How a missile in Kabul connects to a Speaker in Taipei

August 03 2022

Photo Credit: The Cradle

Source

By Pepe Escobar

This is the way the “Global War on Terror” (GWOT) ends, over and over again: not with a bang, but a whimper.

Two Hellfire R9-X missiles launched from a MQ9 Reaper drone on the balcony of a house in Kabul. The target was Ayman Al-Zawahiri with a $25 million bounty on his head. The once invisible leader of ‘historic’ Al-Qaeda since 2011, is finally terminated.

All of us who spent years of our lives, especially throughout the 2000s, writing about and tracking Al-Zawahiri know how US ‘intel’ played every trick in the book – and outside the book – to find him. Well, he never exposed himself on the balcony of a house, much less in Kabul.

Another disposable asset

Why now? Simple. Not useful anymore – and way past his expiration date. His fate was sealed as a tawdry foreign policy ‘victory’ – the remixed Obama ‘Osama bin Laden moment’ that won’t even register across most of the Global South. After all, a perception reigns that George W. Bush’s GWOT has long metastasized into the “rules-based,” actually “economic sanctions-based” international order.

Cue to 48 hours later, when hundreds of thousands across the west were glued to the screen of flighradar24.com (until the website was hacked), tracking “SPAR19” – the US Air Force jet carrying House Speaker Nancy Pelosi – as it slowly crossed Kalimantan from east to west, the Celebes Sea, went northward parallel to the eastern Philippines, and then made a sharp swing westwards towards Taiwan, in a spectacular waste of jet fuel to evade the South China Sea.

No “Pearl Harbor moment”

Now compare it with hundreds of millions of Chinese who are not on Twitter but on Weibo, and a leadership in Beijing that is impervious to western-manufactured pre-war, post-modern hysteria.

Anyone who understands Chinese culture knew there would never be a “missile on a Kabul balcony” moment over Taiwanese airspace. There would never be a replay of the perennial neocon wet dream: a “Pearl Harbor moment.” That’s simply not the Chinese way.

The day after, as the narcissist Speaker, so proud of accomplishing her stunt, was awarded the Order of Auspicious Clouds for her promotion of bilateral US-Taiwan relations, the Chinese Foreign Minister issued a sobering comment: the reunification of Taiwan with the mainland is a historical inevitability.

That’s how you focus, strategically, in the long game.

What happens next had already been telegraphed, somewhat hidden in a Global Times report. Here are the two key points:

Point 1: “China will see it as a provocative action permitted by the Biden administration rather than a personal decision made by Pelosi.”

That’s exactly what President Xi Jinping had personally told the teleprompt-reading White House tenant during a tense phone call last week. And that concerns the ultimate red line.

Xi is now reaching the exact same conclusion reached by Russian President Vladimir Putin earlier this year: the United States is “non-agreement capable,” and there’s no point in expecting it to respect diplomacy and/or rule of law in international relations.

Point 2 concerns the consequences, reflecting a consensus among top Chinese analysts that mirrors the consensus at the Politburo: “The Russia-Ukraine crisis has just let the world see the consequence of pushing a major power into a corner… China will steadily speed up its process of reunification and declare the end of US domination of the world order.”

Chess, not checkers

The Sinophobic matrix predictably dismissed Xi’s reaction to the fact on the ground – and in the skies – in Taiwan, complete with rhetoric exposing the “provocation by American reactionaries” and the “uncivilized campaign of the imperialists.”

This may be seen as Xi playing Chairman Mao. He may have a point, but the rhetoric is pro forma. The crucial fact is that Xi was personally humiliated by Washington and so was the Communist Party of China (CPC), a major loss of face – something that in Chinese culture is unforgivable. And all that compounded with a US tactical victory.

So the response will be inevitable, and it will be classic Sun Tzu: calculated, precise, tough, long-term and strategic – not tactical. That takes time because Beijing is not ready yet in an array of mostly technological domains. Putin had to wait years for Russia to act decisively. China’s time will come.

For now, what’s clear is that as much as with Russia-US relations last February, the Rubicon has been crossed in the US-China sphere.

The price of collateral damage

The Central Bank of Afghanistan bagged a paltry $40 million in cash as ‘humanitarian aid’ soon after that missile on a balcony in Kabul.

So that was the price of the Al-Zawahiri operation, intermediated by the currently US-aligned Pakistani intelligence agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI). So cheap.

The MQ-9 Reaper drone carrying the two Hellfire R9X that killed Al-Zawahiri had to fly over Pakistani airspace – taking off from a US base in the Persian Gulf, traversing the Arabian Sea, and flying over Balochistan to enter Afghanistan from the south. The Americans may have also got human intelligence as a bonus.

A 2003 deal, according to which Islamabad facilitates air corridors for US military flights, may have expired with the American withdrawal debacle last August, but could always be revived.

No one should expect a deep dive investigation on what exactly the ISI – historically very close to the Taliban – gave to Washington on a silver platter.

Dodgy dealings

Cue to an intriguing phone call last week between the all-powerful Chief of Staff of the Pakistani Army, Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa, and US deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman. Bajwa was lobbying for the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to release a crucial loan at the soonest, otherwise Pakistan will default on its foreign debt.

Were deposed former Prime Minister Imran Khan still in power, he would never have allowed that phone call.

The plot thickens, as Al-Zawahiri’s Kabul digs in a posh neighborhood is owned by a close advisor to Sirajuddin Haqqani, head of the “terrorist” (US-defined) Haqqani network and currently Taliban Interior Minister. The Haqqani network, needless to add, was always very cozy with the ISI.

And then, three months ago, we had the head of ISI, Lieutenant General Nadeem Anjum, meeting with Biden’s National Security Advisor  Jake Sullivan in Washington – allegedly to get their former, joint, covert, counter-terrorism machinery back on track.

Once again, the only question revolves around the terms of the “offer you can’t refuse” – and that may be connected to IMF relief. Under these circumstances, Al-Zawahiri was just paltry collateral damage.

Sun Tzu deploys his six blades

Following Speaker Pelosi’s caper in Taiwan, collateral damage is bound to multiply like the blades of a R9-X missile.

The first stage is the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) already having engaged in live fire drills, with massive shelling in the direction of the Taiwan Strait out of Fujian province.

The first sanctions are on too, against two Taiwanese funds. Export of sable to Taiwan is forbidden; sable is an essential commodity for the electronics industry – so that will ratchet up the pain dial in high-tech sectors of the global economy.

Chinese CATL, the world’s largest fuel cell and lithium-ion battery maker, is indefinitely postponing the building of a massive $5 billion, 10,000-employee factory that would manufacture batteries for electric vehicles across North America, supplying Tesla and Ford among others.

So the Sun Tzu maneuvering ahead will essentially concentrate on a progressive economic blockade of Taiwan, the imposition of a partial no-fly zone, severe restrictions of maritime traffic, cyber warfare, and the Big Prize: inflicting pain on the US economy.

The War on Eurasia

For Beijing, playing the long game means the acceleration of the process involving an array of nations across Eurasia and beyond, trading in commodities and manufactured products in their own currencies. They will be progressively testing a new system that will see the advent of a BRICS+/SCO/Eurasia Economic Union (EAEU) basket of currencies, and in the near future, a new reserve currency.

The Speaker’s escapade was concomitant to the definitive burial of the “war on terror” cycle and its metastasis into the “war on Eurasia” era.

It may have unwittingly provided the last missing cog to turbo-charge the complex machinery of the Russia-China strategic partnership. That’s all there is to know about the ‘strategic’ capability of the US political ruling class. And this time no missile on a balcony will be able to erase the new era.

Going to Samarkand

July 31, 2022

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How comfortable are you with the US dollar?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Those Afghan and Arab lives

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

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

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

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

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

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

The power troika trumps Biden in West Asia

The presidents of Russia, Iran, and Turkey convened to discuss critical issues pertaining to West Asia, with the illegal US occupation of Syria a key talking point

July 20 2022

Photo Credit: The Cradle

Oil and gas, wheat and grains, missiles and drones – the hottest topics in global geopolitics today – were all on the agenda in Tehran this week.

By Pepe Escobar

The Tehran summit uniting Iran-Russia-Turkey was a fascinating affair in more ways than one. Ostensibly about the Astana peace process in Syria, launched in 2017, the summit joint statement duly noted that Iran, Russia and (recently rebranded) Turkiye will continue, “cooperating to eliminate terrorists” in Syria and “won’t accept new facts in Syria in the name of defeating terrorism.”

That’s a wholesale rejection of the “war on terror” exceptionalist unipolarity that once ruled West Asia.

Standing up to the global sheriff

Russian President Vladimir Putin, in his own speech, was even more explicit. He stressed “specific steps to promote the intra-Syrian inclusive political dialogue” and most of called a spade a spade: “The western states led by the US are strongly encouraging separatist sentiment in some areas of the country and plundering its natural resources with a view to ultimately pulling the Syrian state apart.”

So there will be “extra steps in our trilateral format” aimed at “stabilizing the situation in those areas” and crucially, “returning control to the legitimate government of Syria.” For better or for worse, the days of imperial plunder will be over.

The bilateral meetings on the summit’s sidelines – Putin/Raisi and Putin/Erdogan – were even more intriguing. Context is key here: the Tehran gathering took place after Putin’s visit to Turkmenistan in late June for the 6th Caspian summit, where all the littoral nations, Iran included, were present, and after Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov’s travels in Algeria, Bahrain, Oman, and Saudi Arabia, where he met all his Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) counterparts.

Moscow’s moment

So we see Russian diplomacy carefully weaving its geopolitical tapestry from West Asia to Central Asia – with everybody and his neighbor eager to talk and to listen to Moscow. As it stands, the Russia-Turkey entente cordiale tends to lean towards conflict management, and is strong on trade relations. Iran-Russia is a completely different ball game: much more of a strategic partnership.

So it’s hardly a coincidence that the National Oil Company of Iran (NIOC), timed to the Tehran summit, announced the signing of a $40 billion strategic cooperation agreement with Russia’s Gazprom. That’s the largest foreign investment in the history of Iran’s energy industry – badly needed since the early 2000s. Seven deals worth $4 billion apply to the development of oil fields; others focus on the construction of new export gas pipelines and LNG projects.

Kremlin advisor Yury Ushakov deliciously leaked that Putin and Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, in their private meeting, “discussed conceptual issues.” Translation: he means grand strategy, as in the evolving, complex process of Eurasia integration, in which the three key nodes are Russia, Iran and China, now intensifying their interconnection. The Russia-Iran strategic partnership largely mirrors the key points of the China-Iran strategic partnership.

Iran says ‘no’ to NATO

Khamenei, on NATO, did tell it like it is: “If the road is open for NATO, then the organization sees no borders. If it had not been stopped in Ukraine, then after a while the alliance would have started a war under the pretext of Crimea.”

There were no leaks on the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) impasse between the US and Iran – but it’s clear, based on the recent negotiations in Vienna, that Moscow will not interfere with Tehran’s nuclear decisions. Not only are Tehran-Moscow-Beijing fully aware of who’s preventing the JCPOA from getting back on track, they also see how this counter-productive stalling process prevents the collective west from badly needed access to Iranian oil.

Then there’s the weapons front. Iran is one of the world’s leaders in drone production: Pelican, Arash, Homa, Chamrosh, Jubin, Ababil, Bavar, recon drones, attack drones, even kamikaze drones, cheap and effective, mostly deployed from naval platforms in West Asia.

Tehran’s official position is not to supply weapons to nations at war – which would in principle invalidate dodgy US “intel” on their supply to Russia in Ukraine. Yet that could always happen under the radar, considering that Tehran is very much interested in buying Russian aerial defense systems and state of the art fighter jets. After the end of the UN Security Council-enforced embargo, Russia can sell whatever conventional weapons to Iran it sees fit.

Russian military analysts are fascinated by the conclusions Iranians reached when it was established they would stand no chance against a NATO armada; essentially they bet on pro-level guerrilla war (a lesson learned from Afghanistan). In Syria, Iraq and Yemen they deployed trainers to guide villagers in their fight against Salafi-jihadis; produced tens of thousands of large-caliber sniper rifles, ATGMs, and thermals; and of course perfected their drone assembly lines (with excellent cameras to surveil US positions).

Not to mention that simultaneously the Iranians were building quite capable long-range missiles. No wonder Russian military analysts estimate there’s much to learn tactically from the Iranians – and not only on the drone front.

The Putin-Sultan ballet

Now to the Putin-Erdogan get together – always an attention-grabbing geopolitical ballet, especially considering the Sultan has not yet decided to hop on the Eurasia integration high-speed train.

Putin diplomatically “expressed gratitude” for the discussions on food and grain issues, while reiterating that “not all issues on the export of Ukrainian grain from the Black Sea ports are resolved, but progress is made.”

Putin was referring to Turkiye’s Defense Minister Hulusi Akar, who earlier this week assured that setting up an operations center in Istanbul, establishing joint controls at the port exit and arrival points, and carefully monitoring the navigational safety on the transfer routes are issues that may be solved in the next few days.

Apparently Putin-Erdogan also discussed Nagorno-Karabakh (no details).

What a few leaks certainly did not reveal is that on Syria, for all practical purposes, the situation is blocked. That favors Russia – whose main priority as it stands is Donbass. Wily Erdogan knows it – and that’s why he may have tried to extract some “concessions” on “the Kurdish question” and Nagorno-Karabakh. Whatever Putin, Russia’s Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev and Deputy Chairman Dmitry Medvedev may really think about Erdogan, they certainly evaluate how priceless is to cultivate such an erratic partner capable of driving the collective west totally bonkers.

Istanbul this summer has been turned into a sort of Third Rome, at least for expelled-from-Europe Russian tourists: they are everywhere. Yet the most crucial geoeconomic development these past few months is that the western-provoked collapse of trade/supply lines along the borders between Russia and the EU – from the Baltic to the Black Sea – finally highlighted the wisdom and economic sense of the International North-South Transportation Corridor (INTSC): a major Russia-Iran-India geopolitical and geoeconomic integration success.

When Moscow talks to Kiev, it talks via Istanbul. NATO, as the Global South well knows, does not do diplomacy. So any possibility of dialogue between Russians and a few educated westerners takes place in Turkey, Armenia, Azerbaijan and the UAE. West Asia as well as the Caucasus, incidentally, did not subscribe to the western sanctions hysteria against Russia.

Say farewell to the ‘teleprompter guy’

Now compare all of the above with the recent visit to the region by the so-called “leader of the free world,” who merrily alternates between shaking hands with invisible people to reading – literally – whatever is scrolling on a teleprompter. We’re talking of US President Joe Biden, of course.

Fact: Biden threatened Iran with military strikes and as a mere supplicant, begged the Saudis to pump more oil to offset the “turbulence” in the global energy markets caused by the collective west’s sanction hysteria. Context: the glaring absence of any vision or anything even resembling a draft of foreign policy plan for West Asia.

So oil prices duly jumped upward after Biden’s trip: Brent crude rose more than four percent to $105 a barrel, bringing prices back to above $100 after a lull of several months.

The heart of the matter is that if OPEC or OPEC+ (which includes Russia) ever decide to increase their oil supplies, they will do it based on their internal deliberations, and not under exceptionalist pressure.

As for the imperial threat of military strikes on Iran, it qualifies as pure dementia. The whole Persian Gulf – not to mention the whole of West Asia – knows that were US/Israel to attack Iran, fierce retaliation would simply evaporate with the region’s energy production, with apocalyptic consequences including the collapse of trillions of dollars in derivatives.

Biden then had the gall to say, “We have made progress in strengthening our relations with the Gulf states. We will not leave a vacuum for Russia and China to fill in the Middle East”.

Well, in real life it is the “indispensable nation” that has self-morphed into a vacuum. Only bought-and-paid for Arab vassals – most of them monarchs – believe in the building of an “Arab NATO” (copyright Jordan’s King Abdullah) to take on Iran. Russia and China are already all over the place in West Asia and beyond.

De-Dollarization, not just Eurasian integration

It’s not only the new logistical corridor from Moscow and St. Petersburg to Astrakhan and then, via the Caspian, to Enzeli in Iran and on to Mumbai that is shaking things up. It’s about increasing bilateral trade that bypasses the US dollar. It’s about BRICS+, which Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Egypt are dying to be part of. It’s about the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), which formally accepts Iran as a full member this coming September (and soon Belarus as well). It’s about BRICS+, the SCO, China’s ambitious Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and the Eurasia Economic Union (EAEU) interconnected in their path towards a Greater Eurasia Partnership.

West Asia may still harbor a small collection of imperial vassals with zero sovereignty who depend on the west’s financial and military ‘assistance,’ but that’s the past. The future is now – with Top Three BRICS (Russia, India, China) slowly but surely coordinating their overlapping strategies across West Asia, with Iran involved in all of them.

And then there’s the Big Global Picture: whatever the circumvolutions and silly schemes of the US-concocted “oil price cap” variety, the fact is that Russia, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Venezuela – the top powerful energy-producing nations – are absolutely in sync: on Russia, on the collective west, and on the needs of a real multipolar world.

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

To Hell or Not to Hell?

July 16, 2022

Source

By Batiushka

The Barbarian West

By the fifth century AD the barbarians had moved into Western Europe in significant numbers, bringing about the fall of Old Rome in what is now Italy in 410. Curiously, the barbarianism they brought with them, combined with the systematic brutality of Old Rome by the most brutal of them, the Franks, survives today. Indeed, we can state quite clearly that many in Western Europe have remained barbarians, knowingly or unknowingly supporting the ‘Frankish’ warlord aristocracy/ oligarchy which administrates (but not controls –control is from elsewhere) the Western world till this day. At first the barbarians took over only Western Europe, but then they expanded to its immediate neighbours in Eastern Europe, the Near East and along the African coasts. However, from 1492 on there began the Western European occupation and exploitation of the New Worlds. Barbarianism had literally gone global.

As we have said, the Franks (literally meaning ‘freemen’, that is, not slaves) (1) led the field among the barbarians, even renaming one country, Gaul, after themselves, as ‘France’. The word ‘Frank’ was generalised after Charlemagne who in the late eighth century massacred other less violent barbarians, the Saxons. Charlemagne founded a ‘Holy Roman Empire’ (in reality an Unholy Frankish Empire), whose intellectuals had been trained by Jews in Spain. Thus, tenth-century Muslims used the word ‘Frank’ to mean an ‘aggressive Western European’, as did eleventh-century Orthodox Christians in New Rome. In 1100 Baldwin I was enthroned in Jerusalem as the ‘first King of the Franks’. In the late eleventh century, Welsh chroniclers called the invading Normans ‘Franks’, as did the Irish and the Scots in the twelfth century, as did the Spanish and Portuguese French invaders, and did Poles and Czechs German settlers. In the sixteenth century the Chinese called marauding Portuguese and Spanish ‘Fo-lang-ki’, taken from the Arabic ‘Faranga’, from the selfsame word ‘Frank’.

Soon after 1492 the second of the two Spanish Borgia/Borja Popes, Rodrigo Borgia, alias Pope Alexander VI (1492–1503), defined Non-Catholic European men as non-humans, permitting them to be robbed, enslaved and killed. In the twentieth century, this misogynistic and racist Western culture graciously extended its ‘superiority’ to Western women, then to the Jews, calling their ‘Western civilisation’ ‘Judeo-Christian’, and then extended it to all races (2), but on one condition: that these newcomers accept ‘Western values’ such as ‘democracy’ = a new word for Western supremacy, that is, Nazism. Thus, today Kiev’s barbarian troops, the New Vandals, are doing the same as Western barbarian marauders, the Old Vandals, genociding all who do not accept their Nazi ideology. Russia is fighting the West today, because the barbarians are at its gates in the Ukraine – again, just as they were eighty years ago.

In the Ukraine

In recent months, here and there in various Western European countries, I have seen two or three flags being flown together, the EU One Ring ‘to rule them all’, sometimes the local national flag, and beneath it the Ukrainian one. This represents Western supremacism, the Nazi ideology which proclaims the long-desired Westernisation of the Ukraine. It says that any who do not accept ‘Western values’ are to be destroyed or, as they say now, ’cancelled’ – with Western fake news, Western arms and Western death.

Who are today’s aristocratic warlords, today’s Franks, Lombards, Goths, Vandals and Vikings? They are Stoltenberg, Biden, Johnson, von der Leyen, Blinken, Nuland, Kagan, Scholz, Macron and all the other knowing and unknowing neocons who fly these flags together. The barbarians were there sacking civilisation in August 476 and in August 1914, they were there sacking civilisation in late 1492 and in early 2022. However, the world that started on 12 October 1492 died on 24 February 2022 and a new era has begun.

On 14 July 2022 the Serbian President Vucic said: ‘Now the whole Western world is at war with Russia through Ukrainian intermediaries and today’s armed conflict can almost be called a world war’. ‘I know what awaits us. As soon as Vladimir Putin has finished his work in Seversk, Bakhmut and Soledar and then reaches the second line in Slaviansk-Kramatorsk-Avdeevka, he will make an offer. And if they (the West) don’t accept – and they don’t intend to – we shall take the road to hell’.

After the Barbarians

So what happens if the Western world chooses not to go to hell? What happens after the barbarians, after the final demise of the myths of ‘The West and the Rest’ and ‘The West is Best’? At the moment, the alternative is an alphabet soup of BRI, BRICS, EAEU, SCO etc. BRICS itself is becoming old-fashioned, as it may well soon be joined by Iran, Turkey, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and maybe Argentina and then, who knows? Does that make BRICSITESAA? An alternative name like ‘The Anti-West’ is purely reactive, negative and refers to the 530 years before 24 February 2022. It is especially inappropriate since the EU is clearly collapsing and it is obvious that, at the very least, countries like Serbia, Hungary (whom the EU elite wishes to expel from the EU) and Germany, if it is to survive, will be joining the to-be-renamed BRICS.

Perhaps we could call the future bloc ‘The Free World’, but that also makes too close a reference to the past. We of course do not know the future name. But we could suggest some more realistic names like ‘The International Alliance’ (IA), or, ‘The Free Alliance of Sovereign Peoples’ (FASP). Such a bloc could help settle long-standing historic injustices, through the formation of new countries, new borders, new constitutions and new prosperity. The fact is that the world has not yet been decolonised. You can still see straight lines on maps, usually the work of tidy-minded colonial bureaucrats a century or so ago in London and Paris, who had little concept of history and geography, of rivers, mountains and the languages of different ethnicities, let alone of humanity, justice and prosperity.

There are still dispossessed peoples waiting to get or get back their own sovereign homelands, such as those in Scotland, Wales, Carpatho-Russia, Abkhazia, Ossetia, Kurdistan, Hawaii, Guam, Puerto Rico. There are still peoples waiting to return to their real homelands, such as those in Northern Ireland, Gibraltar, Taiwan, American Samoa, Belize, French Guiana, the Falklands. There are still artificial countries which may well disappear entirely or else be federated, such as: USA, UK, France, Spain, Belgium, Kosovo, Ukraine, Morocco, Libya, Mali, Somalia, Israel, Lebanon, Kuwait, North Korea, South Korea. Finally, there are countries with disputed borders, not least in Europe, such as Albania, Serbia, Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Italy, Austria, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Cyprus, Turkey, Syria, the Jordan, Yemen, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, India. If we are to go not towards Hell, let us go to Free and Sovereign Nations, lands for native peoples, and not for colonial powers, and let there be a World Alliance of Free and Sovereign Peoples.

Notes:

1. We are reminded of the anthem of eighteenth-century British slave-traders and slave-owners that they, at least, would ‘never, never, never be slaves’. Of course they would never be slaves, they were ‘Franks’, aggressive Western Europeans.

2. Just as most in the twenty-first century had no problem with Obama (a pale brown, definitely not a black, man and the useful and self-obsessed idiot who started all the problems in the Ukraine) becoming US President, so few have a problem with the idea that a man of Indian extraction is the current frontrunner to be the next UK Prime Minister. After all, the candidacy of Rishi (called by some ‘Richy’) Sunak, until recently UK Chancellor/Minister of Finance, from an Indian/East African merchant family, worked appropriately for Goldman Sachs, married the daughter of the sixth richest billionaire in India, their combined fortune approaching $1 billion, Member of Parliament for a town called, strangely enough, ‘Richmond’, is unsurprisingly supported by the British Establishment’s ‘Financial Times’.

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

July 15, 2022

Photo Credit: The Cradle

Source

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

By Pepe Escobar

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

Very few, both in the east and west, are aware of how this actually has long been in the making: the Russia-Iran-India agreement for implementing a shorter and cheaper Eurasian trade route via the Caspian Sea (compared to the Suez Canal), was first signed in 2000, in the pre-9/11 era.

The INSTC in full operational mode signals a powerful hallmark of Eurasian integration – alongside the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU), and last but not least, what I described as “Pipelineistan” two decades ago.

Caspian is key

Let’s have a first look on how these vectors are interacting.

The genesis of the current acceleration lies in Russian President Vladimir Putin’s recent visit to Ashgabat, Turkmenistan’s capital, for the 6th Caspian Summit. This event not only brought the evolving Russia-Iran strategic partnership to a deeper level, but crucially, all five Caspian Sea littoral states agreed that no NATO warships or bases will be allowed on site.

That essentially configures the Caspian as a virtual Russian lake, and in a minor sense, Iranian – without compromising the interests of the three “stans,” Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan. For all practical purposes, Moscow has tightened its grip on Central Asia a notch.

As the Caspian Sea is connected to the Black Sea by canals off the Volga built by the former USSR, Moscow can always count on a reserve navy of small vessels – invariably equipped with powerful missiles – that may be transferred to the Black Sea in no time if necessary.

Stronger trade and financial links with Iran now proceed in tandem with binding the three “stans” to the Russian matrix. Gas-rich republic Turkmenistan for its part has been historically idiosyncratic – apart from committing most of its exports to China.

Under an arguably more pragmatic young new leader, President Serdar Berdimuhamedow, Ashgabat may eventually opt to become a member of the SCO and/or the EAEU.

Caspian littoral state Azerbaijan on the other hand presents a complex case: an oil and gas producer eyed by the European Union (EU) to become an alternative energy supplier to Russia – although this is not happening anytime soon.

The West Asia connection

Iran’s foreign policy under President Ebrahim Raisi is clearly on a Eurasian and Global South trajectory. Tehran will be formally incorporated into the SCO as a full member in the upcoming summit in Samarkand in September, while its formal application to join the BRICS has been filed.

Purnima Anand, head of the BRICS International Forum, has stated that Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Egypt are also very much keen on joining BRICS. Should that happen, by 2024 we could be on our way to a powerful West Asia, North Africa hub firmly installed inside one of the key institutions of the multipolar world.

As Putin heads to Tehran next week for trilateral Russia, Iran, Turkey talks, ostensibly about Syria, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is bound to bring up the subject of BRICS.

Tehran is operating on two parallel vectors. In the event the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) is revived – a quite dim possibility as it stands, considering the latest shenanigans in Vienna and Doha – that would represent a tactical victory. Yet moving towards Eurasia is on a whole new strategic level.

In the INSTC framework, Iran will make maximum good use of the geostrategically crucial port of Bandar Abbas – straddling the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman, at the crossroads of Asia, Africa and the Indian subcontinent.

Yet as much as it may be portrayed as a major diplomatic victory, it’s clear that Tehran will not be able to make full use of BRICS membership if western – especially US – sanctions are not totally lifted.

Pipelines and the “stans”

A compelling argument can be made that Russia and China might eventually fill the western technology void in the Iranian development process. But there’s a lot more that platforms such as the INSTC, the EAEU and even BRICS can accomplish.

Across “Pipelineistan,” the War of Economic Corridors gets even more complex. Western propaganda simply cannot admit that Azerbaijan, Algeria, Libya, Russia’s allies at OPEC, and even Kazakhstan are not exactly keen on increasing their oil production to help Europe.

Kazakhstan is a tricky case: it is the largest oil producer in Central Asia and set to be a major natural gas supplier, right after Russia and Turkmenistan. More than 250 oil and gas fields are operated in Kazakhstan by 104 companies, including western energy giants such as Chevron, Total, ExxonMobil and Royal Dutch Shell.

While exports of oil, natural gas and petroleum products comprise 57 percent of Kazakhstan’s exports, natural gas is responsible for 85 percent of Turkmenistan’s budget (with 80 percent of exports committed to China). Interestingly, Galkynysh is the second largest gas field on the planet.

Compared to the other “stans,” Azerbaijan is a relatively minor producer (despite oil accounting for 86 percent of its total exports) and basically a transit nation. Baku’s super-wealth aspirations center on the Southern Gas Corridor, which includes no less than three pipelines: Baku-Tblisi-Erzurum (BTE); the Turkish-driven Trans-Anatolian Natural Gas Pipeline (TANAP); and the Trans-Adriatic (TAP).

