hostilities, with the citizens of your country going to defend justice and risk their lives, are not a reason for joy. It was a sense of inevitability and even relief. For many years we were unable to answer the question posed by the people of Donbass and many of our citizens as to how much longer we would allow them to mock common sense, the people, the UN Security Council resolution and every other aspect of it that was brazenly sabotaged.

Question: What do you think of those who are ashamed of being Russian?

Sergey Lavrov: We are now having a big discussion about foreign agents, and whether it was the right thing to do to draft a new law, which some people consider an extension to the old one and ask if it was right or wrong.

I watch talk shows, including those that you host, where issues are debated that everyone can relate to: so they left, what do we do about them now? How do we feel about them if they return? Or should they even be allowed to return? I don’t have an opinion. Each person is the master of their own destiny. That’s the way it is. But everyone must have a conscience. And everyone has to deal with their own conscience. This is how I see it. But there is something I cannot accept, and that’s people publishing things – I have a duty to read some resources designated as foreign agents in my line of work, and they describe with such lustful pleasure those insurmountable (from their point of view) problems that the Russian Federation is facing. They…

Question: Gloat.

Sergey Lavrov: Yes. They predict collapse. One of them wrote that Russia was threatened with death in terms of high technologies, because it has neither brains nor institutions. It is your country you are writing this about!

There are others. When Roscosmos, in response to the sanctions, told the Americans that, since they did not want our engines anymore, we would discontinue supplies to both the US and the UK, they imposed sanctions on our corporation, making any further contact impossible. A foreign agent site launched into a story about how our corporation had violated every conceivable obligation, and was now irreparably tainted as a dishonest partner that no one would ever deal with. We say double standards. That’s how they work, plain and simple.

My opinion is that these people should be left alone with themselves and realise what they have done. How to treat them is another matter. Will their former acquaintances stay in touch with them? How will the state go about renewing relations with them? That is another question. What is important is to leave them alone with their own conscience.

Question: Your trust that every person has a conscience has already done you a disservice with Petr Poroshenko and the Minsk agreements. Maybe you should just stop believing this. Not everyone has a conscience, unfortunately.

We all wonder, and every person in the country wants to know when “this” will end. We all want the special military operation to end as soon as possible, so that people stop dying – our soldiers, and the civilians that their former Ukraine is hitting every day. Ukraine still considers them its citizens de jure, but this isn’t stopping it, as we know. When will it end? We do not know. I won’t ask you about it. Obviously you don’t have an answer.

But where do you think it should end? I am not asking about the goals that Vladimir Putin announced at the start – the goals, and hence the potential results of this operation – the demilitarisation and denazification. This much is clear. Where should it end geographically? Where would it be reasonable, right and good for us?

Sergey Lavrov: As regards any projections or timeframe, I have just recalled an amusing fact. Ukrainian Minister of Foreign Affairs Dmitry Kuleba recently said that Vladimir Zelensky had set a deadline for joining the European Union, but he wouldn’t reveal that deadline, because many in the European Union might get scared and try to slow down their accession to the EU.

We don’t have any deadlines. As for the special military operation and geographic goals, President Vladimir Putin said clearly (as you quoted him): denazification and demilitarisation, which means no threats to our security, no military threats from the territory of Ukraine. This goal remains. Geography-wise, the situation was different when the negotiators met in Istanbul. Our readiness to accept the Ukrainian proposal was based on the situation as of the end of March 2022.

Question: That was the DPR and the LPR?

Sergey Lavrov: Yes, more or less. Now the geography is different. It is more than the DPR, the LPR, but also the Kherson and Zaporozhye regions and a number of other areas. This process continues, consistently and persistently. It will continue as long as the West, in its impotent rage, desperate to aggravate the situation as much as possible, continues to flood Ukraine with more and more long-range weapons. Take the HIMARS. Defence Minister Alexey Reznikov boasts that they have already received 300-kilometre ammunition. This means our geographic objectives will move even further from the current line. We cannot allow the part of Ukraine that Vladimir Zelensky, or whoever replaces him, will control to have weapons that pose a direct threat to our territory or to the republics that have declared their independence and want to determine their own future.

Question: How can this be arranged, technically? This is our territory. Then there are the republics that will accede to us. In fact they already have – the Kherson and Zaporozhye regions. You are diplomats, so you cannot say this. I’m a journalist, and I call a spade a spade. Further west, there is the territory controlled by Vladimir Zelensky. They have a common border. So either there should be a 300 kilometre buffer zone or something between them, or we need to march all the way to Lvov inclusive.

Sergey Lavrov: There is a solution to this problem. The military know this.

Question: A secret one? Do you think there is a chance that we will leave half-way? This is something our subscribers and viewers are fearing.

Sergey Lavrov: I see no reason to question what President Vladimir Putin announced on February 24, 2022, and reaffirmed a few days ago – our goals remain the same. And they will be met.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s article «Staged incidents as the Western approach to doing politics»

July 18, 2022

https://mid.ru/en/foreign_policy/news/1822333/

Published in Izvestia newspaper

Today, the Russian Armed Forces, together with the self-defence units of the Donetsk and Lugansk people’s republics, are delivering on the objectives of the special military operation with great resolve to put an end to the outrageous discrimination and genocide of the Russian people and eliminate direct threats to the security of the Russian Federation that the United States and its satellites have been creating on Ukrainian territory for years. While losing on the battlefield, the Ukrainian regime and its Western patrons have descended to staging bloody incidents to demonise our country in the eyes of the international community. We have already seen Bucha, Mariupol, Kramatorsk, and Kremenchug. The Russian Defence Ministry has been regularly issuing warnings, with facts in hand, about upcoming staged incidents and fakes.

There is a distinctive pattern that betrays the provocations staged by the West and its henchmen. In fact, they started long before the Ukrainian events.

Take 1999 – the village of Račak in Serbia’s Autonomous Province of Kosovo and Metohija. A group of OSCE inspectors arrived at the site where several dozen corpses dressed in civilian clothes were discovered. Without any investigation, the mission head declared the incident an act of genocide, even though making a conclusion of this kind was not part of the mandate issued to this international official. NATO immediately launched a military aggression against Yugoslavia, during which it intentionally destroyed a television centre, bridges, passenger trains and other civilian targets. Later, it was proved with conclusive evidence that the dead bodies were not civilians, but militants of the Kosovo Liberation Army, an illegal armed group, dressed in civilian clothes. But by that time the staged incident has already taken its toll, offering a pretext for the first illegal use of force against an OSCE member state since the signing of the Helsinki Final Act in 1975. It is telling that the statement that triggered the bombings came from William Walker, a US citizen who headed the OSCE’s Kosovo Verification Mission. Separating Kosovo from Serbia by force and setting up Camp Bondsteel, the largest US military base in the Balkans, were the main outcomes of the aggression.

In 2003, there was the infamous performance by US Secretary of State Colin Powell in the UN Security Council with a vial containing white powder of some sort, which he said contained anthrax spores, alleging that it was produced in Iraq. Once again, the fake worked: the Anglo-Saxons and those who followed their lead went on to bomb Iraq, which has been struggling to fully recover its statehood ever since. Moreover, it did not take long before the fake was exposed with everyone admitting that Iraq did not have any biological weapons or any other kinds of WMDs. Later, British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who was one of the masterminds of the aggression, recognised that the whole affair was a fraud, saying that they “may have been wrong” or something like that. As for Colin Powell, he later tried to justify himself by claiming that he was misled by the underlying intelligence. Either way, this was yet another provocation that offered a pretext for delivering on the plan to destroy a sovereign nation.

There was also Libya in 2011. The drama had specifics of its own. The situation did not go as far as direct lies, like in Kosovo or Iraq, but NATO grossly distorted the UN Security Council resolution, which provided for a no-fly zone over Libya in order to “ground” Muammar Gaddafi’s air force. It did not fly to begin with. However, NATO started bombing the Libyan army units who were fighting terrorists. Muammar Gaddafi died a savage death, and nothing remains of the Libyan statehood. Efforts to put the country back together have yet to succeed, with a US representative once again in charge of the process, appointed by the UN Secretary General without any consultation with the UN Security Council. As part of this process, our Western colleagues have facilitated several intra-Libyan agreements on holding elections but none of them materialised. Illegal armed groups still reign supreme on Libyan territory, with most of them working closely with the West.

February 2014, Ukraine – the West, represented by the German, French, and Polish foreign ministers, de facto forced President Viktor Yanukovich into signing an agreement with the opposition to end the confrontation and promote a peaceful resolution of the intra-Ukrainian crisis by establishing a transitional national unity government and calling a snap election, to be held within a few months. This too turned out to be a fraud: the next morning, the opposition staged a coup guided as it was by anti-Russia, racist slogans. However, the Western guarantors did not even try to bring the opposition back to its senses. Furthermore, they switched immediately to encouraging the coup perpetrators in their policies against Russia and everything Russian, unleashing the war against their own people and bombing entire cities in the Donbass region just because people there refused to recognise the unconstitutional coup. For that, they labelled the people in Donbass terrorists, and once again the West was there to encourage them.

At this point, it is worth noting that, as it was soon revealed, the killing of protestors on the Maidan was also a staged incident, which the West blamed either on the Ukrainian security forces loyal to Viktor Yanukovich, or on the Russian special services. However, the radical members of the opposition were the ones who were behind this provocation, while working closely with the Western intelligence services. Once again, exposing these facts did not take long, but by that time they already did their job.

