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

September 05, 2022

Source

by Batko Milacic

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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During the visit at Saki gas-fired power plant

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

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

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

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

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

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

All the way to Odessa

August 27, 2022

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

Dmitry Medvedev, relishing his unplugged self, has laid down the law on the Special Military Operation (SMO). Bluntly, he affirmed there is a “one and a half” scenario: either to go all the way, or a military coup d’Etat in Ukraine followed by admitting the inevitable. No tertium applies.

That’s as stark as it gets: the leadership in Moscow is making it very clear, to internal and international audiences, the new deal consists in slow cooking the Kiev racket inside a massive cauldron while polishing its status of financial black hole for the collective West. Until we reach boiling point – which will be a revolution or a putsch.

In parallel, The Lords of (Proxy) War will continue with their own strategy, which is to pillage an enfeebled, fearful, Europe, then dressing it up as a perfumed colony to be ruthlessly exploited ad nauseam by the imperial oligarchy.

Europe is now a runaway TGV – minus the requisite Hollywood production values. Assuming it does not veer off track – a dicey proposition – it may eventually arrive at a railway station called Agenda 2030, The Great Narrative, or some other NATO/Davos denomination du jour.

As it stands, what’s remarkable is how the “marginal” Russian economy hardly broke a sweat to “end the abundance” of the wealthiest region on the planet.

Moscow does not even entertain the notion of negotiating with Brussels because there’s nothing to negotiate – considering puny Eurocrats will only be hurled away from their zombified state when the dire socio-economic consequences of “the end of abundance” will finally translate into peasants with pitchforks roaming the continent.

It may be eons away, but inevitably the average Italian, German or Frenchman will connect the dots and realize it is their own “leaders” – national nullities and mostly unelected Eurocrats – who are paving their road to poverty.

You will be poor. And you will like it. Because we are all supporting freedom for Ukrainian neo-nazis. That brings the concept of “multicultural Europe” to a whole new level.

The runaway train, of course, may veer off track and plunge into an Alpine abyss. In this case something might be saved from the wreckage – and “reconstruction” might be on the cards. But reconstruct what?

Europe could always reconstruct a new Reich (collapsed with a bang in 1945); a soft Reich (erected at the end of WWII); or break with its past failures, sing “I’m Free” – and connect with Eurasia. Don’t bet on it.

Get back those Taurian lands

The SMO may be about to radically change – something that will drive the already clueless denizens of US Think Tankland and their Euro vassals even more berserk.

President Putin and Defense Minister Shoigu have been giving serious hints the only way for the pain dial is up – considering the mounting evidence of terrorism inside Russian territory; the vile assassination of Darya Dugina; non-stop shelling of civilians in border regions; attacks on Crimea; the use of chemical weapons; and the shelling of Zaporizhzhya power plant raising the risk of a nuclear catastrophe.

This past Tuesday, one day before the SMO completing six months, Crimea’s permanent representative to the Kremlin, Georgy Muradov, all but spelled it out.

He stressed the necessity to “reintegrate all the Taurian lands” – Crimea, the Northern Black Sea and the Azov Sea – into a single entity as soon as “in the next few months”. He defined this process as “objective and demanded by the population of these regions.”

Muradov added, “given not only the strikes on Crimea, but also the continuous shelling of the Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant, the dam of the Kakhovka reservoir, peaceful facilities on the territory of Russia, the DNR and LNR, there are all preconditions to qualify the actions of the Banderite regime as terrorist.”

The conclusion is inevitable: “the political issue of changing the format of the special military operation” enters the agenda. After all, Washington and Brussels “have already prepared new anti-Crimean provocations of the NATO-Bandera alliance”.

So when we examine what the “restoration of the Taurian lands” implies, we see not only the contours of Novorossiya but most of all that there won’t be any security for Crimea – and thus Russia – in the Black Sea without Odessa becoming Russian again. And that, on top of it, will solve the Transnistria dilemma.

Add to it Kharkov – the capital and top industrial center of Greater Donbass. And of course Dnipropetrovsk. They are all SMO objectives, the whole combo to be later protected by buffer zones in Chernihiv and Sumy oblasts.

Only then the “tasks” – as Shoigu calls them – of the SMO would be declared fulfilled. The timeline could be eight to ten months – after a lull under General Winter.

As the turbo-charged SMO rolls on, it’s a given the Empire of Chaos, Lies and Plunder will continue to prop up and weaponize the Kiev racket till Kingdom Come – and that will apply especially after the Return of Odessa. What’s unclear is who and what gang will be left in Kiev posing as the ruling party and doing specials for Vogue while duly fulfilling the mass of imperial diktats.

It’s also a given the CIA/MI6 combo will be refining non-stop the contours of a massive guerrilla war against Russia in multiple fronts – crammed with terror attacks and all sorts of provocations.

Yet in the Bigger Picture it’s the inevitable Russian military victory in Donbass and then “all the Taurian lands” that will hit the collective West like a lethal asteroid. The geopolitical humiliation will be unbearable; not to mention the geoeconomic humiliation for vassalized Europe.

As Eurasian integration will become an even stronger vector, Russian diplomacy will be solidifying the new normal. Never forget that Moscow had no trouble normalizing relations, for instance, with China, Iran, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Israel. All these actors, in different ways, directly contributed to the fall of the USSR. Now – with one exception – they are all focused on The Dawn of the Eurasian Century.

Erdogan Asks Russia to Return the Crimean Peninsula to Ukraine: Who Does Turkey Support?

Posted by INTERNATIONALIST 360° 

Yoselina Guevara Lopez

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan recently pointed out in a video message that “The return of Crimea to Ukraine, of which it is an inseparable part, is essentially a requirement of international law”, statements he made within the framework of the second international summit of the Crimean Platform. Erdogan added that “ensuring the safety and well-being of our Crimean Tatar compatriots is also among Turkey’s priorities”.  The president again called for the release of Nariman Dzhelyal, deputy speaker of the Crimean Tatar “parliament”, and at least 45 other Tatars who remain detained on the peninsula.

The Crimean Platform Summit, which Kiev held online,  bringing together the leaders of Western countries, more strongly maintained its anti-Russian character this year, without losing one iota of the characteristics with which last year Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov described it as a witches’ meeting (Sabbat, coven) in which “the West will continue to cultivate the neo-nazi and racist sentiments of the current Ukrainian authorities.”

For this reason the position of the skilled politician that is Recep Tayyip Erdogan is not surprising. In fact, since the beginning of the Russian military operation in Ukraine, Ankara has been able to play with two hands, maintaining a balance between the West, represented by the United States and its NATO allies, and the Russian Federation. It is precisely this quality of expert balancing act that has led it to play the role of mediator because Turkey has powerful interests on both sides of the conflict.

At the level of Moscow, Ankara is one of the main commercial partners of the gas giant Gazprom, with which it has established a series of agreements for energy supplies from the Russian Federation. For example, in 2021 Russia supplied Turkey with 5 million 800 thousand cubic meters of gas. Moscow has also sold Ankara the famous S-400 missile systems. On the other hand, if we analyze Turkey’s relationship with the West, it cannot be overlooked that since 1952, Ankara has been a member of NATO, and hosts numerous bases, including the Incirlik Air Base which has served as a command base for NATO operations in the Middle East. There is no doubt that for NATO, staying on Turkish territory gives it a geostrategic advantage. As for the migration problem, Ankara functions as a containment wall for the numerous migrants seeking to enter Europe through the Balkan Route.

But Turkey, independently of the Russia-Ukraine conflict, has other objectives on the table that indirectly affect what happens between Kiev-Moscow. In the Balkans, for example, Erdogan wants to start bilateral collaboration with Belgrade, especially in the area of arms exports, which on the one hand, will allow modernizing the Serbian armed forces and, on the other hand, will give Turkey the opportunity to exercise a greater presence, both military and of its war industry, in the heart of Europe; with a turnover that, according to some analysts, would be close to 15 million euros. Just as it is no secret that Turkey also wants to expand its sphere of influence and investments towards Asia; the decisions it has taken amply demonstrate this willingness to expand diplomatic and political relations with this area. It is no coincidence that Ankara has made huge investments with the aim of being able to connect Central Asia with Anatolia through major infrastructures: railroads, ports in the Caspian Sea and energy facilities, through Kazakhstan to China, which can reinforce its role as an energy hub.

If Erdogan succeeds in his role as mediator, he will gain international recognition as a “peacemaker” or “the one who achieved world peace”, which could mean that Erdogan will continue to play his role as a mediator in the coming days. This could mean for Erdogan, in addition to going down in history, being rid, once and for all,  of the image of dictator placed on him after he imposed strict policies against dissidents of his government in 2013, without disdaining all his warlike wanderings in different places. The chessboard is still open, the game has not been closed, the political players are still moving the pieces.


Yoselina Guevara L.(@lopez_yoselina)is an international policy political analyst, correspondent and recipient of the Simón Bolívar 2022 National Journalism Award (Opinion) and Anibal Nazoa 2021 (Venezuela).

Western ruling elites have Dariia Dugina’s blood on their hands

August 23, 2022

The murder of Dariia Dugina triggered the now quite predictable reaction from the collective West: total indifference.  This is hardly something new.  The West not only put a Nazi regime in power in Kiev, it supported it by all means possible while that regime did all of the following:

  1. Used its armed forces in an internal civil war, which is (was?) banned under the Ukrainian constitution which resulted in about 14’000 dead over eight years.
  2. “Ze” has crushed any and all internal opposition, not only putatively “pro-Russian” parties and politicians (many of them members of the Ukrainian Rada), but also clearly pro-Ukrainian parties (say the “Party of Sharii”).
  3. “Ze” also banned any alternative/free media inside the Ukraine.  Western journos did not notice or object.
  4. The Ukrainian armed forces have now shelled/bombed the civilian infrastructure of the LDNR for years (and tried to cut off water from the Crimean Peninsula).  Latest example here.
  5. The Ukronazis have repeatedly tried attack nuclear and chemical plants.
  6. The Kiev regime has also repeatedly attacked the civilian power grid.
  7. Nazi special forces have conducted numerous assassinations in the LDNR and they even tried to do so in Crimea and Russia (as the case of Dugina proves).
  8. Thousands of people in the Ukraine have been disappeared in CIA-style torture centers.
  9. Torture is now a regular practice of the Ukronazi military and security services.
  10. Most Russian POW have been systematically tortured and murdered.
  11. Russian military personnel has been the object of chemical attacks (see here and here)
  12. The Ukronazis have also killed hundreds (if not more) Ukrainian soldiers who refused to be used as cannon fodder and fight the Russians in hopeless, suicidal, attacks.
  13. The Ukrainian forces systematically hid behind civilians in schools, shopping malls, hospitals and even kindergartens.
  14. Ukrainian politicians have repeatedly referred to the Russian people as “subhumans” “pigdogs” “biomaterial” and they have openly called for the killing of as many Russians (including non combatants) as possible (latest example here).
  15. The Nazis have made massive use of forbidden cluster munition, including cluster munition containing illegal anti-personnel mines which have maimed scores of civilians.

And I could go on and on.  But I think the image is rather clear.  It shows that:

  1. The West will support absolutely any atrocity committed by its Ukronazi proxies.
  2. The West hates Russia deeply and viscerally: against the accursed and hated russkies anything, absolutely anything goes.
  3. The West will not only speak up against Ukronazi atrocities, it will conduct an open and quite unapologetic campaigns to silence any disagreeing voices (latest example here).  Amnesty International now apologized for its report about human rights violations in the Ukraine.
  4. In fact, and in one of the most hypocritical statements in world history, the US Senate declared that Russia was a sponsor of terrorism which is rather ironic considering that the US is, by far, the main sponsor of terrorism worldwide and domestically!
  5. Western state actors have also organized and financed PSYOP/Cyberwarfare centers which have attacked even personal blogs (like the Saker blog) to try to shut down any dissenting voice.
  6. The West is doubling down over and over again and giving even MORE support to the Ukraine after each Nazi atrocity (the US just added another 3 BILLION dollars of “aid” for all of the actions described above)

I submit that two things are really essential here: the pattern described above has been unchanging since at least the Crusades and this pattern is unanimously shared by all western governments today.  This is no fluke, no mistake, but the core of a worldview shared by all the western ruling elites, especially northern Europeans (the reality of southern Europe and the Mediterranean cultural real to which southern Europe used to belong is more nuanced and complex).

Dariia Dugina was murdered by a single Ukronazi terrorist, directed by the SBU which, in turn, is just a proxy for the CIA/MI6.  But Dariia Dugina’s innocent blood, like the blood of MILLIONS of other innocent people throughout the history is on the hands of the ruling class which pretends to see nothing while being directly involved in it all.  As for the people of the West, they have to decide whether they will continue meekly accept to be ruled my murderous, racist, thugs or whether they will resit them (or, at least, not support them and, at the very least, have the decency to decide to never knowingly support any lie)

So far, I have to sadly admit that I am not very impressed.  I see a post-truth society in which the very concept of truth has lost any meaning.  That utter and total indifference to the very notion of truth is the only true “western value” left.

Andrei

Sabotage, terrorist and other diversionary attacks are a real risk for Russia (+addendum)

August 18, 2022

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Interesting news two days in a row.  First, the Russian MoD did conclude that the explosions at the Russian airfield in Crimea where the result of a diversionary operation (I use the term “diversionary” in the Russian sense of “diversiia” meaning sabotage/wrecking).  And today, the Russians have announced that they have arrested two employees of the Zaporozhiie nuclear plant (one guard and one engineer!) who were providing the Ukrainians with targeting coordinates and strike correction.  Now Russia is warning that a major strike on this nuclear plant would have catastrophic consequences.

My purpose today is not to discuss the situation around the ZNP, but to treat this as a tip of a much bigger iceberg.

So far, only my friend Andrei Martyanov has mentioned the very real risks of sabotage and/or terrorist attacks by Ukrainian diversionary groups, including the possible sabotage of the Moskva cruiser and the attack on the airfield in Crimea.  As usual, Andrei Martyanov is spot on.  What I want to do next is to expand a little on this topic in my favorite bullet-style format.