The problem with this acronym festival – BTE, TANAP, TAP – is that they all need massive foreign investment to increase capacity, which the EU sorely lacks because every single euro is committed by unelected Brussels Eurocrats to “support” the black hole that is Ukraine. The same financial woes apply to a possible Trans-Caspian Pipeline which would further link to both TANAP and TAP.

In the War of Economic Corridors – the “Pipelineistan” chapter – a crucial aspect is that most Kazakh oil exports to the EU go through Russia, via the Caspian Pipeline Consortium (CPC). As an alternative, the Europeans are mulling on a still fuzzy Trans-Caspian International Transport Route, also known as the Middle Corridor (Kazakhstan-Turkmenistan-Azerbaijan-Georgia-Turkey). They actively discussed it in Brussels last month.

The bottom line is that Russia remains in full control of the Eurasia pipeline chessboard (and we’re not even talking about the Gazprom-operated pipelines Power of Siberia 1 and 2 leading to China).

Gazprom executives know all too well that a fast increase of energy exports to the EU is out of the question. They also factor the Tehran Convention – that helps prevent and control pollution and maintain the environmental integrity of the Caspian Sea, signed by all five littoral members.

Breaking BRI in Russia

China, for its part, is confident that one of its prime strategic nightmares may eventually disappear. The notorious “escape from Malacca” is bound to materialize, in cooperation with Russia, via the Northern Sea Route, which will shorten the trade and connectivity corridor from East Asia to Northern Europe from 11,200 nautical miles to only 6,500 nautical miles. Call it the polar twin of the INSTC.

This also explains why Russia has been busy building a vast array of state-of-the-art icebreakers.

So here we have an interconnection of New Silk Roads (the INSTC proceeds in parallel with BRI and the EAEU), Pipelineistan, and the Northern Sea Route on the way to turn western trade domination completely upside down.

Of course, the Chinese have had it planned for quite a while. The first White Paper on China’s Arctic policy, in January 2018, already showed how Beijing is aiming, “jointly with other states” (that means Russia), to implement sea trade routes in the Arctic within the framework of the Polar Silk Road.

And like clockwork, Putin subsequently confirmed that the Northern Sea Route should interact and complement the Chinese Maritime Silk Road.

Russia-China Economic cooperation is evolving on so many complex, convergent levels that just to keep track of it all is a dizzying experience.

A more detailed analysis will reveal some of the finer points, for instance how BRI and SCO interact, and how BRI projects will have to adapt to the heady consequences of Moscow’s Operation Z in Ukraine, with more emphasis being placed on developing Central and West Asian corridors.

It’s always crucial to consider that one of Washington’s key strategic objectives in the relentless hybrid war against Russia was always to break BRI corridors that crisscross Russian territory.

As it stands, it’s important to realize that dozens of BRI projects in industry and investment and cross-border inter-regional cooperation will end up consolidating the Russian concept of the Greater Eurasia Partnership – which essentially revolves around establishing multilateral cooperation with a vast range of nations belonging to organizations such as the EAEU, the SCO, BRICS and ASEAN.

Welcome to the new Eurasian mantra: Make Economic Corridors, Not War.

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

Russia and China haven’t even started to ratchet up the pain dial

July 13, 2022

by Pepe Escobar and posted with the author’s permission

The Suicide Spectacular Summer Show, currently on screen across Europe, proceeds in full regalia, much to the astonishment of virtually the whole Global South: a trashy, woke Gotterdammerung remake, with Wagnerian grandeur replaced by twerking.

Decadent Roman Emperors at least exhibited some degree of pathos. Here we’re just faced by a toxic mix of hubris, abhorrent mediocrity, delusion, crude ideological sheep-think and outright irrationality wallowing in white man’s burden racist/supremacist slush – all symptoms of a profound sickness of the soul.

To call it the Biden-Leyen-Blinken West or so would be too reductionist: after all these are puny politico/functionaries merely parroting orders. This is a historical process: physical, psychic and moral cognitive degeneration embedded in NATOstan’s manifest desperation in trying to contain Eurasia, allowing occasional tragicomic sketches such as a NATO summit proclaiming Woke War against virtually the whole non-West.

So when President Putin addresses the collective West in front of Duma leaders and heads of political parties, it does feel like a comet striking an inert planet. It’s not even a case of “lost in translation”. “They” simply aren’t equipped to get it.

The “You Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet” part was at least formulated to be understood even by simpletons:

“Today we hear that they want to defeat us on the battlefield, well, what can I say, let them try. We have heard many times that the West wants to fight us to the last Ukrainian – this is a tragedy for the Ukrainian people. But it looks like it’s all coming to this. But everyone should know that, by and large, we haven’t really started anything yet.”

Fact. On Operation Z, Russia is using a fraction of its military potential, resources and state of the art weapons.

Then we come to the most probable path ahead in the war theater:

“We do not refuse peace negotiations, but those who refuse should know that the longer it drags, the more difficult it will be for them to negotiate with us.”

As in the pain dial will be ratcheted up, slowly but surely, on all fronts.

Yet the meat of the matter had been delivered earlier in the speech: “ratcheting up the pain dial” applies in fact to dismantling the whole “rules-based international order” edifice. The geopolitical world has changed. Forever.

Here’s the arguably key passage:

“They should have understood that they have already lost from the very beginning of our special military operation, because its beginning means the beginning of a radical breakdown of the World Order in the American way. This is the beginning of the transition from liberal-globalist American egocentrism to a truly multipolar world – a world based not on selfish rules invented by someone for themselves, behind which there is nothing but the desire for hegemony, not on hypocritical double-standards, but on international law, on the true sovereignty of peoples and civilizations, on their will to live their historical destiny, their values and traditions and build cooperation on the basis of democracy, justice and equality. And we must understand that this process can no longer be stopped.”

Meet the trifecta

A case can be made that Putin and Russia’s Security Council are implementing a tactical trifecta that has reduced the collective West to an amorphous bunch of bio headless chickens.

The trifecta mixes the promise of negotiations – but only when considering Russia’s steady advances on the ground in Novorossiya; the fact that Russia’s global “isolation” has been proved in practice to be nonsense; and tweaking the most visible pain dial of them all: Europe’s dependence on Russian energy.

The main reason for the graphic, thundering failure of the G20 Foreign Ministers summit in Bali is that the G7 – or NATOstan plus American colony Japan – could not force the BRICS plus major Global South players to isolate, sanction and/or demonize Russia.

On the contrary: multiple interpolations outside of the G20 spell out even more Eurasia-wide integration. Here are a few examples.

The first transit of Russian products to India via the International North-South Transportation Corridor (INSTC) is now in effect, crisscrossing Eurasia from Mumbai to the Baltic via Iranian ports (Chabahar or Bandar Abbas), the Caspian Sea, and Southern and Central Russia. Crucially, the route is shorter and cheaper than going through the Suez Canal.

In parallel, the head of the Iranian Central Bank, Ali Salehabadi, confirmed that a memorandum of interbank cooperation was signed between Tehran and Moscow.

That means a viable alternative to SWIFT, and a direct consequence of Iran’s application to become a full BRICS member, announced at the recent summit in Beijing. The BRICS, since 2014, when the New Development Bank (NDB) was founded, have been busy building their own financial infrastructure, including the near future creation of a single reserve currency. As part of the process, the harmonization of Russian and Iranian banking systems is inevitable.

Iran is also about to become a full member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) at the upcoming summit in Samarkand in September.

In parallel, Russia and Kazakhstan are solidifying their strategic partnership: Kazakhstan is a key member of BRI, EAEU and SCO.

India gets even closer to Russia across the whole spectrum of trade – including energy.

And next Tuesday, Tehran will be the stage for a crucial face-to-face meeting between Putin and Erdogan.

Isolation? Really?

On the energy front, it’s only summer, but demented paranoia is already raging across multiple EU latitudes, especially Germany. Comic relief is provided by the fact that Gazprom can always point out to Berlin that eventual supplying problems on Nord Stream 1 – after the cliffhanger return of that notorious repaired turbine from Canada – can always be solved by implementing Nord Stream 2.

As the whole European Suicide Spectacular Summer Show is nothing but a tawdry self-inflicted torture ordered by His Master’s Voice, the only serious question is which pain dial level will force Berlin to actually sit down and negotiate on behalf of legitimate German industrial and social interests.

Rough and tumble will be the norm. Foreign Minister Lavrov summed it all up when commenting on the Declining Collective West Ministers striking poses like infantile brats in Bali to avoid being seen with him: that was up to “their understanding of the protocols and politeness.”

That’s diplo-talk for “bunch of jerks”. Or worse: cultural barbarians, as they were even unable to respect the hyper-polite Indonesian hosts, who abhor confrontation.

Lavrov preferred to extol the “joint strategic and constructive” Russian-Chinese work when faced with a very aggressive West. And that brings us to the prime masterpiece of shadowplay in Bali – complete with several layers of geopolitical fog.

Chinese media, always flirting with the opaque, tried to put its bravest face ever depicting the over 5-hour meeting between Foreign Minister Wang Yi and Secretary Blinken as “constructive”.

What’s fascinating here is that the Chinese ended up letting something crucial out of the bag to slip into the final draft of their report – obviously approved by the powers that be.

Lu Xiang of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences went through previous readouts – especially of “Yoda” Yang Jiechi routinely turning Jake Sullivan into roasted duck – and stressed that this time Wang’s “warnings” to the Americans were “the sternest one in wording”.

That’s diplo-code for “You Better Watch Out”: Wang telling Little Blinkie, “just look at what the Russians did when they lost their patience with your antics.”

The expression ”dead end” was recurrent during the Wang-Blinken meeting. So in the end the Global Times had to tell it like it really is:  “The two sides are close to a showdown.”

“Showdown” is what End of Days fanatic and Tony Soprano wannabe Mike Pompeo is fervently preaching from his hate pulpit, while the combo behind the senile “leader of the free world” who literally reads teleprompters actively work for the crashing of the EU – in more ways than one.

The combo in power in Washington actually “supports” the unification of Britain, Poland, Ukraine and The Three Baltic Midgets as a separate alliance from NATO/EU – aiming at “strengthening the defense potential.” That’s the official position of US Ambassador to NATO Julian Smith.

So the real imperial aim is to split the already shattering EU into mini-union pieces, all of them quite fragile and evidently more “manageable”, as Brussels Eurocrats, blinded by boundless mediocrity, obviously can’t see it coming.

What the Global South is buying

Putin always makes it very clear that the decision to launch Operation Z – as a sort of pre-emptive “combined arms and police operation”, as defined by Andrei Martyanov – was carefully calculated, considering an array of material and socio-psychological vectors.

Anglo-American strategy, for its part, lasers on a single obsession: damn any possible reframing of the current “rules-based international order”. No holds are barred to ensure the perpetuity of this order. This is in fact Totalen Krieg – featuring several hybrid layers, and quite worrying, with only a few seconds to midnight.

And there’s the rub. Desolation Row is fast becoming Desperation Row, as the whole Russophobic matrix is shown to be naked, devoid of any extra ideological – and even financial – firepower to “win”, apart from shipping a collection of HIMARS to a black hole.

Geopolitically and geoeconomically, Russia and China are in the process of eating NATOstan alive – in more ways than one. Here, for instance, is a synthetic road map of how Beijing will address the next stage of high-quality development via capital-driven industrial upgrading, focused on optimization of supply chains, import substitution of hard technologies, and “invisible champions” of industry.

If the collective West is blinded by Russophobia, the governing success of the Chinese Communist Party – which in a matter of a few decades improved the lives of more people than anyone, anytime in History – drives it completely nuts.

All along the Russia-China watchtower, it’s been not such a long time coming. BRI was launched by Xi Jinping in 2013. After Maidan in 2014, Putin launched the Eurasia Economic Union (EAEU) in 2015. Crucially, in May 2015, a Russia-China joint statement sealed the cooperation between BRI and EAEU, with a significant role assigned to the SCO.

Closer integration advanced via the St. Petersburg forum in 2016 and the BRI forum in 2017. The overall target: to create a new order in Asia, and across Eurasia, according to international law while maintaining the individual development strategies of each concerned country and respecting their national sovereignty.

That, in essence, is what most of the Global South is buying. It’s as if there’s a cross-border instinctual understanding that Russia-China, against serious odds and facing serious challenges, proceeding by trial and error, are at the vanguard of the Shock of the New, while the collective West, naked, dazed and confused, their masses completely zombified, is sucked into the maelstrom of psychological, moral and material disintegration.

No question the pain dial will be ratcheted up, in more ways than one.

Iran in South Caucasus: Turning losses into wins

Determined not to be cut out of the South Caucasus, Iran is forging strategic ties with both Baku and Yerevan

July 11 2022

Photo Credit: The Cradle

By Yeghia Tashjian

Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev and Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi have averted conflict through geo-economic compromise

At the end of the 2020 Nagorno-Karabakh war – which Azerbaijan won with Turkish support and Russian diplomacy – Iran was widely seen by analysts as the conflict’s biggest loser, in terms of its regional strategic interests.

Without wasting much time, however, Tehran flipped those fortunes by very proactively engaging its soft power in the South Caucasus to advance its geo-economic interests. This is arguably due to Iran’s concerns over Turkish-Azerbaijani expansionist designs in the region.

In the main, Iran has sought to revitalize its relations with Azerbaijan to mitigate Turkey’s push for control over the Zangezur Corridor, a strategic transportation route bypassing Armenian territory close to the Iranian border.

The corridor’s opening is said to be dependent upon the development of a comprehensive Armenian-Azerbaijani agreement. In this regard, Tehran is engaging with both countries simultaneously, and in doing so has helped reduce Baku’s political pressure on Yerevan.

Resetting relations with Azerbaijan

On March 11, 2022, Azerbaijan and Iran signed an agreement to establish new railway, highway, and energy supply lines connecting the southern territories of the disputed Karabakh region (captured by Azerbaijan) to the Azerbaijani Nakhichevan exclave.

According to the agreement, the new highway will be 55 km long and will pass through northern Iran, eventually connecting to Nakhichevan. In addition to the highway, two railway bridges and a road bridge will be constructed over the bordering Arax River.

Iranian political analyst Vali Kaleji says these projects have geo-economic significance for both Azerbaijan and Iran.

For Baku, the construction of this highway is essential for several reasons. First, it is a continuation of an already existing highway in Azerbaijan and will draw investment into the southern regions of Karabakh currently under the control of Baku.

Second, the 55-km highway through Iran will offer an alternative to the Zangezur corridor that Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev was pushing for after the trilateral statement, which put an end to hostilities – for now – between Baku and Yerevan.

Despite the fact that the trilateral statement called for the opening of trade routes and communication, it did not mention anything about a ‘corridor.’ President Aliyev has largely promoted the Zangezur Corridor idea for domestic consumption while adding political pressure on Armenia to sign a peace treaty over Nagorno-Karabakh.

To date, Russia, Armenia and Iran have disregarded Baku’s Zangezur Corridor claims.

Peacekeeping policies

To prevent another war between Baku and Yerevan, Tehran came up with an alternative solution by providing this alternative route that will lift some pressure from Armenia’s shoulders, as Azerbaijan was threatening to gain the corridor by any means necessary.

Moreover, Baku is also concerned that if the Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan’s government falls and the opposition comes to power, the successive government will not provide any corridor to Azerbaijan through the Armenian territories. Hence, as Keleji noted, “Baku is deliberately pursuing another option should the Zangezur Corridor not come to fruition.”

Finally, Azerbaijan will establish a link with Nakhichevan through Iran, providing additional Iranian leverage over Baku in the future.

Iranian interests

Iran, in turn, has its own considerations for allowing the construction of a highway and railway across its territory that would connect Azerbaijan proper to Nakhchivan.

In reaction to the expansionist narrative pushed by Azerbaijan over the Zangezur Corridor and Azerbaijani incursions into bordering villages in Syunik (southern Armenia), Iran drew its red lines and its Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) threatened to use military force if necessary to prevent any territorial change in its 44 km border with Armenia.

As such, Tehran sees the construction of a new highway and railway line via Iran as an appropriate alternative to the Zangezur corridor that will alleviate the military pressure on southern Armenia.

For this reason, Ahmad Kazemi, an Iranian expert on the South Caucasus region, in his article “Baku’s reconciliation with geopolitical realities” wrote that Baku is pushing a “fake Zangezur corridor” to appease Turkey, Israel, NATO while following pan-Turkic dreams.

It was only last year that Aliyev declared: “The corridor that is going to pass through here is going to unite the whole Turkic world.”

For Kazemi, this “Turanic corridor” will go against the interests of Iran, Russia, and China. It is therefore inevitable that these three states will not allow geopolitical changes on Armenia’s southern borders.

Isolating Iran

Meanwhile, with the ongoing war in Ukraine, Moscow has focused its attention on the importance of the North-South trade route. According to Kaleji, strengthening this transit route will aid in countering the tightening economic sanctions and transit restrictions imposed on Russia by the west.

In this regard, the Iranian Roads and Urban Development Minister Rostam Qasemi visited Moscow on 30 April to sign a comprehensive agreement on cooperation in the field of transportation. Both countries agreed to accelerate the construction of Azerbaijani-Iranian railway to connect Moscow to the strategic Persian Gulf – a security concern of western powers since the Cold War era.

In February, during an Iranian-Armenian conference held in Yerevan, an Iranian diplomatic source told The Cradle that “Iran will take all the necessary measures to prevent the loss of the strategic Armenian-Iranian border and will do all it can to prevent a new war.

Tehran realizes that any such loss will further increase Turkish influence in the region and that Iran was an indirect target of the 2020 war in Karabakh, with the aim of isolating Iran regionally.

Within this context, the Iranian-Armenian railway line from Meghri, Armenia’s Syunik province, could have been an alternative route connecting Iran to Russia, but it suffers from high costs and has not seen any progress since 2009.

Armenia’s poor infrastructure, its conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh with Azerbaijan, and its slow progress in the construction of the North-South highway (over the past twelve years, it has implemented only five percent of the 556-kilometer highway connecting Georgia with Iran) has further isolated and slowed down Armenia’s participation in the regional economic project.

Armenia’s gateway to Asia

However, over the past four months, Iran and India have been pushing Armenia to take crucial steps to reinvigorate the north-south transport project. As a result, important meetings between Iranian and Armenian officials have been organized to address trade, transit, and energy issues.

On 2 March, leading a high-ranking delegation of trade officials and private entrepreneurs, Iranian Minister of Industry, Mining, and Trade, Reza Fatemi-Amin paid a visit to Armenia as part of Tehran’s efforts to strengthen trade ties with its neighbors.

This was the first visit to Armenia by senior Iranian officials since President Ebrahim Raisi took office in August 2021. Accompanying the delegation were the CEOs of 35 Iranian private companies.

The Iranian side stated that Tehran attaches great importance not only to the development of economic relations with Armenia but also considers it as a “gateway” to the markets of Russia and other Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) member countries.

For the rail connection, Miad Salehi, head of the Islamic Republic of Iran Railways, pointed to three possibilities for rail transit between Iran and Armenia. The first two rail connections are:

  • The Jolfa-Nakhchivan-Yerevan.
  • The Jolfa-Nurduz (in Iran) and Yerevan-Nurduz (in Armenia) railroads, which were agreed upon seven years ago though not realized.

Iran has also proposed a multi-modal transit route from Yerevan to Jolfa by road, and then southward to the port of Bandar Abbas by rail, essentially opening the gates of Asian markets for Armenia.

Iran hasn’t been pushed out of the South Caucasus  

After the trilateral statement in 2020, Iran felt isolated from the South Caucasus, though its absence did not last long. Following the election of President Raisi, Tehran adopted a proactive balanced foreign policy in its neighborhood to secure its primary geo-economic interests.

The Iranians have realized that the Zangezur Corridor poses a threat to their national security as it bypasses Iranian territory and prevents Iran from gaining transit fees from Azerbaijani trucks. But it also threatens to reshape the strategic international borders between Iran and Armenia to the benefit of Turkey, Azerbaijan, and by extension, their mutual ally, Israel.

Tehran recognizes that were Azerbaijan to succeed in imposing the Zangzur Corridor on Yerevan, Baku could connect to Turkey, Israel, and the European Union by land. Crucially, Iran also interprets this as an expanding presence of Israel and NATO on its borders.

During his Caucasian tour this month, Iran’s national security chief, Rear Admiral Ali Shamkhani, held talks in Yerevan with his Armenian counterpart and Prime Minister Pashinyan, where he stressed that Tehran was against any actions leading to a geopolitical change in the region.

Rather than accepting a lesser role, Iran has successfully deployed its economic soft power to recalibrate the field and increase its leverage over Azerbaijan. On one hand, Tehran fostered the construction of a railway with Azerbaijan to connect with Russia; on the other hand, it strengthened its trade, energy, and communication projects with Baku’s archenemy, Armenia.

For now, though, Iran’s engagement with Azerbaijan over the alternative corridor has lifted the military and political pressure on Armenia, thus preventing another war near its northern borders.

Iran’s dialogue with both countries has – for now – arguably lifted Azerbaijan’s military and political pressure on Armenia, safeguarded its national interests, and prevented another war near its northern borders.

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

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.

Behind the Tin Curtain: BRICS+ vs NATO/G7

June 28, 2022

Photo Credit: The Cradle

The west is nostalgically caught up with outdated ‘containment’ policies, this time against Global South integration. Unfortunately for them, the rest of the world is moving on, together.

The Cradle

Once upon a time, there existed an Iron Curtain which divided the continent of Europe. Coined by former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, the term was in reference to the then-Soviet Union’s efforts to create a physical and ideological boundary with the west. The latter, for its part, pursued a policy of containment against the spread and influence of communism.

Fast forward to the contemporary era of techno-feudalism, and there now exists what should be called a Tin Curtain, fabricated by the fearful, clueless, collective west, via G7 and NATO: this time, to essentially contain the integration of the Global South.

BRICS against G7

The most recent and significant example of this integration has been the coming out of BRICS+ at last week’s online summit hosted by Beijing. This went far beyond establishing the lineaments of a ‘new G8,’ let alone an alternative to the G7.

Just look at the interlocutors of the five historical BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa): we find a microcosm of the Global South, encompassing Southeast Asia, Central Asia, West Asia, Africa and South America – truly putting the “Global” in the Global South.

Revealingly, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s clear messages during the Beijing summit, in sharp contrast to G7 propaganda, were actually addressed to the whole Global South:

– Russia will fulfill its obligations to supply energy and fertilizers.

– Russia expects a good grain harvest – and to supply up to 50 million tons to world markets.

– Russia will ensure passage of grain ships into international waters even as Kiev mined Ukrainian ports.

– The negative situation on Ukrainian grain is artificially inflated.

– The sharp increase in inflation around the world is the result of the irresponsibility of G7 countries, not Operation Z in Ukraine.

– The imbalance of world relations has been brewing for a long time and has become an inevitable result of the erosion of international law.

An alternative system

Putin also directly addressed one of the key themes that the BRICS have been discussing in depth since the 2000s — the design and implementation of an international reserve currency.

“The Russian Financial Messaging System is open for connection with banks of the BRICS countries.”

“The Russian MIR payment system is expanding its presence. We are exploring the possibility of creating an international reserve currency based on the basket of BRICS currencies,” the Russian leader said.

This is inevitable after the hysterical western sanctions post-Operation Z; the total de-dollarization imposed upon Moscow; and increasing trade between BRICS nations. For instance, by 2030, a quarter of the planet’s oil demand will come from China and India, with Russia as the major supplier.

The “RIC” in BRICS simply cannot risk being locked out of a G7-dominated financial system. Even tightrope-walking India is starting to catch the drift.

Who speaks for the ‘international community?’

At its current stage, BRICS represent 40 percent of world population, 25 percent of the global economy, 18 percent of world trade, and contribute over 50 percent for world economic growth. All indicators are on the way up.

Sergey Storchak, CEO of Russian bank VEG, framed it quite diplomatically: “If the voices of emerging markets are not being heard in the coming years, we need to think very seriously about setting up a parallel regional system, or maybe a global system.”

A “parallel regional system” is already being actively discussed between the Eurasia Economic Union (EAEU) and China, coordinated by Minister of Integration and Macroeconomics Sergey Glazyev, who has recently authored a stunning manifesto amplifying his ideas about world economic sovereignty.

Developing the ‘developing world’

What happens in the trans-Eurasian financial front will proceed in parallel with a so far little known Chinese development strategy: the Global Development Initiative (GDI), announced by President Xi Jinping at the UN General Assembly last year.

GDI can be seen as a support mechanism of the overarching strategy – which remains the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), consisting of economic corridors interlinking Eurasia all the way to its western peninsula, Europe.

At the High-level Dialogue on Global Development, part of the BRICS summit, the Global South learned a little more about the GDI, an organization set up in 2015.

In a nutshell, the GDI aims to turbo-charge international development cooperation by supplementing financing to a plethora of bodies, for instance the South-South Cooperation Fund, the International Development Association (IDA), the Asian Development Fund (ADF), and the Global Environment Facility (GEF).

Priorities include “poverty reduction, food security, COVID-19 response and vaccines,” industrialization, and digital infrastructure. Subsequently, a Friends of the GDI group was established in early 2022 and has already attracted over 50 nations.

BRI and GDI should be advancing in tandem, even as Xi himself made it clear during the BRICS summit that “some countries are politicizing and marginalizing the developmental agenda by building up walls and slapping crippling sanctions on others.”

Then again, sustainable development is not exactly the G7’s cup of tea, much less NATO’s.

Seven against the world

The avowed top aim of the G7 summit in Schloss Elmau at the Bavarian Alps is to “project unity” – as in the stalwarts of the collective west (Japan included) united in sustainable and indefinite “support” for the irretrievably failed Ukrainian state.

That’s part of the “struggle against Putin’s imperialism,” but then there’s also “the fight against hunger and poverty, health crisis and climate change,” as German chancellor Scholz told the Bundestag.

In Bavaria, Scholz pushed for a Marshall Plan for Ukraine – a ludicrous concept considering Kiev and its environs might as well be reduced to a puny rump state by the end of 2022. The notion that the G7 may work to “prevent a catastrophic famine,” according to Scholz, reaches a paroxysm of ludicrousness, as the looming famine is a direct consequence of the G7-imposed sanctions hysteria.

The fact that Berlin invited India, Indonesia, South Africa and Senegal as add-ons to the G7, served as additional comic relief.

The Tin Curtain is up

It would be futile to expect from the astonishing collection of mediocrities “united” in Bavaria, under de facto leader of the European Commission (EC), Fuehrer Ursula von der Leyen, any substantial analysis about the breakdown of global supply chains and the reasons that forced Moscow to reduce gas flows to Europe. Instead, they blamed Putin and Xi.

Welcome to the Tin Curtain – a 21st century reinvention of the Intermarium from the Baltic to the Black Sea, masterminded by the Empire of Lies, complete with western Ukraine absorbed by Poland, the Three Baltic Midgets: Bulgaria, Romania, Slovenia, Czechia and even NATO-aspiring Sweden and Finland, all of whom will be protected from “the Russian threat.”

An EU out of control

The role of the EU, lording over Germany, France and Italy inside the G7 is particularly instructive, especially now that Britain is back to the status of an inconsequential island-state.

As many as 60 European ‘directives’ are issued every year. They must be imperatively transposed into internal law of each EU member-state. In most cases, there’s no debate whatsoever.

Then there are more than 10,000 European ‘rulings,’ where ‘experts’ at the European Commission (EC) in Brussels issue ‘recommendations’ to every government, straight out of the neoliberal canon, regarding their expenses, their income and ‘reforms’ (on health care, education, pensions) that must be obeyed.

Thus elections in every single EU member-nation are absolutely meaningless. Heads of national governments – Macron, Scholz, Draghi – are mere executants. No democratic debate is allowed: ‘democracy,’ as with ‘EU values,’ are nothing than smokescreens.

The real government is exercised by a bunch of apparatchiks chosen by compromise between executive powers, acting in a supremely opaque manner.

The EC is totally outside of any sort of control. That’s how a stunning mediocrity like Ursula von der Leyen – previously the worst Minister of Defense of modern Germany – was catapulted upwards to become the current EC Fuhrer, dictating their foreign, energy and even economic policy.

What do they stand for?

From the perspective of the west, the Tin Curtain, for all its ominous Cold War 2.0 overtones, is merely a starter before the main course: hardcore confrontation across Asia-Pacific – renamed “Indo-Pacific” – a carbon copy of the Ukraine racket designed to contain China’s BRI and GDI.

As a countercoup, it’s enlightening to observe how the Chinese foreign ministry now highlights in detail the contrast between BRICS – and BRICS+ – and the imperial AUKUS/Quad/IPEF combo.

BRICS stand for de facto multilateralism; focus on global development; cooperation for economic recovery; and improving global governance.

The US-concocted racket on the other hand, stands for Cold War mentality; exploiting developing countries; ganging up to contain China; and an America-first policy that enshrines the monopolistic “rules-based international order.”

