Debunking The Conspiracy Theory That The US Assassinated The Al Qaeda Chief From A Kyrgyz Base

Aug 6, 2022

Source

By Andrew Korybko

This interpretation of events speculating that COAS Bajwa approved of an American drone flying through Pakistani airspace to assassinate the Al Qaeda chief in neighboring Afghanistan as part of his efforts to secure the Biden Administration’s support for an IMF loan is arguably much more believable that the one speculating that Russia approved the deployment of at least one US attack drone on the territory of its Kyrgyz mutual defense ally despite its rival presently waging an unprecedented proxy war against it in Ukraine.

Al Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahiri was assassinated last weekend by America in a drone strike that reportedly targeted his safehouse in the Afghan capital of Kabul, prompting speculation about how exactly it carried out this attack when it doesn’t have any regional bases on record. Dawn, the largest and oldest English-language newspaper in Pakistan, published a piece that referred to uncited American reports to claim that “Drone that hit Ayman al Zawahiri flew from Kyrgyzstan”. This aligns with what a Pakistani government source familiar with the development told the Express Tribune, another one of their country’s reputable outlets, with respect to Islamabad supposedly having “no role of any sort”.

That interpretation of events lacks credibility, though. Kyrgyzstan is a Russian mutual defense ally through the CSTO and hasn’t hosted US forces since 2014. Furthermore, the official Kremlin website reported on 20 December 2011 during the bloc’s Collective Security Council meeting between its heads of state that “The leaders agreed by consensus that the deployment of military infrastructure on the territory of CSTO member states by non-members of the CSTO is possible only with the obligatory coordination of this issue with all CSTO members.” Moscow, meanwhile, has opposed the Pentagon’s reported plans to deploy forces in its regional allies’ territory since its evacuation from Afghanistan.

It’s therefore literally a conspiracy theory to claim that the American drone attack that assassinated Zawahiri in Afghanistan came from CSTO member Kyrgyzstan’s territory since this would have had to be approved by Russia in advance yet all reports on the topic prove that Moscow has consistently been against its proxy war rival deploying any military forces on the territory of its allies. With this in mind, it’s much more likely that the drone flew through Pakistani airspace from an American base in the Gulf exactly as many had speculated for obvious reasons despite Islamabad indirectly denying this through the government source that reportedly spoke to the Express Tribune as was earlier cited.

Should that have been the case, then it would suggest that the Pakistani military once again did a favor for its American allies by approving overflight through their country’s airspace, perhaps in exchange for some shadowy quid pro quo that hasn’t yet been revealed but might be connected to Chief Of Army Staff (COAS) Bajwa’s reported efforts to gin up economic support after everything crashed following the extremely unpopular post-modern coup against former Prime Minister Khan. The man who many believe to be the country’s de facto leader nowadays reportedly just sought help from the US for an IMF loan and also reportedly just approached Pakistan’s Emirati and Saudi allies for assistance too.

This interpretation of events speculating that COAS Bajwa approved of an American drone flying through Pakistani airspace to assassinate the Al Qaeda chief in neighboring Afghanistan as part of his efforts to secure the Biden Administration’s support for an IMF loan is arguably much more believable that the one speculating that Russia approved the deployment of at least one US attack drone on the territory of its Kyrgyz mutual defense ally despite its rival presently waging an unprecedented proxy war against it in Ukraine. It’s of course everyone’s right to believe whatever they want, but the first-mentioned interpretation is credible while the second is indisputably a conspiracy theory.

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.

Lavrov x two

May 30, 2022

Source

Introduction by Amarynth

This posting contains one recent interview and one recent address by Mr Lavrov.  One is extensive and the second contains a few comments not included in the first.  One is directed to an international audience (more specifically the Arab world) and the other to a domestic audience.  Why should we look at these very carefully, and why do we post them on the Saker Blog?   Mr Lavrov is arguably one of the best diplomats in the world today.  In that role, he is a pleasure to read or listen to.  But, that is not the main reason.  He has a fine facility with language and explains exactly Russia’s position and further, the world position in its process toward multipolarity and a new financial system in a pragmatic realpolitik style, undergirded by an encyclopedic knowledge of world affairs.

Sidebar:  While Mr Lavrov is speaking to the Arab countries, his counterpart in China, Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi, is speaking to all of the smaller Pacific island countries (PICS).  Comparing the welcome that these statesmen receive, it is beginning to clarify that the other geopolitical axis (which we roughly and in shorthand refer to as Zone B)  of this war for the world is active and up and running.  Mr Lavrov mentions the organizations.   It is then worthwhile to mention that BRICS is expected to grow by at least two countries during the next general meeting.  It is expected that Argentina will be next, which will then start including the new Latin American groupings such as Celac (The Community of Latin American and Caribbean States) or ALBA-TCP.  Thus we see a coalescence of countries around the principles of international law, the true principles in the UN Charter, and a world community built on cooperation and collective values, instead of one ruler of the world.

First up is an interview with RT Arabic, clearly for an international audience.

Second up is remarks to the Heads of Constituent Entities of the Russian Federation, clearly a domestic audience.


Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s interview with RT Arabic, Moscow, May 26, 2022

Question: Your recent visit to Algeria and Oman generated a lot of interest. What can you say about its results? Why did you decide to visit these states?

Sergey Lavrov: We communicate with all interested countries. As for this tour, it was planned long ago. The programme of my visits and their timeframe were coordinated some time ago.

In Algeria, I had good, lengthy talks with President of the People’s Democratic Republic of Algeria Abdelmadjid Tebboune and Foreign Minister Ramtane Lamamra. We emphasised that for many years our relations were based on the Declaration on Strategic Partnership that was signed by our presidents in 2001. Since then we have intensively developed our strategic ties as partners in many areas. It is enough to mention our regular political dialogue, trade (it went up by several percent in 2021 to exceed $3 billion despite the pandemic), the economy, joint investment, our work in the OPEC+ and the Gas Exporting Countries Forum, extensive military-technical ties and cultural and humanitarian exchanges.

We concluded (at the prompting of Algeria) that our relations are reaching a qualitatively new level. This should be reflected in a document that is already being drafted. We hope to sign this document when President of Algeria Abdelmadjid Tebboune visits Russia at the invitation of President of Russia Vladimir Putin.

We appreciate that the countries of the Arab world are refusing to follow in the wake of the West and are objectively assessing the events in Ukraine and refusing to join the anti-Russia sanctions. They understand that the current situation was caused by the flat refusal of our Western colleagues to reach an accommodation on equal and indivisible security in our common region.

As for Oman, this was the first visit since its new Sultan Haitham bin Tariq Al Said acceded to the throne. The Sultan received me with good grace and devoted much time to me. I was particularly grateful to his Majesty for this gesture (the protocol of the Sultanate of Oman does not envisage communication with ministers in this format). Our detailed talks showed that we have a good potential for developing trade and economic ties. We want to raise them to the level of our trust-based political dialogue. We have many opportunities in energy and ICT and interesting cultural projects. A half-year exhibition of Islamic Art in Russia ended in the National Museum of Oman last March. This museum and the Hermitage have been closely cooperating since 2015. Both museums display their own expositions on each other’s territory.

These two planned visits to both countries at the planned time were useful, in my view.

Question: What about a top-level visit?

Sergey Lavrov: I have already said that during a telephone conversation with President of Algeria Abdelmadjid Tebboune, President of Russia Vladimir Putin invited him to visit the Russian Federation. Now we are preparing the documents required for this visit.

Question: And what about Oman?

Sergey Lavrov: No top-level visits are envisaged for Oman for the time being. We are planning to develop practical cooperation, make it more intensive and productive.

Question: Will there be additional agreements on military cooperation?

Sergey Lavrov: Our military-technical cooperation with many countries develops according to their wishes. We are always ready to examine ways to strengthen their defence capabilities. We consider them as we receive relevant requests.

Question: We are talking about Algeria, which also produces both gas and oil. The OPEC+ countries have shown firmness about the previously agreed positions within the organisation on the parameters of oil production and pricing on the oil market. Do you have confidence in the stability of your partners’ position?

Sergey Lavrov: We have discussed our further cooperation not only within OPEC+ but also the Gas Exporting Countries Forum (GECF), where Russia and Algeria are also included. All OPEC+ and GECF members without exception publicly affirmed their commitment to the agreements reached in these formats and their intention to continue working in this direction in order to stabilise the energy market.

Question: Where will you visit next?

Sergey Lavrov: The next visit will take place very soon. On May 31 and June 1, based on my invitations, I plan to visit Bahrain first. Later, on June 1, Riyadh will host a regular meeting of the Russia-GCC Foreign Ministers Forum. This forum has been around for a long time. Due to the pandemic, there was a break in our meetings. Now our friends have proposed resuming them. In addition to the Russia-GCC meeting, there will also be bilateral meetings with almost all members of this organisation.

Question: How do you find Arab countries’ position on the Ukrainian crisis?

Sergey Lavrov: Just now, answering the previous question, I said that all Arab countries have a responsible position. This proves that they rely solely on their national interests and are not ready to sacrifice them for the sake of anyone’s opportunistic geopolitical adventures. We have mutually respectful relations. We understand the vital interests of the Arab countries in connection with the threats to their security. They reciprocate our feelings and understand the threats to the security of the Russian Federation that the West has been creating right on our borders for decades, trying to use Ukraine to contain Russia and seriously harm us.

Question: Do you think these countries will continue to pursue this policy, despite the pressure from the West, particularly, from the Anglo-Saxon alliance?

Sergey Lavrov: The arrogance of the Anglo-Saxon alliance has no limits. We are offered evidence of that every day. Instead of delivering on their obligations under the UN Charter and honouring, as is written in this charter, the sovereign equality of states and abstaining from interfering in their domestic affairs, the West churns out ultimatums every day, issuing them through their ambassadors or envoys to each, without exception, capital not only in the Arab world but in other regions of the world as well, and, in so doing, blatantly blackmailing them, citing some subjective situations. The West is directly threatening their interlocutors, saying they will regret failing to join the sanctions against Russia and will be punished for this. It is blatant disrespect for sovereign countries. The reaction of Arab countries and almost all other countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America that we are seeing shows that these countries do not want to disregard their national dignity, running errands, in a servile manner, for their senior colleagues. This situation is yet another example of colonial thinking. The habits of our Western colleagues have not vanished. In their traditional style, the United States and Europe are still preaching the colonial customs they adhered to at a time when they could dictate to all others. It is wrong and regrettable, and flies in the face of the historical process, which objectively shows that a multipolar world is taking shape now. It has several centres of economic growth, financial power and political influence. Everyone understands now that China and India are fast-growing economies and influential countries, just like Brazil and other Latin American countries. The tapping of Africa’s enormous potential of natural resources has been held back by the colonialists during the period of neo-colonialism as well, which is not over yet. That is why Africa is also making its voice heard. There is no doubt whatsoever that the Arab world is objectively one of the pillars or one of the centres of a multipolar world that is being shaped now.

Question: We are talking about good relations between Russia, China and India. Can these countries form an alliance against US hegemony?

Sergey Lavrov: We never form alliances against anyone and never make friends with someone against others. We have a ramified network of partner organisations established many years ago. I will mention the organisations established after the Soviet Union’s disintegration. These are the CIS, the CSTO, the EAEU and the SCO on a broader geopolitical plane. The SCO has established and is developing close ties with the EAEU and as part of the linkage of Eurasian integration projects with the Chinese Belt and Road Initiative. The EAEU and the PRC have signed an agreement. The linkage of these integration projects is embracing more and more territories. Thus, in addition to EAEU-SCO cooperation, these organisations have memorandums on cooperation with ASEAN. The Greater Eurasia project (or the Greater Eurasia Partnership) should embrace the whole of Eurasia. President of Russia Vladimir Putin spoke about this at the Russia-ASEAN summit six years ago. It is based on the processes on the ground and has a Eurasian dimension.

Many countries of the Arab world are interested in establishing partner relations with the SCO that represents all other leading sub-regions of our enormous common continent. These are efforts to build constructive and positive (not antagonistic) alliances that are not aimed against anyone. They are gradually acquiring a global character, which is reflected in the development of the BRICS Five (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa). Our Saudi friends and Argentina are interested in it. Argentine Foreign Minister Santiago Cafiero expressed his country’s desire to become a full member of BRICS.

BRICS is preparing for a regular summit. It will create an outreach format in which a dozen developing nations will take part. These processes are underway. We know that our Western friends have many phobias and complexes of their own superiority and infallibility. But they are also paranoid. The West sees opposition and a threat to its domination in any process in which it does not take part and which it does not control. It is time to get rid of these manners and customs.

Question: What about the recent Russia-China military exercises? What do they show?

Sergey Lavrov: This is the continuation of our cooperation aimed at enhancing security in this region. They supplement regular military undertakings: drills and training sessions with counterterrorism aims, efforts to strengthen the security of our common borders within the SCO. Russia-China bilateral military cooperation already has a long history. This is not the first year that we are holding events in the zone of our common borders where our security interests directly overlap; we do it regularly. They show that both Russia and China have a responsible attitude to fulfilling these tasks.

Question: Despite the evidence cited by Russia, the development of biological weapons by the United States in Ukraine has not evoked any concern in the West. What should be done for the world to understand how dangerous this is? The Arab press writes about the historical importance of Russia’s efforts to show how these laboratories operate.

Sergey Lavrov: This is a direct violation of the Convention on the Prohibition of Biological and Toxin Weapons. Enjoying support of all countries except the US, we have long been advocating the formation of a universal transparent verification mechanism within its framework that would allow all states to be sure that no participants of the Convention violate it. The United States has simply blocked this initiative since 2001 (for more than 20 years). Now it is clear why it occupies this position. During all these years, the Americans have been setting up their military bio laboratories all over the world. The Pentagon’s unit – the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) – is in charge of these activities. In developing a network of such laboratories, the Pentagon is focusing on the post-Soviet space and Eurasia. Available information shows that these laboratories have been or are being established along the perimeter of the Russian Federation and closer to the PRC. We initially suspected that the experiments made in these laboratories were not entirely peaceful and innocent. When the Russian Armed Forces and the militias of Donetsk and Lugansk liberated Mariupol during the military operation, they discovered laboratories left by the Americans in a rush. The Americans tried to get rid of documents and samples but didn’t destroy all of them. The samples of pathogens and the documents found there clearly pointed to the military character of these experiments. It is clear from the documents that there are several dozen such laboratories in Ukraine. We are pursuing two goals. First, we will convince the UN Security Council to take seriously the information we presented to it (you noted that the overwhelming majority of the developing nations do take it seriously). Second, we want this information to lead to specific actions that must be taken under the Biological Weapons Convention. It requires that the United States explain what it was doing there. We held five special briefings in the UN Security Council, one of them quite recently. We will work to make the US take specific actions proceeding from its commitments under the Convention. We will also analyse additional information about the involvement of other countries in these experiments and military bio laboratories in Ukraine. According to some sources, these are Great Britain and Germany.

Question: If you don’t mind my asking, where are other similar laboratories located in the vicinity of Russia?

Sergey Lavrov: No, I don’t mind. There are such laboratories in Armenia, Kazakhstan, and Central Asian countries. Russia and these countries have been analysing these problems both bilaterally and at the CSTO. We are signing (or have signed, or are preparing) memorandums on interaction in biological security with practically all CSTO and other CIS countries.  These documents stipulate that the signatories will inform each other of how biological programmes develop in each country.

What is important is transparency, which makes it possible to ascertain that these programmes have no military dimension, since this is prohibited under the Convention. These memorandums imply that the parties will pay mutual visits and familiarise themselves with the activities conducted by these laboratories.  In addition, it is stipulated that there should be no military representatives of any third party at the biological facilities in each of our countries.

Question: How are these countries motivated in having such laboratories? Will this bring them any material or political benefits?

Sergey Lavrov: The USSR pursued a large-scale biological programme. After the Soviet Union joined the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin Weapons and on their Destruction, this programme was stripped of its military aspects, but the scientific value of the biological research is retained.  We all remember the state in which this country was in 1991, when the USSR ceased to exist. We faced the problem of preserving the Russian Federation’s integrity. There were no state reserves to repay the national debt or even to purchase the basic necessities for the Russian population’s everyday life. At that time, our Western partners “hopped to it,” as we say, offering their services in all areas of life. They penetrated all spheres of the newly independent states, sending their advisers and advice-givers. Today we are experiencing the aftermath of those times. Major changes have occurred. There are no Soviet republics, which became independent overnight. They had no experience of independent international activity. But now all of this is a thing of the past. All the post-Soviet republics have consolidated their stand, asserting themselves as absolutely sovereign, independent states.  They decide what partners to choose on their own. We have agreements with them to the effect that the commitments assumed within the framework of the Commonwealth of Independent States, the Collective Security Treaty Organisation, and the Eurasian Economic Union should be fully respected by other countries interested in developing relations with all post-Soviet states. We discussed the problems that all of us encountered during the emergence of the new statehood.  Various agencies exchange information about the risks involved in this sweeping cooperation with foreign countries in sensitive spheres. Biology is, of course, one of these spheres.  There is awareness that we have a unified biological security space. The CSTO’s purview includes security issues that are directly related to public health and the environment.  We will continue our constructive cooperation based on these statutes.

Question: Turkey and Italy have proposed a plan for organising talks between Russia and Kiev. Is Russia ready to continue the talks, which have not yielded any results lately?

Sergey Lavrov: We pointed out on numerous occasions that our Western colleagues want to use Vladimir Zelensky and all citizens of Ukraine to the last Ukrainian, which has become proverbial, to damage Russia as much as possible, to defeat it on the battlefield. This has been openly declared in Washington, Berlin, London and especially loudly in Warsaw. Poland has proposed that the Russian world must be destroyed like a “cancer” which is a deadly threat to the whole world. I would like to look at this world as it is represented by our Polish neighbours. For many years Russia has tried to explain why NATO’s eastward expansion and the drawing of Ukraine into the bloc are unacceptable to us. They listened to us but did not comprehend what we said.

When the coup was staged in 2014, the [Ukrainian] opposition trampled on the agreements reached despite the EU’s guarantees. The EU proved unable to force the putschists to respect the signatures of France, Germany and Poland. In 2015, the war in Donbass unleashed by the new Ukrainian authorities, who seized power in the coup, was stopped. The Minsk agreements were signed and guaranteed by France and Germany. All these years we called on Kiev to honour its commitments. Since the West had the decisive influence on it, we also worked with the Europeans and Americans, appealing to their conscience. Regrettably, they have no conscience.

Instead of forcing Kiev to implement the agreements, which should have been done through a direct dialogue with Donetsk and Lugansk, the West tried to justify Zelensky and his team, even when they said publicly that they would never talk with “those people,” although this is stipulated in the UN Security Council resolution approving the Minsk agreements. They said that they would never implement the Minsk agreements or give a special status to these republics. At the same time, they adopted laws that prohibited the Russian language in education and media. Media outlets were shut down. The Russian language was even prohibited in everyday life. Only the Ukrainian language was allowed as the medium of interaction between people in Ukraine.

Moreover, Vladimir Zelensky stated that those who feel Russian must go to Russia. He said this in September 2021. We drew the attention of some Western countries, the OSCE, the Council of Europe and the relevant UN bodies to these aggressively Russophobic and racist statements made in the spirit of the neo-Nazi policy which was gaining a foothold in the Ukrainian legislation. They did not react in any way. Some officials sometimes called for respect for international commitments. But Zelensky doesn’t give a damn about international commitments or the Constitution of Ukraine, which guarantees the rights of Russian speakers in Ukraine. They showed no respect for the Constitution and international conventions and adopted a lot of anti-Russian laws.

As for Russia’s readiness for talks, we have already explained why we couldn’t sit on our hands any longer. What we found on the Ukrainian army positions during the special military operation proved that we were barely in time with starting it, because Ukraine’s Plan B was to be enacted on March 8. A huge group of the Ukrainian armed forces, which was deployed on the contact line with Donbass by mid-February, planned to attack and occupy these territories in flagrant violation of the Minsk agreements and the UN Security Council resolution.

I have no doubt that had they succeeded the West would have turned a blind eye to these violations, just as it pretended not to notice Kiev’s disregard for all the agreements during the previous eight years.

When the Ukrainian authorities proposed negotiations several days after the operation began, we agreed immediately. We held several in-person rounds of talks in Belarus, trying to understand Ukraine’s position and what it wants to achieve at the talks, because we had presented our approach. After several rounds were held in Belarus and online, the idea of meeting in Istanbul was put forth, and the Ukrainian delegation brought, for the first time, written proposals signed by the head of the delegation to the meeting we held on March 29. We analysed these proposals, reported our opinion to President Putin and told our Ukrainian colleagues that we were ready to proceed on that basis. Since they didn’t present a complete agreement but only its individual provisions, we used them to quickly draft an agreement that was based on the Ukrainian proposals and turned it over to the Ukrainian delegation. The following day a flagrant provocation was staged in Bucha, where dead bodies were found in the streets three days after Russian troops had left the city, after three days of peaceful life. We were accused of killing those people. You remember what happened next.

The West adopted a new package of sanctions, as if it had been waiting for it to happen. The Ukrainians said that they had reviewed their position and would reformulate the principles underlying the agreement. Nevertheless, contacts between us continued. The latest draft agreement, which we submitted to Ukraine nearly a month ago, is gathering dust. If you ask who wants to hold and is ready for talks, Vladimir Zelensky said in an interview the other day (he does this almost every day) that he is ready for talks, but they must be held between himself and Vladimir Putin, because there is allegedly no use doing this at any other level. He said the talks should be held without any intermediaries and only after Ukraine resumed control of its territory as of February 23, 2022. Anyone can see that this is not serious. But it suits the West to keep up this unreasonable and unsubstantiated obstinacy. This is a fact.

The West has called for defeating Russia on the battlefield, which means that the war must continue and that increasingly more weapons must be provided to the Ukrainian nationalists, to the Ukrainian regime, including weapons that can hit targets in the Russian Federation. It is such weapons that Vladimir Zelensky demands publicly. We have issued most serious warnings to the West that it is, in fact, fighting a proxy war against the Russian Federation with the hands, bodies and brains of the Ukrainian neo-Nazis, which can become a major step towards an unacceptable escalation. I hope that the remaining reasonable forces in the West are aware of this.

As for Turkey and Italy, Turkey doesn’t have a plan. At least nobody has presented it to us, although President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has noted on many occasions that Turkey is ready to provide a venue just as it did in Istanbul on March 29.  In fact, it was a useful contact. For the first time the Ukrainians presented their vision of a peace agreement on paper in response to our numerous requests, which we accepted and translated into the legal language. I have told you what happened after that. President Erdogan stands for peace and is ready to do all he can to bring it about. But Vladimir Zelensky has said that he doesn’t need intermediaries. That’s his business. He is as fickle as the wind: first, he rallied the support of all the G7 countries, and now it appears that former NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen is creating an advisory group at Kiev’s request that will provide proposals on security guarantees for Ukraine in the context of a peace settlement.

I would like to remind you that initially the Ukrainians’ concept was to draft a comprehensive agreement which would include Ukraine’s pledge not to join any blocs or have nuclear weapons, as well as guarantees of its neutral status. It would also stipulate the guarantor countries’ guarantees that will take into account the security interests of Ukraine, the Russian Federation and other countries in the region. As I have mentioned, Kiev is moving away from that concept. If Andreas Fogh Rasmussen has been recruited to formulate certain “guarantees” in a narrow circle of the Ukrainian regime’s Western sponsors and to subsequently try to submit them to Russia, it is a path that leads nowhere.

Question: Is this a non-paper? Just an initiative of former [NATO] officials?

Sergey Lavrov: We are looking into this now. This has already been promoted as a breakthrough step. The same applies to the Italian initiative.  Luigi Di Maio is quite active in the media landscape promoting the Italian four-point initiative. All we know about it is that it can bring the long-awaited peace, and not just suit both Russia and Ukraine, but launch something like a new Helsinki process, a new agreement on European security, and that it already enjoys the support of the G7 and the UN Secretary-General. I don’t know whether this is true, or to whom he has shown it. No one has sent us anything. All we can go by is speculation, descriptions of this initiative as they appear in the media.

But what we have read (if it is true, of course) makes us regret that the sponsors of this initiative show so little understanding of what is happening or knowledge of the subject, the history of this matter. Allegedly, it says that Crimea and Donbass should be part of Ukraine, which should grant those regions broad autonomy. Serious politicians who want to achieve results, not just grandstand to impress their voters, cannot be proposing such things. Donbass could have returned to Ukraine a long time ago if the Ukrainian regimes (Petr Poroshenko, and then Vladimir Zelensky) had fulfilled the Minsk agreements and granted a special status to the people that refused to accept the coup. The package included the status of the Russian language. However, instead of granting that status, Ukraine banned the Russian language. Instead of unblocking economic ties, Poroshenko announced a transport embargo on those regions, making retirees travel many kilometres to receive their pension benefits.

This Italian initiative you asked me about – as reported by the media – also calls for launching a new Helsinki process, in addition to reconciliation between Russia and Ukraine, to ensure the safety of everyone and everything.  Our colleagues in Rome came to their senses too late. The Helsinki process has given a number of important gains to the world, to our region, to the Euro-Atlantic region, including declarations signed at the highest political level, at the OSCE summits, in particular in Istanbul in 1999, in Astana in 2010 – declarations on indivisible security. Those documents said security can only be equal and indivisible. Further elaborating on this, they said all participating states have the right to be or not to be a party to treaties of alliance, but no country can join any alliances or otherwise strengthen its security if it affects the security of any other state. The third component of this formula is that no country, no organisation in the OSCE area will claim to dominate security issues.

Anyone familiar with the situation in Europe understands that Western countries have been grossly violating the key components of that commitment by strengthening their security in violation of Russia’s right to its own security. They claim that only NATO can call the tune in this region, and no one else. We have tried to make those beautiful political words become reality, to make them work rather than keep them on paper signed off by the presidents of the United States and European countries. We proposed making that political commitment legally binding. As far back as in 2009, we proposed an agreement to NATO countries. They said they wouldn’t even discuss it because only NATO could provide legal security guarantees. When we asked about the OSCE’s role, they said those were just political promises and slogans. That showed how Western politicians treat the signatures of their presidents. But we did not stop there.

We made another attempt last year. In November 2021, President Vladimir Putin instructed his team to draft new documents to agree with the United States and NATO on the principles that would be approved by all at the highest level. We drafted those treaties and transferred them to Washington and Brussels in early December 2021. Several rounds of negotiations followed. I met with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken. We were told that we could discuss the arms control agenda, but NATO expansion was not our business or anybody’s business, for that matter. When we again quoted their commitment not to strengthen their security at the expense of others, they dismissed that as immaterial. What mattered was NATO’s so-called open door policy. We have warned them repeatedly – in 2009, then in 2013, 2014 (when a coup d’état occurred in Ukraine), and in 2015 (the Minsk agreements). All these years, we have been telling our Western colleagues that it will end badly because they continue to ignore our legitimate interests and rudely tell us no when we ask them to take us into consideration – not somewhere tens of thousands of kilometres away, but right on the borders of the Russian Federation. This arrogance, this air of being exceptional, this colonial mentality (I can do anything and you will do what I tell you) is not manifested only in their attitude to our interests.

Remember 1999, when the United States suddenly decided that Yugoslavia, lying 10,000 kilometres away from its coasts, posed a threat to its security? They bombed it to dust in a heartbeat. They used OSCE Mission leader William Walker from the United States to loudly declare that several dozen corpses discovered in the village of Racak were a crime against humanity. As it turned out later, these corpses were not civilians, but militants who were disguised as civilians and scattered around the place.

The same setup was used in Bucha near Kiev on April 3. It works regardless of whether the public finds it convincing or not. They didn’t need to convince anyone. They bombed Yugoslavia, created an independent Kosovo violating every OSCE principle in the process and then said it would be like that from then on.

They said no after the referendum in Crimea. According to them, self-determination in Kosovo is a good thing, but self-determination in Crimea is not. This is being done as if nothing were wrong. No one is even blushing, although it’s a shame for Western diplomacy which has lost its ability to provide elegant explanations for their grossly reckless moves.

In 2003, the United States decided that a threat was coming from another country located 10,000 kilometres away and produced a vial with what I think was tooth powder. Poor Colin Powell later lamented that he had been set up by the intelligence. Several years later, Tony Blair, too, said it was a mistake, but nothing could be done about it. Nothing can be done about it. They bombed the country killing under a million civilians. Until now, Iraq’s integrity has not been restored. There are enough problems there, including terrorism, which did not exist there before. Indeed, Iraq and Libya were authoritarian regimes, but there were no terrorists, ongoing hostilities, or military provocations.

Libya is on that list, as well. In 2011, President Obama said that they would be “leading from behind” Europe.  France, the most democratic nation in the Old World (freedom, equality, fraternity), led the NATO operation to destroy the regime. As a result, they destroyed the country. It is hard to put it back together now. Again, the French are trying to do so as they come up with initiatives, convene conferences and announce election dates. All in vain, because, before going in, they needed to think about what would become of Libya after the West ensured its “security” in that country.

I’m citing this example not to say: they can, but we can’t. That would be simplifying matters. What I’m saying is that the Western countries believe that the entire world is part of their security, and they must rule the world.

As NATO was crawling up to Russia’s borders, it told us not to be concerned about it, since NATO is a defensive alliance and does not threaten our country’s security. First, this sounds like a diplomatic effrontery. We must decide for ourselves on our security interests, just like any other country. Second, NATO was a defensive alliance when there was someone to stand up to like the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact. There was the Berlin Wall between Western and Eastern Europe. Everyone was clear about the line of defence. After the Warsaw Pact and the Soviet Union ceased to exist, any lieutenant with basic training knew there was no longer any such thing as a defence line. All you need to do now is live a normal life based on shared values and a common European space.

We put our signature under multiple slogans including “from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean,” “from Lisbon to Vladivostok,” and “we are brothers and sisters now.” However, they retained their military nature as they continued to move the “line of defence” closer to our borders. We have just had an in-depth discussion on the outcomes of this policy. In recent months, the NATO Secretary General and warmongering politicians like the British Foreign Secretary have been publicly stating that the alliance must have global responsibility. NATO must be in charge of security in the Pacific. This may mean that next time NATO’s “defence line” will move to the South China Sea.

Not only NATO, but the EU leaders also decided to “play soldiers.” Ursula von der Leyen, who is rivalling EU top diplomat Josep Borrell in terms of bellicosity, claimed that the EU must be in charge of security matters in the Indo-Pacific region. How are they going to accomplish this? They keep talking about an EU “army.” No one will let them create this “army” as long as NATO exists.

To all appearances, no one is going to even reform NATO. They are going to turn this “defensive alliance” into a global alliance claiming global military dominance. This is a dangerous path that is definitely doomed to failure.

Question: To what extent are these developments affecting the Russian army’s presence in Syria?

Sergey Lavrov: We are present in Syria at the request of the legitimate President of the Syrian Arab Republic and the legitimate government of that country. We are there in full compliance with the principles enshrined in the UN Charter and are addressing the tasks set by UN Security Council Resolution 2254. We will stick to this policy and support the Syrian government in its efforts to fully restore Syria’s territorial integrity. The armed forces of the countries that no one had invited to Syria are still deployed there. Until now, the US military, which has occupied a significant portion of the eastern bank of the Euphrates River, is openly building a quasi-state there and is directly encouraging separatism taking advantage of the sentiment of a portion of the Kurdish population of Iraq. Problems are arising between the various entities that unite the Iraqi and Syrian Kurds. All of that intensifies tensions in this region. Of course, Turkey cannot stay on the sidelines.

We want to address these issues solely on the basis of respect for Syria’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. We are talking to the Kurds. We have channels which we use to communicate with all of them. We encourage them to take a closer look at recent developments where the United States promised something to someone and then failed to deliver. Starting a serious dialogue with Damascus and agreeing on arrangements of living in a single state is a much more reliable approach even from these purely pragmatic considerations, not to mention international law.

