What’s at stake in the Armenia-Azerbaijan chessboard

What’s at stake in the Armenia-Azerbaijan chessboard

October 01, 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How the equation changed

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

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

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

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

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

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

What happened in fact was the July shooting war.

Don’t forget Pipelineistan

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

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

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

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

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

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

It’s always about Turkey

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What’s the point of this war?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Inside Erdogan’s war

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

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

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

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

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

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

It’s no wonder both Baku and Yerevan got the message and are firmly denying anything happened.

The key fact remains that as long as Armenia proper is not attacked by Azerbaijan, Russia will not apply the CSTO treaty and step in. Erdogan knows this is his red line. Moscow has all it takes to put him in serious trouble – as in shutting off gas supplies to Turkey. Moscow, meanwhile, will keep helping Yerevan with intel and hardware – flown in from Iran. Diplomacy rules – and the ultimate target is yet another ceasefire.

Pulling Russia back in

Mr. C advances the strong possibility – and I have heard echoes from Brussels – that “the EU and Russia find common cause to limit Azerbaijani gains (in large part because Erdogan is no one’s favorite guy, not just because of this but because of the Eastern Med, Syria, Libya).”

That brings to the forefront the renewed importance of the UNSC in imposing a ceasefire. Washington’s role at the moment is quite intriguing. Of course, Trump has more important things to do at the moment. Moreover, the Armenian diaspora in the US swings drastically pro-Democrat.

Then, to round it all up, there’s the all-important Iran-Armenia relationship. Here is a forceful attempt to put it in perspective.

As Mr. C stresses, “Iran favors Armenia, which is counter-intuitive at first sight. So the Iranians may help the Russians out (funneling supplies), but on the other hand they have a good relationship with Turkey, especially in the oil and gas smuggling business. And if they get too overt in their support, Trump has a casus belli to get involved and the Europeans may not like to end up on the same side as the Russians and the Iranians. It just looks bad. And the Europeans hate to look bad.”

We inevitably come back to the point that the whole drama can be interpreted from the perspective of a NATO geopolitical hit against Russia – according to quite a few analyses circulating at the Duma.

Ukraine is an absolute black hole. There’s the Belarus impasse. Covid-19. The Navalny circus. The “threat” to Nord Stream-2.

To pull Russia back into the Armenia-Azerbaijan drama means turning Moscow’s attention towards the Caucasus so there’s more Turkish freedom of action in other theaters – in the Eastern Mediterranean versus Greece, in Syria, in Libya. Ankara – foolishly – is engaged in simultaneous wars on several fronts, and with virtually no allies.

What this means is that even more than NATO, monopolizing Russia’s attention in the Caucasus most of all may be profitable for Erdogan himself. As Mr. C stresses, “in this situation, the Nagorno-Karabakh leverage/’trump card’ in the hands of Turkey would be useful for negotiations with Russia.”

No question: the neo-Ottoman sultan never sleeps.

Related

Russian options in the Karabakh conflict

Russian options in the Karabakh conflict

September 30, 2020

With the eyes of most people locked on the debate between Trump and Biden, the conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia over Nagorno-Karabakh (NK) has received relatively little attention in the West.  Yet, this is a potentially very dangerous situation.  Just think about this: the Armenians are accusing the Turks of shooting down an Armenian Su-25 over Armenia (not NK!).  If that is true, then some would say that this is huge news because this would mean that a NATO member state has committed an act of aggression against the member of the CSTO.

Does that mean that war between two biggest military alliances on the planet is inevitable?

Hardly.

In fact, it seems to me that neither the CSTO nor NATO have much enthusiasm for getting involved.

Let’s take a step back and mention a few basic things.

Check out the huge US Embassy compound in
Erevan and ask yourself:
what are all these guys doing all day long?

One would have imagined that Russia would immediately side with the Christian Armenia against the Muslim Azeris, but this time around there is some evidence that Russians have (finally!) learned some painful lessons from history, especially about Russia’s putatively “Orthodox” putative “brothers”.  The sad truth is that, not unlike Belarus under Lukashenko, Armenia has, since at least 2018 been following the same type of “multi-vector” political course as Belarus.  I would sum up this policy like this: “holding an anti-Russian political course while demanding the support of Russia”.  The Russians did not like this any more in Armenia than they did in Belarus.  But the big difference is this: while Russia cannot afford to “lose” Belarus, she has no real need of Armenia at all, especially an Armenia hostile to Russia.

That is not to say that Russian ought to back Azerbaijan.  Why?  Well, this has nothing to do with language or religion and everything to do with the fact that modern Azerbaijan is a political protégé of Erdogan’s Turkey, which is truly one of the most dangerous countries and political regimes out there, which Russia ought to deal with with the caution of a snake-handler dealing with a particularly nasty and unpredictable pit viper.  Yes, Russia has to engage with both Turkey and Azerbaijan, if only because these two are powerful countries (at least in a regional sense) and because they are almost always up to no good, especially Turkey.

Then there is the issue of the US role in all this.  We can be pretty sure that the US is talking to both sides telling them that as long as they maintain an anti-Russian course they will get the support of Uncle Shmuel.  There are two problems with this:

  • Both sides know that the US is talking to both sides
  • When push comes to shove, the support of the USA really matters very little

I would even argue that any major escalation of the conflict will prove to both parties that the US is long on promises and short on actually delivering on them.  In sharp contrast, Turkey does deliver.  Yes, recklessly and, yes, in violation of international law, but still – Turkey does deliver and they are not shy about confirming this.

Just like in the case of Belarus or the Ukraine, Russia could stop this conflict, especially if the Kremlin decides to use military force, but this would be terrible in political terms and I am confident that Russia will not intervene overtly.  For one thing, this war is a clear case of a zero-sum game in which a negotiated compromise is almost impossible to achieve.

Furthermore, both sides appear to be determined to flight this one to the end, so why should Russia intervene?

Seems to be that remaining a neutral intermediary is the best and only thing Russia ought to do for the time being.  Once the dust settles and once either side fully realizes that Uncle Shmuel is more about words than action, then maybe Russia can, once again, try to offer a regional solution, possibly involving Iran and excluding the USA for sure.  But that can only happen later.

Right now both sides have painted themselves into a corner and both sides seem to be equally committed to a total military victory.

Conclusion: in this conflict, Russia has no allies and no friends.   Right now the Azeris seem to be winning, but if Armenia engages its Iskander missiles or recognizes the independence of NK (both of which the Armenians are now threatening to do), this will get ugly and a Turkish intervention will become possible.  Let’s see how (and even if) the USA will do something to help Erevan.  If not, it will be interesting to see what will happen once the Armenians re-discover a well-known historical truth: Armenia cannot survive without Russia.  And even if the Armenians come to this conclusion, I still would recommend that Russia be very careful in placing her weight behind either side of the conflict (especially since the Azeris have international law on their side).

In other words, I recommend that Russia act only and exclusively in her own geostrategic interest and let the entire region discover how much help Uncle Shmuel can really deliver.  Specifically, I submit that it is in Russia’s national security interest to make sure that:

  1. Turkey remains as weak as possible for as long as possible
  2. The USA remains as weak as possible in the entire region

Right now the Pax Americana is as bad in the Caucasus as it is in the Middle-East.  This is good for Russia and she ought to do nothing which would help Uncle Shmuel.  Only once the US is out of the picture, including in Armenia, should Russia offer aid and support to a peace settlement between the two belligerents.

The Saker

Related

The World Has Gone Absolutely Insane!

THE SAKER • SEPTEMBER 25, 2020

We all know that we are living in crazy, and dangerous, times, yet I can’t help being awed at what the imperial propaganda machine (aka the legacy ziomedia) is trying to make us all swallow. The list of truly batshit crazy stuff we are being told to believe is now very long, and today I just want to pick on a few of my “favorites” (so to speak).

First, of course, comes the “Novichok Reloaded” scandal around the alleged poisoning of the so-called “dissident” Alexei Navalnyi. I already mentioned this absolutely ridiculous story once, so I won’t repeat it all here. I just want to mention a few very basic facts:

  • Navalnyi is pretty much a discredited non-entity in Russia. “Putin” (because this is how the imperial propaganda machine always personalizes the evils of Russia: “Putin” did this or that, as if Putin was personally in every alleged Russian evil deed) had absolutely and exactly zero reasons to harm Navalnyi in any way. I would even add that IF Navalnyi was poisoned in Russia (which I do not believe) then the FSB screwed up by not offering him 24/7 protection, especially in the current political climate (i.e. struggle for the completion of North Stream 2).
  • The Empire always likes to produce a “sacrificial lamb” to symbolize the putative evil of the nation which dares to resist. In Iran it was Neda, in Kuwait the infamous “incubator babies”, in Syria anonymous kids killed by Russian gas, and in Russia it was Nemtsov (did not really work) and now Navalnyi (I wonder who the sacrificial lamb will be in Belarus (Tikhanovskaia?). The FSB should have seen this coming, especially after Nemtsov.
  • There is exactly zero evidence that the mineral water bottle which the Germans claim contained traces of, what else, “Novichok”, ever was anywhere near Navalnyi or even that it ever was in Russia. No such bottle was found by, or mentioned to the Russian investigators. This bottle was, allegedly, hidden from the FSB by Navalnyi supporters, and secretly brought to Germany. What that means in terms of “chain of custody” is self-evident.
  • As I have mentioned in my past article, if what the German authorities are claiming is true, then the Russians are truly the dumbest imbeciles on the planet. Not content to use this now famous “Novichok” gas against Skripal in the UK and after failing to kill Skripal, these stupid Russians decided to try the very same gas, only “improved”, and they failed again: Navalnyi is quite alive and well, thank you!
  • Then there is this: according to the imperial propaganda machine, Novichok was so horribly dangerous, that the Brits had to use full biosuits to investigate the alleged poisoning of Skripal. They also said that they would completely destroy the dangerous Skripal home (though they never did that). The self same propaganda machine says that the Novichok used on Navalnyi was a more powerful, improved version. Okay. Then try to answer this one: why did the Russians NOT put on biosuits, why did not a single passenger suffer from any side effects (inside a closed aircraft cabin!)? How is it that this super-dooper Novichok not only failed to kill Navalnyi (who, allegedly, ingested it!) but also failed to even moderately inconvenience anybody from the many people Navalnyi was surrounded by on that day?

I could continue to deconstruct all this nonsense, but that would take pages. I will mention two thing though:

First, the Russians have requested any and all evidence available to the Germans and to the Organization for the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons – but they got absolutely nothing in return. Yet the EU is demanding an investigation (which is already under way in Russia anyway!) as if the Russians did not want the exact same!

After being exposed to an improved Novichok and after weeks in coma in intensive care, here is Navalnyi trotting down stairs feeling great

After being exposed to an improved Novichok and after weeks in coma in intensive care, here is Navalnyi trotting down stairs feeling great

Second, Navalnyi apparently has an immunity to otherwise deadly Russian biological agents, just take a look at him on this post-Novichok photo:

[By the way, the first time around the Brits also never gave the Russians any information, nevermind any kind of evidence. Apparently, to hide some super-secret secrets. Yeah, right!]

Next, I absolutely have to mention the absolutely insane situation around Belarus.

To make a long story short, the EU wants to sanction Russia for intervening in Belarus while that self-same EU is intervening in every possible imaginable manner: from the Poles who treat Tikhanovskaia as a modern False Dmitri the Fifth (see here for a summary of Polish-run False Dmitris), to the promise of a special “Marshall Plan for Belarus”, to the coordination of all the protests from Poland. The EU refuses to recognize Lukashenko as the winner (in spite of the fact that there is exactly zero evidence suggesting that Lukashenko lost) and refers to Tikhanovskaia as the “Leader of Belarus” (whatever that means).

As for our US American friends, having learned exactly nothing from the abject failure of their Guaido coup in Venezuela, they now want to repeat exactly the same with Tikhanovskaia in Belarus. As a result, Tikhanovskaia has been re-christened “Juanita Guaido”

But the worst are still the Europeans. Not only are they prostituting themselves to the leaders of the Empire, the following countries were the first to declare that they will not recognize Lukashenko as the leader of Belarus: Poland, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia (which is no surprise, they all compete for the title of most pro-US colony on the planet), but also putatively mentally sane countries such as Germany, Czechia, Slovakia, Denmark. The case of Germany is particularly amazing, because Germany will now be placed under immense pressure to cancel North Stream 2, something which the entire German industry opposes. Eventually, the US, Canada, the Ukraine, the UK and the entire EU joined in and also refused to recognize Lukashenko as the leader of Belarus.

What is especially amazing to me is that these EU imbeciles apparently don’t care that without North Stream 2 they will have to purchase US gas, at much higher prices, which will make the EU economy less effective than the US one. And I thought that prostitutes are always acutely aware of the money they can make: not the European ones, apparently.

Still, I think that the “top honor” in this category goes to Poland which, while condemning some undefined Russian intervention in Belarus, runs the NEXTA Telegram channel which runs videos like this one: (in Russian – no, not in Belarusian, they know that 99.9999% Belarussians speak Russian):

Oh, but it gets better.

NATO seems to be trying to frighten Russia with maneuvers in Poland and B-52 flights over the Ukraine and the Black Sea (see here for a full analysis). As for the Poles and Ukronazis, they apparently believe that the Russian bear covered himself in poop and ran away at full speed.

What I am going to say next is not a secret, every military person who looked into this issue knows and understands this: NATO, and I mean the combined power of all NATO member states, simply does not have the hardware needed to wage a war against Russia in Europe. What NATO does have is only sufficient to trigger a serious incident which might result in a shooting war. But once this war starts, the chances of victory for NATO are exactly zero. Why?

Well, for one thing, while coalitions of countries might give a thin veneer of political legitimacy to a military action (in reality, only a UNSC resolution would), in purely military terms you are much better off having a single national military. Not only that, but coalitions are nothing but the expression of an often held delusion: the delusion that the little guy can hide behind the back of the big guy. Poland’s entire history can be summarized in this simple principle: strike the weak and bootlick (or even worse!) the powerful. In contrast, real military powers don’t count on some other guy doing the heavy lifting for them. They simply fight until they win.

Yes, the Europeans, being the cowards that they are, do believe that there is safety in numbers. But each time these midgets gang up on Russia and start barking (or, to use Putin’s expression, start oinking) all together, the Russians clearly see that the Europeans are afraid. Otherwise, they would not constantly seek somebody to protect them (even against a non-existing threat).

As a direct result of this delusion, NATO simply does not have the equivalent of the First Guard Tank Army in spite of the fact that NATO has a bigger population and much bigger budgets than Russia. Such a tank Army is what it would take to fight a real war in Europe, Russia has such an Army. NATO does not.

The other thing NATO does not have is a real integrated multi-layered air defense system. Russia does.

Lastly, NATO has no hypersonic weapons. Russia does.

(According to President Trump, the US does have super-dooper “hydrosonic” weapons, but nobody really knows what that is supposed to mean).

I would even argue that the comparatively smaller Belarusian military could make hamburger meat of the roughly three times larger Polish armed forces in a very short time (unlike the Poles, the Belarusian are excellent soldiers and they know that they are surrounded by hostile countries on three sides).

As for the “armed forces” of the Baltic statelets, they are just a sad joke.

One more example: the Empire is now sending ships into the Black Sea as some kind of “show of force”. Yet, every military analyst out there knows that the Black Sea is a “Russian lake” and that no matter how many ships the US or NATO sends into the Black Sea, their life expectancy in case of a conflict would be measured in minutes.

There is a popular expression in Russia which, I submit, beautifully sums up the current US/NATO doctrine: пугать ежа голой задницей, which can be translated as “trying to scare a hedgehog with your naked bottom”.

The truth is that NATO military forces currently are all in very bad shape – all of them, including the US – and that their only advantage over Russia is in numbers. But as soon as you factor in training, command and control, the ability to operate with severely degraded C3I capabilities, the average age of military hardware or morale – the Russian armed forces are far ahead of the West.

Does anybody sincerely believe that a few B-52s and a few thousand soldiers from different countries playing war in Poland will really scare the Russian generals?

But if not – why the threats?

My explanation is simple: the rulers of the Empire simply hope that the people in the West will never find out how bad their current military posture really is, and they also know that Russia will never attack first – so they simply pretend like they are still big, mighty and relevant. This is made even easier by the fact that the Russians always downplay their real capabilities (in sharp contrast to the West which always brags about “the best XYZ in the world”). That, and the fact that nobody in the Western ruling classes wants to admit that the game is over and that the Empire has collapsed.

Well, they apparently can hide these truisms from most of their public opinion: Trump promises super-dooper missiles and big red buttons, and his supporters immediately wave (Chinese made) US flags! But I assure you that the Russians (political leaders and even the general public) know what the real score is.

Yet the Empire still refuses to deal with Russia in any other way except insults, bullying, threats, accusations, sanctions, and constant sabre-rattling. This has never, and I mean never, worked in the past, and it won’t work in the future. But, apparently, NATO generals simply cannot comprehend that insanity can be defined as “doing the same thing over and over again, while hoping to achieve different results”.

Finally, I will conclude with a short mention of US politicians.

First, Trump. He now declares that the Russians stole the secret of hypersonic weapons from Obama. This reminds me of how the Brits declared that Russia stole their vaccine against the sars-cov-2 virus. But, if the Russians stole all that, why is it that ONLY Russia has deployed hypersonic weapons (not the US) and ONLY Russia has both two vaccines and 2 actual treatments (and not the UK)? For a good laugh, check out Andrei Martyanov’s great column “Russia Steal Everything”.

And then there is Nancy Pelosi who, apparently, is considering, yes, you guessed it – yet another impeachment attempt against Trump? The charge this time? Exercising this Presidential prerogative to nominate a successor to Ruth Ginsburg. Okay, Pelosi might be senile, but she also is in deep denial if she thinks impeaching Trump is still a viable project. Frankly? I think that she lost it.

In fact, I think that all the Dems have gone absolutely insane: they are now considering packing both the Supreme Court and the Senate. The fact that doing so will destroy the US political system does not seem to bother them in the least.

Conclusion: quos Deus vult perdere prius dementat!

We live in a world where facts or logic have simply become irrelevant and nobody cares about such clearly outdated categories. We have elevated “doubleplusgoodthinking” into an art form. We have also done away with the concepts of “proof” or “evidence” which we have replaced with variations on the “highly likely” theme. We have also, for all practical purpose, jettisoned the entire corpus of international law and replaced it with “rules-based international order“. In fact, I can only agree with Chris Hedges who, in his superb book the “Empire of illusions” and of the “triumph of spectacle”. He is absolutely correct: not only is this a triumph of appearance over substance, and of ideology over reality, it is even the triumph of self-destruction over self-preservation.

There is not big “master plan”, no complex international conspiracy, no 5D chess. All we have is yet another empire committing suicide and, like so many before this one, this suicide is executed by this empire’s ruling classes.

هل اقتربت الحرب النهائية في سورية؟

د. وفيق إبراهيم

تتراجع الموانع التي كانت تحول دون فتح معارك واسعة لطرد الأميركيين من شرقي الفرات والأتراك من منطقة ادلب.

هذا استنتاج روسي أطلقه وزير خارجيتهم لافروف الذي أعلن أن المعارضة السورية التقليدية انتهت ولم يبق إلا هيئة تحرير الشام وريثة منظمة القاعدة في ادلب المدعومة من قوات تركية منتشرة فيها، مضيفاً ان الاميركيين في شرق الفرات يحتلون المنطقة بالتعاون مع انفصاليين أكراد وتسرق شركاتهم الاميركية النفط السوري.

هناك اذاً تحولٌ عميقٌ في الموقف الروسي الذي يحدد للمرة الأولى ضرورة العمل على تحرير شرقي الفرات وطرد الهيئات الإرهابية من مناطق النفوذ التركي.

ولتجميل موقفه قال إن الاتراك يعملون على تضييق الرقعة التي يسيطر عليها الإرهاب في ادلب.

لماذا هذه الاندفاعة الروسية المفاجئة؟

يعتقد البعض أنها ردة فعل على التدخلات الاميركية الخطيرة في بيلاروسيا التي تستهدف النفوذ الروسي فيها بالإضافة الى الضغوط الأميركية على المانيا واوكرانيا وتركيا لإلغاء الخطوط التي تنقل الغاز الروسي الى اوروبا.

يمكن إضافة التحركات الاميركية العنيفة لإسقاط الرئيس الفنزويلي مادورو صديق الروس والصينيين.

قد تكون هذه الأسباب راسخة في العقل الروسي، لكنها ليست عناصر وحيدة تحكم المعطيات الحقيقية.

لذلك تجب العودة الى مركزية الأسباب المتعلقة بأمرين: انهيار المعارضات الداخلية السورية واستمرار الاحتلالين التركي والاميركي.