It would be misguided to expect those G7 luminaries gathered in Bavaria to understand the absurdity of imposing a price cap on Russian oil and gas exports, for instance. Were that to really happen, Moscow will have no problems fully cutting energy supply to the G7. And if other nations are excluded, the price of the oil and gas they import would drastically increase.

BRICS paving the way forward

So no wonder the future is ominous. In a stunning interview to Belarus state TV, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov summarized how “the west fears honest competition.”

Hence, the apex of cancel culture, and “suppression of everything that contradicts in some way the neoliberal vision and arrangement of the world.” Lavrov also summarized the roadmap ahead, for the benefit of the whole Global South:

“We don’t need a new G8. We already have structures…primarily in Eurasia. The EAEU is actively promoting integration processes with the PRC, aligning China’s Belt and Road Initiative with the Eurasian integration plans. Members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations are taking a close look at these plans. A number of them are signing free trade zone agreements with the EAEU. The Shanghai Cooperation Organization is also part of these processes… There is one more structure beyond the geographic borders of Eurasia.”

“It is BRICS. This association is relying less and less on the Western style of doing business, and on Western rules for international currency, financial and trade institutions. They prefer more equitable methods that do not make any processes depend on the dominant role of the dollar or some other currency. The G20 fully represents BRICS and five more countries that share the positions of BRICS, while the G7 and its supporters are on the other side of the barricades.”

“This is a serious balance. The G20 may deteriorate if the West uses it for fanning up confrontation. The structures I mentioned (SCO, BRICS, ASEAN, EAEU and CIS) rely on consensus, mutual respect and a balance of interests, rather than a demand to accept unipolar world realities.”

Tin Curtain? More like Torn Curtain.

St. Petersburg sets the stage for the War of Economic Corridors

In St. Petersburg, the world’s new powers gather to upend the US-concocted “rules-based order” and reconnect the globe their way

June 18 2022

The Cradle

By Pepe Escobar

At St. Petersburg on Friday, backers of multipolarity pushed forward integration of their networksPhoto Credit: The Cradle

The St. Petersburg International Economic Forum  has been configured for years now as absolutely essential to understand the evolving dynamics and the trials and tribulations of Eurasia integration.

St. Petersburg in 2022 is even more crucial as it directly connects to three simultaneous developments I had previously outlined, in no particular order:

First, the coming of the “new G8” – four BRICS nations (Brazil, Russia, India, China), plus Iran, Indonesia, Turkey and Mexico, whose GDP per purchasing parity power (PPP) already dwarfs the old, western-dominated G8.

Second, the Chinese “Three Rings” strategy of developing geoeconomic relations with its neighbors and partners.

Third, the development of BRICS+, or extended BRICS, including some members of the “new G8,” to be discussed at the upcoming summit in China.

There was hardly any doubt President Putin would be the star of St. Petersburg 2022, delivering a sharp, detailed speech to the plenary session.

Among the highlights, Putin smashed the illusions of the so-called ‘golden billion’ who live in the industrialized west (only 12 percent of the global population) and the “irresponsible macroeconomic policies of the G7 countries.”

The Russian president noted how “EU losses due to sanctions against Russia” could exceed $400 billion per year, and that Europe’s high energy prices – something that actually started “in the third quarter of last year” – are due to “blindly believing in renewable sources.”

He also duly dismissed the west’s ‘Putin price hike’ propaganda, saying the food and energy crisis is linked to misguided western economic policies, i.e., “Russian grain and fertilizers are being sanctioned” to the detriment of the west.

In a nutshell: the west misjudged Russia’s sovereignty when sanctioning it, and now is paying a very heavy price.

Chinese President Xi Jinping, addressing the forum by video, sent a message to the whole Global South. He evoked “true multilateralism,” insisting that emerging markets must have “a say in global economic management,” and called for “improved North-South and South-South dialogue.”

It was up to Kazakh President Tokayev, the ruler of a deeply strategic partner of both Russia and China, to deliver the punch line in person: Eurasia integration should progress hand in hand with China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Here it is, full circle.

Building a long-term strategy “in weeks”

St. Petersburg offered several engrossing discussions on key themes and sub-themes of Eurasia integration, such as business within the scope of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO); aspects of the Russia-China strategic partnership; what’s ahead for the BRICS; and prospects for the Russian financial sector.

One of the most important discussions was focused on the increasing interaction between the Eurasia Economic Union (EAEU) and ASEAN, a key example of what the Chinese would define as ‘South-South cooperation.’

And that connected to the still long and winding road leading to deeper integration of the EAEU itself.

This implies steps towards more self-sufficient economic development for members; establishing the priorities for import substitution; harnessing all the transport and logistical potential; developing trans-Eurasian corporations; and imprinting the EAEU ‘brand’ in a new system of global economic relations.

Russian Deputy Prime Minister Alexey Overchuk was particularly sharp on the pressing matters at hand: implementing a full free trade customs and economic union – plus a unified payment system – with simplified direct settlements using the Mir payment card to reach new markets in Southeast Asia, Africa and the Persian Gulf.

In a new era defined by Russian business circles as “the game with no rules” – debunking the US-coined “rules-based international order” – another relevant discussion, featuring key Putin adviser Maxim Oreshkin, focused on what should be the priorities for big business and the financial sector in connection to the state’s economic and foreign policy.

The consensus is that the current ‘rules’ have been written by the west. Russia could only connect to existing mechanisms, underpinned by international law and institutions. But then the west tried to  “squeeze us out” and even “to cancel Russia.” So it’s time to “replace the no-rules rules.” That’s a key theme underlying the concept of ‘sovereignty’ developed by Putin in his plenary address.

In another important discussion chaired by the CEO of western-sanctioned Sberbank Herman Gref, there was much hand-wringing about the fact that the Russian “evolutionary leap forward towards 2030” should have happened sooner. Now a “long-term strategy has to be built in weeks,” with supply chains breaking down all across the spectrum.

A question was posed to the audience – the crème de la crème of Russia’s business community: what would you recommend, increased trade with the east, or redirecting the structure of the Russian economy? A whopping 72 percent voted for the latter.

So now we come to the crunch, as all these themes interact when we look at what happened only a few days before St. Petersburg.

The Russia-Iran-India corridor

A key node of the International North South Transportation Corridor (INTSC) is now in play, linking northwest Russia to the Persian Gulf via the Caspian Sea and Iran. The transportation time between St. Petersburg and Indian ports is 25 days.

This logistical corridor with multimodal transportation carries an enormous geopolitical significance for two BRICs members and a prospective member of the “new G8” because it opens a key alternative route to the usual cargo trail from Asia to Europe via the Suez canal.

The International North South Transportation Corridor (INSTC)

The INSTC corridor is a classic South-South integration project: a 7,200-km-long multimodal network of ship, rail, and road routes interlinking India, Afghanistan, Central Asia, Iran, Azerbaijan and Russia all the way to Finland in the Baltic Sea.

Technically, picture a set of containers going overland from St. Petersburg to Astrakhan. Then the cargo sails via the Caspian to the Iranian port of Bandar Anzeli. Then it’s transported overland to the port of Bandar Abbas. And then overseas to Nava Sheva, the largest seaport in India. The key operator is Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines (the IRISL group), which has branches in both Russia and India.

And that brings us to what wars from now will be fought about: transportation corridors – and not territorial conquest.

Beijing’s fast-paced BRI is seen as an existential threat to the ‘rules-based international order.’ It develops along six overland corridors across Eurasia, plus the Maritime Silk Road from the South China Sea, and the Indian Ocean, all the way to Europe.

One of the key targets of NATO’s proxy war in Ukraine is to interrupt BRI corridors across Russia. The Empire will go all out to interrupt not only BRI but also INSTC nodes. Afghanistan under US occupation was prevented from become a node for either BRI or INSTC.

With full access to the Sea of Azov – now a “Russian lake” – and arguably the whole Black Sea coastline further on down the road, Moscow will hugely increase its sea trading prospects (Putin: “The Black Sea was historically Russian territory”).

For the past two decades, energy corridors have been heavily politicized and are at the center of unforgiving global pipeline competitions – from BTC and South Stream to Nord Stream 1 and 2, and the never-ending soap operas, the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) and Iran-Pakistan-India (IPI) gas pipelines.

Then there’s the Northern Sea Route alongside the Russian coastline all the way to the Barents Sea. China and India are very much focused on the Northern Sea Route, not by accident also  discussed in detail in St. Petersburg.

The contrast between the St. Petersburg debates on a possible re-wiring of our world – and the Three Stooges Taking a Train to Nowhere to tell a mediocre Ukrainian comedian to calm down and negotiate his surrender (as confirmed by German intelligence) – could not be starker.

Almost imperceptibly – just as it re-incorporated Crimea and entered the Syrian theater – Russia as a military-energy superpower now shows it is potentially capable of driving a great deal of the industrialized west back into the Stone Age. The western elites are just helpless. If only they could ride a corridor on the Eurasian high-speed train, they might learn something.

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

Notes From Spief: St Petersburg International Economic Forum

June 16, 2022

Pepe Escobar is following various discussions at Spief:  https://twitter.com/spief?lang=en and here are some of his updates from his telegram channel:

THE ST. PETERSBURG FORUM IS ON A ROLL

I spent the morning back and forth following some fab discussions at the forum – especially on Russia-China, SCO business, BRICS, the Russian financial sector, the Northern Sea Route and this one linked below, with Glazyev, on the Eurasia Economic Union and ASEAN.

This afternoon there are some extra killers, including a Triple Treat EAEU-SCO-ASEAN.

I’ll have a detailed column out – ideally to be published for the weekend. Putin’s address is tomorrow, and should be a howler.

https://forumspb.com/en/programme/business-programme/..

The contrast with The Three Stooges in their train to nowhere – country 404 – could not be more graphic.

ST. PETERSBURG UPDATE

Key facts rollin’ out of the forum – officially and after discussions:

– Dollars and euros will continue to circulate in Russia.

– There will be NO return to a Soviet economy.

– Import substitution will be only partial.

– The ruble under 60 per dollar is not a good thing for the Russian economy. The government will intervene.

– Changes on the global economy are irreversible. There’s no going back.

– A significant part of the Russian economy will be reoriented to the internal market.

– Because NATOstan will continue to weaponize Kiev, the Donetsk People’s Republic’s troops will NOT stop at the border.

It came out last night, before the St. Petersburg forum: it’s all interconnected.

Here you will see how…

the new G8…

interconnects with China’s Three Rings…

and with BRICS +…

and all that interconnects with what they are discussing in St. Petersburg: EAEU, SCO, ASEAN.

The ‘New G8’ Meets China’s ‘Three Rings’

June 15, 2022

The coming of the new G8 points to the inevitable advent of BRICS +, one of the key themes to be discussed in the upcoming BRICS summit in China.

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

The speaker of the Duma, Vyacheslav Volodin, may have created the defining acronym for the emerging multipolar world: “the new G8”.

As Volodin noted, “the United States has created conditions with its own hands so that countries wishing to build an equal dialogue and mutually beneficial relations will actually form a ‘new G8’ together with Russia.”

This non Russia-sanctioning G8, he added, is 24.4% ahead of the old one, which is in fact the G7, in terms of GDP in purchasing power parity (PPP), as G7 economies are on the verge of collapsing and the U.S. registers record inflation.

The power of the acronym was confirmed by one of the researchers on Europe at the Russian Academy of Sciences, Sergei Fedorov: three BRICS members (Brazil, China and India) alongside Russia, plus Indonesia, Iran, Turkey and Mexico, all non adherents to the all-out Western economic war against Russia, will soon dominate global markets.

Fedorov stressed the power of the new G8 in population as well as economically: “If the West, which restricted all international organizations, follows its own policies, and pressures everyone, then why are these organizations necessary? Russia does not follow these rules.”

The new G8, instead, “does not impose anything on anyone, but tries to find common solutions.”

The coming of the new G8 points to the inevitable advent of BRICS +, one of the key themes to be discussed in the upcoming BRICS summit in China. Argentina is very much interested in becoming part of the extended BRICS and those (informal) members of the new G8 – Indonesia, Iran, Turkey, Mexico – are all likely candidates.

The intersection of the new G8 and BRICS + will lead Beijing to turbo-charge what has already been conceptualized as the Three Rings strategy by Cheng Yawen, from the Institute of International Relations and Public Affairs at the Shanghai International Studies University.

Cheng argues that since the beginning of the 2018 U.S.-China trade war the Empire of Lies and its vassals have aimed to “decouple”; thus the Middle Kingdom should strategically downgrade its relations with the West and promote a new international system based on South-South cooperation.

Looks like if it walks and talks like the new G8, that’s because it’s the real deal.

The revolution reaches the “global countryside”

Cheng stresses how “the center-periphery hierarchy of the West has been perpetuated as an implicit rule” in international relations; and how China and Russia, “because of their strict capital controls, are the last two obstacles to further U.S. control of the global periphery”.

So how would the Three Rings – in fact a new global system – be deployed?

The first ring “is China’s neighboring countries in East Asia, Central Asia, and the Middle East; the second ring is the vast number of developing countries in Asia, Africa, and Latin America; and the third ring extends to the traditional industrialized countries, mainly Europe and the United States.”

The basis for building the Three Rings is deeper Global South integration. Cheng notes how “between 1980-2021, the economic volume of developing countries rose from 21 to 42.2 percent of the world’s total output.”

And yet “current trade flows and mutual investments of developing countries are still heavily dependent on the financial and monetary institutions/networks controlled by the West. In order to break their dependence on the West and further enhance economic and political autonomy, a broader financial and monetary cooperation, and new sets of instruments among developing countries should be constructed”.

This is a veiled reference to the current discussions inside the Eurasia Economic Union (EAEU), with Chinese participation, designing an alternative financial-monetary system not only for Eurasia but for the Global South – bypassing possible American attempts to enforce a sort of Bretton Woods 3.0.

Cheng uses a Maoist metaphor to illustrate his point – referring to ‘the revolutionary path of ‘encircling the cities from the countryside’”. What is needed now, he argues, is for China and the Global South to “overcome the West’s preventive measures and cooperate with the ‘global countryside’ – the peripheral countries – in the same way.”

So what seems to be in the horizon, as conceptualized by Chinese academia, is a “new G8/BRICS+” interaction as the revolutionary vanguard of the emerging multipolar world, designed to expand to the whole Global South.

That of course will mean a deepened internationalization of Chinese geopolitical and geoeconomic power, including its currency. Cheng qualifies the creation of a “three ring “ international system as essential to “break through the [American] siege”.

It’s more than evident that the Empire won’t take that lying down.

The siege will continue. Enter the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF), spun as yet another proverbial “effort” to – what else – contain China, but this time all the way from Northeast Asia to Southeast Asia, with Oceania thrown in as a bonus.

The American spin on IPEF is heavy on “economic engagement”: fog of (hybrid) war disguising the real intent to divert as much trade as possible from China – which produces virtually everything – to the U.S. – which produces very little.

The Americans give away the game by heavily focusing their strategy on 7 of the 10 ASEAN nations – as part of yet another desperate dash to control the American-denominated “Indo-Pacific”. Their logic: ASEAN after all needs a “stable partner”; the American economy is “comparatively stable”; thus ASEAN must subject itself to American geopolitical aims.

IPEF, under the cover of trade and economics, plays the same old tune, with the U.S. going after China from three different angles.

– The South China Sea, instrumentalizing ASEAN.

– The Yellow and East China Seas, instrumentalizing Japan and South Korea to prevent direct Chinese access to the Pacific.

– The larger “Indo-Pacific” (that’s were India as a member of the Quad comes in).

It’s all labeled as a sweet apple pie of “stronger and more resilient Indo-Pacific with diversified trade.”

BRI corridors are back

Beijing is hardly losing any sleep thinking about IPEF: after all most of its multiple trade connections across ASEAN are rock solid. Taiwan though is a completely different story.

At the annual Shangri-La dialogue this past weekend in Singapore, Chinese Defense Minister Wei Fenghe went straight to the point, actually defining Beijing’s vision for an East Asia order (not “rules-based”, of course).

Taiwan independence is a “dead end”, said General Wei, as he asserted Beijing’s peaceful aims while vigorously slamming assorted U.S. “threats against China”. At any attempt at interference, “we will fight at all costs, and we will fight to the very end”. Wei also handily dismissed the U.S. drive to “hijack” Indo-Pacific nations, without even mentioning IPEF.

China at it stands is firmly concentrated on stabilizing its western borders – which will allow it to devote more time to the South China Sea and the “Indo-Pacific” further on down the road.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi went on a crucial trip to Kazakhstan – a full member of both BRI and the EAEU – where he met President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev and all his counterparts from the Central Asian “stans” in a summit in Nur-Sultan. The group – billed as C+C5 – discussed everything from security, energy and transportation to Afghanistan and vaccines.

In sum, this was all about developing much-needed corridors of BRI/ New Silk Roads – in sharp contrast to the proverbial Western lamentations about BRI reaching a dead end.

Two BRI-to-the-bone projects will go on overdrive: the China-Central Asia Gas Pipeline Line D, and the China-Kyrgyzstan-Uzbekistan railway. Both have been years in the making, but now have become absolutely essential, and will be the flagship BRI projects in the Central Asian corridor.

The China-Central Asia Gas Pipeline Line D will link Turkmenistan’s gas fields to Xinjiang via Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. That was the main theme of the discussions when Turkmen President Berdimuhamedow visited Beijing for the Winter Olympics.

The 523 km China-Kyrgyzstan-Uzbekistan railway for its part will crucially link the two Central Asian “stans” to the China-Europe freight rail network, via the existing rail networks in Turkmenistan.

Considering the current incandescent geopolitical scenario in Ukraine, this is a bombshell in itself, because it will enable freight from China to travel via Iran or via Caspian ports, bypassing sanctioned Russia. No hard feelings, in terms of the Russia-China strategic partnership: just business.

The Kyrgyz, predictably, were ecstatic. Construction begins next year. According to Kyrgyz President Zhaparov, “there will be jobs. Our economy will boom.”

Talk about China acting decisively in its “first ring”, in Central Asia. Don’t expect anything of such geoeconomic breadth and scope being “offered” by IPEF anywhere in ASEAN.

Will the Global South break free from dollarized debt?

In his latest book, economist Michael Hudson pits socialism against finance capitalism and tears apart the ‘dream civilization’ imposed by the 1 percent.

June 09, 2022

By Pepe Escobar

Let’s jump straight into the fray. Hudson begins with an analysis of the “take the money and run” ethos, complete with de-industrialization, as 90 percent of US corporate revenue is “used to share buybacks and dividend payouts to support company stock prices.”

Michael Hudson’s new book on the world’s urgent global economic re-set is sure to ruffle some Atlanticist feathers.Photo Credit: The Cradle

With The Destiny of Civilization: Finance Capitalism, Industrial Capitalism or Socialism, Michael Hudson, one of the world’s leading independent economists, has given us arguably the ultimate handbook on where we’re at, who’s in charge, and whether we can bypass them.

That represents the apex of “Finance Capitalism’s” political strategy: to “capture the public sector and shift monetary and banking power” to Wall Street, the City of London and other western financial centers.

The whole Global South will easily recognize the imperial modus operandi: “The strategy of US military and financial imperialism is to install client oligarchies and dictatorships, and arm-twist allies to join the fight against designated adversaries by subsidizing not only the empire’s costs of war-making (“defense”) but even the imperial nation’s domestic spending programs.” This is the antithesis of the multipolar world advocated by Russia and China.

In short, our current Cold War 2.0 “is basically being waged by US-centered finance capitalism backing rentier oligarchies against nations seeking to build up more widespread self-reliance and domestic prosperity.”

Hudson presciently reminds us of Aristotle, who would say that it is in the interest of financiers to wield their power against society at large: “The financial class historically has been the major beneficiary of empires by acting as collection agents.”

So inevitably the major imperial leverage over the world, a true “strategy of underdevelopment,” had to be financial: instrumentalizing IMF pressure to “turn public infrastructure into privatized monopolies, and reversing 20th century pro-labor reforms” via those notorious ‘conditionalities’ for loans.

No wonder the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), established in Belgrade in 1961 with 120 nations and 27 observers, became such a threat to US global strategy. The latter predictably fought back with a slew of ethnic wars and the earliest incarnations of color revolution – fabricating dictatorships on an industrial scale, from Suharto to Pinochet.

The culmination was a cataclysmic Houston get-together in December 19, 1990 “celebrating” the dissolution of the USSR, as Hudson reminds us how the IMF and the World Bank “laid out a blueprint for Russia’s leaders to impose austerity and give away its assets – it didn’t matter to whom – in a wave of ‘shock therapy’ to let the alleged magic of free enterprise create a neoliberal free-for-all.”

Lost in a Roman wilderness of debt

To a large extent, nostalgia for the rape-and-pillaging of 1990s-era Russia fuels what Hudson defines as the New Cold War, where Dollar Diplomacy must assert its control over every foreign economy. The New Cold War is not waged only against Russia and China, “but against any countries resisting privatization and financialization under US sponsorship.”

Hudson reminds us how China’s policy “followed almost the same path that American protectionism did from 1865 though 1914 – state subsidy for industry, heavy public-sector capital investment…and social spending on education and health care to upgrade the quality and productivity of labor. This was not called Marxism in the United States; it was simply the logical way to look at industrialization, as part of a broad economic and social system.”

But then, finance – or casino – capitalism gained steam, and left the US economy mainly with “agribusiness farm surpluses, and monopolies in information technology (largely developed as a by-product of military research), military hardware, and pharmaceutical patents (based on public seed-money to fund research) able to extract monopoly rent while making themselves largely tax-exempt by using offshore banking centers.”

That’s the current State of Empire: relying only “on its rentier class and Dollar Diplomacy,” with prosperity concentrated in the top one percent of establishment elites. The inevitable corollary is US diplomacy imposing illegal, unilateral sanctions on Russia, China and anyone else who defies its diktats.

The US economy is indeed a lame post-modern remake of the late Roman empire: “dependent on foreign tribute for its survival in today’s global rentier economy.” Enter the correlation between a dwindling free lunch and utter fear: “That is why the United States has surrounded Eurasia with 750 military bases.”

Delightfully, Hudson goes back to Lactantius, in the late 3rd century, describing the Roman empire on Divine Institutes, to stress the parallels with the American version:

“In order to enslave the many, the greedy began to appropriate and accumulate the necessities of life and keep them tightly closed up, so that they might keep these bounties for themselves. They did this not for humanity’s sake (which was not in them at all), but to rake up all things as products of their greed and avarice. In the name of justice they made unfair and unjust laws to sanction their thefts and avarice against the power of the multitude. In this way they availed as much by authority as by strength of arms or overt evil.”

Socialism or barbarism

Hudson succinctly frames the central issue facing the world today: whether “money and credit, land, natural resources and monopolies will be privatized and concentrated in the hands of a rentier oligarchy or used to promote general prosperity and growth. This is basically a conflict between finance capitalism vs. socialism as economic systems.”

To advance the struggle, Hudson proposes a counter-rentier program which should be the Global South’s ultimate Blueprint for responsible development: public ownership of natural monopolies; key basic infrastructure in public hands; national self-sufficiency – crucially, in money and credit creation; consumer and labor protection; capital controls – to prevent borrowing or denominating debts in foreign currency; taxes on unearned income such as economic rent; progressive taxation; a land tax (“will prevent land’s rising rental value from being pledged to banks for credit to bid up real estate prices”); use of the economic surplus for tangible capital investment; and national self-sufficiency in food.

As Hudson seems to have covered all the bases, at the end of the book I was left with only one overarching question. I asked him how he analyzed the current discussions between the Eurasia Economic Union (EAEU) and the Chinese – and between Russia and China, further on down the road – as being able to deliver an alternative financial/monetary system. Can they sell the alternative system to most of the planet, all while dodging imperial financial harassment?

Hudson was gracious enough to reply with what could be regarded as the summary of a whole book chapter: “To be successful, any reform has to be system-wide, not merely a single part. Today’s western economies have become financialized, leaving credit creation in private hands – to be used to make financial gains at the expense of the industrial economy… This aim has spread like leprosy throughout entire economies – their trade patterns (dependency on US agricultural and oil exports, and IT technology), labor relations (anti-unionism and austerity), land tenure (foreign-owned plantation agriculture instead of domestic self-reliance and self-sufficiency in food grains), and economic theory itself (treating finance as part of GDP, not as an overhead siphoning off income from labor and industry alike).”

Hudson cautions that “in order to break free of the dynamic of predatory finance-capitalism sponsored by the United States and its satellites, foreign countries need to be self-sufficient in food production, energy, technology and other basic needs. This requires an alternative to US ‘free trade’ and its even more nationalistic ‘fair trade’ (deeming any foreign competition to US-owned industry ‘unfair’). That requires an alternative to the IMF, World Bank and ITO (from which Russia has just withdrawn). And alas, an alternative also requires military coordination such as the SCO [the Shanghai Cooperation Organization] to defend against the militarization of US-centered finance capitalism.”

Hudson does see some sunlight ahead: “As to your question of whether Russia and China can ‘sell’ this vision of the future to the Global South and Eurasian countries, that should become much easier by the end of this summer. A major byproduct (not unintended) of the NATO war in Ukraine is to sharply raise energy and food prices (and shipping prices). This will throw the balance of payments of many Global South and other countries into sharp deficit, creating a crisis as their dollar-denominated debt to bondholders and banks falls due.”

The key challenge for most of the Global South is to avoid default:

“The US raise in interest rates has increased the dollar’s exchange rate not only against the euro and Japanese yen, but against the Global South and other countries. This means that much more of their income and export revenue must be paid to service their foreign debt – and they can avoid default only by going without food and oil. So what will they choose? The IMF may offer to create SDRs to enable them to pay – by running even further into dollarized debt, subject to IMF austerity plans and demands that they sell off even more of their natural resources, forests and water.”

So how to break free from dollarized debt? “They need a critical mass. That was not available in the 1970s when a New International Economic Order was first discussed. But today it is becoming a viable alternative, thanks to the power of China, the resources of Russia and those of allied countries such as Iran, India and other East Asian and Central Asian countries. So I suspect that a new world economic system is emerging. If it succeeds, the last century – since the end of World War I and the mess it left – will seem like a long detour of history, now returning to what seemed to be the basic social ideals of classical economics – a market free from rent-seeking landlords, monopolies and predatory finance.”

Hudson concludes by reiterating what the New Cold War is really all about:

“In short, it is a conflict between two different social systems, each with their own philosophy of how societies work. Will they be planned by neoliberal financial centers centered in New York, supported by Washington’s neo-cons, or will they be the kind of socialism that the late 19th century and early 20th century envisioned – a ‘market’ and, indeed, society free from rentiers? Will natural monopolies such as land and natural resources be socialized and used to finance domestic growth and housing, or left to financial interests to turn rent into interest payments eating into consumer and business income? And most of all, will governments create their own money and steer banking to promote domestic prosperity, or will they let private banks (whose financial interests are represented by central banks) take control away from national treasuries?”

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

Bilderberg does China

June 04, 2022

When Davos and Bilderberg messenger boys look at The Grand Chessboard, they realize that their era of perpetual free lunch is over.

By Pepe Escobar posted with his permission and widely cross-posted. 

Discreetly, as under the radar as a looming virus, the 68th Bilderberg meeting  is currently underway in Washington, D.C. Nothing to see here. No conspiracy theories about a “secret cabal”, please. This is just a docile, “diverse group of political leaders and experts” having a chat, a laugh, and a bubbly.

Still, one cannot but notice that the choice of venue speaks more volumes than the entire – burned to the ground – Library of Alexandria. In the year heralding the explosion of a much-awaited NATO vs. Russia proxy war, discussing its myriad ramifications does suit the capital of the Empire of Lies, much more than Davos a few weeks ago, where one Henry Kissinger sent them into a frenzy by advancing the necessity of a toxic compromise named “diplomacy”.

The list of Bilderberg 2022 participants is a joy to peruse. Here are just some of the stalwarts:

James Baker, Consigliere extraordinaire, now a mere Director of the Office of Net Assessment at the Pentagon.

José Manuel Barroso, former head of the European Commission, later the recipient of a golden parachute in the form of Chairman of Goldman Sachs International.

Albert Bourla, the Pfizer Big Guy.

William Burns, CIA director.

Kurt Campbell, the guy who invented the Obama/Hillary “pivot to Asia”, now White House Coordinator for Indo-Pacific.

Mark Carney, former Bank of England, one of the designers of the Great Reset, now Vice Chair of Brookfield Asset Management.

Henry Kissinger, The Establishment’s Voice (or a war criminal: take your pick).

Charles Michel, President of the European Council.

Minton Beddoes, Editor-in-Chief of The Economist, which will duly relay all major Bilderberg directives in the magazine’s upcoming cover stories.

David Petraeus, certified loser of endless surges and Chairman of KKR Global Institute.

Mark Rutte, hawkish Prime Minister of the Netherlands.

Jens Stoltenberg, NATO top parrot, sorry, secretary-general.