Efforts by Russia, Germany, and France paved the way to stopping the war between Kiev, Donetsk and Lugansk in February 2015 with the signing of the Minsk Agreements. Berlin and Paris played a proactive role here as well, proudly calling themselves as the guarantor countries. However, during the seven long years that followed, they did absolutely nothing to force Kiev to launch a direct dialogue with Donbass representatives for agreeing on matters including the special status, amnesty, restoring economic ties, and holding elections, as required by the Minsk Agreements which were approved unanimously by the UN Security Council. The Western leaders remained silent when Kiev took steps which directly violated the Minsk Agreements under both Petr Poroshenko and Vladimir Zelensky. Moreover, the German and the French leaders kept saying that Kiev cannot enter direct dialogue with the Donetsk and Lugansk people’s republics, and blamed everything on Russia, although Russia is not mentioned in the Minsk agreements even once, while remaining basically the only country that kept pushing for the agreements to be implemented.

If anyone doubted that the Minsk Package was anything but yet another fake, Petr Poroshenko dispelled this myth by saying on June 17, 2022: “The Minsk Agreements did not mean anything to us, and we had no intention to carry them out… our goal was to remove the threat we faced… and win time in order to restore economic growth and rebuild the armed forces. We achieved this goal. Mission accomplished for the Minsk Agreements.” The people of Ukraine are still paying the price of this fake. For many years now, the West has been forcing them to accept an anti-Russian neo-Nazi regime. What a waste of energy for Olaf Scholz with his calls to force Russia to agree to an agreement guaranteeing Ukraine’s territorial integrity and sovereignty. There already had been an agreement to this effect, the Minsk Package, and Berlin with Paris were the ones who derailed it by shielding Kiev in its refusal to abide by the document. The fake has been exposed – finita la commedia.

By the way, Vladimir Zelensky has been a worthy successor to Petr Poroshenko. During a campaign rally in early 2019, he was ready to kneel before him for the sake of stopping the war.

In December 2019, Zelensky got a chance to carry out the Minsk Agreements following the Normandy format summit in Paris. In the outcome document adopted at the highest level, the Ukrainian President undertook to resolve matters related to the special status of Donbass. Of course, he did not do anything, while Berlin and Paris once again covered up for him. The document and all the publicity accompanying its adoption turned out to be no more than a fake narrative promoted by Ukraine and the West to win some time for supplying more weapons to the Kiev regime, which follows Petr Poroshenko’s logic to the letter.

There was also Syria, with the 2013 agreement on eliminating Syria’s chemical weapons stockpiles in a stage-by-stage process verified by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), for which it received the Nobel Peace Prize. After that, however, there were outrageous provocations in 2017 and 2018 staging the use of chemical weapons in Khan Shaykhun and Duma, a Damascus suburb. There was a video showing people calling themselves the White Helmets (a would-be humanitarian organisation which never showed up on territories controlled by the Syrian government) helping alleged poisoning victims, although no one had any protective clothing or gear. All attempts to force the OPCW Technical Secretariat to perform its duties in good faith and ensure a transparent investigation into these incidents, as required by the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), failed. This, however, did not come as a surprise. The Western countries have long privatised the Technical Secretariat by having their representatives appointed to the key positions within this structure. They contributed to staging these incidents and used them as a pretext for US, British, and French airstrikes against Syria. Incidentally, they carried out these bombings just a day before a group of OPCW inspectors arrived there to investigate the incidents at Russia’s insistence, while the West did everything to prevent this deployment.

The West and the OPCW Technical Secretariat it controls demonstrated their ability to stage fake incidents with the would-be poisonings of the Skripals and Alexey Navalny. In both cases, Russia sent multiple requests to The Hague, London, Berlin, Paris, and Stockholm, all left without a reply, even though they fully conformed with the CWC provisions and required a response.

Other pending questions have to do with the Pentagon’s covert activities in Ukraine carried out through its Defense Threat Reduction Agency. The traces that the forces engaged in the special military operation have discovered in military-biological laboratories in the liberated territories of Donbass and adjacent areas clearly indicate direct violations of the Convention on the Prohibition of Biological and Toxin Weapons (BTWC). We have presented the documents to Washington and to the UN Security Council. The procedure has been initiated under BTWC to demand explanations. Contrary to the facts, the US administration is trying to justify its actions by saying that all biological research in Ukraine was exclusively peaceful and civilian in nature – with no evidence of any of this.

In fact, the Pentagon’s military-biological activities around the world, especially in the post-Soviet countries, require the closest attention in light of the multiplying evidence of criminal experiments with the most dangerous pathogens in order to create biological weapons conducted under the guise of peaceful research.

I have already mentioned the staged “crimes” of the Donbass militia and participants in the Russian special military operation. There is one simple fact that clearly shows how much these accusations mean: having shown the “Bucha tragedy” to the world in early April 2022 (we have suspicions that the Anglo-Saxons had a hand in setting the stage for the show), the West and Kiev have not yet answered the very basic questions about whether the names of the dead were established and what post-mortem examinations showed. Just as in the above-described Skripals and Navalny cases, the propaganda production has premiered in the Western media, and now it’s time to sweep it all under the rug, brazen it out, because they have nothing to say.

This is the essence of the well-worn Western political algorithm – to concoct a fake story and ratchet up the hype as if it’s a universal catastrophe for a couple of days while blocking people’s access to alternative information or assessments, and when any facts do break through, they are simply ignored – at best mentioned on last pages of the news in small print. It is important to understand that this is not a harmless game in the media war – such productions are used as pretexts for very material actions such as punishing the “guilty” countries with sanctions, unleashing barbaric aggressions against them with hundreds of thousands of civilian casualties, as it happened, in particular, in Iraq and Libya. Or – as in the case of Ukraine – for using the country as expendable material in the Western proxy war against Russia. Moreover, NATO instructors and MLRS aimers are, apparently, already directing the actions of the Ukrainian Armed Forces and nationalist battalions on the ground.

I hope there are responsible politicians in Europe who are aware of the consequences. In this regard, it is noteworthy that no one in NATO or the EU tried to reprimand the German Air Force Commander, a general named Ingo Gerhartz, who got carried away higher than his rank and said NATO must be ready to use nuclear weapons. “Putin, do not try to compete with us,” he added. Europe’s silence suggests that it is complacently oblivious of Germany’s role in its history.

If we look at today’s events through a historical prism, the entire Ukrainian crisis appears as a “grand chess game” that follows a scenario earlier promoted by Zbigniew Brzezinski. All the good relations talk, the West’s proclaimed readiness to take into account the rights and interests of Russians who ended up in independent Ukraine or other post-Soviet countries after the collapse of the USSR turned out to be mere pretence. Even in the early 2000s, Washington and the European Union began to openly pressure Kiev to decide which side Ukraine was on, the West or Russia.

Ever since 2014, the West has been controlling, hands-on, the Russophobic regime it brought to power through a coup d’état. Putting Vladimir Zelensky in front of any international forum of any significance is also part of this travesty. He makes passionate speeches, but when he suddenly offers something reasonable, he gets a slap on the wrist, as it happened after the Istanbul round of Russian-Ukrainian talks. At the end of March, it seemed that light glimmered at the end of the tunnel, but Kiev was forced to back off, using, among other things, a frankly staged episode in Bucha. Washington, London and Brussels demanded that Kiev stopped negotiating with Russia until Ukraine achieved full military advantage (former British Prime Minister Boris Johnson tried especially hard, and many other Western politicians did too, still incumbent, although they have already proved just as inept).

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell’s statement about this war having to be “won on the battlefield” by Ukraine suggests that even diplomacy has lost its value as a tool in the European Union’s staged performance.

In a broader sense, it is curious to see how Europe, lined up by Washington on the anti-Russian front, has been hardest hit by the thoughtless sanctions, emptying its arsenals to supply weapons to Kiev (without even asking for a report on who will control them or where they go), and freeing up its market only to subsequently buy US military products and expensive American LNG instead of available Russian gas. Such trends, coupled with the de facto merger between the EU and NATO, make the continued talk about Europe’s “strategic autonomy” nothing more than a show. Everyone has already understood that the collective West’s foreign policy is a “one-man theatre.” Moreover, it is consistently seeking ever new theaters of military operations.

One element of the geopolitical gambit against Russia is granting the status of an eternal EU candidate country to Ukraine and Moldova, which, it seems, will also face an unenviable fate. Meanwhile, a PR campaign has been initiated by President of France Emmanuel Macron to promote the “European political community,” which offers no financial or economic benefits, but demands full compliance with the EU’s anti-Russia actions. The principle behind it is not either/or but “who is not with us is against us.” Emmanuel Macron explained the gist of the “community”: the EU will invite all European countries – “from Iceland to Ukraine” – to join it, but not Russia. I would like to stress that we are not eager to join, but the statement itself showcases the essence of this obviously confrontational and divisive new undertaking.

Ukraine, Moldova and other countries being courted by the EU today are destined to be extras in the games of the West. The United States, as the main producer, calls the tune and devises the storyline based on which Europe writes the anti-Russia screenplay. The actors are ready and possess the skills acquired during their tenure at the Kvartal 95 Studio: they will provide a voice-over for dramatic texts no worse than the now forgotten Greta Thunberg and play musical instruments, if needed. The actors are good: remember how convincing Vladimir Zelensky was in his role as a democrat in the Servant of the People: fighter against corruption and discrimination against Russians and for all the right things in general. Remember and compare it with his immediate transformation in his role as president. It is perfect Stanislavsky Method acting: banning the Russian language, education, media and culture. “If you feel like Russians, then go to Russia for the sake of your children and grandchildren.” Good advice. He called Donbass residents “species” rather than people. And this is what he said about the Nazi Azov battalion: “They are what they are. There is plenty of such people around here.” Even CNN was ashamed to leave this phrase in the interview.