الى جانب حصار اقتصادي اميركي يقفل حدود سورية مع الأردن والعراق ويعمل على إقفالها نهائياً من جهة لبنان، خصوصاً أن معلومات فرنسية كشفت عن سرقة مصرفية مشبوهة أخلت فيها بنوك لبنانية ودائع سورية قيمتها أربعون مليار دولار تقريباً كان رجال أعمال سوريون يستخدمونها لاستيراد بضائع للزوم الأسواق السورية عبر حدود لبنان.

بما يعني أن هذا الحصار الأميركي للبنان وسورية يريد خنق البلدين معاً.

ولا يمكن ايقافه إلا بإلغاء الدور الاحتلالي الأميركي في شرق سورية وذلك لإلغاء المشروع الانفصالي الكردي وتحرير آبار النفط والغاز لإعادة استخدامها في تلبية الاستهلاك السوري الداخلي الذي يتعرّض حالياً لأزمة وقود كبيرة هي جزء كبير من ازمة اقتصادية عامة تدفع بسورية الى مزيد من الفقر.

هذا الى جانب اقتراب موسم الشتاء الذي يستهلك فيه السوريون عادة كميات أكبر من الطاقة.

أما الأسباب الأكثر عمقاً فلها علاقة بإصرار الدولة السورية على تحرير كامل أراضيها المحتلة، انسجاماً مع وطنيّتها وتطبيقاً للقانون الدولي الذي يعتبر أي قوة عسكرية تتموضع في أراضي بلد آخر غير دولتها ومن دون موافقة اصحاب السيادة هي قوة احتلال، يمكن التعامل معها بالقوة المسلحة.

الموضوع اذاً ليس موضوع قوانين دولية ينتهكها الأميركيون بشكل دائم منذ خروجهم الى ملعب المنافسات الدولية بعد انتصارهم في الحرب العالمية الثانية في 1945.

إنها مسألة موازين قوى تدفع مَن يحوز عليها الى تحصيل حقوقه. هذا في حالة سورية، او الاعتداء على الآخرين وفق النموذج الاميركي والتركي.

وفقاً لهذا المعطى المثبت بالأسانيد التاريخية، تستشعر الدولة السورية والحليف الروسي والصديق الايراني ان انتهاء المعارضات السورية الداخلية هو التوقيت الدقيق للبدء بالتعامل مع آخر المعوقات التي لا تزال تعرقل سيادة سورية على كامل أراضيها واستعادتها للموقع الداخلي والإقليمي والازدهار الاقتصادي.

ما يجب التأكيد عليه بعد هذه القراءة ان تصريح لافروف هو نتيجة مشاورات مع الرئيس الأسد وقيادته استناداً الى تغيير في موازين القوى الداخلية لمصلحة حلف الدولة السورية.

لجهة هذه الموازين، يكفي أن هناك تمرداً من أبناء شرق الفرات على الحلف الأميركي – الكردي يتطوّر بسرعة نحو التحالف مع الدولة السورية على الرغم من محاولات سعودية – إماراتية لإعادة جذب العشائر السورية في الشرق لحضن الأميركيين وبالتعاون مع قوات قسد الكردية الانفصالية.

كما أن أبناء ادلب وشريط الحدود السورية مع تركيا يعلنون سخطهم من الدور التركي الذي يصفونه بشبيه الاحتلالات الأميركية والتركية.

هل تندلع الحرب السورية على الأميركيين والأتراك في وقت قريب؟

الظروف أصبحت ناضجة إلا أن الواضح ان الروس يعوّلون على علاقاتهم بالأتراك لإقناعهم بالانسحاب من ادلب ويعتقدون ان انطلاق المقاومة الشعبية السورية في شرقي الفرات بالتنسيق مع الجيش العربي السوري هو الفيصل في إقناع التركي بالتراجع الى أراضيه من دون أي تسويات لا يزال يصرّ عليها بين الدولة السورية والاخوان المسلمين.

تشير هذه المعطيات الى أن الازمة السورية تدخل الحروب الأخيرة من معارك تحرير سورية واستعادتها لسيادتها من جهة ودورها الإقليمي في كبح مسلسل التطبيع من جهة ثانية وتحالفاتها العربية والإقليمية والدولية التي تعمل على إسقاط النظام الأحادي القطبي الاميركي لمصلحة عالم أكثر أماناً واستقراراً.

مقالات متعلقة

Russian Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR) Statement About the Situation in Belarus

Russian Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR) Statement About the Situation in Belarus

September 19, 2020

SVR RF Press Bureau – September 16, 2020

(Italics and bolding added for emphasis.)

The Director of the Foreign Intelligence Service of the Russian Federation, Sergey Naryshkin stated:

“The events in Belarus show clearly visible Western traces. The protest actions from the very beginning carry a well organized character and is coordinated from abroad.

It’s remarkable that the West began preparing the protests long before the elections. In 2019 – early 2020 alone, the United States allocated about $20 million through various NGOs to organize anti-government protests. This money was used to form a network of ‘independent bloggers’ and informational accounts in social networks, to prepare activists for street actions. The most promising of them were trained abroad, in particular in Poland, Lithuania and Ukraine, where they were trained by experienced American instructors in ‘non-violent protest’.

According to information available to the SVR, the United States plays a key role in the current events in Belarus. Although Washington is trying to stay ‘in the shadows’ in the public space, after the start of mass street protests, the Americans have multiplied their funding of Belarusian anti-government forces. Its volumes are estimated in tens of millions of dollars. The United States has taken under close guardianship the former presidential candidate Svetlana Tikhanovskaya and other opposition activists who are being promoted as ‘people’s leaders’ and future leaders of ‘democratic Belarus’.

In our contacts with European allies, Washington insists on the need to increase pressure on Minsk to induce the legitimate leadership of Belarus to launch a dialogue with the so-called Coordination Council on the ‘transfer of power’. In fact, we are talking about a poorly veiled attempt to organize another ‘color revolution’ and an anti-constitutional coup, the goals and objectives of which have nothing to do with the interests of Belarusian citizens.”

S.N. Ivanov

Head of the SVR Press Bureau

Meddling in Belarus’s affairs via UN inadmissible, help only at Minsk’s request – Moscow

By Newsdesk -2020-09-19

Vladimir Putin and Lukashenko at the Kremlin

Third countries should refrain from soliciting interference in Belarus’ internal affairs via the United Nations and other tools unless asked for assistance by Minsk itself, Pyotr Ilyichev, the head of the Department of International Organizations at the Russian Foreign Ministry, told Sputnik on Saturday.

“Unfortunately, in the context of Belarus, we see a familiar picture: Western countries, trampling on the fundamental principles of the UN Charter, are trying to use the post-electoral situation [in Belarus] to promote their own narrow interests,” Ilyichev said.

In doing so, the diplomat said third countries were using “habitual instruments, including illegal unilateral sanctions.”

“For our part, we consistently emphasize the unacceptability of interference in Belarus’ internal affairs, including with the use of the UN ‘platform,’” Ilyichev said.

“It is fundamentally important that the Belarusian people resolve their internal political issues independently, without external pressure. Any international assistance to Minsk should be provided exclusively at its request,” the diplomat said.

According to Ilyichev, Moscow regularly informs its foreign partners on these stances.

Mass protests in Belarus have been ongoing for over a month now. People took to the streets in Minsk and other big cities following the August 9 presidential election, according to which incumbent Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko collected over 80 percent of the vote.

Police cracked down on protesters during the first several days of the unrest, but have since halted the excessive use of force. More than 6,700 people were detained during the initial phase of the protest. According to the Belarusian Interior Ministry, three people died and several hundred others sustained injuries during that period, including more than 130 security officers.

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The European Union is currently putting together a list of individuals believed to be responsible for electoral fraud and violence against pro-opposition protesters in Belarus.

Source: Sputnik

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s interview with RTVI television, Moscow, September 17, 2020

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s interview with RTVI television, Moscow, September 17, 2020

September 18, 2020

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation

Question: I’ll start with the hottest topic, Belarus. President of the Republic of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko visited Bocharov Ruchei. Both sides have officially recognised that change within the Union State is underway. This begs the question: What is this about? A common currency, common army and common market? What will it be like?

Sergey Lavrov: It will be the way our countries decide. Work is underway. It relies on the 1999 Union Treaty. We understand that over 20 years have passed since then. That is why, a couple of years ago, upon the decision of the two presidents, the governments of the Russian Federation and the Republic of Belarus began to work on identifying the agreed-upon steps that would make our integration fit current circumstances. Recently, at a meeting with Russian journalists, President Lukashenko said that the situation had, of course, changed and we must agree on ways to deepen integration from today’s perspective.

The presidential election has taken place in Belarus. The situation there is tense, because the opposition, backed by some of our Western colleagues, is trying to challenge the election outcome, but I’m convinced that the situation will soon get back to normal, and the work to promote integration processes will resume.

Everything that is written in the Union Treaty is now being analysed. Both sides have to come to a common opinion about whether a particular provision of the Union Treaty is still relevant, or needs to be revised. There are 31 roadmaps, and each one focuses on a specific section of the Union Treaty. So, there’s clearly a commitment to continue the reform, a fact that was confirmed by the presidents during a recent telephone conversation. This is further corroborated by the presidents’ meeting in Sochi.

I would not want that country’s neighbours, and our neighbours for that matter, including Lithuania, for example, to try to impose their will on the Belarusian people and, in fact, to manage the processes in which the opposition is unwittingly doing what’s expected of it. I have talked several times about Svetlana Tikhanovskaya’s situation. Clearly, someone is putting words in her mouth. She is now in the capital of Lithuania, which, like our Polish colleagues, is strongly demanding a change of power in Belarus. You are aware that Lithuania declared Ms Tikhanovskaya the leader of the Republic of Belarus, and Alexander Lukashenko was declared an illegitimate president.

Ms Tikhanovskaya has made statements that give rise to many questions. She said she was concerned that Russia and Belarus have close relations. The other day, she called on the security and law-enforcement forces to side with the law. In her mind, this is a direct invitation to breach the oath of office and, by and large, to commit high treason. This is probably a criminal offense. So, those who provide her with a framework for her activities and tell her what to say and what issues to raise should, of course, realise that they may be held accountable for that.

Question: Commenting on the upcoming meeting of the presidents of Russia and Belarus in Sochi, Tikhanovskaya said: “Whatever they agree on, these agreements will be illegitimate, because the new state and the new leader will revise them.” How can one work under such circumstances?

Sergey Lavrov: She was also saying something like that when Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin went to Belarus to meet with President Lukashenko and Prime Minister Golovchenko. She was saying it then. Back then, the opposition was concerned about any more or less close ties between our countries. This is despite the fact that early on during the crisis they claimed that they in no way engaged in anti-Russia activities and wanted to be friends with the Russian people. However, everyone could have seen the policy paper posted on Tikhanovskaya’s website during the few hours it was there. The opposition leaders removed it after realising they had made a mistake sharing their goals and objectives with the public. These goals and objectives included withdrawal from the CSTO, the EAEU and other integration associations that include Russia, and drifting towards the EU and NATO, as well as the consistent banning of the Russian language and the Belarusianisation of all aspects of life.

We are not against the Belarusian language, but when they take a cue from Ukraine, and when the state language is used to ban a language spoken by the overwhelming majority of the population, this already constitutes a hostile act and, in the case of Ukraine, an act that violates its constitution. If a similar proposal is introduced into the Belarusian legal field, it will violate the Constitution of Belarus, not to mention numerous conventions on the rights of ethnic and language minorities, and much more.

I would like those who are rabidly turning the Belarusian opposition against Russia to realise their share of responsibility, and the opposition themselves, including Svetlana Tikhanovskaya and others – to find the courage to resist such rude and blatant manipulation.

Question: If we are talking about manipulation, we certainly understand that it has many faces and reflects on the international attitude towards Russia. Internationally, what are the risks for us of supporting Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko? Don’t you think 26 years is enough? Maybe he has really served for too long?

Sergey Lavrov: The President of the Republic of Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko, did say it might have been “too long.” I believe he has proposed a very productive idea – constitutional reform. He talked about this even before the election, and has reiterated the proposal more than once since then. President of Russia Vladimir Putin supports this attitude. As the Belarusian leader said, after constitutional reform, he will be ready to announce early parliamentary and presidential elections. This proposal provides a framework where a national dialogue will be entirely possible. But it is important that representatives of all groups of Belarusian society to be involved in a constitutional reform process. This would ensure that any reform is completely legitimate and understandable for all citizens. Now a few specific proposals are needed concerning when, where and in what form this process can begin. I hope that this will be done, because President Alexander Lukashenko has repeatedly reaffirmed carrying out this initiative.

Question: Since we started talking about the international attitude towards Russia, let’s go over to our other partner – the United States. The elections in the US will take place very soon. We are actively discussing this in Russia. When asked whether Russia was getting ready for the elections in the US at the Paris forum last year, you replied: “Don’t worry, we’ll resolve this problem.” Now that the US elections are around the corner, I would like to ask you whether you’ve resolved it.

Sergey Lavrov: Speaking seriously, of course we, like any other normal country that is concerned about its interests and international security, are closely following the progress of the election campaign in the US. There are many surprising things in it. Naturally, we see how important the Russian issue is in this electoral process. The Democrats are doing all they can to prove that Russia will exploit its hacker potential and play up to Donald Trump. We are already being accused of promoting the idea that the Democrats will abuse the mail-in voting option thereby prejudicing the unbiased nature of voting. I would like to note at this point that mail-in voting has become a target of consistent attacks on behalf of President Trump himself. Russia has nothing to do with this at all.

A week-long mail-in voting is an interesting subject in comparing election systems in different countries. We have introduced three-day voting for governors and legislative assembly deputies in some regions. You can see the strong criticism it is subjected to, inside Russia as well. When the early voting in the US lasts for weeks, if not months, it is considered a model of democracy. I don’t see any criticism in this respect. In principle, we have long proposed analysing election systems in the OSCE with a view to comparing best practices and reviewing obviously obsolete arrangements. There have been instances in the US when, due to its cumbersome and discriminatory election system, a nominee who received the majority of votes could lose because in a national presidential election the voting is done through the Electoral College process rather than directly by the people. There have been quite a few cases like that. I once told former US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in reply to her grievances about our electoral system: “But look at your problem. Maybe you should try to correct this discriminatory voting system?” She replied that it is discriminatory but they are used to it and this is their problem, so I shouldn’t bother.

When the United States accuses us of interference in some area of its public, political or government life, we suggest discussing it to establish who is actually doing what. Since they don’t present any facts, we simply recite their Congressional acts. In 2014, they adopted an act on supporting Ukraine, which directly instructed the Department of State to spend $20 million a year on support for Russian NGOs. We asked whether this didn’t amount to interference. We were told by the US National Security Council that in reality they support democracy because we are wreaking chaos and pursuing authoritative and dictatorial trends abroad when we interfere in domestic affairs whereas they bring democracy and prosperity. This idea is deeply rooted in American mentality. The American elite has always considered its country and nation exceptional and has not been shy to admit it.

I won’t comment on the US election. This is US law and the US election system. Any comments I make will be again interpreted as an attempt to interfere in their domestic affairs. I will only say one thing that President Vladimir Putin has expressed many times, notably, that we will respect any outcome of these elections and the will of the American people.

We realise that there will be no major changes in our relations either with the Democrats or with the Republicans, as representatives of both parties loudly declare. However, there is hope that common sense will prevail and no matter who becomes President, the new US Government and administration will realise the need to cooperate with us in resolving very serious global problems on which the international situation depends.

Question: You mentioned an example where voters can choose one president and the Electoral College process, another. I even have that cover of Time magazine with Hillary Clinton and congratulations, released during the election. It is a fairly well-known story, when they ran this edition and then had to cancel it.

Sergey Lavrov: Even the President of France sent a telegramme, but then they immediately recalled it.

And these people are now claiming that Alexander Lukashenko is an illegitimate president.

Question: You mentioned NGOs. These people believe that NGOs in the Russian Federation support democratic institutions, although it is no secret to anyone who has at least a basic understanding of foreign and domestic policy that those NGOs act exclusively as institutions that destabilise the situation in the country.

Sergey Lavrov: Not all of them.

Question: Can you tell us more about this?

Sergey Lavrov: We have adopted a series of laws – on public associations, on non-profit organisations, on measures to protect people from human rights violations. There is a set of laws that regulate the activities of non-government organisations on our territory, both Russian and foreign ones.

Concepts have been introduced like “foreign agent,” a practice we borrowed from “the world’s most successful democracy” – the United States. They argue that we borrowed a practice from 1938 when the United States introduced the foreign agent concept to prevent Nazi ideology from infiltrating from Germany. But whatever the reason they had to create the concept – “foreign agent” – the Americans are still effectively using it, including in relation to our organisations and citizens, to Chinese citizens, to the media.

In our law, foreign agent status, whatever they say about it, does not prevent an organisation from operating on the territory of the Russian Federation. It just needs to disclose its funding sources and be transparent about the resources it receives. And even that, only if it is engaged in political activities. Initially, we introduced a requirement for these organisations that receive funding from abroad and are involved in political projects to initiate the disclosure process. But most of them didn’t want to comply with the law, so it was modified. Now this is done by the Russian Ministry of Justice.

Question: Do you think that NGOs are still soft power?

Sergey Lavrov: Of course. In Russia we have about 220,000 NGOs, out of which 180 have the status of a foreign agent. It’s a drop in the ocean. These are probably the organisations, funded from abroad, that are more active than others in promoting in our public space ideas that far from always correspond to Russian legislation.

There is also the notion of undesirable organisations. They are banned from working in the Russian Federation. But there are only about 30 of them, no more.

Question: Speaking about our soft power, what is our concept? What do we offer the world? What do you think the world should love us for? What is Russia’s soft power policy all about?

Sergey Lavrov: We want everything that has been created by nations and civilisations to be respected. We believe nobody should impose any orders on anyone, so that nothing like what has now happened in Hollywood takes place on a global scale. We think nobody should encroach on the right of each nation to have its historical traditions and moral roots. And we see attempts to encroach upon them.

If soft power is supposed to promote one’s own culture, language and traditions, in exchange for knowledge about the life of other nations and civilisations, then this is the approach that the Russian Federation supports in every way.

The Americans define the term “soft power” as an attempt to influence the hearts and minds of others politically. Their goal is not to promote their culture and language, but to change the mood of the political class with a view to subsequent regime change. They are doing this on a daily basis and don’t even conceal it. They say everywhere that their mission is to bring peace and democracy to all other countries.

Question: Almost any TV series out there shows the US president sitting in the Oval Office saying he’s the leader of the free world.

Sergey Lavrov: Not just TV series. Barack Obama has repeatedly stated that America is an exceptional nation and should be seen as an example by the rest of the world. My colleague Mike Pompeo recently said in the Czech Republic that they shouldn’t let the Russians into the nuclear power industry and should take the Russians off the list of companies that bid for these projects. It was about the same in Hungary. He then went to Africa and was quite vocal when he told the African countries not to do business with the Russians or the Chinese, because they are trading with the African countries for selfish reasons, whereas the US is establishing economic cooperation with them so they can prosper. This is a quote. It is articulated in a very straightforward manner, much the same way they run their propaganda on television in an unsophisticated broken language that the man in the street can relate to. So, brainwashing is what America’s soft power is known for.

Question: Not a single former Soviet republic has so far benefited from American soft power.

Sergey Lavrov: Not only former Soviet republics. Take a look at any other region where the Americans have effected a regime change.

QuestionLibya, Syria. We stood for Syria.

Sergey Lavrov: Iraq, Libya. They tried in Syria, but failed. I hope things will be different there. There’s not a single country where the Americans changed the regime and declared victory for democracy, like George W. Bush did on the deck of an aircraft carrier in Iraq in May 2003, which is prosperous now. He said democracy had won in Iraq. It would be interesting to know what the former US President thinks about the situation in Iraq today. But no one will, probably, go back to this, because the days when presidents honestly admitted their mistakes are gone.

QuestionHere I am listening to you and wondering how many people care about this? Why is it that no one understands this? Is this politics that is too far away from ordinary people who are nevertheless behind it? Take Georgia or Ukraine. People are worse off now than before, and despite this, this policy continues.

Will the Minsk agreements ever be implemented? Will the situation in southeastern Ukraine ever be settled?

Returning to what we talked about. How independent is Ukraine in its foreign policy?