Of course, Russia will continue to provide humanitarian aid. The United States is trying to keep the crisis situation unchanged and to encourage the sides to resume hostilities. The notorious Caesar Act is designed to strangle the Syrian economy. We see that a growing number of Arab countries are starting to understand the utter futility of this policy and are interested in resuming relations with Syria. Recently, the UAE restored its embassy’s activities in full. A number of Arab countries have never withdrawn their embassies from Damascus. Preparations are underway for a summit of the League of Arab States, which I discussed with Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune. The vast majority of the League members (as far as we can tell from our contacts) are in favour of a solution that will make it possible to resume Syria’s full Arab League membership.

Refugees are another issue. The UN mediators are trying to get involved in this matter, but the United States and the compliant Europeans are doing their utmost to make the return of these people impossible. Remember when Syria held a conference in Damascus a couple of years ago to raise funds and make it possible for the refugees to return, the Americans went out of the way to keep everyone from attending this conference. Not everyone listened to them and about 20 countries, primarily Arab countries, as well as the People’s Republic of China and other countries, took part in it.

The UN showed its weakness by refusing to participate in that conference and only sending its representative in Damascus to sit there as an observer. That decision hit the United Nations’ reputation hard because its Resolution 2254 explicitly calls for the return of refugees. Both the UN Secretariat and the Secretary-General personally have an obligation to contribute to this directly. Until recently, the European Union held its own conferences on refugees (and they were not devoted to creating conditions for their return, but to raising money to pay the host countries). The purpose of those conferences was to make the current situation permanent and prevent any chance of positive developments in Syria. Yet, the Secretary-General did not just send representatives to them, but participated in these conferences as a co-chair. We have been pointing out that serious misinterpretation of his direct responsibilities.

As for the process that is taking place in Geneva, including the Constitutional Committee, its Drafting Commission – I keep in touch with Geir Pedersen, who represents the UN as a mediator in this process. He visited Russia not long ago. We also communicate through our mission in Geneva. There is an agreement that the next meeting of the Drafting Commission will begin at the end of May. I believe that President Bashar al-Assad’s recent decision to grant amnesty to Syrians charged with terrorism-related crimes was an important positive step. As far as I understand, a lot of work has been done, and the amnesty was announced. It will be a good chance to see how it goes. Geir Pedersen as well as many of our Western colleagues said Bashar al-Assad should take some steps. Okay. Whatever prompted the Syrian president’s decision, he did take a step. Let’s reciprocate now. Let Geir Pedersen talk to the opposition and those who control it, and persuade them to show some constructive action in this regard.

Question:  Is Russia keeping the same number of troops in Syria?

Sergey Lavrov: We have not had any requests from the Syrian government. If any such decisions are deemed expedient, they will be implemented. The numbers on the ground are determined by the specific objectives our force is tasked with there. It is clear that there are practically no military objectives left, but only ensuring stability and security. As for the remaining military objectives that the Syrian army is working for, with our support – there is the terrorist threat in Idlib, and it has not gone anywhere. Our Turkish friends and neighbours are trying, as they are telling us, to fulfil what presidents Vladimir Putin and Recep Tayyip Erdogan agreed on a few years ago. As we all see, things are going hard. This objective remains on the agenda. However, thanks to the actions by our contingent and the Syrian armed forces, we have not seen any provocations from Idlib lately targeting the Syrian army strongholds or our bases in Syria.


Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s remarks at the 38th meeting of the Foreign Ministry’s Council of the Heads of Constituent Entities of the Russian Federation, Moscow, May 27, 2022

Colleagues,

We are holding a regular meeting of the Foreign Ministry’s Council of the Heads of Constituent Entities of the Russian Federation. The meeting is taking place against the background of the special military operation in Ukraine, which is being conducted in connection with the tasks set by President of Russia Vladimir Putin, tasks involving the protection of civilians, the elimination of the Ukraine-posed security threats to the Russian Federation, and the denazification of this kindred country whose people have suffered and continue to suffer at the hands of a regime which encourages extreme neo-Nazi sentiments and practices.

You see the United States and its satellites double, triple and quadruple their efforts to contain Russia with the use of a broad range of tools, from unilateral economic sanctions to utterly false propaganda in the global media space. Popular Russophobia has taken on an unprecedented scale in many Western countries, where, to our regret, it is nurtured by government circles.

Under these circumstances, it is of crucial importance that the foreign policy course approved by President Vladimir Putin is based on a broad national accord and supported by the key political forces of Russia and the leading public and entrepreneurial associations. We also feel daily the support from all Russian regions. This country is witnessing the consolidation of all healthy and patriotic forces. This is an important aspect of the present stage.

Colleagues,

At our last meeting, we discussed regions’ cultural diplomacy. The recommendations that we approved have made it possible to give a new impetus to international cultural ties maintained by Russian regions and expand the geographical reach and range of partners (of Russia’s republics, regions and territories). But the situation has changed since that time: the West has declared a total war on us and the entire Russian world. No one is concealing this any longer.

The cancel culture directed at Russia and all things Russian is reaching the apogee of absurdity. Russian greats, including Pyotr Tchaikovsky, Fyodor Dostoevsky, Leo Tolstoy and Alexander Pushkin, are banned. Russian cultural figures and artists representing our culture today are persecuted.

It may safely be said that this situation is here to stay. We should be ready to accept the fact that it has revealed the West’s true attitude to those fine-sounding slogans concerning human values and the need to create a united Europe, a “common European home” stretching from the Atlantic to the Pacific, which were put forward 30 years ago after the end of the Cold War. Today we see the true worth of all these empty words.

Let us not become self-complacent. Under the current circumstances, we need a detailed analysis of the Foreign Ministry’s effort to promote cooperation with civil society, including at the level of regions.

A sufficiently effective system of collaboration between the Foreign Ministry and non-profit organisations focusing on international issues has been established. For example, the recent assembly of the Council on Foreign and Defence Policy has clearly demonstrated the high expert potential of scientific diplomacy. Our joint work has made it possible to carry out a comprehensive analysis of the highly intricate and complex developments in the world.

That said, the presence of NGOs from regions at international venues is insignificant. However, the inclusion of certain regional NGOs in Russian delegations to the UN General Assembly has been a success. This experience shows that this partnership has a promise. We would like to make it regular and broad in nature.

I would like to highlight a number of priority areas concerning interaction with civil society institutions:

1. Mobilising Russian NGOs’ capabilities to promote recovery and to provide humanitarian aid to residents of the DPR and the LPR, as well as the liberated Ukrainian territories.

2. Engaging public diplomacy channels for outreach activities with constructive international partners, including stepping up efforts to debunk fakes about the special military operation and promoting our views in social media and the blogosphere.

3. Using NGO resources, in particular, regional associations of entrepreneurs and the Chamber of Commerce and Industry, to minimise the consequences of unilateral sanctions, and to promote ties with the friendly countries, primarily, our allies and like-minded partners in the CSTO, the SCO, the CIS, the EAEU and BRICS.

On a separate note, regional consultative mechanisms with the participation of top executives from national cultural associations are working productively. Clearly, this helps maintain inter-ethnic and inter-religious peace and accord. I think broader use of this set of tools should be made in order to strengthen business ties with the expat communities’ countries of origin, primarily in the CIS.

4. Working with our compatriots residing abroad is particularly important. They are at the forefront of dealing with the phenomenon known as Neanderthal Russophobia. Our foreign-based communities are facing unprecedented pressure and are being discriminated against on national and linguistic grounds. In spite of everything, our compatriots are holding their own and bravely defending their right not to sever contacts with the Motherland even in the most challenging times. The Immortal Regiment drive that took place in over 80 countries, including the United States and Europe, clearly showed it. Our duty is to continue to support our compatriots, and we count on the regions’ proactive moves in this regard.

It is gratifying to know that many regions, in particular, Moscow, St Petersburg, Tatarstan, Crimea, the Altai Territory and the Yamalo-Nenets and Khanty-Mansi autonomous areas (the list goes on) are effectively working with the Russian expat communities and their coordinating bodies. The most recent examples include the Moscow Government holding, in conjunction with other regions, round table discussions on the topic “Interactions with compatriots abroad at the regional level.” Such events took place in certain regions, in particular, Kaliningrad in late March, and Khabarovsk and Vladikavkaz in April. More such meetings will be held this year. We strongly support these initiatives and will sponsor such events. We are ready to provide advice to our colleagues from non-governmental organisations on the corresponding issues. We will update them on the situation of their compatriots, including instances of their legal rights being violated.

5. The developments in Ukraine confirm the importance of continued efforts to counteract the falsification of history and glorification of Nazism. The absurd content of modern Ukrainian school textbooks is a case in point. However, the problem is not limited to Ukraine. The West does not stop trying to pit the peoples of the former Soviet Union against each other through a biased interpretation of historical facts.

The other day the German government approved plans for a World War II and the German Occupation of Europe documentation centre. At first glance, this concept raises serious questions regarding its historical truthfulness. The planned centre is structured not only to downplay the Soviet Union and the Soviet people’ decisive role in defeating German Nazism, but also to play down the crimes committed by the Third Reich against the Soviet people. These themes are not indicated in the planned expositions. The plans also contain language that seeks to equate German criminals to liberators of Europe. This is yet another step within the policy adopted by modern Berlin which seeks to rewrite the history of World War II and to rehabilitate the Third Reich.

It is important to focus on preserving the common chapters of history, primarily, the Great Patriotic War, and to promote shared memories of the war and the fallen war hero search movement, as well as the ongoing CIS historians’ dialogue on existing platforms.

Proper resources and staff are required in order to overcome these challenges, and the broad involvement of NGOs that should be issued targeted grants and subsidies to this end as well. Let’s not forget about this, either.

Many Russian regions are addressing these issues adequately, including through the use of extrabudgetary sources. We are ready to support this work and supplement these initiatives with increased funding from the federal budget.

In conjunction with Rossotrudnichestvo and the Civic Chamber, we will continue to help the regions use public and people’s diplomacy in the interest of promoting our foreign policy.

Sitrep Operation Z: + consequences = petty Tabaquis howling

May 26, 2022

by Saker Staff

After the Russian forces took POPASNA, the pace increased. There are still battles, but the Russians are now rolling over everything else in the Donbas. The Ukrainians are being annihilated, more and more soldiers are refusing to fight, reports of mass surrenders pour in, and the Russian strategy of cauldrons and partial cauldrons is proving incredibly effective. It is a bloody war in that area exacerbated by the Ukrainian leaders because orders for a sensible retreat are not forthcoming.

Two videos today – both quite detailed:

This first video from Military Summary on Rumble, describes the logjam against sensible retreat.

This second video describes some of the very recent battles and how these brought the Ukraine to this point.  Very detailed and he draws his maps on the fly as he talks.

A few hours ago reports started filtering in of huge forces of the Russian Aerospace Forces passing over Lugansk towards the front, and powerful explosions thundered everywhere. The correspondent of “Russian Spring” rusvesna.su from the capital of the LPR reports that he sees this for the first time, a lot of combat aircraft and helicopters swept over the city in several waves. Of course we do not know yet the what, why and where of this, excepting the Russian MoD report of this morning tells the story of the increased pace.

Take a look at the numbers:

💥High-precision air-based missiles have hit 48 areas of AFU manpower and military equipment concentration, 2 artillery batteries, and 2 ammunition depots near Nikolaevka and Berestovoe in Donetsk People’s Republic during the day.

▫️1 Ukrainian electronic reconnaissance centre near Dneprovskoe, Nikolaev Region, has been destroyed, including 11 servicemen from the combat unit, as well as 15 foreign engineering specialists who arrived with security guards.

▫️In addition, 1 Osa-AKM anti-aircraft missile system launcher has been destroyed near Nikolaevka in Donetsk People’s Republic, and 1 radar of the Ukrainian S-300 anti-aircraft missile system near Chuhuev in Kharkov region.

✈️💥Operational-tactical and army aviation have hit 49 areas of AFU manpower and military equipment concentration, 2 mortar crews, as well as 1 depot of missile and artillery weapons and ammunition.

▫️The attacks have resulted in the elimination of more than 350 nationalists and up to 96 armoured and motor vehicles.

💥Russian air defence means have shot down 1 Ukrainian Mi-24 helicopter over Husarovka, Kharkov Region. 1 Ukrainian Air Force military transport aircraft delivering ammunition and weapons has been also shot down in mid-air near Kremidovka, Odessa Region.

▫️In addition, 13 Ukrainian unmanned aerial vehicles have been shot down near Zelenyi Gai in Kherson Region, Bolshie and Malye Prokhody, Gavrilovka, Veseloe in Kharkov Region, and Epifanovka and Kirovsk in Lugansk People’s Republic, including 2 Soviet-made Tu-143 Reis jets near Melovatka in Lugansk People’s Republic.

💥Missile troops and artillery have hit 62 command posts, 407 areas of AFU manpower and military equipment concentration, 47 artillery and mortar units at firing positions, as well as 3 ammunition depots.

▫️Units and military equipment of the Ukrainian Armed Forces’ 10th Mountain Assault Brigade, which arrived to reinforce the Ukrainian grouping in Donbass, have been destroyed during unloading near Pokrovsk railway station in Donetsk People’s Republic.

……………

Ukrainian General Staff says “The invaders are actively advancing in several directions at once.” — Specifically, the Russians are advancing simultaneously in Severodonetsk, Bakhmut, Avdeevsky, Novopavlovsk and Liman directions.

……………

We also had a short explanation of why the perceived slow down in the Russian operation. The slowdown of Russia’s military operation in Ukraine is intentional with a view to evacuating the population and avoiding casualties among civilians, Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu said.  Russia’s Armed Forces are creating humanitarian corridors and announcing ceasefires to ensure the safe evacuation of residents from encircled settlements, Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu explained, despite this approach stalling the progress of the country’s forces.  “Of course, this slows down the pace of the offensive, but it is being done deliberately to avoid civilian casualties,” he explained at a meeting of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) Council of Defense Ministers.

Russian Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev spoke on the Ukraine specifically and geopolitics:

▪️All the goals set by the President of the Russian Federation during the special military operation will be achieved, it cannot be otherwise. Russia is not chasing deadlines in the course of a special military operation in Ukraine.

The ideal scenario for US-led NATO is an endlessly smoldering conflict in Ukraine.

▪️Nazism must either be eradicated by 100%, or it will raise its head in a few years, and in an even uglier form.

▪️Ukraine, if it had remained an independent country, and not controlled from outside, “would have long ago expelled all Nazi evil spirits from its land.”

▪️Moscow will be obliged to respond to the entry of Sweden and Finland into NATO, which is a direct security threat to Russia. Finland and Sweden will be accepted into NATO, despite the objections of Turkey and Croatia, “because Washington decided so.”

▪️The West is today obscuring Russia’s contribution to the preservation of other states in different historical periods with all its might.

……………

The political and geopolitical situation is heating up and at the same time becoming more surreal.

They’re even dusting off Kissinger at Davos.  (Note Pepe Escobar’s ascerbic entry to his telegram channel at the end.)**

There is a small window of opportunity to wind down the armed conflict in Ukraine and find a peace settlement, former US secretary of state Henry Kissinger has told a gathering of Western elites in Davos, Switzerland. Beyond that, Russia may break from, the rest of, Europe for good and become a permanent ally of China, he said on Monday during a speech at the World Economic Forum.

“Negotiations on peace need to begin in the next two months or so, [before the conflict] creates upheavals and tensions that will not be easily overcome,” the 98-year-old veteran diplomat said of the crisis. The outcome will determine the rest of Europe’s relationships with Russia and Ukraine alike, he said. “Ideally, the dividing line should return to the status quo ante,” he said.

“I believe pursuing the war beyond that point would turn it not into a war about the freedom of Ukraine, which had been undertaken with great cohesion by NATO, but into a war against Russia itself,” he added.

There are more voices from Europe asking for a peace process to start but first, the Ukrainian response:

Ukrainian presidential advisor Alexey Arestovich resorted to obscene language to criticize those in the West urging Kiev to cede part of the country’s territory to Russia for the sake of peace.

“Go f**k yourselves with such proposals, you dumb f**ks, to trade Ukrainian territory a little bit! Are you f**king crazy? Our children are dying, soldiers are stopping shells with their own bodies, and they are telling us how to sacrifice our territories. This will never happen,” Arestovich said in an interview on Wednesday.

Soros calls for Putin’s defeat:  George Soros told the World Economic Forum in Davos the West needs a quick victory over Russia in Ukraine so it can focus on climate change

The process of ‘disowning’ the Ukraine has started.

Gen. Milley notes that the US has reopened military-to-military level talks with the Russians. His call to his Russian counterpart last week was “important” and it was “purposeful”

Of course, the talk of another peace plan is not born of care for people or human rights or democracy or deep held care for the Ukrainian people.  It is driven by desperation and is a desperate grasp at avoiding a psychological defeat bigger than Afghanistan.

TASS/ Russia’s State Duma Speaker Vyacheslav Volodin took to his Telegram channel to highlight that the US and its partners do not plan to provide real assistance to Ukraine.

  • Ukraine will only get 15% of the $40 billion promised by the US, he said.
  • “Washington and Brussels do not really intend to help Ukraine, or solve its economic and social issues. They only need Ukraine to fight Russia till the last Ukrainian,” Volodin said.
  • According to the recent aid to Ukraine legislation signed by President Joe Biden, 35% of the $40 billion is going to finance the US Armed Forces, he explained. Meanwhile, 45.2% of that amount is set to be spent on other countries, not Ukraine, while another 4.8% will be earmarked to support refugees, and restore the US diplomatic mission in Ukraine. “Ukraine will only receive 15% of the allotted sum,” the speaker revealed.
  • But Ukrainians will have to pay off the whole sum, he said. The US is aware that Kiev will not be able to service the debt in the future. “That is why they are seizing Ukraine’s last reserves, including grain, which is what we are seeing right now”.

Quo Vadis Ukraine?

A list of those that want a piece of the pie is shaping up. Of course, Poland is not suddenly in love with the Ukraine without a reason.  They want their piece of the land pie. I suspect Hungary is also not innocent in this matter. Will the Ukraine be apportioned? Or will it lose its nation-state status completely, and cease to exist? Nobody knows because nobody knows the Russian plan. In Europe and the US/NATO, fear is taking hold. Nobody knows where Russia plans to stop after liberating the two new Republics, Donesk and Luhansk. Is this the moment that they will choose to push NATO back to its agreed borders?

Maria Zakharova noted that these peace proposals that are appearing (talking about the Italian one specifically) could show that Rome is perhaps “beginning to think about the depressing consequences of the military psychosis that was caused by the reaction of the West to the special military operation of Russia in Ukraine” – and the supposed plan could be an attempt “to offer some alternatives to the current escalation, which threatens to develop into a full-scale military conflict between Russia and NATO.”

The deputy chair of the Russian Security Council, former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, said that “any peace proposal built purely in the interest of NATO and the Western world order should simply be ignored.”

“Or rather, their authors should be told to go in a certain direction,” Medvedev said.

Russia is ‘building back better’ and major reconstruction is starting as well as President Putin signed a decree relaxing rules for granting Russian citizenship to residents of Ukraine’s Zaporozhye and Kherson Region.

The amendments are added to the decree that previously introduced a similar procedure for residents of the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics (DPR and LPR).

Russia continues to do business.  Delegations from over 90 countries have confirmed their participation in the 25th edition of the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF) scheduled for June.  Russia and Iran also agreed to implement the MIR payment card system in Iran.

That is it for today. Enjoy your discussion and careful on the Ukie propaganda. It is still everywhere.

**Escobar Telegram Channel:

THE PLIGHT OF DR. K – IN ONE MINUTE

War criminal Kissinger’s performance at Davos should be summed up as yet another massive failure of his master’s trademark Divide and Rule.

Ukraine/404 has always been a sort of Rubicon in terms of downsizing Russia (think Brzezinski).

It consumed A LOT of capital – physical and political. It was THE red line – success or failure – setting the stage for the triumph of the NWO and its top secretion, The Great Reset.

Kissinger – even as a mere Rockefeller messenger boy – was at the center of this racket for DECADES. It was Kissinger, under Rockefeller’s orders, that groomed cypto Dr. Evil Klaus Schwab to build the WEF and the Davos ethos.

Even if Davos is a mere outlet for the people who really run the show, the WEF remains the premier Influence Scoundrels club on the planet bent on forcing their agenda all across the spectrum. Still toxic after all these years. Yet now even Kissinger knows it’s bound to fail.

President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Meeting of the heads of state of the Collective Security Treaty Organisation (update, transcript is now complete)

May 16, 2022

CSTO summit

Taking part in the meeting, timed to coincide with the 30th anniversary of the Collective Security Treaty and the 20th anniversary of the organisation, were the heads of Russia, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan.

The main focus of the summit was on key issues of cooperation within the CSTO, topical international and regional problems, and measures to further improve the collective security system.

During the meeting, the leaders signed a Statement of the CSTO Collective Security Council (CSC) in connection with the 30th anniversary of the Collective Security Treaty and the 20th anniversary of the Collective Security Treaty Organisation. They also signed a resolution of the CSTO CSC to award the participants in the CSTO peacekeeping mission in the Republic of Kazakhstan.

* * *

President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Colleagues, good afternoon!

I am glad to welcome you all in Moscow.

At the suggestion of our chairman, and today Armenia chairs the organisation, we gathered in Moscow, because this is where 30 years ago the Collective Security Treaty was signed, and 20 years ago, on the basis of this Treaty, the Collective Security Treaty Organisation was created.

This means we have two anniversaries almost on the same day: on May 14 and 15 in 1992 and 2002, respectively. I congratulate you on this.

I hope that the organisation, which has become a full international structure over the years, will continue to develop, even through difficult times. I would like to note in this context that both 1992 and 2002 were difficult times; they never end.

The organisation plays a very important role in the post-Soviet space – a stabilising role. I hope that in this sense its capabilities and influence on the situation in our area of responsibility will only grow.

Here I would like to finish my welcoming remarks and give the floor to the Chairman [of the CSTO Collective Security Council], the Prime Minister of Armenia.

Prime Minister of the Republic of Armenia Nikol Pashinyan: Thank you, Mr Putin.

Colleagues, I would like to welcome all of you!

I would also like to add my congratulations on the two anniversaries the President of Russia noted. The Treaty on Collective Security was signed on May 15, 1992, and the decision on establishing a Collective Security Treaty Organisation was made on May 14, 2002. We meet today partly in commemoration of both anniversaries.

I suggest we express our views on these anniversaries and on the current situation as always – in alphabetic order. Please hold your comments to 3 to 5 minutes – this is the open section.

Afterwards, we will sign the documents that are ready for signing, and will then continue our discussion behind closed doors.

I give the floor to the President of the Republic of Belarus. Go ahead, please.

President of the Republic of Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko: Mr Pashinyan, dear friends!

I will talk a bit longer than usual since I am the first to speak, and the current situation deserves attention.

Today’s meeting is taking place in a difficult time, as the President of Russia has just said – a time of repartitioning the world; the unipolar international system is irretrievably receding into the past, but the collective West is fiercely fighting to keep its position.

Anything goes, including actions in the zone of responsibility of our organisation: from NATO’s sabre rattling at our western borders to a full-scale hybrid war unleashed against us, primarily against Russia and Belarus.

NATO is aggressively building its muscles, drawing Finland and Sweden into its net, countries that only yesterday were neutral. This is based on the attitude, “those who are not with us are against us,” and, hypocritically, NATO continues to declare its defensive nature. The truly defensive and peace-loving position of the Collective Security Treaty Organisation is in contrast to this background.

The United States is building up its military presence on the western flank of the CSTO, its military infrastructure is being upgraded at an accelerated pace and many NATO exercises are taking place. The large-scale exercise, Defender Europe 2022, the likes of which we have not seen before, are now being held on the territory of 19 European countries, in part, near our borders in Poland. You can guess for yourselves whom they are defending themselves against.

Until now, there is a force of about 15,000 military personnel stationed at the Belarusian-Polish border, which were deployed there last year under the pretext of a migration crisis, in addition to the troops that are stationed there permanently. Last year, 15,000 troops, mostly Americans, were redeployed. The migrants left that area a long time ago, but the troops are still there. The question is why?

Clearly, no country is posing any threat to NATO today. Moreover, an additional force of over 10,000 military troops was brought there to reinforce the alliance’s eastern flank with 15,000 troops already deployed in Poland and the Baltic countries as part of the US armed forces’ Atlantic Resolve and NATO-allied Enhanced Forward Presence. For perspective, seven or so years ago, there were 3,500 troops in this location (addressing the CSTO Secretary General Stanislav Zas) on your watch, now there are about 40,000 troops right on the territory of Poland and the Baltic states. And I am not talking about Ukraine yet.

Our military interaction within the framework of the Union State of Belarus and Russia, and Belarus’ membership in the CSTO, are the very stabilisers that have a certain sobering effect on the hotheads on the other side of the border. This shows that if it were not for this, I am afraid that a hot war would already be underway in Belarus. By the way, they tried to do this in 2020.

Today, there is no more pressing or important issue than the Ukraine conflict. Since 2014, all of us have been assisting in every way possible in resolving it. In principle, all of us sitting at this table are ready to do this even now and in any format.

Clearly, Ukraine was fomented, incited and fed nationalism and Nazism. We saw that in Odessa, when people were burned alive. Ukraine was fed Nazism, Russophobia and weapons. They used every approach to poison it.

After the election in Belarus in August 2020, regarding interaction with us, Belarus, Ukraine completely succumbed to the West. We have constantly experienced unfriendly actions from our southern neighbour for over two years now.

Ukraine proactively imposed sanctions on us even before the West, including the Americans. Ukraine was the first to do so. Remember? Their airspace was closed, then railway service, and then they began to train militants and send them to Belarus and ship weapons across the border. Everyone knows that. Provocative actions were carried out with Ukrainian drones conducting reconnaissance missions in Belarus’ airspace.

The facts indicating a threat to our national security are indisputable. This is exactly why we were absolutely right to activate the support mechanism in the framework of our alliance with Russia.

Belarus paid attention to the unjustified growth of the Western military presence in Ukraine and the region as a whole even before the start of the Russian special military operation. We talked about this more than once and warned that a conflict was looming. We expected the West, primarily the US, to accept Russia’s proposal to enter into talks on security guarantees. This process will start eventually in the foreseeable future but what will remain of Ukraine and our region by this time is a big question.

Right now, we are seeing that the West, including Washington, is only interested in prolonging the conflict as much as possible. This is why Ukraine is being flooded with weapons. The goals are clear: to weaken Russia as much as possible by miring it in this war. The flames may reach beyond it – we are seeing this, too. If this is the idea, likely nobody will be able to sit it out.

Currently the most dangerous trend in Ukraine are the attempts to partition the country. Thousand-strong units have already been formed to enter Ukraine in the guise of peacekeepers to “protect” it.

Unity and solidarity among like-minded people are particularly important at a time when norms and principles of international law are being completely ignored. The CSTO member states displayed such solidarity and support in January of this year in a time of trial: you remember the events in Kazakhstan. By acting rapidly when needed, we graphically demonstrated to the entire world our close allied relations and the capacity of our organisation to ensure the security of its members. Nobody in the West even dared think about interfering in this situation because we are stronger together.

But is it possible to claim today that the members of this organisation are really united and bound by ties of solidarity and support as before? Recent events suggest probably not. This is from our perspective, and I may be wrong. But it is enough to recall the ban imposed by some of our CSTO partners on the flights to their countries by national airlines of other CSTO members.

The concepts of unity and solidarity are not always enough, given the brutal, rabid sanctions pressure by the consolidated West. Unfortunately, this is clear from the voting in international organisations.

With the tacit agreement of our partners, Belarus and Russia are being vilified and expelled from international organisations against all laws of international life, just on a Western whim. Yes, you, CSTO members are subjected to pressure – tough and unprincipled pressure – but this is where collective, mutual support is so helpful. We may not exist tomorrow if we do not unite as soon as possible, if we do not strengthen our political, economic and military ties.

Our enemies and detractors are systematically degrading our strongholds and allied ties, and we ourselves are partially helping the West in this regard. I am sure that if we had acted as a united front right off the bat, the hellish, as they say, sanctions would be out of question.

Look how united the European Union is when it votes or acts, and how strong its intra-bloc discipline is. It applies automatically even to those who disagree with its decisions. This begs the question: What is keeping us from using this bloc resource? We need to follow their example. If divided, we will simply be crushed and torn apart.

Back in January, I said that the main goal of certain external forces is to undermine stability and to disrupt the evolutionary path of development throughout the post-Soviet space. They started with Belarus, then the infection spread to Kazakhstan, and now it is Russia’s turn, as we see, and problems are being created in Armenia as well. Make no mistake, no one will be spared.

It is absolutely clear that, without united pushback from the CSTO allies and other integration associations in the post-Soviet space, the collective West will ratchet up its pressure.

What do we need to do to reinforce the CSTO in this unprecedented situation at hand? Off the top of my head, I can visualise the following top-priority steps, which are many, and the President of Tajikistan covered them at length when he talked about the challenge facing that region.

The first is to strengthen political interaction and coordination of the CSTO member states. It is important to improve the efficiency of the foreign policy and security consultation mechanism. We need to speak more often on behalf of the CSTO on international platforms so that its voice and position can be seen and heard, and this voice and position must be united as they are in the West.

Let our foreign ministers consider how best to go about this, and where. Let them think about our political response to a new wave of NATO expansion in light of the intentions declared by well-known states.

We must work out in advance the CSTO position on this matter and make our interests known to the international community. We must act as one in this. Russia should not be alone in voicing its concern and fighting the attempted NATO enlargement.

The second point is to increase the effectiveness of efforts to counter challenges and threats in the information space, including the fight against fake news and disinformation. It is clear that we are facing a hybrid war, the main part of which is an information war.

In order to counter this, we should make the most of the 2017 CSTO Agreement on Information Security Cooperation and actively promote the CSTO on social media, which our Western opponents intensively use, in order to effectively respond to fake news and planted information. Moreover, we need to think seriously and, perhaps, follow China’s policy in the information confrontation, especially on the internet.

Relevant tasks should be assigned to all foreign ministries, special services and the CSTO Secretariat.

Third, there is a clear need to strengthen the forecasting and analytical component in the CSTO Secretariat’s work. I am sure that there are similar departments in the UN, the European Union and NATO. It might be worth considering creating a unit responsible for analysis and strategic planning at the CSTO Secretariat. I think the Secretary-General needs to study this issue.

Fourth, it is worth thinking about combining the potential of the analytical centres of the CSTO member states and forming a network of these centres to assist in the development of conceptual documents on current issues on the international agenda.

Dear friends,

I am offering such seemingly simple proposals at these extremely difficult times because we may not immediately agree on more complex ones. Therefore, these may be the first steps, but we need to go further and deeper, as we used to say in the past

Colleagues,

Everyone understands that the historical era that existed before is ending, and there will be no return to the previous international order. We cannot allow the creation of a new international architecture without us, while the West is already planting false stories and holding talks about it.

I believe that the CSTO should firmly strengthen its status in the international system of checks and balances. The organisation has a powerful collective potential for further progressive development, but it depends only on us today, it is up to us, how effectively the CSTO will use this potential and whether it will continue to exist in the next 10, 20 or 30 years.

After Armenia, the CSTO chairmanship will rotate to Belarus. In addition to the promising areas of work outlined above, we are already seriously considering new proposals aimed at the further development of our organisation, and you will learn about them in the near future. We hope for maximum support and constructive work from all of you, our colleagues. We have no other choice.

Sorry for such a long speech.

Thank you for your attention.

Nikol Pashinyan: Thank you, Mr Lukashenko.

I will give the floor to President of Kazakhstan Kassym-Jomart Tokayev.