  • First, it is simply undeniable that the Ukronazi SBU/GUR have proven that they can, and have, conducted very effective diversionary attacks, including the murder of plenty of LDNR leaders.  Sometimes the Ukronazis used special SBU/GUR units, other times they have successfully recruited locals (be it in the LDNR or Crimea) to conduct acts of sabotage and terrorism.
  • Second, it is important to understand that while the SMO is not a real civil war, it has definite civil war ASPECTS, beginning with the undeniable reality that there are pro-Russian segments of the population in the Nazi occupied Ukraine but also that there are pro-Urkonazi segments of the LDNR/Russian population.  Thus both sides have people capable and willing to help the other side, including anti-Russian and pro-Ukrainian elements in LDNR/Russian controlled areas (including Crimea)
  • Third, besides ideological motives and simple corruption, you have to understand that both the SBU/GUR and the Russian SVR/G(R)U have access to databases which allows them to blackmail a person on the other side into collaboration.  They can use compromising information of any activity (past or present) which can, if made public, get a person in a lot of trouble, but they also can pressure family members, they can even directly threaten and cajole someone into collaboration.  Finally, there are a lot of poor and destitute people on both sides, and they need money badly, maybe not to purchase a multi-million dollar yacht but to, for example, get medical treatment for a family member.  Western special services are very good at spotting and using such people.
  • Fourth, as with any other conflict, when a war occurs, there is going to be some people who will benefit from it, but there is always going to be those who will lose a lot and who might be really unhappy about that.  Resentful people make for great recruits for special services (most Soviet defectors betrayed their country not for money, though some did, but because they fell unfairly treated by their superiors or the Soviet state).
  • Five, special services are very skilled at 1) spotting vulnerabilities and 2) making use of them.  Since, by definition, humans being humans, there will be such vulnerable people on both sides of the conflict.
  • So far, the Ukrainians have already made extensive use of such diversionary tactics, while the Russians have not (at least as far as we know, and there is a lot we don’t know).  The point is not to call one side “good” and the other “bad”, but to realize that both sides can, and will, use such special operations to disrupt the operations, and morale, of the other side.

Now one thing which will have a HUGE impact on this is the Russian decision to basically hand out Russian passports to any Ukrainian wanting one.  No, I am NOT critical of this decision, which was made on both moral and pragmatic grounds, but I will point out that this decision will come at a very real cost: a sharp increase in the numbers of Russians citizens whose true loyalties lie not with Russia, but with the Euromaidan or even Ukronazi ideology.  There are even such people in Russia proper!

The fact that such people are only a tiny fraction of the Russian population is irrelevant: all the SBU/GUR needs is a few, maybe a few tens, of such people.

And yes, of course, this is a direct challenge to the Russian intelligence and security agencies (SVR, FSB, GUSB/MVD, FSO, G(R)U and others).  But the reality is this: no matter how good the Russian intelligence and security services are, you cannot catch absolutely everybody, and neither can you place all potentially suspicious people under 24/7 surveillance (even if you knew who these people are).  The truth is that there will always be “leakers” who will successfully elude detection and interception.  You can catch many hundred of such people, but a few will always seep through the net and they will be used by the other side.

By the way, for the West and the Nazis in Kiev to declare that all the explosions in the LDNR/Russia (including Crimea) are the result of missile attacks makes perfectly good sense!  Not only does it boost the morale of the Ukronazis (Wunderwaffe and all that), it shows the western curators of the Nazi regime in Kiev how “effective” and “combat capable” the Ukrainian military still is.  Last, but not least, giving the credit to missiles is a very logical way to try to move the spotlight away from saboteurs and terrorists.  The Russians perfectly understand that, but the folks in the West apparently not, hence the systematic dismissal of the diversionary operation by so many commentators who prefer to daydream about some super-dooper missiles and other assorted Wunderwaffen and dismiss less “sexy” acts of simple sabotage.

Bottom line is this: if the SBU/GUR managed to recruit 2 employees of the ZNP, whom else do you think they might recruit in the future (or have already recruited)?  Think about folks involved in technical maintenance, transportation, logistics, prisons and POW facilities. etc. etc. etc.  Heck, the Ukies even tried to corrupt a Su-34 pilot and have him fly his Su-34 to the Ukrainian side in exchange for a EU passport and money.  This SBU/GUR plot pathetically failed, and the Russians even managed to get some classified info about the Ukrainian air defenses, which were promptly demilitarized.  However, the main reasons here are probably double: first, Su-34 pilots are definitely a highly motivated elite type, and they are also very closely monitored by Russian counter-intelligence services.  So, maybe next time, the SBU/GUR needs to “aim” for a more modest and less protected target.

And who is to say that the next time around the SBU/GUR will fail?

Some will wonder why the Russians could not do in the Ukraine what they did in Chechnia.  There are many key differences here, including:

  • Chechnia is a tiny piece of land compared to the Ukraine and it is comparatively easy to “lock”
  • Chechnia’s population is dwarfed by the Ukrainian population (even after millions left)
  • There is no equivalent of Ahmad Hadji Kadyrov or his son Ramzan in the Ukraine
  • Chechens Takfiris never had the kind of firepower or weapons the Ukronazis do

So no, the precedent of Chechnia does not in any way imply that the Nazis in the Ukraine will be as comparatively quickly defeated as the Takfiris were.

This is a major problem for Russia and, worse, this is a problem which will not go away anytime soon.

The only thing Russians can do is to 1) prepare for a very long counter-intelligence and counter-diversionary operations lasting many years and 2) accept the reality of war for what it is and not freak out the next time the Ukronazis blow up something, be it a ship, a train, an aircraft, a bridge or any other target in the LDNR or Russia.

The one good news the Russians also need to keep in mind is that most of such diversionary/terrorist attacks are still fundamentally part of PSYOPs and are mostly designed for PR effect.  In terms of their actual impact on Russian military capabilities, it is close to zero,  just like the Israeli strikes in Syria have made exactly *zero* difference on the ground in Syria.  To really affect military operations you need to have a large, viable and sophisticated partisan/”stay behind” force, which the Ukrainians do not have, not by a long margin.  Also, to really affect military operations, such diversionary tactics need to be carefully coordinated with “regular” friendly military forces (like the Soviet partisans during WWII who closely worked with the Soviet armed forces).

So yes, this is a problem, a very unpleasant one, one which will be hard to deal with, but not one which will affect Russian military operations.  Even if the Ukronazis blow up both the Chernobyl AND Zaporozhiie NPs, this will not significantly affect the SMO or even the war between Russia and the united West.  The entire Russian military is trained, and well trained, to operate in a hostile nuclear, chemical or bacteriological environment.  As for Russian logistics, they are extremely sophisticated and highly redundant, so even if the Ukronazis blow up one node of the resupply network, it will be quickly fixed and/or easily replaced or bypassed.

That being said, I would personally recommend that we all mentally prepare for what is almost certainly about to happen in the not too distant future.  If we understand what such operation can and cannot achieve we will see them in a sober, pragmatic way, and not cave in to the hysterics (by many sides, including the Russian 6th column) which will inevitable follow any such attack.

Andrei

Addendum: with so many commentators freaking out about a potential meltdown of all the nuclear reactors at the ZNP, I would say this: the reactors themselves are far tougher to strike that the used nuclear fuel storage facilities which are not nearly as well protected.  Again, the real danger is not the one we instinctively think of first.

An Alternative Open Letter to Western Politicians

August 15, 2022

Source

by Asia Teacher

Dear western politicians!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sensor Fusion and Uncertainties

August 11, 2022

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Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov : Member countries of the African Union

July 29, 2022

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



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

Your Excellencies,

Ladies and gentlemen,

Representatives of the media,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

July 20, 2022

Highlights as seen by Pepe Escobar:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Full Transcript now available

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Question: We did not realise this, did we?

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

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

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

Question: He is an actor, Mr Lavrov!

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

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

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

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

Question: Without any people?

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

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

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

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

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

Question: Why is that?

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

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

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

Question: For whom exactly?

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

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

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

Question: Is it a “shallow state” then?

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

Question: But good for us?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Question: No eight years of trying to reach agreement…

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

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

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

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

Question: …foist on them.

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

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

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

Question: And thousands of villages without gas…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Question: Maybe in Odessa?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Question: So, this is not a state secret?

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

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

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

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

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

Question: Gloat.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Question: That was the DPR and the LPR?

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

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

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

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

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

The seeds of the split: How the Russian-speaking Donbass first attempted to win independence from Ukraine in 2004

11 Jul, 2022

FILE PHOTO.Viktor Yanukovich, former Prime Minister of Ukraine, greets his supporters in Severodonetsk, eastern Ukraine, 28 November, 2004. © AFP / PHOTO MIG

In late June, after fierce fighting, the last remaining units of the Ukrainian Armed Forces pulled out of Severodonetsk, a large industrial center in the western part of the Lugansk People’s Republic.

Back in 2004, the city hosted the famous congress of the ‘federalists’, Ukrainian politicians – elected at different levels – who backed the presidential candidate Viktor Yanukovych during the Western-backed Orange Revolution. Back then, they declared then that the Kiev protests were an attempted coup and warned that an illegitimate government coming to power could prompt the congress to establish south-eastern autonomy to protect local residents.

At the same time, regional deputies decided to hold a referendum on changing the country into a federal state and appealed to Russian President Vladimir Putin for support. In this article, RT recounts the first attempt of Ukraine’s southeastern regions to gain independence from Kiev and explains why the events of 2004 defined the future armed conflict in Donbass.

Just a step away from federation

Political discussions about a possible disintegration and reconfiguration of Ukraine have been going on ever since the country became independent in 1991. Ironically, one of the first people to doubt the country’s unity was Vyacheslav Chornovol, the founder of the national democratic party Narodny Rukh (People’s Movement) and a hero for Ukrainian nationalists. Admittedly, he only mentioned the possibility of turning Ukraine into a federation. The idea of federalization was the focal point of discussions that – until the Maidan political crisis of 2014 – were commonly referred to as “separatist” discourse.

As early as 1989, Chornovol said that Ukraine should be a “union of lands.” “I imagine future Ukraine as a federal state, a union of lands, which have come together throughout the course of history and whose natural, climatic, cultural, ethnographic, and linguistic differences, as well as idiosyncrasies in their economies, habits, and customs define the unique diversity of a single people. I envision the People’s Republic of Ukraine, which includes such lands as the Kiev Region, Podolye, Volhynia, Galichina, Bukovina, Transcarpathia, Getmanshchina, Sloboda Ukraine, Zaporozhye, the Donetsk region, and Tauria, whereas Crimea could be an independent neighbor or an autonomous republic in alliance with Ukraine,” he wrote

Chornovol added that Ukrainian should be the only state language in the new federation, although local authorities could make certain provinces bilingual.

Two years later, in 1991, Chornovol initiated the convention of the so-called Galicia Assembly, which spoke in favor of administrative reform and the creation of a new autonomous regional entity, Galichina, based on the amalgamation of the Lviv, Ternopol, and Ivano-Frankovsk Regions. Even though the assembly was one of the catalysts of Ukraine’s independence, Chornovol’s supporters were accused of separatism after Leonid Kravchuk was elected president. This was in large part due to ideas to create a Donetsk Republic and Novorossiya in the Russian-speaking southeast of Ukraine, which began circulating in the 1990s. Over time, Chornovol’s proposals came to be viewed as too radical, and opponents of federalization have been linking his designs with the breakup of the country for more than 30 years now.

When the Ukrainian constitution was adopted in 1996, it defined Ukraine as a unitary state, which removed the issue of federalization from the agenda. And yet, apart from the 24 regions and two federal-level cities (Kiev and Sevastopol), Ukraine also included the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, which, for a few years, even had its own constitution and president. Throughout those years, Ukrainian presidents Leonid Kravchuk and Leonid Kuchma managed to strike the right balance in their foreign and domestic policies, especially as regards to handling relations between regions on both sides of the “Subtelny line,” which is traditionally used to divide Ukraine into two distinct parts.

FILE PHOTO. Some 3,500 local officials from 17 of Ukraine’s 27 regions meet in Severodonetsk, an eastern Ukrainian town 28 November, 2004. © AFP / PHOTO MIG

However, in 2004, when the outcome of the protests was still uncertain, politicians who supported Yanukovych (dubbed “pro-Russian” in the West, despite his years of negotiations with the EU) revived the idea of federalization. Members of the Party of Regions claimed that Ukraine had failed as a unitary state and therefore had to be reorganized as a federation with a high degree of autonomy at the level of administrative and territorial entities. Ukraine was going through a real crisis, and, probably for the first time, that schism was pushing the country to the brink of an all-out civilian conflict.

“Not going to let Galichina tell us how to live our lives”

The mass protests in Kiev, which would later be known as the Orange Revolution, were met with little enthusiasm in the southeast of Ukraine, especially in Donbass. While protesters at the Maidan claimed their ‘pro-European’ candidate, Viktor Yushchenko, had his victory “stolen from him,” many supporters of Yanukovych felt the same watching their opponents clamor for official election results, which had declared the latter victorious, to be repealed. A response to the protests in the capital was imminent.

On November 28, the All-Ukrainian Congress of Deputies of All Levels welcomed more than 3,500 pro-Yanukovych delegates from across the country. They declared that the protests were an attempted coup and warned that an illegitimate Yushchenko-led government taking over Kiev could prompt the congress to establishautonomy to protect the residents of southeastern Ukraine.

The final statement of the congress, which had been unanimously adopted by its delegates, said: “If the sociopolitical situation in the country develops according to the worst crisis scenario, we will stand firm and united to defend the vote of the people of Ukraine going as far as holding a referendum on possible changes to the administrative and territorial structure of Ukraine.” The significance of the gathering was further elevated by the presence of Moscow mayor Yuri Luzhkov, who delivered a sharp rebuke to Ukraine’s radical opposition. “On the one hand, we’re seeing this orange-fueled mayhem [orange became the symbol of support for Yushchenko – RT], which claims to represent the majority in Ukraine. On the other hand, we have this quiet force gathered in this room today,” Luzhkov said to a round of applause. 