Sergey Lavrov: I don’t think that under the current Ukrainian government, just like under the previous president, we will see any progress in the implementation of the Minsk agreements, if only because President Zelensky himself is saying so publicly, as does Deputy Prime Minister Reznikov who is in charge of the Ukrainian settlement in the Contact Group. Foreign Minister of Ukraine Kuleba is also saying this. They say there’s a need for the Minsk agreements and they cannot be broken, because these agreements (and accusing Russia of non-compliance) are the foundation of the EU and the US policy in seeking to maintain the sanctions on Russia. Nevertheless, such a distorted interpretation of the essence of the Minsk agreements, or rather an attempt to blame everything on Russia, although Russia is never mentioned there, has stuck in the minds of our European colleagues, including France and Germany, who, being co-sponsors of the Minsk agreements along with us, the Ukrainians and Donbass, cannot but realise that the Ukrainians are simply distorting their responsibilities, trying to distance themselves from them and impose a different interpretation of the Minsk agreements. But even in this scenario, the above individuals and former Ukrainian President Kravchuk, who now heads the Ukrainian delegation to the Contact Group as part of the Minsk process, claim that the Minsk agreements in their present form are impracticable and must be revised, turned upside down. Also, Donbass must submit to the Ukrainian government and army before even thinking about conducting reforms in this part of Ukraine.

This fully contradicts the sequence of events outlined in the Minsk agreements whereby restoring Ukrainian armed forces’ control on the border with Russia is possible only after an amnesty, agreeing on the special status of these territories, making this status part of the Ukrainian Constitution and holding elections there. Now they propose giving back the part of Donbass that “rebelled” against the anti-constitutional coup to those who declared these people terrorists and launched an “anti-terrorist operation” against them, which they later renamed a Joint Forces Operation (but this does not change the idea behind it), and whom they still consider terrorists. Although everyone remembers perfectly well that in 2014 no one from Donbass or other parts of Ukraine that rejected the anti-constitutional coup attacked the putschists and the areas that immediately fell under the control of the politicians behind the coup. On the contrary, Alexander Turchinov, Arseniy Yatsenyuk and others like them attacked these areas. The guilt of the people living there was solely in them saying, “You committed a crime against the state, we do not want to follow your rules, let us figure out our own future and see what you will do next.” There’s not a single example that would corroborate the fact that they engaged in terrorism. It was the Ukrainian state that engaged in terrorism on their territory, in particular, when they killed [Head of the Donetsk People’s Republic] Alexander Zakharchenko and a number of field commanders in Donbass. So, I am not optimistic about this.

Question: So, we are looking at a dead end?

Sergey Lavrov: You know, we still have an undeniable argument which is the text of the Minsk Agreements approved by the UN Security Council.

QuestionBut they tried to revise it?

Sergey Lavrov: No, they are just making statements to that effect. When they gather for a Contact Group meeting in Minsk, they do their best to look constructive. The most recent meeting ran into the Ukrainian delegation’s attempts to pretend that nothing had happened. They recently passed a law on local elections which will be held in a couple of months. It says that elections in what are now called the Donetsk and Lugansk people’s republics will be held only after the Ukrainian army takes control of the entire border and those who “committed criminal offenses” are arrested and brought to justice even though the Minsk agreements provide for amnesty without exemptions.

Question: When I’m asked about Crimea I recall the referendum. I was there at a closed meeting in Davos that was attended by fairly well respected analysts from the US. They claimed with absolute confidence that Crimea was being occupied. I reminded them about the referendum. I was under the impression that these people either didn’t want to see or didn’t know how people lived there, that they have made their choice. Returning to the previous question, I think that nobody is interested in the opinion of the people.

Sergey Lavrov: No, honest politicians still exist. Many politicians, including European ones, were in Crimea during the referendum. They were there not under the umbrella of some international organisation but on their own because the OSCE and other international agencies were controlled by our Western colleagues. Even if we had addressed them, the procedure for coordinating the monitoring would have never ended.

Question: Just as in Belarus. As I see it, they were also invited but nobody came.

Sergey Lavrov: The OSCE refused to send representatives there. Now that the OSCE is offering its services as a mediator, I completely understand Mr Lukashenko who says the OSCE lost its chance. It could have sent observers and gained a first-hand impression of what was happening there, and how the election was held. They arrogantly disregarded the invitation. We know that the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) is practically wholly controlled by NATO. We have repeatedly proposed that our nominees work there but they have not been approved. This contradicts the principles of the OSCE. We will continue to seek a fairer approach to the admission of members to the organisation, but I don’t have much hope for this. Former OSCE Secretary General Thomas Greminger made an effort with this for the past three years but not everything depended on him – there is a large bloc of EU and NATO countries that enjoy a mathematical majority and try to dictate their own rules. But this is a separate issue.

Returning to Crimea, I have read a lot about this; let me give you two examples. One concerns my relations with former US Secretary of State John Kerry. In April 2014, we met in Geneva: me, John Kerry, EU High Representative Catherine Ashton and then Acting Foreign Minister of Ukraine Andrey Deshchitsa. We compiled a one page document that was approved unanimously. It read that we, the representatives of Russia, the US and the EU welcomed the commitments of the Ukrainian authorities to carry out decentralisation of the country with the participation of all the regions of Ukraine. This took place after the Crimean referendum. Later, the Americans, the EU and of course Ukraine “forgot” about this document. John Kerry told me at this meeting that everyone understood that Crimea was Russian, that the people wanted to return, but that we held the referendum so quickly that it didn’t fit into the accepted standards of such events. He asked me to talk to President Vladimir Putin, organise one more referendum, announce it in advance and invite international observers. He said he would support their visit there, that the result would be the same but that we would be keeping up appearances. I asked him why put on such shows if they understand that this was the expression of the will of the people.

The second example concerns the recent statements by the EU and the European Parliament to the effect that “the occupation” of Crimea is a crude violation of the world arrangement established after the victory in World War II. But if this criterion is used to determine where Crimea belongs, when the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic joined the UN after WWII in 1945, Crimea did not belong to it. Crimea was part of the USSR. Later, Nikita Khrushchev took an illegal action, which contradicted Soviet law, and this led to them having it. But we all understood that this was a domestic political game as regards a Soviet republic that was the home to Khrushchev and many of his associates.

Question: You have been Foreign Minister for 16 years now. This century’s major foreign policy challenges fell on your term in office. We faced sanctions, and we adapted to them and coped with them. Germany said it obtained Alexey Navalny’s test results. France and Sweden have confirmed the presence of Novichok in them. Reportedly, we are now in for more sanctions. Do you think the Navalny case can trigger new sanctions against Russia?

Sergey Lavrov: I agree with our political analysts who are convinced that if it were not for Navalny, they would have come up with something else in order to impose more sanctions.

With regard to this situation, I think our Western partners have simply gone beyond decency and reason. In essence, they are now demanding that we “confess.” They are asking us: Don’t you believe what the German specialists from the Bundeswehr are saying? How is that possible? Their findings have been confirmed by the French and the Swedes. You don’t believe them, either?

It’s a puzzling situation given that our Prosecutor General’s Office filed an inquiry about legal assistance on August 27 and hasn’t received an answer yet. Nobody knows where the inquiry has been for more than a week now. We were told it was at the German Foreign Ministry. The German Foreign Ministry did not forward the request to the Ministry of Justice, which was our Prosecutor General Office’s  ultimate addressee. Then, they said that it had been transferred to the Berlin Prosecutor’s Office, but they would not tell us anything without the consent of the family. They are urging us to launch a criminal investigation.

We have our own laws, and we cannot take someone’s word for it to open a criminal case. Certain procedures must be followed. A pre-investigation probe initiated immediately after this incident to consider the circumstances of the case is part of this procedure.

Some of our Western colleagues wrote that, as the German doctors discovered, it was “a sheer miracle” that Mr Navalny survived. Allegedly, it was the notorious Novichok, but he survived thanks to “lucky circumstances.” What kind of lucky circumstances are we talking about? First, the pilot immediately landed the plane; second, an ambulance was already waiting on the airfield; and third, the doctors immediately started to provide help. This absolutely impeccable behaviour of the pilots, doctors and ambulance crew is presented as “lucky circumstances.” That is, they even deny the possibility that we are acting as we should. This sits deep in the minds of those who make up such stories.

Returning to the pre-investigation probe, everyone is fixated on a criminal case. If we had opened a criminal case right away (we do not have legal grounds to do so yet, and that is why the Prosecutor General’s Office requested legal assistance from Germany on August 27), what would have been done when it happened? They would have interviewed the pilot, the passengers and the doctors. They would have found out what the doctors discovered when Navalny was taken to the Omsk hospital, and what medications were used. They would have interviewed the people who communicated with him. All of that was done. They interviewed the five individuals who accompanied him and participated in the events preceding Navalny boarding the plane; they interviewed the passengers who were waiting for a flight to Moscow in Tomsk and sat at the same bar; they found out what they ordered and what he drank. The sixth person, a woman who accompanied him, has fled, as you know. They say she was the one who gave the bottle to the German lab. All this has been done. Even if all of that was referred to as a “criminal case,” we couldn’t have done more.

Our Western partners are looking down on us as if we have no right to question what they are saying or their professionalism. If this is the case, it means that they dare to question the professionalism of our doctors and investigators. Unfortunately, this position is reminiscent of other times. Arrogance and a sense of infallibility have already been observed in Europe, and that led to very regrettable consequences.

Question: How would you describe this policy of confrontation? When did it start (I mean during your term of office)? It’s simply so stable at the moment that there seems no chance that something might change in the future.

Sergey Lavrov: President of Russia Vladimir Putin has repeatedly spoken on this topic. I think that the onset of this policy, this era of constant pressure on Russia began with the end of a period that followed the collapse of the Soviet Union, a time when the West believed it had Russia there in its pocket – it ended, full stop. Unfortunately, the West does not seem to be able to wrap its head around this, to accept that there is no alternative to Russia’s independent actions, both domestically and on the international arena. This is why, unfortunately, this agony continues by inertia.

Having bad ties with any country have never given us any pleasure. We do not like making such statements in which we sharply criticise the position of the West. We always try to find compromises, but there are situations where it is hard not to come face to face with one another directly or to avoid frank assessments of what our Western friends are up to.

I have read what our respected political scientists write who are well known in the West. And I can say this idea is starting to surface ever stronger and more often – it is time we stop measuring our actions with the yardsticks that the West offers us and to stop trying to please the West at all costs. These are very serious people and they are making a serious point. The fact that the West is prodding us to this way of thinking, willingly or unwillingly, is obvious to me. Most likely, this is being done involuntarily. But it is a big mistake to think that Russia will play by Western rules in any case – as big a mistake as like approaching China with the same yardstick.

Question: Then I really have to ask you. We are going through digitalisation. I think when you started your diplomatic career, you could not even have imagined that some post on Twitter could affect the political situation in a country. Yet – I can see your smile – we are living in a completely different world. Film stars can become presidents; Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook can become drivers of political campaigns – that happened more than once – and those campaigns can be successful. We are going through digitalisation, and because of this, many unexpected people appear in international politics – unexpected for you, at least. How do you think Russia’s foreign policy will change in this context? Are we ready for social media to be impacting our internal affairs? Is the Chinese scenario possible in Russia, with most Western social media blocked to avoid their influence on the internal affairs in that country?

Sergey Lavrov: Social media are already exerting great influence on our affairs. This is the reality in the entire post-Soviet space and developing countries. The West, primarily the United States, is vigorously using social media to promote their preferred agenda in just about any state. This necessitates a new approach to ensuring the national security. We have been doing this for a long time already.

As for regulating social media, everyone does it. You know that the digital giants in the United States have been repeatedly caught introducing censorship, primarily against us, China or other countries they dislike, shutting off information that comes from these places.

The internet is regulated by companies based in the United States, everyone knows that. In fact, this situation has long made the overwhelming majority of countries want to do something about it, considering the global nature of the internet and social media, to make sure that the management processes are approved at a global level, become transparent and understandable. The International Telecommunication Union, a specialised UN agency, has been out there for years. Russia and a group of other co-sponsoring countries are promoting the need to regulate the internet in such a way that everyone understands how it works and what principles govern it, in this International Union. Now we can see how Mark Zuckerberg and other heads of large IT companies are invited to the Congress and lectured there and asked to explain what they are going to do. We can see this. But a situation where it will be understandable for everyone else and, most importantly, where everyone is happy with it, still seems far away.

For many years, we have been promoting at the UN General Assembly an initiative to agree on the rules of responsible behaviour of states in the sphere of international information security. This initiative has already led to set up several working groups, which have completed their mandate with reports. The last such report was reviewed last year and another resolution was adopted. This time, it was not a narrow group of government experts, but a group that includes all UN member states. It was planning to meet, but things slowed down due to the coronavirus. The rules for responsible conduct in cyberspace are pending review by this group. These rules were approved by the SCO, meaning they already reflect a fairly large part of the world’s population.

Our other initiative is not about the use of cyberspace for undermining someone’s security; it is about fighting crimes (pedophilia, pornography, theft) in cyberspace. This topic is being considered by another UNGA committee. We are preparing a draft convention that will oblige all states to suppress criminal activities in cyberspace.

QuestionDo you think that the Foreign Ministry is active on this front? Would you like to be more proactive in the digital dialogue? After all, we are still bound by ethics, and have yet to understand whether we can cross the line or not. Elon Musk feels free to make any statements no matter how ironic and makes headlines around the world, even though anything he says has a direct bearing on his market cap. This is a shift in the ethics of behaviour. Do you think that this is normal? Is this how it should be? Or maybe people still need to behave professionally?

Sergey Lavrov: A diplomat can always use irony and a healthy dose of cynicism. In this sense, there is no contradiction here. However, this does not mean that while making ironic remarks on the surrounding developments or comments every once in a while (witty or not so witty), you do not have to work on resolving legal matters related to internet governance. This is what we are doing.

The Foreign Ministry has been at the source of these processes. We have been closely coordinating our efforts on this front with the Security Council Office, and the Ministry of Digital Development, Communications and Mass Media and other organisations. Russian delegations taking part in talks include representatives from various agencies. Apart from multilateral platforms such as the International Telecommunication Union, the UN General Assembly and the OSCE, we are working on this subject in bilateral relations with our key partners.

We are most interested in working with our Western partners, since we have an understanding on these issues with countries that share similar views. The Americans and Europeans evade these talks under various pretexts. There seemed to be an opening in 2012 and 2013, but after the government coup in Ukraine, they used it as a pretext to freeze this process. Today, there are some signs that the United States and France are beginning to revive these contacts, but our partners have been insufficiently active. What we want is professional dialogue so that they can raise all their concerns and accusations and back them with specific facts. We stand ready to answer all the concerns our partners may have, and will not fail to voice the concerns we have. We have many of them.

During the recent visit by German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas to Russia, I handed him a list containing dozens of incidents we have identified: attacks against our resources, with 70 percent of them targeting state resources of the Russian Federation, and originating on German territory. He promised to provide an answer, but more than a month after our meeting we have not seen it so far.

Question: Let me ask you about another important initiative by the Foreign Ministry. You decided to amend regulations enabling people to be repatriated from abroad for   free, and you proposed subjecting the repatriation guarantee to the reimbursement of its cost to the budget. Could you tell us, please, is this so expensive for the state to foot this bill?

Sergey Lavrov: Of course, these a substantial expenses. The resolution that provided for offering free assistance was adopted back in 2010, and was intended for citizens who find themselves in situations when their life is at risk. Imagine a Russian ambassador. Most of the people ask for help because they have lost money, their passport and so on. There are very few cases when an ambassador can actually say that a person is in a life-threatening situation and his or her life is in danger. How can an ambassador take a decision of this kind? As long as I remember, these cases can be counted on the fingers of my two hands since 2010, when an ambassador had to take responsibility and there were grounds for offering this assistance. We wanted to ensure that people can get help not only when facing an imminent danger (a dozen cases in ten years do not cost all that much). There were many more cases when our nationals found themselves in a difficult situation after losing money or passports. We decided to follow the practices used abroad. Specifically, this means that we provide fee-based assistance. In most cases, people travelling abroad can afford to reimburse the cost of a return ticket.

This practice is designed to prevent fraud, which remains an issue. We had cases when people bought one-way tickets knowing that they will have to be repatriated.

Question: And with no return ticket, they go to the embassy?

Sergey Lavrov: Yes, after that they come to the embassy. For this reason, I believe that the system we developed is much more convenient and comprehensive for dealing with the situations Russians get into when travelling abroad, and when we have to step in to help them through our foreign missions.

Question: Mr Lavrov, thank you for your time. As a Georgian, I really have to ask this. Isn’t it time to simplify the visa regime with Georgia? A second generation of Georgians has now grown up that has never seen Russia. What do you think?

Sergey Lavrov: Georgians can travel to Russia – they just need to apply for a visa. The list of grounds for obtaining a visa has been expanded. There are practically no restrictions on visiting Russia, after obtaining a visa in the Interests Section for the Russian Federation in Tbilisi or another Russian overseas agency.

As for visa-free travel, as you know, we were ready for this a year ago. We were actually a few steps away from being ready to announce it when that incident happened with the Russian Federal Assembly delegation to the International Interparliamentary Assembly on Orthodoxy, where they were invited in the first place, seated in their chairs, and then violence was almost used against them.

I am confident that our relations with Georgia will recover and improve. We can see new Georgian politicians who are interested in this. For now, there are just small parties in the ruling elites. But I believe our traditional historical closeness, and the mutual affinity between our peoples will ultimately triumph. Provocateurs who are trying to prevent Georgia from resuming normal relations with Russia will be put to shame.

They are trying to use Georgia the same way as Ukraine. In Ukraine, the IMF plays a huge role. And the IMF recently decided that each tranche allocated to Ukraine would be short-term.

Question: Microcredits.

Sergey Lavrov: Microcredits and a short leash that can always be pulled a little.

They are trying to use Georgia the same way. We have no interest in seeing this situation continue. We did not start it and have never acted against the Georgian people. Everyone remembers the 2008 events, how American instructors arrived there and trained the Georgian army. The Americans were well aware of Mikheil Saakashvili’s lack of restraint. He trampled on all agreements and issued a criminal order.

We are talking about taking their word for it. There were many cases when we took their word for it, but then it all boiled down to zilch. In 2003, Colin Powell, a test tube – that was an academic version. An attack on Iraq followed. Many years later, Tony Blair admitted that there had been no nuclear weapons in Iraq. There were many such stories. In 1999, the aggression against Yugoslavia was triggered by the OSCE representative in the Balkans, US diplomat William Walker, who visited the village of Racak, where they found thirty corpses, and declared it genocide of the Albanian population. A special investigation by the International Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia found they were military dressed in civilian clothes. But Mr Walker loudly declared it was genocide. Washington immediately seized on the idea, and so did London and other capitals. NATO launched an aggression against Yugoslavia.

After the end of the five-day military operation to enforce peace, the European Union ordered a special report from a group of invited experts, including Swiss diplomat Heidi Tagliavini. She was later involved in the Minsk process, and then she was asked to lead a group of experts who investigated the outbreak of the military conflict in August 2008. The conclusion was unambiguous. All this happened on the orders of Mikheil Saakashvili, and as for his excuses that someone had provoked him, or someone had been waiting for him on the other side of the tunnel, this was just raving.

Georgians are a wise nation. They love life, perhaps the same way and the same facets that the peoples in the Russian Federation do. We will overcome the current abnormal situation and restore normal relations between our states and people.


In addition, if you follow the Minister, follow up on this interview with Sputnik

Exclusive: Sergei Lavrov Talks About West’s Historical Revisionism, US Election and Navalny Case

من القوقاز إلى المحيط الهنديّ ثلاثيّة ما بعد الدولار…!

محمد صادق الحسينيّ

يواصل المفكرون والباحثون والسياسيون والديبلوماسيون والإعلاميون نقاشاتهم وتحليلاتهم، حول طبيعة العلاقات القائمة بين كل من جمهورية الصين الشعبية من جهة وروسيا من جهة أخرى وحول طبيعة العلاقات بين كل من الصين وروسيا وإيران، الى جانب التركيز الإعلامي والاستخباري المتزايد، حول طبيعة العلاقات الروسية الإيرانية والعلاقات السورية الإيرانية.

وبغضّ النظر عن وجهات النظر المختلفة، الصادرة عن العديد من أصحاب الرأي، فإنّ هنالك أسباباً موضوعية، تحكم تلك العلاقات المذكورة أعلاه، تفرضها طبيعة الصراع بين القوى العظمى في العالم، وليست محكومة بمزاجات او نزوات شخصية او ما شابة ذلك.

إذ إنّ الناظم الموضوعي الثابت لهذه العلاقات، يتمثل في المصالح القوميّة العليا لكلّ من البلدان، التي تدور حول علاقاتها كل هذه النقاشات. وهي مصالح محكومة بطبيعة العلاقات السائدة، بين كلّ من هذه الدول والولايات المتحدة والدول الأوروبية، في إطار الصراع الدولي الشامل وسعي كلّ طرف من الاطراف ان تكون له اليد العليا في العالم ليتصدر قيادته، بناءً على موازين القوى التي يفرزها هذا الصراع.