President of Kazakhstan Kassym-Jomart Tokayev: Mr Pashinyan, colleagues!

First of all, I would like to express my gratitude to President of Russia Vladimir Putin for organising this anniversary summit of the Collective Security Council. It is true that our summit today is distinct in marking two CSTO anniversaries.

Over the years our organisation has proven to be an effective mechanism of multilateral cooperation with serious potential for further development.

Once the CSTO was established, a reliable system for collective security was built in the vast expanse of Eurasia. The main goals are to strengthen peace and stability as well as international and regional security, and protect the territorial integrity and sovereignty of its member states.

The CSTO’s permanent working bodies operate successfully; there are various formats for close cooperation and interaction. The CSTO’s authority, law enforcement and peacekeeping potential are being strengthened.

We focus on countering international terrorism and extremism, illegal drug and weapons trafficking, and illegal migration. In this context we attach great importance to the developments in Afghanistan. The unstable situation there as well as the unrelenting activity of armed groups on the territory of Afghanistan continue to threaten the security and stability of our states. I believe the CSTO must consider every potential threat while paying even more attention to ensuring the security of the southern borders of Central Asia.

In the mid-term, developing the organisation’s peacekeeping potential is an unconditional priority. Active work is underway in this area. CSTO peacekeeping forces have been created and are being improved every year; a plan is being developed to equip them with modern weapons, equipment and special tools.

As you know, the institute of Special Representative of the CSTO Secretary-General for peacekeeping has been established, at Kazakhstan’s initiative. This means that all the necessary tools have been created, and we suggest that it is time to set the goal of getting the CSTO involved with the United Nations’ peacekeeping activities.

This step would promote the legal status of the CSTO and ensure the organisation’s participation in international peacekeeping operations.

Colleagues,

Our assessments of the CSTO’s development and common view of the current aspects of international and regional security underlie the anniversary statement of the Collective Security Council. I would like to thank Armenia for its productive chairmanship and Russia for its timely initiative to hold this forum.

Thank you for your attention.

Nikol Pashinyan:Thank you, Mr Tokayev.

Next to speak is President of the Kyrgyz Republic. Mr Sadyr Japarov, please, take the floor.

President of the Kyrgyz Republic Sadyr Japarov: Good afternoon.

Mr Putin, Mr Chairman of the CSTO Collective Security Council Nikol Pashinyan, Messrs heads of state,

I am happy to meet with you in hospitable Moscow.

I would like to begin with congratulations. First, I want to extend my congratulations to our fraternal peoples on the 77th anniversary of the Great Victory. On May 9, many thousands of people across Kyrgyzstan took part in the Immortal Regiment march carrying the slogans “Eternal Glory to the Heroes” and “Nobody Is Forgotten, Nothing Is Forgotten.” The republic holds this holiday sacred, as it epitomises the defeat of Nazism and Fascism by the Soviet people and invariably pays a sincere tribute to the memory of the heroic deed of our fathers and grandfathers.

Second, I want to extend my congratulations to all of us on the 30th anniversary of signing the Collective Security Treaty and the 20th anniversary of the Collective Security Treaty Organisation. We fully support the political statement to be adopted today in connection with these two historic dates.

The international events taking place in recent years show that the strategic decisions taken to ensure shared and collective security from Brest to Vladivostok were right.

At the same time, I am pleased to note that throughout its existence the Collective Security Treaty Organisation has fulfilled the responsible mission assigned to it and developed as an institution, with its potential becoming ever stronger. In this connection, I would like to express my gratitude to CSTO Secretary-General Stanislav Zas, all his predecessors in the post and the CSTO Secretariat staff for their loyal service in the interests of the security of the Organisation’s member states.

Colleagues,

The current international situation does not offer cause for optimism, in terms of both global security and the world economy. Threats to security and military and political tensions have come too close to the borders of the CSTO zone of responsibility. Attempts are being made to interfere from the outside in the internal affairs of the CSTO member states.

For example, earlier this year we had to help a CSTO member state get out of a security crisis it had unexpectedly found itself in. Our response was quick and effective. I fully support the decision to award participants in this peacekeeping mission.

The situation at the southern borders of the CSTO remains alarming, primarily due to the unhindered activities of radical religious terrorist groups in some Afghan provinces. The external sponsors of these groups have far-reaching plans for Central Asia. I think we should keep focusing our attention and analysis on the Afghan issue. It is necessary to carry out an entire package of political-diplomatic and military-technical measures to ensure security in this area. At the same time, it is important to provide humanitarian aid for the Afghan people. Our fellow countrymen are among them.

Colleagues,

We are seriously alarmed by the sanctions war. The Kyrgyz economy has not yet recovered from the coronavirus pandemic, and now the sanctions are already creating a threat to food and energy security, macroeconomic sustainability and social stability.

Under the circumstances, we must discuss and draft a common approach to alleviate the consequences of sanctions and prevent the deterioration of the socioeconomic situation in our countries. We will soon have an opportunity to do so at the meeting of the Supreme Eurasian Economic Council and the First Eurasian Economic Forum in the city of Bishkek.

Colleagues, I hope for your personal participation as heads of your delegations, in which I am asking you to include heads of sectoral ministries and business structures.

In conclusion, I would like to congratulate you again on the Day of the Great Victory and the two anniversaries of the Collective Security Treaty.

I sincerely wish you and the friendly nations of the CSTO peace, stability, wellbeing and prosperity.

Thank you for your attention.

Nikol Pashinyan: Thank you, Mr Japarov.

I am giving the floor to President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin.

Mr President, go ahead, please.

Vladimir Putin: Friends and colleagues,

I will agree with the previous speakers – indeed, in the past few decades, the Collective Security Treaty Organisation has become considerably stronger and won a well-deserved reputation as an effective regional defence structure that ensures security and stability in the Eurasian space and reliably protects the sovereignty and territorial integrity of its member countries.

Importantly, cooperation in the CSTO has always been built in the spirit of true allied relations, on the principles of friendship and neighbourliness, respect and consideration of each other’s interests, mutual assistance and support. The same principles guide our cooperation in the current difficult situation.

The CSTO’s successful peacekeeping operation, held in Kazakhstan in January 2022 at the request of its leaders, showed the maturity of our Organisation and its real ability to adequately withstand acute challenges and threats.

The contingent of the collective CSTO forces, sent into Kazakhstan for a limited period of time, prevented extremists, including those directed from abroad, from seizing power and helped to quickly stabilise the internal political situation in the republic.

The use of peacekeeping forces at the request of the Kazakhstan leadership was the first operation of this kind in the CSTO’s history. The operation revealed the strong points of practical cooperation between our military structures and security services, and, at the same time, showed what we should work on to improve it.

Today, we will sign a joint statement reaffirming, taking into account the experience gained, among other things, during the afore-mentioned operation, the resolve of our states to continue acting as partners in different areas of military and defence development, and building up our coordinated actions in the world arena.

At the same time, it is quite logical that our current high-priority task is to further improve and streamline the work of the CSTO and its governing bodies. We will also provide the collective CSTO forces with modern weapons and equipment, we will enhance the interoperability of their troop contingents, and more effectively coordinate the joint actions of our military agencies and secret services.

We streamline the relevant operations all the time during CSTO exercises, and we are set to expand such exercises. This autumn, there are plans to hold an entire series of joint CSTO exercises in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. I am confident that these measures will boost the combat readiness of our states’ military agencies and improve their coordination, as well as increase the entire peacekeeping potential of the CSTO.

We also believe that the CSTO should continue its efforts to counter terrorism, drug trafficking and organised crime. Law enforcement agencies of our countries interact rather effectively in this field, so as to prevent the recruitment of people and to neutralise the resource potential of international terrorist organisations.

Efforts to maintain biological security also require the most serious attention. For a long time, we sounded the alarm about US military biological activity in the post-Soviet space.

It is common knowledge that the Pentagon has established dozens of specialised biological laboratories and centres in our common region, and that they are by no means merely providing practical medical assistance to the population of the countries where they are operating. Their main task is to collect biological materials and to analyse the spread of viruses and dangerous diseases for their own purposes.

Now, during the special operation in Ukraine, documentary evidence was obtained that components of biological weapons were developed in close proximity to our borders, which violates the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention, and possible methods and mechanisms were worked out to destabilise the epidemiological situation in the post-Soviet space.

In this regard, we count on our colleagues supporting the earliest possible implementation of Russia’s initiative to operationalise the designated CSTO council. Once again, I would like to note the importance of close coordination between CSTO members in matters of foreign policy, coordinated actions at the UN and other multilateral platforms, and promotion of common approaches to the multiplying international security issues.

In this context, it is important to build up cooperation with our “natural” partners in the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation and the Commonwealth of Independent States. By the way, we think it would be appropriate and correct – we will discuss this – to grant the CIS observer status in the CSTO.

I would like to highlight our priority task of jointly defending the memory of Victory in the Great Patriotic War, the feat of our peoples who saved the world from Nazism at the cost of enormous and irreparable sacrifices, and to counteract any attempts to whitewash the Nazis, their accomplices and modern followers.

This is extremely important particularly now, when monuments to the heroes liberators are being barbarously demolished in a number of European countries, laying flowers at memorials is forbidden, and cynical attempts are being made to rewrite history, while praising murderers and traitors and insulting their victims, thus crossing out the feats of those who selflessly fought for Victory and won the war.

Unfortunately, in our neighbouring country, Ukraine, neo-Nazism has been on the rise for a long time now, to which some of our partners from the “collective West” turn a blind eye, and thus actually encourage their activities. All this goes hand-in-hand with an unprecedented surge in frenzied Russophobia in the so-called civilised and politically correct Western countries.

Indeed, we hear, and I hear people say that extremists can be found anywhere, which is true. Extremists are everywhere and one way or another they are leaving their underground hideouts and make themselves known. Nowhere, though – I want to underscore this – nowhere are Nazis being glorified at the state level and not a single civilised country’s authorities are encouraging thousands of neo-Nazi torchlight processions with Nazi symbols. This is something that is not practiced anywhere. But unfortunately, this is happening in Ukraine.

The expansion of the North Atlantic Alliance is a problem that, in my view, is being created in an absolutely artificial manner because it is being done in the foreign policy interests of the United States. Generally, NATO is being used, in effect, as the foreign policy tool of a single country, and it is being done persistently, adroitly, and very aggressively. All of this is aggravating the already complex international security situation.

As for the expansion, including the accession of two prospective new members, Finland and Sweden, I would like to inform you, colleagues, that Russia has no problems with these states. No problems at all! In this sense, therefore, there is no direct threat to Russia in connection with NATO’s expansion to these countries. But the expansion of its military infrastructure to these territories will certainly evoke a response on our part. We will see what it will be like based on the threats that are created for us. But generally speaking, problems are being created from nothing. So, we will respond to it in a fitting manner.

Apart from everything else, apart from this interminable policy of expansion, the North Atlantic Alliance is emerging beyond its geographical destination, beyond the Euro-Atlantic area. It is increasingly active in trying to manage international issues and control the international security situation. It wants to wield influence in other regions of the world, but its actual performance leaves much to be desired. This certainly demands additional attention on our part.

In conclusion, I want to reiterate that Russia will continue to contribute to deepening relations of strategic alliance with all CSTO member states. We will do our best to improve and develop effective partner cooperation within the CSTO and, of course, we will support the Armenian chairmanship’s ongoing work in this area.

As for Russia’s special military operation in Ukraine, we will certainly discuss this, and I will inform you in detail about its causes and the current combat effort. But, of course, we will do this behind closed doors.

Thank you for your attention.

Nikol Pashinyan: Thank you, Mr Putin.

President of the Republic of Tajikistan Emomali Rahmon is our next speaker. Please go ahead.

President of the Republic of Tajikistan Emomali Rahmon: Colleagues,

First of all, I would like to congratulate you on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the signing of the Collective Security Treaty and the 20th anniversary of the creation of the CSTO.

I would like to thank the President of Russia for convening today’s meeting dedicated to these milestone events that are important for all of us. Anniversaries are a good opportunity to reflect on the path traveled and the development of the CSTO and to identify prospects for multilateral cooperation seeking to strengthen the common collective security system in light of new realities.

Over the period under review, the CSTO has established itself as an important factor in strengthening peace and ensuring regional security and stability. The organisation’s successful peacekeeping mission earlier this year clearly showed it.

We have created an extensive legal framework, the necessary working and coordinating bodies, as well as mechanisms aimed at fulfilling the organisation’s goals.

In practice, due attention is paid to strengthening and consolidating mutual trust within the CSTO. The CSTO’s international ties are expanding. Last year, we completed the ratification procedure and launched the institutions of observers under the CSTO and the CSTO partners as part of the Tajik chairmanship.

Field and command-staff exercises are conducted on a permanent basis, and measures are being taken to supply modern weapons and military equipment to the collective security system’s forces and means. All this helps maintain a high degree of combat readiness, mobility, training and skills of command and service personnel for bringing joint solutions to common tasks.

Today, the CSTO is an important platform for equal dialogue and cooperation between member states in all three basic dimensions: political interaction, military cooperation and joint efforts to counter modern challenges and threats.

The CSTO Collective Security Strategy to 2025, which reflects the principles of our interaction in the mid-term, is an important document that is guiding our organisation along its own path of development. Our common assessment of the state and development prospects of the organisation is reflected in a joint statement that we will adopt following the summit.

Notably, today we are facing no less important tasks to strengthen our common security. Given the manifold growth of challenges and threats to security, we will have to step up joint efforts to strengthen the Organisation’s potential and capabilities.

For example, we can see that negative factors have been accumulating in Afghanistan over the past 40 years, and they have worsened the military-political and socioeconomic situation in that country. In this regard, the CSTO needs to be prepared for various scenarios on the southern borders.

Tajikistan plans to continue to actively contribute to ensuring common security in the organisation’s regions of responsibility.

Thank you.

Nikol Pashinyan: Thank you very much.

Colleagues, I will now speak in my national capacity, if I may.

First of all, I would like to thank the President of Russia for hosting the anniversary CSTO summit in Moscow and the warm welcome. Of course, our organisation’s anniversary is also an excellent occasion to sum up the intermediate results and to discuss prospects for the further development of our organisation.

The President of Belarus raised important questions about interaction between the CSTO member countries and touched on, frankly, rather problematic issues. In general, there are a lot of positive developments in the history of the CSTO, because in reality it was, is and will be the most important factor in ensuring security and stability in the region.

But, as we see, we are discussing not only anniversary-related issues at this anniversary summit, because the situation is fairly tense in the CSTO area of ​​responsibility. I want to touch on some of the issues that the President of Belarus mentioned.

Regarding voting by the CSTO member countries, this issue does exist, indeed. Often, our voting is not synchronised, but this is not something new. This has been typical of our organisation for a long time now. Armenia has repeatedly raised this issue, and we have repeatedly discussed it in the regular course of business. Clearly, this issue needs to be further discussed as well.

With regard to interaction as well as response and rapid response mechanisms, this is also a critical issue for Armenia, because, as you are aware, last year on these days, Azerbaijani troops invaded the sovereign territory of Armenia. Armenia turned to the CSTO for it to activate the mechanisms that are provided for in the Regulations governing the CSTO response to crisis situations of December 10, 2010 which is a document approved by the Collective Security Council. Unfortunately, we cannot say that the organisation responded as the Republic of Armenia expected.

For a long time now, we have been raising the issue of sales of weapons by CSTO member countries to a country that is unfriendly to Armenia, which used these weapons against Armenia and the Armenian people. This is also a problem.

Frankly, the CSTO member countries’ response during the 44-day war of 2020 and the post-war period did not make the Republic of Armenia and the Armenian people very happy, but I want to emphasise the special role played by the Russian Federation and President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin personally in halting the war in Nagorno-Karabakh.

I would like to reaffirm that Armenia remains committed to the trilateral statements of November 9, 2020. I am referring to the trilateral statements by the President of the Russian Federation, the President of Azerbaijan and the Prime Minister of Armenia, as well as the trilateral statements of January 11, 2021 and November 26, 2021.

I think it is critically important to sum up the results, but Armenia, as a founding member of the Collective Security Treaty Organisation, is committed to the organisation’s further development and considers it a key contributor to stability and security in the Eurasian region, as well as the security of the Republic of Armenia, and is positive about providing its full support for the organisation’s further development.

Now I give the floor to CSTO Secretary General Stanislav Zas so that he tells us about the documents that we are going to sign.

CSTO Secretary General Stanislav Zas: Mr Chairman, members of the Collective Security Council,

First, I would like to thank you for today’s meeting devoted to the CSTO’s anniversary. Twenty years is not such a long period for an international organisation. However, it has traversed a very long road during these years – from the formation of the idea of collective defence to the well-established, multi-faceted international organisation that it is today.

Therefore, I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate you, heads of state, on the anniversary and to thank you for your hard work on establishing, developing and strengthening our organisation. I am saying this because, of course, all this would have been impossible without your constant attention and support.

You have an analytical review of the CSTO activities over 20 years of its existence in your folders on the table. This review was prepared at the instruction of the President of the Republic of Tajikistan. Incidentally, our work on this review was very interesting and useful. On the eve of such great anniversaries, we tried to look back at the path travelled and to assess the CSTO’s status. We developed a good feeling that stayed with us: We have reasons to be proud.

The mechanism of foreign policy coordination is functioning well in the CSTO format. Using this mechanism, we form the consolidated position of our states on urgent regional and global issues. That said, I agree with the President of Belarus that this is clearly not enough these days. We should not avoid answers, consolidated answers to the most pressing issues.

We have developed cooperation with international regional organisations and their relevant structures. We have preserved and, importantly, are cultivating the principle of prioritising political and diplomatic means to achieve CSTO goals. This is, probably, one of the main pillars of our organisation.

Over these years, we have considerably built up the CSTO’s

military capacity. We are upgrading the structure, equipment and training of the bodies in charge of managing and forming a collective security system.

We consider the formation of a uniform system for training personnel, management bodies and troops an important achievement of the CSTO. Of course, the highest form of this system is embodied in the planned joint miscellaneous exercises that we hold every year.

We created and are developing an effective mechanism to counter modern challenges and threats, such as drug trafficking, illegal migration, international terrorism, and crime using information technology. To this end, joint emergency and preventive measures are taken and special operations are carried out regularly. The results prove their relevance and effectiveness.

The formation of a collective biological security toolkit is nearing completion. This topic was raised today, and I think we will return to it.

An important place is occupied by the CSTO crisis response system. Considering the first practical experience gained in Kazakhstan in testing this system, it probably makes sense that today we will also consider issues of improving the crisis response system.

The further development of our organisation will be carried out taking into account your decisions and instructions – I am grateful for today’s initiatives and instructions – and based on the plan for implementing the CSTO Collective Security Strategy until 2025.

By the way, next year we need to start preparing the initial data to develop a new CSTO Collective Security Strategy for the next period, 2026–2030. It is high time, and the situation now is significantly different than it was five years ago. This also means a lot of work to be done, and it probably requires that our countries join analytical forces.

Mr Chair and members of the Collective Security Council,

The following two documents have been submitted for your consideration and signing: a draft statement of the CSTO Collective Security Council on the 30th anniversary of the Collective Security Treaty and the 20th anniversary of the Collective Security Treaty Organisation; and a draft decision of the Collective Security Council “On awarding participants in the CSTO peacekeeping mission in the Republic of Kazakhstan.”

The draft decision recognises the most distinguished participants in the peacekeeping operation. Six members of our militaries, including commander of our peacekeeping mission in Kazakhstan, Colonel General Andrei Serdyukov, are recommended for the CSTO honourary badge, I and II Class, for their skillful leadership, preparation and conduct of this operation, and a number of military personnel are recommended for the medal For Strengthening Collective Security for active participation and selflessness in this operation.

The documents have passed the necessary approval procedure, have been adopted by the statutory bodies and are ready for signing.

I would ask you to consider and support these two documents.

Thank you.

Nikol Pashinyan: Colleagues, I propose to move on to the signing of the documents.

Everything’s Getting Messy Again In Afghanistan

15 MAY 2022

Source

By Andrew Korybko

Afghanistan’s internal insecurity, border tensions, and the potentially Pakistani-backed US military factor are combining to create yet another storm in the New Cold War that threatens to destabilize the region.

Russia’s ongoing special military operation in Ukraine and the US-led West’s unprecedented response to it have distracted the international community from Afghanistan, which is once again becoming an issue of regional concern. The foreign occupiers’ chaotic evacuation from that country last August and the Taliban’s return to power in the aftermath haven’t stabilized the situation all that much. The group is still designated as terrorists by most of the world and their leadership remains unrecognized despite all stakeholders – including Russia — still interacting with them for pragmatism’s sake.

Afghanistan somehow avoided the full-scale humanitarian crisis that many were worried about but its people’s most basic needs still aren’t being adequately met. Observers also feel very uncomfortable about the Taliban returning to its old ways by once again banning women from showing their uncovered faces in public. The comparatively more secular and ethnically cosmopolitan northern part of the country that’s majority inhabited by Tajiks and other Central Asian people might not take too kindly to this decree, which could fuel anti-government movements there.

In fact, it was reported just this weekend that the “National Resistance Front” (NRF) has returned to fighting against the Taliban in the Panjshir Valley. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov was asked about this on Friday following the CIS Foreign Ministers Council meeting in Dushanbe where he reiterated Moscow’s stance that the only sustainable political solution is to form an ethno-regionally inclusive government. He also expressed optimism that “our allies in Tajikistan with serious influence in Afghanistan, primarily the country’s north, will also keep helping us achieve our common goals.”

That former Soviet Republic is a key stakeholder in Afghanistan since it exerts influence over its co-ethnics across the border and was previously suspected of supporting anti-Taliban forces there. President Putin also spoke to his Tajik counterpart Rahmon on Friday, during which time the two discussed Afghanistan and confirmed that they’ll “continue to cooperate to ensure security on the Tajikistan-Afghanistan border.” This is especially important following reports that ISIS-K terrorists from Afghanistan recently claimed credit for a cross-border attack that Tajik officials nonetheless denied.

On the topic of cross-border terrorism emanating from Afghanistan, neighboring Pakistan reportedly carried out several strikes there in the middle of last month against TPP terrorists who martyred several of their soldiers days prior. Islamabad also reportedly just handed over two top TPP commanders to the Afghan Taliban, who’ve been mediating peace talks between them. Amidst all of this, Pakistan remains mired in political uncertainty following its scandalous change of government in early April that former Prime Minister Khan claims was orchestrated by the US as punishment for his independent policies.

While its internal security situation is expected to remain stable considering the world-class professionalism of its military and intelligence services, speculation abounds about the trajectory of its foreign policy. Newly inaugurated Foreign Minister Bhutto’s upcoming trip to the US is inconveniently occurring at the exact moment that its political, economic, and international uncertainties are converging. The relevance of this to Afghanistan is the US’ recent reaffirmation that it retains the capabilities to strike terrorists in Afghanistan if it so chooses, perhaps with speculative Pakistani support.  

Former Prime Minister Khan claimed that the alleged US-orchestrated regime change plot against him first started when he publicly said that his country will “absolutely not” host any American bases in the wake of the US’ withdrawal from neighboring Afghanistan. Critics of the new authorities who replaced him suspect that they might be secretly negotiating some sort of military arrangement with the US to facilitate American anti-terrorist strikes there, which could possibly target ISIS-K but also the TTP that Washington also officially regards as terrorists just like Islamabad does.

While there’s nothing of tangible substance to base this speculation on, it’s still a matter of public record that the US said on multiple occasions that it’s actively seeking out regional bases to facilitate its so-called “over-the-horizon” strikes in Afghanistan. Russia was concerned that its American rival might poach one of the Central Asian Republics from its informal “sphere influence” into this scheme, though that hasn’t materialized, at least not yet. Even so, Moscow must be watching Washington’s reported $20 million unarmed Puma drone deal with Dushanbe with suspicion to see where it might lead.

On the topic of cross-border attacks, it also deserves mentioning that reports came in a few weeks back alleging that tensions were boiling along the Afghan-Iranian border. Tehran denied that any clashes took place but most observers still consider ties between it and the Taliban to be very complicated, to say the least. Taking stock of the overall situation, Afghanistan’s domestic stability has been rocked by ISIS-K suicide bombings and the latest reported “NRF” offensive while international tensions are dangerously growing between the Taliban and its Iranian, Pakistani, and Tajik neighbors.

Against the backdrop of the Taliban imposing its strict socio-religious standards onto the rest of the population in spite of the risk that this will only worsen resentment from some minorities against it, as well as the country’s humanitarian crisis being far from resolved even though it hasn’t yet exploded, it can be concluded that everything risks spiraling out of control if all these counterproductive trends aren’t soon reversed. Pakistan’s crossing of the Rubicon by kinetically defending its objective national security interests through reported anti-TTP strikes also adds an unpredictable dimension to this too.

The same can be said for the pivot towards the US that the new authorities’ critics suspect is unfolding and which might manifest itself through those two unofficially teaming up to occasionally fight terrorism in Afghanistan. The US is still actively searching for a regional base, which can only realistically be in Pakistan if it ever comes to pass since its new Tajik partner can’t legally host one without Russia’s approval due to its legal commitments through the CSTO mutual defense pact. Any enhanced Pakistani-American anti-terrorist and/or military cooperation could greatly reshape regional dynamics.

All the while, there’s also some positive news too even though it pales in comparison to the negative. Foreign Minister Lavrov spoke at the beginning of the month about the need for mutually beneficial economic engagement with Afghanistan, which he repeated on Friday after the CIS meeting that was hyperlinked to earlier in this analysis. New Taliban-appointed Afghan charge d’affairs to Russia Jamal Nasir Garwal, who also reportedly attended the Victory Day parade in Moscow, publicly reciprocated this interest by emphasizing how much his country needs Russian energy resources right now.

These signals prompted speculation that a Taliban delegation might soon travel to Moscow to discuss such deals, though Russian Special Presidential Envoy to Afghanistan Zamir Kabulov denied that anything of the sort was in the cards at this moment. Still, that would represent a positive development if it comes to pass and would complement the Taliban’s planned economic cooperation with China. The larger trend seems to be that while Afghanistan’s ties with Iran, Pakistan, and Tajikistan become more complicated, its ties with Russia and China are becoming more comprehensive.

To be absolutely clear, correlation doesn’t mean causation so nobody should think that regional stakeholders are dividing into pro- and anti-Taliban blocs, but it’s still an important trend to pay attention to since it suggests that Russia and China might soon be able to exert more influence over the Taliban than previously expected. In the event that Pakistan strikes some sort of anti-terrorist or military deal with the US as part of its speculative plans to repair ties with it through such arrangements that critics might describe as concessions, then those two might become more suspicious of its intentions.

After all, Pakistan has unofficially frozen talks with Russia over what former Prime Minister Khan insists were his previously active negotiations to purchase fuel from Moscow, including at a 30% discount, but which the new Energy Minister claimed had never happened. The latter said this in spite of there being documented evidence from credible sources confirming that his statement was factually incorrect, including Foreign Minister Lavrov revealing while in Islamabad on 7 April 2021 that there was “mutual interest” in this, “appropriate proposals have been put forward”, and Russia is “waiting for a response”.

The scandal over Russian-Pakistani energy talks concerns much more than just those two countries since all interested observers can now see that the new authorities are publicly distancing themselves from their predecessors’ negotiations with the Kremlin for whatever reason, even going as far as to share factually incorrect information with the public about this. The impression that they’re probably left with is that this might be done under American pressure, which in turn adds credence to former Prime Minister Khan’s narrative about the US being behind his ouster and now influencing his replacements.

This insight is pertinent for Afghanistan since it also adds credence to suspicions that Pakistan and the US might be secretly negotiating some anti-terrorist or military deals focused on that war-torn country, with Islamabad possibly even conceding on some issues that its prior government never would have in pursuit of clinching such an agreement in the hopes of repairing its troubled ties with Washington. The reintroduction of US forces to the region, even clandestine ones such as CIA drone teams, could be very destabilizing and thus contribute to even more uncertainty about Afghanistan’s overall situation.

The scenario of Pakistan’s new authorities, who rose to power through scandalous circumstances that the ousted premier attributed to a US-orchestrated conspiracy, facilitating the American military’s and/or intelligence’s return to the region would certainly be frowned upon by all regional stakeholders. No matter what’s said between their diplomats, it’s doubtful that they place much trust in that country’s new leadership after its Energy Minister passionately insisted that former Prime Minister Khan was lying about his energy negotiations with Russia in spite of the official facts contradicting him.

The uncertainty about Pakistan’s grand strategic trajectory after its recent change of government and the credible concerns that its new leadership is preparing to decisively pivot towards the US contribute to the larger uncertainty about everything associated with Afghanistan right now. The overall situation is negative and there’s too much “fog of (hybrid) war” to confidently predict where everything is headed. Afghanistan’s internal insecurity, border tensions, and the potentially Pakistani-backed US military factor are combining to create yet another storm in the New Cold War that threatens to destabilize the region.

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov: Leaders of Russia management competition, Moscow, March 19, 2022

March 22, 2022

Ed Note:  This is an important document and answers most of the confused questions that I see come up in the comments still.  A careful read and even study is recommended – Amarynth


Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s remarks and answers to questions during his meeting with finalists of the International Track as part of the Leaders of Russia management competition, Moscow, March 19, 2022

Dear friends,

I would like to greet you and express my gratitude for your continuing to invite me even though I chair the Supervisory Board. It is important for me to see you, listen to your questions and understand what worries you in this uneasy period.

This meeting takes place against the backdrop of events now occurring in Ukraine. Russian President Vladimir Putin has repeatedly spoken at length about the origins of this crisis. I would like to briefly reiterate: this is not about Ukraine. This is the end-result of a policy that the West has carried out since the early 1990s. It was clear back then that Russia was not going to be docile and that it was going to have a say in international matters. This is not because Russia wants to be a bully. Russia has its history, its tradition, its own understanding of the history of its peoples and a vision on how it can ensure its security and interests in this world.

This became clear in the late 1990s-early 2000s. The West has repeatedly attempted to stall the independent and autonomous development of Russia. This is rather unfortunate. From the start of President Vladimir Putin’s “rule” in the early 2000s, we were open to the idea of working with the West in various ways, even in a form similar to that of an alliance, as the President has said.  Sadly, we were unable to do this. We repeatedly suggested that we should conclude treaties and base our security on equal rights, rejecting the idea of strengthening one’s security at the expense of another.

Neither were we able to promote economic cooperation. The European Union, which back then showed some signs of independent decision-making, has now devolved toward being completely dependent on the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and the US. The story of Nord Stream 2 was the highlight of this change. Even Germany, which defended its interests in the project to the very end, was persuaded that the “project was not in its interests.” Germany and its people were told what their interests were by people on the other side of the Atlantic. Many other international areas were blocked despite our commitment to close cooperation on an equal basis.

The West did not want equal cooperation and, as we can now see, has kept true to the “will and testament” of Zbigniew Brzezinski who said that Ukraine should not be allowed to side with Russia. With Ukraine, Russia is a great power, while without Ukraine, it is a regional player. We understand that this is a mere exaggeration. But it fits nevertheless the philosophy and the mentality of western leaders. No effort was spared to turn Ukraine into an instrument to contain Russia. Into an “anti-Russia,” as President Putin said. This is neither a metaphor nor an exaggeration.

What has been happening all these years is the significant accumulation of physical, military, ideological, and philosophical threats to the security of the Russian Federation. The militarisation of Ukraine, which was injected with weapons (including assault weapons) worth many billions of dollars over these years, was accompanied by the Nazification of all spheres of society and the eradication of the Russian language. You know the laws that were passed there concerning education, the state language, and the indigenous peoples of Ukraine that made no mention of Russians. It was not only the language that was being edited out, but simply everything Russian. They banned the mass media, which broadcast from Russia and transmitted in Ukraine. Three Ukrainian television channels that were considered disloyal to the current government were shut down. Neo-Nazi battalions with insignia of Hitler’s SS divisions held marches; torchlight processions took place with a presidential regiment assigned as an official escort; fighters were trained in camps by instructor programmes from the US and other Western countries. All this was done with the connivance of civilised Europe and with the support of the Ukrainian government.