This prompts a question: what will be the outcome of all these storylines? Staged incidents based on blood and agony are by no means fun but a display of a cynical policy in creating a new reality where all principles of the UN Charter and all norms of international law are attempted to be replaced with their “rules-based order” in an aspiration to perpetuate their dwindling domination in global affairs.

The games undertaken by the West in the OSCE after from end of the Cold War, where it considered itself a winner, had the most devastating consequences for the modern international relations. Having quickly broken their promises to the Soviet and Russian leadership on the non-expansion of NATO to the east, the United States and its allies nevertheless declared their commitment to building a unified space of security and cooperation in the Euro-Atlantic region. They formalised it at the top level with all OSCE members in 1999 and 2010 within the framework of a political obligation to ensure equal and inseparable security where no country will strengthen its security at the expense of others and no organisation will claim a dominating role in Europe. It soon became evident that NATO members do no keep their word and that their goal is the supremacy of the North-Atlantic Alliance. Even then we continued our diplomatic efforts, proposing to formalise the principle of equal and inseparable security in a legally binding agreement. We proposed this a number of times, the last one in December 2021, but received a flat denial in response. They told us directly: there will be no legal guarantees outside NATO. Which means that the support of the political documents approved at the OSCE summits turned out to be a cheap fake. And now NATO, driven by the United States, has gone even further: they want to dominate over the entire Asia-Pacific region in addition to the Euro-Atlantic. NATO members make no effort to conceal the target of their threats, and China’s leadership has already publicly declared its position regarding such neo-colonial ambitions. Beijing has already responded by citing the principle of indivisible security, declaring its support for applying it on a global scale to prevent any country from claiming its exclusivity. This approach fully coincides with Russia’s position. We will make consistent efforts to defend it together with our allies, strategic partners and many other like-minded countries.

The collective West should come back to Earth from the world of illusions. The staged incidents, no matter how long they go on, will not work. It is time for fair play based on the international law rather than cheating. The sooner everyone realises that there are no alternatives to objective historical processes where a multipolar world is formed based on respect for the principle of sovereign equality of states, fundamental for the UN Charter and the entire world order, the better.

If members of the western alliance are unable to live according to this principle, are not ready to build a truly universal architecture of equal security and cooperation, they should leave everyone alone, stop using threats and blackmail to recruit those who want to live on their own wits and acknowledge the right to freedom of choice by independent self-respecting countries. This is what democracy is all about, the real democracy, not one played out on a shabbily built political stage.

Michael Hudson: Podcast with Michael Hudson, Steve Keen, Steve Grumbine

July 17, 2022

Posted with Michael Hudson’s permission

Grambine, Macro and Cheese, July 9 2022. https://realprogressives.org/podcast_episode/episode-180-the-end-of-dollar-diplomacy-with-steve-keen-and-michael-hudson/.

https://realprogressives.org/macro-n-cheese-podcast/
For those who would like to hear the recorded conversation

Michael Hudson [intro/music]

A central tenet of the World Bank from the beginning is to convince countries not to grow their own food, but to create plantation agriculture to prevent family-owned farming of food, to grow plantation export crops and they become dependent on the United States for their grain.

[00:00:22.610] – Steve Keen [intro/music]

If you look at just the shipping involved in international trade, it’s something of the order of 20%, I think, of our carbon production comes out of the entire mechanics of shipping goods around the planet. And we realize we’ve massively overshot the capacity of the biosphere to support our industrial sedentary civilization. So, one way to reduce that is by reducing international trade.

[00:01:35.130] – Geoff Ginter [intro/music]

Now, let’s see if we can avoid the apocalypse altogether. Here’s another episode of Macro N Cheese with your host, Steve Grumbine.

[00:01:43.110] – Steve Grumbine

All right. And this is Steve with Macro N Cheese. Another great episode for everyone today. I have two guests, two very good friends, and very happy to have them join me today. Professor Steve Keen and Michael Hudson. You can’t get two better guys than this. And we’re going to have a very action packed conversation.

We’re going to be talking about central banking, the IMF, World Trade Organization, World Bank. And we’re going to be looking at how the US uses the monetary system to bring about its imperial powers that it exerts on the world. And we’re going to look at some of the things that are happening with Russia and Ukraine right now that ship the US control over the global commerce and the behaviors of non US countries.

They’re starting to think for themselves and make some decisions, and we’re watching the facade crack a little bit. Steve Keen, who is the author of the book Debunking Economics and more recently The New Economics: A Manifesto, is joining me, as well as Michael Hudson, who has just recently written the book The Destiny of Civilization: Finance Capitalism, Industrial Capitalism or Socialism. So, without further ado, Michael and Steven, welcome to the show, sirs.

[00:03:04.530] – Michael Hudson

Good to be here.

[00:03:05.800] – Steve Keen

Thank you indeed.

[00:03:06.960] – Grumbine

So the reason why I brought us together, you guys are both phenomenal on your own, but together, I think that we can maybe tackle this. As an MMT advocate, I find myself friends with an awful lot of people, and you gentlemen have been doing this for a long time, and I know that you have some pushback within the MMT community.

In particular, this concept of “imports are a benefit and exports are a cost.” This is a core MMT staple. And some of the concerns that came out as a result of the Covid crisis showed us the resource based failures of a global supply chain and how some of the aspects of our financial system and the shipping of real resources from areas that had high Covid, how it impacted our abilities to take care of life on life’s terms.

It also became quite clear that the US hegemony over the world using dollar diplomacy is starting to show cracks in the foundation as well, as we watch Russia thumb its nose at US sanctions. So, getting into this, Steve Keen, I know that you have taken some issue with Warren Mosler’s prescription that imports are a benefit and exports are a cost.

Taking Warren’s position on this, I believe Warren is saying exports are real goods and services we’re sending out, whereas imports we’re handing pieces of paper to people. And this is a win for the importing nation. And we’ve seen the power of the US dollar and the ability to basically create colonial outposts, colonized communities living and dying off of US dollars. So there’s a power dynamic as well. What is your pushback with Warren’s import/export model?

[00:05:03.270] – Keen

There are quite a few elements to it. First of all, the idea that exports are a cost and imports are a benefit. One term that I’ve seen one Modern Monetary Theory advocate used to explain is to say, the opportunity cost is all theirs. In other words, they have therefore gone by sending a good to us like an automobile to the buyer in return for currency.

They’re doing without the opportunity of the vehicle. And when you take a good look at the manufacturing side of things, the reality for most firms is they have diminishing marginal cost and excess capacity. So the standard thing when you’re competing in a domestic market is you have spare capacity you’re not using, but you can’t get enough demand domestically.

Now, I know MMT can say that should be handled by the government using additional spending power and creating the spending power to absorb the excess capacity. But they don’t at the moment. So what tends to happen instead is that countries will use export-oriented industrialization to use their additional capacity more effectively, which is what’s led to the industrialization of China and in many ways the de-industrialization of America.

Personally, I don’t think the opportunity cost is the right way to think about international trade at all. It’s a neoclassical way of thinking. It assumes neoclassical conditions about production which are empirically false. I don’t think anything in MMT should be based on bad foundations and I think that is a bad foundation.

Then when you see the discussions about monetary sovereignty and saying that countries who don’t have to issue debt in the currency which is not their own currency, they have monetary sovereignty, those who have to issue debt in a currency which is not their own don’t have monetary sovereignty. One way you end up in not having monetary sovereignty is running large balance of trade deficits and not being the reserve currency of the planet.

So I think the advice that exports are a cost and imports are a benefit doesn’t make sense for countries which have been running a trade deficit, are importing more than they’re exporting, so they’re using their own pieces of paper fundamentally, initially, but if they keep on doing it, they’ve got to start using American pieces of paper, and then they’re in deep trouble. So I just think it’s a nice slogan, but I think it’s a bad idea.

[00:07:20.250] – Grumbine

So it makes sense to me given the nature of the pandemic. You and I spoke, I guess it was almost two years ago, about supply chains and pandemics, and we talked at length about how the iPhone is made in some 37 different countries – and countries that were isolated due to the pandemic. It also impacted production in general. Right now I’m in Information Technology, and I work with Cisco, and Cisco being the backbone of the entire Internet globally.

They have lead times even today of up to a year for some of the equipment, partially because of semiconductor shortages. But this is a piggyback to that in that there is the accounting identities of trading paper for goods and services, but then there is the actual functional output of that. And for countries like the United States, we do have Most Favored Nation status in the sense that we are the primary world reserve currency.

And I think part of that has to do with the fact that the price gas and gas purchases are done through US dollars as well. But overall, I think that we have to be aware that we’re not being a very good partner on the planet in general. A lot of the power plays the United States uses to be able to get those goods and services into the US Is done through warfare and sanctions, as we’ve seen all around the world. We use them to great harm in the global South.

However, we saw Russia here recently thumb their nose at us and say, the only thing we’re really lacking is high tech products, and we got China that can hook us up with that. All you’ve done is accelerated our departure from a dollar denominated world, which I guess brings us to you, Michael. Your book talks extensively about this. Can you help piggyback off of what Steve said regarding the supply chains and the impact of that import/export dynamic with what’s going on right now with Russia, China and Ukraine?