وبما ان جوهر هذا الصراع يتمحور حول انهاء السيطرة الأميركية الاحادية القطبية على العالم فإن كل القوى التي تعارض هذه الهيمنة الأميركية لا بد ان تلتقي مصالحها عند نقطة مشتركة، تجعل التعاون بينها اقتصادياً وسياسياً وعسكرياً، أمراً حتمياً لا غنى عنه.

إن نظرة مجردة، وغير خاضعة للأهواء الشخصية، للعلاقات التي تربط الدول التي تعمل على التصدي للهيمنة الأميركية، وهي بشكل اساسي وقوي كلٌّ من الصين الشعبية وروسيا وإيران، يضاف اليها العديد من الدول الإقليمية المهمة في آسيا، وكذلك الأمر بالنسبة للجزائر وجنوب افريقيا، في القارة الأفريقية، كما المكسيك وفنزويلا وقريباً البرازيل، بعد سقوط حكم بولسونارو، نقول إن نظرة الى هذه العلاقات تجعلنا نصل بالضرورة الى النتائج التالية:

أولاً: إن الاستراتيجية التي تنطلق منها هذه الدول، في مواجهتها لهيمنة الولايات المتحدة، هي استراتيجية موحدة او مشتركة او حتى يمكن القول إنها واحدةً، رغم التمايز في سياساتها، والذي يلاحظ في معالجتها لبعض قضايا العالم، أي لقضايا دولية، خارج إطار علاقة كل واحدة من هذه الدول مع الدولة او الأخرى.

ثانياً: وهذا يعني أن الدول الثلاث أعلاه هي دول متحالفة حول الاهداف، اي حول برنامج عمل محدّد ومتفق عليه، على الرغم من عدم وجود حلف يجمعها، وعدم ارتقاء المعاهدات الدولية، التي تجمع هذه الدول مع دول أخرى في العالم، كمعاهدة شنغهاي وغيرها، وهو الامر الذي يضفي مرونة كبيرة، على علاقات هذه الدول البينية وعلاقاتها مع دول أخرى. وهنا يحضرنا ذكر العلاقات، التي تربط روسيا بسورية وروسيا بـ”إسرائيل”، وكذلك علاقات الصين مع كل من سورية و”إسرائيل”، على الرغم من أن الآفاق الأوسع، لتطوير علاقات الصين وروسيا في “الشرق الاوسط “، توجد في البلدان العربية وليس في “إسرائيل”، وعليه فإن هذه العلاقات المتميّزة، بين القوتين العظميين والكيان الصهيوني، ليست الا علاقات مؤقتة سوف تتلاشى تزامناً مع تلاشي كيان الاحتلال.

ثالثاً: من هنا فانّ هذه الدول، ومنذ بداية تطوير العلاقات الروسية الصينية بشكل حيوي، بعد انتهاء الحرب الباردة، وبداية الحروب العسكرية الأميركية، في الفضاء الاستراتيجيّ للدول الثلاث، والتي بدأت بالحرب الأميركية على العراق سنة 1991، ثم احتلال افغانستان سنة 2001 واحتلال الجيوش الأميركية والبريطانية للعراق سنة 2003، وما تبعها من حرب أميركية اسرائيلية، ضد الحليف الموضوعي لتلك الدول، أي حزب الله، سنة 2006، وما تلاه من محاولة أميركية إسرائيلية لزعزعة الوضع على حدود روسيا الجنوبية، سنة 2008 في جورجيا، نقول إن الدول الثلاث وبالنظر الى ما اوردناه، وغير ذلك من الأسباب، فقد قررت اتباع استراتيجية تجميع وتوحيد القوى، المعادية للهيمنة الأميركية كأولوية دولية، وزجها موحدة في ميدان الصراع الدولي، بهدف الحدّ من السيطرة الأميركية شيئاً فشيئاً وإرغامها على تقليص انتشارها العسكري في العالم.

رابعاً: أن هذه السياسة، التي تجلت في التعاون الاقتصادي الواسع النطاق، بين روسيا والصين، خاصة في مجال الطاقة، وكذلك التعاون العسكري التقني بين الدولتين، الذي يساعد في مراكمة القوة الاقتصادية والعسكرية الضرورية، لخلق توازن دولي جديد، وكذلك الأمر في ما يخص العلاقات الروسية الإيرانية، التي تشمل العديد من القطاعات الهامة، والتي ستشهد تطورات متلاحقة وتعميقاً عاماً لها، بعد رفع حظر بيع وشراء السلاح المفروض على إيران وفشل الولايات المتحدة في تمديده. وكذلك الأمر بالنسبة للعلاقات الصينية الإيرانية التي شهدت تحسنًا ونمواً مضطرداً، رغم الحصار المفروض على إيران أميركياً، وهو تعاون سيفضي قريباً جداً الى توقيع اتفاقيات تعاون استراتيجي، سيكون له ما بعده (التعاون).

خامساً: كما لا بد من التأكيد على أن أحد أهم مجالات تطبيق هذه الثلاثية الأبعاد، الصينية الروسية الإيرانية، هو مجال الادوار التي لعبتها الدول الثلاث، سياسياً وعسكرياً، ليس فقط في حماية الدولة السورية، وبالتالي المنطقة العربية كلها، من التمزيق الشامل، وإنما أسّست لحضور عسكري استراتيجي روسي في شرق المتوسط يشكل خط دفاع أول عن بكين وموسكو ولا يستبعد أن يكون له دور عام في حماية مصالح الدول الثلاث في المنطقة والعالم، خاصة بالنظر الى مشروع طريق واحد حزام واحد الصيني العملاق، الذي لن تستطيع الولايات المتحدة منع تنفيذه مهما قامت بأعمال تفجير هنا وهناك، سواءً في البر او في البحر.

كما لا بدّ ايضاً من الاضاءة على أهمية التعاون السوري العراقي، مع كلّ من روسيا والصين وإيران، لما لذلك من أهمية على مشاريع إعادة الإعمار في العراق وسورية، وكذلك الأمر في قطاع خطوط نقل الغاز، التي لا بدّ أن تكون السواحل والموانئ السورية واللبنانية، رغم تفجير ميناء بيروت مرتين خلال شهر واحد تقريباً، هي محطات ضخ الغاز إلى اوروبا وليس ميناء حيفا المحتلّ، على الرغم من انّ شركة صينية هي التي تدير الميناء. اذ انّ كلّ مشاريع الغاز التي تتحدّث عنها الإدارة الأميركية والاحتلال الإسرائيلي هي مشاريع هدامة، تهدف قبل كل شيء الى إلحاق أضرار استراتيجية بصادرات الغاز الروسية، وبالتالي بالمداخيل المالية للدولة الروسية، خدمة لمشاريع واشنطن، الهادفة لإخضاع روسيا والصين لهيمنتها، سواءً من خلال الضغط العسكريّ أو الضغوط المالية والاقتصادية، عبر العقوبات والادوات الأخرى.

سادساً: وبالاضافة الى ذلك فانّ من الجدير بالذكر انّ تعاون هذه الدول الثلاث، الصين وروسيا وإيران، في كلّ المجالات، وعلى رأسها المجال العسكري، يواصل التنامي ومراكمة القوة اللازمة لمواجهة مؤامرات وتحرّشات الولايات المتحدة وحلف الناتو، سواء ضدّ الصين، في المحيطين الهندي والهادئ وبحار الصين واليابان والفلبين المختلفة، او ضدّ إيران، في بحر العرب ومنطقة الخليج وغرب المحيط الهندي، او ضدّ روسيا، في المحيط الهادئ والبحر الأسود وبحر البلطيق.

حيث قامت الدول الثلاث أعلاه بالردّ على تلك التحرّشات والاستفزازات الأميركية بإجراء تدريبات عسكرية بحرية مشتركة، في بحر العرب وغرب المحيط الهندي، استمرت لمدة ثلاثة ايام، من 27/12 وحتى 30/12/2019. وهي مناورات حملت العديد من الرسائل الهامة، لمن يعنيه الأمر، واظهرت ان إيران أصبحت قادرة على تنفيذ مهمات بحرية خارج محيطها الجغرافي، اذ انّ منطقة المناورات شملت شمال المحيط الهندي ايضاً، البعيد جغرافياً عن إيران، الأمر الذي يؤكد (القدرة الإيرانية) في تحدي للولايات المتحدة وإرسال ناقلات النفط الإيرانية الى فنزويلا، التي تبعد آلاف الكيلومترات عن السواحل الإيرانية مثال صارخ على ذلك.

علماً أنّ نجاح هذه الخطوة يُعتبر نجاحاً للدول الثلاث، خاصة اذا ما نظرنا الية كعملية مكملة للجسرين الجوي الصيني والروسي، اللذين أقيما لتقديم المساعدات لفنزويلا بداية العام الحالي، الى جانب التحليق القتالي الذي نفذته القاذفات الروسية العملاقة، من طراز توبوليڤ 160، في أجواء البحر الكاريبي والعديد من دول هذا البحر، أواسط شهر 12/2019، وما حملته تلك التحليقات الاستراتيجية من رسائل واضحة لواشنطن.

سابعاً: بالنظر الى استمرار التآمر والعبث الأميركي الغربي بأمن الصين، في بحار الصين والمحيط الهادئ وشرق المحيط الهندي (منطقة مضيق مالَقا) وكذلك العبث بالأمن الإيراني وامن منطقة الخليج بأكملها، من خلال مواصلة الحرب على اليمن ومحاولات إقامة حلف امني عسكري خليجي إسرائيلي، موجّه ضدّ إيران، حسب ما اعلن وزير الخارجية الأميركي، وما تقوم به أسلحة الجو للولايات المتحدة وجميع دول حلف الناتو، من محاولات انتهاك الأجواء الروسية، سواء على الجبهة الجنوبية، اي في منطقة البحر الأسود، او في بحر البلطيق وبحر بارينتس وشمال المحيط الهادئ، عند الحدود الروسية الجنوبية مع الصين واليابان، نقول إنه وبالنظر الى كلّ هذه الاستفزازات، مضاف اليها استمرار واشنطن وبروكسل في تعزيز حشود الناتو على حدود روسيا الشمالية الغربية، منطقة لينينغراد التي أصبحت في مرمى مدفعية قوات الناتو، وكذلك المحاولات اليائسة، التي تقوم بها واشنطن وبروكسل، لإسقاط الدولة في روسيا البيضاء والسيطرة على أراضيها رفعاً لمستوى التهديد الغربي للدولة الروسية، فإن كلاً من: روسيا والصين وإيران، الى جانب روسيا البيضاء وباكستان ودول أخرى عديدة، قرّرت اجراء تدريبات عسكرية مشتركة (تحت عنوان القوقاز 2020)، في جنوب غرب روسيا، تستمرّ من 21 وحتى 26 من شهر ايلول الحالي، وذلك في إطار الاستعدادات المشتركة لمواجهة أية اخطار عدوانية تواجه الدول المشاركة في التدريب.

ثامناً: وفي الختام لا بدّ من الإشارة الى انّ مراكمة القدرات، الاقتصادية والسياسية والعسكرية، لمواجهة العدوان الأميركي، قد جاءت نتيجة لثلاثين لقاء، بين الرئيسين الصيني والروسي، والعديد من اللقاءات بين الرئيسين الروسي والإيراني، كما أنها تشكل جزءاً من الردّ على الاستفزازات الجوية الأميركية الأوروبية، في أجواء البحر الاسود بشكل خاص، حيث اضطرت المقاتلات الروسية للتصدي لطائرات استطلاع وقاذفات استراتيجية أميركية أكثر من ثلاثين مرة، خلال شهر آب الماضي.

وهو الأمر الذي جعل إيران ايضاً تنفذ تمريناً عسكرياً بحرياً اطلقت علية اسم: ذو الفقار، بمساندة سلاح الجو والدفاع الجوي وقوات الانزال البحري وسلاح الصواريخ، في منطقة تمتد من بحر العرب وخليج هرمز وحتى غرب المحيط الهندي وتبلغ مساحتها مليوني كيلومتر مربع مستمرة حتى يومنا هذا، حيث تصدّت خلالها الدفاعات الجوية الإيرانية لثلاث طائرات استطلاع أميركية، الأولى من طراز P – 8، أما الثانية فهي مسيّرة من طراز غلوبال هوك MQ – 9، بينما الثالثة مسيّرة ايضاً ومن طراز RQ – 4، حيث كانت هذه الطائرات قد دخلت منطقة الاستطلاع الدفاعي الإيراني، مما اضطر طائرة إيرانية من طراز كرار أن تطلق طلقات تحذيرية باتجاه الطائرات الأميركية التي اضطرت الى مغادرة المنطقة.

وغنيّ عن القول طبعاً انّ في ذلك رسالة واضحة من إيران مفادها، انّ امن المنطقة الإقليمي، الممتدّ من سواحل إيران الجنوبية وبحر العرب وصولاً الى خط بحر قزوين/ البحر الأسود، هي من مسؤوليات دول المنطقة، ولا علاقة لا للولايات المتحدة ولا لدول الناتو بهذا الموضوع، على الرغم من انتشار قواعدها العسكرية على السواحل الغربية للبحر الاسود، في كل من بلغاريا ورومانيا وبعض الوجود العسكري في اوكرانيا.

اذن فهو تعاون ميداني مشترك، ذلك القائم بين الصين وروسيا وإيران، على الرغم من عدم وجود قاعدة عقائدية مشتركة، وهو ما يجعله تعاوناً يرتقي الى مستوى الحلف من دون ان يكون حلفاً ملزماً لكلّ اعضائه بكلّ السياسات والتفاصيل بالضرورة، كما هو حال حلف الناتو حالياً وحلف وارسو سابقاً، وهو الأمر الذي يمكن اعتباره تجديداً في العلاقات الدبلوماسية الدولية، ولكنه يتطابق تماماً مع احكام القانون الدولي، الذي ينظم العلاقات بين الدول.

وهذا ما جعل الكاتب الأميركي، دووغ باندو ينشر مقالاً، في مجلة ذي ناشيونال انتريست الأميركية، يوم 9/9/2020، تحت عنوان: لماذا يجب على أميركا الخوف من هذا الحلف؟

صحيح أن للخوف الأميركي هذا ما يبرره حالياً، لكن الصحيح ايضاً أن لا مبرر له، اذا ما اقتنعت الولايات المتحدة بان التطور الاقتصادي الصيني لن يوقفه لا الخوف الأميركي ولا المخططات العسكرية العدوانية للبنتاغون، وان الطريقة الوحيدة لقتل الخوف الأميركي، هي الرضوخ لمبدأ التعاون البناء مع الصين وروسيا وإيران إذا ما ارادت اثبات حسن نيتها في العلاقات الدولية، والاقتداء بنموذج هذه الدول في التطوير العلمي والتكنولوجي، اذ ان الصين هي الدولة الاولى في ألعالم من ناحية الاستثمار في البحث العلمي والتطوير التكنولوجي، وهي ايضاً الدولة التي يتخرج من جامعاتها سبعة ملايين مهندس، في مختلف الاختصاصات الهندسيّة بما فيها هندسة الكمبيوتر، وما يعنيه ذلك من اثراء لقدرات الدولة، على مختلف الصعد. وهذا ما ينطبق على كل من روسيا وإيران تماماً، ما يجعل المواجهة الاستراتيجية الدولية محسومة النتائج، لصالح التجمع المعادي للهيمنة الأميركيه، ولا مجال لإعادة عقارب الساعة الى الوراء، ولن تنفع اوهام ترامب، التي اعلن عنها يوم أمس، قائلاً ان لديه صواريخ لا يمتلك أحد مثلها…!

فليست بالصواريخ وحدها تعيش الأمم.

فهذا القرن هو قرن الحروب البيولوجيّة وعليك مواجهة الكورونا والقادم من الأوبئة وتنقذ الشعب الأميركي من صواريخك العبثية، قبل أن تتباهى بصواريخ لا وجود لها.

عالم جيوش اليانكي والكاوبوي يتقهقر، عالم ما بعد الدولار يتقدّم وينهض.

بعدنا طيبين قولوا الله…

لوكاشينكو يكشف عن نصائح بوتين له وبيسكوف يستبعد تكرار السيناريو البيلاروسي في بلاده

البناء

كشف رئيس بيلاروس، ألكسندر لوكاشينكو عن الرسالة التي بعثها من خلال ظهوره أمام عدسات وسائل الإعلام مسلحاً ببندقية حربية، على خلفية موجة الاضطرابات الاجتماعية التي تمر بها بلاده.

وجاء ذلك في معرض تعليق لوكاشينكو، في حوار مع ممثلين عن وسائل الإعلام الروسية في مينسك، على شريط الفيديو المدوي الذي يظهره وهو يحلق على متن مروحية فوق مينسك ويخرج منها لدى هبوطها أمام قصر الاستقلال (المقر الرئاسي) حاملا بندقية كلاشنيكوف.

Might Belarus become the next Syria?
Might Belarus become the next Syria?

وأوضح لوكاشينكو أنه «قام بتلك الرحلة على متن المروحية الرئاسية بغية الاطلاع على واقع الوضع على الأرض، فيما كان المحتجون المعارضون يتقدمون لأول مرة نحو قصر الاستقلال».

وتابع: «أظهرت أن أطفالي هنا ووطني هنا وسأدافع عنه بأي ثمن».

وأشار الرئيس إلى أن «مسؤولين في إدارته حاولوا إقناعه بعدم مغادرة المقر الرئاسي في ذلك اليوم»، قائلاً: «كانوا يمسكون يدي وقدمي».

كما كشف لوكاشينكو، عن حديثه مع الرئيس الروسي فلاديمير بوتين، حول دعم رئيس أوكرانيا فلاديمير زيلينسكي.

وقال لوكاشينكو، رداً عن سؤال حول موافقة بوتين بأن يدعم رئيس أوكرانيا: «نعم (دعمني) في العديد من القضايا… (وقال بوتين) تحدث إليه بطريقة أبوية، إنه شاب… وقلت له حسناً، لقد تحدثت إليه، خلال مشاركتي في منتدى هناك، وأوضحت له (لزيلينسكي) أن بوتين ليس هدفه الاستيلاء على كييف… والسيطرة على كل شرق أوكرانيا».

وتابع لوكاشينكو، «بوتين تكفيه روسيا… وناقشنا العديد من القضايا الحياتية وحاولت إقناعه (زيلينسكي)، وهو شخص متفهم وعاملني بشكل جيد».

وحذر الرئيس البيلاروسي، من انهيار بلاده، منوهاً بأن» روسيا ستكون التالية إذا حدث ذلك»، قائلاً: «هل تعلمون إلى ماذا توصلنا مع المؤسسات والقيادة الروسية؟ إذا انهارت بيلاروس اليوم، فالتالية ستكون روسيا».

بدوره، علق المتحدث باسم الرئاسة الروسية، دميتري بيسكوف، على تصريحات لوكاشينكو، عن إمكانية تكرار الاضطرابات التي تشهدها بلاده في روسيا.

وقال بيسكوف للصحافيين، أمس: «لا أعتقد أن المقارنة ممكنة في هذا الشأن، إذ نحن بلدان مختلفان ودولتان سياديتان، وإن كنا متحدين ضمن الدولة الاتحادية التي نثمّنها كثيراً. فلكل منهما ما يميزه من الثقافة السياسية والواقع السياسي والتوجهات السياسية. لذا فيبدو لي أن من غير الصواب إطلاق أي تعميمات في هذا الشأن».

وأشار المتحدث باسم الكرملين إلى أن «روسيا تحترم بالكامل الثقافة السياسية البيلاروسية، على الرغم من هذه الاختلافات».

وفي تعليقه على تقارير عن اختفاء بعض النشطاء المعارضين في بيلاروس، وخاصة قياديين بمجلس التنسيق التابع للمعارضة هناك، قال بيسكوف: «بالتأكيد يمثل اختفاء أشخاص ما أمراً مثيراً للقلق.. وبالطبع نعوّل على أنه سيتم تقديم معلومات معينة (حول هذه الحوادث) في مواعيد محددة وفقا للقانون».

فيما قالت المحامية لودميلا كازاك إن «عضو هيئة رئاسة مجلس التنسيق المعارض في بيلاروسيا، ماريا كوليسنيكوفا، موقوفة بالاشتباه بها في قضية محاولة الاستيلاء على السلطة». وأصبحت كوليسنيكوفا من أول قادة المجلس بهذا الوضع.

ورداً على سؤال توضيحي، أضافت كازاك أن كولسنيكوفا مشتبه بها في ما يسمى «قضية مجلس التنسيق»، والتي بدأت بموجب المادة الخاصة بمحاولة الاستيلاء على السلطة.

وألقي القبض، أول أمس الثلاثاء، على عضو هيئة رئاسة المجلس التنسيقي للمعارضة البيلاروسية، ماريا كوليسنيكوفا، على الحدود مع أوكرانيا، والبحث جار عن ممثلين آخرين في المجلس، وهما إيفان كرافتسوف، وأنتون رودنينكوف، بالتعاون مع كييف.