To my great regret and shame, President Zelensky has been asking how he could be a Nazi if he has Jewish roots. He said this on the exact day when Ukraine demonstratively withdrew from the Agreement on Perpetuating the Memory of the Courage and Heroism of the Peoples of the CIS Countries During the Great Patriotic War of 1941-1945. When he personally patronises the tendencies I have mentioned, it is difficult to take the policy of the Ukrainian leadership seriously. Just as in the early stages of his presidency, and even earlier, when he was a stage and soap opera star, he assured me in every possible way that it was unthinkable for him that the Russian language could be infringed upon. So here we are: life demonstrates what a person’s word is worth.

These accumulated tendencies took on a new form following the coup d’etat in February 2014. Despite the guarantees of the EU countries — France, Germany and Poland — that were part of the agreement between the opposition and the then-President of Ukraine, they tore up that agreement the morning after, disregarded the guarantees, humiliated the nations above, and the EU as a whole, before announcing their new regime. In our conversations with our western partners, including the Germans and the French, we have been asking them how they could allow this to happen.  We kept reiterating, you provided guarantees to this agreement. They say this happened because Yanukovich left Kiev. Yes he did, but he left for Kharkov to take part in his party’s congress. Yes, he faced a number of issues and did not enjoy broad support, but he never fled. Still, this is not about Yanukovich.

The first point of the Agreement read that the Government of National Accord was to be established as an interim stage for early presidential elections. Most likely, the then president would not have won, and everyone knew this. All the opposition had to do was to wait and fulfil what it agreed to.  Instead, they immediately ran back to “Maidan.” They seized the government building and said, “congratulate us, we have created a government of winners.” And this is how their instincts were immediately manifested. Winners. First of all, they demanded that the Verkhovna Rada abolish any privileges granted to the Russian language. This, despite the fact that the Russian language was and is still enshrined in the Constitution of Ukraine, which declares that the state must guarantee the rights of Russians and other ethnic minorities. They demanded that Russians get out of Crimea because they would never think like Ukrainians, speak Ukrainian or honour Ukraine’s heroes Bandera and Shukhevich. They sent combat battalions and “friendship trains” to that peninsula to storm the Supreme Council building. At this point, Crimea rebelled, and Donbass refused to accept the coup d’état and instead asked to be left alone. But they were not left alone. Donbass didn’t attack anyone. But they were declared terrorists and an anti-terrorist operation was launched, with troops being sent in, with nearly all of the West applauding the move. That’s when it became evident exactly what plans were in store for the future role of Ukraine.

The massacre was stopped with enormous effort and through Russia’s active participation. The Minsk agreements were signed. You know what happened to them next. For seven long years, we tried to appeal to the conscience of those who signed the agreements, above all, to France and Germany. The end was tragic.

We held several summits and meetings at other levels, and Ukraine, either under Poroshenko or under Zelensky, just did not want to comply with the agreements. First of all, they refused to open a direct dialogue with Donetsk and Lugansk. We asked the Germans and the French why they would not make their proteges at least sit down at the negotiation table. The answer was that they did not think that the republics were independent, and that it was all Russia’s fault. End of conversation. Contrary to its commitments under the Minsk agreements, late last year and early this year, Kiev began to build up its forces along the line of contact up to 120,000 troops. Contrary to the ceasefire agreements that had been signed and violated many times prior, they dramatically increased their heavy shelling, always targeting residential areas. The same has been happening for all these eight years, with varying degrees of intensity, amid complete silence from all the international “human rights” organisatons and Western “civilised democracies.”

Shelling intensified at the start of this year. We received information that Ukraine wanted to implement their Plan B, which they had long threatened, to take the regions by force. This was made worse by the West’s stonewalling of Russia’s initiative to reach an agreement on an equal and indivisible security architecture in Europe. President Vladimir Putin put forward this initiative in November 2021, we drafted the necessary documents and relayed them to the US and NATO in December 2021. They responded that they were willing to negotiate certain issues, including where missiles could not be deployed, but that Ukraine and NATO was none of our business. Ukraine was said to have reserved its right to appeal to join NATO, which would then deliberate whether to admit it, and all this without asking anyone else (likely ending up granting Ukraine’s membership). This was the essence of what they told us.

This is why when Ukraine commenced its shelling, signifying a clear sign of preparations to launch a military offensive in Donbass, we had no other choice but to protect Russian people in Ukraine. We recognised the Donetsk and Lugansk people’s republics. President Vladimir Putin responded to their request by ordering the launch of a special military operation. I am certain that you are following the events and know that the operation has brought to light our worst fears about Ukraine’s military plans and has helped us derail them.

You know that facts have been uncovered of a dangerous bioweapons programme that the Pentagon has been carrying out in many cities of Ukraine. Now that Russia’s armed forces have acquired access to these documents, the US has been trying to cover its tracks. We will be fighting for the truth to come out. This bioweapons research is not limited to Ukraine and is being conducted in over 300 laboratories in various countries, most of them located in former Soviet Union nations along the borders of Russia and the People’s Republic of China.

This was not our choice. We saw how the West’s attitude was communicating one simple truth – if you were a Russophobe; if you were set on eradicating Katsaps and Moskals (a quote from statements made by Ukrainian politicians); if you were to say that anyone who considers themselves Russian and is a citizen of Ukraine should get out for the sake of their future and their children, (as President Vladimir Zelensky said in September 2021); if you obediently fulfill Western bidding so as to constantly irritate, unnerve and unbalance Russia, then you have the universal green light to do anything.

The unprecedentedly hysterical reaction in the West to our military operation, the way they are encouraging and indulging everything anti-Russia and anti-Russian is sad news indeed. I regularly read about the ill treatment that Russian people face in other countries, including citizens of those countries who are of Russian origin. It appears anyone can demand that these people be persecuted in the West now, even on social media. I cannot wrap my mind around this.

But this all proves one thing: the anti-Russia project has failed. President Vladimir Putin has listed the goals of the operation, and the first on the list is to ensure the safety of people in Donbass, and the second one, to eliminate the growing threats to the Russian Federation from the militarisation and Nazification of Ukraine. When they realised that our policy line had helped to thwart their plans, they literally went ballistic.

And yet, we have always supported diplomatic solutions to any problems. Over the course of hostilities, President Vladimir Zelensky proposed negotiations. President Vladimir Putin agreed. The talks are underway, although the Ukrainian delegation did start by, as we say, simply going through the motions. Then dialogue actually began. Even so, there is always the feeling that the Ukrainian delegation is manipulated by the West (most likely, the Americans), and is not allowed to agree to our demands, which are bare minimum, in my opinion. The process is underway.

We continue to be open to cooperation with any countries, including Western ones. However, given how the West has behaved, we are not going to propose any initiatives. Let’s see how they will get themselves out of this self-imposed impasse. They have got themselves into this impasse along with their “values,” “free market principles,” rights to private property and the presumption of innocence. They have trampled on all of this.

Many countries are already beginning to rack their brains in search of ways to slowly “creep away” from the dollar in international settlements. Look what has happened. What if they do not like something else tomorrow? The United States is sending its diplomats around the world, its ambassadors in every country have orders to demand that these countries end cooperation with Russia under the threat of sanctions. We would understand if they did this with small countries. But when such ultimatums and demands are given to China, India, Egypt, or Turkey, it looks like our American colleagues have totally lost touch with reality, or their superhuman complex has overwhelmed their sense of normalcy. We have seen such complexes in human history, and we do know about this.

I do not want to be the only speaker, though. I would like to hear from you. What questions do you have, what are you interested in?

Question: For those who do not know, Riga was part of the Russian Empire longer than Sevastopol was. How long will Russian people need a visa to travel to Russia? Is it possible to issue maybe a card or something for compatriots from the Baltics and European countries, so that they could travel or work in Russia? There is a residence permit, but if you leave for more than six months you lose your residency. In the current situation, when Russophobia is on the rise, this would be especially relevant.

The mistakes made by the public, the “soft power,” then have to be corrected by the army (as we see in Ukraine). Perhaps in countries where Russia faces direct opposition it would make sense to work not through Russian Community Councils (which quickly find themselves under the control of local authorities), but rather to decentralise work. For example, Americans have 20 different funds. You can be anything – green, blue, light blue, whatever, but if you are anti-Russia, this opens all the necessary doors.

Sergey Lavrov: I agree with you about visas. This is an old problem. We have a complicated bureaucracy. This discussion between liberals and conservatives has been going on since the late 1990s and early 2000s. The liberals believed we needed to remove as many barriers as possible so that people with Russian roots, who speak Russian and are involved in cultural and humanitarian events, enjoyed a preferential entry regime. The debate was quite lively when the law on compatriots was adopted, and they discussed the “compatriot card” option. This was one of the most important matters discussed. However, no agreement was reached, including for legal reasons – because it is not a passport or a half-passport. For example, Poland issues Pole’s Cards. These can essentially be used as passports. There are other instruments to liaise with their diasporas in Western countries (with ethnic Hungarians, Romanians, Bulgarians), and in the Middle East, too. Even in Syria, there is an entire ministry (the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates). We are currently working on additional steps that we can take in this direction.

President of Russia Vladimir Putin has appointed me to head the Commission for International Cooperation and Support for Compatriots Abroad. The commission will meet at the end of March. This question will be one of the main ones on the agenda. We will discuss it in the context of a broader approach called repatriation. I believe that repatriation must be legally formalised with all the necessary formalities and the with all legal norms observed. This must be done in order to dramatically facilitate the procedure for those who identify as Russians to relocate or come to stay in Russia. We will try to consider your question as well as part of this approach.

As for the soft power, the Russian Community Councils and the American method – there must be some school of thought that prompts such action. As we promoted the movement of compatriots, we sought to make their actions transparent, so that they did not arouse any suspicion of being involved in underground activities. Unfortunately, that was all in vain. All this transparency backfired. What they are doing with the management of the Russian Community Council in the United States is pure McCarthyism. Its leaders had to return to Russia, otherwise the FBI threatened to imprison them for a long time because they promoted projects between compatriots who maintained cultural and humanitarian ties with Russia. Recall how the Americans treated Maria Butina. She worked openly and completely freely in the United States, promoting joint projects. In the US, all NGOs for the most part explicitly declare they are supported and funded by the Agency for International Development. Other Western countries have many projects that prefer to keep this information to themselves. I wouldn’t want us to act like this. First, it would be dangerous for the people concerned. Secondly, these are the methods of the intelligence services, not soft power methods. On the other hand, American soft power relies heavily on the CIA and other special services.

We will think of ways to support our compatriots in situations where a true witch hunt has been unleashed against them. I think more flexible forms of support could be implemented, including the Foundation for Supporting and Protecting the Rights of Compatriots Living Abroad. The essence of this is the provision of legal assistance to those who find themselves in a difficult situation. There is also the Alexander Gorchakov Public Diplomacy Fund. We will think about some additional formats, naturally, fully legitimate ones.

Russia needs to toughen its policy with regard to shadow agencies engaged in things that do not coincide with their charter and other documents. Thank you for showing such an interest. We will certainly try to take this into account.

Question: What contribution do you think representatives of other states can make to the development of international relations with the Russian Federation?

Sergey Lavrov: We will support any public initiatives aimed at developing cooperation in the post-Soviet space. There are many forms for interaction in the CIS, in the CSTO, and in the EAEU, which are of interest to public movements and organisations and that can be used to organise events.

I sincerely would not want to give you any specific ideas here. You know better. You have a feel for what life is like in your country, and how it is affected by relations with Russia on the official, investment, and trade tracks.

As for the Russian Community Councils, in some countries our compatriots are beginning to create alternative councils. It is possible that people are just being competitive, which is only natural, but if you have an interest in doing something on the ground, we will only welcome this. If you need some advice, I am available to listen to your ideas and see how we can support them together with our Kazakhstani colleagues.

Question: I have a proposal, not a question. We have set up a pressure group on this track, and we have already drafted our own proposals. We are ready to help promote Russian culture and the Russian language in Germany, the Baltics and other countries. We would like to become independent analysts and experts and to develop culture, the Russian language and to support compatriots and foreigners who love the Russian language, and who aspire to culture. We would be happy to take part in this process.

Sergey Lavrov: That’s wonderful. Could you please leave your proposals and contacts with the organisers? The Foreign Ministry exercises various functions within the framework of the Government Commission for Compatriots Abroad, and I head this Commission. Our Ministry is also the main body responsible for the implementation of a new federal targeted programme to promote international cooperation. This is what soft power is all about. We also have a programme for supporting the Russian language abroad. In effect, opportunities still exist for the kind of projects you mentioned. I look forward to reading your letter.

Question: As of late, many Western activists, including Arnold Schwarzenegger, have addressed the people of Russia. If you were able to address all the peoples of the world in the West, the East and in Latin America, what would you tell them to make sure they hear you?

Sergey Lavrov: I would tell them that all peoples should be true to themselves, and that they should not abandon their traditions, history, aspirations and world outlook.

Getting back to Ukraine, the Americans are gloating over this situation and rubbing their hands with glee. In all, 140 countries voted against Russia at the UN General Assembly. We know how these countries reached this decision: US ambassadors have been shuttling from capital to capital and demanding that even the great powers comply with their demands, and they don’t shy away from speaking about it in public. They either want to offend others, or they have completely lost all sense of proportion, while comprehending their own superiority. However, out these 140 countries voting on US orders, not one imposed any sanctions except the West. An overwhelming majority of countries did not impose any sanctions on Russia. It appears that, by voting, some of them wanted to minimise damage, but they don’t want to shoot themselves in the foot, and they will continue to develop their economy. Many independent leaders are saying openly that they don’t want to fulfil US instructions to their own detriment.

So, people of the world, be true to yourselves.

Question: What should the West do now that events have dramatically escalated to move things back towards a realm of peace, tranquility, kindness and cooperation?

Sergey Lavrov: The West should start minding its own business and stop lecturing others. Because right now, all we hear is “Russia must..” Why must we do anything, and how have we so upset the West? I really do not understand. They’ve dragged out our security guarantees initiatives. They told us not to worry about NATO expansion because it does not threaten our security. Why do they get to decide what we need for our security? This is our business. They do not allow us anywhere near discussions of their own security. We are constantly reminded that NATO is a defensive organisation. First, this defensive alliance bombed Yugoslavia. We only recently recalled how in 1998 Joe Biden was so proud that he personally contributed to the decision to bomb Belgrade, and bridges over the Drina River. It was fascinating to hear this from someone who claims Russia is led by war criminals.

NATO also acted in Iraq without a UN Security Council resolution. In Libya, it did have a resolution, but it only covered establishing a no-fly zone, so that Muammar Gadaffi’s aircraft could not take off from their airfields. They didn’t. On the other hand, NATO bombed all the army positions from the air, which the UN Security Council did not warrant, and brutally killed Muammar Gadaffi without trial or investigation. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton went live on air to celebrate the event.

Strategically speaking, there was indeed a collective defence alliance when the Berlin Wall and the Warsaw Pact existed.  It was clear where the line of defence was then. When the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact ceased to exist, NATO foreswore not to expand to the East, but began to do just that. We have seen five waves of expansion by now, contrary to its assurances. And each time, the imaginary Berlin Wall was moved further east. The alliance assumed the right to determine the boundary of its line of defence. Now Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has declared that NATO must bear global responsibility and is obliged to ensure security in the Indo-Pacific region. It is their name for the Asia-Pacific region. So, NATO is ready to “defend itself” in the South China Sea now. They are building defence lines against China now, so China, too, needs to be on the alert for that. A really unusual type of defence.

As for the Indo-Pacific region, which we have always called the Asia-Pacific region, there is the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) there, as well as mechanisms created around the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). ASEAN has a dozen partners. We participate in holding the East Asia Summit, the ASEAN Security Forum, and the ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting Plus, a platform for ASEAN and its twelve partners which include China, Russia, the West (including Australia) and India – all the key players. Those formats work on the basis of consensus. This does not suit the Americans though, because to pursue their policy to contain China, they need an anti-China mechanism. But no platform where China is a member can produce such a result. They proclaimed the Indo-Pacific strategies and created Quad – a group of four nations including the United States, Australia, Japan, and they also lured India into this group. Our Indian friends are well aware of what we are talking about. They said they would participate in this only in the context of economic and infrastructure projects, but not military ones. So, because they needed to build up the military component, they created a parallel format, AUKUS, which included Australia, the UK and the United States. Now they want to expand it by adding Japan and South Korea, and even some ASEAN countries. This will lead to the collapse of the ASEAN ten.

When the Indo-Pacific concept was announced, we asked what was wrong with the Asia-Pacific label. We were told it mixed two different things because Asia did not refer to an ocean, but the Pacific did. Hence the Indian Ocean and Asia. We asked, if this includes the Indian Ocean, does this mean the whole of East Africa will be involved in this cooperation? They said no. That region had too many problems they did not want to deal with as they had enough on their plate. Is the Persian Gulf also part of the Indian Ocean? They said no to that too, disowning it. This makes it clear that the Indo part has been included with the sole purpose of cozying up to India and trying even harder to turn it into an anti-China player.

Russian President Vladimir Putin visited India in early February 2022. I spoke frankly with them. Our Indian friends understand everything perfectly and will never be open to such “cooperation” or play someone else’s games. India is a great country. Making such provocations against great powers is simply disrespectful.

Back to our discussion – we tried to negotiate with the West up to the last minute. But relations with the EU were destroyed back in 2014. All mechanisms, and there were plenty of them: biannual summits, annual meetings of the Russian Government and the European Commission, four common spaces being developed under four roadmaps, 20 industry-based dialogues – all that was derailed simply because the people in Crimea, faced with a radical neo-Nazi threat, voted for reunification with Russia.

Our Western colleagues do have this curious approach towards politics – when considering any problem in international politics, they cut off periods of time that are not favourable to them. When we discussed Ukraine with them, they said that we “annexed” Crimea. Wait, but what happened before that? They failed to make the opposition do what they themselves had signed on to. The opposition violated all guarantees and, contrary to the agreements, carried out a coup d’état and proclaimed an openly anti-Russia policy line. They began trying to suppress everything Russian. But Westerners called it “the price one has to pay for democratic processes.” They could not even say the word coup.

Last autumn, I asked the Germans and the French, how is this so? It is the Minsk Agreements we are talking about. Why are you so stubborn about this annexation part? It all started then. “This is the price one has to pay for democratic processes.” You see, this is their approach – they ignore what is unfavourable to them. They just single out one of the symptoms and begin to build their entire policy on it.

Question: Politics is about forestalling. I would like to take a look into the future. How do you, as an absolute professional in this area, see the future of the Slavic peoples’ coexistence in this space? I am sure that everything will be well. However, the forms of such coexistence may differ. What is your opinion of its stability and preferred forms?

Sergey Lavrov: We should follow the lines dictated by life itself. We have reached an extremely important milestone. I am referring to the 28 union programmes. They are described as roadmaps. These programmes are being actively and efficiently transformed into normative acts. We need to have many of them. The majority have already been drafted, and the rest are at the advanced stage of preparation. They will ensure not just our rapprochement but the creation of a common economic foundation, which is necessary to level out rights in absolutely all spheres, including trade, investment, the implementation of economic projects, access to state orders and more.

As for the political superstructure, we have the union parliament, the union cabinet of ministers, and the Supreme State Council chaired by our presidents. These bodies will deal with economic business development to see if our political bodies should be additionally adjusted to our superstructure. I am sure that we will rely on the opinion of our peoples, who regard each other as fraternal and truly close peoples.

Question: I have a question about soft power. School education concerns not only the external but also the internal contours. For the past seven years, I have been closely monitoring developments in children’s culture, which can be described as extremely pro-liberal. Today we need to overhaul the cultural space here and to quickly launch the introduction of our cultural codes abroad. Here is a simple example: the animated television series Masha and the Bear has done more in the external contour to improve Russia’s image abroad than many official programmes. Are there any programmes, or plans to launch programmes to change the cultural code both in the internal and the external contours? I have a proposal, which I would like to formulate and to submit through this event’s organisers tomorrow, if I may.

Sergey Lavrov: Yes, of course. I would like to urge everyone, including those who don’t have formulated proposals, to share their ideas with us. We will discuss all of them.

You have touched upon a very important issue. I am not directly involved in these efforts, but we have always been speaking about the need to start promoting our culture from the cradle, primarily in Russia. There is too much external influence now, and internal influence is not always effective in shaping the right worldview in our children. I am not talking about brainwashing people. But we need to prevent the brainwashing of our children by other forces. This is the issue. Children’s access to information must not be limited to one source. Do please submit your ideas. We will look at them together with the Culture Ministry.

Question: A colleague has mentioned the issue of visas. The lady from Kazakhstan has said what we should do abroad and how we should do it. Can you say what Russia’s priority is: to collect as many compatriots as possible in Russia, or to form a cordon or a barrier of compatriots outside the country?

Sergey Lavrov: I know that some political analysts are pondering this idea. I believe that people have a free choice. We must create the right conditions for those who want to return. I have already mentioned repatriation today. We will certainly deal with this matter at the United Russia’s Commission [on International Cooperation and Support for Compatriots Living Abroad]. I will do my best to help draft a law on this matter.

As for the interests of those who want to live where they are living, we must work with the authorities of their countries of residence to prevent discrimination against Russians, Russian education, [Russian] media outlets, etc. It will be more difficult to do this now, because our Western colleagues are encouraging Russophobia in all areas. Regrettably, they are trying to set the Georgian people on this track. When they recklessly adopted these horrible, inhuman sanctions, leaving 200,000 people outside the national territory, preventing them from using national airlinesand prohibiting Western air carriers from bringing these people home, the Prime Minister of Georgia announced that they were ready, in view of that humanitarian situation, to allow Georgian airlines to bring Russians from Europe and the EU closer to their home country. You remember how fiercely he was attacked for this. It was an elementary human desire to help people in difficult circumstances. If you have any complaints about your authorities, please write to us.

Question: There are no complaints. We will submit the proposals regarding possible support for our compatriots in foreign countries.

Sergey Lavrov: We have a channel for communication. We are interested in normal relations with our Georgian colleagues.

Question: All states are playing the same game: the author has trump cards and a support team in case there are dissenters. I am referring to the UK and the United States. This will go on until one of the parties ceases to exist. Is it not high time Russia started its own game within the framework of the Eurasian continent and friendly countries to promote peace, justice and security? Given its nuclear arsenal, Russia could guarantee the security of states (where it has been confirmed – Syria, Ukraine) for countries that currently depend to some or other extent on big, major players so that they can feel they are also involved.

Sergey Lavrov: I wouldn’t call it a game in the sense implied by Zbigniew Brzezinski’s terms “great Game” and “grand chessboard”. We proceed from the premise that our friends are people, states, and political parties which are our equals. Unlike the Western organisations, where there is little democracy. They invented consensus, but in NATO and the EU this consensus is a sham.

They adopted sanctions in instalments even before the current stage in the development of our geopolitical space (there has been a series of sanctions for no reason at all since 2014).   Everything seems to have happened – Crimea, Donbass, the Minsk agreements… But every six months, they imposed new sanctions. Many of my European counterparts tell me confidentially: we understand that this is stupidity and a dead end, but we have consensus. I told one of them: a consensus means that a decision is not taken if there is even one “nay” vote.     If you object, say so! This is a case of collective responsibility. Everyone says: I am against it, but all of them want a consensus.  This consensus is shaped by an aggressive, Russophobic minority, primarily by the Baltic states (to my great regret), Poland, and recently Denmark.

Today, it is a sign of good manners for them to demonstrate that you are more of a Russophobe than your neighbours. In NATO, it is the United States that rules the roost. The EU is being dominated by the alliance. The neutral countries, which are not NATO members – Sweden, Finland, and Austria – are being drawn into cooperation under the cloak of “collective mobility.” This means that the neutral countries will allow NATO to use their roads and territories when it needs to move its military infrastructure east. This is being palmed off as NATO-EU partnership. I have mentioned Nord Stream 2 as an example. There is no longer any independence in Europe. They were just told: Stop taking care of your energy security on the terms that are beneficial to you; we will guarantee your security at a much higher price, but we will be in chips. President of France Emmanuel Macron is the only politician who continues to focus on strategic autonomy. Germany has resigned itself to the fact that they will have no such autonomy. There is no diktat of this sort in our country.

The difficulties arising in the work of the Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO), the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU), and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) are contingent on and explained by the democratic nature of these organisations rather than their weakness. They decide all matters by consensus and nothing can be imposed on them from outside. We have allied relations with Syria and good relations with Iran. I don’t think it will be a good idea to “knock together” a bloc. This will tie everyone’s hands, if we look at the situation pragmatically. It is better to have allied relations or an unprecedentedly close relationship of the kind we have with China. Our leaders said in one of the [bilateral] documents: relations have reached an unprecedentedly high level that in some respects even exceeds the traditional allied relations. That is absolutely true and hence we have multivariance.

The Russian Empire was created as follows. There was no melting-pot like in the United States. They have melted everyone into Americans. Generally, all Americans favour human rights. Practically all the states have an equal balance of rights. In the Russian Empire, as ethnic groups joined, Moscow and St Petersburg always sought to have regard for their unique identities and made efforts to preserve their cultures and religions. Multivariance in relations with foreign partners seems more effective and enables greater freedom of action in cases where such actions will be necessary.

Question: I am a citizen of the People’s Republic of China. I was born and grew up there. For many years, I have been involved in humanitarian cooperation (education) between China and Russia. I believe that Russia and China are two great powers that enjoy historical and cultural affinity. What areas of cooperation between China and Russia have best prospects?

Sergey Lavrov: It would be impossible to list the promising areas of cooperation between Russia and China. It would need an entire session of its own. Through Moscow and Beijing, we disseminate detailed information on what our two countries are working on together. Currently, this cooperation will be growing stronger. At a time when the West is most flagrantly eroding the entire bedrock that the international system stands on, we as two great powers have to think about our future in this world.

For the first time in many years, China has been declared the main target, previously it was Russia. Now we are targets on rotation. At this stage, their proclaimed goal is to deal with Russia and then go after China. When we communicated with the Western countries during less turbulent times, we asked them why they were allowing the American course against China to be built up and why was everyone being dragged into it? What did China do? “China is a threat.” What makes China a threat? “They are starting to defeat everybody economically.”

If you look at the beginning of China’s economic elevation, China started by simply accepting the rules of the game, which had been essentially created by the West, led by Americans. These rules included the international monetary system, the international trade system, the Bretton Woods System and the World Trade Organisation (WTO). China started playing by their rules and is now outplaying them on their home field by their rules. Is it a reason for changing the rules? It appears so. Who is proposing to reform the WTO? The West. Because the World Trade Organisation in its current form is providing rules that are fair. Therefore, if we just forget about the situation in Ukraine and the sanctions for a minute, the actions of the West confirm it is not reliable, either as a part of the world that generated the major reserve currencies, or as economic partners or as countries to store gold and currency reserves. We have things to work on. Our leaders and other members of the Government, foreign affairs agencies are working on this extensively as part of our traditionally regular dialogue.

Question: Russia is conducting an operation in Ukraine. It is not a secret that Russia is building a Greater Eurasia. Can you clue us in a little: is Sergey Shoigu going to stop at the border with Poland? Or are we going into Transnistria and Moldova? What is the plan? Are we going to unite further?

Sergey Lavrov: We declared our goals. They are fully legitimate and clear: to protect the people of Donbass (with which we are now allies) that are subject to blatant aggression. For these purposes and based on our treaties, we applied Article 51 of the UN Charter on collective self-defence. Another goal is to eliminate any threats to Russian security posed by the militarisation of Ukraine that is carried out by the West. There must be no strike weapons in the country or threats in the form of Ukraine’s nazification, for obvious reasons. The aggressive spirit of the Ukrainian elite has been consciously created to be like this by Western instructors throughout these decades. They trained neo-Nazi battalions, showing them how to conduct aggressive combat operations, etc. We have no other goals beyond these.

Alternatively, the other side may come up with some curious goals. For example, Prime Minister of Poland Mateusz Morawiecki has proposed an idea that will be discussed soon, which is to send NATO peacekeeping forces to Ukraine. It is possible that, should this decision be made all of a sudden, it will entail that Polish personnel will make up the core of these peacekeeping forces and they will take control over Western Ukraine, including the major city of Lvov, to remain there for a prolonged period of time. It appears to me that this is the plan.

I believe this initiative is doublespeak. NATO will realise they should be reasonable and realistic.

Question: It is now clear to everyone that the world will never be the same again. There is much talk these days about the new global architecture and the fact that its foundations are now being laid. I do agree with the notion that we have no need of a world without Russia. But what kind of a world do we want to build? What place will Russia and the Union State have in the new international order?

Sergey Lavrov: What we want is an equitable world, free from war, aggressive projects or attempts to pitch one country against another. Equitable is also the way we see Russia’s place in the world. Similarly, the Union State must enjoy all the benefits of this ideal world as you have described it.

What we want is to discuss how to live on this planet in the future. Too many problems have been piling up, and the existing institutions have been unable to resolve them. This is the gist of the initiative President of Russia Vladimir Putin put forward two years ago to convene a summit of UN Security Council permanent members. Almost everyone supported it but the West will now drag its feet. There is a preliminary agenda. We have coordinated it with our Chinese friends, while the others are reviewing it. But now everything will be put on hold. This is not about the P5 reimagining a “new Yalta,” as some claim. Under the UN Charter, the five permanent members of the UN Security Council have primary responsibility for maintaining international peace.

When we express the need for more democracy in international relations, this does not mean cancelling the UN Charter. It means stopping violations of the UN Charter. The sovereign equality of states and the requirement to respect territorial integrity and the right of nations to self-determination – it is all in the Charter. Had all its provisions been respected, this would have ensured peace and cooperation in good faith among all countries. However, the West manipulates them for its own benefit.

For example, we stand accused of violating Ukraine’s territorial integrity, starting with Crimea and Donbass. Crimea held a referendum. Everyone knew that this was an open, honest process when people expressed their will. The Americans know this too. Let me share a secret with you (I hope that no one will get cross at me). In April 2014, after the Crimea referendum then US Secretary of State John Kerry told me that they understood that this was an honest vote. However, he noted that we fast-tracked it by announcing the referendum and holding the vote in a matter of just one week. I explained to him that the Ukrainian radicals posed a direct threat at the time. All the formalities had to be completed in order to protect this territory. He suggested that we hold another referendum in the summer or autumn, announce it about two months in advance and invite foreign observers. The result would be all the same but they would be there to “bless” and verify it. This was not a matter of substance, since everyone understood where it was all heading, but about creating a favourable image for the outside world in order to be able to report that the people of Crimea cast their ballots in a referendum, while the Western “comrades” verified the results.

As for sovereignty and territorial integrity, ever since the founding of the UN in 1945, it has been debating whether sovereignty takes priority over the right to self-determination or vice-versa. A negotiating process was put into motion, paving the way for the adoption by consensus in 1970 of a Declaration on Principles of International Law Concerning Friendly Relations and Cooperation among States under the UN Charter. This is a lengthy document with an entire section on the relationship between sovereignty, territorial integrity and the right to self-determination. It says that everyone must respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of states whose governments ensure the right to self-determination and represent the people living in their territory. Has the Ukrainian leadership ensured Crimea’s right to self-determination? All they did was curtail Crimea’s rights within Ukraine. Did the Petr Poroshenko regime or the current leadership represent all the people of Ukraine, including Crimea, as they pretend? No. They did not represent Donbass either. They have been ignoring all these principles.