Jake Sullivan, Director of the National Security Council.

The ideological and geopolitical affiliations of these members of the “diverse group” need no further elaboration. It gets positively sexier when we see what they will be discussing.

Among other issues we find “NATO challenges”; “Indo-Pacific realignment”; “continuity of government and economy” (Conspirationists: continuity in case of nuclear war?); “disruption of global financial system” (already on); “post-pandemic health” (Conspirationists: how to engineer the next pandemic?); “trade and deglobalization”; and of course, the choice wagyu beef steaks: Russia and China.

As Bilderberg follows Chatham House Rules, mere mortals won’t have a clue of what they actually “proposed” or approved, and none of the participants will be allowed to talk about it with anyone else. One of my top New York sources, with direct access to most of the Masters of the Universe, loves to quip that Davos and Bilderberg are just for the messenger boys: the guys who really run the show don’t even bother to show up, ensconced in their uber-private meetings in uber-private clubs, where the real decisions are made.

Still, anyone following in some detail the rotten state of the “rules-based international order” will have a pretty good idea about the 2022 Bilderberg chatter.

What the Chinese say

Secretary of State Little Blinken – Sullivan’s sidekick in the ongoing Crash Test Dummy administration’s Dumb and Dumber remake – has recently claimed that China “supports” Russia on Ukraine instead of remaining neutral.

What really matters here is that Little Blinken is implying that Beijing wants to destabilize Asia-Pacific – which is a notorious absurdity. Yet that’s the master narrative that must pave the way for the US to muscle up its “Indo-Pacific” concoction. And that’s the briefing Sullivan and Kurt Campbell will be delivering to the “diverse group”.

Davos – with its new self-billed mantra, “The Great Narrative” – completely excluded Russia. Bilderberg is mostly about containment of China – which after all is the number one existential threat to the Empire of Lies and its satrapies.

Rather than wait for Bilderberg morsels dispensed by The Economist, it’s much more productive to check out what a cross-section of fact-based Chinese intelligentsia thinks about the new “collective West” racket.

Let’s start with Justin Lin Yifu, former Chief Economist of the World Bank and now Dean of the Institute of New Structural Economics at Peking University, and Sheng Songcheng, former head of the Financial Survey and Statistic Dept. a the Bank of China.

They advance that if China achieves “dynamic zero infection” on Covid-19 by the end of May (that actually happened: see the end of the Shanghai lockdown), China’s economy may grow by 5.5% in 2022.

They dismiss the imperial attempt to establish an “Asian version of NATO”: “As long as China continues to grow at a higher rate and to open up, European and ASEAN countries would not participate in the US’s decoupling trap so as to ensure their economic growth and job creation.”

Three academics from the Shanghai Institute of International Studies and Fudan University touch on the same point: the American-announced “Indo-Pacific Economic Framework”, supposed to be the economic pillar of the Indo-Pacific strategy, is nothing but a cumbersome attempt to “weaken the internal cohesion and regional autonomy of ASEAN.”

Liu Zongyi stresses that China’s position at the heart of the vastly inter-connected Asian supply chains “has been consolidated”, especially now with the onset of the largest trade deal on the planet, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).

Chen Wengling, Chief Economist of a think tank under the key National Development and Reform Commission, notes  the “comprehensive ideological and technological war against China” launched by the Americans.

But he’s keen to stress how they are “not ready for a hot war as the US and Chinese economies are so closely linked.” The crucial vector is that “the US has not yet made substantial progress in strengthening its supply chain focusing on four key fields including semiconductors.”

Chen worries about “China’s energy security”; “China’s silence” on US sanctions on Russia, which “may result in US retaliation”; and crucially, how “China’s plan of building the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) with Ukraine and EU countries will be affected.” What will happen in practice is BRI will be privileging economic corridors across Iran and West Asia, as well as the Maritime Silk Road, instead of the Trans-Siberian corridor across Russia.

It’s up to Yu Yongding, from the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS) and a former member of the Monetary Policy Committee of the Central Bank, to go for the jugular, noting how” the global financial system and the US dollar have been weaponized into geopolitical tools. The nefarious behavior of the US in freezing foreign exchange reserves has not only seriously damaged the international credibility of the US but has also shaken the credit foundation of the dominant international financial system in the West.”

He expresses the consensus among Chinese intel, that “if there is a geopolitical conflict between the US and China, then China’s overseas assets will be seriously threatened, especially its huge reserves. Therefore, the composition of China’s external financial assets and liabilities urgently needs to be adjusted and the portion of US dollar denominated assets in its reserves portfolio should be reduced.”

This chessboard sucks

A serious debate is raging across virtually all sectors of Chinese society on the American weaponization of the world financial casino. The conclusions are inevitable: get rid of US Treasuries, fast, by any means necessary; more imports of commodities and strategic materials (thus the importance of the Russia-China strategic partnership); and firmly secure overseas assets, especially those foreign currency reserves.

Meanwhile Bilderberg’s “diverse group”, on the other side of the pond, is discussing, among other things, what will really happen in case they force the IMF racket to blow up (a key plan to implement The Great Reset, or “Great Narrative”).

They are starting to literally freak out with the slowly but surely emergence of an alternative, resource-based monetary/financial system: exactly what the Eurasia Economic Union (EAEU) is currently discussing and designing, with Chinese input.

Imagine a counter-Bilderberg system where a basket of Global South actors, resource-rich but economically poor, are able to issue their own currencies backed by commodities, and finally get rid of their status of IMF hostages. They are all paying close attention to the Russia gas-for-rubles experiment.

And in China’s particular case, what will always matter is loads of productive capital underpinning a massive, extremely deep industrial and civil infrastructure.

No wonder Davos and Bilderberg messenger boys, when they look at The Grand Chessboard, are filled with dread: their era of perpetual free lunch is over. What would delight cynics, skeptics, neoplatonists and Taoists galore is that it was Davos-Bilderberg Men (and Women) who actually boxed themselves into zugzwang.

All dressed up – with nowhere to go. Even JP Morgan’s Jamie Dimon – who didn’t even bother to go to Bilderberg – is scared, saying an economic “hurricane” is coming. And overturning the chessboard is no remedy: at best that may invite a ceremonious tuxedo visit by Mr. Sarmat and Mr. Zircon carrying some hypersonic bubbly.

The Sanctioned Ones: How Iran-Russia are setting new rules

While China, keen to ward off US sanctions as long as possible, is lagging, its RIC partners Iran and Russia are doing the legwork to break the west’s global financial grip.

May 31 2022

Iran and Russia are taking the lead in establishing alternative financial networks to bypass western sanctionsPhoto Credit: The Cradle

By Pepe Escobar

The first Eurasia Economic Forum, held last week in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, should be regarded as a milestone in setting the parameters for the geoeconomic integration of the Eurasian heartland.

Sergei Glazyev, Russia’s Minister in Charge of Integration and Macroeconomics of the Eurasia Economic Union (EAEU), is coordinating the drive to design an alternative monetary-financial system – a de facto post-Bretton Woods III – in cooperation with China.

According to Glazyev, the forum “discussed the model of a new global settlement currency pegged to baskets of national currencies and commodities. The introduction of this currency instrument in Eurasia will entail the collapse of the dollar system and the final undermining of the US military and political power. It is necessary to start negotiations on signing an appropriate international treaty within the framework of the SCO.”

Glazyev described the initiative to upend the western global financial system in more detail during an exclusive interview with The Cradle in April.

It’s particularly relevant to understand how Glazyev interconnects the EAEU’s drive with the increasing geopolitical and geoeconomic role of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), which unites at the same table key Eurasian powers: China, Russia, India, Pakistan, Kazakhstan and Iran.

That connects directly with Russian President Vladimir Putin, at the meeting of the Supreme Eurasian Economic Council, supporting the extension of a temporary free trade agreement between the EAEU and Iran, which is the newest (and only West Asian) full member of the SCO. Putin said this should go ahead despite the “confrontation by the collective West.”

The EAEU, inaugurated in 2015 with five full members – Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Belarus and Armenia – represents a market of 184 million people and a collective GDP of over $5 trillion. The next step with Iran will be to implement a full free trade agreement, possibly before the end of the year, according to Iranian deputy trade minister Alireza Peymanpak. Egypt, Indonesia and the UAE are also candidates to strike deals with the EAEU.

Iran, which has for over four decades now been forced to find creative solutions to bypass serial, imperial sanction packages, may have a conceptual lesson or two to teach Russia. Barter arrangements are gaining ground: Tehran is offering spare parts and gas turbines to Moscow’s power plants in exchange for much needed zinc, aluminum, lead and steel for its metal and mining industries, according to Iranian trade and industries minister Reza Fatemi Amin.

And more barter on a wide range of commodities is ahead, as discussed during a recent visit to Tehran by Russian Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak.

The other ‘RIC’

Slowly but surely, the new RIC (Russia-Iran-China) – as opposed to the old RIC in BRICS (Russia-India-China) – is attempting to integrate their financial systems. Iran is a matter of national security strategy for China, as an energy provider and essential partner of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) in West Asia.

Russia-China, though, is a much more complex matter. Extremely fearful of provoking US sanctions, Chinese banks are refraining – at least for the moment – to increase their deals with Russian banks, which brings us to the case of UnionPay:

The Chinese bank card provider – increasingly popular, especially across Asia – declined from partnering with Sberbank even before Russia’s largest bank was excluded by the EU and the US from the global bank messaging platform SWIFT. UnionPay also canceled plans with other Russian banks to issue UnionPay cards linked with the Russian Mir payment system, profiting from the exit of Visa and Mastercard from the Russian market.

This is still a careful balancing act for China. Earlier this year at the Boao Forum in Asia, President Xi Jinping was adamant in opposing the “wanton use of unilateral sanctions.” And over 80 percent of Chinese companies already established in Russia appeared to continue their business as usual.

Yet in practical terms, there are serious problems. The Bank of China and the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) have restricted financing for Russian commodities. Even the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), absolutely essential for sustainable development projects, linked or not with BRI, decided to freeze all lending to Russia and Belarus in early March to “safeguard” its “financial integrity.”

On the financial front, cautious Chinese banks, with enormous western exposure, are always balancing the fact that nearly 80 percent of global cross-border transactions are still in dollars and euros, and only two percent in yuan. So the Russian market is not exactly a priority.

In parallel, the Russia-Iran front is quite lively. They are turbo-charging mutual settlements in their national currencies to “the highest possible level,” as highlighted by Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak: “We discussed together with central banks the spread and operation of the financial messaging system, as well as the connection of Mir and [Iranian] Shetab payment cards.”

As it stands, the Mir card is still not accepted in Iran, but that’s about to change – just as in Turkey, which this summer will start accepting Mir card payments from legions of Russian tourists. What this means in practice is that Russia and Iran will be connecting their banks to the System for Transfer of Financial Messages (SPFS), the Russian equivalent to SWIFT. The Chinese will obviously be examining how seamlessly the transition works.

Now compare all of the above with the prospect that soon there won’t be any SWIFT at all, as Mastercard CEO Michael Miebach let slip in Davos.

Miebach was participating in a panel on Central Bank Digital Currencies, discussing cross-border payments, when he suggested that SWIFT might soon be a thing of the past. No question about it: Moscow is eyeing crypto and digital currencies already, and Beijing is dead set on setting up the digital yuan to work around SWIFT and its linked CHIPS (Clearing House Interbank Payment System).

The Sanctioned Ones, now moving fast

The Russia-Iran front has been fast evolving since January this year, when Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, on a visit to Moscow, handed a draft agreement to Putin on strategic cooperation for the next 20 years, building on “the very good experience of cooperation between Iran and Russia in Syria in combating terrorism,” and expanding to “economy, politics, culture, science, technology, defense, and military spheres, as well as security and space issues.”

Raisi also explicitly thanked Putin “for facilitating Tehran’s entry into the SCO.”

Iranian Oil Minister Javad Ouji went straight to the point in his meeting with Novak in Tehran last week: “Our countries are under strict sanctions, and we have the potential to neutralize them through the development of bilateral relations…We have created joint committees on banking, energy, transport, agriculture issues, as well as the issue of creation of nuclear power plants.”

And that brings us once again to the seemingly eternal soap opera of the Vienna-based Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) talks, with Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov now signaling the final draft “is at a high degree of readiness for adoption. There are some political problems, which are not related to the finalization of the text.”

Cutting through the proverbial fog of US swamp spin, Ryabkov stressed how “in terms of our interests, including in the context of peaceful nuclear cooperation with Iran, the text is quite satisfactory…there is nothing to ‘fine-tune’.” So when the Americans say that the deal is “out of reach,” Raybkov added, it means that they “broadcast the results of their internal discussions.”

The bottom line is that on the JCPOA, Tehran and Moscow are in sync: “We are what they call on edge, and it could happen very quickly if the political decision is made.”

Expanding on their synchronicity, Tehran even proposed to host negotiations between Moscow and Kiev over the Ukraine conflict – following the Turkish example. By now though, after Ankara’s failure, it is clear that Washington decision makers want no negotiation, but an endless war to the last Ukrainian.

Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian remains in sync with his counterpart Sergei Lavrov. At Davos, he said the Ukraine drama was caused by “the US and NATO’s provocative actions…they “provoked the Kremlin into this.” That’s essentially what Beijing has been discreetly implying.

All of the above shows some of the trials and tribulations of Eurasia integration, and the long and winding road to an EAEU-SCO new monetary system. But first things first: there’s got to be some action on the Mir-UnionPay front. When that news breaks, the die will be cast.

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

The Eurasian Economic Union Steps Up

May 28, 2022

The Eurasian Economic Forum has shown once again that this high-speed – economic integration – train has already left the station.

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

The first Eurasian Economic Forum, in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, took place this week at a very sensitive geopolitical juncture, as Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov keeps stressing that, “the West has declared total war against us, against the entire Russian world. Nobody even hides this now.”

It’s always important to remember that before Maidan in 2014, Ukraine had the option to become a full member of the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU), and even balance it with a loose association with the EU.

The EAEU comprises five full members – Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Belarus and Armenia – yet 14 nations sent delegations to the forum, including China, Vietnam and Latin American nations.

There was much rumbling that the proceedings would be jeopardized by the serial sanctions packages imposed on Russia by the collective West. There’s no question that some EAEU members – such as Kazakhstan – seem to be more worried about the effects of the sanctions than about fine-tuning business with Russia. Yet that’s not the point.

The crucial point is that by 2025 they have to harmonize their legislation concerning financial markets. And that’s directly connected to what the executive body of the EAEU, led by Sergey Glazyev, is working on, extensively: designing the lineaments of an alternative financial/economic system  to what the West would rather coin as Bretton Woods 3.

The Eurasian Economic Forum was established by the Supreme Eurasian Economic Council explicitly to further deepen economic cooperation between EAEU members. No wonder the official theme of the forum was Eurasian Economic Integration in the Era of Global Shifts: New Investment Opportunities, focusing on strategic development in the industrial, energy, transport, financial, and digital areas.

So Many Converging Strategies

President Putin’s speech to the plenary session was quite revealing. To really appreciate the scope of what’s implied, it’s important to remember that the Greater Eurasian Partnership concept was presented by Putin in 2016 at the St. Petersburg Economic Forum, focused on a “more extensive Eurasian partnership involving the Eurasian Economic Union” and including China, Pakistan, Iran and India.

Putin stressed how the drive for developing ties “within the framework of the Greater Eurasian Partnership” (…) “was not the political situation but global economic trends, because the centre of economic development is gradually – we are aware of this, and our businesspeople are aware of this – is gradually moving, continues to move into the Asia-Pacific Region.”

He added, “in the current international conditions when, unfortunately, traditional trade and economic links and supply chains are being disrupted”, the Greater Eurasian Partnership “is gaining a special meaning.”

Putin established a direct connection not only between the Greater Eurasian Partnership and EAEU members but also “BRICS members such as China and India”, “the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, ASEAN and other organizations.”

And that’s the core of the whole, ongoing, multi-layered process of Eurasia integration, with the China-led New Silk Roads intersecting with the Eurasia Economic Union, the SCO, BRICS+, and other converging strategies.

Lavrov this week said that Argentina and Saudi Arabia want to join BRICS, whose next summer in China is being meticulously prepared. Not only that: Lavrov mentioned how quite a few Arab nations want to join the SCO. He was careful to describe this process of converging alliances as “not antagonistic”.

Putin for his part was careful to define the Greater Eurasian Partnership as “a big civilizational project. The main idea is to create a common space for equitable cooperation for regional organizations”, changing “the political and economic architecture on the entire continent.”

Thus, the necessity to “draft a comprehensive strategy for developing large-scale Eurasian partnership”, including “a roadmap for industrialization”. That translates in practice as developing “engineering centers and research centers. This is inevitable for any country that wants to increase its economic, financial, and ultimately political sovereignty. It is inevitable.”

Yaroslav Lissovolik  at the Valdai Club is one of the top analysts tracking how this convergence may profit the whole Global South. He stresses that among the “variability and diversity in the platforms that may be launched by Global South economies, the most sizeable and comprehensive of which could include the aggregation of CELAC (Latin America), African Union (Africa)”, and the SCO in Eurasia.

And an even more diverse set of “regional blocs that targets deeper integration could feature a BRICS+ platform that comprises the South African Development Community (SADC), MERCOSUR, BIMSTEC”, the China-ASEAN free trade agreement, and the EAEU.

The Eurasian Economic Forum has shown once again that this high-speed – economic integration – train has already left the station. It’s quite enlightening to notice the sharp contrast with the endless doom and gloom afflicting a collective West prone to inflation, energy shortages, food shortages, fictional “narratives” and the defense of neo-Nazis under the banner of liberal “democracy”.

Vladimir Putin addressed the plenary session of the 1st Eurasian Economic Forum

May 26, 2022

First Eurasian Economic Forum

Also attending the meeting were Prime Minister of Armenia Nikol Pashinyan, President of Kazakhstan Kassym-Zhomart Tokayev, President of Kyrgyzstan Sadyr Japarov, Prime Minister of Belarus Roman Golovchenko, and Chairman of the Board of the Eurasian Economic Commission Mikhail Myasnikovich. The forum moderator was Alexander Shokhin, President of the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs, member of the Presidium of the EAEU Business Council.

The purpose of the Eurasian Economic Forum, established by a decision of the Supreme Eurasian Economic Council and timed to coincide with a meeting of the SEEC, is to further deepen economic cooperation between the EAEU member states.

The EEF 2022 in Bishkek, themed Eurasian Economic Integration in the Era of Global Shifts: New Investment Opportunities, will focus on promising areas for the strategic development of integration. The participants will discuss ways to deepen industrial, energy, transport, financial, and digital cooperation.

* * *

Address at the plenary session of the 1st Eurasian Economic Forum.

President of Russia Vladimir Putin: I am grateful for this opportunity to address you, to speak on the issues which you [Alexander Shokhin] have raised and which, as you suggested, should be addressed in greater detail.

First of all, I would like to thank President of Kyrgyzstan Sadyr Japarov and his team for organising this event. I can see many people in the audience, including businesspeople and government officials. I am sure that the media will take a keen interest in the forum.

This is what I would like to begin with when answering your question. The development of Eurasian integration has no connection whatsoever to current developments or market conditions. We established this organisation many years ago. In fact, we established it at the initiative of the First President of Kazakhstan [Nursultan Nazarbayev].

I remember very well the main conversation we had on that issue, on that subject, when he said, “You must choose what is more important to you: working more actively and more closely with your direct neighbours and natural partners, or prioritising, for example, admission to the World Trade Organisation.” It was in this connection that we had to make decisions.

And although we were interested in joining the WTO and in developing relations accordingly with our Western partners, as you said and as I continue to say, we nevertheless regarded as our main priority the development of relations with our direct and natural neighbours within the common economic framework of the Soviet Union. This is my first point.

The second. Already at that time, we started developing ties – I will speak about this later – within the framework of the Greater Eurasian Partnership. Our motivation was not the political situation but global economic trends, because the centre of economic development is gradually – we are aware of this, and our businesspeople are aware of this – is gradually moving, continues to move into the Asia-Pacific Region.

Of course, we understand the tremendous advantages of high technology in advanced economies. This is obvious. We are not going to shut ourselves off from it. There are attempts to oust us from this area a little but this is simply unrealistic in the modern world. It is impossible. If we do not separate ourselves by putting up a wall, nobody will be able to isolate such a country as Russia.

Speaking not only about Russia, but also about our partners in the EAEU and the world in general, this task is completely unfeasible. Moreover, those who are trying to fulfil it harm themselves the most. No matter how sustainable the economies of the countries pursuing this shortsighted policy are, the current state of the global economy shows that our position is right and justified, even in terms of macroeconomic indicators.

These advanced economies have not had such inflation for the past 40 years; unemployment is growing, logistics chains are breaking and global crises are growing in such sensitive areas as food. This is no joke. It is a serious factor affecting the entire system of economic and political relations.

Meanwhile, these sanctions and bans are aimed at constraining and weakening the countries that are pursuing an independent policy, and they ate not limited to Russia or even China. I do not doubt for a second that there are many countries that want to and will pursue an independent policy and their number is growing. No world policeman will be able to stop this global process. There will not be enough power for this and the desire to do so will evaporate due to a host of domestic problems in those countries. I hope they will eventually realise that this policy has no prospects whatsoever.

Violating rules and norms in international finances and trade is counterproductive. In simple words, it will only lead to problems for those who are doing it. Theft of foreign assets has never done any good to anyone, primarily those who are engaged in these unseemly deeds. As it has transpired now, neglect for the political and security interests of other countries leads to chaos and economic upheavals with global repercussions.

Western countries are sure that any persona non grata who has their own point of view and is ready to defend it can be deleted from the world economy, politics, culture and sports. In fact, this is nonsense, and, as I said, it is impossible to make this happen.

We can see it. Mr Shokhin, as a representative of our business, you certainly face problems, especially in the field of supply chains and transport, but nevertheless, everything can be adjusted, everything can be built in a new way. Not without losses at a certain stage, but it leads to the fact that we really become stronger in some ways. In any case, we are definitely acquiring new skills and are starting to focus our economic, financial, and administrative resources on breakthrough areas.

True, not all the import substitution goals were achieved in previous years. But it is impossible to achieve everything: life is faster than administrative decisions, it develops faster. But there is no problem. We have done everything necessary in key areas that ensure our sovereignty.

Let us move on. After all, import substitution is not a pill for every ill, and we are not going to deal exclusively with import substitution. We are just going to develop. But we will continue to arrange import substitution in those areas where we are forced to do so. Yes, maybe with some mixed results, but definitely we will only become stronger thanks to this, especially in the field of high technologies.

Look, after the CoCom lists – I have already spoken about this many times – after what you said about our work, for instance, within the same former G8 and so on, restrictions still remained. In the most sensitive areas, everything was still closed. In fact, fundamentally – I want to emphasise this – nothing has changed fundamentally.

These issues related to large-block assemblies and so on, it took so much effort to increase localisation within the country, in our economy, in the real sectors of the economy, in industry. And even then we did not agree on key issues in many respects.

Actually, import substitution was necessary

to create not just assembly shops, but also engineering centres and research centres. This is inevitable for any country that wants to increase its economic, financial and ultimately political sovereignty. It is inevitable.

This is why we have been doing it, and not because the current state of affairs demands it from us, but simply because life itself demanded this, and we were active.

And, of course, we will work actively within the framework of the Eurasian Economic Union and within the CIS in general, we will work with the regions of Asia, Latin America and Africa. But I assure you, and you can see it yourselves, many of our companies from Europe, our partners from Europe, have announced that they are leaving. You know, sometimes when we look at those who are leaving, we ask ourselves: isn’t it a good thing that they have left? We will take up their niches: our business and our production – they have matured, and they will safely take root on the ground that our partners have prepared. Nothing will change.

And those who want to bring in some luxury goods, they will be able to do so. Well, it will be a little more expensive for them, but these are people who are already driving Mercedes S 600, and will continue to do so. I assure you, they will bring them from anywhere, from any country. That is not what is important for us. What is important for the country, for its development – I have already said this and I will repeat it – are the engineering centres and research centres that are the basis of our own development. This is what we must think about and what we must work on both within the EAEU and in a broad sense with our partners – those who want to cooperate with us.

We have a very good base that we inherited from the old days, we only need to support it and to invest resources there. As for those areas, in which we did not invest appropriate resources before, including, say, administrative resources, relying on the fact that everything can be bought by selling oil and gas, life itself has now forced us to invest there.

And thank God that this has happened. I do not see any problem here with the fact that we have not completed something in the field of import substitution. We will not do it just because the current economic situation forces us to do so, but only because it is in the interests of our country.

The Eurasian Economic Union has developed a roadmap for industrialisation, with over 180 projects with a total investment of over $300 billion. A programme for agricultural development has been prepared, including more than 170 projects worth $16 billion.

Russia has something to offer here, and businesspeople are well aware of this. We have grown to be highly competitive at the global level, in the global markets. Russia remains – if we speak about agriculture – the largest exporter of wheat, number one in the world. Until recently, we were buying it – now we are selling it, number one in the world. True, countries such as the United States or China produce even more, but they also consume more. But Russia has become number one in international trade.

Our high-tech industries are growing successfully, too. And we would like to continue growing together with our EAEU partners. We can and should restore our collaborative competencies.

I have discussed this with my colleagues, with the President of Kazakhstan and the Prime Minister of Armenia – not because some of Russia’s IT workers have moved to Armenia, not at all. They are free to relocate and work anywhere, and God bless them. But again, it is a certain challenge for us: it means we must create better conditions.

We have opportunities to work with the Republic of Belarus in a number of areas of cooperation, and we will definitely do this, because the Republic of Belarus has retained certain expertise that is very important for us, including in microelectronics. President Lukashenko and I just met in Sochi and talked about it, and even agreed to set aside funding for those projects in Belarus. The products that these enterprises, these industries will make will enjoy demand in Russia. This is a very interesting and promising area.

The EAEU countries have laid the foundation for a common digital landscape, including a unified products traceability system. Various platform solutions are being developed, for example, the Work without Borders search system. The project is very important for all our countries. Despite all the crises and challenges caused by the current political situation, labour migrants continue to send almost as much money home from Russia as before. Moreover, some countries are receiving even more money now, as my colleagues from the CIS have told me.

The practice of payments in national currencies is expanding, which is very important. Notably, their share in the mutual trade of the Union’s countries has already reached 75 percent. We will continue to work on interlinking our national payment systems and bank cards.

We believe it is important to expedite the dialogue on internal international financial and payment mechanisms, such as transitioning from SWIFT to direct correspondent contacts between the banks of the friendly countries, including through the Russian Central Bank’s financial messaging system. We also propose strengthening cooperation with key lending and financial centres in the Asia-Pacific Region.

New topics related to Eurasian integration include developing cooperation in green technology, environmental protection and energy saving. We expect to receive support and proactive suggestions from the business community.

Colleagues,

In the current international conditions when, unfortunately, traditional trade and economic links and supply chains are being disrupted, Russia’s initiative to form a Greater Eurasian Partnership– an initiative we have been discussing for many years – is gaining a special meaning.

We are thankful to the leaders of the EAEU countries for supporting this proposal from the very beginning. BRICS members such as China and India as well as several other countries also supported creating a Greater Eurasian Partnership. The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, ASEAN and other organisations have shown interest in this initiative.

Here, I would like to mention several specific ideas pertaining to the comprehensive development of the Greater Eurasian Partnership.

First, it is reasonable to develop shared institutions for specific growth points, including creating a Eurasian export centre and trade houses, expediting the establishment of a Eurasian reinsurance company, examining the issue of developing special trans-border economic zones, probably even with supranational authority.

The second point. It is important to step up the EAEU’s cooperation with foreign partners and inform them about the benefits and advantages of working with the EAEU and of our key projects and plans. My colleagues know that interest in our association is growing. In this context, the EAEU Business Council could play a significant role. It is already successfully developing ties beyond our union. Its business dialogue system may become an example for a potential business cooperation platform in Greater Eurasia.

That said, as I have already noted, it would be desirable to support the freedom of business initiative, the creative activity of business, of our investors. I suggest creating additional, better incentives for this purpose and investing more in Eurasian projects. Naturally, the companies representing national businesses of the EAEU countries must receive priority support.

My third point. It is time to draft a comprehensive strategy for developing large-scale Eurasian partnership. It must reflect the key international challenges facing us, determine future goals and contain instruments and mechanisms for achieving them. We must consider further steps in developing our system of trade and investment agreements, in part, with the participation of the SCO, ASEAN and BRICS member countries.

In fact, we may draft new agreements that will develop and supplement WTO rules. In this context, it is important to pay attention not only to tariffs but also to the removal of non-tariff barriers. This may produce considerable results without subjecting our national economies to risks.