ووفقاً لوكالة الأنباء التلفزيونية الأوكرانية: «اجتاز الهاربون نقاط التفتيش الحدودية والجمارك وعند تفتيش السيارة فقدوا أعصابهم، وانطلقوا بسرعة في اتجاه أوكرانيا حيث كادوا يصدمون أحد عناصر حرس الحدود، وفي الوقت نفسه دفعوا بـ كوليسنيكوفا من السيارة».

من جانبها أكدت لجنة حدود الدولة البيلاروسية، في وقت سابق، أن «الأشخاص الثلاثة تم تسجيلهم عند نقطة التفتيش وتوجهوا نحو أوكرانيا نتيجة لذلك تمكن أنطون رودنينكوف وإيفان كرافتسوف من الهرب، ولم تستطع كوليسنيكوفا فعل ذلك، وتم اعتقالها على الحدود مباشرة، والآن البحث جار عن الهاربين مع الجانب الأوكراني».

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US/NATO Preparing for War on Russia? Six Military Exercises at Russia’s Doorstep

By Stephen Lendman

Global Research, September 07, 2020

Wars by hot and other means are all about Washington’s main strategy to advance its imperium — seeking dominance over other nations, their resources and populations by brute force if other methods don’t achieve its objectives.

From inception, the US has been addicted to war, glorifying it deceptively in the name of peace.

In 1982, founder of the Pentagon’s nuclear navy Admiral Hyman Rickover explained the risks to Congress in the age of super-weapons able to end life on earth if used in enough numbers, saying the following:

“The lesson of history is when a war starts every nation will ultimately use whatever weapons it has available” to win, adding:

“I think the human race is going to wreck itself, and it is important that we get control of this horrible force and try to eliminate it.”

Rickover regretted his role in what became a nuclear arms race.

“I would sink…all” US nuclear powered ships, he said. “I am not proud of the part I played in” their development.

“That’s why I am such a great exponent of stopping this whole nonsense of war.”

Bertrand Russell noted the risk, saying:

“Shall we put an end to the human race, or shall mankind renounce war.” It’s the only way to live in peace. The alternative risks annihilation.

World powers have a choice. End wars or sooner or later they’ll end us.

Russia is a prime US target. In 1961, hardline US Air Force chief of staff General Curtis LeMay believed nuclear war with Soviet Russia was inevitable and winnable — at the time, calling for preemptive war on the country with overwhelming force.

Joint Chiefs chairman Lyman Lemnitzer at the time urged a surprise nuclear attack on the Soviet Union during a National Security Council meeting.

Expressing disgust, Jack Kennedy walked out of the session, telling then-Secretary of State Dean Rusk:

“And we call ourselves the human race.”

JFK’s Defense Secretary Robert McNamara rejected what LeMay and Lemnitzer called for.

Their recklessly dangerous ideas never went away. In an age when super-weapons can end life on earth in days if detonated in enough numbers, the risk of mass annihilation is real.

Weeks earlier, Russia’s Defense Ministry accused US-led NATO of conducting “provocative” military drills near its borders — what goes on with disturbing regularity. See below.

In June, Russian Colonel-General Sergey Rudskoy, head of its General Staff sent NATO a letter that called for scaling down military exercises by both countries.

With US-led NATO drills in the Barents Sea at the time, he accused the Pentagon of simulating strikes on Russian territory and intercepting its retaliatory ICBMs.

According to Rudskoy, provocative Barents Sea drills at the time were the first of their kind by US-dominated NATO since Soviet Russia’s 1991 dissolution.

He also criticized increasing numbers of flights by Pentagon nuclear-capable strategic bombers near Russia’s borders — at times forcing its military to scramble warplanes and put air defense forces on high alert.

Since the Obama regime’s 2014 coup d’etat in Ukraine, replacing democratic government with neo-Nazi infested fascist tyranny on Russia’s border, bilateral relations  sank to a post-Cold War low.

Moscow considers the deployment of US-led NATO forces near its borders a destabilizing threat to its national security.

Rudskoy said “(t)he US and its allies are continuing to destroy Europe’s security system under the guise of a perceived ‘Russian aggression’ ” that doesn’t exist.

The US refused Moscow’s offer for dialogue to reduce tensions and the risk of conflict by accident or design.

On Sunday, Rudskoy again highlighted the threat of provocative US-led NATO actions near Russia’s borders, including increased surveillance and aerial operations to test its air defenses.

In August, provocative US/NATO aerial maneuvers increased about 30% over the comparable 2019 period, he explained, including simulated missile strikes on Russian targets.

Shoigu called what’s going on “alarming,” notably because several incidents occurred close to Russia’s borders.

Last week, Russia scrambled warplanes to intercept three US nuclear-capable B-52 bombers over Ukraine and the Black Sea near Crimea, a statement saying:

“Violations of the state border of the Russian Federation by American aircraft were prevented.”

Two weeks earlier, a similar incident occurred in international airspace over the Black Sea.

Days earlier, Moscow slammed the US for holding live-fire exercises in Estonia near its border.

A statement by its Washington embassy said the following:

“Russia has repeatedly proposed to the United States and its allies to limit training activities and to divert the exercise zones from the Russia-NATO contact line,” adding:

“Why do this demonstrative saber-rattling? What signals do the NATO members want to send us?”

“Who is actually escalating tensions in Europe? And this is all happening in the context of (a made-in-the-USA) aggravated political situation in” Belarus.

“(H)ow would the Americans react” if Russia conducted similar provocative exercises near its borders?

According to NATO, the following US-led military exercises are ongoing or soon to begin in Europe (and near Iranian waters the Mediterranean):

Operation Dynamic Move II 20 — ongoing through September 10 in waters near Italy, explaining:

“To exercise naval mine warfare (NMW) tactics and procedures, the Allied Worldwide Navigational System (AWNIS), and Naval Cooperation on and Guidance for Shipping (NCAGS) procedures in order to enhance participant’s ability to conduct littoral and amphibious operations.”

Operation Steadfast Pyramid 20 — begun in Latvia on Sunday will continue through September 11, NATO explaining:

“An Exercise Study focused on further developing the abilities of commanders and senior staff to plan and conduct operations through the application of operational art in decision making based on the ACO Comprehensive Operations Planning Directive (COPD) and utilizing a complex, contemporary scenario.”

Operation KFOR III 20 will be held from September 8 – 16 in Herzegovina, explaining:

“Conducted to familiarize future Key Leaders of HQ KFOR with their new tasks, the overall situation in KFOR AOR (Area of Responsibility), and to prepare a smooth transition without loss of continuity.”

Operation Ramstein Guard 9 20 is scheduled for Romania from September 13 – 17, explaining:

“The NATO Electronic Warfare Force Integration Program is a means to exercise the NATO designated regional elements of NATO’s Integrated Air and Missile Defence System conducted through the CAOCs (Combined Air Operation Center) while also including some national systems and assets.”

“It is designed to train Air Command Ramstein and subordinate units on the reporting/coordination requirements while exposing them to a wide variety of EW (electronic warfare) tactics and techniques in a controlled environment.”

Operation Steadfast Pinnacle 20 is scheduled for Latvia from September 13 – 18, explaining:

“An Exercise Study focused on further developing the abilities of commanders and senior staff to plan and conduct operations through the application of operational art in decision making based on the ACO (Allied Command Operations) Comprehensive Operations Planning Directive (COPD) and utilizing a complex, contemporary scenario.”

Operation Ramstein Guard 10 20 is scheduled for Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania from September 20 – 24, NATO explaining:

“The NATO Electronic Warfare Force Integration Program is a means to exercise the NATO designated regional elements of NATO’s Integrated Air and Missile Defence System conducted through the CAOCs (Combined Air Operation Center) while also including some national systems and assets. It is designed to train Air Command Ramstein and subordinate units on the reporting/coordination requirements while exposing them to a wide variety of EW (electronic warfare) tactics and techniques in a controlled environment.”

Exercises like the above go on at all times near the borders of Russia, China, Iran, and other nations on the US target list for regime change.

From now through yearend 2020 near the borders of Russia and Iran alone, other US-led NATO military exercises will be held in Turkey, France, the UK, Kosovo, the Mediterranean Sea, Spain, Lithuania, Estonia, Italy, the Netherlands, Germany, Bosnia Herzegovina, Serbia, Poland and Norway.

Instead of prioritizing world peace, stability, and cooperative relations with the world community of nations, US-dominated NATO is preparing for greater wars than already ongoing in multiple theaters by its forces.

*

Note to readers: please click the share buttons below. Forward this article to your email lists. Crosspost on your blog site, internet forums. etc.

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

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

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

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.The original source of this article is Global ResearchCopyright © Stephen Lendman, Global Research, 2020

White House Kosovo meeting: crossing the Atlantic, for this?

White House Kosovo meeting: crossing the Atlantic, for this?

by Eric Vögelin[1] for the Saker blog

The President of Serbia and Avdullah Hoti, the Prime Minister (perhaps it would be more correct to say “self-styled Prime Minister”) of NATO’s 1999 war booty, the occupied Serbian province of Kosovo were hosted for a conference at the White House on 3 and 4 September. The ostensible purpose of the meeting was to iron out their economic relations, as if anything were there to iron out given the devastated condition of both their economies. Putting aside the sensible question of why anybody at the White House would even care about this very local issue enough to devote the good part of two days to it, and bearing in mind that nothing in the Balkans is as it appears at first glance, the real agenda was, of course, quite a bit different. It had to do with putting finishing touches on legitimizing Kosovo as a separate state with international attributes, and economic concerns only served to camouflage that intention.

When the dust settled, the Serbian President had signed what must appear as one of the weirdest documents in the history of international relations. Before making any further editorial comments, here it is:

C:\Users\hp\Desktop\Serbia-Kosovo Agreement 2020 - 1.jpg
C:\Users\hp\Desktop\Serbia-Kosovo Agreement 2020 - 2.jpg

What is so bizarre about it? It is a scrap of paper adorned with the signature of a head of state, but without any heading or logo, or place where it was signed. To add insult to injury, the signatory is identified merely as “President.” President of what, the local Rotary Club or Hunters’ Association? Would a statesman who cares about the dignity of his office or the prestige of his country sign something like this? And what is this, anyway? Is it a diplomatic document or the signatory’s private notes, written out to himself? Interesting questions, worth pondering.

For a contrast, here is President Donald Trump’s letter to his Kosovo Albanian guest, Avdullah Hoti, commemorating the occasion:

C:\Users\hp\Desktop\Trump letter to Hothi.jpg

That looks a lot better and more dignified, doesn’t it?

For an economic agreement between two Balkan entities that few in the West have heard of, care about, or could locate on the map, reached with the involvement of President Trump and members of his staff, the strangely laid out document, it must be said, contains some even stranger provisions.

It says, among other things, that the parties will “diversify their energy supplies.” What does this Aesopian language mean? Are the parties unhappy with their current sources of energy and in need of assistance to secure new ones? Hardly. In light of (a) America’s bitter opposition to North Stream 2, and (b) Secretary of State Pompeo’s recent attempts to “diversify” Belarus’ energy supplies by pushing on it US products that would have to be brought from 10,000 miles away in order to block nearby Russian energy supplies, this phrase can mean only one thing. It is an order to Serbia to abandon any thought of relying on convenient and reasonably priced Russian energy supplies. It also puts an end to Serbia’s role in the Russian European energy distribution scheme, and potentially deprives it of its lucrative position as the South Stream distribution hub. What a great deal for Serbia!

Serbia further accepts to “prohibit the use of 5G equipment supplied by untrusted vendors.” Public health advocates would at this point say “Great, the trip to Washington was not in vain after all, because the scourge of 5G will no longer endanger the health of Serbia’s population, already being decimated by dire cancer generating radioactive consequences of the 1999 NATO bombing.” But the removal of this indisputably noxious Chinese equipment (and that is the whole point of this provision) will not end the scourge but will merely lead to “other mediation efforts in a timely fashion,” e.g. to the substitution of US manufactured deadly 5G networks for those of Huawei.

So the “economic normalization agreement with Kosovo” signed by the president of Serbia’s Hunter’s Association is actually a huge slap to both Russia and China, Serbia’s important geopolitical partners, and incidentally a shot in Serbia’s own foot as well.

Next, there is a provision which Ambassador Richard Grenell, who mediated the talks, might have inserted himself: “Both parties will work with the 69 countries that criminalize homosexuality to push for decriminalization.” What has that got to do with economic relations? And why stop there and not also mandate transgender toilets in Serbian grammar schools?

Serbia is also mandated to transfer its embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. In parallel fashion, “Kosovo” and Israel will establish diplomatic relations, i.e. Israel recognizes Kosovo. Another great deal for Serbia. By moving its embassy to Jerusalem, Serbia will reward Israel for recognizing the illegal separation of 15% of its territory containing some of its most significant cultural and spiritual sites. That would be analogous to Israel ceding Temple Mount and the Wailing wall to the Arabs and opening embassies in their capitals. And, slap number three, this time to the Arab and Muslim world, for reasons that are impossible to rationally fathom, Serbia obliges itself to “implement measures to restrict Hizballah´s operations and financial activities” on its territory. Whatever position one chooses to take toward “Hizballah” there is nothing for Serbia to restrict because that organization does not conduct any activities on Serbian territory, unless the reference is to “Kosovo” which happens to be a Hizballah stronghold. So why aren´t things called by their real name, and why does a person purporting to represent Serbia consent to being strong-armed into signing such a ludicrous provision, needlessly putting his country in a bad light and courting the contempt of hundreds of millions of Muslims throughout the world?

The next to last point of the Agreement is highly indicative of the political context of the entire affair. It says that in return for “Kosovo” not seeking membership in international organizations for a year, Serbia will “agree to a one-year moratorium on its de-recognition campaign, and will refrain from formally or informally requesting any nation or International Organization not to recognize Kosovo as an independent state.” The formulation is ambiguous but it is framed to support the interpretation that Serbia will refrain from obstructing the recognition of “Kosovo as an independent state” without any time limitations. The sentence is cleverly written by Anglo-Saxon lawyers, including tricky punctuation, to obfuscate that point, but the comma after the word “year” gives the game away. The clause that follows is grammatically separate from the language that precedes it. If President Trump was in a hurry and retyping the whole thing was not an option, any prudent signatory on Serbia’s behalf would have quickly inserted in his own hand after the word refrain the phrase “for the duration of one year,” thus clearly matching the period of “Kosovo’s” commitment to refrain. But as the matter stands, “Kosovo’s” duty to refrain will expire in one year, while Serbia’s obligation to do the same will continue indefinitely after that. Pacta sunt servanda.

Did Serbia’s representative at this meeting have a legal team to assist him? Probably not, because he presumes to be a lawyer himself.

What is the political implication of this provision? It is that the US and EU sponsored process of “Kosovo” legitimation as an “independent state” shall continue unabated, culminating in UN membership, with Serbia renouncing in advance the right to oppose it in any effective way. It is a demonically clever scheme. In the end, Serbia’s de iure recognition of “Kosovo” will become irrelevant because there will no longer be a need to seek its consent or opinion on the subject.

The thought that President Trump arranged this meeting because he needed a foreign policy win before the elections is grossly exaggerated. In his press briefing on 4 September, the same day these discussions were concluded, he did not even mention them or intimate that some spectacular accords which might influence his electoral chances were signed in the Oval Office. That is a clue to the significance he attributes to the visit of his Balkan guests.

For the outlaw “government of Kosovo,” however, this is an important phase in the relentless process of legitimation that is being conducted under the auspices of its US deep state sponsors, whether Trump personally is aware of what is going on or not. For Serbia, the trans-Atlantic trip definitely was not worth it. It was another broad strategic retreat and humiliation. It demonstrates the readiness of Serbia’s leadership to needlessly abase themselves and trade the country’s crown jewels for another lease on their political life, betting on the foreign support they now think they have secured by brown-nosing the global powers-that-be. They better think again, however, and analyse realistically the trajectory of their Montenegrin colleagues.

  1. I thank a reader of my previous article for correctly spelling my surname, with the umlaut. I had used the English transliteration in order not to confuse some readers. 

Poland and Lithuania Are Ready to ‘Take Back’ Belorussian Lands (Anna Sochina)

Poland and Lithuania Are Ready to ‘Take Back’ Belorussian Lands (Anna Sochina)

September 02, 2020

Translated by Sasha and subtitled by Leonya.

Hello dear friends, once again Anna Sochina is with you. You may accuse me of a biased attitude towards Poland and the Baltic states. I often criticize them in my releases. Firstly, these republics often throw such performances that one cannot just walk by. And secondly, there is food for discussion in view of the events in Belorussia. Because no matter how much the local authorities assure that they do not encroach upon Belorussian sovereignty, the facts speak the opposite.

Paralytics Politics with Anna Sochina

I read the news recently: “The European MP for Poland Jacek Dariusz Wolski raised a most important issue at the extraordinary session on the situation in Belorussia: Let us pronounce ‘Tichanowska’ instead of ‘Tikhanovskaya’, let us pronounce it the Polish way.” “Because when foreigners say ‘Tikhanovskaya,’” he explains, “they pronounce the last name in a Russian way, and this way they recognize that the Republic of Belarus is in the sphere of Russia’s interests.” While it should, by the looks of it, be within Poland’s sphere of interests. If the West is moulding you as a leader of protests, you must become clay. If they say you’re not going to be Tikhanovskaya but Tichanowska, you will be. If they say you’re not going to be Sochina but Soczynski, you will be.

Clearly I wouldn’t have paid attention to this news had it not been for this linguistic screen concealing rather more serious intentions of Poland towards its neighbouring country. Here is, for instance, Tomasz Sommer, the Chief Editor of the ‘Najwyższy Czas’ weekly, writes on his Twitter:

It is absolutely obvious that Grodno must, in case of Belarus breaking up, be taken by Poland. PiS (the ruling Law and Justice Party) knows this but is afraid to say so.”

Well, who cares what some editor in chief said somewhere, it’d seem. However, my friends, the voice of Tomasz Sommer is not alone. Many representatives of the Polish elite share his thoughts, only they don’t voice it. The Poles use other methods in order to advance their interests in Belorussia. Thus the Polish trade union conglomerate ‘Solidarność’, whose influence level arguably exceeds any parliamentary party, sent humanitarian aid to the Republic of Belarus, in the form of a few dozens tonnes of food, which could to be of use at the workplaces during strikes. Additionally, they, with the support from the Polish government, helped to create the Fund of Solidarity with Belarus, which has already collected 1,000,000 PLN to aid the protesters, which translates into over 700,000 Belorussian rubles, or over 20,000,000 Russian rubles which the Belorussian service of ‘Radio Freedom’ joyfully announces to us.

It’s not that much, it might seem. But ‘Solidarność’ is not the only one who pours money into the Republic of Belarus, and it is not just coming from Poland. For instance, the strike committee of ‘BelarusPotassium’ announced lately that the aid to the strikers from foreign funds and the EU will amount to 35,000,000 euros. The President of the European Commission, Ursula Von der Leyen, announces at the same time that the EU will allocate 53,000,000 euros to support Belorussia “in this difficult time.” Belorussia herself, on the other hand, was able to raise only 2,000,000 euros in aid of the striking workers. So it is not the Belorussians who will be determining their country’s policies in the near future I agree with the ‘Temnik’ Telegram channel:

The governments of the Baltic states and Poland announce almost on the daily basis that they assign new sums for ‘the civil society development’, for ‘the independent media’, ‘training of the psychologists’, ‘first aid to the victims’, etc. The sums are modest – only a few dozens of hundreds of thousands euros, but if you put together these streamlets, they shape up into a considerable investment in the regime change scenario in the Republic of Belarus.”

Apart from the direct financial injections, for which the Belorussians will of course be made to pay later, Poland and Lithuania employ other methods. Lithuania in particular jumps up the highest out of their pants. It is there where at the moment the Belorussian female version of Juan Guaido is being moulded. There a ‘strong leader’ is being created out of a ‘weak woman’, as Tikhanovskaya described herself. However, in this case, I will agree with our colleague Armen Gasparyan. A strong leader must be charismatic, which is a quality I cannot discern no matter what when I look at Tikhanovskaya’s writing. Either way Lithuania accepted ‘Tichanowska’ within its borders. Lithuania also wrote a hurriedly long sanctions list against over 130 names of Belorussian officials. Lithuania is organizing mass rallies in support of the Belorussians on its territory. “The ‘Road of Freedom’ from Vilnius to the border with Belarus. Tens of thousands of people formed a living chain in Lithuania in order to support the Belorussian protest.”

RBK: “On the Sunday evening, almost 50 thousand people in Lithuania held their hands, having formed a living chain from Vilnius to the village of Miadininkai on the border with Belarus, in order to express their support for the Belorussians who are fighting for democratic reforms in their country. The length of the chain during the ‘Road to Freedom’ action was 32 km.”