According to the principle of indivisible security, everyone is free to choose alliances but no one can reinforce their security at the expense of others. They say that only alliances matter and nothing else. However, when it suits their interests, the principle of self-determination comes to the fore, relegating Yugoslavia’s territorial integrity into the background, as happened with Kosovo. Its self-determination took place without a referendum. They engineered the creation of a parliamentary structure of sorts, and it voted on the matter. Serbia took the case to the International Court, which issued a curious ruling, saying that consent from the central government was not required for a declaration of independence. President of Russia Vladimir Putin has quoted this landmark ruling by the International Court on multiple occasions.

Question: The West is planning to replace Russian oil and gas in the coming years. What is Russia’s interest in participating in the Iran-US nuclear deal? Iran will have an opportunity to increase oil production and replace the Russian market in Europe. How ready are our Venezuelan partners for a deal with the Americans to replace Russian oil?

Sergey Lavrov: We never betray our friends in politics. Venezuela is our friend. Iran is a close state. Unlike the Americans, we do not act only out of selfish interests. If they need to “teach the Russians a lesson,” then it’s okay to agree with the regime in Caracas (as they called it). The United States would rather restore the programme with Iran, just to punish Russia. This reflects problems not so much with international institutions as with “liberal democracy.” As it turns out, it is not “liberal” at all, and it is not “democracy” at all.

When the leading country of the world (which the United States is) solves the problem of global, planetary importance, primarily on the basis of its own domestic interests, which are determined by two-year electoral cycles, then the biggest problems are sacrificed to these electoral cycles. What we can see now in US actions is a desire to prove that a Democratic president and administration are doing well and feel strong enough ahead of the November congressional elections. China does not understand this. What is two years? Nothing. Although the Chinese say that “a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step,” they see the horizon of that great journey. Here, in addition to the US desire to command everything, there are no more horizons. They will act the way they need to today.

It has been noted that the Americans are running around with the issue of oil and gas, turning to Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Qatar. All these countries, like Venezuela and Iran, have made it clear that when they consider new entrants to the oil market, they are committed to the OPEC+ format, where quotas for each participant are discussed and agreed upon by consensus. So far, I see no reason to believe that this mechanism will be broken in any way. No one is interested in that.

Question: What formats do you see for post-crisis settlement and intra-Ukrainian dialogue? What role might the DPR and LPR play? Ukraine’s governance and education system are permeated with Ukrainian nationalism. Several generations have grown up with this discourse. War criminals will be held accountable under criminal law. What about cultural aspects?

Sergey Lavrov: We have announced the goals we are working to achieve. As for the intra-Ukrainian dialogue, this will be up to the Ukrainians after the special operation ends – I hope, with the signing of comprehensive documents on security issues, Ukraine’s neutral status with guarantees of its security.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, commenting on our initiatives on the non-expansion of NATO, said: we understand that every country needs security guarantees. We are ready to negotiate and work them out for ourselves, for Ukrainians and Europeans outside the framework of NATO expansion. Therefore, a neutral status, security guarantees and bringing the legal framework to a civilised level with regard to the Russian language, education, the media, and laws that encourage the country’s nazification, as well as the adoption of a law prohibiting this. Most European countries have such laws, including Germany.

As for the DPR and LPR’s involvement in the all-Ukrainian dialogue, it should be a sovereign decision of the people’s republics.

Question: Why was the military operation launched now and not eight years ago? At that time, a pro-Russian “anti-Maidan” movement emerged in Odessa and Kharkov, which installed the Russian flag on top of the Kharkov regional administration without firing a shot. The city supported Russia. Now these people are hiding from shelling.

Sergey Lavrov: A lot of factors influence developments at each specific historical moment. Back then, it was a shock, primarily because the West turned out to be an absolutely unreliable guarantor of the things that we supported. US President Barack Obama, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and the French leaders called Russian President Vladimir Putin and asked him not to interfere with the agreement between Viktor Yanukovych and the opposition. Vladimir Putin said that if the incumbent president was signing something, it was his right, and he had the authority to negotiate with the opposition. But the West dumped us and immediately began to support the new government because they announced an anti-Russian policy line.

People got burned alive in the House of Trade Unions in Odessa; combat aircraft fired at the centre of Lugansk. You must remember the Novorossiya movement better than anyone else. We also had a public movement for support.

We certainly relied too much on what remained of our Western colleagues’ conscience. France initiated the Normandy format; we were asked not to state categorically that we refused to recognise Petr Poroshenko’s election at the end of May 2014. The West assured us they would do everything to normalise the situation, so that Russians could live normally.

We must have trusted them because of some naivety and kindness of heart, which is something Russians are known for.

I have no doubt that lessons will be learned.

The birth of the baby twins: Russia’s strategic swing drives NATOstan nuts

WEDNESDAY, FEB 23, 2022

Authored by Pepe Escobar via The Saker blog,

History will register that the birth of the baby twins – Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics – only a few hours before 2/22/22, was simultaneous to the birth of the real, 21st century multipolar world.

As my columns have stressed for a few years now, Vladimir Putin has been carefully nurturing his inner Sun Tzu. And now it’s all in the open: “Let your plans be dark and impenetrable as night, and when you move, fall like a thunderbolt.”

The thunderbolt was months in the process of being meticulously polished. To paraphrase Lenin, who “created Ukraine” (copyright Putin), we did live many decades in only these past few days. It all started with the detailed demands of security guarantees sent to the Americans, which Moscow knew would be rejected. Then there was the Russia-China joint statement at the start of the Winter Olympics – which codifies not only the strategic partnership but also the key tenets of the multipolar world.

The culmination was a stunning, nearly one hour-long address to the nation by Putin shortly after the Russian Security Council live session deliberating on the request for independence by the DPR and the LPR (here is a condensed version.)

A few hours later, at an emergency UN Security Council meeting, Russian Permanent Representative Vasily Nebenzya precisely outlined why the recognition of the baby twins does not bury the Minsk agreements.

The baby twins actually declared their independence in May 2014. In 2015 they signed the Minsk agreements as one of the interested parties. Theoretically they could even be back within Ukraine if Kiev would ever decide to respect the agreements, which will never happen because the US has vetoed it since 2015. Moreover, the people of Donbass do not want to be subjected to a regime harboring neo-Nazis.

As Nebenzya outlined, “I would like to remind you that at the time of the conclusion of the Minsk agreements, the LPR and DPR had already declared independence. The fact that Russia today recognized it does not change the composition of the parties to the Minsk agreements, since Russia is not one (…) Another thing is that the Minsk agreements have long been openly sabotaged by Ukraine under the auspices of our Western colleagues. Now we see that many colleagues want to sign that the Minsk agreements are dead. But this is not the case (…) We are still open to diplomacy, but we do not intend to allow a new bloody massacre in the Donbass.”

And here’s the clincher, directly addressing imperial support for the killing of ethnic Russians in Donbass: “The main task of our decision [on recognizing independence] was to preserve and protect these lives. This is more important than all your threats.”

There you go: Responsibility to Protect (R2P), a concept invented by the Americans to launch wars, used by Russia for preventing one.

That certified nullity, German chancellor Scholz, deriding Putin’s characterization of a genocide in Donbass as “laughable”, was a decisive factor in the birth of the baby wins. Putin, in his address to the nation, especially took time to detail the Odessa massacre: “We cannot but shudder when we remember about the situation in Odessa, when people were burned alive (…) And those criminals who did this, they are not punished (…) But we know their names, and we will do everything to punish them (…) and to bring them to justice.”

What about China?

Geopolitically, in Eurasian terms, two huge questions stand out: the role of the CSTO and the response from China.

If we look at the Article 19, Chapter VI of the  CSTO charter, we learn that, “any state sharing the goals and principles of the Organization and being ready to undertake the obligations containing in this Charter and other international treaties and resolutions effective within the framework of the Organization may become a member of the Organization.”

That would open the door for the baby twins, as soon as they have finalized all the bureaucratic endeavors pertaining to new, independent nations, to request CSTO membership. Incidentally, CSTO secretary-general Pashinian has already gone to Moscow to discuss it.

China is a way more complex proposition. One of the key tenets of Beijing’s foreign policy is the fight against separatism – embedded in the foundation of the SCO. So Beijing cannot possibly recognize the baby twins, or what would amount to Novorossiya – yes, Putin did pronounce the magic word – before Kiev itself does or, a serious possibility, completely disintegrates.

The Foreign Ministry so far has been extremely cautious. Wang Yi has reiterated “China’s long-standing position that the legitimate security concerns of all countries must be respected, and the purposes & principles of the UN Charter must be upheld.”

Further on down the road, presumably after some serious exchanges between Wang Yi and Lavrov, China can always find myriad ways to unofficially help the baby twins – including advancing BRI-related connectivity and sustainable development projects.

As for Kiev disintegration, that’s directly linked to Moscow demanding the immediate stop of the mini-blitzkrieg against Donbass, otherwise they will bear full responsibility. Yes, regime stalwarts will be hunted and punished – complete with a possible War Crimes Tribunal. No wonder all sorts of oligarchic/political rats, big and small, are scurrying away, to Lviv, Poland and the UK.

The Munich effect

The intervention of all 12 members at the Security Council session, combined with Putin’s address to the nation was the stuff of gripping geopolitical drama. Putin’s body language and the look in his eyes testified to the immense gravity of the moment – and it all came to the forefront when he embarked in a concise history lesson spanning a century.

Barely containing his anger at the countless ways Russia has been vilified by the West, and taking no prisoners when referring to communism, what mostly stood out was the clear-cut rendition of the insurmountable antagonism between the Anglo-American islands and the civilizational Heartland – or the clash between maritime powers and land powers. That Eurasia classic was the bulk of his exposition: the recognition of the baby twins took less than three minutes.

The Munich Security Conference, this past weekend, had made it all so explicit. Munich, as terrifying as it was in terms of a congregation of headless chickens posing as eagles, at least confirmed everything is in the open.

The enemy is Russia. NATO infinite expansion – to outer space – is against Russia. And then we had a parade of add-on threats: no disarmament in Eastern Europe, cutting off the Russian economy from the EU, end of Nord Stream 2, Ukraine in NATO, world order built on “universal liberal values”.

Munich spelled out No Compromise Whatsoever – which was exactly what Putin, Lavrov, Patrushev and co. expected, the warmongering rhetoric burying any meaningful discussion of migration, inflation, cyber wars, the European energy crisis and, of course, the only thing that matters for the MICIMATT (military-industrial-congressional-intelligence-media-academia-think tank complex, as defined by Ray McGovern): let’s milk this Eurotrash lot for untold billions in new contracts, let’s isolate Russia, let’s destroy Nord Stream 2 to sell them our ultra expensive LNG, let’s keep them on a leash – forever.

So actually it’s not even war against Russia: the $30 trillion-indebted Empire with a woke military attached simply could not afford it. Not to mention the certified freak out in case they receive a phone call from Mr. Khinzal and Mr. Zircon : cue to the spectacular Russian display of “military and technical” superiority, hypersonic and otherwise – staged, irony of ironies, in synch with the circus in Munich.

What we have here is so lame: just a lowlife offer-you-can’t-refuse racket to be inflicted on the EU.

The Indivisible Security dance

The rabid Munich “No Compromise” show; the imperially-ordered Ukro crypto-blitzkrieg against Donbass; and the role of the US Lack of Intelligence Community – an Andrei Martyanov-coined howler – altogether sealed the deal for the Security Council deliberations and Putin’s decision.

Considering the ideological stupidity of the current Brussels gang – Stoltenberg, von der Leyen, Borrell –, incapable of understanding even basic economics, the fact remains that the EU without Russian energy is doomed. Martyanov stresses the algorithm: Russia can afford the break up with Europe. Europe cannot. The US just wants to collect. And we’re not even talking about the dire, incoming ramifications of the systemic crisis across NATOstan.

Even as Moscow plays a very long, calculated game, as it stands that does not necessarily mean that Russia will be “winning” the baby twins while “losing” Europe. Russia’s strategic swing repeatedly baffles the Atlanticist combo. The US lack of intelligence community was predicting a Russian “aggression” every other day – and still is. Instead they got the baby twins as the latest independent republics of the Global South.

Even before Munich, the Ukro crypto-blitzkrieg, and the recognition of the baby twins, Moscow had again warned it may respond with “military and technical measures” to ensure its own security after the US and NATO blatantly ignored key points from its proposal for a long-term European security architecture, and instead “cherry-picked” issues from a package deal.

Moscow will not let the Americans run away from the by now notorious 10-page Russian response. Putin, addressing the Stavka, had already warned “we are in a situation (…) where we are forced to resolve it.” Which bring us to what John Helmer niftly qualified as Russia’s black box defense. The beauty is no one knows what’s inside the black box.

Enter, once again, the “military-technical measures” that will be “reciprocal” (Putin) to what US and NATOstan are already deploying against Russia. They won’t necessarily be implemented in the Black Sea, the Sea of Azov, in the airspace above Donbass, even in cyberspace. It could be anywhere – from the Syrian theater to Latin America.

Surprise! That’s what strategic ambivalence, ambiguity, or – let’s get down to the rhythm – swing is all about. You don’t believe in the principle of indivisible security? Fine. Now we dictate the security rhythm. You’re not gonna stop deploying nuclear weapons outside your territory? Fine. Here’s some reciprocity. You’re not gonna accept legally binding guarantees of our security? Fine. Meet our “military-technical” measures.

Now dance, suckers.

Russia recognition of the LDNR – a few initial thoughts

FEBRUARY 21, 2022

I listened to the full Russian Security Council meeting, then to Putin’s address to the nation, then the signing of the the treaties on cooperation and mutual support.

The first thing which I want to point out is that this was a very carefully orchestrated event, and I don’t just mean today’s live meetings and signing.  For those of us who follow Russian politics very closely there can be no doubts that all this was prepared long BEFORE the Russian ultimatum to the West.

This is “the plan” which Putin once openly referred to.

Let me make this clear: this recognition should NOT, repeat, NOT, be seen in isolation.  It is just ONE PHASE in a PROCESS which began at least a year ago, or more, and there is much more to come.

Next, that must be repeated again, this is NOT about the LDNR, the Donbass or even the Ukraine, this is about a new security architecture on Europe and, therefore, on our entire planet.

This means that Russia expected exactly the reaction she eventually got (western politicians are fantastically predictable, being both ignorant, stupid and arrogant) and that gave her a legal basis to take the current action (call it R2P, or moral duty, or genocide prevention or whatever else you wish).

I want to use this opportunity to express my deepest gratitude to President Biden and Chancellor Scholz who both played their role to perfection, especially Scholz with his “laughable genocide talk” comment.  More generally, a lot of the credit for what just happened today goes to the leaders of the Empire who played their hand exactly as the Kremlin hoped they would.

Next, I immediately want to mention sanctions.  Let it be clearly told: whatever sanctions the West now agrees upon will be what they would have done in any case.  I repeat: today’s recognition of the LDNR will have exactly ZERO influence on the West’s maniacal determination to destroy Russia and her people.  In other words, the coming sanctions were unavoidable.  That means that Russia “lost” exactly *nothing* through that move.  In fact, both during the RSC meeting and his speech, Putin hinted that, if anything, western sanctions have been mostly beneficial to the Russian economy (especially the real economy, not just the value of Russian stocks or the Ruble).

Sanctions is a topic which only matters to western politicians (and their 5th and 6th column in Russia).  Russians 1) remember that during her history both Russia and the USSR were more or less always under some kind of sanctions anyway and 2) that the goal of the West is not to reach an equilibrium with Russia, but to subjugate and destroy her (Putin himself said so many years ago).

In this context, the endless focus on sanctions (from hell or otherwise) is not only immoral, it is plain stupid.

Next, I want to mention four specific threats made by Putin today (note, since the PR folks at the Kremlin are still working at their usual snail’s pace, I will have to make them by memory, please keep that in mind):

  • Those responsible for the massacre in Odessa will be punished by Russia.
  • Putin is demanding an immediate cessation of the shelling and shooting along the LOC.
  • Russia will physically prevent the Ukraine from US/NATO deploying offensive weapons to threaten Russia.
  • Russia will show Banderastan how to organize a *real* “decommunization” (after indicating that the Ukraine was created by the CPSU).

Again, I will repeat here what I wrote above: this recognition should NOT, repeat, NOT, be seen in isolation.  It is just ONE PHASE in a PROCESS which began at least a year ago, or more, and there is much more to come.

Unless the Ukies get it – and they probably won’t – I fully expect Russia to openly extend here “military umbrella” over the LDNR.  That does not mean that she will have to move troops in, though that now is also a possibility, but that any future Ukie ground operation will be countered by the full might of the Russian military.  Officially this time.  The Ukros along the LOC have heard it from Putin’s own mouth: we got a crosshairs on each one of you.  While I wouldn’t put *anything* beyond the Ukros, I believe that today’s clear threat will have a strong deterrent effect, whether the Ukies admit it (not gonna happen) or not.

After listening to it all, I still have a few questions to which I did not get a reply yet:

  1. In what exact borders does Russia recognize the LNR and DNR?  Along the LOC or along their original administrative borders? (see map).  I strongly suspect that for a while Russia will keep a flou artistique on this topic, but what Putin meant was a recognition of the LDNR in their original administrative borders.  If I am correct, this ALSO means that Russia will not liberate the rest of Banderastan, which I also fully approve of: the Ukrainians need to liberate themselves for once, enough of that constant waiting for the Moskals to liberate them from their “western friends”!
  2. Putin mentioned the immense sums of money Russia has poured into the Ukraine even after it turned into Banderastan. Will Russia *finally* impose an economic embargo on that Nazi state?
  3. The DNR/LNR having just been recognized, they are not members of the CSTO.  Not only that, but I very much doubt that all the members of the CSTO will recognize the LDNR anytime soon.  So if there is the need to launch a “coercion to peace” operation, will Russia act unilaterally, maybe with Belarus, or will she try to get some kind of joint operation with other countries?  This just in: the Russian MoD has announced that it received the order to provide/ensure the safety/security of the LDNR!  That means a peace enforcement (coercion to peace) has been ordered!

Some will be tempted to focus on what the western politicians will say or do next.  I sure have no idea which they might or might not do next, but I would advise them to be extremely careful, because the mood in Russia is determined.  If anybody still believes that Putin is bluffing, then wish them good luck because the best they can hope for is a quick, painless, death.

For the US Americans everything is measured in Dollars.  For Europeans, everything is measured by Euros.  During WWII Russia lost 27 million of her own people, two thirds of them civilians, as for the Chinese, they lost a whopping 35 million.  These are countries and nations which will not be broken, or purchased, by Dollars or Euros.

Then there is this: if the West slaps “sanctions from hell” on Russia, what will the leaders of the West do the day AFTER they impose such sanctions?  The truth that the West is already “out-sanctioned”.  But let’s assume that there will be even more sanctions.  From hell, no less.  Then what?

Nothing, of course.

Russia has already long turned away from the West, not only culturally but also economically (Mishustin confirmed that today).  If the EU wants to commit economic seppuku – that’s fine by Russia.  The Kremlin is quite willing to turn up the pain dial, but if western leaders want to increase the pain dial on each other (the US dialing up economic pain for the EU), by all means, Russia won’t object.

As always, I suggest that we not jump to any further conclusions too quickly: let’s wait for the full, official transcripts, then the statements of key politicians (who will be tasked with implementing/interpreting these statements).  In this situation, words matter (at least those of Russian officials).

I will conclude by a warning: I fully expect the CIA/MI6 agents in Russia (5th column: liberals; 6th column: emo-Marxists and pseudo-patriots) to unleash a MAJOR PSYOP offensive against Putin personally and this decision.  Arguments will include anything and everything in between “not enough” and “too much” including the inevitable “too little too late”.  If there is one thing you need to know about both the 5th and 6th columns in Russia is that for them any success by Putin (or even while Putin is in power) is categorically unacceptable and must be denied at all costs.  So while they claim to hate each other, they really hate Putin much more.  In fact, they hate Putin much, much more than they love Russia.  I strongly urge all the readers to always think cui bono when you will hear their endless defeatist wailing!

Okay, I will end it here: let’s see what happens next.

Andrei

The Russians Are Coming: Are Beijing and Moscow at the Cusp of a Formal Alliance?

February 11, 2022

Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) with Chinese President Xi Jinping. (Photo: Russia’s Presidential Press and Information Office, via Wikimedia Commons)

By Ramzy Baroud & Romana Rubeo

It should matter little to the Chinese that American diplomats and a handful of their western allies will not be attending the Beijing Winter Olympics in February. What truly matters is that the Russians are coming.

The above is not an arbitrary statement. It is supported with facts. According to a survey conducted by China’s Global Times newspaper, the majority of the Chinese people value their country’s relations with Russia more than that of the EU and certainly more than that of the United States. The newspaper reported that such a finding makes it “the first time in 15 years that China-US ties did not top the list of the important bilateral relations in the Global Times annual survey.”

In fact, some kind of an alliance is already forming between China and Russia. The fact that the Chinese people are taking note of this and are supporting their government’s drive towards greater integration – political, economic and geostrategic – between Beijing and Moscow, indicates that the informal and potentially formal alliance is a long-term strategy for both nations.

American hostilities towards China, as seen by the Chinese, have become unbearable, and the Chinese people and government seem to have lost, not only any trust, however modest, of Washington, but of its own political system as well. 66 percent of all Chinese either disapproved of the US democratic system – or whatever remains of it – or believe that US democracy has sharply declined. Ironically, the vast majority of Americans share such a bleak view of their own country, according to a survey conducted by the Pew Research Center in 2019 and again by the Michigan Public Policy Survey in 2021.

This leads us to two possible conclusions: First, the Chinese people will not be pushing for an American-style democracy any time soon and, second, the Chinese trust in the US does not hinge on what political party controls the White House or Congress.

While the Chinese negative view of the US is unmistakably clear, Beijing remains hopeful that existing divisions with the European Union would allow it to expand economically in a region that is rife with financial and political opportunities, thus strategic growth. This fact offers China and Russia yet another area of potential cooperation, as Russia is also keen to expand into the European markets using its recently completed Nord Stream 2 gas project. Though Europe is already struggling with gas shortages, Europeans are divided on whether Russia should be allowed to claim a massive geostrategic influence by having such sway over the EU energy needs.

Germany, which already receives nearly a third of its gas supplies from Russia – through Nord Stream 1 – is worried that allowing Nord Stream 2 to operate would make it too dependent on Russian gas supplies. Under intense pressure from Washington, Germany is caught between a rock and a hard place:  it needs Russian gas to keep its economy afloat, but is worried about American retaliation. To appease Washington, the German government threatened, on December 16, to block the new pipeline if Russia invades Ukraine. But is Germany in a position that allows it to make such demands?

Meanwhile, Washington is keeping a close watch on Russia’s and China’s strategic expansion westward, and it views the ‘threat’ posed by both countries with great alarm. In his recent visit to Scotland to take part in the COP26, US President Joe Biden accused China and Russia of “walking away” on “a gigantic issue”, referring to climate change. China has “lost the ability to influence people around the world and here in COP. The same way I would argue with Russia,” Biden said on November 3.

But will such rhetoric make any difference, or sway traditional US allies to boycott the lucrative deals and massive economic opportunities presented by the two emerging Asian giants?

According to Eurostat, in 2020, China overtook the US as Europe’s largest import and third-largest export partner. Moreover, according to Nature magazine, most European countries largely depend on Russian energy sources, with the European Union estimated to import nearly 40 percent of its natural gas from Russia.

In the face of these vastly changing realities, the US seems to be running out of options. The Summit for Democracy, orchestrated by Washington last December, seemed like a desperate cry for attention as opposed to celebrating the supposed democratic countries. 111 countries participated in the conference. The participants were handpicked by Washington and included such countries as Israel, Albania and Ukraine. China and Russia were, of course, excluded, not because of their lack of democratic credentials – such notions are often of no relevance to the politicized US definition of ‘democracy’ – but because they, along with others, were meant to be left isolated in the latest US hegemonic move.

The conference, expectedly, turned out to be an exercise in futility. Needless to say, the US is in no position to give democracy lessons to anyone. The attempted coup in Washington by tens of thousands of angry US militants on January 6, 2021 – coupled with various opinion polls attesting to Americans’ lack of faith in their elected institutions – places the US democracy brand at an all-time low.

As the US grows desperate in its tactics – aside from increasingly ineffectual sanctions, aggressive language and the relentless waving of the democracy card – China and Russia continue to draw closer to one another, on all fronts. In an essay entitled ‘Respecting People’s Democratic Rights’, written jointly by the ambassadors of Beijing and Moscow in Washington, Qin Gang and Anatoly Antonov wrote in the National Interest magazine that the democracy summit was “an evident product of (US’s) Cold-War mentality,” which “will stoke up ideological confrontation and a rift in the world, creating new ‘dividing lines’.”

But there is more than their mutual rejection of American hostilities that is bringing China and Russia closer. The two countries are not motivated by their fear of the American military or some NATO invasion. Russia’s and China’s militaries are moving from strength to strength and neither country is experiencing the anxiety often felt by smaller, weaker and relatively isolated countries that have faced direct or indirect US military threats.

To push back against possible NATO expansion, the Russian military is actively mobilizing in various regions at its western borders. For its part, the Chinese military has made it clear that any US-led attempt aimed at altering the balance of power in the Taiwan Strait would provoke an immediate military retaliation. In a virtual meeting with the US President, Chinese President Xi Jinping warned Biden on November 16 that the US was “playing with fire”. “Whoever plays with fire will get burnt,” he threatened.

The Chinese-Russian alliance aims largely at defending the two countries’ regional and international interests, which are in constant expansion. In the case of China, the country is now a member of what is considered the world’s largest economic pact. The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), which was officiated on January 1, covers a global market that caters to around 30 percent of the world’s population.

Russia, too, operates based on multiple regional and international alliances. One of these military alliances is the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), which is currently involved in ‘peacekeeping’ operations in Kazakhstan. From Syria in the Middle East, to Venezuela in South America to Mali in West Africa and beyond, Russia’s military influence has increased to the extent that, in September 2021, Moscow signed military cooperation agreements with Africa’s two most populous nations, Nigeria and Ethiopia, challenging the traditional dominance of the US and France on the African continent.

Informally, China and Russia are already operating according to a regional and global model that can be compared to that of the now-defunct Warsaw Treaty Organization (1955-91), a political and military alliance between the Soviet Union and several Eastern European countries that aimed at counter-balancing the US-led NATO alliance. The Warsaw Pact pushed back against US-led western hegemony and labored to protect the interests of the pact’s members throughout the world. History seems to be repeating itself, though under different designations.

Historically, the two countries have had a difficult and, at times, antagonistic relationship, dating back to the 19th century. During the Nikita Khrushchev era, Beijing and Moscow even broke their ties altogether. The Sino-Soviet split of 1960 was earth-shattering to the extent that it transformed the bipolarity of the Cold War, where China operated as an entirely independent party.

Though diplomatic relations between Beijing and Moscow were restored in 1989, it was not until the collapse of the Soviet Union that cooperation between both nations intensified. For example, the decision, in 1997, to coordinate their diplomatic positions in the United Nations gave birth to the Joint Declaration on a Multipolar World and the Establishment of a New International Order. That agreement between Russia and China laid the foundations for the actively evolving multi-polar world that is currently transpiring before our eyes.

Present reality – namely US, NATO, EU pressures – has compelled Russia and China to slowly, but surely, cement their relationship, especially on the economic, diplomatic and military fronts. Writing in Carnegie Moscow Center, Alexander Gabuev explained that, according to data provided by the Russian Federal Customs Service, “China’s share in Russian foreign trade grew from 10.5 percent in 2013 (before the Ukraine crisis and sanctions) to 16.7 percent in 2019 and 18.3 percent in the pandemic-struck 2020.”

Moreover, the two countries are holding regular large-scale joint military exercises, aimed at strengthening their growing security and military cooperation.

This already close relation is likely to develop even further in the near future, especially as China finds itself compelled to diversify its energy sources. This became a pressing need following recent tensions between Australia, a NATO member, and China. Currently, Australia is the main natural gas supplier to Beijing.

On its own, Russia cannot conclusively defeat Western designs. China, too, despite its massive economic power, cannot play a geopolitical game of this caliber without solid alliances. Both countries greatly benefit from building an alternative to US-led political, economic and military alliances, starting with NATO. The need for a Russian-Chinese alliance becomes even more beneficial when seen through the various opportunities presenting themselves: growing weakness in the US’s own political system, cracks within US-EU relations and the faltering power of NATO itself. Turkey, for example, though a NATO member, has for years been exploring its own geopolitical alliances outside the NATO paradigm. Turkey is already cementing its ties with both Russia and China, and on various fronts. Other countries, for example Iran and various South American countries, that have been targeted by the US for refusing to toe Washington’s political line, are desperately seeking non-western alliances to protect their interests, their sovereignty and their heavily sanctioned economies.

While it is still too early to claim that China and Russia are anywhere near a full-blown alliance of the Warsaw nature, there is no reason to believe that the cooperation between both countries will be halted, or even slow down anytime soon. The question is how far are Beijing and Moscow willing to go to protect their interests.

– Ramzy Baroud is a journalist and the Editor of The Palestine Chronicle. He is the author of six books. His forthcoming book, co-edited with Ilan Pappé, is “Our Vision for Liberation: Engaged Palestinian Leaders and Intellectuals Speak out”. Dr. Baroud is a Non-resident Senior Research Fellow at the Center for Islam and Global Affairs (CIGA). His website is www.ramzybaroud.net

– Romana Rubeo is an Italian writer and the managing editor of The Palestine Chronicle. Her articles appeared in many online newspapers and academic journals. She holds a Master’s Degree in Foreign Languages and Literature and specializes in audio-visual and journalism translation.

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Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s interview with radio stations, January 28, 2022

January 29, 2022

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s interview with Sputnik, Echo of Moscow, Govorit Moskva and Komsomolskaya Pravda radio stations, Moscow, January 28, 2022

Question: Will there be a war? We sent them our proposals, we waited for their response, and we got their response. Their answer did not suit us, which was to be expected. Before that, we said and made clear through different representatives that if their response does not suit us, we reserve the right to respond and protect our interests forcefully. Can you explain what that means and what are we going to do? We aren’t going to make McDonald’s illegal after all, are we? If I may quote my subscribers, they frame this question as follows: “When are we going to hit Washington?”, “Will there be a war?”, “How long are we going to procrastinate?”, “Will there be a war?”

Sergey Lavrov: If it depends on the Russian Federation, there will be no war. We don’t want wars, but we won’t allow anyone to trample on our interests or ignore them, either. I cannot say that the talks are over. As you are aware, it took the Americans and their NATO allies more than a month to study our extremely straightforward proposals that are part of the draft treaty with Washington and the agreement with NATO. We received their response only the day before yesterday. It is written in that typically Western style. In many ways, they are confusing the issue, but also providing kernels of rationality on secondary issues such as intermediate- and shorter-range missiles which were quite important for us at some point. When the Americans destroyed the INF Treaty, we urged them to listen to reason. President Vladimir Putin sent a message to all OSCE members suggesting that they join our unilateral moratorium when agreeing on verification measures. It was ignored. Now, it has become part of their proposals. Similarly, our initiatives that were introduced by the General Staff of the Russian Federation to conduct military exercises further away from the borders on both sides, to agree on a critical safe distance between approaching combat aircraft and ships, as well as a number of other confidence-building, deconflicting and de-escalation measures, were ignored. All of that has been rejected during the past two to three years. Now, they propose discussing this. That is, the constructive approach in these proposals has, in fact, been borrowed from Russia’s recent initiatives. I think that now, as we say in Russia, “we are getting somewhere.” To reiterate, most importantly, we should figure out the conceptual pillars that underlie European security.