In conclusion, I would like to say the following. It would be no exaggeration to say that Greater Eurasia is a big civilisational project. The main idea is to create a common space for equitable cooperation for regional organisations. The Greater Eurasian Partnership is designed to change the political and economic architecture and guarantee stability and prosperity on the entire continent – naturally, taking account of the diverse development models, cultures and traditions of all nations. I am confident, and this is obvious anyway, that this centre would attract a big audience.

I would like to wish success and productive cooperation to all participants of the Eurasian Economic Forum.

Thank you for your attention. Thank you.

Briefing by Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova, Moscow, May 18, 2022 (Extensive)

May 20, 2022

https://www.mid.ru/en/foreign_policy/news/1813888/

Table of contents

  1. Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov to attend BRICS Foreign Ministers’ meeting
  2. Sergey Lavrov’s participation in the 100 Questions for the Leader project at the Yevgeny Primakov Gymnasium
  3. Update on Ukraine
  4. Involving minors in Ukrainian nationalist formations
  5. Statement by Western leaders accusing Russia of cyberattacks against the Ukrainian communications infrastructure
  6. EU allegations of Russia’s “responsibility” for global food insecurity
  7. Biological warfare research in Ukraine
  8. Closing Canada’s CBC bureau in Moscow
  9. Situation at the JCPOA reactivation talks
  10. The situation in the Republic of Moldova
  11. Russia’s stance on Cyprus settlement
  12. Growing terrorist activity in Burkina Faso and neighbouring countries
  13. Desecration of Soviet military graves in Gdansk
  14. Desecrating a memorial to Generalissimo Alexander Suvorov’s comrades who died when crossing the Alps in 1799, in the Shollenen Gorge (Switzerland)
  15. 13th International Economic Summit Russia – Islamic World: KazanSummit 2022
  16. 2nd Kostomarov Forum
  17. Eurasian Economic Forum in Bishkek

Answers to media questions:

  1. Russia’s withdrawal from the Council of the Baltic Sea States
  2. The transportation of grain from Ukraine
  3. The death of Al Jazeera journalist
  4. Calls for “regime change” in Russia
  5. Ukraine’s decision to nationalise Russian banks’ property
  6. Russia’s reaction to Finland and Sweden’s decision to join NATO
  7. Mass shooting in the United States
  8. Russian diplomats working in new conditions
  9. Russia’s reaction to the Western embargo on Russian energy exports
  10. Finland’s economic losses
  11. The future of Ukrainian militants who surrendered at Azovstal
  12. Situation with individuals detained in Ukraine
  13. Russia’s stand on NATO membership for Ukraine and Finland
  14. Russia’s response measures to Finland’s NATO membership
  15. Exchange of prisoners in Ukraine
  16. The possibility of Russia-Ukraine talks
  17. Trilateral working group
  18. Meeting of the Armenian-Azerbaijani commission on border delimitation and border security
  19. Acts of vandalism in Nagorno-Karabakh
  20. CSTO response to developments in Afghanistan
  21. Escalation in the Gorno-Badakhshan autonomous region of Tajikistan

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov to attend BRICS Foreign Ministers’ meeting

On May 19, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov will attend a meeting of the Foreign Ministers of the BRICS countries via videoconference.

The ministers will review global and regional issues, as well as the problems of maintaining peace and security and settling acute international conflicts. They will focus on coordinating the approaches of the BRICS nations at key multilateral platforms and intensifying cooperation in countering new challenges and threats.

The ministers will review the BRICS strategic partnership in three key areas – political, economic and humanitarian – in the context of preparing for the upcoming 14th summit of the association.

At the initiative of the Chinese Presidency in the Council of Foreign Ministers, a separate session will take place in BRICS-plus format with the participation of the foreign ministers from a number of developing nations.

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Sergey Lavrov’s participation in the 100 Questions for the Leader project at the Yevgeny Primakov Gymnasium

On May 23, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov will meet with students at the autonomous non-profit general education organisation Yevgeny Primakov Regional Gymnasium as part of the 100 Questions for the Leader project.

The project represents a special format for trustworthy conversations held by students with famous politicians and outstanding representatives of science, art and sports. It provides a priceless experience for direct dialogue between the rising generation and today’s leaders.

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Update on Ukraine

The special military operation continues in Ukraine. As Russian leaders have said more than once, it is going according to plan, and new territories are being freed from the Nazis every day.

The Ukrainian military personnel and militants in Azov nationalist units that entrenched themselves in the underground bunkers of the Azovstal Plant, began to surrender in Mariupol this week. According to the Russian Defence Ministry, 959 Ukrainian nationalists, including 51 with severe wounds, have laid down their arms over two days. They receive medical aid at the Novoazovsk hospital in the DPR, and the rest were sent to a pretrial detention centre in Yelenovka in the suburbs of Donetsk. Indicatively, on May 17, this centre was shelled by the Armed Forces of Ukraine with multiple launch rocket systems (MLRSs). The Kiev regime has always treated its citizens like this, and this case was no exception.

Russian leaders had repeatedly stated that resistance was senseless and announced the opening of humanitarian corridors for militants and Ukrainian military personnel to leave the Azovstal Plant after laying down their arms. They were urged to stop the hostilities. In the meantime, the Kiev regime was doing all it could to prevent civilians, military personnel and militants from leaving the plant. Why? They were brainwashing the public.

It was Russia that urged the UN to look into this situation and persuade the Kiev regime to let people walk out. Later, Russia organised humanitarian corridors in cooperation with the UN and the International Committee of the Red Cross. I would like to emphasise that the initiative on announcing and opening these corridors was ours.

The wounded troops are provided with professional medical help. This fact is being turned upside down and misrepresented in the Ukrainian and international media. Remember the footage showing how the militants and the Armed Forces of Ukraine treat POWs in Ukraine? Everyone saw it. It horrified many, others pretended not to have seen it. Russian POWs were shot to death by militants from the nationalist units that became part of the Armed Forces of Ukraine.

Russia has adopted a different approach. You see footage showing professional help being provided to the wounded [Ukrainian troops]. It is not being provided “for show.” It is provided to real individuals regardless of their background. Humanitarian law is not just something we abide by; it is of fundamental importance for us. No one should have any doubt about this.

According to Ukrainian POWs, the military leadership of Ukraine forbids the troops to retreat or surrender. Their key goal is to destroy as much civilian infrastructure as possible in order to leave behind uninhabitable ruins and make it hard to restore peaceful life. This is not our messaging, but the testimony received from the Ukrainian side over the past weeks.

The nationalists, who have long been using the tactics of ISIS terrorists, do not hesitate to use kindergartens, schools and hospitals as ammunition depots and strongholds. They are not hiding this. They take pictures inside preschools or with preschool buildings in the background to show how they fight there. The civilians are not allowed to evacuate. They are forcing people to leave their apartments so that they can set up firing positions there. They are driving people to basements that are used by militants or as weapons depots. The other day, Ukrainian nationalists began to bring in ammunition and deployed air defence systems on the grounds of the Odessa film studio. The territorial defence force militants go door-to-door in order to identify residents who do not accept the nationalist way of thinking. They are taken away to unknown locations and there’s no information about the fate of many of them.

Earlier, the Zaporozhye administration banned the evacuation of civilians under the pretext of security. All attempts by the citizens to leave the city in private vehicles and on foot are stopped by the territorial defence militants at checkpoints. Those who resist are subjected to physical violence. Their vehicles are seized and they are sent back on foot.

On May 16, Ukrainian nationalists used the Smerch MLRS to attack Kherson’s residential areas. There are no Russian troops in Kherson, which the Ukrainian side is well aware of. This means they specifically targeted civilians in retaliation for supporting Russia’s actions. This is yet another war crime committed by the Kiev regime. Fortunately, all 10 missiles have been intercepted by Russian air defence systems.

Unfortunately, we do not see the international organisations, Western countries or their media respond to the criminal methods used by the Armed Forces of Ukraine. To be sure, it’s because there is no response. Moreover, the Western countries continue massive arms supplies to the Kiev regime. We consider this as direct support for neo-Nazis and an effort to make the fighting last as long as possible. We cannot ignore the fact that Western weapons are used to kill Russian troops and shell Russian territory.

Arms deliveries are running into the billions of dollars which is comparable to military budgets of large states. The United States, Great Britain, France, Canada, Poland and the Baltic countries are doing the most to arm Kiev. Washington alone sent $3.8 billion worth of military equipment to the Kiev regime which is close to the military budgets of Austria, Portugal and Finland. The US Congress is considering a proposal to provide another $40 billion in “aid”, including about $25 billion worth of military equipment. This is half the military budget of Germany and France. I would like to draw the attention of the US public not so much to the size, which is comparable with the military budgets of other countries, as to the needs of the American people. They can put these funds to good use. If this money were sent as subsidies, aid, or sponsorship related in some way to humanitarian aid, one would understand it. But money is being sent to the Kiev regime for it to kill and to continue this phase of the crisis.

More and more weapons abandoned by the Armed Forces of Ukraine are becoming the spoils of war for the People’s Militia of the Donetsk and Lugansk people’s republics and the Armed Forces of Russia. These include Javelin and NLAW ATGMs, Starstreak and Stinger MANPADS, Bayraktar drones, Switchblade loitering munitions, Skynet Longbow EW systems, CAESAR and PzH 2000s self-propelled and M777 towed howitzers.

EU, US and UK officials keep saying that “victory must be achieved on the battlefield,” that “Russia must sustain a strategic defeat” and “cannot be allowed to win.” All these statements, in addition to the trade and economic blockade that has in effect been imposed on our country and the hybrid war unleashed against it, prove once again that the Western countries are waging war against Russia in Ukraine and that Ukraine itself and its citizens are an expendable resource for them. Our Chinese partners used the expression “cannon fodder.”

In their information war, the Western countries resort to outright lies. They are trying to accuse our country of creating a global food shortage. We commented on this many times. Each time we cite facts, figures and other information that cannot be refuted. But nobody is trying to refute them. Western-spread lies are not supposed to be refuted. They are too absurd to comment on. It is forgotten that crisis phenomena in the world food market are linked with the West’s accumulated mistakes and miscalculations in macroeconomic, energy and agricultural policy. The coronavirus pandemic has contributed as well. In the middle of 2020, Executive Director of the UN World Food Programme David Beasley warned about the threat of “famines of biblical proportions.” Unilateral Western sanctions exacerbated this trend. So, millions of people will have to go hungry because of the geopolitical ambitions, egotism and stupidity of the collective West.

At the same time, we are seeing a striving of the Western curators to take out of Ukraine everything that may be of some value. This is also a repetition of history of 80 years ago. Hundreds of grain carriers are crossing the Ukrainian border on the way to Europe. The Kiev regime has organised massive daily exports of agricultural products to Europe in exchange for weapons by road and rail, as well as by river on the Danube to Romania via the port of Ismail.

Think of what is happening. Against the backdrop of statements by the collective West about the imminent famine (the Kiev regime is supposed to trust the West), the leaders of Ukraine are getting rid of food products. Ukrainian citizens need them now. The Armed Forces of Ukraine also need them since the Kiev regime is not going to stop hostilities. However, food products are being sent abroad instead. Where to? To NATO countries. The Ukrainians receive weapons in exchange for these products so that they can continue killing themselves. This is not Nazism. This are even more terrifying maniacal ideas that are even worse than the misanthropic concepts applied to the population of Ukraine, Russia and the rest of the former USSR in the middle of the 20th century.

These are tremendous amounts of grain, maize, oil crops and livestock animals. On May 10 of this year, US President Joseph Biden said that Washington was thinking about ways of exporting from Ukraine 20 million tonnes of grain, supposedly with a view to reducing prices in the world markets. You know how much the United States and the White House care about the needs of hungry people in Africa and Asia, how much they want all people in the world to live a better life, eat well and be wealthier. We know this bewitching American pacifism and striving to do good for everyone. But this is not the case. This is about robbing Ukraine, its citizens and military of the last things they have. Washington obviously is not concerned about what the Ukrainians will be left with after this feast. Ukrainian citizens did not believe us 10 years ago and five years ago. Maybe it’s time to wise up. To realise that they are being deprived of the last things they have. Food products, grain – the results of their labour – are being taken out of the country. When we were in school and university, we were told that the fascists and Nazis hauled away Ukrainian natural soil by railway and this was presented as the supreme manifestation of their hatred for Soviet citizens. Now the logic is even more gruesome – Ukrainian citizens are being deprived of the fruits of their labour at a time when their country is engaged in hostilities.

For our part, we are paying close attention to the humanitarian situation in the liberated areas and facilitating the restoration of peaceful life. Russian military are clearing Ukrainian mines in cities and farming lands. People in the DPR, LPR and a number of regions in Ukraine have already been supplied with 20,000 tonnes of basic necessities, food products, medications and medical devices.

We regret that the United States, Britain and several European countries are supporting and sponsoring those who are preaching in Ukraine the ideas of aggressive nationalism and neo-Nazism. They continue supplying the Kiev regime with arms and robbing the Ukrainian people. However, these efforts will not change the situation.

As the Russian leaders said more than once, Russia will achieve the goals of its military operation on denazifying and demilitarising Ukraine, defending the DPR and the LPR and removing the threats to its own security.

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Involving minors in Ukrainian nationalist formations

As the nationalist formations of Ukraine continue to be driven out of Donbass, new facts have come to light which confirm the involvement of children in these hate-crazed units. We have repeatedly stated that right-wing radical organisations operating under the patronage of the Kiev regime have systematically spread extremism among minors in order to embed the ideas of militant nationalism in Ukrainian society.

Neo-Nazis from Azov began large-scale recruitment of children back in 2015 when, upon the initiative of the National Corps leader Andrey Biletsky, they set up the Youth Corps’ “children’s camps.” In 2015, they took in children aged 9 to 18 and since 2016, 7 to 18.

A military youth wing called National Squads was formed at the National Corps in 2018. Hundreds of young people over the age of 14 joined it. The instructors from Azov taught them how to fight the “enemies of Ukraine,” including with firearms.

The specialised Youth Corps’ needs are covered by the Ukrainian state budget. Does that sound familiar? In 2019, organisations associated with the National Corps received $17,000 to hold events for children and youth. We see it. And we know what kind of values people with Azov insignia on their sleeves and nationalist and neo-Nazi symbols are teaching ​​young people. There are training camps for teenagers such as Azovets, Bukovynets, and Dnepryanin in different parts of the country. Teenagers were lured through social media and messengers.

Eyewitnesses are saying that neo-Nazis from Azov do not limit themselves to “children’s camps” and have expanded their group by bringing aboard minor orphans which fact is corroborated by the situation at the Piligrim orphanage in Mariupol. Azov worked closely with the children from this orphanage training them in combat, including sharp shooting, during eight years beginning in 2014. Reportedly, in 2014, children from Piligrim helped the Ukrainian army dig trenches outside Mariupol and build checkpoints later in October. Residents of Mariupol say that during the events of February-April 2022, the Respublika Piligrim Children’s Rehabilitation Centre was the headquarters of the territorial defence, where militants from Azov and other radical groups were based. There’s video evidence showing that teenagers from Piligrim took part in the hostilities on the side of the neo-Nazis, and also set fire to civilian homes.

“The neo-Nazi Ukrainian group Azov-operated Piligrim orphanage in Mariupol is a prototype of Ukraine that the Nazis wanted to build and what it would inevitably become if it were not for the special operation by the Russian Armed Forces,” Alexey Selivanov, former (until 2014) Advisor to the Defence Minister of Ukraine and Deputy Head of the Main Directorate of the Interior Ministry for the Zaporozhye Region, said. This is what someone who served in the Armed Forces of Ukraine had to say.

According to Selivanov, Piligrim can stand in for all of Ukraine, and the orphanage, in which children were converted into militants, is a clear confirmation of the fact that something drastic had to be done with this Ukrainian project.

These facts clearly show that Ukraine violated its obligations under the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child concerning the involvement of children in armed conflicts. When ratifying this international treaty in 2005, Ukraine declared that the minimum age for voluntary (on a contract basis) enlistment into national armed forces was 19.

We call upon relevant international organisations, such as the UN and the OSCE, as well as the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General on Children and Armed Conflict, to pay special attention to Kiev’s involvement of children in criminal neo-Nazi organisations and spreading of radical ideas among minors.

There is no need to pretend that in a surge of patriotism these children went to the barricades in February 2022. They have been trained to make war for many years. And the militants of the nationalist battalions are the ones who did it.

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Statement by Western leaders accusing Russia of cyberattacks against the Ukrainian communications infrastructure

The West continues its attempts to portray Russia as a cyber-aggressor. We perceive the recent statements, made on May 10, 2022, by foreign policy agencies of the United States, the United Kingdom and their allies in precisely this context. These statements accuse Russia of launching cyberattacks against the Ukrainian communications infrastructure in February 2022. Predictably, they did not provide any evidence. As usual, they follow their favourite “highly likely” logic.

Western capitals think of themselves as supreme rulers of cyberspace. They rubberstamp accusations that have nothing to do with reality. They probably believe that they will also get away with this anti-Russia provocation. They think all states will perceive this propaganda as a sufficient reason for bringing to account culprits arbitrarily appointed by the US administration. After depleting the potential of sanctions, they are now resorting to other ploys from their rich cinematographic legacy, including promises to pay handsomely anyone who will testify in favour of Washington’s allegations.

Obviously, the policy of intimidation and deception is called on to camouflage the futile US attempts to impose its own perception of an international political order, to conceal its own flaws regarding protection of personal data, the right to privacy and inability to maintain constructive cooperation between specialised agencies to thwart illegal activities in the IT sphere.  Consequently, they want to continue their long-term digital dictate against the public at home and in other countries and to plunder their intellectual resources with the help of companies and agencies affiliated with security services.

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EU allegations of Russia’s “responsibility” for global food insecurity

The EU, the United States and their supporters have unleashed a campaign accusing Russia of provoking a global food crisis. The main thesis is that Moscow’s actions in Ukraine, including the “blocking” of the Ukrainian grain exports via Black Sea ports, are leading to food shortages and hunger in the world’s poorest countries. We know how the “collective West” is “helping” these countries. They are considering ways to turn ordinary countries into poorest states (by transporting grain to their own countries), and they never or hardly ever think about the poorest countries.

As usual, Brussels is deceiving the international community by openly distorting the reasons for the current situation. The EU is openly trying to use the allegation of Russia’s “responsibility” for the deteriorating global food security to convince other countries to support the anti-Russia policies of the West. They simply tell the countries that have a neutral and balanced position that there is a dire shortage of food in their region and that this situation can be remedied if these countries assume the anti-Russia position. They ask them to sign certain documents, vote the “right way” or make a required statement, saying that this will ensure food supplies. It’s a staple of the genre, not a new invention. At the same time, Brussels is using open blackmail, offering food for loyalty.  It has not yet stooped to heavy-handed interference, but this approach cannot be ruled out in the ideological and political spheres. Countries are being forced to make a choice, and this is being done with media assistance.

Meanwhile, the EU has done nothing to prevent the “Ukrainian crisis” and continues to send weapons to Kiev, which makes it responsible for tensions on the global food market. There are numerous indications of this.

The EU has openly declared a total trade and economic war on Russia. We know that Washington actually pressured the EU into doing this, which the United States has openly admitted and trumpeted. The EU politicians who are advocating and shouting about new sanctions are comfortable with the fact that Russia is a global leader in the supply of basic agricultural products, which have no or very few alternatives, such as grain, barley, sunflower seeds and feed crops, as well as mineral fertilisers, a major share of which are exported to the low-income countries that are facing food shortages. The EU politicians do not care about this, because nobody has ever called them to account.

The disruption of trade, logistics and financial chains and, consequently, a sharp rise in food prices throughout the world are a direct result of the irresponsible adoption of even more anti-Russia restrictions and threats of increased sanctions pressure on Russia. Russia’s bank settlements and flights to and from EU countries have been blocked. Isn’t this a direct cause of the situation on the food market? Only those who live in a vacuum can think so. Brussels has adopted unprecedented restrictions on Russian fertiliser exports and individual sanctions on major Russian fertiliser producers and exporters. The declared goal of this policy is to undermine Russia’s economy, including agriculture, which moved into top gear over the past years. Blinded by their hatred for Russia, nobody stopped to think about the consequences for the countries which traditionally depend on our supplies. When they became aware of what happened, they attempted to shift the blame on Russia. It’s crossing the line beyond good and evil.

Cynically claiming to be concerned about humanitarian matters, Brussels is rushing to offer its help. They simply love to create problem and then break their brains over them. The question is who should tackle the current problem. The so-called “solidarity lanes” plan to improve EU-Ukraine connectivity for grain export, which the European Commission presented the other day, is nothing other than requisitioning. Actually, Brussels has declared a full-scale mobilisation campaign to remove the available Ukrainian grain to the EU. When Ukraine, prompted by the West, shouted about the Holodomor, when grain was taken from producers in a bad harvest year, and presented it as the genocide of Ukrainians, the West applauded and looked for other pretexts to accuse Russia of unimaginable sins. What will it do now? It has announced that “hungry times” are coming. Why are they trying to remove the last remaining grain stocks from Ukraine? This is impossible, but it’s a fact. This is requisitioning.

The EU plan provides for creating alternative lanes to export Ukrainian agricultural produce to the EU and other countries, because the sea route has been blocked through Kiev’s fault. The EU will ease the formalities, expedite the sending of additional freight rolling stock, vessels and lorries to the Ukrainian border for transporting grain, transfer mobile grain loaders, make rail slots available for these exports, and suspend customs duties on Ukrainian exports for a year. Is this a licence to take advantage of Ukraine’s situation? To grab what you can lay your hands on? That’s rich!

Brussels views the large-scale transportation of grain from Ukraine as part of its “fundamental geostrategic goal.” The EU intends to achieve it even though international experts believe that Ukraine’s grain harvest will be much smaller this year. They expect problems in Ukraine, and yet they are taking away its last grain stocks. To present this as a noble act, Brussels has announced that it is guided above all by a desire to protect the world from Russia, which allegedly wants to take advantage of the global insecurity problem it presumably created in the first place, and to “steal” Ukraine’s share on the global market, so as to gain geopolitical weight in its confrontation with the West by supplying food to the most vulnerable poor countries. This is inhuman. We would like to tell our EU neighbours that this is not our but their methods.

The soaring prices of grain, feed crops and fertilisers, not to mention energy, and the unprofitability of farming and fishing businesses were a major concern for the EU member states long before the current crisis. Take a look at your own statements, reports and television shows. In late March 2022, a regular EU summit adopted a decision on the need to ensure food affordability in the member states. Several weeks later, the European Commission presented a detailed initiative on the urgent transportation of 20 million tonnes of Ukrainian grain, which can seriously undermine the food security of Ukraine. However, Brussels, which is being guided by “the worse for Ukraine, the better for the West” principle, is not concerned about that.

We urge the international community not to rise to Western provocations, to accept reality and to rely on facts, since the West is willing to use the global food security problems, which it itself is actively creating and which did not appear yesterday, to attain its time-serving political interests. This is a historical fact. The “collective West” is accusing us because it is “highly likely” that we did it because we “always did it.” They say that we “always” did it, but they are not providing examples, let alone any proof. The West is plundering Ukraine now, just as the colonial West plundered other countries in the past, taking whatever it needed. It is doing exactly the same now.

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Biological warfare research in Ukraine

The Russian Federation has obtained materials indicating that biological laboratories in Ukraine operating with support from the Pentagon’s Defence Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) and its affiliated companies – Black and Veatch and CH2M Hill – engaged in biological warfare research in violation of Articles I and IV of the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin Weapons and on their Destruction (BTWC).

The laboratories conducted research into dangerous and highly dangerous pathogens in the interests of the Pentagon’s National Centre for Medical Intelligence, with the BSL-3 Central Reference Laboratory based at Ukraine’s Mechnikov Anti-Plague Research Institute in Odessa playing the key role in these programmes.

The following research centres were also actively involved in their implementation:

– State Scientific and Research Institute of Laboratory Diagnostics and Veterinary and Sanitary Expertise,  Institute of Veterinary Medicine of the Academy of Agrarian Sciences, and the Central Sanitary and Epidemiological Station of the Ukrainian Ministry of Health in Kiev;

– Research Institute of Epidemiology and Hygiene of the Ukrainian Ministry of Health, State Laboratory of Veterinary Medicine, and Regional Centre for Disease Control and Prevention of the Ukrainian Ministry of Health in Lvov;

– State Regional Laboratory of Veterinary Medicine in Dnepr;

– Regional Centre for Disease Control and Prevention in Kherson;

– Sanitary and Epidemiological Station Laboratory in Ternopol;

– Transcarpathian Regional Laboratory Centre of the Ukrainian Ministry of Health in Uzhgorod;

– Regional Laboratory Centre of the Ukrainian Ministry of Health in Vinnitsa;

– National Scientific Centre Institute of Experimental and Clinical Veterinary Medicine in Kharkov.

Thirty Ukrainian laboratories in 14 cities were involved in full-scale biological warfare research in Ukraine. The registration card of the relevant programme was signed by Deputy State Secretary of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine Viktor Polishchuk.  The legal framework was provided by the Agreement between the Department of Defenсe of the United States of America and the Ministry of Health of Ukraine Concerning Cooperation in the Area of Prevention of Proliferation of Technology, Pathogens and Expertise That Could be Used in the Development of Biological Weapons.   The RC determined the commissioner of the work – the Pentagon’s Defence Threat Reduction Agency – and a list of biological facilities.

The employees working with dangerous pathogens in Ukraine were US citizens who had diplomatic immunity. The group included biological weapons experts; they established contacts with Ukrainians, who were previously involved in Soviet biological warfare programmes. For example, Project UP-8 studying the Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever and Hantaviruses is evidence that all serious high-hazard research was directly supervised by US specialists.

The documents obtained allow us to state that the Ukrainian biological laboratories (including divisions of the Central Sanitary and Epidemiological Directorate of the Ukrainian Defence Ministry) engaged in activities aimed at enhancing the pathogenic properties of agents inducing plague, anthrax, tularaemia, cholera, and other deadly diseases, using synthetic biology methods.

On February 24, 2022, the Ukrainian Health Ministry publicly issued instructions to immediately dispose of the reserves of dangerous and especially dangerous pathogens stored at biological facilities, which proves that the Kiev regime did try to sweep any traces of these operations under the carpet. The review of the disposal statements confirmed that these facilities worked with the plague, anthrax, leptospirosis, and brucellosis agents. In the Lvov laboratory alone, they destroyed 232 containers of leptospirosis agents, 30 of tularemia, 10 of brucellosis, and 5 containing plague pathogens, and in total, over 320 containers. This inventory, coupled with the excessive quantity of pathogens, demonstrates that we are dealing here with biological weapons programmes carried out in violation of Article 1 of the BWC.

We also obtained evidence that two biological laboratories in Mariupol were working with the Pentagon. The preliminary review of the remaining documents showed that Mariupol served as a regional hub for collecting and classifying cholera agents. The selected strains were then transferred to the Public Health Centre in Kiev, which then forwarded these biological samples to the United States. Carried out since 2014, this activity is evidenced by statements confirming the transfer of the strains. Why did it start in 2014? The reason lies in the anti-constitutional coup. It upended Ukraine’s independence in making decisions, and overseeing and analysing activities of this kind. People from the United States, Canada and other NATO countries flocked to Ukraine to take charge of the main domestic, foreign policy and economic activity and everything related to defence, military and strategic affairs, etc.

A statement was discovered in a sanitary and epidemiological laboratory. Dated February 25, 2022, it provides for the disposal of a collection of pathogenic microorganisms, demonstrating that the facility worked with cholera, tularemia, and anthrax agents.

In the rush to dispose of the inventory, part of it remained in this veterinary laboratory. The fact that it contained agents that are not typically found in livestock, such as typhoid, paratyphoid, and gas gangrene, is quite perplexing. This could mean that this laboratory, too, took part in the biological weapons programme.

We have every reason to assert that the DTRA focused its operations in Ukraine on collecting strains of dangerous microorganisms and exporting them to the United States, as well as studying naturally occurring agents in this region, which can be transmitted to people, with the aim of potentially using them in biological weapons. In 2020, two mobile laboratories arrived in Donbass in order to collect biological samples from the local population, primarily in the country’s eastern regions, and study them. Black and Veatch acted as DTRA’s contractor in this project.

It was with DTRA’s support that the laboratories in Kiev, Kharkov and Odessa in Ukraine took part in the UP-4 project before 2020 to study the transmission of especially dangerous infections (highly pathogenic influenza A H5N1, which has a mortality rate of over 50 percent for humans, as well as the Newcastle Disease, which affects poultry) by wild birds migrating between Ukraine, Russia and other Eastern European countries.

In addition, the documents we obtained show that the United States planned to work on bird, bat and reptile pathogens in Ukraine this year, followed by a study of whether they could transmit the African swine fever and anthrax (P-781, UP-2, UP-9, UP-10 projects). This was a system-wide research effort carried out since at least 2009 and controlled directly by US specialists as part of projects P-382, P-444 and P-568. DTRA’s office head at the US embassy in Kiev was among those overseeing this activity.