At the same time, the Regional Council of Lugansk came up with an alternative project, proposing the establishment of the South-East Ukrainian Autonomous Republic with Kharkov as its capital city. Along with the initiative, local MPs also asked President Putin to help them organize a referendum on Ukraine’s federalization. The referendum was scheduled for December 5, 2004. At the same time, the Regional Council of Donetsk decided to establish its own police force. 

Leaders of Ukraine’s southeastern regions began to voice their support for the idea of reorganizing the country. Kharkov’s authorities decided to set up committees that would have executive state powers. Governor Yevgeny Kushnarev was elected head of the regional executive committee – he was well known as a pro-Russian politician and supporter of federalization, as well as a presidential hopeful according to many journalists and activists. His responsibilities at the time included coordination between other councils in the southeastern territories. The Kharkov Region also stopped making payments to the national budget, waiting for the situation in Kiev to stabilize.    

It was Kushnarev who put into words the idea that later defined the development of the Donbass armed conflict. Speaking at the Severodonetsk conference, he said, “I’d like to remind you that we are 400 kilometers away from Kiev and 40 kilometers away from Russia. We understand that the east is very different from Galicia in the west. We are not imposing our way of life on Galicia, but we will never let Galicia lecture us either.” Together with Boris Kolesnikov, head of the Regional Council of Donetsk, he proposed organizing a referendum in every city to see if people trusted the government and asked what they thought of ‘relaunching’ Ukraine as a federal republic.  

All of this political activity in the country’s southeast caused some serious concerns in the West, where governments started to see that the dissolution of the state was quite possible. The diplomatic channels were activated. EU and Russian representatives began making frequent visits in order to work out some compromises. At the end of the day, they didn’t include a referendum, but a process was agreed on to transfer power to Yushchenko. The compromise worked like this: Yushchenko got the green light at the election, and his win in the runoff was accepted by the opponents. In return, he agreed to change the constitution and have presidential privileges reduced as of January 1, 2005, thus turning Ukraine into a parliamentary republic. The local governments in the South-East wrapped up their plans. 

One Step Closer to the Abyss

As time went on, everyone felt comfortable forgetting about the convention of ‘federalists’ in Severodonetsk and the programs announced by the local governments in the South-East. They were only recalled when attempts were made to blackmail or jail the local big wigs. One shouldn’t underestimate the significance of those events, however. It was the very first time the South-East made it clear what its response was to “patriots” in Kiev trying to seize power and disregard the opinion of half the country’s population while they were at it. Back then, there were no consequences because the parties to the conflict worked out a solution based on compromise, while Russia abstained from backing and pushing Yanukovych.

A little later, however, the members of the Severodonetsk rally came under severe pressure. A criminal charge was launched against Evgeny Kushnarev – a famous member of the Party of Regions – on the grounds of separatism, to be dropped later. That was enough for Kushnarev to distance himself from the separatism agenda, focusing instead on regional issues. In 2005, he “engaged,” as he called it, Yanukovych by merging his New Democracy platform into the Party of Regions. The two politicians ran together in the parliamentary elections in 2006. It was Kushnarev who addressed the items on the election program the most, including the issue of the status of the Russian language.

In January 2007, Kushnarev was severely wounded during a wolf hunt in the Izyum district of Kharkov Region. He was shot by one of his friends, who had joined him for the hunt. A day later, Kushnarev died in spite of two surgeries. He was regarded as the leading anti-Maidan spokesman and a pro-Russian candidate for presidency.

The events of those years – Maidan, federalization attempts in southeastern Ukraine and the death of a popular champion of Russia and federalism, Evgeny Kushnarev – marked the end of the first era in the history of an independent Ukraine. The people in power, Kuchma included, were anything but impeccable. They had a lot to answer for. But they were forged in the Soviet era and they had a sense of responsibility for their country and understood how complex the situation really was in Ukraine and abroad.

During that period, politicians avoided any radical steps and tried to resolve conflicts through compromise. But when Yushchenko came to power, he abandoned this approach and attempted to impose on Ukraine an agenda that was alien to millions of its citizens. Aggressive ‘Ukrainianization’ and a policy aimed at distancing the country from Russia eventually resulted in mounting tensions and a protracted political crisis. 

All of that has brought Ukraine to its present state – a country plagued by domestic political crises and economic instability, a nation suffering territorial loss and ravaged by an armed conflict in the southeast that began in 2014. Today, Ukrainians look back on the period, which ended in 2004, as the last peaceful era in Ukraine’s modern history. Kiev’s failure to draw the right conclusions from the ‘Severodonetsk case’ contributed to the tragedy Ukraine experienced in 2014. Ukrainian society was never able to bridge its internal divide, and the revolution that came a decade later only split the country further, leading to the loss of Crimea and a bloody war in Donbass.

By Alexander Nepogodin, аn Odessa-born political journalist, expert on Russia and the former Soviet Union.

Sergey Lavrov: Presser following talks with Vladimir Makei, Belarus

July 02, 2022

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s statement and answers to media questions at a joint news conference with Foreign Minister of Belarus Vladimir Makei following talks, Minsk, June 30, 2022

Esteemed Mr Makei,
Ladies and gentlemen,
As my colleague and friend has just said, our talks took place in a truly friendly atmosphere of trust and were very substantial, as they should be between allies and strategic partners. First, I would like to thank our Belarusian friends once again for their traditional hospitality in the wonderful city of Minsk and for the brilliant, streamlined organisation of our work.

The visit is timed to an important historical date – 30 years of diplomatic relations (June 25). Of course, this is just one more, albeit important, landmark in the centuries-old history of our truly fraternal nations. To mark this occasion, we have just cancelled postal envelopes specially issued for this date and signed an anniversary joint statement that I hope you will read. It is worth it.

We emphasised that in the past few years we have traversed a long road in developing our integration. The foreign ministries of Russia and Belarus provide diplomatic support for implementing 28 union economic integration programmes endorsed by the Supreme State Council of the Union State in November 2021.
Today, we reviewed topical bilateral issues. We also discussed the schedule of forthcoming contacts, including preparations for a joint meeting of the foreign ministry collegiums of Russia and Belarus, scheduled for the fourth quarter of this year. We reviewed implementation of the plan for foreign ministry consultations in 2022-2023.

We believe we have managed to achieve remarkable success in trade, and economic and investment cooperation. Last year, bilateral trade reached about $40 billion. Major joint projects, such as, for example, the construction of the Belarusian nuclear power plant, are underway. Industrial cooperation is on the up and up, paving the way for new industrial and logistics chains.

We have a high opinion of the vigorous and broad development of interregional ties. Today, the 9th Forum of Russian and Belarusian Regions is to kick off in Grodno, where contracts worth an estimated $1 billion, a record-high amount, are expected to be signed.

We spoke at length about regional and international matters and agreed to continue enhancing foreign policy coordination and stand up together for the interests of our two countries in the world arena, in keeping with the two-year programmes on coordinating our actions in foreign policy.

We supported further steps towards more active cooperation in multilateral associations, primarily, in the EAEU, CSTO and the CIS. We have almost identical views on how Eurasian cooperation should develop in the future.

We agreed that we would also continue to coordinate our approaches in other multilateral formats, first and foremost, at the UN and the OSCE. We discussed the progress on the projects that are being carried out in Belarus under the auspices of the United Nations, many of which are being funded by the Russian side. We will vigorously continue to oppose any attempts to politicise human rights issues. We see hopeless attempts like this being made at the UN and the OSCE. The West keeps making them with enviable persistence.

We are seriously concerned about NATO’s activities in close vicinity to our borders, primarily in the Baltic states and Poland. We share the opinion that these activities are openly confrontational and tend to lead to more tensions, as well as the division of the European security and cooperation space, that is, they are producing the results which the establishment of the OSCE was supposed to help prevent. Now they are dismantling all this with their own hands, waiving, among other things, the principle of indivisible security, which was publicly declared at the highest level in the OSCE in the late 1990s and in 2010, when it was said that no country should enhance its security at the expense of others. The West’s actions have buried this principle.

In the light of the manifestly unfriendly steps taken by the United States and its satellites towards our countries, we reaffirmed that we are firmly determined to further preclude any attempts by the West to interfere in our domestic affairs. We agreed to continue to join efforts to oppose illegitimate unilateral actions by Washington, Brussels and their allies in the international arena.

We advised our colleagues of our assessments of the special military operation in Ukraine. We maintain regular dialogue on these issues. Our presidents discussed this topic at a top-level meeting in St Petersburg on June 25.

We are grateful to our Belarusian allies for completely understanding the causes, goals and tasks of the special military operation. President Vladimir Putin discussed these issues in his remarks yesterday concerning the results of the Caspian Five Summit in Ashgabat.

We focused on biological security, while exchanging opinions on strategic stability and arms control. We agree that US activities on post-Soviet space are quite dangerous and non-transparent. The activities of Pentagon’s biolabs in Ukraine highlight the risks they bear. We exposed these facts but failed to obtain a US response. 

[Biological Security] … we initiated a process, stipulated by the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention …

We sent inquiries to countries, parties to this important international treaty. We perceive threats to the national security of Russia and Belarus, the reluctance of the United States to ensure the transparency of its military-biological activities in many countries on post-Soviet space, primarily those around Russia and Belarus. We have an agreement, within the framework of the Collective Security Treaty Organisation, to establish close and transparent interaction on these issues, in order to counter attempts to advance such projects (that cause concern in our countries) behind the scenes and without due transparency.

We are also cooperating in order to counter the dirty information war unleashed by the collective West against our countries. We agreed to expand and upgrade Russian-Belarusian media cooperation, and you should be particularly interested in this issue.

We are satisfied with the results of the talks. They help advance our foreign policy coordination still further on the basis of allied and strategic partnership for the benefit of our countries and fraternal nations.

Question:  A risky redivision of the world’s energy sector is taking place. What are the United States and the EU counting on, while renouncing Russian imports?

Sergey Lavrov: I believe that everyone understands what they are counting on. They have no misgivings about openly discussing this issue. They noted this once again yesterday, at the NATO summit in Madrid. They are expecting all other states to unfailingly obey their will, reflecting their selfish interests, primarily those of the United States. We have repeatedly been convinced that modern Europe, in the form of the EU, is losing its independence or even the signs of independence that it once had. Europe completely obeys positions that the United States imposes on it, including those in the sphere of economic sanctions. It is renouncing Russian imports and demolishing logistic and financial chains that had taken decades to create.

Look at the current list of sanctions. I suggest that you conduct this interesting analysis. Compare restrictions that European countries are imposing on Russia and Belarus with the relevant US restrictions. The United States is sparing itself and is trying not to encroach on various spheres that could seriously damage its own economy. Yes, the United States is also experiencing negative effects from this activity, but Europe is suffering much more. I believe that, apart from “punishing” our countries, the United States wants to weaken the European Union as its rival.

Question: At the Madrid summit, NATO stated that Russia was the main threat to the Alliance according to its new strategic concept. Following this statement and their decision to fortify the eastern flank, does Moscow consider itself bound by its commitments under the Russia-NATO Founding Act, or has this document lost its validity?

Sergey Lavrov: In the legal sense, the Founding Act continues to exist. We did not initiate the procedure for terminating this agreement. In the run-up to the summit, NATO had lengthy and vocal discussions about whether they still needed the Act or whether they would be better off abandoning it. As a result, they decided to let this matter be, but 

[NATO] … their decisions grossly violate the Founding Act …,

primarily with regard to NATO’s commitment not to permanently deploy significant combat forces on the territory of new (Eastern European) Alliance members.

We will analyse the situation and decide on our further moves depending on how and in what form NATO will move forward with the decisions it adopted and announced.

Question: Will it be possible to restore more or less acceptable political and diplomatic relations with EU countries in the future? Will there be another Iron Curtain? Do we have a bloc like NATO or the EU?

Sergey Lavrov (adding after Vladimir Makei): I agree with almost all of that. As for our relations with the EU, Russia has not had them since 2014. Brussels swallowed the humiliating move by the opposition forces which perpetrated a coup in Ukraine in defiance of EU guarantees. In response, the Crimea residents refused to live in a neo-Nazi state. Ukraine’s eastern regions did the same, and the European Union failed to muster enough courage to talk sense into the putschists who carried out an illegal power grab, and in fact began to support them in their attack, including physical, on the people of Crimea and eastern Ukraine. When the referendum took place in Crimea and the DPR and the LPR were proclaimed, the European Union, instead of pushing for compliance with the agreements between President Yanukovych and the opposition it had co-sponsored, sided with the ultranationalist and deep down neo-Nazi regime which proclaimed fighting the Russian language and culture as its goal. In the years that followed, the regimes led by Poroshenko and Zelensky proved Kiev’s loyalty to this particular course.

In 2014, when it all happened, the EU, feeling powerless and aware of its own inability to enforce implementation of its own proposals, said the Russian Federation was to blame. It imposed sanctions on our country and cancelled the Russia-EU summit planned for June 2014, destroyed every other mechanism that it took us decades to create, such as biannual summits, annual meetings between the Russian Government and the European Commission, four common spaces that underlay four road maps, 20 sector-specific dialogues, including a dialogue on visa-free travel and much more. All of that was ruined overnight. Relations have been non-existent since then. There were occasional technical contacts, but nothing major. No wonder there are no relations now, but we never close ourselves off. From now on, we will never trust the Americans or the EU. We are doing our best not to depend on them in the sectors that are critically important for survival of the state, the people and our security. When and if they get over their obsession and come back with some kind of a proposal, we will see what exactly it is about. We will not play along with their self-serving plans. If it comes to resuming the dialogue, we will push for a level playing field for everyone and a focus on balancing the interests of all participants on an equal footing.

With regard to the Iron Curtain, it is already on its way down. They should make sure they don’t get anything caught in it as it goes down.

In all other matters, we have a straightforward position: we are for things being fair.

In 2014, our “partners” refused to hold a summit amid serious events, including a coup, a referendum in Crimea, and a radical change in the situation in the Black Sea region. If you were serious about searching for solutions, this meeting was the way forward. It could have been used to have a candid discussion about the complaints and the counter questions the partners in the Russian Federation had for the EU. The withdrawal from all contacts that took place after March 2014 only goes to show that the EU is not interested in a dialogue, and does not want to understand our interests or listen to what we have to say. What it wants is for everyone to agree with the Brussels’ decisions which are a carbon copy of the decisions made in Washington. We have been able to see that in recent years.