[00:09:34.590] – Hudson

Well, MMT has not spent much time talking about the balance of payments. It’s basically a theory of the domestic economy. The problem of the whole discussion that just took place is that trade is not the most important element of the balance of payments. For the United States, the trade balance has been just about in balance for almost 50 years, 70 years, actually.

What’s in balance is America’s military spending abroad. That’s the deficit that is pumping dollars into the world economy. But now to get back to Steve’s point, realizing that we’re dealing with trade, only a small portion of the balance of payments, Steve’s point is, let’s ignore all the other elements of the balance of payments – the debt service and the capital accounts and others.

If you import more than you export, and you have to actually pay cash for the imports and get cash for the export, then you have to borrow money. And once you borrow money, because most trade is denominated in dollars, this means you have to borrow US dollars. You don’t buy imports with your own currency. Now, MMT is all about how sovereign governments can create their own money and create their own currency, but they can’t print their foreign currency.

That’s the problem with having more imports than exports. And once you begin to borrow dollars, you have to pay interest on it. And all of a sudden, they’re running a deficit, it’s going to reduce your foreign exchange rates. Well, let’s look at what’s going to happen this summer as an example. We know that energy prices, oil prices are going way up.

And President Biden just says they’re going to be with us for a very long time because his major contributors are the oil companies, and he’s promised them that he’s going to enable them to make super profits to help raise the Dow Jones average. And the other element is food. Well, America is going to make a killing on oil exports because the United States controls the world oil trade.

The United States is also a major agricultural exporter, and it’ll make a killing because NATO has imposed sanctions on Russia, preventing Russia from exporting oil and food – it’s the largest grain exporter – into the economy. So you’re going to have South America, Africa, and the global South countries all of a sudden running big deficits.

Well, at the same time, there’s an enormous deficit of debt service that they owe to finance all of the trade deficits that they’ve been running ever since they followed neoliberal ideals to open their markets to depend on foreign food and basically US manufacturers. The Federal Reserve has just begun to raise interest rates. And the result of raising interest rates has been the dollar is going way up against the Latin American currencies, the African currencies, the South African rand, the Brazilian currency.

So you’re going to have the global South being in an absolute currency squeeze this summer. What are they going to do? Well, President Putin has said, well, we’re going to offer an alternative in the form of the BRICS bank. Well, it’s true that a bank can’t create foreign currency. The BRICS bank can enable countries to run a deficit in two ways.

Number one, the bank can be fueled by each member giving, say, a trillion dollars or some kind of proportional currency to the bank. So currency swap agreements, just like the United States has been negotiating for the last 50 years. You can all have a currency swap. Also, the BRICS bank can create its version of Special Drawing Rights – IMF SDRs – or what John Maynard Keynes proposed in 1944: “bancors.”

It can create paper gold of its own and distribute to countries. Well, the problem is, Putin said, we’re willing to sell your grain and oil and to take your currency in exchange, but we don’t want to save your balance of payments simply so that now you can afford to pay the debt service that you owe to US dollar bond holders, bank holders, and the IMF and the World Bank that got you into the mess you’re in to begin with.

So the problem is the stability of insulating your trade from the foreign exchange going up and down requires a split of the world into two different economic zones: US/NATO, the white people’s economic zones, and let’s call it the nonwhite economic zones. And remember, the Ukraine say that Russians are not white and racially different. Basically, the Nazi ideology is that any country that’s not neoliberal is not white.

So you’re going to have the world splitting, and we’re really talking about how to create a monetary system for the world splitting. I want to get back to one other thing Steve said about the opportunity cost. If imports are a great advantage to the United States, is it worth having American corporations move to low wage labor abroad, shifting the production abroad so that America is deindustrialized?

Has that been an advantage? Or let’s look at it from Russia’s point of view. Until this last spring, Russia was importing food, cheese, raw materials. And because of the sanctions, Russia has had to all of a sudden develop import substitution. It’s producing its own cheese. It produced its own agriculture that’s thriving.

And President Putin has said that Russia is going to spend more and more of its oil export receipts on funding import-replacing industry. Well, that sounds like a good idea, because we’re really talking about independence. And the balance of payments ultimately determines a constraint on domestic policy. I think that’s what Steve was talking about for opportunity costs.

You can’t just look at the flows on a balance sheet: “Well, we’re getting something for nothing.” If you import more than you export, you’re running up foreign debt, and you’re becoming more and more dependent on foreign countries who are acting in their own interests, not your own interests. So you have to put this whole discussion in the political context.

[00:16:15.210] – Grumbine

So I would see this as a national security issue in that with these essentials – Fadhel Kaboub talks about the spectrum of sovereignty: energy sovereignty, food sovereignty, technological sovereignty, the ability to live without external supports. And each country has varying levels of that. And so each country would have to be looked at differently just based on what they’re even capable of producing.

I guess my question to you, as we think about countries in the global South that have had the kiss of the IMF on them and the debt peonage that they have been laboring under. In Africa, Sankara’s speech talking about “I can either pay you or I can feed my people.” You can see the role that US interests through the IMF have had to import their goods and services into our country.

They don’t have a choice. They are basically colonial states that have the US thumbprint on them. So the United States has exerted this imperial power in this geopolitical nightmare. We are watching them break away from that today.

[00:17:34.050] – Hudson

But you’re leaving one of the real villains in the piece, and that’s the World Bank.

[00:17:38.290] – Grumbine

Oh, yes.

[00:17:39.020] – Hudson

A central element of the World Bank from the beginning is to convince countries not to grow their own food, but to create plantation agriculture, to prevent family-owned farming of food, to grow plantation export crops, and to become dependent on the United States for their grain. Well, if imports are a benefit and imports mean that the United States can put a sanction on you and starve your people like the United States tried to do in China in the 1950s, do you really want to become import dependent on food?

Let’s compare the World Bank to the Chinese Belt and Road and the BRICS bank that’s proposed. The World Bank would only make foreign exchange loans. That meant it would only make loans to countries who would invest in infrastructure that would help its exports. Well, imagine how this works for agriculture.

If you were going to develop your agriculture in the global South countries, you’d do pretty much what the United States did in the 1930s that had the most rapid increase in productivity of any industry in the last few centuries. And that was because the government took the lead in agricultural extension services, seed testing, educating farmers as to seed variety, setting up local farm management organizations.

Before the time that Cargill and Archer Daniels Midland became the great intermediaries in promotion of domestic self-sufficiency for farms, the World Bank wouldn’t make any loans at all for this, even though the World Bank local commissions and reports all said that this is what they need. The World Bank was almost always headed by someone very close to the US Military, starting with John J. McCloy at the beginning and going through McNamara and all of the subsequent Pentagon people who were put in charge of the World Bank.

And above all, they wanted to continue to base America’s export boom in agriculture and to make other countries food dependent. And that is one of the things that has led them into debt. So if you have a country like Chile that has the richest land in the world because it has the richest supply of guano deposits in the world. It also has the most unequal land distribution in Latin America – latifundia and microfundia – not any kind of balanced food production.

So that all of Chile’s exports and copper, by specializing, have been overwhelmed by the costs of importing food that it could have grown all by itself. So the idea of free trade is shaped by what will the international organizations controlled by the US give credit for, ends up to create underdevelopment and dependency instead of development. And that developmental aspect is a different story from MMT money creation. And we’re talking about something else that is part of a much bigger system.

[00:20:43.410] – Grumbine

Steve, based on what Michael just said, I know that you are concerned with the environment and bringing production back home. And around the world, people that are not hip to the US empire are trying to convince countries to look at building bonds between each other to create trade zones that mitigate some of the US power over dominating their countries.

We’ve got a very tiny window to solve climate crisis as well. So all these things are converging at one time trying to deleverage US interests from the world interests and watching as the nonwhite countries are banding together and the white countries are banding together. And it seems like the opportunity to save ourselves from extinction is passing before our very eyes.

In the vein of what he just said, how do we marry some of the ideas that we have, the climate crisis with the geopolitical crisis that we’re battling here?

[00:21:49.110] – Keen

Well, the large part of it is that the focus of neoclassical economics has always been on specialization and doing it with so-called comparative advantage. And what that gives you is an incredibly fragile system, as we’ve seen with Covid, because if you actually distribute production across the planet and you have a long supply chain, then of course that can collapse in an instant with something like Covid coming along.

And equally, if you have a famine, if the major food baskets get wiped out by a famine or a war. We’ve got the war already. The famine may well come by a drought and a crop failure as well. Then suddenly you can’t feed your people and you have no domestic alternative. So I think we have to get away from the focus on efficiency and even in that sense, the gain of swapping paper for goods, which is part of the MMT slogan.

Start thinking: no, we need to be resilient and capable of handling a range of different disturbances which could come our way. And on that basis you need to have your production local.

[00:22:47.310] – Grumbine

So within that space mitigating some of the travel carbon footprint expenses that clearly solves one problem. But where you had smokestacks to create basic amounts of goods and services in one country, now you’re building smokestacks across the globe and I don’t see any meaningful effort to green technology to make those things happen.

I am curious what decentralizing production does in terms of the carbon footprint and how developing local supply chains will in turn impact our ability to stave off climate crisis.

[00:23:30.090] – Keen

Yeah, if you look at just the shipping involved in international trade. It’s something at the order of 20%, I think, of our carbon production comes out of the entire mechanics of shipping goods around the planet, and we realize we’ve massively overshot the capacity to support our industrial sedentary civilization. So one way you can reduce that is by reducing international trade.