One of the goals of the UP-2 project consisted of locating places where animal carcasses had been buried and collecting soil samples from burial sites of cattle infected with anthrax. The epidemiological situation in Ukraine as far as anthrax was concerned was quite positive, which begs the question: What was the Pentagon actually looking for? I would like to remind all geography buffs out there in NATO (we saw incredible people who thought that the Baltic and the Black seas form one big lake) that the United States does not share a border with Ukraine. Even if they want to find one, it is still not there. Attempts by the Pentagon to present this as a national security concern are groundless and do not hold water. But what was the Pentagon doing in the Ukrainian biological laboratories in the first place? The fact that the US military biologists were so keen to study disease-transmitting insects near cattle burial sites was not a coincidence, since during the 2016 anthrax outbreak in Russia there were cases where flies, including horseflies, transmitted the disease.

In addition, the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation discovered three drones, equipped with 30-litre containers and sprays, in the Kherson Region on March 9, 2022. In late April 2022, they discovered 10 more devices of this kind near Kakhovka, after Russia released documents demonstrating Ukraine’s attempts to obtain drones equipped with sprays from the maker of the Bayraktars.

More than 4,000 people took part in studies under project UP-8. According to the Bulgarian media, some 20 Ukrainian soldiers died and 200 were hospitalised in the Kharkov laboratory alone during the experiments. The United States cannot carry out this activity on its own territory, so its military carry it out abroad. Where? Where they can, where there are no laws, where there is nobody to implement or enforce the law. This happened to be Ukraine.

It is an established fact that potentially dangerous biological agents were tested on the most vulnerable social group – patients at Kharkov’s regional psychiatric hospital No. 3. We have evidence describing in detail the Pentagon’s inhuman experiments with Ukrainian citizens at psychiatric hospital No. 1 (Strelechye, Kharkov Region).

The research results on the spread of dangerous deadly diseases like cholera, smallpox, anthrax, and botulinum toxins, were sent to military biological centres in the United States. These include the US Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases, Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, Naval Medical Research Centre, as well as US Army Biological Warfare Laboratories at Fort Detrick, which used to be the key facilities in the US biological weapons programme. The US virologists focused on analysing the obtained samples to identify gene mutations in the agents and assess their virulence, pathogenic power and resistance to treatment.

Incidentally, about 2,000 blood serum samples taken from Ukrainian citizens of predominantly Slavic ethnic background have been sent to the United States, the United Kingdom and Germany. More than 140 containers with bat ectoparasites such as fleas and ticks have been transferred to Germany.

The programmes were financed either directly under DTRA contracts with private American companies (mainly СН2М Hill) as part of the Defence Department’s project to counter especially dangerous pathogens in Ukraine until 2024, or through the Science and Technology Centre in Ukraine. Overall, more than $1.5 billion has been allocated for the implementation of bioprojects over the past 10 years. In particular, the Rosemont Seneca investment fund with financial resources of at least $2.4 billion has been involved in financing this activity. At the same time, it has been found to be closely linked with the main Pentagon contractors, including Metabiota, which, along with Black and Veatch, is the main equipment supplier for Pentagon’s biolabs across the world.

According to reports, DTRA informed the Pentagon in early March that the facilities in Ukraine used by US biological research programmes were a growing danger for European countries due to the hostilities on Ukrainian territory.

Worse still, the experiments with dangerous and highly dangerous pathogens carried out in Ukraine in the interests of the Pentagon had long been attracting attention from Ukrainian nationalist groups. In case of a military defeat, the nationalists could use those materials to implement the so-called scorched earth tactic, which was an additional threat.

Furthermore, during the special military operation, Russia obtained materials that evidenced the deliberate use, in 2020, of a multidrug-resistant tuberculosis pathogen to infect the population, including minors, in the Slavyanoserbsky District of the LPR by distributing flyers that looked like counterfeit banknotes. According to the Lugansk Republican Sanitary and Epidemiological Station report, “… the banknotes have most likely been infected artificially because the sample contains extremely dangerous strains in a concentration that can ensure infection and the development of the tuberculosis process.” The chief physician of the Lugansk Republican TB Prevention Centre has confirmed in a letter that “there are all signs of deliberate, man-made contamination of flyers with highly pathogenic biomaterial.” Do you know what they are testing the Ukrainians’ samples for in the EU? Tuberculosis. Why? Because they know what NATO agencies have been doing there.

DTRA has proposed to the Pentagon chiefs to take additional measures to monitor the epidemiological situation in Ukraine and neighbouring European countries. In case of any infection outbreaks, the recommendation is to immediately accuse the Russian Armed Forces of “attacking research and medical institutions,” or blame “Russian sabotage groups.” They have already established the necessary communication channels with the Pentagon’s partners in Hungary, Poland, Romania and Slovakia.

According to available information, DTRA demanded that the Ukrainian ministries of defence and health ensure the guaranteed destruction of all remaining materials from the bio-research projects in Ukraine. The people who are now in the EU countries, many of them suffering from tuberculosis, are not victims of airstrikes on Ukrainian research centres used by the Pentagon. They weren’t subjected to any of that. They are just carriers. Because the United States has been carrying out that activity on the territory of the country where they lived. DTRA was afraid the international community would interpret the information about the results of their experiments as a violation of the BTWC by the United States. Most of the documents have been removed from the labs in Kiev, Odessa and Kharkov to the Research Institute of Epidemiology and Hygiene and American diplomatic institutions in Lvov.

The materials obtained by the Russian Federation suggest an unambiguous conclusion that private American companies affiliated with the Pentagon had been supporting the development of bioweapons in labs on the territory of Ukraine in the immediate vicinity of Russia. The urgent destruction of especially dangerous pathogens was required to prevent the discovery of violations of Articles 1 and 4 of the BTWC. This has confirmed the validity of Russia’s repeated claims, in the context of the implementation of the BTWC, about the biological warfare activities the United States and its allies have been conducting in post-Soviet countries.

We are preparing to invoke the mechanisms of Articles 5 and 6 of the BTWC, according to which the states parties must consult one another and cooperate in solving any problems that may arise in relation to the purpose of the Convention or the implementation of its provisions, as well as cooperate in any investigation of possible violations of BTWC obligations.

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Closing Canada’s CBC bureau in Moscow 

With deep regret we continue to note blatant attacks on Russian media in the countries of the “collective West.” They call themselves civilised, developed democracies. Among recent examples is Canada’s ban on the Russian television channels RT and RT France. We said that we would respond. The response would be symmetrical, similar, proportional, it does not matter. But it would be adequate.

We have repeatedly warned that such unilateral restrictive measures that defy the principles of freedom of speech and hinder the work of the Russian media will not be left unanswered. Everybody must realise that our response is inevitable and will happen following any such incident.

In this regard, a decision has been made to respond to Canada’s actions, namely, to close the Moscow bureau of CBC, the Canadian state television of radio broadcasting corporation, including cancelling the accreditations and Russian visas of its journalists.

Unfortunately, it is blatantly clear that the official Ottawa is pursuing an openly Russophobic course. It is understandable. Who had been steering the country’s foreign policy for many years? A person with roots going back to mid-20th century collaborationism. It is clear why they turn a blind eye to neo-Nazism in Ukraine: they were the ones who encouraged it. In addition to direct political, military and financial support of the Kiev regime, the attacks on dissenting views and media censorship have been part of their Russophobic course. Any alternate point of view is always dubbed the Kremlin’s disinformation.

Ottawa’s anti-Russia policy is reflected in the most negative way in the actions of Canada’s state television and radio. In fact, CBC has transformed into the voice of propaganda that distributes fake news and questionable information regarding Russia, consigning journalist ethnics and even elementary rules of decorum to oblivion. We would have put up with that. We did for many years; we ignored or disavowed fake information, disclosed and refuted it. But there have been actual restrictions against Russian media. So, we respond in kind.

Once again, we emphasise that Moscow’s retaliation measures towards the hostile actions of the Trudeau’s government are not aimed against the people of Canada, who our country traditionally respects. The problem is with Canada’s ruling elite and the media that serve it. They are deliberately destroying Russia-Canada relations to the detriment of its own national interests.

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Situation at the JCPOA reactivation talks

Despite a certain lull at the talks in Vienna, the countries, parties to the nuclear deal, as well as US representatives, continue to exert vigorous efforts, while searching for the most effective and mutually acceptable way of resuming the full-fledged implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) under its initial parameters. All the concerned parties realise that there is no alternative to the nuclear deal.

The parties to the negotiating process continue to maintain their contacts. Enrique Mora, Deputy Secretary-General of the European External Action Service and Coordinator of the Joint Commission of the JCPOA, visited Tehran last week. European and Iranian colleagues positively assess the meetings that took place during this visit, and note incipient progress. This instils a certain hope that we have taken one more step towards our main goal, namely ensuring the full-fledged reactivation of the JCPOA.

In turn, we intend to continue doing everything possible to ensure the positive outcome of the talks in Vienna, which require wholehearted efforts from all the participants, including Iran, the United States and European countries. This is our firm and objective position. We are urging all healthy forces to use their energy to preserve the JCPOA and restore the calibrated balance of interests on which it hinges.

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The situation in the Republic of Moldova

We have noted a number of events in Moldova that are a cause for concern.

On May 11, 2022, Moldova’s TV-8 television channel broadcast a Skype interview with Leonid Volkov, a member of the Russian opposition. He is a person of interest in criminal cases that have been opened in Russia, and arrest warrants have been issued for him in CIS member states under the Agreement on Interstate Search for People of December 10, 2010, of which the Republic of Moldova is a party. At the same time, the country stipulates tough broadcasting restrictions for Russian media outlets, claiming “unbalanced” information content provision. Has Moldova banned CNN or BBC broadcasts? Has it banned the websites of the New York Times, the Washington Post and the Financial Times? Or do they provide completely balanced information content?

On May 13, 2022, the Moldova Post said it was temporarily suspending the delivery of all letters and parcels to the Russian Federation, citing “technical reasons.” Over 220,000 Russian citizens now live in Moldova, and Moldovan diaspora in Russia has more than 200,000 members. The Moldova Post’s decision infringes upon the right of Russian and Moldovan residents to maintain business, cultural, humanitarian and personal contacts.

The above-mentioned actions of official Chisinau, as well as some of its other actions and statements, make one doubt that the country’s leadership is really committed to the Republic’s neutral status, to honouring the rights and interests of its residents, as well as to maintaining pragmatic and mutually beneficial partnership with Russia.  I know that Chisinau reacts sensitively to our statements, but we are no less sensitive to their actions.

Although the Moldovan authorities did not announce this, various national agencies are applying Western anti-Russian sanctions in the banking sphere and during the re-export of Russian goods. With the connivance of the Moldovan authorities, protesters have been staging daily anti-Russia rallies near the Russian Embassy in Chisinau for almost 60 days, and these rallies hamper the normal work of the diplomatic mission. A recent outrageous ban on using St George ribbons in the Republic caused a public outcry in Russia and Moldova.

We are once again urging the Moldovan party to refrain from actions that are detrimental to relations with Russia and not to follow in the wake of forces striving to involve the Republic of Moldova in the anti-Russia campaign. This negatively affects the citizens of our countries, in particular.

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Russia’s stance on Cyprus settlement

Once again, we are seeing certain media outlets spreading rumours that Russia is changing its principled stance on the Cyprus settlement. These provocative rumours have nothing to do with reality and pursue just one goal: to discredit our country and its foreign policy.

We have never questioned the principles of the peaceful solution to the Cyprus issue. We continue to consistently support a solution in line with international law and UN Security Council resolutions, which provide for creating a bicommunal bizonal federation with common international identity, sovereignty and citizenship.

Once again, our approach to the situation in Cyprus is widely known and remains unchanged concerning all aspects, including the UN Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFYCIP), which plays an exceptionally important stabilising role in the current environment of uncertainty. We believe it is important to continue the operation of UNFYCIP as it was important to appoint a UN Secretary-General Special Representative in charge of the settlement that reports to the UN Security Council.

I would like to note for Cypriot media that we are always ready to comment on any leaks they may get to prevent misinformation on their pages.

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Growing terrorist activity in Burkina Faso and neighbouring countries

We are concerned about significantly intensified extremist activity in Burkina Faso and increasingly frequent cases of the extremists crossing over to the neighbouring countries.

In particular, on May 14‒16, 2022, a series of attacks on gendarmerie posts and self-defence groups, as well as attacks on a column of civilians near the border with Benin took place in the northern and eastern regions of Burkina Faso. The attacks resulted in more than 40 victims, including among civilians.

Earlier, in the early hours of May 11, 2011, as a result of a large-scale attack from the northern territory of Burkina Faso targeting an advance outpost of the Togolese armed forces, eight members of the military were killed and 13 sustained injuries of different severity levels. This was the first terrorist attack with casualties in the history of the state.

We strongly condemn these crimes and extend our condolences to the loved ones of those killed and wish speedy recovery to the injured.

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Desecration of Soviet military graves in Gdansk

We were outraged by an act of vandalism committed on May 11, 2022, in Gdansk, where perpetrators tore out and damaged 20 stars on the memorials to Soviet liberators on the graves of the Red Army soldiers killed while liberating the city.

The nature of this heinous act is absolutely clear: insulting the memory of the dead is now an integral part of Polish political provocateurs’ arsenal. This latest incident is not a random occasion but part of a deliberate campaign pursued by official Warsaw to disparage everything that is sacred for the people of Russia and those who fought against the brown plague.

Sadly, regular reports on criminal and immoral acts against the Soviet military legacy in Poland have long become ordinary news indicating that Polish officials have unleashed a Russophobic campaign. Recently, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki publicly confessed to his hatred of everything Russian thus revealing the nature of Warsaw’s policy against our country. Or is it just his personal opinion?

We can confidently say that Warsaw, neglecting all moral and international legal norms, has embarked on a course of state-supported vandalism against the memory of Soviet soldiers who gave their lives to save Poland from extermination by Nazis.

We want to remind any frenzied Russophobes that all their barbaric acts and dirty pillaging will not destroy the truth about the Victory. We will not allow it.

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Desecrating a memorial to Generalissimo Alexander Suvorov’s comrades who died when crossing the Alps in 1799, in the Shollenen Gorge (Switzerland)

On May 15, 2022, unidentified individuals desecrated the memorial to Generalissimo Alexander Suvorov’s comrades who died while crossing the Alps in 1799, in the Shollenen Gorge in Switzerland. The memorial cross and inscription were splashed with paint. What did Suvorov do to offend them?

We are deeply outraged by this horrendous act of vandalism. The incident demonstrates the level of culture in Switzerland. It has nothing to do with us. It has everything to do with you and those who stand behind this kind of campaigns, condone them and fail to search for or covers for the perpetrators.

We sent a protest note to the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs of the Swiss Confederation demanding that it takes urgent measures to rectify the damage caused, find and prosecute the guilty and ensure proper security of the memorial.

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13th International Economic Summit Russia – Islamic World: KazanSummit 2022

On May 19‒21, 2022, the 13th International Economic Summit Russia – Islamic World: KazanSummit 2022 will take place in Kazan. The event is held under the aegis of the Russia – Islamic World Strategic Vision Group, chaired by President of the Republic of Tatarstan Rustam Minnikhanov.

KazanSummit is a well-established platform for presenting the Russian Federation’s economic opportunities and investment potential to its partners from Islamic countries. It serves as a modern dialogue platform for building new connections between representatives of international organisations, financial institutions and government bodies, embassies, and the senior managers of major Russian and foreign companies. Several events are scheduled on the sidelines of this year’s summit, including Russia Halal Expo 2022, the Machine Engineering Cluster Forum, World Halal Day and festivities marking the 1,100th anniversary of Volga Bulgaria’s adoption of Islam.

Deputy Foreign Minister and Special Presidential Representative for the Middle East Mikhail Bodganov and Ambassador-at-Large Konstantin Shuvalov will take part on behalf of the Russian Foreign Ministry.

The 6th OIC Young Diplomats’ Forum (hereinafter the “forum”) will also take place during the summit, to be attended by representatives of the Russian Foreign Ministry’s Council of Young Diplomats, as well as invited guests and experts.

The forum will focus on issues of indivisible security, prospects for cooperation with OIC countries, countering new challenges and threats, and the role of young diplomats from the Islamic world in forming a major foreign political agenda. The International Association of Young Diplomats will hold its first induction ceremony.

The forum has been held since 2015, with more than 160 representatives of the OIC foreign ministries and agencies attending over the years. The forum is organised by the Russian Foreign Ministry’s Council of Young Diplomats, the Government of the Republic of Tatarstan and the Academy of Youth Diplomacy public organisation.

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2nd Kostomarov Forum

One of our country’s priorities on the foreign humanitarian track is supporting and promoting the Russian language abroad. The Kostomarov Forum, organised by the Alexander Pushkin State Institute of the Russian Language, significantly contributes to developing international cooperation in this area.

This year, the forum will be held on May 24‒25 and will focus on the role of the Russian language and its functioning in the new conditions created by the information revolution and technological breakthrough of recent decades.

The forum programme includes a presentation of the Pushkin Institute’s research paper, 2021 Russian Language World Index, a panel discussion on preparations for the Year of the Russian Language as a Language of Interethnic Communication Across the CIS, to be held in 2023. The Cyril and Methodius Readings research and practice conference will comprise 30 sessions on sharing experience in linguistics, literature studies, teaching Russian as a foreign language, and social sciences and humanities. A roundtable meeting on the history and modern issues concerning the Cyrillic alphabet will be held. The detailed programme is available on the forum’s website.

Russian and foreign scholars, teachers, literature researchers and journalists, as well as representatives of government bodies, professional and public associations and business organisations are expected to attend.

The forum’s working language is Russian. The event will be held in the hybrid format. Sessions will also be streamed online on its website.

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Eurasian Economic Forum in Bishkek

On May 26, Bishkek will host the Eurasian Economic Forum. Its topic will be ‘Eurasian economic integration at the time of global change. New investment opportunities.’

We expect the forum to serve as a networking platform where businesses, government agencies, academia and experts can discuss the key matters on the development agenda of the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU), promoting entrepreneurship across its space and green energy, as well as strengthening region-to-region ties and cooperation.

The forum’s main programme includes six panel discussions covering the strategic prospects for Eurasian integration, ensuring economic stability for EAEU member states, manufacturing, agriculture, energy, and transport infrastructure, the digital agenda, as well as new areas of cooperation for the EAEU.

You can register for the forum and explore its programme on its website. You can also follow its online stream.

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Answers to media questions:

Question: Russia withdrew from the Baltic Sea Parliamentary Conference, citing the lack of dialogue. What is your assessment of the diplomatic contacts in this region?

Maria Zakharova: Let me draw your attention to the statement that we made yesterday announcing Russia’s withdrawal from the Council of the Baltic Sea States.

The situation within the Council of the Baltic Sea States (CBSS) has been deteriorating. NATO and EU countries within CBSS rejected equal dialogue and the principles that lie at the very foundation of this regional structure in the Baltic, consistently striving to turn it into a tool of their anti-Russia policy. Illegal and discriminatory decisions have been made in violation of the consensus rule. Russia has been suspended from further participation in the Council’s activities and projects, and Belarus, which has an observer status within the Council, was also suspended.

The CBSS has been riddled with contradictions for a long time now, and we pointed out many of them. You can find this in our briefings, statements and comments. Our former partners sought to politicise the Council’s activity by promoting their own ideology-driven agenda. Russia, in turn, focused on practical cooperation, prioritising stable socioeconomic development for the Baltic region. Unfortunately, the destructive logic of the other side prevailed.

The Western countries – to call them what they are – monopolised the Council for the sake of their momentary interests and they want to make it work against Russia’s interests. They project extra-regional issues onto the Baltic, pressure those who are interested in continuing full and unabridged cooperation, threatening to undermine everything that has been achieved over the past years, as well as regional stability. On May 25, 2022, Kristiansand, Norway, is expected to host the CBSS Ministerial Session without Russia. They de facto stole our contribution to the CBSS budget and refuse to return it, citing sanctions.

We don’t see any prospects for putting the Council back on track. Instead, it is sinking deeper and deeper into Russophobia and lies. We believe staying in the CBSS would be unreasonable and counterproductive for our country. Russia will not participate in turning this organisation into yet another platform for subversion and Western self-admiration.

In response to these hostile acts, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov sent a message to CBSS ministers, the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, as well as the Council’s Secretariat in Stockholm to notify them of Russia’s withdrawal from this organisation. At the same time, the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation took the decision to leave the Baltic Sea Parliamentary Conference.

Ending Russia’s CBSS membership will not affect its regional presence. Attempts to expel our country from the Baltic are doomed to failure. We will continue working with responsible partners and hold events on the key issues on the development agenda of the Baltic region that we all share, as well as to defend and promote the interests of our compatriots.

The current situation within the CBSS rests on the conscience of those who undermined the very foundations of this organisation.

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Question: The United States, the EU and UN have stated they are willing to assist in the removal of grain from Ukraine. Have they discussed these initiatives with Russia?

Maria Zakharova: The EU member states were seriously concerned over the rapid rise in the prices of grain, fodder and fertilisers, let alone energy prices, even before the current crisis, as well as the unprofitability of private farming and fishing. All of this was put in black and white. The EU summit held in late March passed the decision on the need to guarantee, under the existing circumstances, the affordability of food in the EU member countries.  A few weeks later, the European Commission came up with a detailed initiative to this effect (I spoke about it earlier today).

We urge the international community not to succumb to provocations. I have no information confirming that the initiatives I have mentioned were in any manner discussed with Russia.

Question: What can you say about the murder of Al Jazeera’s Shireen Abu Akleh?

Maria Zakharova: This tragedy has stirred up the entire Arab world. Few people remain indifferent to it. The Palestinian journalist was killed in the line of duty as she was selflessly covering an Israeli raid on the refugee camp in Jenin on the West Bank.

Yesterday, while meeting in Moscow with Secretary of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO), member of the Fatah Central Committee and Head of the General Authority for Civil Affairs Hussein al-Sheikh, Sergey Lavrov expressed condolences on the death of Shireen Abu Akleh and voiced his support of the Palestinian demand to hold an unbiased investigation into her death.

We should focus separately on the outrage that occurred during her funeral, when the military assaulted the people carrying the body and accompanying the funeral procession. I can tell you honestly that I have never seen anything like that.

As for a response to what was going on at the funeral from related international institutions… Were they there?

I would like to note that the lack of progress in the settlement of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and the stalemate in the negotiating process repeatedly explode into fierce standoffs that leave in their wake numerous victims among peaceful civilians, including women and children. These tragedies could be avoided by achieving mutually acceptable compromises regarding the final status via a direct dialogue based on the generally recognised international legal framework of Middle East settlement that provides for the creation of an independent Palestinian state. The Russian leaders have repeatedly spoken about this.

Question: How will the Russian Foreign Ministry respond to the Lithuanian Foreign Minister’s call for a regime change in Russia? 

Maria Zakharova: This is an attempt to interfere in Russia’s internal affairs and destroy what remains of our bilateral relations. He is trying to curry favour with his overseas masters.

Mr Landsbergis, who lives in a state that tramples underfoot the basic human rights and freedoms, has clearly forgotten that the Russian President is elected by the people. This has nothing to do with his personal views or his country’s position. But the pathological hatred that he feels for Russia is blurring his vision and depriving him of the last of his reason. Consequently, he can’t see the obvious. This is Russophobia, pure and simple.

Let us take a look at the people who make these statements. We always comment only on statements. But who makes them? They are made by people who have Russophobia in their blood. It is inherited as a specific “legacy” or, possibly, a genetic trait.

I have a lot to say about the Landsbergis regime. They are a dynasty. Let me give you just a few widely available facts. You will understand who I am talking about. All materials are from open sources. They are also available in the archives.

Suffice it to recall the great-grandfather of the current Lithuanian foreign minister, Vytautas Landsbergis-Zemkalnis, who in 1941was the utilities minister in the Ambrazevicius-Brazaitis Government that collaborated with the Nazis. Landsbergis was directly involved in the effort to create concentration camps all over Lithuania, including in Kaunas. He was the Landsbergises regime’s great-grandfather. It was there, at Fort Nine, that on October 29, 1941, the Nazis committed a heinous crime, executing 9,200 Jews, including 4,273 children.

Landsbergis-Zemkalnis also collaborated with Gestapo, the German secret police. After the war, he fled to Australia (which also does not notice neo-Nazism in today’s Ukraine, but has introduced all sorts of sanctions against Russian citizens) but was granted the right to return to the Lithuanian Soviet Socialist Republic in 1959 after he contributed information about other Nazi fugitives to the Soviet security bodies.

The foreign minister’s grandfather, Professor of the Vilnius Philharmonic Society Vytautas Landsbergis, continued the family tradition of conformism and change of political position. He actively collaborated with the USSR secret services: at their recommendation he was appointed the leader of the movement of the Lithuanian intellectuals in support of the perestroika (Sajudis). At his will, it later transformed into a separatist movement for the withdrawal of Lithuania from the USSR. So much for the family.

Vytautas Petkevicius, Landsbergis’s colleague at the Sajudis action group, wrote the following about this grey eminence of Lithuanian politics: “From the very first days, Landsbergis sought to turn the organisation into his pocket political party, with membership, party cards and membership fees.”  In all evidence, he was motivated by his knowledge of the best totalitarian practices. Later he started mixing up Sajudis money with his own. This was something in the liberal economy genre. Still later, contributions from compatriots became this gentleman’s personal money box, a source of payments to his allies, extras for participating in rallies, and funds for foreign travel. The same pocket ate up one million dollars collected by Canadians for Lithuanian orphans and a Norwegian donation to the Lithuanian people. But Landsbergis again managed to get himself out of the mess, declaring that he had created a fund bearing his name.

Autocracy pales in comparison with the Baltic democracies and their representatives. If you only knew how Baltic officials start cringing when you come to citing facts from their biographies or those of their relatives who have directly influenced their civil service promotion or career advancement.  Do you know how much they dislike it? But why are you so embarrassed about it? These are the facts of your biography, and you should be proud of them. We didn’t invent anything. We have just facts and quotes. And you have disproved nothing. So, take it and sign for it.

Question: Could you comment on the Ukrainian authorities’ recent decision to nationalise the property of Russia’s banks VEB and Sberbank?

Maria Zakharova: The Kiev regime stopped caring about the norms and principles of international law and the Ukrainian Constitution long ago, both with regard to its own citizens and those of other states. It is hardly surprising that, on May 12, 2022, the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine approved the executive order of President Vladimir Zelensky on the so-called enforced confiscation of Russian property in the country. In effect, this amounts to a brazen theft of assets owned by subsidiaries of Russia’s Sberbank and the State Development Corporation of Russia VEB.RF located in Ukraine. These assets are worth $860 million. This is a continuation of the same logic. However, no one in Kiev has any misgivings about the fact that the nationalised subsidiary banks also manage the money of Ukrainian citizens and legal entities, and that the Ukrainian authorities are simply robbing them.

This unconstitutional escapade of the Kiev regime replicates the worst actions of this kind by Washington, Brussels and London. Let them call it whatever they like. In reality, this is banal theft.

Question: The President of Finland described Vladimir Putin’s response to his country joining NATO as surprisingly calm. How does this calm Russian response tally with the Deputy Foreign Minister’s statement that Russia will not simply reconcile itself to the accession of Finland and Sweden to NATO?

Maria Zakharova: This was how the Finnish party perceived reality. You should ask them why they got this impression and whether it was correct. This is their perception. Let’s not confuse things. Everyone has a right to perceive things the way he or she sees fit.

The Russian party has set forth its position regarding the accession of Finland and Sweden to NATO. We have published our arguments and statements.

Every state has a sovereign right to choose specific options to ensure its national security. However, no one should ensure its own security at the expense of other countries’ security.

The Russian Federation will respond, and the content of its countermeasures, including military-technical elements, will largely depend on specific NATO membership terms for Finland and Sweden, including the deployment of foreign military bases and strike weapons systems on their territory. Our response will feature less words and more actual steps.

Question: An 18-year-old neo-Nazi who shot at a crowd in the United States sported the insignia of the Azov battalion. Can you comment on this coincidence?

Maria Zakharova: This is not the first mass shooting based on such hatred. It goes without saying that a comprehensive investigation should be conducted, including confirmation of the fact that the shooter used Nazi symbols, the so-called “black sun.”  We saw the video and think that an investigation must be held. This is important because a lot of unverified information is now circulating. Let’s be guided by the facts.

However, the very atmosphere of a deep public fissure in American society, as well as neglected problems of racism and institutionalised violence, due to free access to weapons, generate new manifestations of crime that are horrendous in terms of their scale and the ways they are carried out.