In 2010 in Astana, and before that in 1999 in Istanbul, all presidents and prime ministers from the OSCE countries signed a package that contained interrelated principles to ensure the indivisibility of security. The West “ripped out” just one slogan from this package: each country has the right to choose its allies and military alliances. But in that package this right comes with a condition and an obligation on each country, to which the Westerners subscribed: not to strengthen their security at the expense of the security of others. With its mantra that the NATO open door policy is sacred and no one can say “no” to Ukraine joining the Alliance and that it’s up to Ukraine to decide, the West is, deliberately and openly, refusing even to acknowledge the second part of the commitments. Moreover, when Josep Borrell, Antony Blinken and many other colleagues of ours talk about the importance of sticking to agreed-upon principles in the context of the Euro-Atlantic security architecture, none of them ever mentions the Istanbul Declaration or the Astana Declaration. They mention the Helsinki Final Act and the 1990 Charter of Paris for a New Europe, in which there is no obligation not to strengthen one’s own security at the expense of others. Russia insisted on including this commitment in subsequent OSCE documents.

Today, as I made clear earlier, I am sending official requests to all my colleagues asking them directly to clarify how they are going to fulfill, in the current historical circumstances, the obligations that their countries have signed onto at the highest level. These are the matters of principle. Before we proceed to discussing individual practical aspects of European security, we want to see the West wriggle out of it this time.

I hope they will give an honest answer about what they have in mind when they implement these agreements in an exclusively unilateral manner that benefits them – again, completely ignoring that fact that the right to join alliances directly hinges on recognising that it is unacceptable to strengthen the security of some states at the expense of the security of others. Let’s see how they respond.

Question: If they give us the answer many experts are discussing, it will most certainly not suit us. Can it lead to a breakdown in relations? Everything we have been hearing recently from the Americans, and they are going to introduce sanctions against the leadership of our entire country, even against you…

Sergey Lavrov: What do you mean “even”? Are you saying I am not worthy of them?

Question: It has never happened in history. There has never been talk of sanctions against the Foreign Minister and the President. This is beyond the pale. Look at what is happening with our diplomats against this backdrop. Yesterday our Ambassador to the United States said that ultimately this might lead to something close to severing relations. As Anatoly Antonov said, our diplomats are simply being expelled although this is presented in a somewhat different way. What should we do? How will it look?

Sergey Lavrov: This is a multilayered question. I will start with the main point: What will we do if the West does not listen to reason? The President of Russia has already said what. If our attempts to come to terms on mutually acceptable principles of ensuring security in Europe fail to produce the desired result, we will take response measures. Asked directly what these measures might be, he said: they could come in all shapes and sizes. He will make decisions based on the proposals submitted by our military. Naturally, other departments will also take part in drafting these proposals.

Now the interdepartmental analysis of the responses received from the US and NATO is underway. Practically everyone knows what these responses are. I have made some remarks. I will note in passing that the American response is all but a model of diplomatic manners compared to NATO’s document. NATO sent us such an ideologically motivated answer, it is so permeated with its exceptional role and special mission that I even felt a bit embarrassed for whoever wrote these texts.

Our reply will be prepared. The proposals contained in our reply will be reported to the President of Russia and he will make a decision. We are developing our line at this point, including the steps that I mentioned.

As for the threats of imposing sanctions, the Americans were told, including during the presidential meeting, that the package you have just mentioned, the one that includes completely cutting off Russia from the West-controlled financial and economic systems, will be equivalent to severing relations. This was said directly. I believe they understand this. I don’t think this is in anyone’s interests.

Now a few words about their treatment of our diplomats. When I was in Washington several years ago, or, to be more precise, in December 2019, a deputy US Secretary of State under Michael Pompeo told my deputy in passing, before saying goodbye, that they were thinking of ways to streamline the functioning of our diplomatic missions on a reciprocal basis. He said American diplomats work abroad for three years. Then they are replaced, sent to a different country or returned to the central office in Washington. So they decided that our diplomats should also observe this term of three years and that’s it. We asked why we were told this on the sly and whether we were the only ones to hear it. We asked whether they had similar thoughts as regards other states, the answer was “no.”  No other country was supposed to be subjected to this experiment, just the Russian Federation. This is when we started yet another round of our diplomatic tit-for-tat. We said okay, you have a practice of sending diplomats to serve abroad for three years, and we have a practice of not hiring local personnel to work in our embassies. The Americans hired over 400 people (nationals of Russia and other countries, mostly CIS).

You probably followed this discussion. They started moaning and groaning “How come? Are you ‘unplugging’ us?” You wanted to be guided by the principle that you can do everything and impose on us what you think is right. We will do the same. This is yet another escalation of the crisis that was triggered by Barack Obama who revealed his genuine character. Three weeks before his departure from the White House, he decided to bind Donald Trump’s hands before slamming the door on the way out. He deprived us of five diplomatic properties and expelled dozens of diplomats who had to pack up all their staff with their families in three days. This was the beginning of it all.

We spoke about this again with Antony Blinken in Geneva, completing our conversation on European security. It is necessary to get back to normal in some way. We suggested starting from scratch and resetting everything to zero, beginning with this disgraceful, piddling move by Nobel Prize winner Barack Obama and everything that followed after it. Let’s wait and see. Another meeting is supposed to take place in the next couple of weeks. The Americans are now in a bargaining mood. They are telling us that they need 12 people serving the ambassador alone.  They argue that we must therefore exempt them from the quota that we establish on a reciprocal basis. We have explained to them that the agreed-upon quota is 455 people, both for them and for us. On our part, this is a gesture of enormous goodwill. The figure of 455 includes not only the employees of the bilateral diplomatic missions: the Embassy and two general consulates but also 150 people who work at our mission at the UN, which has nothing to do with our bilateral ties or any sense of balance. This was a goodwill gesture. However, we warned them that if they continue their obnoxious behaviour (I don’t know how else to describe their statements that if we don’t accept the guards for their ambassador immediately, they will ask Mr Antonov to leave the US), we still have the option of truly equalising our diplomatic presence.

Question: You know perfectly well that my questions are largely based on our radio listeners’ questions. Since we are talking about Russia-US relations, our listener Michael McFaul of California, a Stanford University professor, has sent a question for you. Why didn’t Russia try at least to get UN Security Council authorisation for the use of force if needed in Ukraine? Doesn’t Russia believe in the UN Security Council any longer? Why hasn’t Russia recognised the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Lugansk republics if they are facing the same risk as South Ossetia and Abkhazia in 2008?

Sergey Lavrov: To be honest, the questions are absolutely ignorant. Take the question about the UN Security Council. Did I get it right?  Why didn’t (past tense) Russia go to the UN Security Council for authorisation to use force if necessary? I will not even try to explain the futility of the phrase. The word “if” does not belong in the diplomatic practice in any country.

Regarding recognition, I think Mr McFaul, who had made a tremendous contribution to destroying anything constructive in Russian-American relations, just did not have time to read the Minsk agreements approved in February 2015. They are about preserving the unity and territorial integrity of Ukraine. The Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics had already declared independence several months prior to the Minsk meeting. Germany and France, who endorsed the text of the Minsk agreements with us and the Ukrainians, begged us, with Pyotr Poroshenko joining those requests, to persuade the leaders of the two republics to sign the Minsk agreements thus, in essence, changing the results of the spring 2014 referendum in Donbass. Mr McFaul should probably learn the contemporary history of the region. The issue of recognition must be considered in the context of our firm line to get the West to compel Kiev to abide by the Minsk agreements. Then everything will be all right, just as envisaged by this document endorsed by the UN Security Council.

Question: I think that the document we delivered to the United States surprised many of those who read it. It left many, myself included, feeling that Russia won in some kind of a war, while America lost. What I mean is the radical proposals contained in it like returning to NATO’s 1997 borders, etc. My question is, what was all that? It is obvious that the arguments must be really strong for the Americans to return to the 1997 terms or withdraw from countries where they feel so good, confident and comfortable? By all means, you clearly had something in mind. What was that, and what kind of a response did you expect to this letter? After all, the withdrawal must be swift. They were required to respond quickly.

We did our math. You are now working with your fourth US administration, since you became Foreign Minister during George W. Bush’s presidency. Are there any major differences between these teams? Can specific individuals actually make a difference in history as we were once taught, or not? Which of your counterparts did you work better with, and how are you getting along with the current “guys” compared to the previous administrations?

Sergey Lavrov: The proposals we delivered to the United States and NATO on December 15, 2021, may seem excessive only if the expert assessing them proceeds from the premise that “the Americans have already taken away everything there was all around you, so it is too late to make a fuss about it. Just accept it and try to keep the bare minimum they left you.”

What we want is fair treatment. I cited the commitments we all accepted at the highest level within the OSCE. Let me emphasise that presidents, including the US President, signed under these commitments promising that no one would seek to bolster one’s security at someone else’s expense. The United States claims that the right to choose alliances is sacrosanct. But we say, provided it doesn’t worsen the security situation for any other country. This is what you signed, my dear sirs.

They are now trying to present our proposals as an ultimatum, but we are there to refresh their memories and make sure that instead of equivocating they set forth in all honesty their interpretation of what their president signed up for. If he signed these documents while being confident that Russia would never be able to get what they promised, they must acknowledge that. This will be yet another confession on their part. We already reminded them about the promises they made verbally in the 1990s not to expand NATO, but in response they claimed that we got them wrong, that they did not want to mislead us and had little time to think because there were more urgent issues to deal with at the time. This is how they explained it, literally.

We are on our own territory. Michael McFaul has referred to the UN Security Council where the United States intends to discuss what we are doing regarding Ukraine and why we are not working to de-escalate the situation. This is what we hear from a person representing a country with military bases spread around the world, encircling the Russian Federation and the CIS, a country doing who knows what in Iraq (who invited them there?) and so forth. If the Americans want to discuss troop deployments, there are things to talk about. Everywhere we deploy our military forces, we do so based on a request from the host country. We fulfil the agreements we reach with host countries strictly in keeping with international law. Both Josep Borrell and Antony Blinken have been whipping up hysteria on the topic of escalation in Ukraine, demanding that we de-escalate, which has become a mantra of sorts for them, saying that they do hope that Russia chooses the “path of diplomacy.” I take them at their word. For many years after the end of the Soviet Union, we opted for the path of diplomacy. The Istanbul and Astana arrangements I had mentioned are the major outcomes of these diplomatic efforts: everyone undertook not to reinforce one’s security at the expense of others. After all, this was a commitment, a declaration, the supreme act of diplomacy. Use any word you like: compromise, consensus, agreement – anything. If diplomacy is what you stand for, start by delivering on what we already agreed upon.

It is not my intention to discuss our partners on a personal level, though there is much that could be said. Our motto is that we have to work with everyone, and work we do. I can say that I had smooth relationships with all my colleagues. We could always speak candidly with each other at all times even on increasingly divisive matters and on the differences our countries have in their relations with one another.

Question: You are a diplomat. You will never put it the way I’m going to put it right now. But I am a journalist and I can afford to.

Sergey Lavrov: I have said a few undiplomatic things before.

Question: True. But you didn’t say those things into a microphone during an interview. It’s just that we keep an eye on you and print your brilliant sayings on T-shirts.

We recently saved Kazakhstan. We may have to salvage things between Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. We have also preserved the peace in Karabakh and, generally speaking, in Armenia, too. We are endlessly saving our “exes.” What do we get in return?

Reporters from Komsomolskaya Pravda – colleagues of editor-in-chief Vladimir Sungorkin who is joining us from their studio – have unearthed a great story. They have investigated school textbooks used in former Soviet republics, including those we continue saving, to find out what they say about Russia, about the Soviet Union and about the Russian Empire. Quite a fascinating story. If you haven’t read it, you’ll be amazed. Kassym-Jomart Tokayev reports to our President that Russian is widespread in Kazakh schools, and not only in schools. According to our information, this is not entirely true, or rather it is not at all true. Regarding Russians living in those countries, we have many, many harassment complaints. I’m not talking specifically about Kazakhstan, but about the former Soviet republics in general. We have heard many times that the Foreign Ministry is opposed to simplifying the procedure for obtaining Russian citizenship by Russians living in those countries. I know for sure that it is not. I discussed this with you, and I know your position. Moreover, you have recently played an active role in simplifying current laws. Can you tell us how long we will tolerate this kind of attitude towards our people? When will we start returning our people – the way the Greeks, Germans, Jews and many others are taking people back based on their ethnic identity? How will we defend the rights of our people who have found themselves stranded there after their country’s collapse, which was not something they wanted?

Sergey Lavrov: This is several questions in one. As for relations with our neighbours, CSTO allies, CIS partners – we have a problem. Nobody is hiding this. It largely stems from the fact that the newly independent states, which left the Soviet Union and which had been part of the Russian Empire before that, have been given the first chance in a long historical period, the first opportunity to build their own national (the key word) states. They sometimes overdo it because they want to assert their national identity as soon as possible. Nobody would deny this. This always happens when great empires fall apart.

The Soviet Union was heir to the Russian Empire. In fact, it was an imperial entity, although softer and more humane than the British, French or other empires.

Some of the imbalances you are talking about would be inevitable in the current historical period. We certainly wish to avoid them and curtail them. This must be done by all means, including so-called soft power, and we need to allocate significantly more resources for it than now. Our ministry is active in lobbying for appropriate Government decisions and streamlining the state’s activities on this track. But we are still far below the level that Western countries have reached in this respect. In addition to soft power, apart from diplomacy, bringing these problems up during meetings with our allies and partners – there is also reciprocity, which refers to considering our partners’ approaches to matters that are relevant to us when making decisions that affect them. This concerns labour migrants, economic assistance, and much more. Our economic systems are interconnected. The Eurasian Economic Union creates conditions, but it is up to the Russian Federation to make most of them a reality, and much more.

I do not see why this should rule out the development of friendly, allied, and very close – including personal – relationships with the elites of our neighbours. This whole situation is the result of a geopolitical catastrophe, the collapse of the Soviet Union. As Russian President Vladimir Putin said, 25 million people (maybe more) then found themselves abroad, outside their country overnight. We had no borders and no idea how to build ties. It took a titanic effort. Now the situation is more or less back to normal; it is clear who should be responsible for what. This is already a great achievement. But the problems you mentioned – our compatriots’ situation – should be addressed on a mutual basis.

I’ll make a couple of points now. The first point is we should be more active and open in discussing human rights within the CIS, including the rights of non-titular ethnic groups – Russians in Kazakhstan, Kazakhs in Russia, Azerbaijanis in Armenia and vice versa (although there are very few of them left there). We have reached the following agreement with our CIS partners. Back when the Commonwealth was being created, its Charter included a provision on the CIS Commission on Human Rights as one of its bodies. However, we never got around to actually setting it up. At first, the idea was simple – the West should see that we also address human rights. But over the past few years, we have proposed materialising this statutory provision. There is a general agreement to launch the commission and an understanding that we will primarily deal with human rights issues in the CIS. It should be up to us, to all CIS countries, to make judgments about the human rights situation in our countries, not to Western agencies or bodies like the European Court of Human Rights, which has long lost the ability to rely on the principles of justice and which increasingly politicises its decisions every year.

Last year, the number of regional programmes exceeded 80, that is, apart from the federal programme, including in the regions of the Far East and Trans-Baikal Territory which we see as priority areas for those willing to move to the Russian Federation. I listed the major benefits that have been approved. I will say straight away that we wanted more. I believe that one’s family, parents and relatives having roots not only in the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic but also in other republics of the Soviet Union must have relevance for being entitled to preferential access to citizenship.

We have to consider a number of issues that we would like to settle as soon as possible. The work has not been finished yet. We have now “capitalised” what we have agreed on at the current stage. The President approved the consensus that was reached. We will continue to work to further improve the process and ease conditions for acquiring citizenship. The more so that at President Putin’s direction, the United Russia party, our leading political force, formed a commission on international cooperation and assistance to compatriots abroad. It involves not only helping compatriots come to Russia but also in the sense in which we discussed your first question – so as to make them feel as comfortable as possible upon arrival.

A couple of days ago the Komsomolskaya Pravda newspaper ran an article about history textbooks published currently in the former Soviet republics. I will not comment on what Estonians, Ukrainians, Lithuanians and Latvians are writing in them. However, regarding the CIS countries, we have repeatedly told them that nationalists should not be given pretexts by exploiting difficult moments in our common history. It ultimately helped all the peoples inhabiting this huge geopolitical space to lay the foundation for building their statehood. While we acknowledge the newly independent states’ aspiration to self-determination which I mentioned, overheated assessments should be avoided as they obviously, and maybe intentionally, play into the hands of extremists and nationalists.

Last year, a decision was signed within the Commonwealth of Independent States on establishing an international association (commission) of historians and archivists from CIS member states. It will focus, among other things, on discussing the issues of our common history with an eye toward a constructive consideration of all matters. I don’t think there will be unified history textbooks, but guidelines will be produced to reflect a consolidated point of view and a variety of perspectives. We have a commission of historians with Germany, Poland and Lithuania. They release joint documents. I believe that a similar mechanism within the Commonwealth will operate much more constructively in view of our closeness in many organisations – CSTO, EAEU, CIS and SCO.

Question: To follow up on our relations with the United States, you just said that we will continue to work with them. A meeting with Antony Blinken will take place soon. However, now that we have their answer, many analysts, in fact, almost all of them, are saying that the United States and the Alliance members are unlikely to change their position on the main issues. They are saying that “the ball is in Russia’s court now, and we are ready for any scenario.” You are saying our President said that we would respond, and that the response is in the works. The Foreign Ministry is involved in this. Can we have a sneak peek at the direction in which our Foreign Ministry is going to move in order to shoot the “ball” back at them? Is it Latin America? Cuba, Venezuela, Nicaragua? Could it be Europe? Serbia? Maybe we can do something with Iran? Can you give us a hint about what our response should be like for these guys to sit down, use their heads and try to give us different answers to our main questions, rather than secondary ones?

Sergey Lavrov: If they insist on not changing their position, we will not change ours, either. It’s just that their position is based on false premises and a flat-out misrepresentation of the facts. Our position is based on things that everyone has signed onto. I don’t see any room for a compromise here. Otherwise, what are we supposed to talk about if they openly sabotage and misrepresent previous decisions? This will be a key test for us.

As for the “ball,” we are playing different games. They may be playing baseball, while we may be playing tipcat. What matters is not to try to shirk responsibility, which is exactly what our American and other NATO partners are doing now.

They will not succeed in dodging the question of why they are not complying with what their presidents have signed onto, namely, that it is unacceptable to strengthen one’s security at the expense of the security of others.

Regarding our relations with Latin America, Serbia, Iran, China and many other states that act decently in the international arena, are not trying to unilaterally impose anything on anyone and are always willing to seek mutually acceptable solutions to any issues. Our relations are not subject to the vagaries of life. They are quite comprehensive and cover economic, cultural, educational, and sports contacts. They also include military and defence cooperation in full compliance with international law. I assure you that no matter how developments unfold with regard to European security, we will continue to consistently expand these relations.

I would like to underscore that we are studying their response and we have already provided our initial assessments. It is not satisfactory with regard to the main issue: the West fails to honour its obligations in terms of indivisibility of security and ignores our interests, although we laid them out in an extremely straightforward and clear way

With regard to issues of secondary importance, they were shocked by us presenting these documents publicly. This helped change their negative attitude towards our previous proposals, including medium- and short- range missiles and working out de-escalation measures during the exercises. This means that the West understands only this kind of language, and we should continue in the same vein that we did when we put forward our initiatives. We are now focused on getting explanations. We cannot accept evasive answers when it comes to the indivisibility of security. The West is shirking its commitments just as it failed to deliver on its commitment not to expand NATO. But then (as it is now telling us) it was a verbal commitment. Now, written commitments are available. Respond to us in writing to our written demands. Explain how you fulfill the written commitments signed by your presidents.

Question: When it is necessary to come to the defence of Russian journalists that are subjected to certain restrictions in the US or Germany, and we know the story with RT, the Foreign Ministry is forcefully intervening and defending them both on and off the record, and not only Maria Zakharova but also at the level of ambassador, deputy minister and at your level. When it comes to the countries with which we have closer relations, your department is quite modest. It is enough to recall the case of the Komsomolskaya Pravda journalists and the end of their news office that is practically closed. Its chief is behind bars.

I would like to remind you of the murders of journalists. When our journalists were killed in Ukraine, the Foreign Ministry took a very tough, assertive position that was hard to ignore, but it was silent when our journalists were murdered in the Central African Republic (CAR).

Here’s a question from our listener Dmitry Muratov from Moscow, a Nobel Prize winner and editor-in-chief of Novaya Gazeta. Without any additional investigation or operational measures, the new ambassador of Russia to the CAR named the murderers of the Russian journalists – the 3R group. The Foreign Ministry is aware of this but their families are not. The clothes of the journalists were burned as evidence, no investigation was conducted and the Foreign Ministry does not make any statements as regards the CAR leaders. Maybe, the Foreign Ministry should become more active in these cases with respect to both the Belarusian government and the CAR leaders?

Sergey Lavrov: You are right in saying that we must always defend the rights of Russian citizens, and not only journalists but every citizen, and the Americans have simply abducted dozens of them. We must also protect our journalists when there are obvious reasons for doing so.

We expressed our concern over what was happening with the Komsomolskaya Pravda news office. We talked with Mr Sungorkin about this. As I understand, the matter concerns Belarusian citizens and a specific Belarusian citizen. This is a somewhat different story. Any country that allows dual citizenship follows its own laws if something happens on its territory. I don’t want to go into details but there are issues that require silence. We did quite a bit to persuade the Belarusian authorities to be understanding. Now their position is what it is, and I cannot argue against it. They are ready to open any news office but its employees have to be citizens of the Russian Federation.

We could also look at how Russian journalists are treated in the West and how their working conditions are dictated there. I think a request to employ Russian citizens in Russian media is not beyond the pale. We believe the rights of journalists must be respected without exception everywhere, including Belarus or any other CIS country. If these rights are openly violated, we will continue to raise questions about this.

As for the CAR, we are willing to convey any information we have to the families of the dead journalists. As for the culprits, as you know, the CAR authorities are conducting an investigation. I don’t want to excuse the acts of these murderers. I can only say that journalists should take precautions. If they had at least notified the Foreign Ministry and our Embassy that they were bound for a country with a domestic armed conflict and a terrorist threat, the chances of avoiding this tragedy would have been a bit higher. This was all the more important since they went there as tourists, without declaring the purpose of their visit. Let me repeat again that this is not an excuse but this creates additional security risks in such cases.

Therefore, I’d like everyone to know that we do want journalists to work all over the world, including hot spots. I remove my hat and bow to all those who do such reporting in flak jackets and helmets, and let me say something, in passing, to your colleagues in eastern Ukraine. Once again I am addressing, through you, those who may have some influence on Western journalism and the media. Why do journalists appear sporadically, once every six months, at best, on the Kiev-controlled side of the contact line in Donbass? Why is their reporting so spotty? It would be very interesting to see them there. On the other side of the contact line, our journalists show the results of the atrocities committed by the Armed Forces of Ukraine that are bombing kindergartens, outpatient clinics and residential areas and killing people. According to the OSCE, civilian casualties on the side controlled by Donbass defenders are five times higher than on the opposite side. This speaks for itself.

Let’s return to the Central African Republic. We again sent an inquiry to the CAR government when the information about this 3R group emerged. We will do all we can to bring this investigation to completion. As you know, their government is dealing with this. Let me emphasise once again that we want to know the truth. I would like to impress upon our journalist colleagues and friends the importance of notifying us about trips to hot spots (if you don’t trust the Ministry, I cannot force you to do this). Please do it for the sake of your own safety. It will help.

Question: Thank you very much for your support to our service in connection with what happened to Gennady Mozheiko. Our thanks go to Alexei Venediktov for bringing up this issue. Gennady Mozheiko has been in police custody for four months now and not even once has he been questioned. He’s just sitting there. I appealed to Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko [for assistance] but, so far, there has been no response.

You were right in saying that it is not only a matter of journalists. Today, according to the Russian Embassy in Belarus, 457 Russian nationals are behind bars in Belarus. This is only what the embassy says, and I suspect the real figure is even bigger. Yesterday, another person – Russian national Vera Tsvikevich – was added to this list. She was detained only for taking, during the protests, a photograph of herself, a selfie, in a beautiful red dress with a patrol in the background. She was taken to prison for that. Judging by the precedents, she will be sentenced to two years in prison. Something needs to be done about this.

As for Belarus, we should have a very different relationship with them, as this is the Union State. Today, our journalists believe their work to be the most difficult in Belarus and not in Georgia or America, or Israel, and so on. We are constantly talking about the Union State, saying that we need to synchronise our legislation. What is in store for us, with regard to what I just said? Do we stand any chance of becoming a true Union State?

Sergey Lavrov: As for the Union State, you know, there are 28 union programmes that were approved last autumn…

Question: They have not been published, which is an interesting fact.

Sergey Lavrov: These are framework documents. They contain no secrets. They provide for work that has already started to flesh out each of the 28 programmes with specific and direct legal decisions in the economy, financial activities, transport, communications and so on. It is an important step towards consolidating economic assets. According to the two presidents, this work has to be completed in the next two to three years. This means embarking on the path to the Union State with much broader powers.

Yesterday, we saw off the newly-appointed Ambassador, Boris Gryzlov who was leaving for Belarus. I handed him letters of credence signed by the Russian President. This ceremony was attended by Belarusian Ambassador to Russia Vladimir Semashko. I recalled that our joint work also includes efforts to align the rights of the people of the two countries. Much has already been done. I believe 95 percent of rights have been aligned; however, the remaining outstanding issues in some areas need to be addressed as soon as possible. In particular, this includes the terms on which healthcare services or hotel accommodation are to be provided to people travelling privately. This is all very important for the daily life of people.

But the question you asked is not about what the Union State will look like in the end. Even if the criminal legislation of the two countries has been unified in full, there will still be Russians detained in Belarus and Belarusians detained in Russia. Our embassy keeps a close eye on the course of legal proceedings involving detained Russian nationals. The law enforcement agencies and prosecutor general’s offices of the two countries stay in contact. I haven’t heard anything about Vera Tsvikevich. Is this today’s newspaper?

Remark: No. It was issued in 2020.

Sergey Lavrov: Why then did you say that she was added to this list yesterday?

Remark: She was detained yesterday. The newspaper is old but she was detained yesterday.

Sergey Lavrov: Is she on the staff of Komsomolskaya Pravda?

Remark: No, she is just a Russian national. I said that about 500 Russian nationals were serving sentence in Belarus.

Sergey Lavrov: Four hundred fifty-seven. So, she will be the 458th . We will be watching what happens to her, the way we do it in any other country. There are questions that require close cooperation between the law enforcement agencies. I would rather not talk about them now in public but such questions do exist. It is important that they are resolved in a manner characteristic of two allies or brotherly nations. We will invariably adhere to this line.

Question: Mine is not a question but an urgent request concerning the fate of the German RT channel. We have not faced such unprecedented and uncompromising pressure, actually not even pressure but a real ban on work, in any other country, not the US or the UK, as in the Federal Republic of Germany. It is all disguised with hypocritical statements by German leaders at different levels. Supposedly, they have nothing to do with the closure of the German YouTube channel. Even when we gained the largest audience in the history of the English-language YouTube among the world’s TV channels, we were not shut down. They didn’t dare. But the Germans did.  They pressured Luxembourg so as to have our licence denied even though practically everything had been agreed and done there. Ultimately, we were given the licence in Serbia. They pressured the European regulators – so we can’t broadcast with that licence either. Titanic efforts of hundreds of people who had been building the channel amid the pandemic, produced shows, won the audience – all that was in vain. The audience was sacrificed to interests. Nobody shows the German people what we show.

The only thing that can affect them (as was the case with the UK) is reciprocity, which you are more familiar with than we are. Deutsche Welle has not even been designated as a foreign agent, even though this status does not entail what it does in the US (criminal charges). In our country it is just a piece of paper and an occasion to shout about it. In fact, it does not entail anything. Foreign agents take interviews, they are invited to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s press conferences. To say nothing about shutting down Deutsche Welle here the way they shut us down in Germany. This also concerns other German media outlets. Please, help us.

Sergey Lavrov: You don’t need to persuade me. Just yesterday the Russian Embassy in Berlin demanded an explanation. Procedures are underway. This is not within the competence of the federal agency but of the regulator of the German states Berlin and Brandenburg. The embassy’s lawyers looked into precedents. The Axel Springer concern had faced a similar situation but they quickly got a licence.

The key here is that the Germans are trying to place their internal regulations, which allegedly prohibit the registration of state-run channels, above their commitments under the European Convention on Transfrontier Television. According to our information, their regulators are using various pretexts to justify the primacy of their national law. This won’t do. The result will be the same as the NATO enlargement – this is what they want so they won’t do the things they had promised somewhere else. The Germans know that reciprocal measures will follow. I raised this issue when German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock was here on a visit. I think she and her delegation heard it. I am going to have a telephone conversation with her today. I will definitely remind her.

Question: A scandal is unfolding in the United States. CNN published a report citing its own sources. In it, they alleged that the United States and Ukrainian presidents talked on the phone, with Joe Biden supposedly yelling at Vladimir Zelensky in an attempt to explain to him in a raised voice that unless he changes his position on Donbass, Kiev will fall and be pillaged, etc. CNN published this report on its website, but later removed it. Still, the scandal lives on. Both Joe Biden and Vladimir Zelensky are getting questions about this. In this telephone conversation, the President of the United States allegedly requested that the President of Ukraine urgently resolve the special status issue for Donbass.

If Kiev does decide to amend its constitution and grant Donbass a special status, will this affect Russia’s policy on Ukraine in any way? To be honest, you cannot trust these people. There are 720,000 Russian nationals there today, and in the future there could be even more of them. We do understand the threats they may face after obtaining a Russian passport. Are we ready for these eventualities? What will be Russia’s policy on the people’s republics?

Sergey Lavrov: We have always stressed the need to fully implement the Minsk agreements in good faith and following the sequence it sets forth. As my colleagues and I have been saying in our public statements, during the Geneva summit meeting in June 2021 between the Russian and United States presidents, Joe Biden said at his own initiative that he wanted to facilitate the implementation of the Minsk agreements, including in terms of granting an autonomous (this was the word he used) status to Donbass. He understands everything.

This is consistent with what the Minsk agreements say. The special status provisions they set forth cannot be subject to any equivocal interpretations. What needs to be done is clear. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken reassured me that they want to help implement the Minsk agreements. His under-secretaries said that the US would not join the Normandy format but still wants to help. If they do force Kiev (nobody else can do it), this outcome would suit us. So far, I find this hard to believe. They are playing a game by continuing to supply weapons. Some tend to interpret these deliveries as a support for those ready to engage in a senseless armed conflict. This is something many have to factor into their projections. In fact, hardly anyone wants this, but there is still a small group of people who stand to benefit from it, in one way or another.

Why are the Americans the only ones that can force Kiev into compliance? The Normandy format met in Paris at the level of political advisors to the four leaders. Deputy Chief of Staff of the Presidential Executive Office Dmitry Kozak travelled there. They agreed to take two more weeks to understand how they can move forward in carrying out the Minsk agreements.

France, Germany and the European Union name Russia as a party to the conflict. What kind of agreement can we reach in these circumstances? They are saying we must comply with the Minsk agreements. President Vladimir Putin and Dmitry Kozak have repeatedly stated that no one has ever given us an answer to the question of which specific provision we must comply with. The implication is that everything depends on Russia. It’s like we snap our fingers and everything will come to pass.

Kiev realised that Berlin and Paris would not insist on it complying with the Minsk agreements. President Zelensky said he didn’t like the Package of Measures, but it was nonetheless important, because it keeps Western sanctions on Russia in place. That’s all there is to it: nothing but crude cynicism. Ukraine realises that it can do anything now. Vladimir Zelensky and his regime are being used (primarily by the Americans) to escalate tensions and to engage their underlings in Europe, who are playing along with the Americans as they pursue their Russophobic undertakings. The future of Ukraine is not Washington’s main goal in this particular case. It is important for the United States to escalate tensions around the Russian Federation in order to “close” this issue and then “deal with” China, as US political scientists are saying. How do they plan to “close” it? I have no idea. If there are any reasonable political strategists still out there, they must realise that this road leads nowhere.