I think that’s what’s going to start happening, partly because you have the example of Cisco. You suddenly wait a year to get a piece you used to wait two weeks for because of the breakdown of the supply chain. The same thing will become even, I think, even more extreme when climate change forces us to drastically reduce our production levels.

If you don’t have the domestic production capability, you’re going to lose the possibility of those goods. And in some cases, we have to drastically reduce our consumption of a range of goods. Automobiles is an obvious instance of that. But in others, we want to continue – and food production is one of those. Clearly, you want to produce your food locally.

So, again, I think we’ve been very blase about the physical side of production, and that’s what I would like MMT to start looking at. And in that context, I think it might change the attitude about imports and exports.

[00:24:57.730] – Intermission

You are listening to Macro N Cheese, a podcast brought to you by Real Progressives, a nonprofit organization dedicated to teaching the masses about MMT, or Modern Monetary Theory. Please help our efforts and become a monthly donor at PayPal or Patreon, like and follow our pages on Facebook and YouTube, and follow us on Periscope, Twitter, Twitch, Rokfin, and Instagram.

[00:25:49.010] – Grumbine

Michael, in the Russia example, where in one fell swoop they get cut off from the SWIFT system and the US is beating their chest, “We’ve got Putin on the run.” It doesn’t look like Putin is on the run at all right now.

[00:26:02.900] – Hudson

I’m glad you’re bringing up the NATO war against countries resisting neoliberalism, because you use the word “green.” And the European Greens basically are advocating two fuels of the future: coal and cutting down the forests. Germany, by blocking Russia’s gas, they are essentially replacing Russian gas and oil with Polish and Ukrainian coal – and digging down the forest.

I’ve walked very often through German villages, and most houses have whole stacks of cut-down lumber that they essentially burn in their fireplaces for heat. You’re having an enormous deforestation and replacement of gas with coal. And the Green Parties are the advocates for the major polluters in the world, and they’re the advocates for global warming.

And that’s because they’re part of the Cold War attack on Russia. And they say it’s worth having global warming as long as we can fight against countries that resist neoliberalism and resist the American European takeover. So you want to realize the politics – that the Greens of Europe are not friends of the environment.

Now, to get back to your question about the isolating of Russia. Isolating Russia hasn’t isolated it at all. It’s driven Russia together with China, in the first instance, and then China and Russia together have joined with India, Iran, Syria, they’re now joining with Brazil and Argentina all to create an alternative economic order and social order and political order.

And the political order is basically based on the main distinction between the non-neoliberals and the neoliberals, and that is: who will control the money supply. And China is the prime example. Instead of private banking creating the credit to create loans basically for financial reasons, China will create credit to spend into the economy the way that MMTers hope to see credit created.

Namely, spend to hire labor, to make new means of production, hopefully in an environmental way, as opposed to the commercial banks that look at “how do we make money in the short term?” Well, you make money in the short term by cutting down the forest of the Amazon. You don’t look at global warming.

And already you’ve had the heads of American oil companies and investment firms say “what do we care about global warming ten years in the future? We care about the next three months’ earning statement, and the next year. Ten years from now, the sea levels go up. We can deal with it then.” So you’re dealing with two different economic philosophies and as the world divides into these two different economies, this is an important element.

And as Steve just pointed out, neoliberal economics doesn’t take into account the environment because that’s long term. Economists call that exogenous, meaning it’s outside our tunnel vision. And the question is whether you’re going to look at the world economy as the overall system interconnected, which is what Steve and I do, or whether you’re going to say we’re going to just cut the financial sector apart and only look at the corporate and financial sector of how to make money quickly.

That’s really the difference. So obviously Russia was not really troubled very much by being cut off – or even by being isolated. What America is doing is driving Russia together with all of the countries that have refused to condemn it. And America basically is creating an iron curtain, locking these countries – isolating them from Europe and the United States – going their own way, which I don’t think Russia and China are unhappy to see occurring.

[00:29:54.480] – Grumbine

I completely agree with that. The idea that the US thinks they are going to knock these giants down and they’ve just said we’re going to invest in our own country. Instead of being a cooperative society, we see this as a combative society. We decided we have to fight them and create cold wars to isolate them so we can catch up.

But you nailed it with the concept of the private short-term thinking that private collateral, banking, loans, filling short-term needs because we can’t see out as far as those folks because they aren’t living and dying the same capitalist way that we do things here in the United States. They have invested in the public purpose.

China has got the ability to do just about everything. Do you think it’s going to take us getting our proverbial asses handed to us by the rest of the world to wake up? Do you think we’ll ever wake up? Or this is just the way it will always be, at least until tsunamis take us out?

[00:30:56.870] – Hudson

Who is the we? Who’s going to wake up? When you say we, it’s as if you mean American citizens in the population. But we are not the government who makes the policy. We are not the Davos Group and the campaign contributors. Their “we” are the oil industry, the big agricultural monopolies, the other monopolies, and Wall Street. That’s the finance, insurance and real estate sector [FIRE].

And they are going to just continue doing what they want. And you’ve seen from the recent Supreme Court rulings in the United States that the government is not permitted to enforce any climate preservation rules. That has been ruled unconstitutional unless Congress can pass environmental law. And in order for Congress to pass a law, as opposed to just an executive branch joining the environment, you have to have 60 out of 100 votes.

American dual politics doesn’t permit either party to get 60 votes unless there’s a landslide. And the only party that has a prospect of getting 60% would be the Republicans. So basically, even if the people wake up, the government people and their campaign contributors are just going to continue to make money to live in the short term. That’s what differentiates neoliberalism and socialism.

[00:32:17.630] – Grumbine

Very well stated. To me, I think of this as war. Murder. I don’t think of this as some polite gentleman’s disagreement. I see this as wanton death and destruction, all in the name of profit. How do we stop this? Can we stop this? Congress is bought and paid for. Our government, our Supreme Court doesn’t represent the people, and the President has proven to be a feckless neoliberal as well.

I see nothing to feel any sense of hope, and I’m not sure that hope is a requirement. It seems like the only alternative we have is in the street, is to become ungovernable, is to get rid of a government that is no longer representative of the people.

[00:33:04.010] – Hudson

[laughs]  Well, Steve’s gone to Thailand and I’m dealing mainly with China. That’s how we’ve coped. [laughter] Neither of us are going to be President of America.

[00:33:15.690] – Keen

No. The American political system is almost designed to stop anything being done. I was involved in the Australian election recently, as you probably remember. And though my party did extremely badly and money still was obviously vitally necessary to get a political profile, even in countries with good electoral systems, Australia does have a good electoral system, and America has got the best electoral system money can buy, and that’s a disaster.

It’s hard to get away from money enabling parties to have political position to be seen in the media. And that’s actually a great reason for MMT: create money for publicly financed election campaigns rather than having it out of private pockets. But given that, you have an electoral system where you don’t actually vote for anybody, the electoral college piece of nonsense, which itself is crazy.

Every state has got a different system, which is crazy. You don’t have the central bureaucracy handling the voting system, which is crazy. And you have gerrymandering because the boundaries are decided by local political groups, which is crazy. So the extent to which America needs to reform its political structure to approximate a democracy is ridiculous. And that’s partly why money interests can so easily dominate what happens in the American political sphere. And right-wing religious ideology as well.

[00:34:43.950] – Grumbine

Absolutely. The Calvinistic bullshit in this country is over the top. But there’s a tone policing aspect to this. I think there are people out there who don’t understand that this election system that we have in the United States isn’t getting us what we want or need. They think they just need to phone bank harder, vote harder.

Fact is, in my 53 years, I have not seen any meaningful legislation passed. I do not consider the ACA meaningful legislation. I’ve seen a lot of bad legislation pass that hurts us. And this is not really intended to be an America-centric show, except that America seems to be the big bully. It’s creating a lot of the problems. It’s got its own citizens in hell and it’s trying to create hell on earth for the rest of the world.

I spend a lot of time trying to get this information out the door. It’s very important information, but it’s only important in the sense that it’s good to know. I don’t see any of it amounting to a movement, a passing of legislation. We can tell people that if we don’t consider the economy in the world as a superorganism and degrowth, we don’t have anybody thinking this way.

[00:36:00.090] – Keen

There is actually – I don’t know the name of it, but I do know that there’s a political group in America which is campaigning to have Australia’s electoral system adopted by America. Have it include an electoral commission that determines borders between one electorate and another, a single centralized system that counts the votes rather than the crazy range of stuff you have at the state level.

And controls on the size of electorates so they can be no more than 20% larger or smaller than a target – and they should be 10%. And then preferential voting so you don’t just vote for one candidate, like if you vote for the Greens in America, you guarantee the Republicans win the election because the Green votes are taken away from the Democrat.

So have preferential voting, which means you can actually put the party you prefer first and know that the party that’s your fallback will actually get the vote if your first party doesn’t get up. So all these sorts of reforms. I know that there are people who are campaigning about it because the frustration that you’re expressing is very widely felt in America. But of course, try getting that through a Republican-dominated Congress. It ain’t going to be easy.

[00:37:01.170] – Grumbine

No. It does leave you wondering if this is not just political theater. I talked to Warren the other day and Warren asked the question to me. He said, “you ask, are they doing a good job? And I answer back, well, for whom?” Somebody’s doing okay right now. It just isn’t the regular people in society. Somebody’s doing great, though. And I don’t see a path. As much as I want to, I see no path forward.