The authors of the Telegram channel ‘Horde’ noted an interesting moment in connection to this 32 km long chain. I don’t do well in math, but they made the calculations:

According to the estimates of the Sunday Party in Minsk, it gathered from 20,000-150,000 people, or if we average it, it was around 85,000 citizens. The Belorussian population is only 9 million. It is 3.5 times more than in Lithuania. So 50,000 sympathizers in lith is equivalent to 150,000 in Belorussia. In other words, the Lithuanians sympathize with the Belorussians more than the Belorussians sympathize with themselves.”

I, by the way, never stop being amazed at the Poles’ and the Baltics’ mentality. They make an impression of a small lap dog that pounces at your legs, wants to bite but is too afraid to do it and so it just yaps. I’ll explain why I think so, having quoted the Ministry of Defense of Republic of Belarus:

A probe consisting of eight air balloons carrying anti-state symbols was launched from the contiguous territory. Thanks to the actions of Mi-24 helicopter crews belonging to the duty air defense forces, the flight of the air balloons was stopped without weapon deployment.”

This news is actively ridiculed, including the mockery on behalf of some Russian authors. Wikipedia has already published an article titled “The Helium War”. Although I personally see nothing funny in this. Launching air balloons with the white-red-white symbol, which is totally anti-state but which very close in spirit to Poland and Lithuania, and to laugh when Belorussian helicopters take in the air: “Ha ha, the army is sent against our air balloons”, – can any one tell me what is so funny here? In reality, what’s laughable here are the imperial ambitions of Poland and Lithuania, who, in their dreams, are already dividing between themselves Grodno and other adjacent territories. And even if they are not yet dividing it, they demand to be included in the negotiations alongside Russia, Germany and France.

In this light, the interview with the former Foreign and Defense Minister of Poland Radosław Sikorski, is quite interesting and telling. Its headline is “The Crisis in Belarus Confined the Strength of Poland”. Nowhere in the article are arguments in support of this headline, but the principal thought developed by Sikorski sounds like this:

Radosław Sikorski: “Had Poland had normal diplomatic relations with Russia, she could have been the negotiator between Russia and the West about how Belarus could transform from a dictatorship into a democracy that does not infringe upon anyone’s interests. Poland should be in the centre of the situation but it is not so at the moment.”

It’s as if the neighbours on the floor have made a party but did not invite that one who always drills and makes noises after eleven. Poland is absent from the Normandy Four who negotiate about Donbass. It is also not awaited at the Minsk negotiations, although it would seem that nearest neighbour must be present. Evidently the Poles’ appetites for the tasty pieces of Belarus are apparent to Berlin, Paris and Brussels and the openly conservative policies of President Andrzej Duda doesn’t, let’s say, resonate in their hearts. Nevertheless this doesn’t mean that Poland and the Baltic states can be written off. As Sikorski himself incautiously notes in his interview when speaking of Lithuania’s role in the conflict, “sometimes small countries are used for scouting the battlefield.” That was a quote. And these small countries are being used by the United States, if to believe the former Defense and Foreign Minister of Poland.

It is on the Lithuanian territory where meetings between Tikhanovskaya and high ranking US representatives are being held at the moment. Strange is however that Sikorski does not draw parallels and does not understand that Poland, just like Lithuania, is being instigated, just like Lithuania, and is being used against Russia’s interests. But no, “Poland is the hegemon while Lithuania is just a mere pawn in the hands of the White House.” What do we have as a result? Cheap provocations like the one with air balloons. Large financial injections into Belorussia. Rallies in support of the protesters. Establishment of new foundations and non-governmental organizations within Belorussia. The support for such bloggers as ‘Nekhta’ or ‘Nexta’, I don’t know what is the correct pronunciation. I will quote Sikorski again:

Radosław Sikorski: “I am pleased that one of the principal Telegram bloggers ‘Nekhta’ came to Poland to study thanks the Erasmus program. The Belorussian House in Warsaw was founded in our time by the Polish Foreign Affairs Ministry and my personal idea was to create European Endowment for Democracy, and I know that it is also participating in the events in Belarus.”

Oh, European Endowment for Democracy is a topic for a separate conversation altogether. It this one is taking part, it is as good as lost. Someone may ask how do we differ from Poland or Lithuania. After all, Russia has been sponsoring Belorussia for years. Well, my friends, there is a huge difference between cooperation on the governmental level and pumping money and air balloons into the opposition. On the governmental level, Belorussia even holds joint marine exercises with Great Britain and it seems ok. But moulding a ‘Guaido’ on its territory and pumping money into the protesters and the strikers is not the official level, right? Besides answering the possible questions about Moscow’s role, I must remind that Russia and Belorussia are the Union State, and I don’t recall that Lukashenko made such unions with Lithuania or Poland.

Goodbye.

Syria stands by Belarus in confronting foreign interventions

Source

Thursday, 03 September 2020 

DAMASCUS, (ST)_Syria has asserted that it stands by the friendly Belarus Republic  and its elected president Alexander Lukashenko in confronting the attempts of foreign intervention in Minsk’s internal affairs. 

It said in a statement released on Thursday by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates that Syria is closely following the recent development in the Republic of Belarus and expresses its support for it in confronting the attempts of foreign intervention in Minsk’s internal affairs. 

The ministry, in addition, asserted Syria’s support for the president of Belarus and condemned the insistence of some countries on undermining the legitimate governments in independent and sovereign states. 

It pointed out that some western states threaten security and stability in many states and promote the projects of chaos and division with the aim of imposing hegemony over the peoples’ choices and decisions and wealth. 

“The Syrian Arab Republic renews its pride in the distinguished relations with the Republic of Belarus and always remembers the stance of Belarus with Syria in confronting the ongoing terror war on it and its rejection of the attempts of foreign interventions in Damascus’ internal affairs,” the statement added, pointing out the Syria looks forward to enhancing bilateral relations with Belarus for the common interest of the two states’ peoples. 

The ministry concluded by saying that Syria renews its trust in the friendly Belarusian people’s choices and in the wisdom of their leadership and government to overcome the crisis and to achieve more security and prosperity. 

Basma Qaddour

Related

Poland Coordinates Protests in Minsk. Why Russia Needs Runet as an Information Shield

Video by REDUX, it was then posted by Bornaya Solyanka, a successor channel to PolitRussia which has been deleted from YouTube since shortly before August 20th.

Poland Coordinates Protests in Minsk. Why Russia Needs Runet as an Information Shield

Translated by Sasha and captioned by Leonya.

The events in Belorussia bring on more than thoughts about the brotherly country’s internal and external political problems. The shutting down of the Internet over there and the phenomenon of the Telegram channel ‘Nexta’ (Belorussian word for ‘Someone’) make worth an examination of the informational aspect of such a thing as a street protest, particularly in view of the fact that in the era of Internet it is the information which brings people into the streets.

The rally and street protest as a sable form of the public city protest ritual have been considerably transformed under influence of the Internet and social networks. The methods for political mobilization and protest preparation have also changed with the appearance of the so-called new media. The key issue of these methods is naturally the conversion rate, the transformation of a social network reader and user into an active participant of a protest action in the street. The crux is that users can express their discontent at will and on mass in the social networks. But this does not result in people coming out into the streets. The thing is that joining the protests is practically always an emotionally rather than rationally validated action for an ordinary participant. Initially, according to sociologists, the propaganda is always directed to the young generation. The organizers play on the youths’ need to raise the self evaluation and to experience new emotions.

“The youth in any society is the most protest prone electorate,” explains sociologist, the director of the Enterprise group of the Sociology Institute, Maria Fil. “A generational conflict takes place here because the authorities are associated with a certain domineering of the older generation who allegedly are imposing their rules of play, the order of behaviour. In a wider sense it is the fathers and sons problem. The young want to announce themselves, want to have more opportunities and it seems to them that those opportunities are not as freely available as they would be, should the authorities be replaced. The opposition leaders arm themselves with an image of a modern advanced person.” Additionally it is important to evoke within a protester strong negative emotions. So the principal supporting factor for people’s emotions that make them come out in the streets can be the visuals of dispersing of rallies, when the security forces pound the protestors. After all it is a strong source for outrage. And the more such videos appear, the stronger probabilityfor those people appearing in the square who previously were not sure they needed to act. The advantage that the protest organizers have against their opponents, the authorities, is obvious: in most cases it is impossible to determine whether the attacked were the genuine protesters as opposed to those who attacked the police themselves. Of course you can spend a few hours in order to find out these nuances. But this has no bearing whatsoever on the target audience. So all that is left in the viewer’s mind is the violence of the law enforcement against the civilians.

After the first dispersals and arrests dozens of videos will appear on the Internet, which will trigger the chain reaction. The entire anger stowed withing the society will blaze up from one match strike, whose role will be performed by the right photos and videos. In these conditions the decision to block the Internet does not appear to be so stupid. It becomes rather logical. This way the authorities can kill two birds with one stone. Firstly, the interaction on the Internet has a direct influence on the formulating the rules for behaviour during the protest and at the point of detention. The protests are prepared on the Internet, there the problem is discussed, supporters are recruited. And next, when the protest moves into the street, the crowd’s movements are coordinated through the Internet. This means the demonstrators must be deprived of this possibility to coordinate their actions. But, as I said earlier, it is even more important for the authorities to deprive the protest of the new energy, which can be created by the same videos of protest dispersals and beatings. In this light, the situation in which Belorussia found itself is very interesting, when the country blocked everything it could, even to the detriment of its own economy, but was unable to block the Telegram with Nexta within it. The Belorussian authorities faced a completely new problem here, for whose solution they did not prepare in advance. Possibly they did not even suspect its existence. This problem can be briefly described as a punctured informational shield. In other words, to attempt blocking the social networks and fail at it is more effective than not trying to turn off anything.

According to the preliminary assessments the modest republic’s economy was losing up to $56 million a day. But this is not as bad as the informational vacuum which the authorities created with their own hands and which was filled by the oppositional channel ‘Nexta’, whose creators, the way, live in Poland by the way, and which gained almost 2 million subscribers in a couple of days, having become, in fact, the principle coordinator of the protests and the largest Russian language political Telegram channel. Compare: the popular and quite reputable channel “Nezygar’” has merely 348 thousand subscribers, which used to seem a huge number. Aleksei Navalny has only 176 thousand subscribers to his Telegram channel. I will not analyze the ‘Nexta’ channel in the context of Belorussian protests. I am more interested in something different. Everything points at the fact that a new anti-Russian media giant appeared under our noses, which, in addition to everything else, is practically out of range for the Russian law enforcement system. There should be no doubt in the Russophobic nature of the newly born Russian-language Polish media source. The channel simply gleams with outward Russophobia and a few times it transmitted fakes, one of which was the post about the ‘Russian spetsnaz’ beating up ordinary Belorussians. Have a look.

Besides this channel’s posts are soaked with calls for radicalization of the protest. Interesting are the personalities who created the channel. For instance the chief editor of ‘Nexta’ is Roman Protasevich, who used to work for the American ‘Radio Freedom’ and for the Lithuanian-Polish ‘Euro Radio’. The problem is that if some protests start in the territory of the Russian Federation, that channel will be able to easily tell the protesters what and how they should do all the way from Poland. And if the comrades from ‘Nexta’ calls for throwing Molotov cocktails into the law enforcement forces or shoot at them with fireworks, ‘Nexta’ could not be held into account. They are in Poland. Out of reach. In this hypothetical situation ‘Nexta’, calling for the protest radicalization, will not be acting in the people’s interest. Because this would cause casualties among both the law enforcement forces and among the protesters, and would bring to naught any possible concessions on behalf of the authorities, which would be quite possible in the case of a peaceful protest. As is the case in Khabarovsk, where there have been no dispersals of rallies, nor forceful detentions, nor beatings of citizens. On the contrary, the clerk in the rank of Prime Minister visited the region for the first time in thirteen years. Prior to Mishustin, it was Fratkov who visited the region in the remote year of 2007. All that time the leaders of the country demonstrated their attention to the region’s problems only from a distance. This illustrates perfectly the role of peaceful protests in Khabarovsk in the transformation of the Center’s attitude towards the entire Far East.

Russia should be thinking today how it should behave when the described above situation appears here. Because pinpoint strikes against particular agitators inside the country would be useless. Because the entire coordination of actions and the feeding the ever renewed videos and photos of beaten up teenagers to the undecided will be directed from abroad. Yes, Russia can repeat the mistake of Belorussian authorities and try to cover herself with a punctured informational shield. But here, it seems to me, the real help to Russia could be rendered by the sovereign Runet, of which there was so much talk some time ago. For instance, the Telegram channel ‘On Duty in Iran’ draws the example of the last year’s protests in Iran. This is what it says: “The Belorussian protests reminded me of the demonstrations in Iran back in November which was lucky to witness… the Iranian way of neutralizing the protest threat looks a lot more successful (than the Belorussian one). They didn’t just turn off the Internet within 24 hours, but launched the ‘national internet’, which meant that a widen local service remained: the state media sites continued working, so did banking systems, food deliveries and taxis, ticket sales – practically everything in the .Irzone, but no social networks, no messengers, youtubes or even email. The ‘national internet’ was prepared for almost two years but the result turned out impressive: it was practically impossible to bypass the blocking, while the basic infrastructure kept working. It is an extremely effective short term measure.”

This way, in case of events developing according to earlier described scenario, the sovereign Runet would help to prevent bloodshed and keep the protest within the peaceful framework, without causing damage to the country’s economy. Yes, technical questions arise as well as the danger of misuse of the instrument by the authorities. However the Kremlin and Russian society still have enough time to reach a compromise, having created a powerful shield against the external resources like ‘Nexta’, which, besides its role described above, could be used first and foremost for protection of important infrastructure of the country from cyber attacks during the cyber war, which I covered in my previous video. This is all for today. Write your comments, rate this video, subscribe to the channel and to my group in VKontakte (the link is in the description to this video), and see you soon.

Shadowplay revisited: how Eurasia is being reshaped

Shadowplay revisited: how Eurasia is being reshaped

AUGUST 27, 2020

by Pepe Escobar with permission by the author and first posted at Asia Times

We have seen how China is meticulously planning all its crucial geopolitical and geoeconomic moves all the way to 2030 and beyond.

What you are about to read next comes from a series of private, multilateral discussions among intel analysts, and may helpfully design the contours of the Big Picture.

In China, it’s clear the path ahead points to boosting internal demand, and shifting monetary policy towards the creation of credit to consolidate the building of world-class domestic industries.

In parallel, there’s a serious debate in Moscow that Russia should proceed along the same path. As an analyst puts it, “Russia should not import anything but technologies it needs until it can create them themselves and export only the oil and gas that is required to pay for imports that should be severely restricted. China still needs natural resources, which makes Russia and China unique allies. A nation should be as self-sufficient as possible.”

That happens to mirror the exact CCP strategy, as delineated by President Xi in his July 31 Central Committee meeting.

And that also goes right against a hefty neoliberal wing in the CCP – collaborationists? – who would dream of a party conversion into Western-style social democracy, on top of it subservient to the interests of Western capital.

Comparing China’s economic velocity now with the US is like comparing a Maserati Gran Turismo Sport (with a V8 Ferrari engine) with a Toyota Camry. China, proportionately, holds a larger reservoir of very well educated young generations; an accelerated rural-urban migration; increased poverty eradication; more savings; a cultural sense of deferred gratification; more – Confucianist – social discipline; and infinitely more respect for the rationally educated mind. The process of China increasingly trading with itself will be more than enough to keep the necessary sustainable development momentum going.

The hypersonic factor

Meanwhile, on the geopolitical front, the consensus in Moscow – from the Kremlin to the Foreign Ministry – is that the Trump administration is not “agreement-capable”, a diplomatic euphemism that refers to a de facto bunch of liars; and it’s also not “legal-capable”, an euphemism applied, for instance, to lobbying for snapback sanctions when Trump has already ditched the JCPOA.

President Putin has already said in the recent past that negotiating with Team Trump is like playing chess with a pigeon: the demented bird walks all over the chessboard, shits indiscriminately, knocks over pieces, declares victory, then runs away.

In contrast, serious lobbying at the highest levels of the Russian government is invested in consolidating the definitive Eurasian alliance, uniting Germany, Russia and China.

But that would only apply to Germany after Merkel. According to a US analyst, “the only thing holding back Germany is that they can expect to lose their car exports to the US and more, but I tell them that can happen right away because of the dollar-euro exchange rate, with the euro becoming more expensive.”

On the nuclear front, and reaching way beyond the current Belarus drama – as in there will be no Maidan in Minsk – Moscow has made it very clear, in no uncertain terms, that any missile attack from NATO will be interpreted as a nuclear attack.

The Russian defensive missile system – including the already tested S-500s, and soon the already designed S-600s – arguably may be 99% effective. That means Russia would still have to absorb some punishment. And this is why Russia has built an extensive network of nuclear bomb shelters in big cities to protect at least 40 million people.

Russian analysts interpret China’s defensive approach along the same lines. Beijing will want to develop – if they have not already done so – a defensive shield, and still retain the ability to strike back against a US attack with nuclear missiles.

The best Russian analysts, such as Andrei Martyanov, know that the three top weapons of a putative next war will be offensive and defensive missiles and submarines combined with cyber warfare capabilities.

The key weapon today – and the Chinese understand it very clearly – is nuclear submarines. Russians are observing how China is building their submarine fleet – carrying hypersonic missiles – faster than the US. Surface fleets are obsolete. A wolf pack of Chinese submarines can easily knock out a carrier task force. Those 11 US carrier task forces are in fact worthless.

So in the – horrifying – event of the seas becoming un-sailable in a war, with the US, Russia and China blocking all commercial traffic, that’s the key strategic reason pushing China to obtain as much of its natural resources overland from Russia.

Even if pipelines are bombed they can be fixed in no time. Thus the supreme importance for China of Power of Siberia – as well as the dizzying array of Gazprom projects.

The Hormuz factor

A closely guarded secret in Moscow is that right after German sanctions imposed in relation to Ukraine, a major global energy operator approached Russia with an offer to divert to China no less than 7 million barrels a day of oil plus natural gas. Whatever happens, the stunning proposal is still sitting on the table of Shmal Gannadiy, a top oil/gas advisor to President Putin.

In the event that would ever happen, it would secure for China all the natural resources they need from Russia. Under this hypothesis, the Russian rationale would be to bypass German sanctions by switching its oil exports to China, which from a Russian point of view is more advanced in consumer technology than Germany.

Of course this all changed with the imminent conclusion of Nord Stream 2 – despite Team Trump taking no prisoners to sanction everyone in sight.

Backdoor intel discussions made it very clear to German industrialists that if Germany would ever lose its Russian source of oil and natural gas, coupled with the Strait of Hormuz shut down by Iran in the event of an American attack, the German economy might simply collapse.

There have been serious cross-country intel discussions about the possibility of a US-sponsored October Surprise involving a false flag to be blamed on Iran. Team Trump’s “maximum pressure” on Iran has absolutely nothing to do with the JCPOA. What matters is that even indirectly, the Russia-China strategic partnership has made it very clear that Tehran will be protected as a strategic asset – and as a key node of Eurasia integration.

Cross-intel considerations center on a scenario assuming a – quite unlikely – collapse of the government in Tehran. The first thing Washington would do in this case is to pull the switch of the SWIFT clearing system. The target would be to crush the Russian economy. That’s why Russia and China are actively increasing the merger of the Russian Mir and the Chinese CHIPS payment systems, as well as bypassing the US dollar in bilateral trade.

It has already been gamed in Beijing that were that scenario ever to take place, China might lose its two key allies in one move, and then have to face Washington alone, still on a stage of not being able to assure for itself all the necessary natural resources. That would be a real existential threat. And that explains the rationale behind the increasing interconnection of the Russia-China strategic partnership plus the $400 billion, 25-year-long China-Iran deal.

Bismarck is back

Another possible secret deal already discussed at the highest intel levels is the possibility of a Bismarckian Reinsurance Treaty to be established between Germany and Russia. The inevitable consequence would be a de facto Berlin-Moscow-Beijing alliance spanning the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), alongside the creation of a new – digital? – Eurasian currency for the whole Eurasian alliance, including important yet peripheral actors such as France and Italy.

Well, Beijing-Moscow is already on. Berlin-Beijing is a work in progress. The missing link is Berlin-Moscow.

That would represent not only the ultimate nightmare for Mackinder-drenched Anglo-American elites, but in fact the definitive passing of the geopolitical torch from maritime empires back to the Eurasian heartland.

It’s not a fiction anymore. It’s on the table.

Adding to it, let’s do some little time traveling and go back to the year 1348.

The Mongols of the Golden Horde are in Crimea, laying siege to Kaffa – a trading port in the Black Sea controlled by the Genoese.