Question: Norway has refused to allow Russian cargo, including food, medicines, and necessary equipment, to Spitsbergen. What steps will be taken to resolve this issue? What might our response be, if any?

Sergey Lavrov: First, we want to see Norway respond to our reaction that immediately followed the incident. We sent an official request demanding clarification as to how this move aligns with Norway’s commitments under the Spitsbergen Treaty of 1920. I hope they will respond promptly. Then, we will analyse the situation. And we will act quickly.

“That’s nonsense” – Douglas MacGregor

June 26, 2022

A LEMMING LEADING THE LEMMINGS: SLAVOJ ZIZEK AND THE TERMINAL COLLAPSE OF THE ANTI-WAR LEFT

JUNE 23RD, 2022

JONATHAN COOK

Have you noticed how every major foreign policy crisis since the U.S. and U.K.’s invasion of Iraq in 2003 has peeled off another layer of the left into joining the pro-NATO, pro-war camp?

It is now hard to remember that many millions marched in the U.S. and Europe against the attack on Iraq. It sometimes feels like there is no one left who is not cheerleading the next wave of profits for the West’s military-industrial complex (usually referred to as the “defense industry” by those very same profiteers).

Washington learned a hard lesson from the unpopularity of its 2003 attack on Iraq aimed at controlling more of the Middle East’s oil reserves. Ordinary people do not like seeing the public coffers ransacked or suffering years of austerity, simply to line the pockets of Blackwater, Halliburton, and Raytheon. And all the more so when such a war is sold to them on the basis of a huge deception.

So since then, the U.S. has been repackaging its neocolonialism via proxy wars that are a much easier sell. There have been a succession of them: Libya, Syria, Yemen, Iran, Venezuela and now Ukraine. Each time, a few more leftists are lured into the camp of the war hawks by the West’s selfless, humanitarian instincts – promoted, of course, through the barrel of a Western-supplied arsenal. That process has reached its nadir with Ukraine.

NUCLEAR FACE-OFF

recently wrote about the paranoid ravings of celebrity “left-wing” journalist Paul Mason, who now sees the Kremlin’s hand behind any dissension from a full-throttle charge towards a nuclear face-off with Russia.

Behind the scenes, he has been sounding out Western intelligence agencies in a bid to covertly deplatform and demonetize any independent journalists who still dare to wonder whether arming Ukraine to the hilt or recruiting it into NATO – even though it shares a border that Russia views as existentially important – might not be an entirely wise use of taxpayers’ money.

https://cdn.iframe.ly/api/iframe?app=1&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.mintpressnews.com%2Fwatchdog-journalists-carol-cadwalladr-paul-mason-security-state%2F281146%2F&key=bab15327a66f873fa9c0d80b90a8205a

It is not hard to imagine that Mason is representative of the wider thinking of establishment journalists, even those who claim to be on the left.

But I want to take on here a more serious proponent of this kind of ideology than the increasingly preposterous Mason. Because swelling kneejerk support for U.S. imperial wars – as long, of course, as Washington’s role is thinly disguised – is becoming ever more common among leftwing academics too.

The latest cheerleader for the military-industrial complex is Slavoj Zizek, the famed Slovenian philosopher and public intellectual whose work has gained him international prominence. His latest piece – published where else but The Guardian – is a morass of sloppy thinking, moral evasion and double speak. Which is why I think it is worth deconstructing. It encapsulates all the worst geostrategic misconceptions of Western intellectuals at the moment.

Zizek, who is supposedly an expert on ideology and propaganda, and has even written and starred in a couple of documentaries on the subject, seems now to be utterly blind to his own susceptibility to propaganda.

COD PSYCHOLOGY

He starts, naturally enough, with a straw man: that those opposed to the West’s focus on arming Ukraine rather than using its considerable muscle to force Kyiv and Moscow to the negotiating table are in the wrong. Opposition to dragging out the war for as long as possible, however many Ukrainians and Russians die, with the aim of “weakening Russia”, as US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin wants; and opposition to leaving millions of people in poorer parts of the world to be plunged deeper into poverty or to starve is equated by Zizek to “pacifism.”

“Those who cling to pacifism in the face of the Russian attack on Ukraine remain caught in their own version of [John Lennon’s song] ‘Imagine’,” writes Zizek. But the only one dwelling in the world of the imaginary is Zizek and those who think like him.

The left’s mantra of “Stop the war!” can’t be reduced to kneejerk pacifism. It derives from a political and moral worldview. It opposes the militarism of competitive, resource-hungry nation-states. It opposes the war industries that not only destroy whole countries but risk global nuclear annihilation in advancing their interests. It opposes the profit motive for a war that has incentivised a global elite to continue investing in planet-wide rape and pillage rather than addressing a looming ecological catastrophe. All of that context is ignored in Zizek’s lengthy essay.

Instead, he prefers to take a detour into cod psychology, telling us that Russian president Vladimir Putin sees himself as Peter the Great. Putin will not be satisfied simply with regaining the parts of Ukraine that historically belonged to Russia and have always provided its navy with its only access to the Black Sea. No, the Russian president is hell-bent on global conquest. And Europe is next – or so Zizek argues.

Even if we naively take the rhetoric of embattled leaders at face value (remember those weapons of mass destruction Iraq’s Saddam Hussein supposedly had?), it is still a major stretch for Zizek to cite one speech by Putin as proof that the Russian leader wants his own version of the Third Reich.

Not least, we must address the glaring cognitive dissonance at the heart of the Western, NATO-inspired discourse on Ukraine, something Zizek refuses to do. How can Russia be so weak it has managed only to subdue small parts of Ukraine at great military cost, while it is at the same time a military superpower poised to take over the whole of Europe?

Zizek is horrified by Putin’s conceptual division of the world into those states that are sovereign and those that are colonized. Or as he quotes Putin observing: “Any country, any people, any ethnic group should ensure their sovereignty. Because there is no in-between, no intermediate state: either a country is sovereign, or it is a colony, no matter what the colonies are called.”

SOVEREIGN OR COLONIZED?

The famed philosopher reads this as proof that Russia wants as its colonies: “Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Finland, the Baltic states … and ultimately Europe itself”. But if he weren’t so blinded by NATO ideology, he might read Putin’s words in a quite different way. Isn’t Putin simply restating Washington realpolitik? The U.S., through NATO, is the real sovereign in Europe and is pushing its sovereignty ever closer to Russia’s borders.

Putin’s concern about Ukraine being colonized by the U.S. military-industrial complex is essentially the same as U.S. concerns in the 1960s about the Soviet Union filling Cuba with its nuclear missiles. Washington’s concern justified a confrontation that moved the world possibly the closest it has ever come to nuclear annihilation.

Both Russia and the U.S. are wedded to the idea of their own “spheres of influence”. It is just that the U.S. sphere now encircles the globe through many hundreds of overseas military bases. By contrast, the West cries to the heavens when Russia secures a single military base in Crimea.

We may not like the sentiments Putin is espousing, but they are not especially his. They are the reality of the framework of modern military power the West was intimately involved in creating. It was our centuries of colonialism – our greed and theft – that divided the world into the sovereign and the colonized. Putin is simply stating that Russia needs to act in ways that ensure it remains sovereign, rather than joining the colonized.

We may disagree with Putin’s perception of the threat posed by NATO, and the need to annex eastern Ukraine, but to pretend his speech means that he aims for world domination is nothing more than the regurgitation of a CIA talking point.

Zizek, of course, intersperses this silliness with more valid observations, like this one: “To insist on full sovereignty in the face of global warming is sheer madness since our very survival hinges on tight global cooperation.” Of course, it is madness. But why is this relevant to Putin and his supposed “imperial ambition”? Is there any major state on the planet – those in Europe, the United States, China, Brazil, Australia – that has avoided this madness, that is seeking genuine “tight global cooperation” to end the threat of climate breakdown.

No, our world is in the grip of terminal delusion, propelled ever closer to the precipice by capitalism’s requirement of endless economic growth on a finite planet. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is causing great ecological damage, but so are lots of other things – including NATO’s rationalization of ever-expanding military budgets.


UKRAINIAN HEROISM

But Zizek has the bit between his teeth. He now singles out Russia because it is maneuvering to exploit the consequences of global warming, such as new trade routes opened up by a thawing Arctic.

“Russia’s strategic plan is to profit from global warming: control the world’s main transport route, plus develop Siberia and control Ukraine,” he writes. “In this way, Russia will dominate so much food production that it will be able to blackmail the whole world.”

But what does he imagine? As we transform the world’s climate and its trade routes, as new parts of the world turn into deserts, as whole populations are forced to make migrations to different regions, does he think only Putin and Russia are jostling to avoid sinking below the rising sea waters. Does he presume the policy hawks in Washington, or their satraps in Europe, have missed all this and are simply putting their feet up? In reality, maneuvering on the international stage – what I have called elsewhere a brutal nation-state version of the children’s party game musical chairs – has been going on for decades.

Ukraine is the latest front in a long-running war for resource control on a dying planet. It is another battleground in the renewed great power game that the U.S. revived by expanding NATO across Eastern Europe in one pincer movement and then bolstered it with its wars and proxy wars across the Middle East. Where was the urge for “tight global cooperation” then? To perceive Ukraine as simply the victim of Putin’s “imperialism” requires turning a blind eye to everything that has occurred since the fall of the Soviet Union three decades ago.

Zizek gets to the heart of what should matter in his next, throw-away line:

Those who advocate less support for Ukraine and more pressure on it to negotiate, inclusive of accepting painful territorial renunciations, like to repeat that Ukraine simply cannot win the war against Russia. True, but I see exactly in this the greatness of Ukrainian resistance.”

Zizek briefly recognises the reality of Ukraine’s situation – that it cannot win, that Russia has a bigger, better-equipped army – but then deflects to the “greatness” of Ukraine’s defiance. Yes, it is glorious that Ukrainians are ready to die to defend their country’s sovereignty. But that is not the issue we in the West need to consider when Kyiv demands we arm its resistance.

The question of whether Ukrainians can win, or whether they will be slaughtered, is highly pertinent to deciding whether we in the West should help drag out the war, using Ukrainians as cannon fodder, to no purpose other than our being able to marvel as spectators at their heroism. Whether Ukrainians can win is also pertinent to the matter of how urgent it is to draw the war to a close so that millions don’t starve in Africa because of the loss of crops, the fall in exports and rocketing fuel prices. And arming a futile, if valiant, Ukrainian struggle against Russia to weaken Moscow must be judged in the context that we risk backing Russia into a geostrategic corner – as we have been doing for more than two decades – from which, we may surmise, Moscow could ultimately decide to extricate itself by resorting to nuclear weapons.

INTELLECTUAL CUL DE SAC

Having propelled himself into an intellectual cul de sac, Zizek switches tack. He suddenly changes the terms of the debate entirely. Having completely ignored the U.S. role in bringing us to this point, he now observes:

Not just Ukraine, Europe itself is becoming the place of the proxy war between [the] U.S. and Russia, which may well end up by a compromise between the two at Europe’s expense. There are only two ways for Europe to step out of this place: to play the game of neutrality – a short-cut to catastrophe – or to become an autonomous agent.”

So, we are in a U.S. proxy war – one played out under the bogus auspices of NATO and its “defensive” expansion – but the solution to this problem for Europe is to gain its “autonomy” by …

Well, from everything Zizek has previously asserted in the piece, it seems such autonomy must be expressed by silently agreeing to the U.S. pumping Ukraine full of weapons to fight Russia in a proxy war that is really about weakening Russia rather than saving Ukraine. Only a world-renowned philosopher could bring us to such an intellectually and morally barren place.

The biggest problem for Zizek, it seems, isn’t the U.S. proxy war or Russian “imperialism”, it is the left’s disillusionment with the military industrial complex: “Their true message to Ukraine is: OK, you are victims of a brutal aggression, but do not rely on our arms because in this way you play into the hands of the industrial-military complex,” he writes.

But the concern here is not that Ukraine is playing into the arms of the war industries. It is that Western populations are being played by their leaders – and intellectuals like Zizek – so that they can be delivered, once again, into the arms of the military-industrial complex. The West’s war industries have precisely no interest in negotiations, which is why they are not taking place. It is also the reason why events over three decades have led us to a Russian invasion of Ukraine that most of Washington’s policy makers warned would happen if the U.S. continued to encroach on Russia’s “sphere of influence”.

The left’s message is that we are being conned yet again and that it is long past the time to start a debate. Those debates should have taken place when the U.S. broke its promise not to expand “one inch” beyond Germany. Or when NATO flirted with offering Ukraine membership 14 years ago. Or when the U.S. meddled in the ousting of the elected government of Ukraine in 2014. Or when Kyiv integrated neo-Nazi groups into the Ukrainian army and engaged in a civil war against the Russian parts of its own populace. Or when the U.S. and NATO allowed Kyiv – on the best interpretation – to ignore its obligations under the Minsk agreements with Russia.

None of those debates happened. Which is why a debate in the West is still needed now, at this terribly late stage. Only then might there be a hope that genuine negotiations can take place – before Ukraine is obliterated.

CANNON FODDER

Having exhausted all his hollow preliminary arguments, we get to Zizek’s main beef. With the world polarizing around a sole military superpower, the U.S., and a sole economic superpower, China, Europe and Russia may be forced into each other’s arms in a “Eurasian” block that would swamp European values. For Zizek, that would lead to “fascism”. He writes: “At that point, the European legacy will be lost, and Europe will be de facto divided between an American and a Russian sphere of influence. In short, Europe itself will become the place of a war that seems to have no end.”

Let us set aside whether Europe – all of it, parts of it? – is really a bulwark against fascism, as Zizek assumes. How exactly is Europe to find its power, its sovereignty, in this battle between superpowers? What vehicle is Zizek proposing to guarantee Europe’s autonomy, and how does it differ from the NATO one that is – even Zizek now seems to be conceding – actually just a vassal of the U.S., there to enforce Washington’s global-spanning “sphere of influence” against Russia and China.