I don’t want to feel this way, but I don’t see a path forward. Michael, with your international perspective, I guess my question to you, given the fact that you’re focusing on China and you see the US through the lens that we’ve just discussed, do you see an ending to this that is positive for the world, that gets us to a successful conclusion, meaning we survive? Do you see any hope whatsoever in changing that narrative? And if not, what’s next?

[00:38:01.530] – Hudson

There’s no path forward in the way that we’ve been talking about because the suggestions that Steve makes cannot be legislated by Congress. They are limited by the Constitution. And in order to do what Steve recommends – very good ideas – you would need a new Constitutional Convention. The right-wing, the polluters, the monopolists, the bankers, have been preparing for a Constitutional Convention for about 30 years, and it wouldn’t be very nice.

[00:38:32.370] – Grumbine

Yep.

[00:38:32.370] – Hudson

Our Constitution in America was written for the slave owners to permit any states to block any federal power because they worried that the federal power might try to free the slaves. Well, now that element of the Constitution, of state’s rights, is enabling the oil industry, the polluting industry, the banks, the credit card companies to essentially prevent any solution along any lines except those of the ultra right-wing.

But the problem goes beyond America and beyond Europe. Western civilization took a wrong track about 3000 years ago. The Near East and almost all of Asia had a tradition of canceling the debts when they threatened the economy. In Japan, you had revolutions, you had the Near East rulers canceling the debts. That’s what my books are about.

And you had essentially the jubilee years throughout the Near East. And this promotion of economic growth and in effect, prosperity, was always run by a central ruler. There had to be a ruler, the job of divine kingship or undivine kingship, throughout the Near East, Asia, all the way to China. And India. All of these cultures sought to prevent a commercial class and a financial class from emerging and taking over.

And the merchant class was realized as playing an important role, but it was not allowed to dominate society. But around the 8th century BC, when Syrian traders began to move into the Aegean and Mediterranean to Greece and Italy. There weren’t any kings. The west didn’t have kings. They had local chieftains who were a Mafia-type society.

And the result is that ever since Greece and Rome, you had a completely different set of laws and legal philosophy than what you had in the Near East and Asia. You had pro-creditor laws making what is called the security of contracts and the irreversibility of land being forfeited to creditors. And the result is you had creditors oligarchy evolving.

So when President Biden said the current war of NATO against Russia and China is a war of democracy against autocracy, what it means by democracy are Western civilization’s oligarchies. There haven’t been any democracies, really – maybe very briefly in Athens – but the Western cultures are all oligarchies. What he calls an autocracy is a government strong enough to prevent a financial oligarchy from developing and taking over the land and taking over politics and making its own laws for itself.

And it’s a civilizational difference. And both Steve and I have spent a lot of our time talking about how the Western economies cannot evolve further without a debt write-down, without writing down the debts that are of the 99%, they’re owed to the 1%, the oligarchy that’s controlling all of Western politics. Asia has a way to go a different way.

China doesn’t have a financial oligarchy because it treats money and credit as a public utility through the Bank of China. And so the Bank of China, as we said, makes loans to actually develop the economy. And that’s what Russia says it’s going to begin doing, not to create a financial class to make money at the expense of the 99%. So we’re dealing with a civilizational problem.

And the question is, which form of civilization? Can you rescue Western civilization from the wrong track? Well, only by creating an alternative on the right track and leaving Western civilization and say, well, you’re missing out on the development. Do you want to continue in poverty or are you going to have a revolution?

[00:42:31.650] – Grumbine

You’ve seen yellow and blue profile pictures for everybody totally sympathetic to Ukraine. And our government saying “we are not going to abandon them no matter what.” Biden has signaled that we have unlimited money to give to Ukraine, and he can’t possibly write down $2 trillion in student debt. This weird split dichotomy of truth and lies passes right by the average person.

With what you just stated, which side is going to win? Sadly, the bad guys seem to always win. I rarely see the good guys win. Who is “the good guys”? In full disclosure, I’m a socialist. We don’t even have a left party in the United States. There’s no appetite for that kind of thing in the United States. And those of us that want it are the minority. How do you envision this playing out?

[00:43:26.670] – Hudson

I thought I just said it: a different civilization going its own way.

[00:43:31.740] – Grumbine

Well, what you said was the question of good and evil, basically, which one is going to win? I’m asking you, how do you see it playing out? Because the US can’t continue doing what it’s doing and grow. You need the debt jubilee. We’ve chosen not to. Asia has those systems built and they have choices. So the question I’m proposing, given that, do you see any chance of the US coming to grips with itself? Or do you see this being a one-way trip to destitution?

[00:44:03.570] – Hudson

The latter.

[00:44:05.010] – Grumbine

Fair enough.

[00:44:05.830] – Hudson

That’s all I can say. There is no sign at all of a change. The fact that Steve and I can be on your show – we are not published in the major magazines anymore. We’re not on the major network shows. What you call the bad guys always call themselves the good guys. What you call evil calls itself good. So the question is, what kind of good guys you’re going to have?

The good guys that want to blow up the world and impoverish society, which is what neoliberalism says are the good guys or the good guys for the 99%, which America says are autocracies that we have to fight?

[00:44:41.830] – Grumbine

Yeah.

[00:44:42.670] – Keen

I think I might put a bit of a perspective. People often say, “what’s your alternative?” And what they really mean is “what’s your alternative that I’m going to like?” And I think there is an alternative, but as people feel, “I don’t like it” then other people won’t like it as well. And that is that given the scale of the environmental crisis we’re facing and the fact that it’s coming far sooner than we’re being led to believe, because courtesy of believing their classical economists on it.

When it hits, the countries that are most likely to survive will hold together are those that the West calls authoritarian. And the defining feature of those cultures when you’ve actually been inside them, is that, yes, there is a very strong state and yes, it tends to get its own way and people do what they’re told to some extent, but it’s because at the same time they know they’ve benefited from that state.

So back in China, when you talk to people in China, they will be critical of the Communist Party and say at the same time, the industrialization since then has been incredible and their lives have improved radically over that period of time. I know people who were literally in Mao suits in 1969 who are having a very comfortable retirement when they faced far worst terms back under the old strictly communist regime.

But what you have with a country like that is if China decides it has to radically ramp up renewable energy resources, also install nuclear if necessary, it’s going to do it and not face the opposition the German Greens give to new nuclear power stations, for example. So the capacity to have a top down society is more likely to be then you’re going to survive the crisis that comes forward from climate change.

I can’t see countries that call themselves democracies succeeding in that situation because they will not be able to agree on the level of cutback that’s necessary and who it gets imposed upon. We’re a more centralized society. We’re more successful at doing that and more likely to hold together during the downturn the climate will cause.

[00:46:40.110] – Hudson

You need a strong enough government to check the power of an oligarchy and to prevent a creditor landowner oligarchy from developing. And libertarians, while pretending to be for liberty, they’re for a centrally planned economy, but a centrally planned economy by the oligarchy, by the financial sector, and by the real estate owners. So every economy is planned. And the question is, who’s going to do the planning?

[00:47:05.190] – Grumbine

Yes. And with that in mind, I want to read to you some stuff that came out of this NATO 2022 Strategic Concept – just so that people understand exactly how bad it is. Document defines Russia as the most significant and direct threat to the allies’ security while addressing China for the first time and the challenges that Beijing poses towards allies’ security interests and values.

Documents also state that climate change is a defining challenge of our time. Strategic Concept is updated roughly every decade as NATO’s second most important document. It reaffirms the values of the alliance, provides a collective assessment of security challenges, and guides the alliance’s political and military activities. Previous version was adopted at the NATO Lisbon Summit in 2010.

Point I’m making is they’re bringing more countries in and now setting up China and Russia as the bad guys. This has been going on for a long time, I guess Reaganism with the Cold War. And you brought it up, I think it’s worth mentioning, towards the end of the Chinese Revolution and the US efforts back then to do these same things to China then.

All these institutions, World Bank, IMF, the Peace Corps, all these different NGOs, these were brought out as a direct counter to Russia’s communism and a fear that communism would spread to the global South to prevent them from getting in bed with the Russians. But our country, the United States in this case, has been instrumental in setting up these shadow organizations to prevent any kind of socialism or people-led initiatives around the world.

And it seems like this is going to become the next war. If it’s not going to be just another Cold War, it’s definitely going to be some war because they are lining up the Axis and allies already. I guess. Take us out on this note.

[00:49:13.290] – Keen

I think I take it over a different angle and say that the global politics we’ve had over the last 80-100 years, actually, since the dominance of America, which we pretty much say from the end of the Second World War, has been completely oblivious to the impact we’re having on the planet. The biosphere itself. And the biggest political player on the planet is the biosphere.

And that’s going to start determining what the wars are in future. And I don’t think any country in the world is prepared for that battle. China has maybe probably the most effective capacity to respond to the challenges that are coming this way, but there’s no way America or Russia or anywhere in Europe are aware of the threats they face.

This is a warfare against an implacable foe which we’ve created by destroying the sustainability of the biosphere, by expanding human industry to three to four times the scale that the planet could actually support. That’s the real war that is coming our way.

[00:50:08.600] – Hudson

And Steve, you mentioned how global shipping and trade adds to the global warming. Obviously, the military spending is a huge, huge factor. So the Americans and the Green Parties of Europe are on the wrong side of history. They are doing just the opposite of preserving de-development. They are the advocates of more and more global warming. So literally, you have a group, a bloc, wanting to destroy the environment and a bloc trying to protect itself from the Western destruction.