Regarding the link with Nazi symbols and Azov, which you have mentioned, this amounts to the flirtation of the US administration and its security services with neo-Nazis all over the world, with obvious consequences. They forget that all this will also spill over into the United States. In fact, this has already been happening for a long time. If they see nothing unusual in the fact that neo-Nazi ideas are spreading in “client” countries, then why should they be surprised that such symbols are actively used in various US states? The problem lies elsewhere. This isn’t just about symbols, it is about a revival. Many do not grasp the gist of this. We are talking about the actions that these symbols provoke. They explain a person’s planned future actions, and they are like a warning danger sign or a semaphore.  Many perceive this as an endorsement of such symbols and the related actions in the United States. This flirtation, which we have mentioned, leads to such tragic results.

Question: Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said at the 30th Assembly of the Council on Foreign and Defence Policy that “in the current environment, we are witnessing a serious shift in the mindsets of many of our comrades in all spheres of Russia’s life.” What effect is this having on the staff of the ministry’s central office, the embassies and consulates general?

Maria Zakharova: Like the rest of the country, we have rallied even closer together. Awareness of the historical shift underway in the world, which is life-changing for Russia, has given a fresh impetus to the resolve of our personnel to do their professional duties even more professionally and diligently.

Crises can catch you unawares, when you can’t think straight, feel at a loss and lose heart, or it can give you more inspiration. The latter is our case. We have rallied together and joined forces and efforts to attain the goals set for us by the nation.

The completely unprovoked outbreak of Russophobia in the West, the illegal trade and economic restrictions and the desire to demonise everything Russian have reinforced the belief of our staff and their families that truth, justice and moral probity are on the side of Russia and its people. They have found themselves at the forefront of the political stage, that’s for sure. You can’t imagine the situation they’re living in now and the actions that are being taken against them, from provocations and threats to open violence, psychological pressure and the creating of conditions that those behind these things believe will make their work impossible. We are proud of our people!

They have shown remarkable personality traits, such as comradeship and professionalism. I am referring both to our rank-and-file employees and to the senior officials in our foreign offices, as Sergey Lavrov pointed out.

We are reshuffling our personnel. Those who are returning home will be offered new positions. The relevant departments are regularly reporting on this to the minister.

As for foreign policy guidelines, we have redoubled efforts to strengthen our diplomacy on the eastern track and in Africa, Latin America and the CIS. The results will not be long in coming.

Question: Dmitry Birichevsky, director of the Department of Economic Cooperation at the ministry, noted recently that the EU’s decision to suspend Russian oil and gas imports would have an extremely negative effect on the European and global economies. What effect will this embargo have on Russia? What countermeasures can your ministry take?

Maria Zakharova: The physical volume of Russian hydrocarbon exports has decreased amid the foreign sanctions pressure. However, we believe that our export revenues will at least not decrease, due to rapidly rising oil and gas prices. The so-called embargo, which the EU is now considering, could send oil prices soaring.

Our obvious logical response in this event would be to reorient our oil and gas exports.  This is not an easy task. It will involve changing logistics routes, as well as legal and business matters. Russia is already reorienting its coal, oil and gas export infrastructure towards the East. It is worth noting that energy needs around the world, and especially in the Asia Pacific region, will be growing. We have no doubt about demand for Russian energy resources. The Foreign Ministry is helping Russian companies find counterparties, including in Asia Pacific.

Question: Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov has pointed out that joining NATO will not strengthen the security of Sweden and Finland. As for economic ties, Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin has made several other unfriendly moves towards Russia, notably regarding the nuclear power plant project with Rosatom. Maybe a picture of possible economic losses should be provided to Helsinki?

Maria Zakharova: Finland is aware of its economic losses because of the European sanctions and our response measures. We regard the decision taken by Finland’s Fennovoima to stop cooperating with Rosatom companies within the framework of the agreement on the construction of the Hanhikivi 1 Nuclear Power Plant as openly politicised. It is obvious that the decision to stop that commercial project was forced on the client by the Finnish authorities, who were pressured by their foreign partners. It is not a coincidence that the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment, which is responsible for energy matters, hastily welcomed that decision, which it described as “principled and consistent.” We know very well where such instructions are issued.

Rosatom State Corporation put forth its position on that matter in a May 2 statement. It expressed disappointment at the decision of Fennovoima Oy, which was taken without any detailed consultation with the project’s shareholders, the largest of which is RAOS Voima, which has a 34 percent stake in the project. Rosatom concluded that it reserved the right to defend its interests in accordance with applicable contracts and laws.

Question: Can you provide any information about those who left Azovstal? We know of discussions on a possible exchange on the Ukrainian side. Is there any discussion underway in Russia? We heard that Russian lawmakers are considering reinstating the death penalty for these people. What is the real situation?

Maria Zakharova: This is the competence of the Russian Ministry of Defence. At the same time, we would like to note that all the wounded and seriously injured people and anyone who needs medical assistance has been receiving it. They are in the Novoazovsk hospital in the DPR. The rest have been placed in a pre-trial detention centre in Yelenovka, a suburb of Donetsk.

As for other issues, they will be resolved in due course. At this stage, the most important issue is the safe exit of everyone from Azovstal, and providing them with medical care, other necessary humanitarian assistance and accommodation.

As for other questions, we will certainly provide regular updates.

Question: Is an exchange being discussed?

Maria Zakharova: At this stage, the information I shared is all I have. I have nothing to add.

Our priority, the one we have been stating for three weeks, was their exit from Azovstal. We have persuaded people to come out every day, and made several announcements of humanitarian corridors for everyone including civilians, militants and military personnel of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. Only now has the Kiev regime allowed them to do so. At the moment, our priorities are their safe exit and the provision of assistance to them. This problem needs to be solved, and it is being solved now.

Question: What happens to those civilians who came out through the humanitarian corridors, but were stopped by the “filtering” procedure? Where are they being held? Will they be entitled to due legal procedure? What are the conditions of where they are kept?

Maria Zakharova: You mean the people who came out – when? Today? Who are exiting now? Those who needed medical assistance are receiving it, or have received it by now. I can check where the rest went, because this matter is the competence of the Russian Ministry of Defence. I promise to find this information. I’ll check and get back to you.

Question: Why does Russia consider Ukraine’s NATO membership and its cooperation with NATO such a big threat, while, according to Sergey Lavrov, Finland’s NATO membership does not have such great importance for Russia?

Maria Zakharova: I do not remember Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov saying it the way you quoted. Let me find the exact quote.

We have long insisted that any expansion of NATO has a bearing on, and significance in the context of global international and, in particular, European security. This was the security guarantees we demanded, because we have seen the alliance expand and reach our borders. You certainly understand the difference between the situations in Finland and Ukraine.

I don’t know, maybe you have some additional information about growing numbers of nationalist battalions in Finland, for example? Maybe dozens of Pentagon biological laboratories are deployed in Finland and experimenting with dangerous pathogens? I am unaware of any information about Finland being pumped full of the same types of weapons that have been supplied to Ukraine under contracts or without contracts to an area of an armed intra-Finnish conflict, but perhaps you know about it? I don’t know anything about it. This is just a brief overview of the differences between Finland and Ukraine in the last decade.

The developments in Ukraine followed a dramatic scenario due to blatant interference by Washington, with the anti-constitutional coup in Kiev being one of the strongest catalysts. Perhaps you have information on a similar revolution in Finland? I don’t know anything about it. This is why the two situations are different, in broad strokes.

The choice of ways to ensure national security is (this is our underlying approach) the sovereign right of each country, but at the same time, it should not be ensured at the expense of other states.

We have no other choice left but to take retaliatory measures. The specifics – including the military-technical aspect – will depend on the terms of Finland’s and Sweden’s NATO membership, including the deployment of foreign military bases and strike weapon systems on their territory.

As for the differences in our reactions to Finland joining NATO and Ukraine’s ambition to become a member of this military bloc, as the Russian side emphasised earlier, in particular, they stem from Kiev’s decision to include in its doctrinal documents its intention to return Crimea, a sovereign Russian territory, possibly by military means. Finland has no territorial claims to the Russian Federation. There are no documents where it would say it could use any means to return any Russian territory. This is another argument to add to the previous ones.

Question: What kind of military-technical measures does Russia plan to apply to Finland, and what might their timeframe be?

Maria Zakharova: It will be a surprise. A question is for the Defence Ministry. The corresponding decision will factor in the full scope of details and specifics of how Finland’s membership in NATO will unfold. The decision will be made based on all these parameters, and primarily, it will be up to the military.

Question: Is there any discussion on exchanging Azovstal prisoners for the Russian, DPR or LPR soldiers being held captive? We would also like to know something about the fate of Artyom Ryabovichev and Daniil Romanov from a DPR tank brigade. Some Russian journalists wrote about them. According to their reports, they have been prisoners since May 1. Ukrainian militants were torturing them on camera and posting the videos online. Earlier, Ukraine refused to exchange them, saying it would negotiate only with Russia rather than with the DPR. Is the Foreign Ministry aware of the fate of Ryabovichev and Romanov and are there plans to put them on the exchange lists?

Maria Zakharova: Normally, we join in when there are diplomatic relations. After February 24, when Kiev broke off diplomatic relations with Russia and closed the Russian foreign missions in Ukraine, the Russian Foreign Ministry lost its channels for dealing with issues like this. Nevertheless, during the special military operation, these problems are being handled by the Defence Ministry of Russia and Human Rights Commissioner Tatyana Moskalkova. The Foreign Ministry constantly informs them of any case of a Russian citizens being detained in Ukraine. All this information is being consolidated.

We are able to raise these issues at international venues. We put these questions to Kiev’s Western sponsors, drawing their attention to the Ukrainian neo-Nazis’ cruel and inhuman treatment of detained Russian soldiers and of People’s Militia fighters from the DPR and LPR. We demand that the standards of international humanitarian law be rigorously observed with respect to these men. We urge related international organisations, including the International Committee of the Red Cross, to take exhaustive measures for their protection, specifically to gain access to them and honestly inform the international community about the results. We hope these efforts will help us find out more about the fate of these two DPR servicemen.

Question: Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov went on record as saying that Moscow has information indicating that Ukraine lacks independence at the talks and that it is “guided” by London and Washington. He also said that Russia had received no concrete proposals on Ukraine from the West. Does this mean that Moscow is losing interest in direct negotiations with Ukraine and wants the “collective West” to join the process?

Maria Zakharova: We showed an interest and displayed a lot of patience, an interest in all types of talks, for eight years. We came up with many possible scenarios on how these talks could be conducted. Currently, everything is being decided primarily on the ground.

When Ukraine showed an interest and signaled a desire to hold talks with Russia, we responded. But they started doing all they could to drag out the talks. When there was interest on the Ukrainian side, it was supported by Russia. At this point – the Russian Foreign Ministry and other agencies have commented on this – the Kiev regime is doing everything it can to prevent the talks from being held in a normal negotiating format.

The West has always been behind the Kiev regime, both the current and previous authorities. A “Western hand” has always guided the pen that was allegedly held by any representatives from Kiev. There is nothing new here, no breakthrough.

Question: How would you assess the work of the trilateral working group engaged in unblocking regional economic ties and communications, which is co-chaired by the deputy prime ministers of Armenia, Russia and Azerbaijan? What stage is the process at now and when can we expect obvious results?

Maria Zakharova: We have high regard for the work of the Trilateral Working Group (TWG). The foreign ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan gave similar assessments during their meeting with Sergey Lavrov on the sidelines of the CIS Foreign Ministers Council meeting in Dushanbe on May 12.

We believe that the unblocking of all transport and economic connections in the South Caucasus is one of the key goals in the context of the effort to normalise Armenian-Azerbaijani relations and, more broadly, to harmonise cooperation in the region.

The TWG co-chairs have regular meetings designed to work out solutions that will suit all sides. Last week, the Russian co-chair, Deputy Prime Minister Alexey Overchuk, visited Yerevan for talks with Prime Minister of Armenia Nikol Pashinyan. Among other things, the officials discussed how to open communications in the region. The co-chairs inform the media of the specific results of the joint work on an individual basis.

Question: Are there any clear agreements between Armenia and Azerbaijan regarding a possible meeting of the Commission on Border Delimitation and Security, where Russia is expected to provide advisory support?

Maria Zakharova: We are consistently advocating the creation of a bilateral commission for the delimitation of the Armenian-Azerbaijani border, with its subsequent demarcation with Russia’s advisory assistance. Simultaneously, as the trilateral statement from the November 26, 2021 Sochi summit stipulates, steps are to be taken to increase stability and security on the border between the two countries.

This matter was discussed during the trilateral meeting of foreign ministers in Dushanbe. Our partners said they were close to completing the formation of their national delegations. Russia has already built an expert team. We hope that in the near future, we could launch practical work on the delimitation of the Armenian-Azerbaijani border.

We would like to emphasise that Russia has unique expert potential in border delimitation and settlement of border disputes between post-Soviet countries. We will be happy to share our experience and practices with our Armenian and Azerbaijani friends as part of the commission.

Question: The Azerbaijani side continues to violate the ceasefire on the border. On May 7, at around 1.50 pm, the Azerbaijani Armed Forces fired from different calibre firearms at the Sotk gold mine, injuring one of the mine employees. How would you comment on the Azerbaijani side’s actions against the civilian population?

Maria Zakharova: We are confident that the expeditious launch of the commission on the delimitation of the Armenian-Azerbaijani border would effectively prevent any further border incidents. The commission could contribute to developing confidence-building mechanisms, including, for example, by creating contact groups to ensure stability in the border areas.

Question: Recent photos of the Armenian Holy Resurrection Church in Hadrut, a province controlled by the Azerbaijani side, on social media show that its cross has been dismantled and the Armenian inscriptions erased. How would you assess the acts of vandalism against Armenian cultural and religious sites in Nagorno-Karabakh?

Maria Zakharova: I have no information on this score. As Russian representatives have repeatedly emphasised, we call on both parties to preserve the region’s cultural and historical heritage, involving specialised international agencies including UNESCO, if necessary.

Question: The situation in Afghanistan and border security was one of the main issues at the CSTO summit in Moscow. What measures are planned to ensure the security of member countries within the framework of this organisation?

Maria Zakharova: The situation in the CSTO area of responsibility and in the immediate vicinity of our borders makes us be as vigilant as possible and ready, if necessary, to respond timely and appropriately to emerging threats to the security of member nations. This is a task of the organisation.

Pursuant to the instructions given by the leaders at the CSTO Extraordinary Summit on August 23, 2021, CSTO member states prepared proposals for joint response measures to challenges and threats from the territory of Afghanistan. The Russian Federation has proposed a number of specific measures through its foreign policy departments, including:

– Strengthening foreign policy coordination to ensure a unified position of CSTO member states on the political settlement in Afghanistan. Involving representatives of the CIS and SCO secretariats in the meetings of the Working Group on Afghanistan under the CSTO Foreign Ministers Council;

– Intensifying contacts between the CSTO and the United Nations Regional Centre for Preventive Diplomacy for Central Asia;

– Stepping up cooperation between the competent agencies and special services of CSTO member states in detecting and neutralising extremist and terrorist cells in the countries of the Organisation;

– Taking a range of preventive measures as part of the unscheduled operations Nayomnik (Mercenary), PROXY and Nelegal (Illegal Alien);

– Focusing Kanal (Channel), a CSTO’s anti-drug operation, on suppressing drug trafficking along the “northern route”;

– Implementing joint measures to counter subversive propaganda by terrorist organisations in cyberspace on the basis of the CSTO’s 2016 List of Additional Measures to Counter International Terrorism and Extremism;

– Increasing cooperation between the CSTO and the UN Counter-Terrorism Committee.

All these measures are being consistently implemented and serve to strengthen the security of all member states of the Organisation, as well as to maintain stability in the region as a whole.

Question: How does the Russian Federation view the escalating tensions in the Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Region of Tajikistan?

Maria Zakharova: We are concerned by the information provided by the official authorities of Tajikistan on the escalation of tensions in the Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Region, which, according to reports, was provoked by criminal elements and extremist sympathisers, who joined them. As a result, there were victims and casualties, including among Tajik law enforcement officers.

The Russian Embassy in Dushanbe is in constant contact with the country’s competent authorities. According to preliminary information, there are no Russian citizens among the victims.

The Tajik authorities promise to take the necessary measures to stabilise the situation and ensure the safety of Russian citizens who may be present on the scene.

Exclusive: Russian geo-economics Tzar Sergey Glazyev introduces the new global financial system

The world’s new monetary system, underpinned by a digital currency, will be backed by a basket of new foreign currencies and natural resources. And it will liberate the Global South from both western debt and IMF-induced austerity.

April 14 2022

By Pepe Escobar

Sergey Glazyev is a man living right in the eye of our current geopolitical and geo-economic hurricane. One of the most influential economists in the world, a member of the Russian Academy of Sciences, and a former adviser to the Kremlin from 2012 to 2019, for the past three years he has helmed Moscow’s uber strategic portfolio as Minister in Charge of Integration and Macroeconomics of the Eurasia Economic Union (EAEU).

https://media.thecradle.co/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/Unknown-6.jpeg
Leading Russian economist Sergey Glazyev says a complete overhaul of the western-dominated global monetary and financial system is under works. And the world’s rising powers are buying into it. Photo Credit: The Cradle

Glazyev’s recent intellectual production has been nothing short of transformative, epitomized by his essay Sanctions and Sovereignty and an extensive discussion of the new, emerging geo-economic paradigm in an interview to a Russian business magazine.

In another of his recent essays, Glazyev comments on how “I grew up in Zaporozhye, near which heavy fighting is now taking place in order to destroy the Ukrainian Nazis, who never existed in my small Motherland. I studied at a Ukrainian school and I know Ukrainian literature and language well, which from a scientific point of view is a dialect of Russian. I did not notice anything Russophobic in Ukrainian culture. In the 17 years of my life in Zaporozhye, I have never met a single Banderist.”

Glazyev was gracious to take some time from his packed schedule to provide detailed answers to a first series of questions in what we expect to become a running conversation, especially focused to the Global South. This is his first interview with a foreign publication since the start of Operation Z. Many thanks to Alexey Subottin for the Russian-English translation.

The Cradle: You are at the forefront of a game-changing geo-economic development: the design of a new monetary/financial system via an association between the EAEU and China, bypassing the US dollar, with a draft soon to be concluded. Could you possibly advance some of the features of this system – which is certainly not a Bretton Woods III – but seems to be a clear alternative to the Washington consensus and very close to the necessities of the Global South?

Glazyev: In a bout of Russophobic hysteria, the ruling elite of the United States played its last “trump ace” in the hybrid war against Russia. Having “frozen” Russian foreign exchange reserves in custody accounts of western central banks, financial regulators of the US, EU, and the UK undermined the status of the dollar, euro, and pound as global reserve currencies. This step sharply accelerated the ongoing dismantling of the dollar-based economic world order.

Over a decade ago, my colleagues at the Astana Economic Forum and I proposed to transition to a new global economic system based on a new synthetic trading currency based on an index of currencies of participating countries. Later, we proposed to expand the underlying currency basket by adding around twenty exchange-traded commodities. A monetary unit based on such an expanded basket was mathematically modeled and demonstrated a high degree of resilience and stability.

At around the same time, we proposed to create a wide international coalition of resistance in the hybrid war for global dominance that the financial and power elite of the US unleashed on the countries that remained outside of its control. My book The Last World War: the USA to Move and Lose, published in 2016, scientifically explained the nature of this coming war and argued for its inevitability – a conclusion based on objective laws of long-term economic development. Based on the same objective laws, the book argued the inevitability of the defeat of the old dominant power.

Currently, the US is fighting to maintain its dominance, but just as Britain previously, which provoked two world wars but was unable to keep its empire and its central position in the world due to the obsolescence of its colonial economic system, it is destined to fail. The British colonial economic system based on slave labor was overtaken by structurally more efficient economic systems of the US and the USSR. Both the US and the USSR were more efficient at managing human capital in vertically integrated systems, which split the world into their zones of influence. A transition to a new world economic order started after the disintegration of the USSR. This transition is now reaching its conclusion with the imminent disintegration of the dollar-based global economic system, which provided the foundation of the United States global dominance.

The new convergent economic system that emerged in the PRC (People’s Republic of China) and India is the next inevitable stage of development, combining the benefits of both centralized strategic planning and market economy, and of both state control of the monetary and physical infrastructure and entrepreneurship. The new economic system united various strata of their societies around the goal of increasing common wellbeing in a way that is substantially stronger than the Anglo-Saxon and European alternatives. This is the main reason why Washington will not be able to win the global hybrid war that it started. This is also the main reason why the current dollar-centric global financial system will be superseded by a new one, based on a consensus of the countries who join the new world economic order.

In the first phase of the transition, these countries fall back on using their national currencies and clearing mechanisms, backed by bilateral currency swaps. At this point, price formation is still mostly driven by prices at various exchanges, denominated in dollars. This phase is almost over: after Russia’s reserves in dollars, euro, pound, and yen were “frozen,” it is unlikely that any sovereign country will continue accumulating reserves in these currencies. Their immediate replacement is national currencies and gold.

The second stage of the transition will involve new pricing mechanisms that do not reference the dollar. Price formation in national currencies involves substantial overheads, however, it will still be more attractive than pricing in ‘un-anchored’ and treacherous currencies like dollars, pounds, euro, and yen. The only remaining global currency candidate – the yuan – won’t be taking their place due to its inconvertibility and the restricted external access to the Chinese capital markets. The use of gold as the price reference is constrained by the inconvenience of its use for payments.

The third and the final stage on the new economic order transition will involve a creation of a new digital payment currency founded through an international agreement based on principles of transparency, fairness, goodwill, and efficiency. I expect that the model of such a monetary unit that we developed will play its role at this stage. A currency like this can be issued by a pool of currency reserves of BRICS countries, which all interested countries will be able to join. The weight of each currency in the basket could be proportional to the GDP of each country (based on purchasing power parity, for example), its share in international trade, as well as the population and territory size of participating countries.

In addition, the basket could contain an index of prices of main exchange-traded commodities: gold and other precious metals, key industrial metals, hydrocarbons, grains, sugar, as well as water and other natural resources. To provide backing and to make the currency more resilient, relevant international resource reserves can be created in due course. This new currency would be used exclusively for cross-border payments and issued to the participating countries based on a pre-defined formula. Participating countries would instead use their national currencies for credit creation, in order to finance national investments and industry, as well as for sovereign wealth reserves. Capital account cross-border flows would remain governed by national currency regulations.

The Cradle: Michael Hudson specifically asks that if this new system enables nations in the Global South to suspend dollarized debt and is based on the ability to pay (in foreign exchange), can these loans be tied to either raw materials or, for China, tangible equity ownership in the capital infrastructure financed by foreign non-dollar credit?

Glazyev: Transition to the new world economic order will likely be accompanied by systematic refusal to honor obligations in dollars, euro, pound, and yen. In this respect, it will be no different from the example set by the countries issuing these currencies who thought it appropriate to steal foreign exchange reserves of Iraq, Iran, Venezuela, Afghanistan, and Russia to the tune of trillions of dollars. Since the US, Britain, EU, and Japan refused to honor their obligations and confiscated the wealth of other nations which was held in their currencies, why should other countries be obliged to pay them back and to service their loans?

In any case, participation in the new economic system will not be constrained by the obligations in the old one. Countries of the Global South can be full participants of the new system regardless of their accumulated debts in dollars, euro, pound, and yen. Even if they were to default on their obligations in those currencies, this would have no bearing on their credit rating in the new financial system. Nationalization of extraction industry, likewise, would not cause a disruption. Further, should these countries reserve a portion of their natural resources for the backing of the new economic system, their respective weight in the currency basket of the new monetary unit would increase accordingly, providing that nation with larger currency reserves and credit capacity. In addition, bilateral swap lines with trading partner countries would provide them with adequate financing for co-investments and trade financing.

The Cradle: In one of your latest essays, The Economics of the Russian Victory, you call for “an accelerated formation of a new technological paradigm and the formation of institutions of a new world economic order.” Among the recommendations, you specifically propose the creation of “a payment and settlement system in the national currencies of the EAEU member states” and the development and implementation of “an independent system of international settlements in the EAEU, SCO and BRICS, which could eliminate critical dependence of the US-controlled SWIFT system.” Is it possible to foresee a concerted joint drive by the EAEU and China to “sell” the new system to SCO members, other BRICS members, ASEAN members and nations in West Asia, Africa and Latin America? And will that result in a bipolar geo-economy – the West versus The Rest?

Glazyev: Indeed, this is the direction where we are headed. Disappointingly, monetary authorities of Russia are still a part of the Washington paradigm and play by the rules of the dollar-based system, even after Russian foreign exchange reserves were captured by the west. On the other hand, the recent sanctions prompted extensive soul searching among the rest of the non-dollar-block countries. western ‘agents of influence’ still control central banks of most countries, forcing them to apply suicidal policies prescribed by the IMF. However, such policies at this point are so obviously contrary to the national interests of these non-western countries that their authorities are growing justifiably concerned about financial security.

You correctly highlight potentially central roles of China and Russia in the genesis of the new world economic order. Unfortunately, current leadership of the CBR (Central Bank of Russia) remains trapped inside the intellectual cul-de-sac of the Washington paradigm and is unable to become a founding partner in the creation of a new global economic and financial framework. At the same time, the CBR already had to face the reality and create a national system for interbank messaging which is not dependent on SWIFT, and opened it up for foreign banks as well. Cross-currency swap lines have been already set up with key participating nations. Most transactions between member states of the EAEU are already denominated in national currencies and the share of their currencies in internal trade is growing at a rapid pace.

A similar transition is taking place in trade with China, Iran, and Turkey. India indicated that it is ready to switch to payments in national currencies as well. A lot of effort is put in developing clearing mechanisms for national currency payments. In parallel, there is an ongoing effort to develop a digital non-banking payment system, which would be linked to gold and other exchange-traded commodities – the ‘stablecoins.’

Recent US and European sanctions imposed on the banking channels have caused a rapid increase in these efforts. The group of countries working on the new financial system only needs to announce the completion of the framework and readiness of the new trade currency and the process of formation of the new world financial order will accelerate further from there. The best way to bring it about would be to announce it at the SCO or BRICS regular meetings. We are working on that.  

The Cradle: This has been an absolutely key issue in discussions by independent analysts across the west. Was the Russian Central Bank advising Russian gold producers to sell their gold in the London market to get a higher price than the Russian government or Central Bank would pay? Was there no anticipation whatsoever that the coming alternative to the US dollar will have to be based largely on gold? How would you characterize what happened? How much practical damage has this inflicted on the Russian economy short-term and mid-term?

Glazyev: The monetary policy of the CBR, implemented in line with the IMF recommendations, has been devastating for the Russian economy. Combined disasters of the “freezing” of circa $400 billion of foreign exchange reserves and over a trillion dollars siphoned from the economy by oligarchs into western offshore destinations, came with the backdrop of equally disastrous policies of the CBR, which included excessively high real rates combined with a managed float of the exchange rate. We estimate this caused under-investment of circa 20 trillion rubles and under-production of circa 50 trillion rubles in goods.

Following Washington’s recommendations, the CBR stopped buying gold over the last two years, effectively forcing domestic gold miners to export full volumes of production, which added up to 500 tons of gold. These days the mistake and the harm it caused are very much obvious. Presently, the CBR resumed gold purchases, and, hopefully, will continue with sound policies in the interest of the national economy instead of ‘targeting inflation’ for the benefit of international speculators, as had been the case during the last decade.

The Cradle: The Fed as well as the ECB were not consulted on the freeze of Russian foreign reserves. Word in New York and Frankfurt is that they would have opposed it were they to have been asked. Did you personally expect the freeze? And did the Russian leadership expect it?

Glazyev: My book, The Last World War, that I already mentioned, which was published as far back as 2015, argued that the likelihood of this happening eventually is very high. In this hybrid war, economic warfare and informational/cognitive warfare are key theaters of conflict. On both of these fronts, the US and NATO countries have overwhelming superiority and I did not have any doubt that they would take full advantage of this in due course.

I have been arguing for a long time for the replacement of dollars, euro, pounds, and yen in our foreign exchange reserves with gold, which is produced in abundance in Russia. Unfortunately, western agents of influence which occupy key roles at central banks of most countries, as well as rating agencies and key publications, were successful in silencing my ideas. To give you an example, I have no doubt that high-ranking officials at the Fed and the ECB were involved in developing anti-Russian financial sanctions. These sanctions have been consistently escalating and are being implemented almost instantly, despite the well-known difficulties with bureaucratic decision making in the EU.  

The Cradle: Elvira Nabiullina has been reconfirmed as the head of the Russian Central Bank. What would you do differently, compared to her previous actions? What is the main guiding principle involved in your different approaches?

Glazyev: The difference between our approaches is very simple. Her policies are an orthodox implementation of IMF recommendations and dogmas of the Washington paradigm, while my recommendations are based on the scientific method and empirical evidence accumulated over the last hundred years in leading countries.