Faced with this problem, Zizek quickly retreats into mindless sloganeering: “One cannot be a leftist if one does not unequivocally stand behind Ukraine.” This Bushism – “You are either with us or with the terrorists” – really is as foolish as it sounds.

What does “unequivocal” mean here? Must we “unequivocally stand behind” all of Ukraine’s actions – even should, say, neo-Nazi elements of the Ukrainian military like the Azov Brigade carry out pogroms against the ethnic Russian communities living in Ukraine?

But even more seriously, what does it mean for Europeans to stand “unequivocally” behind Ukraine? Must we approve the supply of U.S. weapons, even though, as Zizek also concedes, Ukraine cannot win the war and is serving primarily as a proxy battleground?

Would “unequivocal support” not require us to pretend that Europe, rather than the U.S., is in charge of NATO policy? Would it not require too that we pretend NATO’s actions are defensive rather intimately tied to advancing the U.S. “sphere of influence” designed to weaken Russia?

And how can our participation in the U.S. ambition to weaken Russia not provoke greater fear in Russia for its future, greater militarism in Moscow, and ensure Europe becomes more of a battleground rather than less of one?

What does “unequivocal” support for Ukraine mean given that Zizek has agreed that the U.S. and Russia are fighting a proxy war, and that Europe is caught in the middle of it? Zizek’s answer is no answer at all. It is nothing more than evasion. It is the rationalization of unprincipled European inaction, of acting as a spectator while the U.S. continues to use Ukrainians as cannon fodder.

MUDDYING THE WATERS

After thoroughly muddying the waters on Ukraine, Zizek briefly seeks safer territory as he winds down his argument. He points out, two decades on, that George W. Bush was similarly a war criminal in invading Iraq, and notes the irony that Julian Assange is being extradited to the U.S. because Wikileaks helped expose those war crimes. To even things up, he makes a counter-demand on “those who oppose Russian invasion” that they fight for Assange’s release – and in doing so implicitly accuses the anti-war movement of supporting Russia’s invasion.

He then plunges straight back into sloganeering in his concluding paragraph: “Ukraine fights for global freedom, inclusive of the freedom of Russians themselves. That’s why the heart of every true Russian patriot beats for Ukraine.” Maybe he should try telling that to the thousands of ethnic Russian families mourning their loved ones killed by the civil war that began raging in eastern Ukraine long before Putin launched his invasion and supposedly initiated his campaign for world domination. Those kinds of Ukrainians may beg to differ, as may Russians worried about the safety and future of their ethnic kin in Ukraine.

As with most things in life, there are no easy answers for Ukraine. But Zizek’s warmongering dressed up as European enlightenment and humanitarianism is a particularly wretched example of the current climate of intellectual and moral vacuity. What we need from public thinkers like Zizek is a clear-sighted roadmap for how we move back from the precipice we are rushing, lemming-like, towards. Instead he is urging us on. A lemming leading the lemmings.

Feature photo | Graphic by MintPress News

Jonathan Cook is a MintPress contributor. Cook won the Martha Gellhorn Special Prize for Journalism. His latest books are Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East (Pluto Press) and Disappearing Palestine: Israel’s Experiments in Human Despair (Zed Books). His website is www.jonathan-cook.net.

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect MintPress News editorial policy.

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s interview with the BBC TV channel, St Petersburg, June 16, 2022

June 18, 2022

Ed Note:  This transcript is not complete and we will issue an update when it is completed.  We post it now because of the renewed DDoS attacks on Russian infrastructure.

In addition, Mr Lavrov had two more quite serious interviews.  They are available here:


https://www.mid.ru/en/foreign_policy/news/1818228/

Question: Did President Putin, before taking the decision and announcing the start of what he calls a special military operation, consult you on whether he should?

Sergey Lavrov: Every country has a decision-making mechanism. In that case, the mechanism existing in the Russian Federation was fully employed.

Question: Did he consult you?

Sergey Lavrov: Again, there are things we do not speak about publicly. There is a mechanism for taking decisions. It was followed in full.

Question: I am asking because you have been foreign minister for 18 years, and invading a sovereign neighbouring state is a foreign matter. The President surely assumed that there would be international repercussions. I thought he would consult you.

Sergey Lavrov: You are an experienced journalists well-aware of the realities in Russia, around Russia, and in the post-Soviet space. Your question seeks to cancel everything prior to February 24 of this year. For eight years, we had been promoting the necessity of implementing the Minsk agreements, unanimously endorsed by the UN Security Council, with the help of our intelligence agencies, Foreign Ministry, and Defence Ministry.

Throughout those eight years, we were insisting that Donetsk and Lugansk (which initially, as you may remember, in 2014, declared their independence in response to the neo-Nazi coup d’etat in Kiev) should sign the Minsk agreements, which guaranteed Ukraine’s territorial integrity and sovereignty. When nowadays Chancellor Olaf Scholz claims that Russia must be forced to reach agreements with Ukraine, agreements that would respect the territorial integrity and sovereignty of the Ukrainian state, I have a feeling that he is not of this world but someone from “outer space.” Because all those eight years we were trying to ensure the implementation of agreements which guaranteed the territorial integrity of the Ukrainian state.

Question: But the situation changed four months ago …

Sergey Lavrov: The situation has not changed. We are going back to what the Minsk agreements were coordinated for: protecting Russians in Donbass, who have been betrayed by the French and Germans. The British also played a leading role. All our Western colleagues kept saying they were unable to make Kiev honour the Minsk agreements.

Question: If the goal is to protect Russians in Donbass, why have more civilians been killed in the DPR and LPR in the four months since the start of the special military operation than in all of last year?

Sergey Lavrov: Did you also watch German ARD television and the main French TV channel, which declared recently that a maternity clinic and a marketplace had been shelled by the Russian army killing dozens of civilians? They declared without any qualms that this had been done by the Russian military. Just like they claimed some time ago that a railway station in Kramatorsk had been hit by Russia. Although the Western journalists proved that the missile had come from the territory controlled by the Armed Forces of Ukraine.

Question: Last year, eight civilians were killed in the LPR and DPR, and seven the year before. While every death is a tragedy, that did not constitute the genocide Russian officials often invoke. With these numbers in mind, can you say that invading Ukraine was a reasonable decision?

Sergey Lavrov: We did not invade Ukraine. We announced a special military operation after being left with no other means to make it clear to the West that it is engaging in criminal activity by dragging Ukraine into NATO, by coddling and doting on a neo-Nazi regime, whose president Vladimir Zelensky said in September 2021 (you didn’t tell your viewers about it, did you?) that, if someone in Ukraine feels Russian, they should leave for Russia. He said that publicly. When a CNN correspondent told him that the Azov Regiment was listed as an extremist and terrorist organisations by some Western countries, the US, and Japan, Vladimir Zelensky shrugged his shoulders and said they had many such battalions and regiments, and they were what they were.

Question: Let’s look at the consequences. Four months have passed. The result: thousands of civilians have been killed; over 14 million Ukrainians have fled their homes; Russian troops sustained considerable losses and a host of sanctions have been imposed on Russia. Do you still call it the right decision?

Sergey Lavrov: I will tell you again: we didn’t have any other choice. We have explained this many times, a thousand times. Today, the Ukrainian regime is attacking civilians with your Western weapons just like they did in 2014 when the putschists came to power, when the centre of Lugansk was bombed by aircraft and 50 people were burned alive in Odessa. Does anyone recall this now?

Question: If you didn’t attack, there wouldn’t have been any weapons from the West.

Sergey Lavrov: We didn’t attack anyone. Russians were attacked in Ukraine. Imagine you are English. English or Scottish?

Question: I mentioned the figures to you. Eight dead in the past year, seven…

Sergey Lavrov: I am telling you that the Ukrainian regime is bombing its own population and you are selling weapons to it so it can continue doing this. Now about genocide. Are you English? What if Ireland (not Northern Ireland but the Republic of Ireland) banned the English language? How would the English feel?

Question: They wouldn’t invade Ireland for certain.

Sergey Lavrov: Wouldn’t you feel humiliated? The Russian language is banned in Ukraine. Try to speak Russian in a street in Kiev when young people with a certain look are walking there.

Question:Why do you consider NATO a threat? Why do people in Russia often talk about five waves of NATO’s expansion?

Sergey Lavrov: I think that NATO is a threat because we have been close friends with Serbians for a long time. They told us what the North Atlantic Alliance is about. The Afghans with whom we maintain relations in Afghanistan (and that includes practically all ethnic groups) also told us about the alliance and how it bombed wedding ceremonies. Just because these pilots wondered why some people had got together. They must be bombed, just in case.

I will explain to you why NATO is a threat. Talk to citizens of Iraq and Libya. Their countries were razed to the ground. After this, NATO still claims to be a defensive alliance. We are told not to worry, that Ukraine’s accession to NATO wouldn’t pose a threat to the Russian Federation. This is what we were told. With all due respect for our colleagues from the North Atlantic Alliance, I must say that Russia has the right to decide for itself what threatens its security and what does not.

Question: There were no NATO troops in Eastern Europe before the annexation of Crimea in 2014…

Sergey Lavrov: Moreover, there was no annexation of Crimea, either.

Question: As a result of Crimea’s annexation, there appeared 4,500 troops in 2016, and 40,000 after February 24, 2022. This is the result of Russia’s actions.

Sergey Lavrov: You are a clever man. These are facts. I will cite different facts for you. Your entire analysis is based on “cancel culture.” You are changing everything that preceded the event that you call an invasion or annexation. What happened in Ukraine on February 21, 2014? What we call a coup d’etat. How do you call it?

Question: I was the first to ask you. How do you call it?

Sergey Lavrov: I’ve already said that this was a coup d’etat that took place the morning after France, Poland and Germany affixed their signatures under the agreement between the then president and the opposition leaders. In the morning, the opposition leaders spat in the faces of Germany, France and Poland which  swallowed it. We called this a coup d’etat. And how did you call it?

Question: Do events of eight years ago give you the right to do what you are doing?

Sergey Lavrov: This is not about the right. I want to hear your honest response. We called it a coup d’etat. How do you call it in Britain?

Question: I wanted to ask you about this.

Sergey Lavrov: I want to understand your logic because if you want me to give you clear answers you must clearly explain to me what you are talking about.

Question: I want to grasp your logic. You say that NATO is a threat. Now you are saying that there is too much NATO on Russian borders. And yet now “there is even more NATO” as a result of Russia’s actions. Finland and Sweden are joining the alliance.

Sergey Lavrov: Finland and Sweden have long been subordinate to the Anglo-Saxons as the EU and NATO have drawn closer together. The EU has lost its meaning.

Question: Is the fact that Finland and Sweden are becoming NATO members a failure of Russian diplomacy?

Sergey Lavrov: Sweden and Finland are exercising their sovereign right and they are acting according to their governments’ decisions. They also are not overly concerned with public opinion, just as they didn’t concern themselves with public opinion in different countries as they carried out the objectives set by NATO.

Question: Does that mean it is not a threat to Russia?

Sergey Lavrov: We shall see how it will end. When and if Sweden and Finland join NATO, we will see what will go into effect on the ground. Whether weapons are delivered there and new contingents deployed. That said, I assure you that nobody is going to listen to either Europeans, or Finland or Sweden. They are telling us now that they will have no foreign troops or military bases. Meanwhile, US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin that the US intends to increase its military presence in Europe, they have not yet decided if it will be permanent, rotational or permanent-rotational. He never said the EU should be consulted. He does not want to hear from European allies. He just decided, and announced that decisions will be made in Washington.

Question: Russia says that Ukraine is fighting Nazis.

Sergey Lavrov: Ukraine is not fighting Nazis. Nazism is flourishing in Ukraine.

Question: Listen to what the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights says. She spoke in May following a monitoring mission and said that the Russian military kept 360 people including 74 children and 5 disabled persons for 28 days in a school basement in the village of Yagodnoye, Chernigov Region, without a toilet and water. Ten elderly people died. Is this fighting Nazism?

Sergey Lavrov: International bureaucrats, including the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and, to my immense disappointment, the UN Secretary-General and many other UN representatives, are being put under pressure by the West and are often being used to amplify fake news spread by the West.

Question: So Russia is squeaky clean, isn’t it?

Sergey Lavrov: Russia is not squeaky clean. Russia is what it is. And we are not ashamed of showing who we are.

May I inquire with you to better understand your media outlet’s policy on the Bucha tragedy? Did you report on the frame-up job in Bucha? You definitely said it had been carried out by Russia, right? The Guardian newspaper published in London later got preliminary forensic results which showed that most people whose dead bodies were shown by all the world’s TV channels got their wounds from artillery shrapnel.

Question:  Why do you ask? We have little time.

Sergey Lavrov: We have little time but you do not want to tell me why you keep saying untruths, to put it mildly. I asked you a question about how the BBC had covered the events in Bucha.

Question:  I wasn’t in Bucha. I am in Russia and this is why I am asking you about Russia’s position. The purpose of the operation as it was stated by President Putin back then is regime change, isn’t it?

Sergey Lavrov: The purpose of the operation is to protect the rights of Russians which have been blatantly ignored not only by the Kiev regime but also by the entire West and the civilised community which refused to implement the Minsk Agreements.

If you did not want to secure the rights of the Russians in Donbass through Kiev’s adherence to a UNSC resolution, we will ensure the rights of Russians ourselves. That is what we are doing.

Question: On February 25 of this year, Vladimir Putin addressed Ukrainian soldiers and urged them to take power in their hands because it would be easier for Russia to come to terms with them than with this gang of drug addicts and neo-Nazis in Kiev. This sounds like a direct call for a military rebellion.

Sergey Lavrov: No, it sounds like a direct call for fulfilling their military duty instead of serving Nazis who are cancelling everything that their regime doesn’t like, including Russian education, culture and media. They didn’t cancel BBC because you haven’t told the truth about what was happening there for eight years. I asked you a question: Did you or any of your BBC colleagues go to Donbass during the eight years when Kiev soldiers were bombing civilians there?

Question: Over the course of six years, the BBC had many times contacted the leadership in the separatist-run areas asking for permission to go and see what was happening. We were refused entry every single time. I think if genocide had really taken place there, they would have been interested in letting us come and see but no. Why were we denied entry?