[00:50:40.830] – Grumbine

Yeah, very scary. And then we’ve got a lot of folks that think that they’re going to appeal to their greater sense of reason to get them to suddenly stop all this, vote their way to a Green New Deal, and it’s all just going to go away. Gentlemen, thank you so much for this time. I really appreciate it. It’s rare to have two such phenomenal guests at once, so I really do appreciate this immensely. Michael, tell us where we can find more about your work.

[00:51:07.230] – Hudson

Well, on my website, michael-hudson.com, and on my Patreon account. Steve also has a Patreon account. He got me onto Patreon. And the books that I describe what we’re talking about are available on Amazon. The Destiny of Civilization and Super Imperialism.

[00:51:27.450] – Grumbine

Very good. Steve, I know we got you on Patreon, but tell us a little bit about your books and where we can find more of your work.

[00:51:33.710] – Keen

Okay, well, again, my main recent book is The New Economics: A Manifesto, and that’s published by Polity press. So you can get it through Polity or you can get it through Amazon. There’s more than one way to get a hold of it. And the main thing I’m doing is developing the software package to enable us to think about the economy the way we should think about it, which is dynamically, non equilibrium, monetary and so on.

And that’s Minsky, which people can find at SourceForge, the open source software package site, SourceForge. Search for SourceForge and Minsky together and you’ll find it. But those are my main two things. I’ve also opened up a substack account recently – profstevekeen.substack.com – mainly because Patreon loses a lot of customers by stuffing up their credit cards. So Patreon, Substack and Minsky.

[00:52:18.030] – Grumbine

Very good. All right. And with that, my name is Steve Grumbine. My special guests, Steve Keen and Michael Hudson. This is the podcast Macro N Cheese. We’re out of here.

سجّلوا هذه المعادلة.. بتوقيت تموز

 يوليو 15, 2022

موقع قناة المنار-

جعفر خضور:

بتوقيتِ تموز الانتصار، وبزمنية استحضار الذكرى الحاضرة دوماً في العقولِ والقلوب، أطلّ صادق الوعد ومهندس الانتصارات المخطوطة بالدّم الطّاهر، والمكتوبة ببارودِ بنادقٍ ضغط على زنادها رجالٌ آمنوا بربهم، وعدوا وصدقوا، قاتلوا فغلبوا، السيد حسن نصر الله، معلناً معادلات جديدة منطلقةً من الإيمان بالقدرات المرتكزة لسردية التّاريخ المؤطّرِ بالنصر الكبير، ليطمئن قلوب المقاومين ويحيي في قلوبهم نشوة الفرحِ بذكرى حرب تموز التي دقّت المسمار في نعش مشروع الشرق الأوسط الجديد، وحملت مع لحظاتها الأولى عند الساعة 9:05 صباحاً من يوم 12 تموز، صدق الوعدِ وقوة العقيدة، فحسمت القرار وأحسنت الاختيار وغيّرت المسار قبل أن تبرُد فوهات بنادق مقاوميها، وليؤرق العدو المتبجّح بأمانيه الوهميّة مذكّراً إياه بالتاريخ الذي لم يتقدم فيه من بعده متراً واحداً.

عند الحديث عن المستقبل لا بد من تقييم الحاضر، الذي يحمل مقومات النجاح أو الفشل، الاستمرارية أو الانحسار، النمو أو الاضمحلال، لتكون مؤشرات التقييم مساعدةً في رسم الصورة المستقبلية المحتملة.

فإذا عدنا إلى جزئيات تاريخ المقاومة الإسلامية التي ربت ونشأت وترعرعت بين أهلها وفي أحضانِ أصحاب البصيرة، نجد كل عوامل القوة المتنامية والمطردة مع تفاقم حدّة الأزمات المتعاقبة التي ألمّت بلبنان أولاً، وبالمنطقة ككل ثانياً، والتي أثبتت فعلاً القدرة والاقتدار في صنع الانتصار.

يكتسبُ خطاب السيد نصر الله أهميته الكبرى من الحركة السياسية الحامية التي تشهدها الساحتين الإقليمية والدولية، ولا سيما في ظلّ زيارة الرئيس الأميركي جوزيف بايدن من جهة وفي الوقت الذي يسعى فيه إلى شدّ رباط العلاقة بين الكيان الصهيوني والدول المطبّعة على خلفية الحدث المستحدث بين روسيا وأوكرانيا من جهةٍ أخرى، في خضم التحضير لمواجهة أزمة الطّاقة العالمية الناتجة عن الإجراءات الروسية، فهو يسعى من خلال زيارته المبتدأة من البوابة الصهيونية التي وصّفت الزيارة بأنها مخيّبة للآمال، وبالأخص بعد تعيينه ساعة واحدة للاطلاع على المؤسسة العسكرية الصهيونية، يسعى إلى تطمئنة “إسرائيل” بالوقوف إلى جانبها من قبل أميركا، وجعلها مفتاح أنبوب الغاز إلى أوروبا، بعد أن يكون قد أقنع شركاؤها في المنطقة (دول الخليج) بزيادة انتاج النفط تحسّباً لما هو قادم وبطبيعة الحال ما يندرج ضمن حياكة الواقع الجديد المشكّل للعب دور مناوِر ربما.

في الصدد نفسه، وعلى الرغم من تهافت أخبار كثيرة شدّت الانتباه نحو أن الزيارة ستكون لإعلان “ناتو عربي – إسرائيلي”. ألا أنَّ الأمر لا يمكن حسمه الآن، أو بالحد الأدنى لا يمكن قرائته بمعزل عن التطورات الدّولية الحامية، التي برهنت حتى لمن يصبّ في كأس مشربهِ نقاط الأمل بالأميركي والصهيوني، عن تحريكهما للنزاع وليس الانغطاس الكامل فيه، وحتى على مستوى الاستثمار الممنهج والذي انقلبت نتائجه بشكلٍ عكسيّ ما دفع للتعاطي مع النتائج المخالفة بطريقة أخرى وبتكتيك جديد، على الضفة الأخرى.

إذ ما تكوّن فعلاً “ناتو” فأين سيكون دوره وموقعه؟
وهل سيكون حقاً قادر على التأثير وتحقيق حلم “إسرائيل” في الضغط على إيران؟

ولا يفوتنا التنويه إلى الاستشراف الرّوسي والإيراني لمراحل المحطات القادمة عبر توثيق التعاون الثنائي بينهما، فالغرب اليوم وبالرغم من حراكه الململم للجراح وقبل التفرّغ لانشغالات الجبهة الداخلية، يقع ضحية تناقض الرؤى واختلاف النظرات فيمن يتعاطى معه.

جاءت رسائل السيد حسن نصر الله باتجاهين لهما أبعادهما الاستراتيجية والكبيرة، الأولى إلى رمي الحجر في بركة المفاوض اللبناني الراكدة وحثّه على التحرّك الجدّي في ملف ترسيم الحدود البحرية، وعدم الخضوع والركون لمغبّات طلبات الطرف الأميركي، وهي رسالة وطنية بامتياز تعطي الفُرَص.

قبل اتخاذ قرار معادلة “كاريش وما بعدَ كاريش وما بعدَ بعدَ كاريش”، التي تحمل في مضامينها حربٌ بمعطياتٍ جديدة تدخل فيها شرايين الطاقة المغذّية لداخل الكيان الصهيوني في مرمى صواريخِ المقاومة التي تملك كل معلومات الميناء وإحداثياته وإمكاناته.

وبحسب الخرائط التي توضح توزّع الحقول في المياه الفلسطينية المحتلّة، فإن “ما بعد كاريش” يعني أن حقول “أثينا”، “تانين”، “دولفين” “ليفياثان” “داليت” و”أفروديت” باتت في مرمى نيران المقاومة وهي الحقول التي يرتكز عليها الاحتلال في استخراجه للغاز والنفط وتؤمن له حاجته الداخلية وتوفر له العائدات المالية. أمّا توسيع دائرة الاستهداف إلى “ما بعد ما بعد كاريش” يهدّد الحقول الواقعة قبالة شواطئ عسقلان المحتلّة وغزّة، وأهمها “كيرين”، “نوا” و”ماري بي” التي، إن حددت مدينة صور الجنوبية كنقطة إطلاق الصواريخ، فإن مياه غزّة تبعد حوالي 190 كلم.

أمّا الرسالة الثانية والأهمّ في سياق البُعد السياسي الساعي لفرض واقع جيوساسي جديد وهو ما أسماه السيد “بنسخة جديدة عن المشروع الشرق أوسطي الجديد”. والتي يمكن القول أنها فجّرت آمال أميركا وزرعت القلق في نفوس الصهاينة وبعثرت متن نصوص خططهم، هي المنع من الاستخراج ومن التغذية في آنٍ معاً، أي أن المقاومة الإسلامية دخلت على خطّ التوازن الدولي بعد أن نجحت وبامتياز في كل الاستحقاقات الإقليمية منذ ١٩٨٢ مروراً بحرب تموز وإفشال فكرة ربط القلمون بالحرمون، وصولاً لوضعها المعادلات الجديدة الأقوى والأبعد أثراً والممهدة لاتخاذ القرار البات المبرم التي كانت وما زالت تعمل جاهدةً على اتخاذه.