Suddenly, the Mongol army is consumed by bubonic plague.

They start catapulting contaminated corpses over the walls of the Crimean city.

So imagine what happened when ships started sailing again from Kaffa to Genoa.

They transported the plague to Italy.

By 1360, the Black Death was literally all over the place – from Lisbon to Novgorod, from Sicily to Norway. As much as 60% of Europe’s population may have been killed – over 100 million people.

A case can be made that the Renaissance, because of the plague, was delayed by a whole century.

Covid-19 is of course far from a medieval plague. But it’s fair to ask.

What Renaissance could it be possibly delaying?

Well, it might well be actually advancing the Renaissance of Eurasia. It’s happening just as the Hegemon, the former “end of history”, is internally imploding, “distracted from distraction by distraction”, to quote T.S. Eliot. Behind the fog, in prime shadowplay pastures, the vital moves to reorganize the Eurasian land mass are already on.

President Putin says that Russia will help Belarus (UPDATED!)

Source

August 27, 2020

President Putin says that Russia will help Belarus (UPDATED!)

President Putin just gave an important interview to the Russian journalist Sergei Brilev in which he indicated that

  • Russia and Belarus are allies in the CSTO
  • Russia and Belarus are also Union states
  • Russia has obligations towards Belarus
  • Lukashenko has invoked these obligations
  • Putin has agreed to create a “security reserve force” which is ready to intervene in Belarus in case of danger for the Belarusian state and sovereignty
  • Putin added that these forces will only be used if “extremist elements” violently threaten the security and/or stability of the Belarusian state
  • Putin added that there is no need for such a force now, and he hopes that there never will be
  • Putin also added that neither the state nor the demonstrators should violate Belarusian laws (he did add that Belarusian cops are much less violent than the cops in the US).

It is important here NOT to start guessing what that force is, what it can do, etc.

Why?

Because Russia already had such forces, including light mobile military and police forces.

No, what is important is that Putin has just drawn a red line and made an implicit threat.

I consider that threat as absolutely credible.  Recall that just a few days ago, Putin told western leaders to stay out of Belarus, and at least some of them now clearly got the message (not all, obviously).

But, first and foremost, this is a direct warning for Poland and the Baltic statlets: stay out or else…

This is also a clear message to Tikhanovskaia and her puppet-masters: forget about Belarus leaving the CSTO or the Union state; also forget about Belarus joining the EU or NATO.  Ain’t gonna happen.

I am sure that we will post the full interview either dubbed or with English subs later today or tomorrow, but I wanted to share with you what I consider a watershed moment in the Belarus crisis.

I will keep you posted here should there be any updates.

The Saker

PS: full Russian speakers, this is the link to the original interview

Full English Transcript is here

Vladimir Putin – Interview with Rossiya TV channel

http://thesaker.is/vladimir-putin-interview-with-rossiya-tv-channel/embed/#?secret=0mbWdMOYXv

UPDATE: as predicted, the Poles are hysterical, see for yourself:

من روسيا البيضاء إلى لبنان عالم ما بعد الأميركان

محمد صادق الحسيني

مرة أخرى ورغم افتضاح أمرها، تحاول الامبريالية الأميركية ذات الهيمنة الغاشمة محاولاتها البائسة لإطلاق «ثورات» ملونة مدفوعة الأجر وتعمل بالقطعة من البلطيق والبحر الاسود الى شواطئ المتوسط…!

والعين اليوم تشخص في كلّ مسارح عمليات الحرب الناعمة بقوة وتركيز على روسيا البيضاء…!

على الرغم من الجهود الإعلامية التضليليّة، التي تقوم بها آلة الإعلام الاميركية الاوروبية / الناتو /، والتي تحاول تصوير ما يجري في جمهورية روسيا البيضاء السوفياتيه السابقة، على انه صراع بين الرئيس الشرعي اليكساندر لوكاشينكو وربة المنزل سڤيتلانا تيخانوفسكايا، التي يسميها الغرب «زعيمة المعارضة» والتي هربت الى جمهورية لاتفيا، العضو في حلف الناتو، قبل أيام إثر هزيمتها في الانتخابات الرئاسية، التي جرت في روسيا البيضاء وفاز فيها الرئيس لوكاشينكو. نقول إنه وعلى الرغم من كل هذا الجهد الاعلامي والضغوط السياسية، التي تمارس على روسيا البيضاء وروسيا الاتحادية، الحليفة للرئيس لوكاشينكو، وهما عضوان في معاهدة الأمن الجماعي، التي تضم دولاً سوفياتية سابقة اخرى، رغم كل ذلك فإن الأهداف التي تعمل الولايات المتحدة وأذنابها الأوروبيون على تحقيقها في هذا البلد، ذي الأهمية الاستراتيجية الكبرى، للأمن الاستراتيجي الروسي، لا علاقة لها بالديموقراطية طبعاً ولا بأي هدف إنساني نبيل آخر على الإطلاق.

الهدف الحقيقي لكل ما يجري هو بالضبط ما صرّحت به ربة المنزل المذكورة أعلاه يوم أمس، عندما دعت الى اغلاق القواعد العسكرية الروسية، الموجودة على أراضي جمهورية روسيا البيضاء، وانسحاب الأخيرة من منظمة الأمن الجماعي، التي تضم جمهوريات سوفياتيه سابقة عدة..

من هنا تنبع ضرورة توضيح طبيعة هذه القواعد والأسس القانونية، التي تنظم وجودها على أراضي روسيا البيضاء، وتفضح الأهداف العدوانية للولايات المتحدت واذنابها في حلف الناتو، وتعرّي نفاقهم ورياءهم وكذبهم واستغلالهم لعناصر عميلة في هذه الدولة، تماماً كما هو الوضع في كل بلد يقررون محاصرته وخنقه كما في لبنان مثلاً، وذلك بهدف نشر الفوضى والخراب وتهديد السلم الأهلي فيها.

اما تلك القواعد، التي يدور الحديث حولها، فهي قاعدتان:

الأولى: هي قاعدة هانتاسافيتشي التي تبعد 48 كم عن مدينة بارانافيتشي في جنوب غرب البلاد. وهي قاعدة رادارات من طراز 70 . وهي قاعدة رادار للإنذار المبكر، تابعة للقوات الجوفضائية الروسية ومخصصة لرصد إطلاق الصواريخ الباليستية الثقيلة، التي تطلق من اوروبا الغربية، كما أنها مخصصة لرصد الأقمار الصناعية ايضاً. وهي تقوم بالمهمات التي كانت تقوم بها قاعدة سكروندا في لاتفيا المجاورة والتي تم تفكيكها منذ سنوات، في إطار إجراءات إدخال لاتفيا الى حلف الناتو.

الثانية: هي قاعدة ڤولغا للرادار وتقع على بعد 8 كم شمال شرق بلدة هانتافيتشي في مقاطعة بريست. ويطلق عليها في اللغة العسكرية الروسية اسم: كليتيك 2 . وهي مخصصة للإنذار المبكر وتحديد مواقع إطلاق الصواريخ الباليستية الاستراتيجية. ويبلغ مدى عمل هذه الرادارات ستة آلاف كيلومتر.

ولكن السؤال الذي يطرح نفسه بقوة، في هذا المجال، هو: ما هي الأسباب الكامنة وراء التركيز على محطات الرادار هذه، من قبل الولايات المتحدة وحلف الناتو، واستمرار محاولاتهما التخلص منها، عبر إسقاط روسيا البيضاء والسيطرة عليها، ودمجها في نسيج الحلف الغربي العدواني والمعادي لروسيا؟

لأن هذه المحطات تعتبر من عناصر الإنذار المبكر الروسية، ضد الهجمات المعادية بالصواريخ الاستراتيجية، وبالتالي فإن استراتيجيي البنتاغون وأذنابهم في بروكسل (قيادة حلف الناتو) يعتقدون انهم بذلك سوف يوجهون ضربةً لقدرات الإنذار المبكر الروسي ولسلاح الدفاع الجوي فضائي

بالنتيجة هذه الخطط، أي إغلاق القواعد الروسية وإسقاط الدولة في روسيا البيضاء والسيطرة عليها وتنصيب ربة المنزل، سڤيتلانا تيخانوفسكايا، رئيسة لروسيا البيضاء، تأتي في إطار تنفيذ مسلسل خطوات الحشد الاستراتيجي ضد روسيا الاتحادية وجمهورية الصين الشعبية والجمهورية الاسلامية في ايران، على الرغم من البعد الجغرافي بين هذه القواعد وكل من الصين وإيران، حيث إن إضعاف قاطع من قواطع المواجهة العسكرية، مع الولايات المتحدة والناتو، كقاطع الجبهة الغربية الروسية، الممتدة من اقصى شمال الدول الاسكندنافية شمالاً، مروراً ببولندا واوكرانيا ورومانيا وبلغاريا وتركيا، على البحر الأسود جنوباً، انما هو إضعاف للوضع الجيواستراتيجي لكل من الصين وروسيا ومعهما إيران، خاصة بعد دخولها في تفاهمات تعاون متعددة الجوانب وبعيدة المدى، مع هاتين الدولتين.

الإمعان في محاولات واشنطن وبروكسل (قيادة الناتو) الاقتراب من الحدود الروسية، وتكرار محاولات الاعتداء على السيادة الجوية الروسية، باستخدام طائرات الاستطلاع الأميركية والغربية، بشكل يومي، ونجاح انظمة الدفاع الجوفضائي والمقاتلات الروسية الاعتراضية، في التصدي لهذه المحاولات وإفشالها، قد جعلهم يسيرون خلف السراب والاوهام المتبخره برفع مستوى الضغط على روسيا، واهمين انهم بذلك سيستطيعون إجبارها على تقديم التنازلات، في الكثير من الملفات الدولية، بدءاً بملفات الحد من انتشار الاسلحة النووية واتفاقيات تنظيم الاسلحة الصاروخية، وصولاً الى الكثير من الملفات الدولية، والتي يتصدرها الملف الفلسطيني والسوري والإيراني والفنزويلي. وهذه كلها ملفات ترتبط بشكل وثيق بميزان القوى الجيواستراتيجيي بين الدول العظمى، وبالتالي فإنها ملفات شديدة التأثير، في مسار إلغاء او دحر الهيمنة الأميركية الأحادية على العالم، وتشكيل هرم قيادي جديد، يقود العالم لا تكون الولايات المتحدة هي من يجلس على كرسي القيادة فيه.

وهو الأمر الذي يقودنا الى الاعتقاد الراسخ بأن معركة الصراع على جمهورية روسيا البيضاء لن ينتهي الى نصر أميركي غربي وذلك للأسباب التالية:

أ) شجاعة الرئيس لوكاشينكو، وتعامله وتفاعله الديناميكي، في التصدي للمؤامرة الاميركية التي تحاول إسقاط الدولة، وفهمه العميق لطبيعة هذه المؤامرة والدول التي تقف وراءها وتمولها.

ب) الموقف الحازم الذي اتخذه الرئيس لوكاشينكو، منذ بداية التحركات المعادية، ليس فقط بالوقوف في وجه المؤامرة داخل البلاد، وإنما بإصداره الأوامر الفورية للقطعات العسكرية لروسيا البيضاء، المرابطة على الحدود الشمالية الغربية، مع كل من دولتي الناتو، ليتوانيا وبولندا، وضرورة اتخاذ كافة الإجراءات العسكرية الضرورية لحماية حدود البلاد. خاصة بعد تكرار محاولات جهات استخبارية اميركية، وتابعة لحلف الناتو، لإرسال أموال واسلحة ومعدات مختلفة الى داخل روسيا البيضاء لتزود بها مثيري الشغب داخل البلاد. علاوة على تكثيف واشنطن وبروكسل لمحاولات التجسس الجوي في المناطق الحدودية وذلك باستخدام الطائرات المسيرة والمناطيد وطائرات الحرب الالكترونية العسكرية.

ج) الزيارات التفقدية، لخطوط المواجهة مع بولندا ولتوانيا، التي يقوم بها الرئيس لوكاشينكو، مرتدياً الزِّي العسكري وممتشقاً سلاحه الرشاش وجاهزاً للدفاع عن سيادة واستقلال بلاده ومنع سقوطها في أيدي الغرب والحاق الضرر الاستراتيجي بجمهورية روسيا الاتحادية من جراء ذلك.

د) اما العامل الذي يزيد التأكيد على أن مخططات واشنطن وبروكسل، في حرمان قوات الدفاع الجوفضائي الروسية، من قواعدها للإنذار المبكر المنتشره في روسيا البيضاء حسب اتفاقيات بين الدولتين مطابقة تماماً للقوانين الدولية، فهو أن لدى روسيا القواعد البديلة، التي تقوم بعمليات تغطية أوسع بكثير من العمليات التي تنفذه القواعد الموجودة في روسيا البيضاء.

هـ) فعلى سبيل المثال لا الحصر، هناك قاعدة رادارات الإنذار المبكر، من طراز فورونيش ، التابعة لقوات الدفاع الجوفضائية الروسية والموجودة في قرية بيونيرسكي على بعد 27 كم شمال مدينة / ميناء كاليننغراد. علماً أن مدى عمل هذه الرادارات يزيد على ستة آلاف كيلومتر وهي مخصّصة للإنذار المبكر ورصد الصواريخ الباليستية الثقيلة والبعيدة المدى.

و) تُضاف اليها قاعدة الإنذار المبكر المقامة في قرية ليختوسي، على بعد 40 كم شمال لينينغراد، وتحمل اسم القرية نفسها. وهي تابعة لقوات الدفاع الجوفضائية الروسية وتعمل بنوع من رادارات فورونيش من الجيل الثالث، ويصل مدى عمل رادارات هذه المحطة الى اربعة آلاف وخمسمئة كيلومتر، وتغطي كامل منطقة عمليات شمال غرب روسيا، وهي موجودة في الخدمة القتالية منذ شهر شباط 2012.

وهذا يعني أن الإجراءات الاحترازية المسبقة، التي اتخذتها قوات الدفاع الجوفضائية الروسية، قد أفشلت كل مشاريع واشنطن وبروكسل حتى قبل ان يفكروا في وضع خططها.

وانطلاقاً من هذه القراءة الموضوعية، لحالة الشغب المُوَجَّهْ من الدول الغربية في روسيا البيضاء، ولما شهده لبنان والعراق في الأشهر الماضية، ولما كان «مستوراً» وأصبح مفضوحاً من تآمر وتعاون أمني عسكري، بين مشيخة أبو ظبي و»اسرائيل»، منذ عقدين من الزمن، ليس ضد إيران فقط وانما ضد كل جهة تنتمي الى المقاومة وتقاتل الاحتلال الإسرائيلي والهيمنة الأميركية، فإن بامكاننا ان نؤكد ان الاستعدادات التي اتخذتها أطراف حلف المقاومة لاسقاط مؤامرات اعراب الخليج وسيدهم في البيت الابيض وصِنْوهُمْ الصهيوني قد حققت الكثير من النجاحات، سواءٌ في إسقاط مخطط تدمير الدولة السوريه وتفتيتها او في لبنان وفلسطين او في اليمن الصامد، الذي سيستكمل هزيمة قوى العدوان ويعلن انتصاره الناجز، على قوى العدوان الاميركي البريطاني الفرنسي الاسرائيلي السعودي الاماراتي وبعض السماسرة والمرتزقة الآخرين، ويلحق بهم الهزيمة النكراء قبل نهاية هذا العام، بإذن الله.

نصر يعتقد المراقبون بأنه سيترافق مع سقوط متزعم الحرب الظالمة على اليمن، محمد بن سلمان، وتوقع قيام دولة في نجد والحجاز، تختلف جذرياً عن المملكة الوهابية الحالية التي باتت مثالاً ونموذجاً للقمع والاستبداد والتبعية والعبودية للأجنبي القادم من وراء البحار ونهوض عالم جديد لا مكان فيه لضعفاء النفوس المتسولين على موائد الدول التي كانت يوماً كبرى وهي في طريقها للأفول وإن بعد حين…!

عالم ينهار

عالم ينهض

بعدنا طيبين قولوا الله.

Might Belarus become the next Syria?

The Saker

Might Belarus become the next Syria?
Lukashenko and son

August 24, 2020

Okay, I admit it, the title is rather hyperbolic 🙂  But here is what I am trying to say: there are signs that Russia is intervening in the Belarusian crisis (finally!)

Second, Lukashenko did something rather weird, but which makes perfectly good sense in the Belarusian context: he dressed himself in full combat gear, grabbed an AKSU-74 assault rife, dressed his (15 year old!) son also in full combat gear (helmet included) and flew in his helicopter over Minsk and then landed in the Presidential building.  They then walked to the riot cops, where Lukashenko warmly thanked them and which resulted in the full police force giving him a standing ovation.  To most of us this behavior might look rather outlandish if not outright silly.  But in the context of the Belarusian crisis, which is a crisis primarily fought in the informational realm, it makes perfectly good sense.

  • Last week Lukashenko said that no other elections, nevermind a coup, will happen as long as he is alive.
  • This time Lukashenko decided to show, symbolically, that he is in charge and that he will die fighting along his son if needed.

The message here is clear: “I am no Ianukovich and, if needed, I will die just like Allende died”.

Needless to say, the AngloZionist propaganda machine has immediately declared that seeing Lukashenko carrying a Kalashnikov is a clear sign that he has gone insane.  In the western context, if this was, say, Luxembourg or Belgium this accusation of insanity would be spot on.  But in the Belarusian context, these accusations get very little traction, chalk it up to cultural differences if you wish.

To understand how powerful this message is, we need to keep in mind the two key rumors that the Empire’s PSYOP operation was trying to convey to the people of Belarus:

  • There are profound differences amongst and inside the ruling elites (especially the so-called “siloviki” – the “power ministries” if you want, like Internal Affairs or KGB).
  • Lukashenko either has already fled the country or is about to flee it (each time a helicopter files over Minsk, the western PSYOPs say that this is footage of Lukashenko “fleeing the country”).

I have a strong suspicion that what happened between Putin and Lukashenko is very similar to what happened between Putin and Assad: initially, both Assad and Lukashenko apparently thought that pure violence will solve the problem.  That profoundly mistaken belief resulted in a situation in which the legitimate authorities were almost overthrown (and this is still possible in Belarus).  In each case, the Russians clearly said something along the lines of “we will help you, but you have to radically change your methods”.  Assad listened.  Lukashenko apparently did too, at least to some degree (this process has just begun).

The truth is that the opposition is in a difficult situation: the vast majority of the people of Belarus clearly do not want a violent coup, followed by a bloody civil war, a total deindustrialization of the country and a total submission to the Empire, i.e. they don’t want to go down the “Ukie way”.  But how to you *legally* overthrow a government, especially if that government now sends the clear message “we will die before we allow you to seize power”?

Then there is the immense problem with Tikhanovskaia: while few believe that she got 10% and Lukashenko got 80% – nobody sincerely believes that she beat him.  So while the West wants to paint Lukashenko as “the next Maduro“, it is practically impossible to convince anybody “that Tikhanovskaia is the next Guaido“.

So where do we go from here?

Well, Lukashenko has not fired Foreign Minister Makei or KGB Head Vakulchik.  Truth be told, I tend to agree with some Russian analysts who say that Makei is not really the problem, and that the main russophobe in Minsk is Lukashenko himself (just one example: he was the one who removed the four Russian Sukhois which Russia had sent to help Belarus control their airspace).  It is quite true that Lukashenko runs all his ministries with an iron hand and that saying that Makei is all evil and black while Lukashenko is this white, innocent, victim is not very credible.  However, even if Makei and Vakulchik were only executing Lukashenko’s orders, then now need to fall in their swords as a sign of contrition and reparation towards Russia.  Still, the Russians will probably indicate the Lukashenko that the Kremlin will not work with these turncoats.

Then there are the public statements of the Belarusian Minister of Defense, Viktor Khrenin, who says all then right things and who seems to take a very hard line against those western forces which are behind this latest attempt at a color revolution.  It is well known in Russia that while Belarusian diplomats seems to, how shall I put it, prefer smiles to substantive collaboration with Russia.  The case of the Belarusian military is quite different, not only do the Russian and Belarusian militaries train together, they also share intelligence on a reportedly continuous basis.  Besides, without Russia the Belarusian military would find itself completely isolated, unable to procure technical support or parts, disconnected from the Russian early warning systems and removed from Russian intelligence support.

The Belarusian military is dramatically different from the Ukrainian military which had practically lost its combat readiness decades ago, which was then purged from all real patriots, and which was fantastically corrupt.  In contrast, the comparatively small Belarusian military is, by all accounts, very well-trained, decently equipped and commanded by very competent officers.  I think that it is a safe bet to say that the armed forces are loyal to Lukashenko and that they would probably welcome a full reunification with Russia.