Sergey Lavrov: I don’t know why you were denied entry. Our journalists worked there 24/7 and showed the results of bombing by Kiev battalions. You should have gone to the Ukrainian side of the contact line. They do not have such destruction there.

Question: Recently, your President praised Peter the Great for reclaiming primordial Russian territories and even added that “to return and strengthen is also our lot.” How many more territories and what territories are you going to reclaim?

Sergey Lavrov: President Vladimir Putin said it all. I have nothing to add. I will tell you again: you want to forget everything that preceded this event. You deny, cancel and do not want to hear what happened before February 24 of this year, what happened before the voting in Crimea. You cannot accept that we are very patient. But when our patience runs out, we respond to rudeness and the humiliation of the Russian people, like the coup in February 2014 when power was taken by people who cancelled the regional status of the Russian language and were going to oust Russians from Crimea (they sent armed people there). What did BBC report about this? Nothing at all. You said this was a normal democratic process.

Question: Can you say categorically that Russia won’t launch another special operation and won’t invade neighbouring territories?

Sergey Lavrov: We believed words for a very long time. Your comrades-in-arms, your compatriots together with other members of the North Atlantic Alliance solemnly proclaimed a principle of indivisible security where nobody has the right to enhance their security at the expense of the security of others. When we said that NATO’s five expansions undermines our security, we were simply ignored. Now President of France Emmanuel Macron said they must talk to Russia and should not humiliate the Russians. Do you know who replied to him? Some Czech Foreign Minister Jan Lipavsky. He said Macron didn’t understand anything, implying that Russians must be humiliated. What is your attitude to this?

Question: I want to ask you about the Brits who recently got a death sentence …

Sergey Lavrov: You should do an interview in the Donetsk People’s Republic about it.

Question: Russia is the only country that recognises the DPR.

Sergey Lavrov: No, it is not the only one, several more countries have recognised them.

Question: I think the DPR has a lot of influence in Russia.

Sergey Lavrov: We are friends and allies.

Question: In the eyes of the West, Russia is responsible for these people. Do you think the death sentence …

Sergey Lavrov: I am not interested in the “eyes of the West” at all. I am only interested in international law, according to which mercenaries are not combatants. So nothing in your eyes matters.

Question: They are not mercenaries, they were serving in the Ukrainian Armed Forces.

Sergey Lavrov: This should be determined by the court.

Question: Do you think the court there is independent?

Sergey Lavrov: I am confident they have independent courts there. Do you think your courts are independent? After Alexander Litvinenko’s death your “independent” court announced “public process,” that is, had the case classified. You did the same with the Skripals. That’s your law.

Question: Did the UK government contact you about the fate of these boys?

Sergey Lavrov: I have no information about their contacting us. They are used to doing everything publicly. They began saying they are worried about the fate of their subjects. I do not know if they contacted us or not. They should contact the DPR.

Question: How would you characterise relations with the UK now? Saying they are bad would be putting it mildly.

Sergey Lavrov: I think there is no room for manoeuvre left in the relationship. Boris Johnson and Elizabeth Truss say publicly that they must defeat Russia and bring it to its knees. Come on, do it!

Question: How does Moscow view Great Britain now?

Sergey Lavrov: This is a country which is once again sacrificing the interests of its people for the sake of politicians’ ambitions, who only think about the next election and nothing else.

Question: You criticise the countries, which are supplying weapons to Kiev. Who is more to blame – the countries supplying weapons to a country, which is defending its lands, or the country that has attacked it?

Sergey Lavrov: How is it defending its lands, when it bombs its own citizens? Let me remind you once again: Vladimir Zelensky said in September 2021 that those who think in Russian and feel they are Russian should beat it back to Russia. Why don’t you talk about that? Why do you ignore past events? Now, when they are shelling their own cities, towns, markets, maternity homes, and hospitals – everything is all right [with you]. You ask me why Russia is waging a “war” – in response to what we are showing. If they do not show in Britain the aftermath of the [Ukrainian] shelling of Donetsk, Kramatorsk and other places, you can certainly watch it here. Do you report anything on that?

Question: You said that you are defending Donbass and the people in Donbass. I told you that since the start of the operation twenty times more people had died …

Sergey Lavrov: And I told you that those people are being killed by neo-Nazis. I ask you: Do you show the results of the AFU’s shelling of towns and villages? Or you don’t show them in your reports? You don’t show it, correct? That is why you want to squeeze some words of regret from me about the current developments so as to send a report to London and use my words to back up the false version of events in Ukraine, which you keep broadcasting.

Question: You are wrong about that.

Sergey Lavrov: Being in Moscow, you cannot fail to see what journalists in Donbass are showing, what is happening as a result of [Ukrainian] artillery attacks on  peaceful towns and civilians. Do you report on that or not?

Question: I want to ask you…

Sergey Lavrov: So that means you don’t.

Question: I have been in Russia for almost 30 years. I have toured the country. The phrase I heard most in the villages and cities I visited was “if only there is no war.” I understand that your country suffered terrible losses, that is why it beggars belief that your country has “unleashed a war” in Ukraine. I don’t understand why it was needed. To ruin Ukraine and the future of your own country?

Sergey Lavrov: I got your point. You have no problems with understanding the political course pursued by Kiev in the past ten years – to cancel anything Russian – do you? You think “if only there is no war” means a possibility to humiliate Russians and Russia (as the Czech foreign minister said replying to Emmanuel Macron who had spoken out against humiliating the Russians). For some reason, nobody is speaking about that. You grabbed what you needed for your line, for the narrative of your broadcasts.

The phrase “if only  there is no war” is deeply ingrained in the Russian people. But it also has pride ingrained, what we call self-respect, which they are trying to take away from all the Russians in Ukraine, with your support.

To be continued…

Have Europeans Been Profoundly Deceived?

17/06/2022

Written by Eric ZUESSE 

During the period from 28 April to 11 May of 2022, the European Council on Foreign Relations polled 8,172 respondents who were in ten European countries, on the question “Who is mainly responsible for the outbreak of the war in Ukraine?” and here were the options that were presented:

“Russia”

“Ukraine, the EU, or the US”

“None of these”

“Don’t know”

And these were the poll’s results, which the ECFR published on June 15th:

all surveyed countries

73% Russia

15% Ukraine, the EU, or the US

Finland

90% Russia

5% Ukraine, the EU, or the US

Great Britain

83% Russia

5% Ukraine, the EU, or the US

Poland

83% Russia

10% Ukraine, the EU, or the US

Sweden

83% Russia

10% Ukraine, the EU, or the US

Portugal

81% Russia

9% Ukraine, the EU, or the US

Spain

76% Russia

14% Ukraine, the EU, or the US

Germany

66% Russia

20% Ukraine, the EU, or the US

France

62% Russia

18% Ukraine, the EU, or the US

Romania

58% Russia

21% Ukraine, the EU, or the US

Italy

56% Russia

27% Ukraine, the EU, or the US

Here is the actual historical evidence regarding the question that was polled:

coup occurred in Ukraine during February 2014 under the cover of pro-EU demonstrations that the U.S. Government had been organizing ever since at least June 2011, which U.S. coup even top officials in the EU didn’t know about until they found out about it on 26 February 2014, right after this illegal coup had been successfully completed, and which coup shocked them to discover, but they kept silent about it instead of exposing it to the world. (This coup was subsequently called “the most blatant coup in history”, by the head of the ‘private CIA’ firm Stratfor.)

The main evidence of the coup was a phone-conversation on 27 January 2014 between U.S. President Barack Obama’s appointee to plan and run the coup, Victoria Nuland, speaking to Obama’s appointed Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt in Kiev, in which Nuland selected whom for Pyatt to get appointed to lead the post-coup Ukraine. Here is that phone-conversation, and here is its transcript along with explanations (to enable understanding of whom she was referring to in it, and why).

The second main evidence displayed that it was a specifically U.S. Government coup (and that the EU were merely America’s vassal-nations who didn’t know about it until it was already over) was a phone-conversation between the EU’s Foreign-Affairs chief, Catherine Ashton, and her investigator in Ukraine reporting to her from Kiev on 26 February 2014, to tell her what he had found had actually happened there, Urmas Paet. Here is that phone-conversation, and here is its transcript along with explanations (to enable understanding of what he was telling her, and of what her response to it indicated — that though it was a disappointment to her, she wouldn’t let the fact that it had been a coup affect EU policies).

And here is yet more evidence. It indicates that the main purpose of the coup was for the U.S. ultimately to place its nuclear missiles on Ukraine’s border a mere five-minute-missile-flight-distance away from being able to nuke Moscow in order to prevent Russia from being able to retaliate against a planned blitz-U.S. nuclear attack. And it also documents that a more immediate U.S. goal was to steal Russia’s major naval base, which is in Crimea, and to turn it into a U.S. naval base. But Russia was able to block that part of the plan. However, the main objective, to place U.S. missiles five minutes away from Moscow, remains unwavering.

On 17 December 2021, Russia delivered to both the U.S. Government and its NATO anti-Russian alliance Russia’s red-line demands to stop further aggressing against Russia; and, on 7 January 2022, both America and its NATO finally and clearly said no to those demands (which were basically for U.S./NATO finally to honor its verbal commitments on the basis of which Mikhail Gorbachev had ended the Soviet Union in 1991). On February 24th, Russia invaded Ukraine, in order to prevent U.S. nuclear missiles from ever being posted in Ukraine, just five minutes away, at the nearest place anywhere, to Moscow on Russia’s borders.

This was like the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, but this time with America posing the unacceptable nuclear threat (not the Soviet Union) — and just five minutes away (instead of being 30 minutes away).

The U.S., and its “Special Relationship” partner UK, are now trying to replace NATO by an alliance of only rabidly anti-Russian countries that border on Russia, in order for the U.S. to become allowed to place its missiles in Ukraine, so as to checkmate Russia and make it, too, become a part of the U.S. empire.

Does all of this evidence prove that Europeans have been profoundly deceived? How can it not? Have not even the most stringent of standards for a criminal conviction been met in this particular case? In addition, there have been participants in the coup who have publicly admitted that it was a coup (even though they didn’t know what the top of it had been). What more evidence could possibly be needed in order to conclude that Europeans have been profoundly deceived?

So, please spread this article (with its linked-to evidences) to all of your European friends and acquaintances, so that they too will know.

Reposts are welcomed with the reference to ORIENTAL REVIEW.

Fake News Unfit to Print

June 15, 2022

by stephenlendman

On all things domestic and geopolitical mattering most, the NYT and other MSM feature fake news over the real thing.

They suppress what’s most important to explain.

They never explained the transformation of Ukraine from democratic rule to Nazi-infested tyranny by the Obama/Biden regime’s coup d’etat over 8 years ago.

Nor do they ever report crimes of war, against humanity and related atrocities by Ukrainian forces against Donbass civilians and Russians when captured.

Or that US/Western supplied weapons and munitions have been used for cross-border aggression since April 2014.

Or that Russia’s SMO in Ukraine came after US-installed Nazified regimes in Kiev rebuffed years of good faith Kremlin conflict resolution diplomacy.

Or that Vladimir Putin authorized special military action because over 100,000 US-controlled Ukrainian forces were mobilized in preparation to invade Donetsk and Lugansk, as well as the Russian Republic of Crimea.

He acted to prevent what would have been disastrous — to save lives over the other way around.

Instead of featuring important news that’s fit — and essential — to print, Times and other MSM reporting on all things Russia and Ukraine is almost consistently the other way around.

In its latest fake news edition, the Times expressed support for more US/Western weapons to Ukraine — that Russia will target and destroy as it’s doing daily.

And this Times perversion of reality:

“(D)ecisions (by US-controlled, Nazified Ukraine) are up to (US-installed tyrannical rulers the Times falsely called a) democratically elected government (sic).”

Kiev officials have no say over all things related to Russia and its SMO.

Defying reality, the Biden regime’s so-called under secretary of war for policy, Colin Kahl, said the following:

“We’re not going to tell the Ukrainians how to negotiate, what to negotiate and when to negotiate (sic).” 

“They’re going to set those terms for themselves (sic).”

Ignoring hundreds of daily Ukrainian casualties and desertions, Kahl pretended that regime troops are “doing an unbelievably courageous job (sic)” — serving as cannon fodder for the empire of lies in waging proxy war on Russia, he left unexplained.

The Times also quoted the Biden regime’s so-called envoy to the NATO war-making alliance, Julianne Smith, saying:

Hegemon USA “stand(s) with Ukrain(ian) (Nazis) for as long as it takes (sic).”

In the same propaganda piece, the Times bemoaned the death of a “fallen (Ukrainian) soldier.”

Noting that funerals are “a common sight in” Ukraine, the Times suppressed information on mass slaughter and destruction in Donbass since April 2014 by invasion and cross-border shelling.

On June 13, the Times reported nothing about 5 Donetsk civilians killed by Kiev, another 39 wounded by cross-border shelling.

A daily later, two more civilians were killed in the republic, six others wounded.

For the Times and other MSM, Ukrainian casualties alone matter — not victims of its aggression.

According to Russian media on Tuesday, Donetsk residential areas are being heavily shelled with US/Western supplied rockets and artillery.

On the same day, Putin aide Yuri Ushakov explained the following:

“Horrible things are happening.”:

“Intensive shellings of civilian areas in Donetsk” continue daily,

“This is out of any limits. This is simply a military operation against the peaceful civilian population.”

Ukrainian forces are “target(ing) districts of Donetsk that they have never targeted before during all eight years since 2014.”

And this Times rubbish:

“The Russians are running out of precision-guided weapons (sic).”

“Russia (is) a paper tiger that could not seriously challenge NATO in a conventional conflict (sic).”

No Russian “blockade” of Ukraine’s offshore waters exists.

And this WaPo rubbish:

Battered and beaten “Ukrainian defenses remain solid (sic).”

“Ukrainians are well-positioned and equipped to hold off (Russian) advances (sic)” — as they continue to gain ground while Kiev troops have been on their back foot in retreat throughout Russia’s SMO.