على صعيد قدرات حزب الله العسكرية، فإنه يمتلك صواريخ بر – بحر قادرة على اجتياز تلك المسافة ومن بينها صاروخ “نور” (كروز مضاد للسفن إيراني الصنع، يتراوح مداه من 120 كيلومتر إلى أكثر من 220 كم)، وكان حزب الله قد استخدمه في قصف البارجة الإسرائيلية “ساعر 5” عام 2006. وتعترف أوساط الاحتلال بترسانة حزب الله البحرية وتتوقّع امتلاكه لصاروخ “ياخونت” (مجنح مضاد للسفن) الذي يستطيع ضرب أهداف على بعد 300 كليومتر وله ميزات خاصة تسمح له بتخطي الرادات. بالإضافة الى الزوارق والغواصات.

في ختام الحديث، حمداً لله على نعمة المقاومة مغيّرة المسارات ومنجم الانتصارات ومقلع التطورات وحمداً وشكراً عظيماً على أعظم الشهور تموز، ففيه صُنعَ نصراً دحر مشروع سعى لصياغة المنطقة وفق أهواء أميركا، وفيه أيضاً وضعت معادلات لن تقلّ مفاعيلها عن مفاعيل معادلة “حيفا وما بعدَ بعدَ حيفا”.

فالمقاومة التي حررت وفكّت قيد الأسر وصاغت تفاهم نيسان بتغيير كلمة تحفظ انتصاراتها وتصنعها من جديد، لن تكون إلا المنطلق من كلّ نصرٍ وصبر نحو كلّ عزّ وشرف، سلاماً لوعدنا الصّادق.

اضرب بعصاك البحر فكلّنا معك وافلق أمواجه لنعبُرَ نحو الخلاص الأكيد..

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In Eurasia, the War of Economic Corridors is in full swing

July 15, 2022

Photo Credit: The Cradle

Source

Mega Eurasian organizations and their respective projects are now converging at record speed, with one global pole way ahead of the other.

By Pepe Escobar

The War of Economic Corridors is now proceeding full speed ahead, with the game-changing first cargo flow of goods from Russia to India via the International North South Transportation Corridor (INSTC) already in effect.

Very few, both in the east and west, are aware of how this actually has long been in the making: the Russia-Iran-India agreement for implementing a shorter and cheaper Eurasian trade route via the Caspian Sea (compared to the Suez Canal), was first signed in 2000, in the pre-9/11 era.

The INSTC in full operational mode signals a powerful hallmark of Eurasian integration – alongside the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU), and last but not least, what I described as “Pipelineistan” two decades ago.

Caspian is key

Let’s have a first look on how these vectors are interacting.

The genesis of the current acceleration lies in Russian President Vladimir Putin’s recent visit to Ashgabat, Turkmenistan’s capital, for the 6th Caspian Summit. This event not only brought the evolving Russia-Iran strategic partnership to a deeper level, but crucially, all five Caspian Sea littoral states agreed that no NATO warships or bases will be allowed on site.

That essentially configures the Caspian as a virtual Russian lake, and in a minor sense, Iranian – without compromising the interests of the three “stans,” Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan. For all practical purposes, Moscow has tightened its grip on Central Asia a notch.

As the Caspian Sea is connected to the Black Sea by canals off the Volga built by the former USSR, Moscow can always count on a reserve navy of small vessels – invariably equipped with powerful missiles – that may be transferred to the Black Sea in no time if necessary.

Stronger trade and financial links with Iran now proceed in tandem with binding the three “stans” to the Russian matrix. Gas-rich republic Turkmenistan for its part has been historically idiosyncratic – apart from committing most of its exports to China.

Under an arguably more pragmatic young new leader, President Serdar Berdimuhamedow, Ashgabat may eventually opt to become a member of the SCO and/or the EAEU.

Caspian littoral state Azerbaijan on the other hand presents a complex case: an oil and gas producer eyed by the European Union (EU) to become an alternative energy supplier to Russia – although this is not happening anytime soon.

The West Asia connection

Iran’s foreign policy under President Ebrahim Raisi is clearly on a Eurasian and Global South trajectory. Tehran will be formally incorporated into the SCO as a full member in the upcoming summit in Samarkand in September, while its formal application to join the BRICS has been filed.

Purnima Anand, head of the BRICS International Forum, has stated that Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Egypt are also very much keen on joining BRICS. Should that happen, by 2024 we could be on our way to a powerful West Asia, North Africa hub firmly installed inside one of the key institutions of the multipolar world.

As Putin heads to Tehran next week for trilateral Russia, Iran, Turkey talks, ostensibly about Syria, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is bound to bring up the subject of BRICS.

Tehran is operating on two parallel vectors. In the event the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) is revived – a quite dim possibility as it stands, considering the latest shenanigans in Vienna and Doha – that would represent a tactical victory. Yet moving towards Eurasia is on a whole new strategic level.

In the INSTC framework, Iran will make maximum good use of the geostrategically crucial port of Bandar Abbas – straddling the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman, at the crossroads of Asia, Africa and the Indian subcontinent.

Yet as much as it may be portrayed as a major diplomatic victory, it’s clear that Tehran will not be able to make full use of BRICS membership if western – especially US – sanctions are not totally lifted.

Pipelines and the “stans”

A compelling argument can be made that Russia and China might eventually fill the western technology void in the Iranian development process. But there’s a lot more that platforms such as the INSTC, the EAEU and even BRICS can accomplish.

Across “Pipelineistan,” the War of Economic Corridors gets even more complex. Western propaganda simply cannot admit that Azerbaijan, Algeria, Libya, Russia’s allies at OPEC, and even Kazakhstan are not exactly keen on increasing their oil production to help Europe.

Kazakhstan is a tricky case: it is the largest oil producer in Central Asia and set to be a major natural gas supplier, right after Russia and Turkmenistan. More than 250 oil and gas fields are operated in Kazakhstan by 104 companies, including western energy giants such as Chevron, Total, ExxonMobil and Royal Dutch Shell.

While exports of oil, natural gas and petroleum products comprise 57 percent of Kazakhstan’s exports, natural gas is responsible for 85 percent of Turkmenistan’s budget (with 80 percent of exports committed to China). Interestingly, Galkynysh is the second largest gas field on the planet.

Compared to the other “stans,” Azerbaijan is a relatively minor producer (despite oil accounting for 86 percent of its total exports) and basically a transit nation. Baku’s super-wealth aspirations center on the Southern Gas Corridor, which includes no less than three pipelines: Baku-Tblisi-Erzurum (BTE); the Turkish-driven Trans-Anatolian Natural Gas Pipeline (TANAP); and the Trans-Adriatic (TAP).

The problem with this acronym festival – BTE, TANAP, TAP – is that they all need massive foreign investment to increase capacity, which the EU sorely lacks because every single euro is committed by unelected Brussels Eurocrats to “support” the black hole that is Ukraine. The same financial woes apply to a possible Trans-Caspian Pipeline which would further link to both TANAP and TAP.

In the War of Economic Corridors – the “Pipelineistan” chapter – a crucial aspect is that most Kazakh oil exports to the EU go through Russia, via the Caspian Pipeline Consortium (CPC). As an alternative, the Europeans are mulling on a still fuzzy Trans-Caspian International Transport Route, also known as the Middle Corridor (Kazakhstan-Turkmenistan-Azerbaijan-Georgia-Turkey). They actively discussed it in Brussels last month.

The bottom line is that Russia remains in full control of the Eurasia pipeline chessboard (and we’re not even talking about the Gazprom-operated pipelines Power of Siberia 1 and 2 leading to China).

Gazprom executives know all too well that a fast increase of energy exports to the EU is out of the question. They also factor the Tehran Convention – that helps prevent and control pollution and maintain the environmental integrity of the Caspian Sea, signed by all five littoral members.

Breaking BRI in Russia

China, for its part, is confident that one of its prime strategic nightmares may eventually disappear. The notorious “escape from Malacca” is bound to materialize, in cooperation with Russia, via the Northern Sea Route, which will shorten the trade and connectivity corridor from East Asia to Northern Europe from 11,200 nautical miles to only 6,500 nautical miles. Call it the polar twin of the INSTC.

This also explains why Russia has been busy building a vast array of state-of-the-art icebreakers.

So here we have an interconnection of New Silk Roads (the INSTC proceeds in parallel with BRI and the EAEU), Pipelineistan, and the Northern Sea Route on the way to turn western trade domination completely upside down.

Of course, the Chinese have had it planned for quite a while. The first White Paper on China’s Arctic policy, in January 2018, already showed how Beijing is aiming, “jointly with other states” (that means Russia), to implement sea trade routes in the Arctic within the framework of the Polar Silk Road.

And like clockwork, Putin subsequently confirmed that the Northern Sea Route should interact and complement the Chinese Maritime Silk Road.

Russia-China Economic cooperation is evolving on so many complex, convergent levels that just to keep track of it all is a dizzying experience.

A more detailed analysis will reveal some of the finer points, for instance how BRI and SCO interact, and how BRI projects will have to adapt to the heady consequences of Moscow’s Operation Z in Ukraine, with more emphasis being placed on developing Central and West Asian corridors.

It’s always crucial to consider that one of Washington’s key strategic objectives in the relentless hybrid war against Russia was always to break BRI corridors that crisscross Russian territory.

As it stands, it’s important to realize that dozens of BRI projects in industry and investment and cross-border inter-regional cooperation will end up consolidating the Russian concept of the Greater Eurasia Partnership – which essentially revolves around establishing multilateral cooperation with a vast range of nations belonging to organizations such as the EAEU, the SCO, BRICS and ASEAN.

Welcome to the new Eurasian mantra: Make Economic Corridors, Not War.

The views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of The Cradle.

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