As for Lukashenko himself, he has, for the first time, allowed an openly pro-Russian party to register (in the past, pro-Russian movements, organizations and parties were systematically persecuted and shut down).  He also declared on public TV that “his friend Putin” advised him on how to react to the demonstrators.

So will Belarus become the next Syria?

Well, no, of course not, the two countries are way too different.  But in a different sense, what happened in Syria might happen in Belarus: Russia will provide her full support, but only in exchange for major reforms on all levels.  And though Lukashenko now declares that the West only wants to destroy Belarus as a first phase of destroying all of Russia, I do not believe that there is any chance for a military conflict, unless one of three things happen:

  1. Some nutcase on either side opens fire and triggers a military incident (and even that might not be enough)
  2. The Poles get really desperate and do something fantastically dumb (Polish history demonstrates that this is a very real possibility)
  3. Lukashenko is killed and chaos ensues (not very likely either)

We must remember that when Russia intervened in Syria, the Syrian military was in shambles and basically defeated.  This is not at all the case in Belarus which has a superb military (of the “lean and mean” sort) and they can secure their own country, especially when backed by the KGB and the Ministry of Internal Affairs forces.

Still, while Lukashenko might be part of the solution in the short term, in the long term he must go and be replaced by a trustworthy leader whom the Belarusian people and the Kremlin could really trust and that leader’s main task will be to fully reintegrate Belarus into Russia.  Again, a major difference with Syria.

Russian-Belarusian Relations: Back To Being Brothers?

16 AUGUST 2020

By Andrew Korybko

American political analyst

Russian-Belarusian Relations: Back To Being Brothers?

Several recent developments in Russian-Belarusian relations — in particular, Belarus’ return of 32 suspected Wagner mercenaries to Russia, Belarusian opposition leader Tsepkalo’s departure from Russia, and the two phone calls between Presidents Putin and Lukashenko — hint that bilateral ties might soon return to their formerly fraternal level, though the fact of the matter is that Minsk simply doesn’t have any realistic option other than to re-engage Moscow (albeit on the latter’s terms) after the dramatic failure of the former’s “balancing” act and is thus destined to be Russia’s “little brother” instead of its “equal brother”.

A Russian-Belarusian Rapprochement?

Some notable developments occurred since the author’s analysis on Friday about how “Belarus’ ‘Democratic Security’ Operation Shouldn’t Be Exploited For Russophobic Purposes“. That piece painted a bleak picture of Russian-Belarusian relations, one in which Russia’s hosting of Belarusian opposition leader Tsepkalo could have potentially been instrumentalized to protect its national security interests. That’s no longer the case, however, since recent events have changed that calculation. Some observers are nowadays a bit more optimistic about their ties, even believing that they might soon return to their formerly fraternal level, though the fact of the matter is that Minsk simply doesn’t have any realistic option other than to re-engage Moscow (albeit on the latter’s terms) after the dramatic failure of the former’s “balancing” act and is thus destined to be Russia’s “little brother” instead of its “equal brother”.

Resolving The Wagner Incident

The first major development that occurred in the past few days was twofold and concerns both Belarus’ return of 32 suspected Wager mercenaries to Russia on Friday and Tsepkalo’s (subsequent?) departure from Russia. It certainly seems that the two are linked considering the timing in which they occurred, so it might very well have been the case that this was a quid pro quo. To explain, Belarus’ detainment of those nearly three dozen Russians can be seen in hindsight not simply as an anti-Russian provocation and “sign of good faith” about its intent to continue improving relations with the West after the election (before they decided to overthrow its leader), but also a misguided “insurance policy” against what Lukashenko had previously alleged was Moscow’s meddling in its internal affairs. In other words, those Russians were essentially political hostages to ensure that their homeland didn’t allow anti-government figures like Tsepkalo to operate from its territory.

The Tsepkalo Intrigue

His arrival there wasn’t anything that Moscow could have prevented considering the visa-free travel regime in place between the two members of the so-called “Union State”, but Minsk obviously felt uncomfortable with the fact that he fled to the Russian capital at the end of last month a few days prior to the Wagner provocation. In fact, the aforementioned provocation might have even been launched in response to that development considering the very acute “strategic dilemma” between the two nominal “allies” after Lukashenko stopped trusting Russia upon falling for the Western information warfare narrative that his neighbor harbored malicious intentions towards his country. The cover for this speculative quid pro quo of returning the suspected mercenaries in exchange for Tsepkalo’s departure from Russia was that the latter was added to an international wanted persons list upon Minsk’s request, hence why Moscow could no longer allow him to remain there.

Quid Pro Quo

This enabled both sides to “save face” and not appear as though they were enacting any “concessions” towards the other during this unprecedentedly tense period of their relations. Both sides therefore got what they wanted. Russia’s political hostages were released, while Belarus no longer had to worry about the possibility of Russia instrumentalizing Tsepkalo’s presence in its capital. Everything could thus return to how it was before late-July when Tsepkalo fled to Russia and the Wagner provocation occurred shortly thereafter. While ties were still tense up until that time, they weren’t as bad as they were afterwards following those two incidents. It’s premature to call this a “reset” though since a rapprochement is more accurate at this point. This quid pro quo indicates that each side understands the necessity of restoring trust and confidence in one another. As such, their leaders then spoke with one another the next day, Saturday, to take their rapprochement even further.

Two Phone Calls In Two Days

The official Kremlin website didn’t say much about the details of their talk but nevertheless sounded upbeat about the future of their relations. Lukashenko, however, later revealed that “I and he agreed that we will receive comprehensive assistance in ensuring Belarus’ security whenever we request it”. The Belarusian leader also warned against what he described as NATO’s threatening buildup along his borders, implying that the alliance might try to attack his country. The next day, Sunday, Presidents Putin and Lukashenko spoke again, and this time the official Kremlin website reported that they discussed possible security assistance through the CSTO mutual defense pact of which both states are members. This dimension of the crisis adds some more intrigue to the rapidly developing situation by making it seem like a Russian military intervention along the lines of the Crimean one might be imminent, though that scenario more than likely won’t come to pass.

Crimea 2.0 Is Unlikely

Firstly, foreign forces are ineffective for carrying out “Democratic Security” operations since the target nation’s own ones are required in order for the state to retain legitimacy except in situations where Color Revolutionaries and/or military defectors seize control of military bases and/or cities, which seems unlikely to happen. Secondly, NATO’s reported military buildup is probably just for show and isn’t anything serious. The alliance knows that attacking Belarus would trigger Russia’s mutual defense commitments, thus potentially worsening the crisis to the level of World War III in the worst-case scenario. And thirdly, Belarus previously balked at Russia’s prior request to establish an air base within its borders since it knows that its ally’s increased military presence there would be perceived real negatively by NATO and thus lead to even more pressure upon it. For these reasons, a forthcoming Russian military intervention in Belarus is unlikely.

Lukashenko’s Signals

The question thus becomes one of why Lukashenko is even flirting with this possibility in the first place if it probably won’t happen, with the answer likely being that he intends to send signals to Russia and the West with his words. About the first-mentioned, he’s reaffirming his country’s commitment to its traditional ally in an attempt to shore up support from its media after they’ve been uncharacteristically critical of him in response to his failed “balancing” act of the past year. Regarding the second, the West, he wants them to realize that he’s no longer as naive as before and no longer trusts them after they ordered their Color Revolution cadres to oust him. In other words, he’s trying to recalibrate his “balancing” act by moving closer to Russia in response to the Western pressure being put upon him from above (sanctions threats) and below (Color Revolution). Domestically, these dramatic statements are also intended to distract people by hyping up an external enemy.

Belarus’ Official Position On “Balancing”

A casual observer might be inclined to think that Belarus once again wants to return to its former brotherly relations with Russia, but the situation isn’t as simple as that. After all, Lukashenko declared earlier this month that “it is impossible” to strengthen his country’s “Union State” relations with Russia. “Even if I agreed to the reunification on the most favorable terms for Belarus, the people of Belarus would not accept it. The nation is not ready for this and will never be. The people are overripe. It was possible 20 or 25 years ago when the Soviet Union collapsed. But not now.” Nevertheless, he also said on Sunday that “Belarus does not want to be a ‘buffer zone’…to separate Russia from the West”, which essentially rules out its participation in the Polish-led and US-backed “Three Seas Initiative” (TSI) and related frameworks like the “Lublin Triangle“, at least for now. Put another way, Belarus wants closer relations with Russia, but not formal incorporation into a single state. While it wishes to retain friendly relations with the West, it won’t do so at the expense of Russia either.

Russia > West

The way that the situation is developing, it looks like Belarus has chosen to abandon its “balancing” act in favor of realigning itself with Russia, though it lost whatever previous leverage it thought that it had throughout the course of the past year after it so terribly failed to take advantage of its newfound relations with the West to bargain for better terms from Moscow in the run-up to the ongoing Color Revolution. Lukashenko is therefore at President Putin’s mercy when it comes to any potential Russian assistance to his government, which is unlikely to be military aid for the earlier mentioned reasons but would most probably be deeper integration through the “Union State” framework despite the Belarusian leader’s hesitancy. In a “perfect world”, his “balancing” act would have turned Belarus into the New Cold War’s version of Tito’s Yugoslavia, but in the imperfect reality in which everyone lives, Belarus has little choice but to accept Russia’s “Union State” terms.

“Saving Face”

It’s of the highest importance for Lukashenko to “save face” while commencing this policy pivot (provided of course that he remains in office long enough to see it through), which is where the wording of the Kremlin’s statement on Saturday following the first phone call between him and Putin comes in. The last sentence speaks about the “fraternal nations of Russia and Belarus”, which is a symbolic narrative “concession” to Lukashenko after he complained earlier in the month about “Russia switching from a brotherly relationship to a partnership — suddenly.” The Belarusian leader can therefore claim that the two countries are once again “brothers”, which could be relied upon by him as the pretext for agreeing to resume integration within the “Union State” framework even though it’ll likely be on Russia’s terms instead of his own. That would in effect formalize Belarus’ status as Russia’s “junior partner”, which it’s always been but he’d been loath to acknowledge it.

A True “Brotherhood” Or A “Fraternal Hierarchy”?

This brings the analysis back to the question posed in the title about whether Russian-Belarusian relations have returned back to their formerly fraternal nature. The answer is yes and no. On the one hand, they’ll probably continue to repair their relations after Lukashenko’s failed “balancing” act threatened to ruin them once and for all, but on the other, they won’t ever have equal relations given the hierarchy involved. To use Lukashenko’s own metaphor, President Putin is his “elder brother“, and in traditional family arrangements, seniority carries with it certain perks. So too can the same be said about the relations between a Great Power like Russia and a comparatively smaller and much weaker state like Belarus. Regardless of the rhetoric that politicians love to espouse, there can never be true equality between such vastly different states. What there can be, however, is respect of each other’s core interests but recognition that there still exists a “fraternal hierarchy” among them.

Concluding Thoughts

The Belarusian Crisis is still very serious, though the positive developments of the past two days in respect to bilateral relations with Russia inspire cautious optimism about the future. If Lukashenko can survive the Hybrid War against him, which he’d more than likely have to do on his own without any Russian military support considering the fact that foreign military forces are ineffective in dealing with most manifestations of such wars, then there’s a high chance that Belarus will agree to strengthen its integration with Russia through the “Union State” framework on Moscow’s terms. Lukashenko can still “save face” by claiming that he restored his country’s “brotherhood” with Russia, though that would only be half-true since no true “brotherhood” would exist (or ever has) since what’s really in force is a “fraternal hierarchy”. In any case, Lukashenko seems to have finally learned his lesson about “balancing”, but it’ll remain to be seen whether he learned it too late.

Belarus: Why Is Lukshenko Being Color Revolutioned Just Now?

By F. William Engdahl

Global Research, August 21, 2020

The globalist Powers That Be have clearly decided to topple the long-standing sole-ruler of Belarus, President Aleksander Lukashenko. The question is why at just this time? There is a case to be made that one reason is he is being destroyed for his unforgivable coronavirus defiance. In any case Belarus is being hit with a full force West-led Color Revolution. The protests over the August 9 election show every sign of the usual Color Revolution destabilization protests, manufactured by the usual Western NGOs, as well as private contractors using social media to steer the protests.

Under Lukashenko’s regime, the country defied WHO and the global coronavirus lockdown demands. He refused to order lockdown of his citizens or the economy. As of August 13 the country had recorded a total of 617 covid19 related deaths. Belarus stood together with Sweden and the US State of South Dakota as one of the very few places in the world to successfully disprove the bizarre and dangerous WHO demands for a global lockdown to control the pandemic. Belarus ordered no lockdown so most industry continued. Schools remained open other than a 3 week closing during Easter. There were no mask requirements, though volunteer groups distributed masks to some and in June the EU sent a shipment of PPE including masks to Health officials for distribution. Football and the May 9 Victory parade went as normal. And now the country stands as an example the WHO and friends do not want.

One very important point is that the Health Ministry ignored the very flawed WHO recommendations on loosely classifying deaths as Covid19 when only a “suspicion” is there. The basis for the Belarus pathologists to state the cause of death from coronavirus is the presence of a patho-morphological picture with laboratory confirmation of Covid-19.i

This all did not sit well with the globalist Powers That Be. The manifestly corrupt WHO, whose main private donor is the Gates Foundation, criticized Lukashenko’s government for lack of quarantine and in June, when announcing it would grant Belarus a $940 million loan, the IMF said it was conditional on the country imposing quarantine, isolation and closed borders, demands Lukashenko rejected as “nonsense.” He noted in a widely-quoted statement, “the IMF continues to demand from us quarantine measures, isolation, a curfew. This is nonsense. We will not dance to anyone’s tune.”

Color Revolution Begins

Clearly NATO and the Western globalist circles have been working on toppling Lukashenko well before the covid19 events. That coronavirus defiance may only have helped galvanize events. The West and its “democracy” NGOs have long had Lukashenko in their targets. During the Bush Administration in 2008 US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice denounced Lukashenko as Europe’s “last dictator.” After that, Russia created the Eurasian Economic Union along with Kazakhstan and Belarus as members. Until now Lukashenko has refused Putin’s proposal to merge with Russia in one large Union State. That may soon change.

The protests broke out in Belarus after elections on August 9 gave Lukashenko some 80% of the vote against his last-minute opposition candidate, the ‘western’ candidate Svetlana Tikhanovskaya. Those protests are being run using the same model that the CIA and its various “democracy” NGOs, led by the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) developed in Serbia, Ukraine, Russia and numerous other states whose leaders refused to bow to the globalist dictates. A co-founder of the NED, Allen Weinstein, declared in the Washington Post in 1991, “A lot of what we do today was done covertly 25 years ago by the CIA.” The NED gets its financing from the US government, but poses around the world as a “private” democracy-promoting NGO, where it was instrumental in most every Washington-backed regime change destabilizations since the collapse of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s.

In 2019, the NED listed on its website some 34 NED project grants in Belarus. All of them were directed to nurture and train an anti-Lukashenko series of opposition groups and domestic NGOs. The grants went for such projects as, “NGO Strengthening: To increase local and regional civic engagement… to identify local problems and develop advocacy strategies.” Another was to “expand an online depository of publications not readily accessible in the country, including works on politics, civil society, history, human rights, and independent culture.” Then another NED grant went, “To defend and support independent journalists and media.” And another, “NGO Strengthening: To foster youth civic engagement.” Another large NED grant went to, “training democratic parties and movements in effective advocacy campaigns.”ii Behind the innocent-sounding NED projects is a pattern of creating a specially-trained opposition on the lines of the CIA’s NED model.

Belarus Kicks Off Large-scale Military Drills Near Poland, Lithuania

The Murky Nexta

A key role in coordinating the “spontaneous” protests was played by a Warsaw-based texting and video channel called “Nexta,” based on the Telegram messaging app. Nexta, which is Belarusian for “somebody,” is nominally headed by a 22-year old Belarus exile based in Poland named Stepan Putila. With the Belarus Internet shut by the government since days, Nexta, operating from Poland, has posted numerous citizen videos of protest and police crackdown and claims now to have 2 million followers. It quickly became the heart of the Color Revolution once Belarus shut its Internet access.

Stepan Putila is also known under the moniker Stepan Svetlov. Putila previously worked for the Warsaw-based Belsat channel which broadcasts propaganda into Belarus and is funded by the Polish Foreign Ministry and USAID. The co-founder and Editor in Chief at Nexta since March, 2020 is a Belarus exile named Roman Protasevich who used to work for the US Government’s propaganda media, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. Protasevich also worked for the Polish-based Euroradio which is partly funded by USAID. He was active in the CIA’s 2013-14 Maidan Square demonstrations in Kiev and according to his Facebook likes is close to Ukrainian neo-nazi Pahonia Detachment. In April 2018, Protasevich ends up at the US State Department in Washington, a notable contact. On his Facebook then he noted, “The most important week in my life begins.” The same day he posted a picture of himself inside the US State Department, stating “Never had so many important and interesting encounters in my life.”iii After he left Washington he went to work for the USAID-funded radio in Belarus Euroradio.fm on August 31, 2018. Two years later Protasevich is coordinating the anti-Lukashenko events from Warsaw via Nexta. Coincidence?

Nexta which uses the London-registered Telegram, and is in NATO-member Poland, outside the country, so far has eluded shutdown. Nexta has been sending out, via social media, such information as plans for protests, at what time and where to gather for a rally, when to start a strike, where police are assembled and so on. Nexta has also circulated texts of protesters’ demands, updates about arrests, locations of arrests by riot police, and contacts for lawyers and human rights defenders as well as maps showing where police are located and addresses for protesters to hide in.

It has also advised subscribers how to bypass internet blocking by using proxies and other means. As Maxim Edwards, a pro-opposition British journalist at Global Voices, describes Nexta, “It is clear that the channel does not merely report on the protests, but has played a substantial role in organising them.”iv

No doubt such coordination from abroad would not be possible unless Nexta had some very sophisticated assistance from certain intelligence services. Nexta claims it depends on “donations” and ads for funding, but claims to get no “grants” from governments or foundations. Whether true or not, it is an answer that gives little clarity. Is USAID one of their “donors” or the Open Society Foundations? The relevant point is that Nexta uses cyber technology that Belarus is not able to shut down. In 2018 the Russian governments unsuccessfully tried to ban Telegram for refusing to reveal their source codes.

Global Stakes

The opposition political candidates to Lukashenko is also surprisingly clever in tactics, suggesting they are being guided by professionals. Svetlana Tikhanovskaya the alleged “political novice” who stepped in when her husband was arrested and forbidden to run, claims she won the election based on exit pollers. On August 14 Tikhanovskaya announced that she was forming a “coordination council” to secure a peaceful transfer of power. It echoed the earlier call by another opposition candidate, Valery Tsepkalo, a former Belarus Ambassador to Washington who, like Tikhanovskaya’s husband Sergei Tikhanovsky, was barred from running for president. Tsepkalo called it a “national salvation front.”

Though Belarus is a small country of less than 10 million, the stakes of this destabilization effort of the West are enormous. In 2014 the Obama CIA head John Brennan led a US-backed coup d’etat in Ukraine to prevent Ukraine joining Russia’s economic union. That coup has not given Ukraine anything positive. Instead it has resulted in rule but by other corrupt oligarchs, but friendly with Washington, especially under Obama.

The NED tried in 2018 to destabilize Armenia, another part of the Russian Eurasian Economic Union. Were they now to break off Belarus, the military and political consequences for Russia could be severe. Whether or not the Lukashenko defiance of the WHO coronavirus dictates had a role in the timing of the ongoing Minsk Color Revolution attempt, clearly some powers that be in the West, including the EU and Washington would love to collapse Belarus as they did in Ukraine six years ago. If they succeed we can be sure they will be emboldened to try Russia after.

*

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This article was originally published on the author’s blog site, williamengdahl.com.

F. William Engdahl is strategic risk consultant and lecturer, he holds a degree in politics from Princeton University and is a best-selling author on oil and geopolitics. He is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization. 

Notes

Natalya Grigoryeva, How Belarus Ignored the WHO and Beat Coronavirus, FRN, June 21, 2020, https://fort-russ.com/2020/06/covid-19-psychosis-defeated-how-belarus-ignored-the-who-and-beat-coronavirus/

NED, Belarus 2019, https://www.ned.org/region/central-and-eastern-europe/belarus-2019/

Anonymous, Roman Protasevich, August 17, 2020, https://www.foiaresearch.net/person/roman-protasevich

Maxim Edwards, How one Telegram channel became central to Belarus protests, August 19, 2020, https://radioeonline.com/2020/08/19/how-one-telegram-channel-became-central-to-belarus-protests/

Featured image:  Protest rally against Lukashenko, 16 August. Minsk, Belarus License: The Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license Under Some Conditions https://bit.ly/325WwSw


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