And this WaPo perversion of reality:

“Russian losses of soldiers and equipment have been staggering (sic).”

“Ukrainian aren’t winning but they aren’t losing (sic).”

Last week, WaPo correctly headlined:

“Ukraine is running out of ammunition as prospects dim on the battlefield.”

“Hopes that Ukraine will be able to reverse Russian gains are fading in the face of superior firepower.”

That’s the reality of where things stand on the ground.

Ukraine to decide how much territory it trades for peace – NATO

12 Jun, 2022

Bloc chief Jens Stoltenberg said that a deal will come at a price, but insisted it’s up to Ukraine

Jens Stoltenberg speaks during a media conference at NATO headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, May 25, 2022 © AP / Olivier Matthys

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said on Sunday that the US-led bloc aims to strengthen Ukraine’s position at the negotiating table, but added that any peace deal would involve compromises, including on territory. 

Stoltenberg was speaking at the Kultaranta Talks in Finland, following a meeting with Finnish President Sauli Niinisto. While the NATO chief insisted that the West was willing to “pay a price” to strengthen the Ukrainian military, Kiev will have to make some territorial concessions to Moscow in order to end the current conflict.

“Peace is possible,” he outlined. “The only question is what price are you willing to pay for peace? How much territory, how much independence, how much sovereignty…are you willing to sacrifice for peace?”

Stoltenberg did not suggest what terms Ukraine should accept, saying that “it’s for those who are paying the highest price to make that judgment,” while NATO and the West continue supplying arms to the Ukrainians to “strengthen their hand” when a settlement is eventually negotiated.

The secretary general did not directly endorse the ceding of Ukrainian territory, but he did bring up the example of Finland, which gave up Karelia to the Soviet Union as part of a peace deal during the Second World War. Stoltenberg described the Finnish-Soviet settlement as “one of the reasons Finland was able to come out of the Second World War as an independent sovereign nation.”

Stoltenberg’s statement comes amid growing sentiment that Ukraine may soon be pressed into a peace deal by its Western backers. While US and British officials publicly insist that Ukraine “can win” its war with Russia, a recent CNN report suggests that officials in Washington, London and Brussels are meeting without their Ukrainian counterparts in an effort to plan a ceasefire and peace settlement. 

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has also claimed that unnamed foreign parties have been trying to “push us a little” toward a deal, as the public in countries backing Ukraine grows “war weary.”

French President Emmanuel Macron has publicly denied urging Zelensky to give up some territory in exchange for an end to hostilities, as former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger suggested last month he should do.

Kissinger proposed in May that Ukraine accept a return to the “status quo ante,” meaning it would relinquish its territorial claims to Crimea and grant autonomy to the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics. Crimea has been a part of Russia since 2014, while Moscow recognized the independence of Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics several days before its military operation began in February. 

Zelensky has shifted positions several times on a potential peace deal, with the president periodically expressing interest in negotiating a settlement with Russia, only for his officials, the US State Department, or Zelensky himself, to express the opposite sentiment shortly afterwards. After announcing his willingness to enter negotiations late last month, Zelensky came out several days later and told his citizens that “there will be no alternative to our Ukrainian flags” flying over the Donbass republics.

“We understand that it is very difficult for Ukraine after all this fighting to give up their land,” Niinisto said during the discussion with Stoltenberg on Sunday. “But seeing that Russia would lose all its holdings is not at this point foreseeable. Gaining peace is absolutely difficult.”

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Black Sea Geopolitics and Russia’s Control of Strategic Waterways: The Kerch Strait and the Sea of Azov

June 05, 2022

By Prof Michel Chossudovsky

Global Research,

Since the union of Crimea with Russia in March 2014, the entry into the sea of Azov is fully controlled by Russia. (see image below).

The following article is a revised and update of an earlier GR article by Michel Chossudovsky   It provides a brief summary of the Geopolitics of the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov as well as some observations on the Ukraine War. (Updated on June 5, 2022)

Introduction

Historically, the Kerch strait in Eastern Crimea has played a strategic role.

It constitutes a narrow maritime gateway which links the Black Sea via the Sea of Azov to Russia’s major waterways including the Don and the Volga.

It also ensures maritime transit from the Black Sea to Moscow not to mention the strategic maritime route between the Caspian Sea (via the Volga-Don Canal) to the Black Sea and the Mediterranean. 

Map: The United Deep Waterway System of European Russia.

The Volga also links the Caspian Sea to the Baltic Sea as well as to the Northern Sea route, via the Volga–Baltic Waterway.  (See above)

The Volga is connected to a system of canals (via lakes Onega, Ladoga) to the Neva River and St Petersburg. (See map below)

What is at stake is an integrated system of waterways which connects the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea to the Baltic and the Northern Sea Route.

In this regard the narrow Kerch Strait in Eastern Crimea is strategic.

The 2014 Union of Crimea with Russia Redefines the Geography and the Geopolitical Chessboard of the Black Sea Basin

Since 2014, the reunion of Crimea to the Russian Federation, represented a major setback for US-NATO, whose longstanding objective was to integrate Ukraine into NATO, while extending Western military presence in the Black Sea basin. (See details below)

Brief Observations on the Ukraine War: The Sea of Azov is Strategic. Ukraine Has No Maritime Access. 

In regards to the Ukraine War, Russia’s control of the Kerch Strait plays a key role. In recent developments (June 2022), Russia now controls the entire basin of the Sea of Azov.

Ukraine has no maritime access to the Sea of Azov and Eastern Ukraine, nor does it have naval power in the Black Sea.

Without a navy, Ukraine is not in a position to win this war. The Peace Negotiations initiated in Istanbul in late March, which were the object of sabotage constitute the only solution. 

Ukraine’s Naval Base Berdyansk (a 2020 initiative of Zelensky) on the Western Azov coastline is under Russian control. All major ports extending from Mariupol to Kherson are under Russian control.

Russia occupies Kherson and  controls the access of Ukraine’s major river-way the Dnieper to and from the Black Sea  (see second map below: The Dnieper is in some regards a seaway.The Dnieper is a major corridor of grain cargo transportation.

In the context of the Ukraine War, through their military deployments in Donetsk and Lugansk, Russian forces have  consolidated their control over the entire Sea of Azov basin.

The map below (June 2, 2022) indicates the areas of deployment and Russian control from the North of Lugansk (territories opposite Kharkov) to Kherson on the Dnieper.

Flashback: The 2014 Treaty between Russia and Crimea

With the March 18, 2014 Treaty signed between Russia and Crimea, the Russian Federation has extended its control over the Black Sea as well as over the Sea of Azov.

Under the agreement between Russia and Crimea announced by president Putin in 2014, two “constituent regions” of Crimea joined the Russian Federation: the “Republic of Crimea” and the “City of Sevastopol”. Both have the status of “autonomous regions”. The status of Sevastopol as an autonomous entity separate from Crimea is related to the location of Russia’s Naval base in Sevastopol.

Since the break-up of the Soviet Union, Russia retained its naval base in Sevastopol under a bilateral agreement with Ukraine. With the signing of the March 18th 2014 Treaty, that agreement became null and void. Sevastopol including the Russian naval base became part of an autonomous region within the Russian Federation. Prior to March 2014, the naval base was not within Ukraine under a lease agreement. Moreover, since 2014, Crimea’s territorial waters belong to the Russian Federation.

Following the union of Crimea to Russia, The Russian Federation now controls a much larger portion of the Black Sea, which includes the entire coastline of the Crimean peninsula. The Eastern part of Crimea –including the Kerch strait– are under Russia’s jurisdiction. On the Eastern side of the Kerch strait is Russia’s Krasnodar region and extending  southwards are the port cities of Novorossiysk and Sochi. 

The Geopolitics of  Oil and Gas Pipelines

Novorossiysk is also strategic. It is Russia’s largest commercial port on the Black Sea, at the cross-roads of major oil and gas pipelines between the Black Sea and the Caspian sea.

While the main strategic oil pipeline route is between Novorossiysk and Baku, there is a nexus of gas pipelines between Russia, Kazakhstan, Iran, Turkmenistan, linking up with China.

Prior to Russia’s “invasion” of Ukraine on February 24, 2022, Putin signed “a wide-ranging agreement” with the president of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev.

Kerch Strait: History

Historically, the Kerch strait has played a strategic role. It constitutes a gateway from the Black Sea to Russia’s major waterways including the Don and the Volga.

During World War II, the Kerch peninsula was occupied by Nazi Germany (taken back by the Red Army) was an important point of transit by land and water.

In the coldest months of Winter, it became an ice bridge linking Crimea to the Krasnodar region.

The Kerch strait is about 5 kilometers in length and 4.5 km. wide at the narrowest point between the tip of Eastern Crimea and the peninsula of Taman. Kerch is a major commercial port linked to railway, ferry and river routes.

image right: Kerch strait, photo taken from Crimean side, (prior to the construction of the bridge) narrow width, aerial view of strait and Taman peninsula. 

The Sea of Azov: Geopolitical Hub

Of significance, as a result of the integration of Crimea into the Russian Federation in 2014 Moscow gained full control of the Kerch Strait linking the Black Sea to the Sea of Azov. The bilateral agreement between Russia and Ukraine governing the maritime route through the Kerch straights was scrapped.

The strait also constitutes an entry point into Russia’s major river waterways.

The Sea of Azov connects with the Don River and the Volga, through the Volga Don Canal. In turn, the Volga flows into the Caspian sea.

The Kerch strait is strategic.  The Kerch-Yenikalskiy Canal allows large (ocean) vessels to transit from the Black Sea to the Sea of Azov.

As outlined above, the Kerch Strait links the Black Sea to the Volga via the sea of Azov and the Volga Don Canal which in turn connects to Saint Petersburg and the Baltic Sea. The Volga also connects to Moscow, via the Moscow river through the Volga-Moskva canal.

Note: The Caspian sea basin is in sense “landlocked”. It’s only access to the Mediterranean and the Atlantic Ocean is via the Volga. The same applies to its access to the Atlantic via the Baltic Sea, or via the White Sea, the Barents Sea and the Northeast Arctic Passage to the Pacific.

Strategic waterways. In Summary

  1. Caspian Sea- Volga, Volga-Don Canal, Don, – Sea of Azov -Black Sea, Mediterranean
  2. Black Sea- Sea of Azov -Don- Volga Don Canal -Volga -Volga-Moskva Canal, Moscow River, Moscow
  3. Black Sea- Sea of Azov -Don- Volga Don Canal -Volga -Neva, St Petersburg, Baltic Sea
  4. Caspian Sea, Volga, Neva, Svir, Onega Lake, White Sea Canal, North Sea and Northeast Arctic Passage

Volga-Don Canal

Russia-Ukraine Relations Regarding the Kerch Strait

In December 2013, Moscow signed a bilateral agreement with the Yanukovych government in Kiev pertaining to the construction of a bridge across the Kerch Strait, connecting Eastern Crimea (which was part of Ukraine) with Russia’s Krasnodar region.

That agreement was a followup to an initial agreement signed in April 2010 between the two governments.

The Russia-Ukraine 2013 agreement pertaining to the construction of the bridge had, for all purposes already been scrapped before March 16, 2014.

Image right: new Kerch bridge links Eastern Crimea (road and rail transportation) to  Russia’s Krasnodar region. (image right).

Crimea’s union to Russia was already in the pipeline prior to the referendum, it was a fait accompli.

Less than two weeks before the March 16 2014 Referendum, at the height of the crisis in Ukraine, Russia’s Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev ordered the state-road building corporation Avtodor, or “Russian Highways” “to create a subsidiary company that would oversee the building of a bridge across the Kerch Strait”.

This bridge is geared towards train transport routes linking Western and Eastern Europe to the Caspian Sea basin, Kazakhstan and China. It is therefore an integral part of the Eurasian Project (linking up with China’s Belt and Road initiative).  

The original source of this article is Global Research

Copyright © Prof Michel Chossudovsky, Global Research, 2022

How blaming Putin is helping Putin

June 06, 2022

Source

By Dmitry Orlov

The systemic crisis which we are currently witnessing in the West (and in other parts of the world that are too tightly interconnected with the West to avoid experiencing it as well) is objectively being caused by the West itself. But Westerners, being unaccustomed to acknowledging their mistakes (being all superior, indispensable and infallible-like in their own addled minds), are forced to resort to explaining away their epic failures in virtually every sphere by blaming it all on Putin. That is, they don’t even blame Russia in general, but blame Putin personally; after all, Russia can be good and agreeable at times (as it was under Gorbachev and Yeltsin) but Putin makes it misbehave. That’s why it’s all got to be Putin’s fault.

Here’s what it’s come to: an entire President of the United States (or whoever runs his teleprompter), who, in the course of his election campaign, swore up and down that he will take responsibility for whatever happens under his command, now blames “Putin’s Price Hike” so regularly and monotonously that the phrase has become a meme.

By now the narrative of “it’s all Putin’s fault” has spread to encompass all of the more sensitive problems: inflation, fuel prices, food price hikes and even… shortages of baby formula! It turns out that the shortages aren’t caused by the discovery of dangerous bacteria in the products of a monopoly producer but by shortages of imported sunflower oil from… the Ukraine. That’s according to the Wall Street Journal, no less! The logical steps needed to make it all Putin’s fault are then obvious: the shortages are because of the war and the war is Putin’s fault.

This wonderful strategy works just fine for the short term, but it has a major vulnerability in the longer term because of a certain mechanism of mass psychology. Superficially, it is simple and seemingly bulletproof: Putin is irrational; he has imperial ambitions, suffers from paranoia, delusions of grandeur, is obsessed with restoring the USSR… Since his motives are irrational, they cannot be dealt with through rational means such as negotiation, diplomacy, compromise and so on. Putin is a crazy dictator with lots of nuclear missiles and so all we can do is suffer. This construct seems good enough for most purposes, such as explaining away social problems, economic issues and failures of leadership. But only in the short term.