The Americans are using Ukraine against Russia so openly and cynically that the Kiev regime itself is now scared. They are now saying there is no need to aggravate the discussion and are suggesting that the Americans keep down the rhetoric, and are also wondering why evacuate diplomats. Who is evacuating diplomats? The Americans and other Anglo-Saxons (Canada and the UK), meaning they know something others don’t. Perhaps, pending a provocation on their part, we should take precautionary measures with regard to our diplomats as well. We’ll see about that.

I have already answered the question about how we feel about the recently vocalised idea of recognising the Lugansk and Donetsk people’s republics. My answer is straightforward: we must push for the implementation of the Minsk agreements. There’s a host of people out there who are ready to grab any excuse to remove blame from Kiev for the sabotage which it has been involved in for eight years now with regard to the document approved by the UN Security Council.

Question: You said that NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has lost touch with reality. Maybe you live in different realities? Today, he will give a live interview to Ekho Moskvy. Do you want to say hi to him or ask a question?

Sergey Lavrov: Serves him right.

Question: I looked through the list of the sanctions approved by the US Congress and Treasury last year. The absolute majority of them are associated with the name of Alexey Navalny, not Ukraine. The OPCW (independent German, French and Swedish labs) found traces of a poisonous substance in his blood, which clearly means that he was poisoned. The Foreign Ministry requested assistance. But Russia did not open a criminal investigation. Germany said in that case there would be no help. We are members of the OPCW. You have seen the report on Navalny. Do you continue to cooperate on this matter? We are in the minority in every single international European organisation. We are saying that the ECHR, PACE, the OSCE and the OPCW are Russophobes. Could it be that Russia is the one that is out of step?

Sergey Lavrov: I’ll start off by saying that I watched Euronews yesterday. There was a story about the village of Dvani in Georgia, near the South Ossetian border. It is located in an area that Georgia considers its territory. The reporter said he was in the village of Dvani at the separation line, with the administrative border that Russia keeps fortifying behind him. A house owned by a Georgian “was burned down during the war.” The new one “came into the Russian military’s surveillance zone.” A local resident said that we were “abducting people in unfathomable ways.” A Georgian journalist said that he has been “working in the villages near the conflict zone for several years now” and that “14 years have passed since the war that forced the people to live in difficult circumstances ended. They are losing their lands and forest allotments almost daily. People are being kidnapped. Russian troops are detaining them,” etc. Then the reporter continued to say that “after the collapse of the Soviet Union, Georgia was the first among the former Soviet republics to experience an escalation of separatism and armed confrontation, and thousands of refugees are still unable to return home.”

He didn’t say, though, anything about what kind of separatism took root in Georgia even before the breakup of the Soviet Union. Zviad Gamsakhurdia was quite chauvinistic in his demands for Abkhazians to get out or to “georgify.” He believed South Ossetia residents did not deserve humane treatment. Nobody is saying anything about it. Then comes a brilliant phrase: “In 2008, when the conflict entered the hot phase, Russia took South Ossetia’s side.” This is Euronews, which touts itself as a channel of fair news and an epitome of diversity when it comes to presenting diverse viewpoints. They did not even mention how the fratricidal conflict began.

I’m saying this because you asked a question about the OPCW without mentioning the reference points that require clarification. If we state it the way you framed your question, then Michael McFaul and other unsophisticated listeners may get the impression that all of that is true. You are saying we asked the Germans to provide clarifications, and they wanted us to open a criminal investigation before they give us anything. What is that all about? Germany’s obligations under the European Convention on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters are not dependent on whether a particular country opens a criminal investigation or not. Under our laws, a criminal case can be opened if there is corroborating evidence. This is in no way inconsistent with multiple instances of using this procedure in relations with many other countries. We have a lot of material which we circulate around the world. I’m sure reporters from Ekho Moskvy and other media outlets have access to it.

We are still waiting for an answer to our question about who flew in to pick up Alexey Navalny. Why the plane that flew to Omsk to pick him up was chartered the day before he fell ill. Why are there no answers to the purely specific and factual questions asked in the German Parliament: how come the pilot, who did not want Maria Pevchikh to take the bottle onboard, eventually let her do so? There was also a sixth passenger. These questions were asked at the Bundestag. Why is it impossible to question Ms Pevchikh? The Germans say she did not communicate with the blogger and did not visit him at the hospital. She wrote that she did. The bottle she brought along has not been shown to anyone. Our requests to run a joint examination of it are rejected. Allegations that illegal poisonous substances were found in Mr Navalny’s body began after no CWC-prohibited substances had been found by the Charité clinic, which is a civilian hospital. All of that was “discovered” at a clinic operated by the Bundeswehr in a matter of just three days. Before that, a similar scenario unfolded with the Skripal family. We insisted that the investigation must be grounded in hard facts, not “highly likely” assumptions. We cited facts that there are almost 150 patents for the infamous Novichok in the West, in particular, the United States. It was developed in Europe as well. Then Germany, France, Sweden and many other countries swore that they did not have this technology. Without the technology, it is impossible to detect this substance in the human body in three days. Any more or less experienced chemist is aware of that.

At first, the Germans told us that they would not give us the materials, because they constituted “classified military information.” How’s that? We are being accused of murder or attempted murder, and the information is classified. By definition, they should not have access to this technology if they are bona fide participants in the CWC. Then they began to say that they could give it to us, but Navalny says no. What’s next? At the same time, his lawyer criticised Dmitry Peskov for accusing the blogger of collaborating with the CIA and demanded proof. What kind of proof? US intelligence officers came to see him at the hospital, which Dmitry Peskov mentioned. We are demanding proof behind the accusation of attempted murder, but we are then told that he does not want to.

We asked the OPCW to provide the results but were told that they could do so only with the permission of the Germans. The circle closed. Read carefully the paper released by the OPCW. It says that some substances were discovered that are similar in composition to other substances that are on the OPCW’s banned chemicals list. Not a word about Novichok. Neither the Germans, nor the French, nor the Swedes gave us the formula. It’s classified. The formula is the proof of whether this is true or pure deception and lies.

I am inclined to believe that so far the West has no grounds to accuse us. This is done for the purpose of instigating a provocation. I mentioned the day when a special flight was chartered to fly to Omsk to pick up Mr Navalny. The day before the poisoning, the Germans (according to the OPCW report) asked The Hague for assistance in conducting the investigation of this case. Then they said it was a typo, and everything actually happened later. There are many interesting things there. In early September 2020, the Germans contacted the OPCW. The OPCW Secretariat concealed this from us for several days. In hindsight, they confessed that the Germans allegedly asked them not to tell anyone. Doesn’t it all look suspicious? It does to me, and suspicions run deep. I encourage Ekho Moskvy and other radio stations’ listeners to go the Foreign Ministry’s website and read the material containing a vast number of legitimate questions that remain unanswered by the West to this day.

Question: The most popular question: will there be a war with Ukraine?

Sergey Lavrov: This is what we started off with. If it’s up to the Russian Federation, there will be no war. I do not rule out the possibility that someone out there would like to provoke hostilities.

According to the West, there are about 100,000 troops on the line of contact. The Kiev regime does not control most of these armed men. A significant portion of the units that are stationed there include the former volunteer battalions, current territorial defence units, and militia. MANPADS are already being handed out to them. The media are reporting this information. They are encouraged to bring along hunting rifles with them, because there aren’t enough MANPADS for everyone. This is a militaristic frenzy. I cannot rule out the possibility of someone losing it, just like that soldier who shot and killed five of his fellow servicemen.

Question: Why aren’t we talking with Vladimir Zelensky? He is one of us, a former Komsomol member with a background in Channel One.

Sergey Lavrov: He is also a “piano player.” President Vladimir Putin answered this question. If President Zelensky wants to talk about normalising bilateral relations that were damaged by the unilateral actions of his regime, actions to which we responded, Russia stands ready to do so. Let him come to Moscow, Sochi, or St Petersburg, wherever they may agree. But if he wants to discuss Donbass – please go to the Contact Group, which, according to the Normandy format’s decision, is in charge of all settlement issues directly between Kiev, Donetsk and Lugansk. When he says he won’t talk to us, this bodes ill for the domestic Ukrainian crisis. If he has something to offer in order to restore bilateral relations, the destruction of which Kiev, Vladimir Zelensky and his predecessor initiated, we are ready to consider his proposals. President Vladimir Putin has stated this in no uncertain terms.

Question: Another meme for a T-shirt from Minister Lavrov: “Please go to the Contact Group.”

Question: Are we going to evacuate our staff from Kiev as well?

Sergey Lavrov: We discussed this bout of insanity that is being fomented in Ukraine, primarily by the Anglo-Saxons and some Europeans. Dramatic claims that everyone must leave the place are part of this insanity. People who came there to tend to their business are urged to leave. Diplomats and their families are being taken home and non-core staff is being cut.

We cannot let it go unnoticed or turn a blind eye to it. If they are doing this (even though the Ukrainians haven’t asked them to), could it be that the Anglo-Saxons are up to something? The British particularly have a long track record in this area.

Question: This happened after you said something during a meeting with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken. What did you say or show to him? Immediately after the Geneva meeting, he started saying that diplomats should be evacuated. You must have done something.

Sergey Lavrov: You are mistaken if you think that I have lost the ability to understand what is happening around me. I didn’t say anything to him. In a one-on-one conversation (I hope this will not offend him) he told me that if something happens, their people would be there… It sounded rather strange to me. That’s what I told him.

Take my word for it, we discussed nothing but security guarantees. Then I raised the issue of the unacceptable state of affairs with our diplomatic missions. I made a proposal which we eventually agreed upon. In a couple of weeks, another meeting between experts will take place. I can assure you that no threats were uttered. However, we cannot leave things without analysis. We are analysing them to see what stands behind the Anglo-Saxons’ actions.

بعد كازاخستان… حسم أمر الاتفاق النووي

 ناصر قنديل

لم يفصل الأميركيون ومن خلفهم كلّ الجسم النخبوي الثقافي في الغرب بين مفاوضات الملف النووي الإيراني، وموازين القوى السياسية والعسكرية في الصراع الدائر على مساحة العالم عموماً وخصوصاً حول آسيا، وبمثل ما شكل الانسحاب الأميركي من أفغانستان نقطة تحوّل في هذه الموازين لصالح إيران وحلفائها، جاءت أحداث كازاخستان محاولة لتعديل معاكس لهذه الموازين، فالوقائع المتجمعة لدى القيادة الروسية والتي بحوزة حلفاء روسيا وفي طليعتهم إيران والصين، والتي نشر بعضها في وسائل إعلام روسية وأوروبية وأميركية وإيرانية، تكشف أنّ ما جرى كان حصيلة تعاون استخباري أميركي بريطاني تركي، جمع بين تحريك جماعات مسلحة ومنظمات المجتمع المدني، لوضع اليد على العاصمة الكازاخية، والحديث يدور عن البلد الذي يحتلّ موقعاً شديد التأثير على الجغرافيا السياسية التي تفصل روسيا عن إيران وتفصلهما عن الصين، وتختزن ثروات استراتيجية هائلة، وتملك فيها أميركا و”إسرائيل” محطات أمنية وعسكرية تستهدف إيران وروسيا والصين.

بالمقارنة مع سورية توقع الأميركيون أن تستمرّ الأحداث في كازاخستان أسابيع وشهوراً في بعدها المحلي، وأن تحتلّ مكانة إعلامية وسياسية تتيح تحويلها الى منصة لتوجيه الرسائل الأمنية والسياسية والتفاوضية، وبالمقارنة مع سورية توقع الأميركي أن تحتاج موسكو الى شهور وسنوات حتى تتخذ قرار التدخل المباشر، فقاموا بتسريع روزنامة التحرك لفرض أمر واقع خلال الأسابيع الأولى ينهي أمر السيطرة على العاصمة، ويضع معادلة جديدة يصعب كسرها لاحقاً، فاتحين الباب لحركة روسية مشابهة التي جرت في أوكرانيا، أيّ اقتطاع روسيا لمقاطعات على حدودها تشكل حزاماً لأمنها، وبنوا استراتجيتهم لكازاخستان على الجمع بين دروس كلّ من تجربتي سورية وأوكرانيا.

في المقابل أظهرت القيادة الروسية أنها تعلمت من التجربتين الكثير من الدروس، وأولها عدم أخذ الحراك الشعبي بعين البراءة وحسن النية عندما يجري في توقيت سياسي شديد الحساسية وفي ساحات ذات أهمية استراتيجية، والثاني هو إعطاء الأولوية لفتح الملفات الاستخبارية لفهم ما يجري بالتعرّف على هوية المجموعات التي تقود الحراك واتخاذ القرار على أساسها، والثالث هو أنّ نموذجي سورية وأوكرانيا لترجمة التوجهات الروسية سجلا نجاحاً نسبياً كان يمكن أن يكون كاملاً لو لم يتمّ منح الوقت الكافي للغرب لترجمة توجهاته بالزجّ بقوى خارجية حكومية وغير حكومية قادرة على فرض أمر واقع جغرافي كما حدث في سورية، أو فرض أمر واقع سياسي في العاصمة كما حدث في أوكرانيا، والدرس الرابع هو التوجس من الدور التركي ولعبه لأدوار متعددة تحت العباءات المختلفة الألوان، ورهانه المستمر على خلق وقائع تغيّر من موازين دوره في سورية بوجه روسيا وإيران.

انطلاقاً من هذه الدروس قامت موسكو بحسم قرار التحرك الاستباقي خلال ساعات، وشكل هذا التموضع أساساً لحسم سريع لما كان مخططا، وفرضت موازين قوى غيّرت حال الازدواج التي كانت تعيشها كازاخستان، فتدحرج الحسم الميداني ليصبح حسما سياسياً واستخبارياً مع الامتدادات التي كانت مخزوناً احتياطياً أميركياً وتركياً و”إسرائيلياً”، فصارت المعركة التي خاضها الأميركيون لفرض معادلة جديدة مدخلاً لمعادلة عكسية، وأهمّ نتائج التسريع الذي فرضته المتغيّرات في الموازين على مسار التفاوض حول الملف النووي الإيراني الجارية في فيينا لصالح قبول العودة الى الاتفاق بشروط ترضي إيران، أنه يحسم أمر قرار واشنطن الإستراتيجي بأولوية مصالحها على حساب مصالح حلفائها، وفي مقدمتها المصالح “الإسرائيلية”.

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The War Party wins – Russia is now free to act unilaterally

January 13, 2022

First, a quick update on Kazakhstan: the CSTO will begin its withdrawal tomorrow and that operation will be completed by the 19th of January (dunno if anybody will inform Blinken about how quickly the Russians leave).

This operation was truly a triumph for Russia and her allies.

It is said that hope dies last, and today it appears that whatever hope we might have had has died.  A week long series of negotiations has apparently yielded absolutely nothing.  To the extent that there were some sane voices advocating for a negotiated solution, these voices have now been drowned by the huge choir of hysterically russophobic politicians who, feeling safety in numbers, have told the Russian bear to get lost.

This is a triumph for the US Neocons and for their proteges in the EU.

So where do we go from here?

It is quite obvious: Russia will begin a policy of unilateral actions aimed at advancing vital Russian national interests.  Many of those actions will turn up the pain dial for the US/EU/NATO.  Rather than trying to guess what will happen next, I rather wait for those unilateral actions to become public.

One good news is that the Zircon missile is now officially accepted for service.  Good timing for sure.

I will conclude this short post by saying that in my strictly personal opinion, now would be a good time for Russia to sever all her diplomatic relations with at least the worst offenders in the West, beginning with the USA itself, of course.  Why?

Because having diplomatic relations with friends, partners or generally civilized and trustworthy counterparts makes sense.  Most western countries don’t qualify, so what is the point?

77 years after the end of WWII, the West has come a full circle and is back to its usual messianic homeostasis: racist megalomania, delusions about its own invulnerability and invincibility.

This sends a powerful and important message to all of Zone B, especially China.

Was Russia right to engage in these negotiations?

Yes, absolutely.  A country that lost 27 million of its citizens to western megalomania had the moral duty to try to do everything to avoid another war.  Yes, the chances of success were infinitesimal.  But morally, Russia had to try and she did.

Now that her hands have been untied, she can now do whatever she deems needful.

Good.

The main question now is this: how high will be the price this time around to bring the messianic West back to reality?

We will soon find out.

Andrei

What, if anything, happened in Geneva?

January 12, 2022

There are no official results from the meeting in Geneva yet.  The US has promised to give the Russians an official answer in writing within a week.  The Russians have declared that they have explained the Russian position to their US counterparts in minute details leaving no ambiguity.  According to Russian sources, the US position was a “diehard/stubborn” one.

Clearly, the War Party in the USA is, at least so far, prevailing.  When I listen to the delusional statements of the likes of Blinken, Psaki, Kirby & Co I get the strong feeling that for these people everything is a zero-sum game and that to them an agreement with Russia, any agreement, is simply unthinkable.

If so, then this is all good news.  Frankly, it is pretty clear that the War Party has won the day, at least so far, which leaves Russia no other option that to take further unilateral actions which is, I believe, the only way left for Russia to bring the leaders of the West back into the real world.

There are still further talks planned, with the Russia-NATO council and the OSCE.  Never say never and maybe a last minute breakthrough is possible, but I personally don’t see how that could happen, not when one of the two parties is absolutely, maniacally, determined to treat the other as some kind of semi-savage inferior race with whom no civilized western leaders will ever negotiate.  The western diplomatic toolkit is has shrunk to basically the following:

  • Exceptionalism, messianism, racism and self-worship.
  • Threats and imposition of sanctions for “bad behavior” like a teacher would punish a grade-school kid for being rowdy and not listening to the teacher.
  • A total belief in both the West invincibility and invulnerability no matter what the “real reality” actually is.
  • A total categorical refusal to admit, even by implication, that the world has profoundly changed and that the Anglosphere does not “rule the waves” anymore.

There is only one thing Russia can do to bring the leaders of the West back to reality: to turn up what I call the “pain dial”.

Russian peacekeeper in Kazakhstan

In the meantime, the Russian military has declared that it hopes to leave Kazakhstan within a week, but only if/when the situation in this country is fully stabilized.

President Tokaev has said that the CSTO forces withdrawal will being in 48 hours and will last no more than 10 days.  I hope that he is right.

However, it will take months for Kazakhstan and Russia to deal with the insurgents, especially in the West and South of Kazakhstan.  But that would already be a mopping-up operation which Russia and Kazakhstan can coordinate on a bilateral basis without any need to involve the CSTO.

For the time, we have to wait and see what actually happens in the next few days, things should become much clearer.

Andrei

Kazakh President to provide evidence of “attempted coup”

Jan 11 2022

Source: Agencies

By Al Mayadeen net

President Tokayev divulged that “unnamed actors” staged a coup attempt and promised to reveal evidence soon.

Kazakh President says he will provide evidence of”attempted coup”

Kazakhstan President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev has announced that details and evidence surrounding the “attempted coup d’etat” against him would be revealed soon. 

Previously, Karim Masimov, the former head of the National Security Committee, was detained on treason allegations. Masimov and unnamed others were the subjects of a pre-trial probe launched on Thursday after Kazakhstan was rocked by violent protests, according to the committee.

CSTO troops to begin exiting Kazakhstan in two days

On Tuesday the Kazakh President announced that the CSTO troops would begin to withdraw from the nation in two days, taking no longer than 10.

Tokayev said the main mission of the CSTO “has been successfully completed.”

In a live video broadcast, Tokayev detailed that in two days a “phased withdrawal CSTO united peacekeeping contingent will begin. The withdrawal process of the contingent will take no more than 10 days.”

The Kazakh Presidency previously said that peacekeepers from the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), a military alliance of six post-Soviet states, are guarding key assets in protest-hit Kazakhstan. CSTO troops had been stationed around the nation to protect crucial infrastructure. 

Kazakh FM: Recent events in the country are a hybrid terrorist attack

The National Security Committee of Kazakhstan announced that it neutralized “two extremist cells” in Almaty, whose members participated in the riots that took place in the country.

In a statement, the Committee detailed that the two cells were neutralized after search operations to arrest riot participants and identify their motives. 

The members of the cells, according to the statement, participated in the riots in major cities from January 4 to January 8, 2022.

In the same regard, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Kazakhstan described the recent events in his country as a hybrid terrorist attack aimed at destabilizing and destroying the foundations of the state.

The events first started with clashes between law enforcement and demonstrators erupted in the city center of Almaty in Kazakhstan, over surging liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) prices before devolving into acts of violent rioting and even killing of police officers.

«ثورة» كازاخستان: خطر تمّ احتواؤه حتى الآن… ولكن؟!

2022 الثلاثاء 11كانون ثاني

 العميد د. أمين محمد حطيط*

عندما اشتدّت حدة التوتر بين روسيا وأوكرانيا حتى بلغت حدّ التكهّن بقرب إطلاق روسيا عملاً عسكرياً واسعاً داخل تلك الدولة التي ترشح نفسها للانضمام الى حلف الناتو لتضع الحلف ملاصقاً لروسيا عند حدودها الغربية، عندها صرّح بايدن أنّ أميركا لن تكون على استعداد للتدخل العسكري ضدّ روسيا في أوكرانيا، لكنها ستتخذ من التدابير بحقها ما يجعلها تتألم او تندم اذا نفذت تهديدها بالاجتياح؛ موقف جاء بعد أشهر من قرار بايدن الانسحاب السريع من أفغانستان وإعلان أميركا عن تفاهم مع العراق يضع حداً لانتشار قواتها القتالية فيه ويحوّله الى وجود من طبيعة عسكرية استشارية ولوجستية من أجل تدريب ودعم القوات المسلحة العراقية من أمن وجيش. ترافق ذلك مع رفع درجة الاهتمام الأميركي بمسألة الصين والاتجاه الى «احتواء» خطرها المتعاظم ضدّ أميركا، اهتمام أطلق عليه وصف «الانزياح الأميركي نحو الشرق الأقصى».

هذه المواقف وغيرها مما هو معلن أميركياً بشأن اليمن والسعودية وغيرهما حملت البعض على القول بأنّ أميركا بصدد اعتماد استراتيجية جديدة تنسحب بموجبها من الشرق الأوسط لتتفرّغ للشرق الأقصى بعد فشلها في الحرب الكونية التي استهدفت بها سورية وكامل محور المقاومة، قول لم يتقبّله فريق آخر من الباحثين ونحن منهم، حيث كان من الصعوبة بمكان القبول الآن بفكرة تخلي أميركا عن الشرق الأوسط ذي الأهمية الاستراتيجية التي تفرض على من يتطلع الى الإمساك بقرار العالم أو التأثير فيه أن يكون ممسكاً بقرار هذه المنطقة أو له موقع مؤثر فيها، وأنّ أميركا لا تزال ورغم النكسات والفشل في أكثر من جبهة وميدان، لا تزال تطرح نفسها قائدة للعالم، وأنها لا تزال ترفض فكرة النظام العالمي الجديد القائم واقعياً على تعدّد الأقطاب والتنوّع في المجموعات الاستراتيجية التي تشكلت وتتشكل في سياقه.

ربطاً بما تقدّم من وقائع ومفاهيم وتناقضات في السلوكيات الأميركية حيال المنطقة التي تسمّيها أميركا وفقاً لتقسيمات انتشار جيوشها وأساطيلها في العالم تسمّيها «المنطقة الوسطى» كان لا بدّ من أن تكون أميركا تخفي شيئاً كبيراً يمكنها من البقاء الفاعل في آسيا الوسطى وغربي آسيا، وجوداً تواجه به أعداءها الأساسيين الأخطر على سياستها في العالم والمتمثلين بشكل أساسي بثلاثي الصين وروسيا وإيران.

ولهذا فإنه عندما انفجرت أعمال الاحتجاج في شوارع مدن كازاخستان الرئيسية بهذا الشكل، احتجاجات انقلبت بسرعة هائلة الى أعمال عنف دمويّة أوْدت خلال ٤٨ ساعة بحياة ١٦٤ مواطناً كازاخياً، كان لا بدّ من البحث عن يد خفية أعدّت وحرّكت هذه الأعمال بمثل هذا التأثير والشدة، وكان أيضاً من المُلحّ أن تدرس الظاهرة من قبل المعنيين من الدول المهدّدة بهذه الأعمال، أو التي يمكن أن تتأثر بتداعياتها.

فكازاخستان دولة ذات أهمية استراتيجية قصوى في آسيا الوسطى، أهمية تستمدّ من موقعها الجغرافي وثرواتها الطبيعية وتأثيرها الفاعل على المستهدفين الأساسيين الثلاثة بالسياسة الأميركية باعتبارها منطقة الوسط بينهم (الصين وروسيا وإيران). فهي تتشارك مع روسيا بحدود هي الأطول بين دولتين في العالم (٧٠٠٠ كلم)، وتتصل بالصين من الشرق بما يجعلها الممرّ الإجباري لطريق الحرير الجديد المعبّر عنه بمشروع «الحزام والطريق» الواعد، وهي تقع شمالي إيران التي يعنيها أكثر من أمر من أمورها المشتركة مع كازاخستان ديمغرافياً وانتماء وعقيدة وأمناً.

وكان من المنطقيّ أن يكون البحث عن اليد الأميركية في أحداث كازاخستان التي سرعان ما أسميت في الإعلام الغربي «الثورة»، وربطت بالثورات الملوّنة التي اعتمدتها أميركا لقلب أنظمة الحكم في أكثر من دولة في العالم ووضع اليد عليها والإمساك بقرارها، وبالفعل تبيّن بعد بعض من بحث وتمحيص انّ أحداث كازاخستان كان بدأ الإعداد لها منذ العام ٢٠١٩ بقيادة أميركية ومشاركة بريطانية وتمويل سعودي ودور تركي.

ومهمّ أن نتوقف عند العام ٢٠١٩ أيّ مباشرة بعد أن تأكد لهؤلاء فشل الحرب الكونية على سورية ومحور المقاومة ونجاح روسيا في التقدّم لإشغال موقعها في الصف الأول دولياً وتأكد نجاح الصين في التعامل مع التدابير الأميركية ضدّها واحتواءها كما ينبغي.

ولهذا أدركت روسيا حجم الخطر المتشكّل عند حدودها الجنوبية، والذي شرعت أبوابه عليها من كازاخستان وهي ما برحت تعالج المسألة الأوكرانية وتداعياتها، لذلك كان عليها وبدون تردّد او إبطاء أن تسارع إلى عمل دفاعيّ جوهري وفقاً لما تتيحه لها «معاهدة الأمن الجماعيّ» التي ينتظم فيها الى جانبها كلّ من كازاخستان، وتركمانستان، وقيرغيزستان، وطاجيكستان، وأوزبكستان، والتي تتيح للأعضاء في هذه المنظومة تبادل المساعدة العسكريّة للحفاظ على الأمن والسيادة على أراضيها، فوجهت قوة عسكرية قتاليّة يناهز عديدها الـ ٢٠ ألف جندي وضابط انتشروا في مدن كازاخستان الرئيسيّة لحماية البنى والمقار الرسمية والعامة ولقطع الطريق على الفوضى التي خطط لها لإسقاط النظام ونقل البلاد إلى الضفة المعاكسة وإقامة حكومة تديرها أميركا وبريطانيا.

لقد أنقذت روسيا بتدخلها العسكري السريع والمشروع في كازاخستان، أنقذت نفسها وحلفاءها ومنطقة آسيا الوسطى من مشروع فوضى وعدم استقرار وأخطار لا تُحصى وأجهضت خطة غربية خبيثة كان من المقدّر لها لو نجحت ان تعوّض خسائر الغرب في العقد الأخير في ميادين وساحات الشرق الوسط وآسيا الوسطى، وأن تحجب التقدّم الروسي على الصعيد الدولي، وتشغل روسيا عن الخطر الأوكراني، وان تقطع الطريق على الصين في خطة «الحزام والطريق»، وان تجبر إيران على الاهتمام شمالاً وتخصيص جهد لا بأس به لاتقاء الخطر من الجمهوريات الإسلامية التي تتغلغل فيها اليد الصهيوأميركية وذلك على حساب ملفات أساسية استراتيجية تهتمّ بها عادة.

لقد قطعت الطريق حتى على مشروع كارثي في أوراسيا وآسيا الوسطى وصولاً الى غربي آسيا، ومع ذلك فإنّ الموضوع لم ينته بعد والخطر لم يستبعد كلياً طالما انّ هناك جمراً وناراً يمكن ان تنبعث في الشوارع الكازاخية رغم انّ الدولة ومع المساعدة الروسية أمسكت بزمام الأمور وسيطرت على الوضع، لكن التجارب تعلّمنا انّ أميركا من طباعها الاستمرار في المحاولة وطالما انها تلعب بدماء الغير وأمنه وماله دون ان تمسّ هي بجندها ومالها فإنها لا تتوقف عن العدوان والعبث بأمور الغير، من هنا تبدو أهمية بلورة موقف دولي إقليمي متماسك يكون الى جانب كازاخستان ليدافع عنها تكون نواته منظمة معاهدة الأمن الجماعي ويستفيد من قدرات دولية أخرى خاصة الصين وإيران.

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*أستاذ جامعي ـ باحث استراتيجي.

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بوتين ينتقل الى الهجوم الاستراتيجي الوقائي

الاثنين 10 يناير 2022

 ناصر قنديل

في مطلع القرن الواحد والعشرين تقدّم الأميركيون في الجوار الروسي بما هو أبعد من مجرد ضمّ دول أوروبا الشرقية إلى الاتحاد الأوروبي، فكان التزامن بين وصول فلاديمير بوتين الى الرئاسة الروسية وبدء الهجوم الأميركي الأوروبي بالثورات الملوّنة وبالقضم الأمني والعسكري لدول الجوار الروسي، من أوكرانيا الى جورجيا ولتوانيا وصولاً الى دول البلطيق، والتلويح بضمّ دول هذا الجوار الى حلف الناتو الذي تقوم عقيدته العسكرية على اعتبار روسيا العدو الأول، وفي كلّ هذه المرحلة الممتدة حتى عام 2015 سنة التموضع الروسي في سورية، كان موقف موسكو السعي لاحتواء الهجوم الأميركي والغربي، والتركيز على بناء القدرات الاقتصادية والعسكرية لروسيا.

شكل العام 2015 محطة فاصلة في كيفية تعامل روسيا مع الهجوم الأميركي والغربي المستمرّ منذ سقوط جدار برلين وتفكك الاتحاد السوفياتي، فكان قرار الرئيس بوتين بالدخول طرفاً مباشراً في مواجهة الحرب المفتوحة على سورية بقيادة أميركية معلنة، تعبيراً عن قرارة متعددة الأبعاد، أولها القناعة بخطورة المدى الذي بلغه التغوّل الأميركي وخطورة الإنكفاء أمامه، وقد كشف تحالفه المعلن مع الإرهاب من جهة، وحجم تحدّيه للأمن القومي الروسي من جهة موازية، وفي المقابل بعدما ظهر في سورية أنّ مفهوم الدولة الوطنية كمشروع مناهض للمشروع الأميركي هو استثمار قادر على الإنجاز، وأنّ منطقة غرب آسيا التي اختارها الأميركي لإحكام الطوق على روسيا وإيران عبر اللعب على وتر الإسلام السياسي الذي مثلته تركيا بمشروع العثمانية الجديدة، تستطيع ان تكون مقبرة هذا المشروع بتشعّباته التركية والمتطرفة ومن خلفهما الأميركي خصوصاً والغربي عموماً.