The Cradle: The Russia-China strategic partnership seems to be increasingly ironclad – as Presidents Putin and Xi themselves constantly reaffirm. But there are rumbles against it not only in the west but also in some Russian policy circles. In this extremely delicate historical juncture, how reliable is China as an all-season ally to Russia?

Glazyev: The foundation of Russian-Chinese strategic partnership is common sense, common interests, and the experience of cooperation over hundreds of years. The US ruling elite started a global hybrid war aimed at defending its hegemonic position in the world, targeting China as the key economic competitor and Russia as the key counter-balancing force. Initially, the US geopolitical efforts were aiming to create a conflict between Russia and China. Agents of western influence were amplifying xenophobic ideas in our media and blocking any attempts to transition to payments in national currencies. On the Chinese side, agents of western influence were pushing the government to fall in line with the demands of the US interests.

However, sovereign interests of Russia and China logically led to their growing strategic partnership and cooperation, in order to address common threats emanating from Washington. The US tariff war with China and financial sanctions war with Russia validated these concerns and demonstrated the clear and present danger our two countries are facing. Common interests of survival and resistance are uniting China and Russia, and our two countries are largely symbiotic economically. They complement and increase competitive advantages of each other. These common interests will persist over the long run.

The Chinese government and the Chinese people remember very well the role of the Soviet Union in the liberation of their country from the Japanese occupation and in the post-war industrialization of China. Our two countries have a strong historical foundation for strategic partnership and we are destined to cooperate closely in our common interests. I hope that the strategic partnership of Russia and the PRC, which is enhanced by the coupling of the One Belt One Road with the Eurasian Economic Union, will become the foundation of President Vladimir Putin’s project of the Greater Eurasian Partnership and the nucleus of the new world economic order.

April 15, 2022

The world’s new monetary system, underpinned by a digital currency, will be backed by a basket of new foreign currencies and natural resources. And it will liberate the Global South from both western debt and IMF-induced austerity.

By Pepe Escobar, posted with the author’s permission and cross-posted at The Cradle. 

Leading Russian economist Sergey Glazyev says a complete overhaul of the western-dominated global monetary and financial system is under works. And the world’s rising powers are buying into it. Photo Credit: The Cradle

Sergey Glazyev is a man living right in the eye of our current geopolitical and geo-economic hurricane. One of the most influential economists in the world, a member of the Russian Academy of Sciences, and a former adviser to the Kremlin from 2012 to 2019, for the past three years he has helmed Moscow’s uber strategic portfolio as Minister in Charge of Integration and Macroeconomics of the Eurasia Economic Union (EAEU).

Glazyev’s recent intellectual production has been nothing short of transformative, epitomized by his essay Sanctions and Sovereignty and an extensive discussion of the new, emerging geo-economic paradigm in an interview to a Russian business magazine.

In another of his recent essays, Glazyev comments on how “I grew up in Zaporozhye, near which heavy fighting is now taking place in order to destroy the Ukrainian Nazis, who never existed in my small Motherland. I studied at a Ukrainian school and I know Ukrainian literature and language well, which from a scientific point of view is a dialect of Russian. I did not notice anything Russophobic in Ukrainian culture. In the 17 years of my life in Zaporozhye, I have never met a single Banderist.”

Glazyev was gracious to take some time from his packed schedule to provide detailed answers to a first series of questions in what we expect to become a running conversation, especially focused to the Global South. This is his first interview with a foreign publication since the start of Operation Z. Many thanks to Alexey Subottin for the Russian-English translation.

The Cradle: You are at the forefront of a game-changing geo-economic development: the design of a new monetary/financial system via an association between the EAEU and China, bypassing the US dollar, with a draft soon to be concluded. Could you possibly advance some of the features of this system – which is certainly not a Bretton Woods III – but seems to be a clear alternative to the Washington consensus and very close to the necessities of the Global South?

Glazyev: In a bout of Russophobic hysteria, the ruling elite of the United States played its last “trump ace” in the hybrid war against Russia. Having “frozen” Russian foreign exchange reserves in custody accounts of western central banks, financial regulators of the US, EU, and the UK undermined the status of the dollar, euro, and pound as global reserve currencies. This step sharply accelerated the ongoing dismantling of the dollar-based economic world order.

Over a decade ago, my colleagues at the Astana Economic Forum and I proposed to transition to a new global economic system based on a new synthetic trading currency based on an index of currencies of participating countries. Later, we proposed to expand the underlying currency basket by adding around twenty exchange-traded commodities. A monetary unit based on such an expanded basket was mathematically modeled and demonstrated a high degree of resilience and stability.

At around the same time, we proposed to create a wide international coalition of resistance in the hybrid war for global dominance that the financial and power elite of the US unleashed on the countries that remained outside of its control. My book The Last World War: the USA to Move and Lose, published in 2016, scientifically explained the nature of this coming war and argued for its inevitability – a conclusion based on objective laws of long-term economic development. Based on the same objective laws, the book argued the inevitability of the defeat of the old dominant power.

Currently, the US is fighting to maintain its dominance, but just as Britain previously, which provoked two world wars but was unable to keep its empire and its central position in the world due to the obsolescence of its colonial economic system, it is destined to fail. The British colonial economic system based on slave labor was overtaken by structurally more efficient economic systems of the US and the USSR. Both the US and the USSR were more efficient at managing human capital in vertically integrated systems, which split the world into their zones of influence. A transition to a new world economic order started after the disintegration of the USSR. This transition is now reaching its conclusion with the imminent disintegration of the dollar-based global economic system, which provided the foundation of the United States global dominance.

The new convergent economic system that emerged in the PRC (People’s Republic of China) and India is the next inevitable stage of development, combining the benefits of both centralized strategic planning and market economy, and of both state control of the monetary and physical infrastructure and entrepreneurship. The new economic system united various strata of their societies around the goal of increasing common wellbeing in a way that is substantially stronger than the Anglo-Saxon and European alternatives. This is the main reason why Washington will not be able to win the global hybrid war that it started. This is also the main reason why the current dollar-centric global financial system will be superseded by a new one, based on a consensus of the countries who join the new world economic order.

In the first phase of the transition, these countries fall back on using their national currencies and clearing mechanisms, backed by bilateral currency swaps. At this point, price formation is still mostly driven by prices at various exchanges, denominated in dollars. This phase is almost over: after Russia’s reserves in dollars, euro, pound, and yen were “frozen,” it is unlikely that any sovereign country will continue accumulating reserves in these currencies. Their immediate replacement is national currencies and gold.

The second stage of the transition will involve new pricing mechanisms that do not reference the dollar. Price formation in national currencies involves substantial overheads, however, it will still be more attractive than pricing in ‘un-anchored’ and treacherous currencies like dollars, pounds, euro, and yen. The only remaining global currency candidate – the yuan – won’t be taking their place due to its inconvertibility and the restricted external access to the Chinese capital markets. The use of gold as the price reference is constrained by the inconvenience of its use for payments.

The third and the final stage on the new economic order transition will involve a creation of a new digital payment currency founded through an international agreement based on principles of transparency, fairness, goodwill, and efficiency. I expect that the model of such a monetary unit that we developed will play its role at this stage. A currency like this can be issued by a pool of currency reserves of BRICS countries, which all interested countries will be able to join. The weight of each currency in the basket could be proportional to the GDP of each country (based on purchasing power parity, for example), its share in international trade, as well as the population and territory size of participating countries.

In addition, the basket could contain an index of prices of main exchange-traded commodities: gold and other precious metals, key industrial metals, hydrocarbons, grains, sugar, as well as water and other natural resources. To provide backing and to make the currency more resilient, relevant international resource reserves can be created in due course. This new currency would be used exclusively for cross-border payments and issued to the participating countries based on a pre-defined formula. Participating countries would instead use their national currencies for credit creation, in order to finance national investments and industry, as well as for sovereign wealth reserves. Capital account cross-border flows would remain governed by national currency regulations.

The Cradle: Michael Hudson specifically asks that if this new system enables nations in the Global South to suspend dollarized debt and is based on the ability to pay (in foreign exchange), can these loans be tied to either raw materials or, for China, tangible equity ownership in the capital infrastructure financed by foreign non-dollar credit?

Glazyev: Transition to the new world economic order will likely be accompanied by systematic refusal to honor obligations in dollars, euro, pound, and yen. In this respect, it will be no different from the example set by the countries issuing these currencies who thought it appropriate to steal foreign exchange reserves of Iraq, Iran, Venezuela, Afghanistan, and Russia to the tune of trillions of dollars. Since the US, Britain, EU, and Japan refused to honor their obligations and confiscated the wealth of other nations which was held in their currencies, why should other countries be obliged to pay them back and to service their loans?

In any case, participation in the new economic system will not be constrained by the obligations in the old one. Countries of the Global South can be full participants of the new system regardless of their accumulated debts in dollars, euro, pound, and yen. Even if they were to default on their obligations in those currencies, this would have no bearing on their credit rating in the new financial system. Nationalization of extraction industry, likewise, would not cause a disruption. Further, should these countries reserve a portion of their natural resources for the backing of the new economic system, their respective weight in the currency basket of the new monetary unit would increase accordingly, providing that nation with larger currency reserves and credit capacity. In addition, bilateral swap lines with trading partner countries would provide them with adequate financing for co-investments and trade financing.

The Cradle: In one of your latest essays, The Economics of the Russian Victory, you call for “an accelerated formation of a new technological paradigm and the formation of institutions of a new world economic order.” Among the recommendations, you specifically propose the creation of “a payment and settlement system in the national currencies of the EAEU member states” and the development and implementation of “an independent system of international settlements in the EAEU, SCO and BRICS, which could eliminate critical dependence of the US-controlled SWIFT system.” Is it possible to foresee a concerted joint drive by the EAEU and China to “sell” the new system to SCO members, other BRICS members, ASEAN members and nations in West Asia, Africa and Latin America? And will that result in a bipolar geo-economy – the West versus The Rest?

Glazyev: Indeed, this is the direction where we are headed. Disappointingly, monetary authorities of Russia are still a part of the Washington paradigm and play by the rules of the dollar-based system, even after Russian foreign exchange reserves were captured by the west. On the other hand, the recent sanctions prompted extensive soul searching among the rest of the non-dollar-block countries. western ‘agents of influence’ still control central banks of most countries, forcing them to apply suicidal policies prescribed by the IMF. However, such policies at this point are so obviously contrary to the national interests of these non-western countries that their authorities are growing justifiably concerned about financial security.

You correctly highlight potentially central roles of China and Russia in the genesis of the new world economic order. Unfortunately, current leadership of the CBR (Central Bank of Russia) remains trapped inside the intellectual cul-de-sac of the Washington paradigm and is unable to become a founding partner in the creation of a new global economic and financial framework. At the same time, the CBR already had to face the reality and create a national system for interbank messaging which is not dependent on SWIFT, and opened it up for foreign banks as well. Cross-currency swap lines have been already set up with key participating nations. Most transactions between member states of the EAEU are already denominated in national currencies and the share of their currencies in internal trade is growing at a rapid pace.

A similar transition is taking place in trade with China, Iran, and Turkey. India indicated that it is ready to switch to payments in national currencies as well. A lot of effort is put in developing clearing mechanisms for national currency payments. In parallel, there is an ongoing effort to develop a digital non-banking payment system, which would be linked to gold and other exchange-traded commodities – the ‘stablecoins.’

Recent US and European sanctions imposed on the banking channels have caused a rapid increase in these efforts. The group of countries working on the new financial system only needs to announce the completion of the framework and readiness of the new trade currency and the process of formation of the new world financial order will accelerate further from there. The best way to bring it about would be to announce it at the SCO or BRICS regular meetings. We are working on that.  

The Cradle: This has been an absolutely key issue in discussions by independent analysts across the west. Was the Russian Central Bank advising Russian gold producers to sell their gold in the London market to get a higher price than the Russian government or Central Bank would pay? Was there no anticipation whatsoever that the coming alternative to the US dollar will have to be based largely on gold? How would you characterize what happened? How much practical damage has this inflicted on the Russian economy short-term and mid-term?

Glazyev: The monetary policy of the CBR, implemented in line with the IMF recommendations, has been devastating for the Russian economy. Combined disasters of the “freezing” of circa $400 billion of foreign exchange reserves and over a trillion dollars siphoned from the economy by oligarchs into western offshore destinations, came with the backdrop of equally disastrous policies of the CBR, which included excessively high real rates combined with a managed float of the exchange rate. We estimate this caused under-investment of circa 20 trillion rubles and under-production of circa 50 trillion rubles in goods.

Following Washington’s recommendations, the CBR stopped buying gold over the last two years, effectively forcing domestic gold miners to export full volumes of production, which added up to 500 tons of gold. These days the mistake and the harm it caused are very much obvious. Presently, the CBR resumed gold purchases, and, hopefully, will continue with sound policies in the interest of the national economy instead of ‘targeting inflation’ for the benefit of international speculators, as had been the case during the last decade.

The Cradle: The Fed as well as the ECB were not consulted on the freeze of Russian foreign reserves. Word in New York and Frankfurt is that they would have opposed it were they to have been asked. Did you personally expect the freeze? And did the Russian leadership expect it?

Glazyev: My book, The Last World War, that I already mentioned, which was published as far back as 2015, argued that the likelihood of this happening eventually is very high. In this hybrid war, economic warfare and informational/cognitive warfare are key theaters of conflict. On both of these fronts, the US and NATO countries have overwhelming superiority and I did not have any doubt that they would take full advantage of this in due course.

I have been arguing for a long time for the replacement of dollars, euro, pounds, and yen in our foreign exchange reserves with gold, which is produced in abundance in Russia. Unfortunately, western agents of influence which occupy key roles at central banks of most countries, as well as rating agencies and key publications, were successful in silencing my ideas. To give you an example, I have no doubt that high-ranking officials at the Fed and the ECB were involved in developing anti-Russian financial sanctions. These sanctions have been consistently escalating and are being implemented almost instantly, despite the well-known difficulties with bureaucratic decision making in the EU.  

The Cradle: Elvira Nabiullina has been reconfirmed as the head of the Russian Central Bank. What would you do differently, compared to her previous actions? What is the main guiding principle involved in your different approaches?

Glazyev: The difference between our approaches is very simple. Her policies are an orthodox implementation of IMF recommendations and dogmas of the Washington paradigm, while my recommendations are based on the scientific method and empirical evidence accumulated over the last hundred years in leading countries.

The Cradle: The Russia-China strategic partnership seems to be increasingly ironclad – as Presidents Putin and Xi themselves constantly reaffirm. But there are rumbles against it not only in the west but also in some Russian policy circles. In this extremely delicate historical juncture, how reliable is China as an all-season ally to Russia?

Glazyev: The foundation of Russian-Chinese strategic partnership is common sense, common interests, and the experience of cooperation over hundreds of years. The US ruling elite started a global hybrid war aimed at defending its hegemonic position in the world, targeting China as the key economic competitor and Russia as the key counter-balancing force. Initially, the US geopolitical efforts were aiming to create a conflict between Russia and China. Agents of western influence were amplifying xenophobic ideas in our media and blocking any attempts to transition to payments in national currencies. On the Chinese side, agents of western influence were pushing the government to fall in line with the demands of the US interests.

However, sovereign interests of Russia and China logically led to their growing strategic partnership and cooperation, in order to address common threats emanating from Washington. The US tariff war with China and financial sanctions war with Russia validated these concerns and demonstrated the clear and present danger our two countries are facing. Common interests of survival and resistance are uniting China and Russia, and our two countries are largely symbiotic economically. They complement and increase competitive advantages of each other. These common interests will persist over the long run.

The Chinese government and the Chinese people remember very well the role of the Soviet Union in the liberation of their country from the Japanese occupation and in the post-war industrialization of China. Our two countries have a strong historical foundation for strategic partnership and we are destined to cooperate closely in our common interests. I hope that the strategic partnership of Russia and the PRC, which is enhanced by the coupling of the One Belt One Road with the Eurasian Economic Union, will become the foundation of President Vladimir Putin’s project of the Greater Eurasian Partnership and the nucleus of the new world economic order.

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

Interview: London Paul from the Sirius Report – Move to Multipolarity

April 12, 2022

Source

Amarynth interviewed London Paul

London Paul from the Sirius Report has a story to tell. This is the story of the history of multipolarity and the global move to a new multipolar structure in our world with the old single polarity hegemon now collapsing.

He graciously agreed to this 5-question written interview to bring Saker readers up to date and we are grateful for his time.

Paul will probably not be a new voice for some of our readers, but for others, you can read his background here: https://www.thesiriusreport.com/about/

His work was some of the first that was scrubbed from the internet and for years, he was laughed out of the house, as what he was observing was just too different to be true. To avoid the continual internet scrubbing games, he set up a monthly subscription podcast, where he discusses current affairs in relation to economics.  Yet today, we are in this process and we can visibly see the progress and effects of this massive move to a multipolar world.

At the Saker Blog, we’ve focused on the Russian military action in the Ukraine. We understand that this is a fight not against the Ukrainians but against the US-led NATO military alliance, and the single power center, west.  The Ukraine is but a proxy. In the bigger picture, this move toward multipolarity is one of the reasons if not the major part, for this military action.

With that short overview, we move straight into the questions.

Question:  Paul, give us the background. How did you arrive at your understanding? What drew you to this specific study and what makes you excited about it, even today? Where do we stand as a world community? What do we stand to gain by changing the complete underpinnings of our world to a fairer system, where each country has a voice?

Response:  I was originally an academic who studied Physics at degree and PhD level. I then moved into the financial services sector, so that’s when my interest and understanding in economics and finance started in earnest. It was around the time of 9-11 that I developed a serious interest in geopolitics.

In the immediate aftermath of the 2008 Global financial crisis, which I predicted in 2006, it was immediately apparent that the West had not implemented any policies which would resolve the causes of that crisis. They merely decided to bailout the financial system and then implemented QE and ZIRP which should only ever have been implemented on a very short term basis. I wrote to Western governments at the time advising them not to implement these policies for more than a few short months because the consequence of long term implementation is unsustainable asset bubbles, failing economies addicted to – and propped up by – cheap credit, and a completely unsustainable financial system. Developments made by China, Russia and other nations, which we will come to in the next question, were the first genuine suggestion that those nations saw the need for an alternative to what had become the utter failure of unipolarity by the 2008 GFC.

It was around a decade ago that I came to know the architects of what is now known as the multipolar world. They understood back in the 1990s that US hegemony and the US Dollar were in terminal decline. They advised the Chinese and Russians that they needed to develop a multipolar world, the resurrection of the Old Silk Road, to seek win-win cooperation with other nations and to develop sound monetary policies and currencies backed by real wealth, such as gold and commodities. From discussions with these architects I began to study China, Russia and the wider Global South in great detail as we began to see the embryonic development and implementation of the multipolar world.

Given these are fundamentally game changing developments in the so-called global order, my interest remains as strong today as it was a decade ago. We are now seeing a world that operates in two distinct spheres: a rapidly developing and ascendent multipolar world and a unipolar world in terminal decline. When these two worlds collide as the latter seeks to retain its relevance, we then see the risk of serious conflicts developing such as what we are now witnessing in the Ukraine.

Whilst the developing multipolar world is a decades-long project in the making, its adoption and the benefits that will be accrued are multifold, in that it seeks to develop nations domestically, bilaterally and in multilateral formats. It strives to promote true globalisation, not the highly abusive Western adoption of this theory. By promoting win-win cooperation and the development of vertical poles across the entire world, it will provide prosperity and security for everyone.

Many will argue that this is a nonsensical pipedream but it is already becoming a reality. Challenges will remain, not least in the ideological bias that exists between nations and in deep-seated historical grievances. However, all journeys have to start with the first step and that is what we are already beginning to see across the Global South. The sum of our parts can be infinitely greater than the individual components and that is something we, as responsible custodians of this planet, should be striving to achieve. It is for these reasons that my understanding of this paradigm shift remains as strong today as it was a decade ago.

Question:  Is it only China and Russia that designed the concept of multipolarity for us, or were there more involved historically?

Response:  Whilst I think it would be fair to say that China and Russia were the trail blazers for multipolarity, we should not forget the role that has been played by many other nations in the last decade which is equally as important and significant.

Firstly, there was the announcement of the BRIC alliance, which became the BRICS alliance, namely Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa in 2009, in the immediate aftermath of the GFC of 2009. We also saw the foundation of the SCO or Shanghai Cooperation Organisation in 2001, which included Kazakhstan, China, Kyrgyzstan, Russia Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan. Full membership was granted to India and Pakistan in 2017. There are also four observer states: Afghanistan, Belarus, Iran (soon to become a full member), Mongolia and 6 dialogue partners.

We also saw the creation of the EAEU in 2014 which now includes Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Russia. In 2016, there was the formation of the AIIB or the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, which is a multilateral development bank focusing on developments in Asia. The bank currently has 105 members, including 16 prospective members.

We have also seen the modification of long-term institutions such as the ASEAN alliance or the Association of Southeast Asian Nations which was founded in 1967 and is a political and economic union of 10 member states in Southeast Asia, which promotes intergovernmental cooperation in the realms of economic, political, and security integration between its members and in a wider context throughout Asia.

One development which has been years in the making was the adoption of the RCEP or the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership in early 2022, which is a free-trade agreement. It includes Australia, Brunei, Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Japan, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, New Zealand, the Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand, and Vietnam.

These are just a few examples of developments in multilateral formats. There have also been many developments in bilateral and trilateral formats which are all pieces of the development of this multipolar world.

Question:  What do you envisage as we move further into this world configuration in terms of trade?  What could be the everyday currencies? As we are a Russian-oriented site, there is much concern about the Russian Central Bank. Will we end up with Central Banks? Has Russia’s move to set a price standard for gold ended in a gold backed Ruble, or a commodity based currency? Explain to us what it means in broader terms for the ordinary person?  Why should we be interested?

Response:  Global trade, finance and ecoomies will literally go through a revolution. The BRI (Belt and Road Initiative) has laid the foundation for a global trade system but it is fluid and subject to change. There is no doubt that banks and the global financial system are going to undergo radical changes, including their investment arms. There will be a radical overhaul of the function of governments and financial institutions to include central banks. We expect to see the adoption of sophisticated barter systems which will facilitate trade whereby the respective counter parties will set transaction prices as they see fit, free from government interference.

Blockchain and other technologies will totally change the way business is conducted. The multipolar world will seek to facilitate trade and allow trading partners to generate and keep their wealth. There will be a radical overhaul of how basic needs are managed to include healthcare, education, food and energy security. The domination of unsustainable cartels and cooperations will come to an end and we will see an explosion of creativity in terms of industry, medicine, science and the arts. Ultimately, it requires a complete overhaul of all existing Western institutions which have ruthlessly abused their responsibility for self-interests.

We will see, in a very broad sense, the marrying of true capitalism and socialism into workable models for nations and alliances. The ongoing challenge to US unipolarity will continue via the Global South and, in essence, the Eurasian Trade Zone. Existing Western institutions will continue to unravel and the insidious practices that have underpinned the world since WW2 will continue to be exposed.

In terms of future currencies, we are going to see the adoption of new payment mechanisms outside the purview of the USD / UST complex. This will include nations trading in local currencies, adopting future cryptocurrencies or digital currencies in multilateral formats such as the EAEU and the ASEAN nations. The backbone of future trade will be in currencies which are backed by real wealth, to include gold, perhaps silver and a basket of commodities. There will be no single world reserve currency in the future. China has always made it clear that it doesn’t seek to make the yuan a world reserve currency but merely to internationalise its currency. Russia also has that possibility via its vast commodity resource base, for the future global adoption of the ruble in terms of trade, particularly with the Global South but also the West and not just in terms of demanding ruble for gas as we are currently seeing.

The 5000 ruble per gram price fix was merely meant to stabilise internal markets and miners. It has now been removed because that stability has been achieved. Unfortunately, in the West, that announcement was interpreted as meaning that Russia had backed the ruble with gold and it was wrongly conflated with a far bigger story which we have discussed for years about the future role of the ruble in international trade.

For Russia, the stability and global adoption of the ruble in terms of trading commodities will be beneficial to the Russian economy, its financial stability and enable it to access markets free from the potential interference of the US via the weaponization of the dollar. It will also permit Russia to continue to implement further domestic changes, not least including the development of the Russian Far East and its integration into the BRI. A stable ruble and the benefits that will accrue will also see greater international investment in Russia in the future.

Question:  People talk about food scarcity and prices are rising everywhere.  So, is this purely sanctions blowback, or the result of years of fiscal mismanagement?  And then how is an ordinary person to hedge.  Where are we going to see major country defaults on their debts?

Response:  We have spoken about food and energy insecurity for a number of years. The sanctions blowback has merely exacerbated a long-term problem caused by utterly failed policy decisions. Firstly, nations should have long since been aware of the flaws of a global ‘just-in-time-system’, in that if one aspect of that mechanism fails it can have damaging consequences.

We have seen during the pandemic how global supply chains were impacted in very serious and sudden ways. The just-in-time-system was the primary cause of this. Whilst we are not advocates of protectionism, because we see that as being equally flawed, nations need to understand that they need to become more self-sufficient where possible, in terms of food and energy security. There also needs to be a radical overhaul of this just-in-time-system because the pandemic highlighted eloquently why it is quite simply unfit for purpose.

This also highlights the need for nations to adopt a new approach via multipolarity which seeks to find mechanisms to address the future disruption of supply chains, how nations can begin to address some of those concerns domestically, particularly in terms of food production and via their energy needs. There also needs to be an understanding that this Western ideological zero-sum game mentality is contributing to global food and energy instability because of its very weaponization by Washington and its vassal states.

In terms of energy security, the desire to push ahead with the utterly flawed green revolution has also led to unnecessary imbalances in the energy mix, putting even Western nations at serious risk of future energy and food insecurity including rationing and perhaps even the complete absence of basic sustenance food items. There needs to be a radical global overhaul of how we address energy needs and how we can address this via a mix of traditional fossil fuels, nuclear reactors to include a global drive for commercial fusion development, hydroelectricity and the adoption of viable renewable energy sources because currently the renewable sector is appallingly myopic and fails to address obvious issues such as the cost in terms of energy, resources, commodities and the environmental impact to implement e.g. solar and wind farms. In very basic terms the cost-benefit ratio of seeking to implement such technologies has not been adequately addressed.

In terms of how people can manage the current risks of food and energy insecurities, that depends on their individual circumstances. If possible, they should look to stockpile non-perishable foods, grow their own fresh vegetables, utilize alternative off-the-grid energy sources for cooking, heating and lighting. However, this is often not possible due to financial and domestic constraints. What is clear is that we are expressing a global crisis in terms of food and energy security and currently we don’t sense that Western nations are taking this seriously enough. The consequences are potentially catastrophic and not just in terms of the global South. The West is now highly vulnerable to similar shocks and we are simply unprepared, not least in dealing with the societal impact this could and will cause.

Question:  What is the question that you would have liked people to ask you, initially, in the early days, when your message was not taken seriously. And of course, if you can answer that question as well.

Response:  Ironically, this is a question within a question. I was asked back in 2014 what I regarded as my fundamental observation for the next decade. My response was that we should all pay attention to what China and Russia do domestically, bilaterally and internationally. This was greeted with utter disbelief, ridicule and anger. Instead of reacting in such a manner, the next question should have been why I gave such a radical response and what was my reasoning, instead of being summarily dismissed.

If I had been asked why I believed this to be the case I would have explained why the GFC in 2008 was the signal that US hegemony, the US dollar and unipolarity were in rapid and terminal decline. Why – as I stated at the time of the Kiev maidan in 2014 – this was the final nail in the coffin lid of the US hegemony and the USD and Russia would play the long game to see this reach its inevitable conclusion. Why I stated that the major energy deal between China and Russia for the Power of Siberia, signed in 2014, was a major catalyst for the acceleration of the multipolar world and de-dollarisation. Why post GFC 2008, the US burnt its bridges with China by printing trillions of dollars instead of asking China to buy their debt. Why the rollout of the multipolar world was baked in the cake in 2014 and the US weaponization of the dollar would continue to erode global trust in the US and the USD leading to the collapse of unipolarity.

My reasoning was based on an unfolding reality which Westerners have continually, for the last 8 years, failed to see, often because of their arrogance and ignorance. Even now, many still regard the US as the hegemonic power it was in the 1990s and China and Russia as they were in the 1980s economically, societally and military. They also tend to see China and Russia through the eyes of the West, which is a very myopic perspective and makes the assumption that neither nation is capable of offering a better alternative to unipolarity. A failure to grasp these fundamental issues will continue to see Westerners fail to understand the unfolding paradigm shift and therefore to continue to dismiss it as being an irrelevance.


Thank you Paul! for your time and your complete responses.  But, I feel we’ve hardly touched the subject and this is most probably the one issue we will be talking about far into the future.

We open to the Saker commentariat and if you have a question for Paul, please put that in the comments.  We will choose another five questions and do another interview in written form.  It is now your turn, dear reader.


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