If the unprecedented tidal wave of sanctions which the West had sent toward Russia had produced some sort of tangible effect during the first two or three months of Russia’s special operation in the Ukraine, then this strategy would have been quite enough to ease suffering Western masses through the shock of the unfolding crisis (although the crisis would continue to unfold even if the Russian economy had collapsed). But over the longer term this strategy stops working. First, the “blame Putin” narrative is rather monotonous and gets old quickly. Second, and far more importantly, at the level of mass subconscious, it creates the impression that Putin is a god: super-powerful, super-influential and able to influence processes both global and local through subtle and invisible means. Moreover, Putin the god is Zeus-like and has powerful atomic thunderbolts at his disposal, adding terrifying appeal to his already frightful image.

Sooner or later the Western mass subconscious will form a simple and perfectly logical thought: if Putin is all-powerful and super-influential, and if we with our feeble “sanctions from Hell” can do nothing to weaken or dislodge him over three, then five, then seven months, then, obviously, we must come to terms with him and accede to his demands before things get any worse for us! And while it would be demeaning for the Western mass subconscious to negotiate with a petty tyrant or a mad despot, negotiating with an all-powerful demigod who holds the fate of humanity in his hands is not shameful at all but a necessary, unavoidable, eminently reasonable measure. Moreover, it should be possible to portray such a compromise in flattering terms: as a magnanimous gift from the community of civilized nations offered in good faith in order to save the world from nuclear armageddon about to be unleashed by an angry, all-powerful demigod.

In turn, if Western politicians are, as one might expect, reluctant to negotiate with Putin and to compromise, suffering Western masses will blame them for any delay. If Putin is all-powerful and super-influential, then why aren’t they negotiating and seeking compromise? What are they waiting for? What’s wrong with them? The better-informed element among the Western masses might even be able to vaguely guess at a seldom-discussed but rather obvious fact: what Putin wants is not at all unreasonable. He just wants some of Ukraine (not necessarily even all of it—just the enthusiastically, patriotically Russian bits) and he also wants NATO the hell away from Russia’s borders. “What do we want this Ukraine for anyway?” this enlightened element might inquire. After all, most people in the West lived many happy years not knowing that the Ukraine even existed. What’s more, their recent discovery of its existence has coincided with the onset of a very nasty crisis—and they still can’t find the damned place on a map! And now they have to suffer with sky-high gas prices, with unaffordable food, galloping inflation, shortages of baby formula—all because some idiot politicians are refusing to give Putin this fucking Ukraine which nobody else wants anyway? (Well, Poland does, but who the heck is Poland?) Come on! Be reasonable! Get rid of this stupid Hunter Biden playground and let’s get on with it!

That is the new narrative that is inevitably forming in the mass subconscious of the West, and as time passes, energy prices continue to increase, shortages of all sorts of things become commonplace… and meanwhile the ruble strengthens and Russia gets richer and richer in spite of “sanctions from Hell,” unhurriedly moving its fabled wall of artillery fire westward across the Ukrainian landscape, this narrative will become stronger and stronger and will eventually become dominant. At that point, any attempt to “blame Putin” will be met with boos, hisses and a volley of rotten vegetables. What should we expect Western politicians to do under such circumstances? We should not expect any surprises; they will do what they have always done: they will try to suppress the new, competing narrative. They will “cancel” anyone who tries to articulate it within the media space. (Tucker Carlson beware!)

In doing so, the West will neatly echo what’s happened within the Ukraine itself—a symptom of a creeping Ukrainization of the West. In the Ukraine, for every single disastrous, catastrophic failure that had occurred in 2014 and 2015, the Kiev regime blamed it squarely on Putin personally. Over time it has succeeded in forming a sort of quasi-cult of Putin as an all-powerful evil deity hell-bent on destroying poor, sore-beset little cuddly Ukraine. As a result, by 2018 give or take a year, in the Ukrainian mass subconscious there formed a new narrative: “What do we need this Russian-infested Crimea or this ornery Donbass for? Why can’t we just give them to Putin, so that he leaves us alone and lets us develop as a European-oriented country?”

What did the Kiev regime do about this new narrative? It did whatever it could to suppress it. This wasn’t any sort of independent initiative on its part; it is, after all, a colonial administration run from Washington. And since Washington was busy architecting a Ukrainian war against Russia, any narrative that involved making peace with Russia was simply not allowed. That’s why all Ukrainian opposition political parties were banned, all non-government-controlled television channels were shut down and anyone who ventured to guess that giving de facto independent territories a chance to decide their own fate might be a good idea were charged with separatism and imprisoned or killed. As a result, the West got what it wanted: a Ukrainian war with Russia.

But then something went horribly wrong. Putin pre-empted the Ukrainian attack and lit a backfire by sending in tank columns into territory previously controlled by the Kiev regime, scrambling its logistics throwing its battle plans into ghastly disarray. Then he set about methodically blowing up the Ukraine’s warmaking capacity using standoff weapons. According to schedule, it will be all gone later this month, Western military aid notwithstanding. And then it turned out that Russia was ready for “sanctions from Hell,” having spent eight years preparing for them, and was able to sustain the blow, which then bounced back onto the West and started smashing it to bits. The West reflexively continued to follow the Ukrainian pattern and blame it all on Putin. By now the alternative narrative of an all-powerful Lord Putin is fully formed and we should expect to hear more and more voices clamoring for negotiation and compromise with him.

The aforementioned Tucker Carlson is one of these voices, and his influence on his vast audience sets the tone for a significant chunk of electorate in the US—not that their vote counts for much. Much more surprisingly, the same opinion was voiced at Davos by none other than that talking fossil Henry Kissinger! In response, the Ukrainians added Kissinger to their… terrorist database. Various Kiev regime mouthpieces positively choked from fury. How could he? Doesn’t he know that negotiating with Putin is strictly verboten? That narrative must be suppressed—in the Ukraine and in the West!

The strategy of blaming it all on Putin has backfired grandly in both the Ukraine and in the West and will continue backfiring, eating away at the social fabric and demoralizing the population. But that’s not all! This strategy is also immensely helpful to Russia. Ignoring the obvious thought that anything that is detrimental to the West is automatically beneficial for Russia, there is another, much more significant benefit that this strategy provides to Russia directly: it works to raise Russia’s, and Putin’s, prestige in the rest of the world, which is already much more important to Russia than the West will ever be again.

By now, the world is quite unified in terms of access to information. The elites of just about every country have access to the internet and can either read English or can feed it through Google Translate and get the gist. And what they read is that in the West, which is entering into a major crisis, they are blaming it all on Putin. Therefore, Putin is all-powerful and super-influential. Further, these elites can observe that Putin isn’t the least bit afraid of the West and is willing to enter into conflict with it—armed conflict, as in destroying the largest army in Europe, one trained and commanded by Western specialists, over a period of three months using just a small fraction of his own army and with minimal casualties. They see Putin consigning to history books the traditional military dogma by which attackers must outnumber defenders by a healthy margin. This causes them to reach an obvious conclusion: Putin is definitely someone they should treat with great caution and respect; the West—not too much any more. The longer the “it’s all Putin’s fault” narrative continues to be in use, the greater will grow Putin’s already very significant influence and prestige on the world scene, and this will, in turn, improve Russia’s chances of reaching favorable agreements in just about any international negotiation.

But this advantage extends far beyond Russia’s bilateral relations. For the first time since Russia was part of the Mongol Empire, Russia has a real chance to confront the West not standing alone but as part of a mighty international coalition.

• Where were the large non-Western countries when Russia was confronting the collective West in the 17th century, with Poland spearheading the charge? India, Persia and China were all stewing in their own juices, while the Ottoman Empire was, as usual, hostile to Russia. Africa, South America, Southwest Asia were Western colonies.

• Where were these countries in the 18th century, when Russia was being accosted by the Swedes, with the rest of the West standing behind them? The situation was barely different, except the conflict with the Ottomans was even hotter.

• Where were they in the 19th century, when Russia was assailed by the French, with the rest of Europe fighting on the side of France? Same thing again.

• Where were they in the 20th century, when Russia battled Germany—twice!—with the rest of the West arming and funding the Germans? During the first half of the century they were still all colonies or semi-colonies, while during the second they were still finding their own way and had little to offer militarily, economically or politically.

From the time of Genghis Khan’s Empire of the Blue Sky, which at one point encompassed Russia, China, Korea, India and Persia (and featured the familiar Russian themes of collective security and obligatory mutual aid) and until the present time Russia has stood alone in its perennial conflict with the West. But now Putin, standing alone, stands a chance of cementing a gigantic international alliance of non-Western nations, comprising the vast majority of the world’s population, an independent and plentiful resource base and well over half of all the economic power. Nobody else has anywhere near this level of Western public relations support, care of the “blame Putin” campaign. Putin’s only peer competitor in vying for the position of a new Genghis Khan is Xi Jinping, who would very much want to join the coalition as Putin’s equal. But China has a test to pass before this dream can be realized: it must reconquer Taiwan. Avenging the humiliation it suffered at the hands of the Japanese would be a nice additional feather in its cap. Once Russia expels the US from the Ukraine and China expels the US from Taiwan, the path toward Eurasian unification will be clear.

What, if anything, should the West do about that? Why, blame Putin for it all, of course!

Credit: A. Galkin

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The Question Of Whether Or Not To “Humiliate Russia” Is Irrelevant

5 JUNE 2022

The debate over this issue is actually irrelevant, however, since it presupposes that Kiev will inevitably emerge victorious in the conflict. There’s no credible indication that anything of the sort will transpire, nor was there ever in fact, since such a scenario was never anything more than political fantasy.

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The Question Of Whether Or Not To “Humiliate Russia” Is Irrelevant

By Andrew Korybko

Kiev reacted very angrily to French President Macron’s suggestion not to “humiliate Russia” after the Ukrainian Conflict finally ends, which prompted a media firestorm over the most optimal way to resolve hostilities between these former Soviet Republics. His proposal was interpreted as implying some variation of Kissinger’s plan whereby the status quo would return to what it was like in February before the commencement of Moscow’s ongoing special military operation, which in turn was taken to hint that Crimea and Donbass would continue to remain separate from Ukraine. That was obviously unacceptable for Kiev, hence why its Foreign Minister lashed out at the French leader.

The debate over this issue is actually irrelevant, however, since it presupposes that Kiev will inevitably emerge victorious in the conflict. There’s no credible indication that anything of the sort will transpire, nor was there ever in fact, since such a scenario was never anything more than political fantasy. The “official narrative” upon which that wishful thinking was based has decisively shifted over the past two weeks as the second phase of Russia’s special operation began to gain ground in Donbass. It remains unclear whether that’ll lead to a game-changing military breakthrough or not, but it nevertheless debunks the speculation that Moscow will inevitably lose the conflict.

The real question is therefore whether or not Kiev should be humiliated after everything ends. Nobody can say with full confidence on what terms that country will surrender nor when that will happen, but it’s clear that this outcome has always been the most likely. The details will largely depend on the military situation at the time that hostilities finally cease, which can’t be know for sure at this moment, just that it’ll remain among the most decisive factors. As it presently stands, Kiev has lost control of Southern Ukraine’s Kherson Region and most of Zaporozhye, which appear poised to reunite with their historical Russian homeland within the next year.

It’ll therefore be forced to accept the loss of at least those two parts of the country along with Crimea and Donbass, which together constitute approximately one-fifth of its pre-“EuroMaidan” territory. There’s nothing “humiliating” about that though since it’s just the way that things are, especially considering that the locals there don’t even want to be part of Lenin’s unnatural mini-empire anymore anyhow. It would therefore actually be “humiliating” and even dangerous for those locals to be forced back under Kiev’s control, which Moscow would never do since it understands the real danger that this would pose for their people.

What might be interpreted as “humiliating” by Kiev is if its US-led Western allies agree to Russia’s demand that the country be demilitarized, with the details remaining unclear but nevertheless likely resulting in a drastic reduction of this rump state’s respective capabilities. Truth be told, however, that wouldn’t objectively be “humiliating” but pragmatic since it would most sustainably ensure the peace that would follow the end of hostilities between these former Soviet Republics. Nevertheless, it might still be a tough sell for President Zelensky considering his people’s rabid nationalism nowadays, though he could always try to find a scapegoat to blame it on in order to lesson the blow to his popularity.

Kiev is completely dependent on its US-led Western allies and therefore can’t realistically behave independently of them, at least not for long enough to make a tangible difference in whatever it might be. This is crucial to keep in mind considering CNN’s recent report that those countries are meeting with one another to hash out the details of their hoped-for ceasefire for ending this conflict, curiously without Kiev’s participation despite promising to always include it in such talks. That news very strongly suggests that they’re aware of how unpopular their proposed terms would be but that they also know that they can successfully coerce Kiev into accepting them.

Against this behind-the-scenes context, one can better understand why the question of whether or not to “humiliate Russia” is nothing but a distraction. It serves to conveniently refocus the public’s attention towards an unrealistic scenario while the most likely one is actively being advanced. Kiev appears uncomfortable with these secret diplomatic dynamics but can’t really do anything to shape them in the direction of its interests. The best that it can hope for is to manipulate public perceptions in such a way as to draw comparisons with the infamous Munich Agreement of 1938 by artificially manufacturing the narrative that it’s been sacrificed by its allies for so-called “appeasement” purposes.

Even that can only convince so many folks since many are already desensitized to the false comparisons between Nazi Germany and the Russian Federation on one hand and Adolf Hitler and Vladimir Putin on the other. Few in the US-led West are likely to take Kiev’s side over their own governments’, especially considering the fact that their authorities are the ones controlling the Mainstream Media narrative, not Zelensky and his clique who just play the role of puppets in this theater. World-class “perception managers” can just once again begin talking about Ukrainian corruption and fascism like they did prior to the latest conflict in order to discredit Kiev from the perspective of “Western values”.

Zelensky is quickly becoming trapped between the Russian Armed Forces’ increasingly successful offensive in Donbass, reported pressure from his own military officials who are very displeased with his decisions over the past 100 days, and his own US-led Western allies who are supposedly hashing out the details of a potential ceasefire behind his back. In such a situation, the best-case scenario would be for him to take the initiative by unilaterally declaring a ceasefire aimed at freezing the lines of control in order to not lose any more of his crumbling country than he already has, but instead he’d rather propagate the political fantasy of “humiliating Russia” so as to distract his people for as long as possible.

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