عندما تمّ تحريك أوكرانيا بوجه روسيا في قلب الحرب السورية كانت رؤية موسكو واضحة، وقرارها حازماً، بأن لا تراجع مهما كان الثمن، والروس قد قرأوا جيداً ما كتبه زبينغيو بريجنسكي مستشار الأمن القومي الأميركي السابق في ثمانينات من القرن الماضي، وما قاله عن أوكرانيا نقطة الضعف الروسية في التاريخ والجغرافيا، ولذلك تشبّث الرئيس بوتين بقراره في المضيّ قدماً نحو التموضع في سورية وصولاً للحسم الذي بدأته معركة حلب الفاصلة، وذهب نحو قرار ضمّ شبه جزيرة القرم، وهو القرار الذي تحوّل الى أمر واقع رغم كلّ ما قيل يومها عن أنه لن يمرّ، ورغم كلّ التهديدات الغربية بالعواقب الوخيمة، وقد ثبت لموسكو انّ الكلام الغربي عن التهديدات يبقى حبراً على ورق وبعض العقوبات، ولم يحل كلّ ذلك دون السير قدماً ولو بتقطع بمشروع أنابيب السيل الشمالي لنقل الغاز الروسي الى ألمانيا.

هذه المرة عندما أثير ملف أوكرانيا بلغة التهديد لروسيا مجدداً، لم ترتبك موسكو في فهم الرسالة، فالمطروح هو تهديد موسكو بالخروج عن اتفاقات مينسك ودعم حكومة أوكرانيا لضمّ مناطق دونباس في شرق أوكرانيا بالقوة، ولم تتردّد موسكو، فلم تنف استعدادها لإجتياح أوكرانيا إذا تمّت إطاحة اتفاقات مينسك، ووضعت معادلة جديدة على الطاولة، لا ضمانات بعدم اجتياح أوكرانيا، بل مطالبة بضمانات لعدم ضمّ الغرب لأوكرانيا وسواها من دول الجوار الروسي الى حلف الناتو، وشيئاً فشيئاً لم تعد القضية أوكرانيا، بل صارت الضمانات الروسية الموثقة المطلوبة من الغرب، ودار الحوار بين الرئيسين الأميركي جو بايدن والروسي فلاديمير بوتين حول هذا الأمر، تمهيداً لحوارات قيد الانطلاق تحت هذا العنوان، تقول موسكو سلفاً إنها غير مستعدة لتقديم ايّ تنازل خلالها عن ثوابت تمثل أمنها القومي.

جاءت أحداث كازاخستان لتكشف بالمقارنة الزمنية بين الزمن الذي احتاجته القيادة الروسية لاتخاذ قرار التحرك الميداني نحو سورية، والزمن الموازي الذي احتاجته للتحرك الميداني نحو كازاخستان، من سنوات وشهور الى أيام وساعات، تحوّلاً كبيراً في توجهات القيادة الروسية لجهة الإنتقال من الدفاع الاستراتيجي الى الهجوم الاستراتيجي الوقائي، وهو غير الهجوم الاستراتيجي في المطلق، لكنه أحد أشكاله وبداياته.

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Who “lost” Kazakhstan and to whom?

Jauary 09, 2022

Dear friends, Christ is born!  Glorify Him!

The magnitude of the crisis in Kazakhstan has surprised many, including myself.  Some compared what happened to the Euromaidan in Kiev, but that is a very bad comparison, if only because the Euromaidan happened on one square of one city whereas the violent insurrection (because that it was it was!) in Kazakhstan began in the western regions but quickly spread to the entire country (which is huge).  Just by the sheer magnitude of the insurrection (about 20’000 well organized and trained combatants all over the country) and its extreme violence (cops had their heads cut off!), it was pretty obvious that this was not something spontaneous, but something carefully prepared, organized and then executed.  The way the insurgents immediately attacked all TV stations and airports, while bigger mobs were trashing the streets and looting stores, shows a degree of sophistication Ed Luttwak would have approved of!

To me, this is much more similar to what happened in Syria in the cities of Daraa, Homs, Hama, Aleppo, Damascus, and many more.

I will admit that my initial reaction also was “wow, how could the Kazakh and Russian intelligence services miss all the indicators and warnings that such a huge insurrection was carefully prepared and about to explode?”.  Then came the news that President Tokaev appealed to The Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), which up until now was a rather flaccid organization and that very same evening Russia began an air bridge to move forces to Kazakhstan, including the subunits of the 45th Guards Separate Special Forces Brigade, 98th Guards Airborne Division and 31st Guards Airborne Assault Brigade.  Russian military transporters also airlifted small contingents of Armenian, Kyrgyz, Tadjik special forces.  Most interestingly, the Belarusians also sent one reinforced company from their elite 103rd Separate Guards Airborne Brigade (that is the famous Vitebsk Airborne Division, one of the best Soviet Airborne Divisions).  Considering the current tensions with the West over the Ukraine, the speed with which these forces were sent to Kazakhstan indicated to me that this was clearly a prepared move.

In other words, at least the Russians had advanced warning and were fully prepared.  If so, I doubt they said anything to their colleagues from the CSTO, with the possible (likely?) exception of the Belarusians.

Okay, so let’s explore the implications of the above.

If the Russians knew, why did they do nothing at all to prevent what just happened?

Here we first need to revisit what recently happened in Belarus.

President Lukashenko had pretty much the same foreign policy as President Tokaev: something they call a “multi-vector” foreign policy which I would summarize as follows: pump all the aid and money from Russia, while suppressing pro-Russian forces inside your own country and try to show the AngloZionist Empire that we can be bought, just for the right price of course (this is also what Vucic is doing in Serbia right now).  Now let’s recall what happened in Belarus.

The Empire and its vassal states in the EU tried to overthrow Lukashenko who had no other choice than to turn to Russia for help and survival.  Russia, of course, did oblige, but only in exchange for Lukashenko’s “good behavior” and comprehensive abandonment of his “multi-vector” foreign policy.  Lukashenko prevailed, the opposition was crushed, and Russia and Belarus have already taken major further steps towards their integration.

Now I know that there are those out there who love to accuse Putin (personally) that he “showed weakness”, “let the US and NATO blow up countries on the Russian periphery”, etc. etc. etc.  To those inclined to this, I ask a simple question: compare the Belarus before the insurrection and after.  Specifically, from the Russian point of view, was the multi-vectoring Belarus preferable to the fully aligned Belarus of today or not?  The answer, I submit, is absolutely obvious.

Now let’s look at Kazakhstan.  Potentially, this is a much more dangerous country for Russia than Belarus: it has a huge border (7’600km, open and undefended as Kazakhstan is a member of the Eurasian Economic Community!), a strong pan-Turkic underground (supported by Turkey), an equally strong Takfiri underground (supported by various non-state and even state actors in the region), ethnic tensions between the Kazakhs and the Russian minority and very important security ties to Russia.  To have the Empire take over Belarus would have been very bad indeed, but the Empire taking over Kazakhstan would have been even much worse.

Yet, as a direct (and, I submit, predictable) consequence of the insurrection, Tokaev now knows that his fate depends on Russia, just like Lukashenko’s.  Is that a bad or a good outcome for the Kremlin?

I will toss in another name here: Armenia’s Pashinian, who was a notorious russophobe until the Azeris attacked at which point he had no other choice but to turn to Russia for help and, frankly, survival.  That is also true of Erdogan, but he is an ungrateful SOB who can’t ever be trusted, not even for minor matters.

Now remember all those dummies who were screaming urbi et orbi that the CSTO is useless, that the Russians just let the Azeris beat the crap of Armenia and could do nothing about it?  As soon as Russia got involved, the war stopped and the “invincible” Bayraktars stopped flying.  Is that a good or bad outcome for Russia?

And now, oh sweet irony, the self-same Pashinian happens to be the formal head of the CSTO (more like Stoltenberg really, a official mouthpiece with no real authority) and he had to “order” (announce, really) the CSTO operation into Kazakhstan.

So we have Lukashenko, Pashinian and now Tokaev all ex-multi-vector politicians begging Russia for help and getting that help, but at the obvious political price of ditching their former multi-vector policies.

I don’t know about you, but for me this is a triumph for Russia: without any military intervention or “invasion” (what the TV watching infantiles in the West scare themselves with at night), Putin “cracked” three notorious multi-vectorist and got them to be nice, loyal and very grateful (!) partners for Russia.  By the way, Russia also has a very deep “penetration” into all the other “stans” whose leaders are not stupid and who, unlike the western journos and “experts” all read the writing on the wall.  The impact of what just took place in Kazakhstan will reverberate all over Central Asia.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is The_Caucasus_and_Central_Asia_-_Political_Map.jpg

About the CSTO operation itself.  First, the Russian and Belarusian forces (about 3’000 Russians and 500 Belarusians): they are truly elite, top of the line, battle hardened, professional, highly trained and  superbly equipped forces (the other smaller contingents are more for “PR decoration” than for anything else).  Officially, their mission is only to protect key official (Kazakh and Russian) facilities but these forces would be more than enough to make minced meat of out any western or Turkish trained Takfiris or nationalists, even if their numbers are much higher than the 20’000 estimate.  And, in the worst case, these forces happen to be in control of key airports were Russians (and Belarusians) could send in even more forces, including at least two Russian airborne divisions.  That would be a force nothing in Central Asia can even dream of taking on.  I should also mention that Russia has a large and strategically crucial military base in Tadjikistan which has trained to fight against Takfiri terrorists and insurgents for decades now and which could also support any Russian military operation in Central Asia.

So the objective of these forces are:

  • To free up Kazakh security and military forces to put down the uprising (which they are doing)
  • To send a political message to the Kazakh security forces: we got your back, no worries, do your job.
  • To send a political message to the insurgents: you will either lay down arms, flee abroad or die (which is what Putin ordered in both Chechnia and Syria, so these are not empty threats at all).
  • To send a political message to the US and Turkey: Tokaev is our guy now, you lost him and this country!
  • To send a political message to the entire Central Asia and Caucasus: if Russia has your back, you will stay in power even if the idiots at CIA/NED/etc. try to color-revolutionize you.
  • To send yet another message to folks like Erdogan or Vucic – all that multi-vectorness will end up very badly for you, use your head before it is too late (for you, not for us – we are fine either way!).

Some have suggested that the timing of the insurrection Kazakhstan was some kind of attempt by US/NATO to “hurt” Russia in her “weak underbelly” and to show Russia that she has to back down from her ultimatum to the West (negotiations are supposed to start tomorrow, in an atmosphere of general pessimism).  Well, I don’t have any info out of Langley or Mons, but if that was the US plan, then this entire project not only collapsed, but has backfired very very badly indeed.

Remember, the PSYOP narrative was that Putin is either stupid, or weak or sold out to the West, yet when we look at the “before and after” thingie, we see that while the West “almost” (or so they think) “got” Belarus, Armenia, Azerbaijan and, now, Kazakhstan, the reality is that in each case it appears that the narcissistic megalomaniacs running the West have confidently waltzed into a carefully laid Russian trap which, far from giving the Empire the control of the countries it “almost” acquired, made them lose them for the foreseeable future.

Can you imagine the level of impotent rage and frustration in Langley and Mons when the watch that kind of footage: oy veh!!

Of sure, the AngloZionist propaganda machine and the clueless trolls (paid or not) who parrot that nonsense won’t say a word about all this, but just use your own common sense, use the “before and after” thing, and reach your own conclusions.

Joint briefing by the commander of the collective peacekeeping forces of the CSTO in the Republic of Kazakhstan, Colonel General Andrei Serdyukov, Commander of the Russian Airborne Forces, and Deputy Minister of Defense of the Republic of Kazakhstan, Lieutenant General Sultan Gamaletdinov.

Speaking of conclusions: how about all those who bitched about the CSTO being a toothless wannabe copy of NATO which can get nothing done?  You still find it so toothless now?

How does it compare to NATO, no, not on paper, but in terms of combat operations capability?

The West wanted to turn Kazakhstan into a “Russian Afghanistan” (same plan for the Ukraine, by the way).  Turkey wanted to turn Kazakhstan into a Turkish-run vassal state.  The Takfiris wanted to turn Kazakhstan into some kind of Emirate.

In your opinion, how do you evaluate the effectiveness of a collective security treaty which could foil all of these plans with only a brigade-sized force and in just a few days?

One more thing: there is something else which Kazakhstan and Syria have in common: there were A LOT of CIA/MI6/Mossad/etc agents around Assad, this became quite clear by the number of high-level Syrian officials who either backed the insurrection, or even led it.  Most later fled to the West, some were killed.  But the point is that the “apple” of the powers structure in Syria was quite rotten.  The same can be said for Kazakhstan where a huge purge is taking place, with the highly influential head of the security services (and former Prime Minister!) not only demoted, but arrested for treason!

So in plain English, the SVR/FSB/GRU will now have a free hand to “clean house” the same way the Russians “cleaned house” around Lukashenko and Assad (in this case with Iranian help): quietly and very effectively,

Again, I can hear the hysterical and desperate wailing out of Langley and Mons.  That’s what you get for believing your own stupid propaganda!

As for those who bought that silly “Putin losing countries all over the former Soviet Union space” PSYOP narrative, they probably feel quite stupid right now, but won’t ever admit it.  Speaking of stupid,

No, Putin is NOT, repeat, NOT trying to “re-create” the Soviet Union.

And while that mediocre non-entity Blinken warns about how the Russians are “hard to get out once they come in” (coming from a US Secretary of State this is both quite hilarious and a new, even higher, level of absolute hypocrisy!), the truth is that most CSTO forces will leave pretty soon, if only because there will be no need to keep them in Kazakhstan.  Why?  Simple: the hardcore trained terrorists and insurgents will soon be dead, the looting rioters will get off the streets and hope that they don’t get a visit from the Kazakh NSC (National Security Committee) or cops, the traitors in power will either leave the country for the EU or be jailed and the Kazakh security and military forces will regain control of the country and maintain law and order.

Why would the Russian paratroopers and special forces need to stay?

Furthermore, Russia has no need, or desire, to invade or, even less so, administer poor, mostly dysfunctional countries, with major social problems and very little actual benefits to offer Russia.  And now that Lukashenko, Pashinian, and Tokaev know that they serve at the pleasure of the Kremlin, you can rest assured that they will generally “behave”.  Oh sure, they will remain mostly corrupt states, with nepotism, tribal affiliation, and religious extremism all brewing at some level, but as long as they represent no threat to a) the Russian minority in these states and 2) to Russian national security interests, the Kremlin will not micro-manage them.  But at the first sign of a resurgence of “multi-vectoriality” (possibly inspired by the many western corporations working in Kazakhstan) the chairs upon which these leaders currently sit will immediately begin shaking pretty badly and they will know whom to call to stop this.

Speaking of weak “idiots” who “lost” countries to the Empire, does anybody care to make a list of countries the Empire has ACTUALLY snatched away from Russia (or any other adversary) and succeeded in keeping?  Syria?  Libya?  Afghanistan?  Iraq maybe?  Yemen?  And that is after the “Mission Accomplished” declaration by a “triumphant” US President 🙂

Okay, the three Baltic statelets.  Bravo!  Captain America won another Grenada!

Ah, I can hear the voices chanting “the Ukraine!  What about the Ukraine!?”.  Well, what about the Ukraine?

There is a Russian saying (цыплят по осени считают) which can be roughly translated as “do not count your chickens before they are hatched“.  Right now, NOBODY can confidently predict what will happen with the Ukraine further down the road.  Not only has the Ukraine become a country 404 deindustrialized shithole, it now is run by an entire class (in the Marxist sense) of Nazis whom, apparently, nobody has the will or the ability to de-Nazify (Russia could, but has exactly zero motive to do so, as for the US/NATO, LOL!!).  Even if Russia and the US agree to some kind of neutral status for the Ukraine, this will not remove a single Nazi from power and, if anything will create the conditions for an even bigger breakup of the country (which is what I think will eventually happen anyway, but very slowly and very very painfully).

The one thing which the Ukraine does have in common with Kazakhstan is that these are both invented countries created by the rabidly Russophobic Bolsheviks: not only are their current borders meaningless (and I mean totally completely meaningless), but these borders bring under one totally artificial political “roof” completely different regions and ethnic groups.  The big difference is, of course, that the Ukie leaders, all of them, were, and still are, infinitely worse than either Nazarbaev or Tokaev ever were.  Also, Ukie nationalism is the most hate-filled and demented on the planet, they can only be compared with the Hutu Interahamwe in Rwanda.  Yes, there is definitely a nationalist streak in the Kazakh society (lovingly nourished and fed by the West for decades), but in comparison with the Ukronazis, these are soft-spoken and mostly mentally sane humanitarians.  In my personal, and therefore admittedly subjective, experience, Kazakhs and Russians get along much better than Ukrainians and Russians.

Belarusian-style “housecleaning” in Kazakhstan has already begun!

Belarusian-style “housecleaning” in Kazakhstan has already begun!

Last, but not least, it will take decades to de-Nazify the Ukraine, and God only knows who will be willing and capable of doing that (certainly NOT Russia!) whereas Kazakhstan’s insurgents are already being killed, in large numbers (several thousand by some accounts), by Kazakh security forces.  As for the Kazakh oligarchs and officials who assisted them, they are either dead or in jail or already abroad.

Did I mention China?  It is a very important actor in Kazakhstan.  On one level, China and Russia are economic and even political competitors in Kazakhstan, however China absolutely and categorically cannot allow Kazakhstan to be taken over by either the US/NATO, or the Takfiris or the pan-Turkists.  The Chinese have not flexed their military muscle (yet), but they could, and you can be rest assured that they will flex with (immense) economic muscle to prevent such an outcome.  So while the poor Ukraine has Poland as a neighbor, Kazakhstan has both Russia and China which are absolutely determined not to allow any hostile force (anti-Chinese or anti-Russian, these are the same forces) to color-revolutionize Kazakhstan and turn it into the kind of nightmarish shithole the Empire turned so many countries into, from the US-occupied EU to the Nazi-occupied Ukraine (before eventually losing them anyway!).

The bottom line about the Ukraine is this: let’s wait and see what kind of chickens the Ukie eggs will hatch in time and whether the eventual outcome will be worse or better for Russia.  And, by “outcome” I do not refer to the roaring statements coming from western politicians and the talking heads on the idiot box, I mean actual outcomes, which in such matters can take months or even years before becoming fully apparent.  (I know, those dead set on the “Putin is weak” thing will ignore my advice or any facts or logic, I am mostly addressing these suggestions to those who hear that narrative and want to figure out for themselves whether it is true or false).

Conclusion:

What just happened in Kazakhstan was both a US-triggered full-scale insurrection AND an attempted coup.  There is overwhelming evidence that the Russians were aware of what was coming and allowed the chaos to get just bad enough to give only one possible option to Tokaev: to appeal for a CSTO intervention.  The extreme swiftness of the Russian military operation took everybody by surprise and none of the parties involved in that insurrection+coup (the US, the Takfiris and the Turks) had any time to react to prevent the quick deployment of (extremely) combat-capable forces which then made it possible for the Kazakh military and security forces to regroup and go on the offensive.  Having Pashinian “order” this CSTO operation was beautiful, karmic, cherry on the cake 🙂

All in all, this is just the latest in a series of cataclysmic failures of the leaders of the (already dead) AngloZionist Empire and the (equally dead) USA to actually get something, anything, done.  In the confrontation between western hot air and Russian military action, the latter has prevailed, yet again.

Tomorrow the US will try to scare Russia with talks about “sanctions from hell”.  Good luck with that!

🙂

Andrei

Lebedev: Those involved in violent unrest were foreign-backed

January 9 2022

Net Source: Agencies

By Al Mayadeen

Sergei Lebedev, the chairman of the Executive Committee of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), said that those involved in the violent unrest in Kazakhstan had prepared for the riots in advance and had foreign backing.

Sergei Lebedev, the chairman of the Executive Committee of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS)

The perpetrators of the riots in Kazakhstan had planned the rallies ahead of time and had foreign backing, according to Sergey Lebedev, chairman of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) Executive Committee.

Protests against a hike in fuel prices turned violent in Kazakhstan. 

Simultaneously, Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev requested help from the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), which agreed to send a peacekeeping mission to Kazakhstan.

“It is obvious today that the destructive elements, the bandits were preparing for mass rallies in advance to destabilize the country and had foreign support,” Lebedev said, according to the committee’s website.

Furthermore, the official stressed that Kazakh authorities made “timely and reasonable” decisions on stabilizing the situation.

“Those measures were supported not only by the CSTO but by other members of the Commonwealth,” Lebedev added.

The CIS believes that the situation in Almaty, Kazakhstan, will return to normal in the next weeks, allowing CIS events to be held there, according to Lebedev.

It is worth mentioning that Kazakhstan is chairing the Commonwealth of the Independent States this year, which includes Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Russia, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan.

Here’s what you need to know

Kazakhstan on Friday imposed a countrywide “critical red” of the terrorism threat level, local news outlets reported, meaning the government sees that the terrorism threat is severe in the country.

The severity of the threat means the government is fully mobilizing all its forces and special forces, who, in turn, will be able to search civilians and vehicles at will, in addition to restricting and directing their movement and accessing information transmitted via various telecommunication channels.

‘Foreign-trained terrorists’

As the intensity and violence of demonstrations escalated, President Tokayev appealed to the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) for help in quelling protests across the country that he said were led by “terrorist gangs.”

“Today I appealed to the heads of CSTO (Collective Security Treaty Organization) states to assist Kazakhstan in overcoming this terrorist threat,” Tokayev said on state television early Thursday. 

The president accused the attackers of receiving training abroad and being foreign agents.

كيف أحبط بوتين خطة أميركا في كازاخستان وجعل أوكرانيا وبولندا ساقطتين عسكرياً…؟

السبت 8 يناير 2022

 محمد صادق الحسيني

كل ما أعدّه له الغرب والرجعية العربية خلال سنوات وصرفوا عليه المليارات تبخر بين ليلة وضحى على يد فلاديمير بوتين!

فخلال أقل من 24 ساعة تمكن بوتين من إحباط أخطر عملية أميركية كانت تقضي بإحراق آسيا الوسطى والقوقاز انطلاقاً من كازاخستان!

 فقد استطاعت موسكو نقل أكثر من 20 ألف جندي الى هذا البلد المترامي الأطراف، ونجاحها بضرب الثورة الملوّنة المدعومة أميركياً والمموّلة سعودياً والسيطرة على مفاصل البلاد السياسية والإدارية والجغرافية، ما جعل بوتين ينجح بإخراج بايدن من اللعبة بخفي حنين ويخرج من كازاخستان خالي الوفاض، لا يملك في القمة الافتراضية المنتظرة بينه وبين نظيره الروسي في ١٠ الشهر الحالي سوى خيبة الأمل والذلّ والانكسار بعدما كان بايدن يريدها ورقته الرابحة المضمونة…

جو بايدن الذي كان قد أخفق تماماً في جرّ غريمه على المسرح الدولي فلاديمير بوتين إلى فخ اجتياح جيب أوكرانيا رغم كثرة الضجيج الإعلامي والتحشيد الاستخباري والعسكري على حدود الأمن القومي الروسي.

فكان قرار الدولة العميقة في واشنطن ان ذهبت للعمل بالخطة «ب» في إطار إشغال روسيا بمسرح عمليات أوسع وإبعادها عن تجميع قوى الشرق الصاعدة.

وهكذا تكون روسيا من الآن حتى ذلك اليوم قد نجحت في تفكيك كلّ الوحدات الإرهابية المدرّبة في القواعد التركية والمموّلة خليجياً، والقضاء عليها وتدميرها على امتداد البلاد الكازاخية.

ما يعني موسكو قد أحبطت عملياً أخطر مؤامرة كانت قد أعدّت لها واشنطن وأدواتها منذ سنوات لكازاخستان كما تقول مصادر مطلعة اقتضت نزول من تمّ تدريبهم وإعدادهم جيداً الى الشارع في أكبر بلاد آسيا المركزية الحاضنة للأمن القومي الروسي.

انّ نجاح هذا الإنزال الروسي المجوقل يحمل في طياته دلالات واسعة واستراتيجية في غاية الأهمية لواشنطن والناتو.

فالعملية جرت بسرعة فائقة تمّت السيطرة فيها على مساحة تفوق مساحة كلّ أوروبا، وفي بلاد أكثر تعقيداً من أوكرانيا وبولندا اللتين باتتا عملياً لقمة سهلة على الابتلاع والهضم بالنسبة لموسكو لو قرّرت ذلك في الجولات المقبلة من النزال مع الغرب، ما يجعل واشنطن تحت الصدمة الكبرى الآن وهي تشاهد خططها تتهاوى أمام عيونها من جديد كما حصل في سورية ولكن هذه المرة كلمح البصر!

فالمعروف انّ كلّ الأدوات المنفذة للخطة الأميركية كانت جاهزة عبر توظيف أحزاب ومنظمات مجتمع مدني ومجموعات مستعارة من دول الجوار (مقرّها اوكرانيا) مع غرفة العمليات المشتركة في الما ـ اتا في قبضة الروس!

وبهذا يكون قد سقط سيناريو إشعال «ربيع عربي» معادٍ لموسكو كان يهدف الضغط عليها لتقديم تنازلات للغرب او الانزلاق الى العنف والتورّط بالدم الكازاخي، للذهاب بالبلد الى مسار الثورات الملوّنة.

 وكازاخستان الدولة الأهمّ للحلف الروسي الآسيوي للأمن والدفاع المشترك وإحدى مقرات تأمين حشد الأسلحة الاستراتيجية الروسية، كانت البداية التي افترضها الغرب للتسلل الى الصين والى الجمهوريات المسلمة بما فيها المنضوية تحت الاتحاد الروسي.

وهي الدولة الكبرى بمساحة تزيد على 3 ملايين كم2 التي تحاذي كلّ الجنوب الروسي تقريباً بطول حدود مشتركة مع روسيا يبلغ 7664 كلم، وتحاذي الصين شرقاً وشمالاً ايضاً…

وكازاخستان الدولة الغنية بالنفط والغاز وبالمعادن الكثيرة ومنها اليورانيوم كذلك.

 تمكنت موسكو عملياً من إنقاذها من أخطر عملية هجوم غربي مسلح في أقل من ٢٤ ساعة من خلال تسيير جسر جوي فائق السرعة والتسليح جعل الناتو مبهوتاً وفاقداً لزمام المبادرة تماماً!

وهكذا تكون موسكو عملياً قد أحبطت مؤامرة نقل كازاخستان من ضفة الى ضفة أخرى من خلال استخدامها ديناميكية دفاعية عالية جداً ذكرت العالم بعملية كوسوفو وصربيا عندما سيطر الروس على مطار بريشتينا في العام 1999 ما دفع يومها قوات الناتو للتقهقر عن البوسنة وصربيا حتى يومنا هذا…

ويعزو المتابعون نجاح الخطة الروسية للإنزال الجوي في كازاخستان الى علم القيادة الروسية العليا جيداً بما كانت قد خططت له القيادة المركزية الأميركية، المتمركزة في قطر، يوم نقلت آلاف من عناصر داعش، من كلّ من سورية والعراق منذ العام 2017، بعد هزيمتهم على بوابات الشام وبلاد الرافدين على يد جيوش محور المقاومة وانعدام إمكانية معاودتهم القتال بشكل جبهوي (أيّ على شكل جبهه قادرة على شنّ عمليات عسكرية واسعة).

وكيف انّ عمليات النقل لهذه المجموعات، كانت قد جرت بتمويل سعودي قطري، وأنها قد بلغت ذروتها بعد هزيمة داعش في العراق أواخر العام المذكور.

حيث تمّ نقل ما لا يقلّ عن 12 الف عنصر الى شمال أفغانستان وبدأ تسريبهم من يومها الى داخل الجمهوريات الآسيويه السوفياتية السابقة وبينها كازاخستان .

وقد وجد هؤلاء قواعد حاضنة لهم في تلك البلدان، وذلك من خلال 18 ألف منظمة غير حكومية، تموّلها السعودية، في تلك الدول .

ويبلغ تعداد أفراد هذه المنظمات، القادرين على حمل السلاح والمدرّبين والمجهّزين جيداً حسب مصادر محور المقاومة، ما يزيد على 280 ألف فرد .

وما حصل خلال الأيام الماضية، من فوضى ونهب وسلب وتدمير الممتلكات الخاصة والعامة، إنما كان بإشراف غرفة عمليات أميركية «إسرائيلية»، مقرّها مدينة المآ ـ اتا، العاصمة الاقتصادية لكازاخستان.

ـ وقد تشكلت هذه الغرفة من 22 ضابط عمليات أميركي وستة ضباط استخبارات عسكرية «إسرائيلية» و16 ضابط استخبارات تركي، كما استخدمت في تنفيذ العمليات مجموعات مدرّبة على تنفيذ عمليات تخريبية «خلف خطوط العدو/ قوات خاصه أو صاعقة»، كانت حكومة أنقرة قد درّبتهم وأعدّتهم في قواعدها التركية وأرسلتهم بشكل ممنهج ومنظم الى داخل البلاد في تنسيق تامّ مع حلف الناتو.

ولكن مرة أخرى كانت موسكو لهم بالمرصاد وقد بدأت بإفشال العملية عندما تمكّن الجيش الكازاخي بدعم روسي واضح من استعادة السيطرة على مطار المآ ـ تا، الذي كان يُفترض ـ حسب الخطة ـ ان يتحوّل الى مركز لاستقبال الامدادات العسكرية الآتية من الدول التي تدير الجميع .

هذه المعرفة السابقة للخطة الغربية الرجعية هي التي دفعت الرئيس الكازاخي الى اتخاذ إجراءات ميدانيه فورية وحاسمة، ودعوته الى تفعيل دور منظمة الأمن والتعاون، التي تضمً كلاً من روسيا وكازاخستان وروسيا البيضاء وأرمينيا وطاجيكستان الى نشر قوات مشتركة، ما وضع الارضية والإمكانية العملية لحسم الهجوم المعادي وتدمير البنى التحتية لذلك التنظيم .

ـ وكان وصول طلائع القوات المساندة، من الدول المذكورة أعلاه، وعلى رأسها روسيا، هو الذي وضع حداً لعمليات التهريب والفوضى وقطع دابر المؤامرة وقضى عليها في مهدها .

ـ خاصة أنّ هذه القوات كلفت على الفور بحماية المؤسسات والمباني الحكومية والمنشآت الاستراتيجية الكبرى.

ـ وهذا يعني حماية الدولة الكازاخية ومنع سقوطها وتقسيمها وتحويلها الى قاعدة ارتكاز لتنفيذ عمليات أميركية «إسرائيلية» ضدّ كلّ من روسيا والصين وإيران .

ذلك لأنّ المعلومات المؤكدة التي توافرت لدى القيادة الروسية كانت تفيد بأنّ واشنطن وعواصم الناتو كانت تعدّ عملياً لنقل هذا السيناريو قريباً الى موسكو وطهران تحت عنوان الخطة «ج» فور الانتهاء من السيطرة على كازاخستان!

لكن الجميع في دول منظمة شانغهاي كان مستعداً ويقظاً هذه المرة لإسقاط المؤامرة تماماً، ومنع حلم المخطط الأميركي ومنفذيه، الذين باتوا مصابين بالعمى الاستراتيجي والتكتيكي، من التحقق وجعل أدواته تغرق في عملية استنزاف لا تعرف كيف تخرج منها !

الدلالة الأهمّ في ما حصل خلال الساعات الماضية يمكن تلخيصه بأنّ موازين القوى الاستراتيجي بين واشنطن وموسكو قد تغيّر لمصلحة الأخيرة وقواعد الاشتباك بين الشرق والغرب تغيّرت، وانّ أوكرانيا وبولندا باتتا ساقطتين نارياً.

وبهت الذي كفر.

بعدنا طيّبين قولوا الله…

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